What makes the self?

I chose to analyze the second podcast, Who am I?—not only because of the extraordinary melding of sounds, audio bits, music, and misc. other digital elements that made it such a wonderful 56 minutes of listening, but for the strong personal connection I felt to the subject matter.  One a particular story, within the broader story line, was told by a mother and daughter of a life changing event they experienced, the mother’s near death of a brain aneurysm.

The peculiar thing about aneurysms is there is no moment where the symptoms you are experiencing send off a signal in yours or someone else brain that say: “this is an aneurysm.”  Rather, they lead you astray, make you think it is something harmless, a headache that will wear off.  No, it is an aneurysm.  If you try and sleep it off, it will kill you.  My ability to tell you all of this say something about the broader story line of the podcast which is the human’s ability to story tell as part of understanding the ‘self.’  I tell you all of this because my mother also had a brain aneurysm.  And here, I began to connect deeply to the story being told because the things she described about her mother, reminded me so much of the things my mother had also gone through.

That connection aside, I felt this podcast was very well constructed, leaving the listener to wonder just which parts were pre-constructed and which were parts of the creative process that just kind of fell into place.  It was clear that many methods of storytelling were being utilized to construct the production.

At first, I wondered just how many different sound bites and sound effects would play into a 56 min podcast because it seemed to be a tool they were utilizing frequently.  Then, as the individual stories and interviews began, the sounds got fewer, more specific, and the narration got greater.

Early on, Jad I believe recalls a story he had been told about the ancient Egyptians view of the center of the ‘self’.  He describes that they finally found it and decided to dissect it, all the while you hear a beating heart in the background.  Then he announces that they were disappointed to find it was a pump.  As listeners we know they thought that the heart is what was being referred to.  But he never tells us that.  Here, sound effects were utilized to tell an essential piece of the story.

Then begins the story of “mirror powers” this time with Robert recalling a story he had been told that relates to the subject of the podcast.  Again, playing with sound effects, as he described the morphing software that was utilized in this experiment, clips of bill Clinton’s voice and then his own voice repeating the same sentence are overlaid while they describe that the overlay in the experiment was with visual images.  The use of this sound effect helped, as a listener, to visualize what was taking place since the real experiment was all visual.

Then, the use of interviews and personal storytelling as another method of narration began.  The day my mother’s head exploded, the story I personally connect to, consisted mostly of the daughter and mother telling the same story, seemingly separate, yet at times together, about the series of events that took place.  Providing the audience with different pieces of the “puzzle” that makes up the self of both daughter and mother as a result of this event, the two narrators weave a more cohesive story.

The podcast continues on, layering interviews, with actual stories being told, a few more sound effects, bits of music, and just straight narration from Jad and Robert during introductions to each new piece of the podcast.  Together, all of these elements meld to form a cohesive, yet interesting podcast that teach a lesson in what has been done to understand what makes the “self” so unique.  All the while, these methods of telling the story are also very unique.

It is hard to tell just when the scripting ends and the on-the-spot interpretation begin as Jad and Robert sound so at ease with each other throughout the entire podcast.

I would like to take this use of multiple sound elements and multiple methods of storytelling to tell my own story.  It kept things interesting to move from a multitude of digitally created sounds, to musical tidbits behind interviews, to straight, serious conversation.  By appropriately adding these different sound elements to each part of the larger podcast, the story being told was enhanced.  Furthermore, the multiple methods of telling stories, both through straight interviews, third-person storytelling, first-person storytelling, and an interplay of multiple conversation taking place at once, a bigger story unfolded.  While our piece will be much shorter, I think it would be much more exciting to try and play with a few different methods rather than just conducting a few interviews and stringing them together.  My first thought when we began preparing this assignment was:  how can I make an interview that interests me, sound interesting to someone else?  I think I have found my answer.

So with all of these different methods of connecting sound elements and telling a story discovered within this podcast, how many is too many to use in a shorter 5-7 minute audio story?



2 thoughts on “What makes the self?

  1. I like what you said about the amount of different sound elements. At first it seemed like it was too much, but it did settle down to a good amount.

  2. I love what you said about “pieces of the puzzle”. In the podcast that we listened to in class, I feel like there was a lot of added information (pieces) that the interviewer added to help create the whole puzzle. Often times, people don’t convey every detail that is necessary to the story, so the interviewer functions as the background or history section of a piece.

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