When you first see a math problem on the impending Math 51 final, how will your piddling neurons respond? Upon reaching a particularly tricksy question, will your simple brain opt to solve it? You moron. You fool. You absolute shitbrain. I’ve moved far beyond such base concerns, for you see, I have mastered the way of the mind palace.

But don’t dare assume that this is any normal mind palace! While some other, simpler minds might memorize minutiae by constructing an imaginary mansion, recalling information by associating it with objects therein, my mind palace is so much more. A machine of machines; a realm of realms; a fully-autonomous, monstrously-efficacious landscape decorated solely with ten towering statues: the numbers zero through nine, carved in perfect 100,000-point Garamond with photorealistic limbs and faces, frozen in exquisite agony.

So you see, soon — when we sit side-by-side in that dreaded lecture hall, setting pen to paper in this test of mathematical might — you’ll sit there aimlessly calculating, like a good little student. Carrying remainders, factoring equations, simplifying fractions; it all seems so quaint to me. Meanwhile, I will simply command my imagined numbers to dance. And dance they will, their pirouettes and four-steps ultimately coalescing into the final answer.

This is a flawless technique, and has never failed.

But do not be fooled, for the trials of this mental method are multiple and perilous. If you opt to attempt it yourself, I set the odds at barely one-in-five that you’ll solve even the most basic of arithmatiae before being driven insane by the depths of your own subconscious. A mathematician’s mind palace is a dark and wretched realm, and the journey to recruit these traipsing statues is perilous: trek through the Mountains of Memory, across the Ford of Forgotten Forms, deep within the lair of the Mind Mistress, and only then will you acquire even the FIRST of these numerals (number Four, the waltzer). So if I were you, I’d stick with you silly little mental math — the rewards may be meager, but the risks are far fewer.

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