Mass-Observation on the radio

Jesse Thorn, who hosts the public radio show the Sound of Young America out of Los Angeles, interviewed me yesterday about “Surveillance Society,” my New Yorker article on Mass-Observation, and he’s running the interview in his latest show. He’s an enthusiastic and knowledgeable interviewer, even of a somewhat tongue-tied interviewee. If your local radio station doesn’t happen to carry his program, you can download it as an MP3 here.

The anecdote from the Mass-Observation book May the Twelfth that I attempt, without complete success, to recall from memory for Jesse during the interview reads in fact as follows: “7.20 a.m. Get up. Feel rather liverish, with a headache. Put on dressing gown and bedroom slippers—go down to kitchen—put small copper kettle (find myself thinking ‘Fancy this still going’—it has leaked slightly for years) on methylated spirit lamp. . . . I go into the kitchen and note some dead black beetles (? or cockroaches—not sure) on the floor—on their backs, my mother having used ‘Flit’ the night before. I feel slightly revolted…” I don’t know why I recalled this detail from May the Twelfth, instead of the dream a young man had of murdering Franco with a garden rake and then being dragged underwater by an octopus, but somehow the dead beetles were within easier reach of my short-term memory than the octopus was.

5 thoughts on “Mass-Observation on the radio”

  1. The bit about the garden rake would have been good, but the octopus would have been simply too much for public radio. Children might be listening.

  2. Wow, the Rousseau v Voltaire comparison is pretty impressive. That big dip around the New Year must correspond to students taking a pause in their study of the Enlightenment during their winter holidays…though the graph remains strangely consistent through the summer. Maybe the "Confessions" are just best read on the beach.

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