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If the average person wastes roughly 40 days a year compensating for a bad memory, I must toss away an entire season because of my faulty wiring. (At least half of that time I spend searching for the TV remote.) Joshua Foer was intrigued by the challenge of forgetting forgetfulness, so he spent a year training his recall reflex—and ended up in the finals of the U.S.A. Memory Championship. There he competed to conjure the names of strangers, lines of poetry, random numbers—and he won. In his new book Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Foer discusses the mnemonics of memory, most of which go back to the ancient Greeks. In recalling the history of remembering, he teaches us how we can retain our biographies in our brains, and not just outsource them to electronic devices—though I doubt the remote could fit in my ear.
Foer speaks at 7 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $10. (202) 408-3100.