HBM121: True North

HBM host Jeff Emtman on the roof of his university’s library in 2008.
Northern Lights image by Johny Goerend via Upsplash.

Angels helped Here Be Monsters’ host Jeff Emtman once.  They picked him up and took care of him after a bad bike crash.  It was just one of many times that Jeff felt watched over by God.

Jeff used to think he might be a pastor someday.  And so, as a teenager, he made an active effort to orient his thoughts and deeds towards what God wanted. 

In this episode, Jeff tells four short stories about faith (and the lack thereof) through the metaphor of declination, or the distance in angle between the unmovable true north, and the ever shifting magnetic north.  

Producer: Jeff Emtman
Editor: Bethany Denton
Music:  The Black Spot
Photos: Jeff Emtman

View from the middle of Holden Village, where Jeff spent his Junior year of high school. Trees discussed on the episode are pictured far left. Click for a 180° panorama

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Did you hear the good news?

We have new stickers, commissioned from the incredible artist Violet Reed.

HBM069: Redwoods of the In-World

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Please Note: This episode contains a brief description of sexual violence (and casual swearing too, but we don’t usually warn you about that).

Ariadne, Jacqueline, North, and others unnamed are all part of the same system.  They share a single body.  They take turns “fronting” the body, controlling it.  And when they’re not fronting, the system members are free to roam an infinite landscape, a pocket reality that they call the “in-world”.

Together, they go to work every day, spend time with friends and lovers, go to shows, play video games, and live many aspects of a typical life. But when multiple people with varying interests, social skills, and gender identities share a single body, some things are tough.  It’s tough to live in a world that doesn’t understand you, doesn’t know your secrets, or just wants to diagnose you.

The system members refer to their living situation as being “plural” or “multiple”.  Psychiatry calls similar situations Dissociative Identity Disorder.  The system members don’t identify with this diagnosis, as it requires the multiplicity to be hindrance.  They say it’s the opposite of a hindrance--it’s what lets them survive.

Another perspective on multiplicity can be found in the work of philosopher John Perry.  1978, he published a paper called A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality which critiques popular assumptions of personal identity.  This writing was brought to our attention by Barry Lam, the producer of a soon-to-be released philosophy podcast called Hi-Phi Nation.  

We mailed our spare recorder to the system’s home in the spring of 2016.  Over the course of several months, system members created diary entries and field recordings to share the world that Ari calls too “bright and loud”.

Producer Jeff Emtman did an interview with Jacqueline, where she also described the building process of the in-world, including the creation a spot of reverence within it--a grove of redwood trees modeled on a forest near Oakland.

One day, Jacqueline hopes to move from the city to the wilderness and have dogs.  Jacqueline said that there are no current plans to integrate the system.

We found out about Ari, North, Jacqueline et al because we asked for listeners to tell us their secrets.   If you have a secret you’d like to share, please get in touch.

This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton.  Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.  

Music: The Black Spot

In other news:  there’s a chance that you subscribed to our podcast while you were looking for the work of another podcaster named Derek Hayes.  He has a show that’s also about monsters (though his are more the bigfoot, chupacabra and hellhound variety).  Until recently, his show had a very similar name to ours.  So, to clear up any confusion, Derek’s changed his podcast’s name to Monsters Among Us.