Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pete and Repete are standing on a bridge. Pete falls off. Who is left?

In trying to figure out ways to amplify my bar study process, I thought of Ryan Holiday's post on Meditative Isolation (though he might say that I have no idea how to achieve my goals). Ryan talks about methods of isolating the right and left side of the brain by listening to the same song on repeat dozens of time. This helps with concentration and inspiration, and in a larger sense, creativity.*

I am not too concerned with inspiration or creativity. All I care about is concentration and memorization. Read the outline. Know the outline. Memorize the outline. Seems easy enough. But with 21 areas of substantive law [possibly] tested, the task is about as hard as it sounds. I need every edge I can get. A more recent post by Ryan clued me in to what I needed. He stated, "From a glance I can feel what song I listened to as I read [each book I have], if I was stable or depressed or excited or hopeful."

With my Holmes-like powers of deduction (Ollie, not Sherlock of course), I deduced that Association is the key. For instance, when I read It, the only CD I listened to was Soul Asylum's Let Your Dim Light Shine (forgive me, I was 14, my musical tastes had not matured). Now whenever I listen to that CD I think back to the plot of It (though in looking back on it, there was a lot I did not understand. Stupid underfunded sex-ed class). It is an odd feeling to hear a song and think back to the part where Bev remembers the time she and the six boys experiment with sex to solidify their bond and Ben (the fat one), goes further than the others, because as Bev remembers, "she felt sticky inside." (Not sure if I remember that because of the music or because I was whacked out on junior high hormones at the time. Nah, probably the later, but still, I have only read the book the once). It seems obvious to me in retrospect that the album should be associated with that book, what with lines like: "But she saw the world through the eyes of a child / And remembers how good it was, and how good it felt"; "No one told me people could be so cruel / Nobody told me about any of this in school / Still nobody understands the things that I don't understand"; " She walks into the evening air / She disappears in the darkness / All that's left's the faint smell of her hair / She's done wondering what it's like to be liked by everyone." To give only a couple examples.

So, it begs the question, can this really work for learning black letter law? It is still reading, it is still knowing, but hell, it does not have to be understanding. There is a masturbation scene in It that I would not understand until a couple years later. But still, 13 years later, I remember what happened in the book (though, in addition to the reasons stated above, it may have been because I was reading a King novel, an action my mother was not too particularly keen on my doing at 14).

Understanding is most likely essential to answer a multiple choice question in 1.8 minutes. Everyone has to be a micro-Will Hunting. Regardless, everyone has to understand, so that requirement is a nullity. Understanding has to happen.

Recall is the major issue. With that, I think that music can be a huge help. Specifically, listening to the same album over and over for each. Ryan listens to the same song, but I hardly have the patience for that. For me, the music is not about isolating myself, I am already isolated, it is about the constant, the moor (yes, I realize that the way I used moor is only a verb, not a noun. I am trying to say that the music is mooring me to the material; keeping me in it, tied to it, removing distractions, preventing cavitation).

Deciding that yes, one CD per subject would be a good idea, I went about finding the 21 albums that I would utilize. At the outset, I was unsure if this would be an easy or difficult task. With as near as I can guesstimate (6000 songs / 15 songs per album; horribly rough) I have 400 albums to choose from. However, I quickly decided that I was going to have to limit the albums I chose to the most recent ones I have purchased. For instance, Panic! at the Disco's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out already has a nice association with a vacation I took to Michigan, and The Who's Tommy, while a great album, has negative associations in mind (fucking slut (hmmm, that is redundant)). I decide to eliminate the vast majority of my collection based solely on the fact that I may already have some mental association with it (easier than spending 15 days listing to all those songs).

So with those parameters in mind, I quickly "cover flow"-ed through my albums on my iPod and came up with 23 albums. I was not keeping track, but 23 turns out to be a pretty good number. From there, I took away two albums to total 21. Then came the tough part. Finding the proper album for Real Property (three days according to BarBri) and Contracts (also three days). The first was easy, Say Anything's In Defense of the Genre, simply because it is a double album. Contracts was much tougher. My only other double albums are Garth Brooks Live (yeah I know, but Garth was a great (the greatest?) entertainer of his day, his live album is worthy of owning), Meloncollie and the Infinite Sadness, All Points BUlletin, O.A.R. Live, The White Album, Beethoven concertos, Beethoven symphonies, and probably a couple more I cannot think of right now. They are all old and failed to meet the first requirement. So I picked an album, but feel that the two auxiliary albums might come into play here. We shall see.

Shit. I got distracted and completely forgot how I was going to conclude. Whatever; Graham Colton,** you and Criminal Law are on the clock.

* He also states that silence is most conducive to concentration and inspiration. I cannot study in silence, my mind wanders to easily; or more accurately, goes off on irrelevant tangents. There is a relationship between where my mind goes and what I am trying to learn, but studying for the bar is not the proper time for this activity. Hence, when part of my brain can focus on the music and the other part can focus on the black letter law, I can stay on task (unless I have had four hours of sleep the last two days. Then I cut my losses and blog).

**Had no idea he was associated with American Idol until I looked up that wikipedia page.


nicolle said...

you sound motivated. you're scaring me. :)

lawschoolrules said...

Highly motivated. Which is why I took an hour and half to find what albums I wanted then wrote a post about doing such.