History, Podcasts and the Craft of the Metanarrative
Episode seven of “The Magnus Archives” has been one of my favorites, weaving together the horror of war, historical figures and folklore in a tragic haunting manner.
Set during World War I, “The Piper” tells of the narrator’s experience with Wilfred Owen, who was an English poet and soldier. He was one of the leading poets of the First World War, writing on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare. His poem “Dulce et decorum est” condemns the rallying cry that “it is sweet and proper to die for one’s country.”
Owen was killed in action during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice, which is fictionalized in the archive statement in this episode along with the calling of the Pied Piper as almost a god of death who stalked the battlefields. It is said that his mother received word of his death while the bells of the nearby church tolled for the end of the war.
I haven’t read very much of Owen’s poetry but this episode did a great job capturing the bleakness and horror of which he wrote.
“The Magnus Archives” is not a new podcast, but while I may be four years and about 180 episodes behind, just in case I wasn’t the last person to ever hear of it, I wanted to share how creepy, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable the show has been.
I hope more of the episodes begin to play with historical events or figures as connections between archive statements and subjects begin to appear as this episode was one of their best. From a pure entertainment standpoint, this podcast has been great, but even more than that, the structure of it and the storytelling had been excellent with a fine balance between the individual stories and the connecting story arcs.
Definitely worth checking out as much as a short story anthology as a lesson in crafting narratives.
Eat the whole bag, because let’s be honest, that bag of chips is all you can afford for dinner. Guess you shouldn’t have bought that Starbucks as you rushed between jobs.
Because if you’ve survived high school without getting shot to death by a classmate, and survived college without drinking yourself to death or getting shot to death by a classmate, then you deserve to eat the whole damn bag of chips.
Chances are you’re going to grad school now because that’s what you were conditioned to do. And since you have zero financial literacy and don’t realize you’ll be graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt that will financial and emotionally cripple you for the rest of your life—if you manage to survive grad school without getting shot to death by a classmate or random stranger at Walmart. So go ahead, live a little; eat the whole damn bag of chips.
Go ahead and eat that whole damn bag of chips, because you’re going to spend the rest of your life working six jobs and still earn less than your parents. And through it all you’ll blame yourself, having been raised under the false assumption that if you had just worked harder everything would be ok.
So go ahead and eat the whole damn bag….
After all, the planet is going to literally cook us all alive next week so that the ten people who control 99% of the world’s resources can buy another 100,000 square foot house they’ll never visit.
The updated edition also includes the essays:
“Coffee Will Kill You Instantly…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”
“Red Wine Will Cure Your Coffee Cancer…. And Other Things We’ll Tell You the Exact Opposite of Next Week”
“Avocado Toast Is Why You’re Poor”
“10 Things Millennials Have Ruined Because Wages Are Half of What They Were 40 Years Ago”
“Suck It Up, A Cure-All Guide to Mental Health”
“Your Insurance Only Covers WebMD; You Have Cancer”
…and a new poem from Lewis Black called “You’re All Fucked! / Love, Baby Boomers”
The original cover this post is based on is for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”, a collection of inspirational essays from Penguin Books. Based on those who contributed to the book, I have no doubt that these essays are full of actual positive advice from social, political, and cultural icons who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the very things I’ve mocked with my fake inspirational advice book and the essay titles included. For anyone who didn’t find this funny, I’m sorry; I was being foolish, and I was very hungry at the time.
However, I fully support eating the whole bag of chips.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb for “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”:
“Graduation day is a pivotal moment. After a lifetime of learning, and at least three years of studying, we’re thrown headfirst into the unknown world of adulthood.
That day – and the months afterwards – are full of possibilities. They can feel thrilling and rudderless, dreamy yet terrifying but it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past and look at what’s still to come.
In this collection of carefully curated speeches, Barack Obama, Gloria Steinem and Tim Minchin and many more share their advice for graduating students who have gone on to shape the world we live in. This little collection is perfect for anyone seeking inspiration, no matter which life stage they’re at.”
And just so we’re being completely honest with each other, I just ate an entire bag of chips while writing this.
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