In an intriguing passage from Thomas Harris’s psychological thriller Hannibal (1999), the reader is introduced to a mental technique used by the eponymous serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter:
The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars who preserved much information in them through the Dark Ages. Like the scholars before him, Dr. Lecter stores an enormous amount of information keyed to the objects in his thousand mental rooms . . . .
Hannibal’s palace is vast, even by medieval standards. Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity.
As Harris suggests, such labyrinthine and intangible “mind palaces” do not solely belong...