08 Sep

Ron’s Recommendation: The Memory Palace

As with most things, I’ve come upon Nate DiMeo’s Memory Palace podcast late. Technically, this is good because it means I have well over a hundred episodes I can listen to rather than waiting breathlessly for the next one to drop.

Seriously, each of these episodes are a a great way to spend ten minutes or so. The guy is absolutely brilliant. I mean, he makes me want to write.

His formula is pretty simple: take a piece of our lives or a bit of our history that we probably haven’t really looked at before, and hold it up for us to see certain obvious (but not always evident) truths they hold. He lets us think about those truths and package then in ways that make sense to us–always leading, but never quite demanding. He lets us feel what they mean. If you’re wanting to be a storyteller, there’s extra stuff in there, too—as in analytical things you can do to figure out how they work. But really…you don’t want to do that because each of his stories does something amazing.

Just plug in and listen. I’ll give you a few suggestions below, but I’m figuring you can start anywhere and they’ll all be great.

Did I mention they’re generally only about ten minutes a pop?


Notes On an Imagined Plaque
A Washington Monument
The Year Hank Greenberg Hit 58 Home Runs
If You Have to Be a Floor

13 Apr

Kazuo Ishiguro

Often, while I go about the routine portion of my days at home, I like to listen to podcasts. I have quite eclectic tastes in this area, but in general I focus on stories and people–stories in the vein of documentaries or personal narratives, stories the likes of historical studies or discussions of scientific breakthroughs or maths or whatever, and people in the form of … well … in the form of people I think are interesting.

I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into listening to podcasts, I find the pretty much everyone is interesting if I just sit back and let them be. People have viewpoints, you see? And they have backgrounds that you couldn’t begin to expect. Given those backgrounds, they put together pieces of information and pieces of society in ways that I don’t. Interesting ways. Informative ways.

Take, for instance, this podcast of Elenor Wachtel’s interview of Kazuo Ishiguro on CBC Radio’s Writers & Company. Ishiguro is a well-respected writer, of course. But I didn’t really know anything about him at all. I knew he was Japanese. I knew he writes things others would consider “literary.” This gave me a stereotyped viewpoint of who he might be. I’m interested in art and literature, though, and even though I knew nothing much else about Kazuo Ishiguro I figured I would spend an hour with him.

I suggest you do so, also. I suggest you listen to his talk and let his existence change you.

If you do you’ll hear different takes on what love means.

You’ll hear what it’s like to grow up “other” without really realizing it (which is perhaps stranger than that sounds–Ishiguro is Japanese, but grew up British, and speaks with a full British accent, for example). You’ll hear interesting takes about Japanese history, and what it means to be from Nagasaki (a place that cannot possibly escape being deeply informed by its history with the atomic bomb). You’ll hear about how songs and lyrics relate to short stories and literature–and in between the cracks you can pick out small slices of what it means to be an artist.

And who knows what else you’ll learn, or merely think about differently. You are a different person than I am. So if you do listen to Ishiguro speak, I’m sure you’ll carry away something I’ll miss.

So, yes, I admit I like listening to podcasts. I like them because to absorb them you have to give them time. You have to concentrate. I like them because you have to listen, to actually engage with their content. And I like them because when you do that, you can find really interesting people who can teach you really interesting things.