The Method of Loci

Where My Library Was Supposed To Be

In early 2013, I had sought refuge in Alpha’s home, and while I was there I tried to find a way to better manage one effect of my depression, which was memory loss. I’d recovered enough that the far more insidious “thought process loss” effect of depression had become manageable, so I directed it to supplementing my memory through the method of loci.

The method of loci as a memory tool that attaches a notion to an imagined location. This makes a notion much easier to access than if that notion were just of the mind like an ordinary thought.

The proper use of this method is more complicated than imagining a happy place, though, and… I’m not.

So, I could think up of a round-walled library with a glass dome of a ceiling to let the natural light in, with stairs and wheelchair access to a fireplace area that had cushioned armchairs, and a hidden passageway in the central bookshelf. I imagined this enough that I eventually didn’t need to try so hard: my library would always be ready for me to go into in my mind.

Attaching a grocery list to the banister, however, was more psychologically acrobatic than I could manage.

This became a space for my uninhibited imagination. Characters from dreams, or from the otherreal, would make themselves at home there when I didn’t think that they would. A recurring dream character, a man made out of water who I named Eddy, became the main custodian. A personification of my tarot deck, who I named Lavender, joined later.

One day, I went into my library and saw them both manacled to the armchairs. I had a feeling somehow, that I had done that to them, but I couldn’t undo it by controlling my thoughts, or manipulating my emotions or experience. It was exhausting, and ineffective, and it scared me that my imagination was out of control.

It scared me, even though I told myself that it was only my imaginary friends that I was hurting.

It scared me, even though any and all effects and experiences were limited to this imaginary world.

In another episode, I’d begun to have dreams that Eddy was polluted, and of course I didn’t recognize him as polluted so I wrote the dream out and named him Murky in my noxary. It was only when he re-appeared in my library that I recognized that Eddy and Murky were the same person.

Sometimes I could take control of my imagination again. In older dreams, Eddy and I would meet in a tiled locker room. I remembered that room and attached it to the secret passageway with the same force of my thoughts, and the same repetition, that I used to create the library in the first place.

More simply, sometimes my library would turn into a square room again, which I didn’t like, so with the force of my thoughts I would return it to roundness.

Other times, control was simply too exhausting. Once, I went into my library and found it overrun with partially-decomposed humanoid corpses in tattered clothing. For some reason, my sword that I wrote about before as usually being in my hand when I think it, was in some hidden closet behind a bookshelf and Eddy had to get for me, so that I could use it to kill the invaders.

Why would my imagination make up these rules that make things so much more difficult for me? Why would it pour such awful things into my mind?

“Did you try talking to the zombies?” My therapist asked me. (My therapist is corporeal, by the way. I was talking about this in a session that took place in a room that’s in the corporeal world.)

I replied, “They weren’t worth talking to.” They were unpleasant, and brought up fright and dread in me, and wouldn’t stop, and wouldn’t be reasoned with.

“Maybe that’s your shadow. You center yourself a lot on logic and reasoning, so your psyche creates this symbol of your instincts for you confront.”

Well, I really should remember to try that next time. As it were, the zombies never came back.

In mid to late 2014, I handed the keys to Eddy and Lavender because I’d felt that I’d outgrown my library. I was working with another imaginary friend, a pirate captain who I’d come to know as Foxglove, and I’d been spending a lot more time on his ship when I took to questing.

I hadn’t expected them to leave with the library, though. I was still stuck on a corporeal world understanding of how things are, and buildings aren’t generally portable.

During a quest, I followed a path of checkered black and white tiles into a building with a familiar structure. This was what I imagined the hallway outside the main door to my library would look like, only without the checkered tiles. There would be archways on either side, kitchens, dining areas by whole walls made of windows…and at the end of the hallway…

The main door to the library was gone. The library was gone. The library carpet was gone, leaving a whorl of black and white tiles. The fireplace was gone. The armchairs were gone. The books were gone. The steps and the wheelchair ramp was gone, replaced by a single grand staircase. The ceiling remained vaulted, but no longer made out of glass, so the entire room was shrouded in darkness.

It’s still round, that room at the end of the hall where Eddy’s and Lavender’s library used to be. There are five doors behind the grand staircase that I dread to investigate and I don’t know why I dread it. Maybe I’ll find out, maybe not.