1: Opening

00:00:00-00:03:32

[Music: Rainbow-City by Aves]

Hello sleepless eccentrics, welcome to Ithaka Dreaming. I am Ithaka, your host, and I’m here for those people who aren’t blessed with the prompt visit of the Spirit of Sleep whenever they lie down to rest.

I will be near your ear for the next hour or so…? Although the episodes are getting longer and longer. I think starting next week I really gotta do something about this length issue, but for now, it is what it is.

Anyway, this podcast is barely a month old, so I am probably not yet your favorite disembodied voice in the podcastverse. But maybe? hopefully? I will be one day one of your favorites. But even if I am not, that’s all right. I’m just glad that you’re not exorcising me out of your highly, extremely, very private earspace.

Spirit. Disembodied voice. Exorcism.

Why am I using such strange and eerie vocabulary tonight?

Because, my fellow dreamers, we’re going to talk about those topics.

That said, this is neither a horror podcast nor a horror episode. I’m going to talk about spirits and disembodiment and exorcism at the purely theoretical level, in relation to the power of voice, anonymity, and other fun topics. I shall continue to talk in this very same quiet voice. Everything’s going to be pretty chill, as I stay on point by getting off point. That’s our motto here. We love randomness.

So. Let the dreaming begin.

[Music FADES OUT.]


2: The appeal of voice

00:03:32-00:09:20

Dear listeners. At this very moment, I am speaking to you across spacetime. If you’re using earphones or headphones, I’m speaking directly into your ears, gently knocking on your eardrums.

I’m assuming that you’re all on Planet Earth. Although, this podcast will last a long time—as in, pretty much forever. Not necessarily in the form of new episodes, but at least the episodes that have already been published will last pretty much forever. I’ve uploaded them to Anchor, which is a podcast hosting service, and then recently, I’ve actually uploaded the episodes to Youtube and Odysee.

The point is that, unless something terrible happens and all the computers on Planet Earth go down, and there’s no electricity, and all the hard drives or cloud systems and wherever else I’ve saved these episodes suddenly break down at the same time—this podcast will not die.

[Music: Seriously Future - Yarin Primak]

Five hundred years from now, some random digital archeologist of the future could go through the massive tombs of buried files of the human civilization. Such a digital archeologist would find a bunch of neatly labeled files. “Ithaka Dreaming Season 1 Episode 1.” “Ithaka Dreaming Season 1 Episode 2.” And so on and so forth.

So, maybe you, the person listening to this right now, aren’t on Planet Earth. Maybe you’re listening from the future, from someplace that the humans in my here and now have never explored before.

Or maybe you are from my era. Maybe you’re streaming this episode only a couple of hours after it was published.

Meaning: maybe, I am here, in the now. But also I am there, in the later on. And thus, in a way, a listener of the year 2022 is connected to the hypothetical digital archeologist of the year 2522.

Isn’t all this just completely mind-blowing? The fact that I can record this and you can hear me now or years from now, here or wherever else?

To me it is. Mind-blowing.

Of course, the same can be said with a lot of other mediums as well. Written words are in many ways even more flexible, far-reaching, and long-lasting than audio files. I bet those things will survive for a long time for the digital archeologists to dig through. Online articles, ebooks, text messages.

Also, images—either moving ones or static ones. They can be transmitted through spacetime and last pretty much forever as well.

But voice. There’s something special about voice.

You do not know my face. But I dare say, you do feel a connection toward me.

[Music continues, then ends.]


3: The theory of the appeal

00:09:20-00:16:14

Some podcasts, I’ve listened to for years. In some of those cases, I know the host’s faces, and in others, I don’t. And actually, to me it kinda doesn’t matter.

I am convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, regardless of whether I know their faces or not: that I know these people, these podcasters. They themselves are characters in my head, and they’ve been there for years.

And thus they are real. Real to me.

And maybe because I am such an audio-centric person, audio actually feels more real than video. I don’t know why exactly I feel this way, but I do have a theory.

Maybe it’s because, even as audio is staged, it requires less staging than video, which, by video, it usually means that it has audio as well.

For example, movies. Fiction movies. Imagine the people, the budget, the sheer amount of insurance, and time it takes to make a feature movie. Filmmakers plan their films for months, if not years.

And this isn’t only for fiction movies either. For example, Youtube videos. These tend to be more nonfiction, but oh my. All the video creators out there, especially the prolific ones who post one or more videos per week: I don’t know how they do it.

Even when it’s something like vlogs. I shouldn’t even say “even,” because vlogs are actually pretty darn intense to make.

Say, if you wanted to record a scene of yourself walking up a staircase from a low angle, you would have to press record on your camera, leave it at the bottom of the staircase, walk up the staircase, then come running back downstairs to retrieve your camera, in case someone might steal it from you.

And you would repeat this process for whatever you’re trying to capture in your vlog: cooking, studying, traveling on a train, whatever.

Therefore, vlogs are staged, although probably less staged than fiction. And by “staged,” I don’t mean it’s fake. If you watch a theater production, which is staged, you wouldn’t say it’s fake. In many ways, theater is more real than real life.

What I mean by “staged” is that the final product requires planning. One doesn’t vlog by chance, basically. And in that regard, it’s not too different from feature films. You really can’t make a feature film by chance.

This podcast is the same as those video plus audio projects in that it is staged. It is planned. I don’t usually sit in a walk-in closet all day long, talking into a microphone.

But it requires nowhere near as much planning as producing video and audio, which, according to my aforementioned theory, might be why I’m more attracted to audio.

With podcasting, I don’t have to pick my clothes. With podcasting, I don’t have to clean my walk-in closet. It’s definitely more lightweight than video. And I like lightweight. As I mentioned in the previous episode, I want to live in a flying house. And for that purpose, I could keep the audio files of multiple seasons of this podcast in a single tiny flash drive. With video, I couldn’t.

Although… yeah if I really did live in a flying house, I would definitely do some kind of video project. Yeah. I mean, can you imagine the view from a flying house floating above the ocean? It would be a shame not to share that view with the world—unless other people also live in flying homes, in which case, it won’t be a big deal. Then I’d probably sit in the walk-in closet of my flying house and do a podcast from there.

But, anyway, to summarize all this: voice. Intangible. Feather-light. And long-lasting.

This is my voice.

And I am speaking to you.


4: Manipulation and correction

00:16:14-00:19:55

[Transition Effect: SEVEN WONDERS, piano and keyboard slow charm melody in E-flat - Artlist Original]

Recently, as I was considering starting this podcast, I started thinking more consciously about my attitude toward images, especially online images, and why they feel so different from digital audio recordings.

With digital images… for whatever reason, I always get this sense that they could be manipulated. This seems very weird, because audio can be manipulated, too, just like images. In fact, maybe it’s easier to do. I don’t know.

Hmm…

I’ve never tried audio manipulation. I know that there are apps that distort your voice, but that’s just it: such apps are for distortion effects, as far as I know. Those voice distortion apps are like Instagram filters, where you can tell there is a filter. Meaning, it’s obvious that the pic isn’t in its original state.

Whereas, all I’ve done with audio so far is cleaning it so it doesn’t hurt your ears. And I wouldn’t call that manipulation. It’s just... yeah, it’s just basically cleaning. To bring the audio to a usable state.

And I mean, the word manipulation doesn’t necessarily need to convey anything negative. Image manipulation is a thing and there’s no moral judgment attached to that phrase. But I’m saying, regardless of that, if I were to use the word “manipulation,” I would probably use it for a process where the creator is trying to influence how people feel about a final product.

For example, when you color-grade a film. Like, the real world isn’t that teal-and-orange like in blockbuster movies.

But, color-correction? Making the visuals look more in line with the real world? Does that also count as manipulation?

Hmm. Yeah. I don’t know what the professional lingo is there. With my audio, for this podcast, I basically did the equivalent of color-correction. Cleaning.


5: The rest of the population?

00:19:55-00:26:23

[Transition effect: SEVEN WONDERS, piano and keyboard surprise motif keys E-flat maj 7th - Artlist Original]

But anyway, yeah. I am an audio person. I prefer audio over video, and... I don’t know. Am I rare?

There certainly seems to be a common assumption, I think, that humans are more or less visual creatures. Compared to other animals on this planet, we rely on our eyes a lot more than our noses or ears. Say, compared to a dog or a cat. They hear and smell things that we do not, whereas their eyesight isn’t as sharp as a human’s.

Although… cats can see way better than humans when it’s dark.

Also, are humans really more reliant on visuals than audio?

Because, another piece of knowledge that seems to be common in human society is this: when you make audiovisual content, your visuals can be shit, but never your audio.

Of course, it would be better if neither your visuals nor audio were shit, but if you had to choose between the two, then let your visuals be shit.

Because... Imagine there’s a movie with really nice, gorgeous, slick images. Some super skilled cinematographer shot it with the best state-of-the-art camera and it’s gorgeous…

…but the audio is shit.

I think fewer people would sit through two hours of that movie, compared to how many people would sit through two hours of a different movie with superb audio but really shaky, distorted, and/or busy images.

So… yeah. Maybe humans, in general, might actually be more sensitive to audio than video.

Or, what this means is that we do rely on visuals more, which is why our eyes are so... toughened up? Kinda... ready to take on the ugly? But with hearing, it’s more sensitive, and people have a way lower tolerance for bad audio than for bad visuals.

Although, maybe the simple reason for audio sensitivity is this: you can close your eyes, but you can’t close your ears.

Seriously. Can’t close the ears.

[Music: Forest - LiQWYD]

I’ve mentioned this in previous episodes and I’ll say this again. Your ability to shut down the device on which you are currently playing my voice was and still is one of the reasons I want to do a podcast. It’s also one of the reasons I like digital interactions in general.

I mean, have you ever thought about what a luxury this is? The ability to make someone shut the fuck up if you want them to?

You can’t do that in real life. I wish I could do that in real life. I wish I could block someone and pretend they didn’t exist.

But I can’t, which is why I want to give other people at least the digital option to turn off my voice whenever they want to.

Seriously, folks. I’m sure you know, because if you’re listening to this, you have insomnia. And the ability to shut down noise is most critical in falling asleep. Countless times in my life have I wished for earlids, just like we have eyelids. Seriously, what’s the deal with that? Why don’t we get to have earlids? It makes total sense to have them. I see why we don’t have nostril-lids. But earlids, why not?

(sigh) The things I wish for.

[Music continues, then ends.]


6: A premise that works

00:26:23-00:37:52

Maybe this, our inability to close our ears as fully as we can close our eyes, is why we learned to be numb to sound in certain ways.

[Sound Effect: Iceland - Indoor Ambience, Restaurant, Loud Walla, People Chatter, Dishes SFX - Rob Kubicki]

Simply put, if you’re sitting in a booth at a restaurant, and you’re sitting next to your friend, you don’t necessarily hear your friend’s stomach grumbling. And maybe if you’re all chewing food, you don’t necessarily hear other people’s chewing food at the same time as you’re chewing food, even when you’re sitting right next to each other. You know? There are limits to perceiving sound.

But seeing? You can see everything, so long as you don’t block the… sight path with something. That something could be your eyelids, it could be the walls that separate the restaurant booths, or a door. At any rate, so long as something isn’t actively blocking your view, you can see things.

[Sound effect FADES OUT.]

So there’s this weird two-sidedness going on. On the one side, humans in general seem to be more sensitive to sound versus visual information—especially if it’s prolonged, repetitive, ugly sound, such as a two-hour feature film with messy audio.

But on the other side, we kinda… ignore a lot of noises out there. Otherwise we would go crazy.

Speaking of going crazy because of sounds…

[Music: For a Fistful of Spaghetti - Sémø]

One time I used to live in this studio apartment in Southern California, and the rent was fifteen hundred dollars a month. And yet the walls were made of the thinnest wood panels ever. And I could hear my neighbor fart. Literally. Every single day. And I guess that person had to hear me fart too?

But at least I didn’t see the person fart. And I didn’t have to smell the fart. We didn’t have to smell each other’s farts.

Gargh. Stupid LA area. So overpriced.

Yeah.

[Music ends abruptly.]

So anyway. The fart wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.

What I did wanna talk about was that this… ability to witness visual information is maybe why there’s so much fascination about influencers in the modern society. It seems that a lot of the elements that make a person an influencer have to do with visual information.

The way they dress, for example.

The way they move, as evinced by all the dance videos on Tiktok.

You know. Things you can see.

And I think living in this culture might be why I am so reluctant to show my face.

Because those influencers, and all the politicians, and anyone who has their face out there makes me think of a story.

And here’s where we start talking about the really weird stuff: Death Note. (Real-people version is here.)

[Music: The Eye of the Devil - Roland Bingaman]

It’s a… I think in English you call it manga. It’s a Japanese manga. I read it in comic book format, but I think there is a real-life version of it. I will look it up and link those things in the show notes.

Anyway, Death Note is a story where the premise is this: ‘If you know someone’s face and their real name, and you write that person’s real name and the cause of death on this notebook called Death Note, that person will end up dying according to the cause of death that you wrote down.’

Spooky, eh?

I read it more than a decade ago. Or at least part of it. I think… I think I did not read the story to the end, because when I was reading it, the story hadn’t been completed yet. So I was waiting for the next book, but then forgot about it or got busy or something like that.

But the beginning part, I had so much fun reading. And I thought it was such a cool idea. But at the time, I didn’t think about why I thought it was a cool idea beyond the superficial fact that yes, it was extremely cathartic to follow this main character with the ability to kill people in such an elegant manner.

And folks, a reminder: I am a storyteller. I do this podcast and also I write fiction stories. When I say “elegantly killing people,” I mean that literally, this guy is killing people without even worrying about his fingerprints getting anywhere. There might be blood, you know, depending on what cause of death he chose for a specific victim, but it’s not like the police will find a strand of his hair in the pool of blood. It’s pretty cool, story-wise.

[Music ends.]

But in the real world, recently, just… with Tiktok and Instagram and everything… Influencer culture. So many faces. Everywhere. All these people showing their faces and sharing their names everywhere.

And for the first time, I wondered: Why does this premise make sense to me?

I mean, I know that a premise is something that you accept at the beginning of a story, so I’m not talking about why I accepted the basic setting of a story. I’m also not talking about me actually believing that the Death Note would be possible in the world we live in.

What I’m saying is, “Why didn’t I immediately say No to this idea that a real name and someone’s face can have enough power to kill someone?”

Isn’t it strange?

Because, imagine if the premise of the Death Note had been, “If you know someone’s height and weight and write down those numbers, you can kill that person.”

Then I think a lot of people would’ve cried Bullshit! and the story wouldn’t have been nearly as popular as it is. In fact, some people might have interpreted that premise as humorous, which is like... the opposite of what the story is.

And similarly, I think if the premise had been “If you know someone’s name and voice, you can kill that person,” then… I feel like… I wouldn’t have believed it.

Like, people can’t even get used to their recorded voices. Their very own voices sound strange when it’s recorded.

So I would’ve doubted the premise, if it had involved recognizing other people by voice.

But face and name?

Heck yeah. I bought it. Totally.

Which is so weird, because you can change your real name. You can get plastic surgery and change your real face. Such processes of change are something real, in our world. They aren’t fantastic elements of fiction.

And yet there I was, a kid reading these mangas more than a decade ago, finding myself totally accepting the premise that you can kill people, simply by knowing their face and name.


7: Tell me your name, show me your face

00:37:52-00:42:16

[Music: The Eye of the Devil - Roland Bingaman]

Here’s another example that’s really similar to the Death Note, when it comes to the power of face and name.

Exorcism. If you watch an exorcism movie, literally any movie in that genre, you will see a scene where the exorcist screams at the devil and tells them, “Tell me your name!!!”

If you’re used to that genre, maybe you’ve never thought about how odd that is. I certainly haven’t thought about why, of all things, the exorcist asks for the devil’s name.

Usually, before demanding to know the devil’s real name, there’s a scene where the exorcist attempts to make the devil show its real face. Because, what exorcists do is to exorcise devils from people’s bodies. So very often, before demanding to know the devil’s name, they’ve already made the devil sort of… manifest? visually?

The person who’s suffering from the possession might suddenly show fangs or their blood vessels become thicker and stand out.

You can see the devil. So now, the exorcist wants its real name.

This combination of face and name is exactly what enables the owner of a Death Note to kill a person remotely.

Know the face, know the name. Now you have power over your target.

[Music continues, then ends.]

So. It’s no big surprise that a lot of people surfing the Internet world do not reveal their face and real name. Do they think about exorcism and Death Note? Probably not.

But. Whatever it is that makes exorcism and Death Note believable—that thing, is probably what motivates those people not to reveal their face and name. Fiction doesn’t come out of nowhere.

With all that said.

What about me?

Here I am.

A disembodied voice.

No face.

Using a pen name.

Am I the devil? A devil? Am I scared of your Death Note or exorcism skills?

The short answer is: no.

In fact, at the theoretical level, I would be extremely excited to witness exorcism or Death Note. I wouldn’t wanna be the target, but… I’m not afraid of being exposed, exactly.

Actually, here. Another digression, or maybe it isn’t a digression. It’s related to why I’m not afraid of being exposed. And I think it’s worth mentioning.


8: I know the name, I know the face

00:42:16-00:46:40

[Music: The Circus of Flies - Francesco D'Andrea]

About two years ago, something happened near where I live. This one person… went to a public park… and… attacked someone, verbally.

The same attacker went to a local shopping mall… and physically attacked someone else.

Apparently, this attacker had been attacking people… for quite some time.

And so, the police arrested this person.

And then the police released this person because someone paid the bail.

You know how much the bail was?

A dollar.

Yes, you heard that right. A dollar.

You can walk around a park, verbally attacking people, and go to a shopping mall and literally hit people, but you will get out of jail if someone you know is willing to pay one dollar.

Ever since those incidents happened, I don’t go to that park. I used to go to that park once or twice a week for years, before it happened. But now? I just don’t feel like going. I am in that target group that this person likes to attack. And I think I’m already too old for bravado. Seriously, I saw that person’s picture, and I’m half their size. People, I can get shoes from the Zara kids section. My Converse size, you know that sneakers brand, my size for that brand is three. THREE. Granted that they have an especially weird sizing chart, but still. That’s how small my feet are. The rest of my body parts are correspondingly small.

This attacker is not small. If I were attacked, who knows, I might die.

Which might be good for the world as a whole, because then that person would stay in jail. Maybe. Just maybe. I could be a martyr. Mar… tyr…

But even as a martyr, and even as I know this attacker’s name and face, I wouldn’t be an exorcist.

And I have no Death Note.

So, you see, knowing someone’s name and face in the real world… doesn’t really do much. Even when that person is a literal criminal, it doesn’t do much.

So of course, I’m not afraid of having my essence exposed by revealing my name and face.

[Music continues, then ends.]


9: No, it’s not safer

00:46:40-00:50:28

What I am is… I am concerned about the idea of wasting time on being identified by some kind of… fake essence. By which I mean, I am actually more worried that my true essence won’t be identified.

What’s in a legal name?

I’m saying, not much. First of all, I didn’t pick it. My parents picked it. I don’t dislike my legal name, but well, I had no say in it. That’s just the plain simple truth.

And then that name was used to go through a bunch of schooling that I had no say in. And then I used that same legal name to go work at places that have nothing to do with my life anymore.

It is truly fascinating to me that apps like Clubhouse think that a real name will somehow create a “safer space,” whatever that means. And now apparently, Spotify thinks it’s a good idea to use the same real-name policy with its Greenroom app.

And I just find it… fascinating.

Short of having a Death Note, I don’t know how knowing a person’s real name does anything. At all. You can go hit people in the park right now, and if you’re lucky, you’ll only have to pay a dollar bail. So what is anyone ever gonna do about someone getting offended about someone saying something on a friggin’ chat app? My answer: not much.

And as to my face. What’s in a face?

Not much either.

But what I’m saying is this: that “not much” has never stopped anybody from trying to attach a meaning that doesn’t exist.

That attacker in the park looked at people, identified whatever delusional attributes based on visual information, and attacked.

And many celebrities experience similar things. People criticizing their looks. Clothing. Blah blah blah.

And at the same time, anybody could get a new haircut, a new whole body, with enough motivation and money.

So... killing someone by identifying the true essence through their real name and face? Nope, won’t work.

But killing someone by identifying the wrong essence and driving them to extreme fury or depression? Maybe.


10: How to raise a flower

00:50:28-01:03:55

[Music: Seed to Flower - Ardie Son]

There are apps these days, which tell you the name of a flower when you take a picture of it with your phone. The app can tell you how much and how often you should water the plant, how much sun it needs, what the soil should be like.

The thing is, for humans, there is no such app.

So, if someone were to claim that they know the true essence of someone else based on knowing their face and name, they’d be delusional.

The people who claim such things have absolutely no idea how much and how often to water the other person they’re claiming to know.

They have no idea about the sun, and no idea about the soil.

Figuratively-speaking.

In fact, if the person who is on the receiving end of such a claim is anything like me, then that person wouldn’t know either how much water and sun they need, for themselves. Same with what kind of soil they need.

The process of learning what water, sun, and soil is right for you is a life-long one. And even if you ever get to the answers, most likely those answers will change, and you will yet again continue to search for the updated answers.

And even if by some freak chance, a one in a million probability, someone becomes aware of… the key to unlocking another person?

Even then, most likely, the keyholder won’t be able to give what the lockholder needs. So often, you can’t even give flowers in a garden exactly what they need. You can try. But is it easy? No. Never.

[Music continues, then ends.]

A name is a shell.

A face is a shell.

But nevertheless, they are shells that need to be protected, precisely because there are people out there who think knowing a name and/or a face will actually reveal some kind of true essence within a person. They will imagine up untrue things, and who knows, maybe use that untrue information to identify their next victim in the park.

Remember I said I am in that attacker’s target group? Yup. I look like people whom this person likes to attack. This person is deluding themselves that they have the right to attack people who look a certain way because they are imagining that certain visuals match some kind of moral shortcoming. Not to say that IF people really had moral shortcomings, some rando would have the right to go around hitting them.

Even if those attackers happen to find some true information about a person what makes it their right to know that true information? What other untrue things will they conjure up from the truth? Will they search for a true address that they then will use to create an untrue delusional story about why they have the right to stalk someone?

Personally I really do not understand why apps like Clubhouse and Greenroom pretend this will not happen. It has always happened on the Internet. And no, knowing the face and name of the perpetrator won’t do shit.

[Music: Happy Gypsy - Max H.]

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to use those apps. I won’t use them for the same reason I don’t use Facebook. Some random app can’t make it their business to know my legal name, which is tied to everything related to my safety. I will create my own safe space, which obviously will not be on those apps.

In the normal world, fiction writing and podcasting do not require me to reveal my face. Or name. Also, pseudonyms are common in the creative world in general. Writers use those all the time. Youtubers use those all the time.

And most importantly, I think the end users are fine with this setup. I’ve seen readers wonder about their favorite writer’s face and real name, if the writer is using a pen name, but readers don’t expect to see a writer’s face. And here’s the critical part: they don’t demand to know the writer’s face. A writer’s face does absolutely nothing for a fiction story.

Even for Youtube. Not all Youtubers use their real name and face. If they want to share their real name and face, that’s up to them. But no one demands it.

[Music continues, then ends.]

There is an Italian writer, Elena Ferrante. That’s her pen name. And some time ago, some genius thought that he figured out her identity and published it. Needless to say, he faced a lot of backlash. It’s just a good idea not to talk about someone’s personal information publicly, unless that person put it out there very clearly. You can have all kinds of opinions about a person, but putting their information out there? Nuh-uh.

I don’t know what made this journalist… or whatever he calls himself, think that it was his public duty to tell people the name of a fiction writer. Elena Ferrante’s real name could’ve been Apple Cider and I couldn’t care less.

Personally, to me, the name of a creator is just a keyword or a tag. Or, in some cases, fine, the name works like a brand. But that’s the thing. It’s a brand. To me it’s the same as Microsoft, Apple, Google. The name of a creator is what I put in the search engine to find that person’s works.

Well, okay, unless the pen name itself means something, like say, if a writer’s name were Page Turner. But even then, I’d just go “Oh, Page Turner, haha that’s funny.” And after that point I wouldn’t think much about that name beyond what that name gives me, a.k.a. the stories that I’m trying to read.

And with faces, I care even less about faces because I don’t try to look up things using faces. In fact, personally I try not to see a writer’s face. I don’t get the fascination with human faces. I mean, I know it’s a thing that humans see faces everywhere, whenever possible, and I do too, but, I don’t consciously love faces.

Unless it’s something like vlogs, or a music video where the musician is likely to have made the whole visual experience part of their art. Unless it’s something like that, I don’t need to know someone’s face.

I guess, faces are extremely distracting for me.

Have you watched the movie Frank?

Watch that. It’s about a guy who thinks his own face is weird and so he always wears this giant mask to hide his face.

I don’t walk around in a giant mask because a giant mask would draw more attention than just walking around with my own face, but I can see how a person could think their face is just this weird, weird thing.

So, it’s nice that nobody expects to see my face. Fiction-writing and podcasting are such ideal fields to be in for people who share my preferences.

But it’s interesting, isn’t it, why in creative fields, it seems that most people are civilized enough not to doxx the creators?

I guess one simple reason is that most podcasters or fiction writers or Youtubers aren’t trying to get hired for a job. There’s no need for background checks.

But also I think there’s a deeper reason for it: the power of anonymity.


11: To be unafraid

01:03:55-01:07:28

[Transition Effect: SEVEN WONDERS, piano, singular note E flat and B flat]

Anonymity.

And its relationship to fear.

An inverse relationship, to be more precise.

More anonymity, less fear.

Less anonymity, more fear.

Not because being in the open triggers direct fear, but because of all the indirect, untrue, fake essence that people might attribute to someone standing in the open.

This is what I personally think and how I personally interpret events of doxxing, celebrity suicides, and the manipulation of public opinion.

And right now, I might sound paranoid. You might be right.

But what about later?

Because… as I said at the beginning of this episode, podcasts last a long time. Written words last a long time. And even though videos would require larger flash drives, they do last a long time.

And in this culture where some people think it’s their right to shut other people up, how will this… body of work that each creator has amassed come back to haunt them later on?

So again, there’s a weird, ironic two-sidedness going on. Knowing someone’s name and face will do absolutely nothing to put that person in jail. But. But. Knowing someone’s name and face could trigger a herd of lemmings to attack someone, living or dead.

And honestly, completely honestly, I think even the herd of lemmings knows that it’s bad.

Because there has to be someone out there who can say what they want to say, unafraid of losing their job. And because many creators aren’t looking to get hired, who would be better candidates to speak their minds than them?

The creator… and every creator is a storyteller… The storyteller should be able to tell the story, unafraid of anything.

Unafraid of exorcism.

Unafraid of the Death Note.

And unafraid of all the people who think they’ve gotten close to the essence, when they aren’t even an exorcist or the Death Note.

Maybe a storyteller should intend to tell a story that others might wanna exorcise. Why not dare the Death Note?


12: Book burning

01:07:28-01:16:53

[Music: Chilean Seabass - J A V A]

A long while ago, I heard about some religious groups that burned Harry Potter books [+ more here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/04/polish-priest-apologises-for-harry-potter-book-burning], claiming that they’re the books of the devil.

I find that infinitely amusing. And ironically, I think I would feel totally honored by someone burning my books. It’s insanely fascinating that this group of people attempted to trap something so shapeless and formless as a story into a shape and form, specifically in order to destroy that shape and form.

Literally, you can’t kill Harry Potter, the story. You can’t. This has nothing to do with J.K.Rowling, by the way. This book burning incident happened way before everything that happened on Twitter, which I frankly do not know the details of because I stay far, far, far away from Twitter. If there is one place online that I avoid like the plague, as much as Facebook, it’s Twitter.

Anyway. The point is, the reason these religious groups tried to burn the Harry Potter books was literally because of the book. Not anything else. Not politics, not anything. They thought the story in the book was evil because it promoted Satanism.

So they burned the book. After buying the book.

It’s stupid and touching at the same time. To me, book burning doesn’t even work symbolically. I think it definitely would’ve worked beyond symbolism in an era where books couldn’t be easily created. But folks. This was after Harry Potter made an appearance in this world. So, this wasn’t the middle ages. This wasn’t even during Prohibition.

This happened in the 21st century. A group of people thought that burning books could work as a meaningful symbol in the age of mass book printing and the Internet. Absolutely fascinating.

Note that I’m not saying that these religious groups should have liked Harry Potter. I don’t care if they like or dislike or love or hate Harry Potter.

Note also that I’m not saying these religious groups shouldn’t believe in what they believe in.

My question is this: What did they think book burning was gonna accomplish in the 21st century? I mean, if you’re going to hate something, do something that will do real damage to the thing you hate. Buying someone’s books and then burning them benefits the book’s writer and does nothing to damage the story.

That’s why in a twisted way, I think it would be an honor for a group of people to waste this much time and resources to burn my books. Like, “Wow, you actually read my story and hate it that much and will give me that much marketing material to talk about? Thanks!”

Imagine the content I could make from that book burning! If they were to tell me about that book burning, I would hire a film crew to go make a friggin’ documentary about the whole thing.

And my recording the whole event would be good for both parties, because the book burners, don’t they need a recording of having burned the book? Otherwise, how would they prove that the books ever existed, and now are gone?

It’s a classic win-win scenario, making a documentary out of it.

But… yeah, I don’t think this will happen to me, ever. First of all, it’s incredibly difficult to become as famous as J.K. Rowling. And also, the most hilarious part is that my stories aren’t even in book format.

I mostly read fiction digitally. I read too much to keep all of them in my house. And in the way I read, I write. I write digitally.

So if there is going to be a religious group that wants to burn my creations for some symbolic purpose, here’s a tip for that group: you gotta print out everything that I’ve ever written and then burn that.

Yup. You will have to make the books first, before you can burn them.

But the thing is, you will have to sign up for my Vault, which is what I call the website where I keep all my stories, at the moment. And when you sign up, Stripe will have your credit card information. And they will know your address. Just so you know. You can’t do this while staying fully anonymous. I hope that’s not the expectation If you’re going to destroy someone’s creations, then at the very least, you gotta be able to stake something. Such as, your anonymity.

Oh and also, if you, the religious group people, want to really put shape and form to the concept of “sacrifice” or “exorcism” or, I don’t know, whatever you call getting close to your gods or God or whoever, what you might wanna do is buy a bunch of iPads, then pay me by signing up for my Vault so that you can access my stories, and then burn those iPads, instead of trying to print the stories on some cheap paper.

If anybody burns multiple iPads just to prove that they hate Satan and love God? Wow. Respect. That’s a whole lot of sacrifice. Burning apples and burning money. Way to go to show your devotion.

Just know this. You will never ever be able to fully exorcise or Death-Note any story no matter what you do.

You can’t exorcise or Death-Note ideas, especially in this age where information lasts pretty much eternally. Forever.

Just like an evil spirit without a face and without a name, the works of we the creators shall forever speak out in the voice that you’re trying so hard to destroy. Those creations live in hard drives. They live in the cloud. They live on the blockchain.

[Music ends.]

And even when some disaster were to happen and kill all the computers out there, so long as there’s one flash drive, you cannot kill them.

Their essence doesn’t reside in their shells.

They are invincible.


13: Closing

01:16:53-01:20:43

[Music: By your side - Yestalgia]

And now it’s time to wrap up all the dramatics.

I feel like this episode was particularly random. We jumped from talking about voice versus visuals, earlids, Death Note, exorcism, flower apps, anonymity in general, book burning, and so on and so forth.

So, with all this said, is it my conclusion that I will never show my face?

I don’t know.

Maybe the time will come where it’s more effective for me to show my face, if I wanna tell stories. I mean, that’s why many musicians show their faces, isn’t it? Because they have concluded that it adds to their art. Although Frank didn’t. Yeah… Frank didn’t.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever be a professional musician, but who knows what new fields of storytelling will be born in the coming years. So I won’t say that I will never show my face, but I will say that for now, I won’t show my face. And my real name.

Thanks for listening through a particularly long and weird episode.

If you liked this and know a friend who might be intrigued by all these various odd topics, please tell that friend about this podcast. If you’re curious about me and would like to stay in the loop of everything I do, the best way to do so is to sign up for my newsletter. It’s called “State of the Desk,” and uses this ancient technology called email.

All the various links that lead to all the various stuff mentioned in this episode will be listed in the show notes.

Thanks again for listening. This was Ithaka Dreaming on another one of her sleepless nights. Sweet dreams, everyone, whether you’re awake or asleep.

[Music continues, then ends.]


Pronunciation correction

J.K. Rowling rhymes with "bowling," not "howling." Apologies to J.K. Rowling.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/shortcuts/2012/sep/27/jk-rowling-name-difficult-pronounce

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