Episode 41: Palimpsest - Something to COnsider…


(Music fades in)

            I feel fairly confident in saying I have a pathological fear of being misconstrued. Not sure why I would fear that, but I’m just pretty sure that I do. But I know that such a comment should probably come from a professional and not from the clouded mind of the person supposedly suffering from that affliction, but yeah, it is what it currently is, I guess.

            Maybe you’ve noticed. Maybe that was the only logical conclusion to every other thing I’ve been saying or apology I’ve made. Or maybe it’s something I have said just in different words. Yeah, it’s getting very hard to keep track, but I feel the need to try, even if I don’t think people are going to listen to every single episode or hold me accountable for being repetitive. Because that’s how life works when you aren’t making a plot driven podcast and when you make a lot of that podcast. But this is probably that same problem in a different pattern, I guess. In which I’m worried about being seen as forgetful or uncaring because I said the same thing twice.

            Yeah, if you couldn’t tell day to day life for me can be a lot of fun. Sarcasm. But it does create complications for this podcast from time to time. Not sarcasm and relevant today. And the irony is, that this episode is actually going to explore an aspect of it.

            Or is irony even the right word?

(Music fades out)

            Hi. It’s M. Welcome to Episode 41.

(Music fades in)

            Today, I’m going to be returning to a podcast I’ve talked about before in one of the medley episodes. Palimpsest. Second time around and that word isn’t less intimidating in a script never mind when you are recording that script. So that hasn’t changed.

            Other things have. For example, Palimpsest has wrapped up season 2. I.e. once again, now is prime time to binge the series. After all, you don’t need to wait for each new episode or deal with the related agony. But it’s more than just having a new season under its belt. That new season actually tells a different story with a new set of characters. It’s almost a clean break with the exception of the over-arching theme the show is named for.

            And this is where I remind you what “palimpsest” is in a general sense. A palimpsest is a manuscript page or something vaguely akin to a manuscript page that was reused. The original text was forced off or just faded away over time, and in the interest of utility—or to be cost-effective because this term was originally coined and most relevant at a time when writing utensils came at a great expense—the old was given a new chance and was reused.

            However, the original text—on some level—still remained, peaking through the new if you looked hard enough.

            You can see that in the story. And it was this observation that stuck with me when I was making my initial remarks, lingers to the point that I reference the podcast in an attempt to make the occasional point in day to day conversations, and is on my mind yet again. Some themes are inescapable, I guess. For all of us or for each their own.

            And that’s all well in good, but where is this “potentially controversial” statement I was teasing. Well, here it is. And I’m only including it because my remarks are likely shaped by this lens, so it will probably help you understand them to know this. It doesn’t make it any easier to say this, but I genuinely think I don’t have a choice.

            Like I said, in this podcast, you have—so far—two different seasons, each with their own story and characters. And… look, season 2 is very good. I recommend it. It’s a wonderful story, well-written and well-performed. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved it very much, but season one will always have a special place in my heart, she says through gritted teeth because yeah that’s not a great thing to say, is it?

(Music restarts)

            And that feels like a sacrilegious thing to say. Or it feels like I’m looking at my friend who has two kids and the kids aren’t around, so it’s just the two of us. And I have just looked this friend in the eye and confessed that I preferred one child over the other. I mean, I’m not going to be obvious about it. I’m not going to treat them differently in a very public fashion. But in the sanctity of my own brain, I will always hold a preference.

            Once again, kids don’t need to know. There’s absolutely no way they will be effected by this. It’s just something that I have now said aloud and into the universe.

            Oh boy, like I said though, season two is still beautiful. Nothing could change that for me, but I’m not going to have the same relationship with it that I have with season one. And everything that I’m thinking right now stems from that relationship with season one. Even though, I really can’t explain to you why I latched onto season one like I did and not to season two.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            It might have been something as simple as a matter of novelty. I hadn’t heard a story like season one of Palimpsest before what with the way it intertwines past and present in a very organic way. Partially because of the way the story is told through a specific character who is at the literal and figurative heart of everything in a way that I could very much relate to. And that’s not clear.

            Look, it’s hard to talk about Palimpsest without spoiling it. In my opinion, the stories of both seasons benefit from going in knowing as little as possible. Discovery is—in my opinion—part of the experience. And while I can’t say that either story was designed that way, I’m saying this largely out of habit because that’s what I tell friends, family, and co-workers when I recommend this podcast.

            More specifically, I’ll say something like, “Wait there’s this podcast called Palimpsest that’s really good and whose themes are related to this conversation (and/or that you will really like it all depends on context) and you really need to listen to it. But like, I can’t tell you what it’s about because that would ruin. Just listen. Here, I can load it up on your phone right now. Oh you don’t have a podcast player app on your phone. Here’s this one that’s free to use. We can download it right now. Everything will be fine.”


            Once again, I am a hit at parties, if you couldn’t already tell.

            But with that in mind, once again, it’s hard to say why exactly I want to focus on season one when I could say a lot about either season. But maybe it’s just this, modern Palimpsest and depictions of it will likely resonate with us more because this is so clearly part of our reality but as aspect of it that we struggle to put into words.

            That’s something else about stories that make them so important. Maybe you heard this in school. But I was always told that reading was supposed to improve my vocabulary by exposing me to new words in their (quote) natural setting. And that’s true. But I’m starting to think phenomena or ideas can be related to us in much the same experience. That by bearing witness to the events of other people experience we can scrape together the vocabulary necessary to explain our own perspectives or make sense of what is happening in our lives.

            To a great extent, that’s what Palimpsest season one, offered me. And the first iteration of a gift will always be the most powerful if you apply the law of marginal utility. (Pause) Which is exhibit C on why I am a great addition to any party: I will bring largely irrelevant economics terms, try to make them relevant, likely fail, and bring them up when they are otherwise not wanted.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            There’s a philosophy that I don’t actually subscribe to but that I borrow from quite often when an inconsequential argument is at a stalemate. It’s called “radical relativism,” and the most relevant part of that philosophy is its emphasis on the subjective, its argument that each individual relates and understands the world in a way that is greatly influenced by their past experiences and the lessons they have learned over the course of their lives. And so two different people can have two different takeaways from the same conversation. As words can be innocent or landmines to one but not the other. And you cannot be sure the two of you are going to pull identical cards.

            It’s why I can be so sure that I snapped at someone over something innocuous, and she doesn’t recall it at all. To her, I made an innocent remark. To me, I said something very different. Because the words in the remark had different meanings to each of us and consequently were interpreted differently. Or were later ripped apart by my social insecurity.

            I bring this up because to me, it’s relevant here for two reasons. One, it can work as a justification for my preference and/or my insecurity surrounding my preference, even if it works just as a dismissal. As in, I know we’re at a stalemate, but the premises of my opinion are part and parcel with my existence as are yours, so I’m genuinely confused as to how we are going to get passed this. And also there are better uses of our time and more critical debates to be had.

            But on the other hand, Palimpsest is able to bridge the gap between one understanding of the world—namely, mine—and the others, as in someone I knew from high school who just so happened to move to my area and found me through the wonders of social media. And that’s also why I’ve been thinking so much about season one when I probably could have spent this time throwing an episode on season two together.

            C’est la vie…

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            I’m essentially repeating myself, in some regards. I’m going to do what I did last week and explore the themes of something through my own experiences and the way the themes manifested therein. It’s a new perspective which—in this context—might be most valuable for not spoiling anything. So I’ll say again. After you listen to this (or even before depending on the user interface of your player of choice or your preference), jump into Palimpsest. Binge it. Or listen leisurely. You have options.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            I’m not the best at managing my Facebook page. And I know, I know. I probably shouldn’t have one at all. But the video calling feature works better globally than most of the alternatives I’ve tried, especially in very specific rural areas. Or that was the case a while go. And then everyone in the family grew too complacent to once again cycle through all the alternatives and the new ones that are now on the market.

            Yeah it’s mostly out of convenience. And privacy concerns are rather far from my mind. I certainly don’t post on there. And if its attempts to translate posts are any indication, the A.I. isn’t great with the language I usually speak with my family, so I’m at peace with this state of affairs.

            But the flip side of that is that I haven’t been sorting through my friends list as I should be. Adding people is one thing, a thing that I find irrelevant to my day to day life and to this conversation. The issue is that I am not clearing people out like I should be. And yes I should be.

            Relationships will die organically. Or they used to. After all, some people are only in your life because of some superficial reason or out of convenience. And then those circumstances change, and so their attendance should. But then we took further control of the reins of our lives through technology and decided to change this particular thing. Or to make it a matter of choice. Which I haven’t been doing.

            And apparently other people haven’t been doing it either.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            My page isn’t up to date, but the rumor mill is. So those in my old life know where I am and with Facebook, it’s pretty easy for them to reach me. Like for all itss algorithmic sorting and problems therein, your friends’ message are given a fair bit of priority. For now, anyway, but now is the important thing.

            Because it’s the best way for my extended family to reach me in an emergency, I keep messenger on my phone and I keep my phone on at most times. I should not, but I do. And because of this real time connection, when he sent me a message, it popped up on my phone, and  I saw it almost instantly.

            Not great timing on his part, not that he would have known that. I was at my job. My supervisors whose office overlooked my desk had her door shut for a sales call, so I was free to check my phone if I thought the need be. And honestly, I did think the need was there. Just because there was something incredibly absurd about a figure from my high school years reaching out to me.

            After all, I spent my high school years largely just existing, working towards a life that was more than that. But honestly, the only other dimension to my time there was the profound discontentment I keep talking back. And that’s not something most people knew about. So what they would say about me if pressed to say to anything at all is hard to know. I don’t know if I was even enough of a presence for them to muster something akin to a platitude or half-hearted expression. Could they even recognize my name? Frankly, I wouldn’t be offended either way.

            But then there’s this guy who seems to know very well who I am. Yes, we did have more of an overlap than I did with everyone else. But regardless, common activities and a similar class schedule isn’t going to do much. Sure, I saw him all the time. And he seemed to see me, but that’s really surface level stuff. But he must have seen me. He must have known me. How else could he have thought to message me?

            We were in the same year. Graduated and left for college at the same time. It wasn’t even like we went our separate ways because our ways were never truly together in the first place, we just had a brief bit of overlap. And that’s all we would ever have.

            I left for my future, and he went onto the elite school his dad and granddad went to, like the plan had always been. And then, to everyone’s shock, he dropped out not even to go to art school but just to make art.

Frankly I wasn’t so inclined to criticize him for the move. I thought changing his name—legally and personally—to something more (quote) thespian, sounded a bit extreme, considering he came up with it during rehearsal for his very first show and didn’t give himself any time to seriously consider if this is what he wanted his new name to be in the face of some alternatives. I mean, yeah, he could have always changed it again, but it’s not the easiest process to go through.

            He went back to our hometown after dropping out. And I couldn’t imagine that was an easy homecoming. After all, I know how our community was. But going back to our hometown made a bit of sense. We didn’t have a terrible theatre scene. It wasn’t great, but it existed. As did people whom he could lean on while his parents processed the news. They eventually came around. And it might not have shocked then as much as you might think. After all, his older brother was on a similar (quote) scorched earth trajectory. And it’s always a bit easier on you when you aren’t the trailblazer. I mean, they weren’t happy, and he was dependent on them, but stilll, at some point, he had to go his own way. He couldn’t help it. There was something inevitable in it. I understand that far too well.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            But that’s an assumption. A sort of Occam’s razor approach when combined with my own personal lens. This seems like a rational interpretation of events, given the life I had lived. And it was a reason to let him reach out to me.

            It was an underlying layer, if you will, that twisted the moment. Because most people wouldn’t think twice about ignoring the message of someone they didn’t know all that well in high school years who just wants someone to give him a tour of the more trendy areas or connect him to some of the people they might have met that could lift him  up. There was a calculating aspect to his message. But even though it was there in front of me, plain as day, I chose not to focus on that. The page had swallowed up his more self-serving intentions into the trenches made by past pen strokes, whereas this potential, mutual need to escape rose up above everything else.

            And so I replied, ironically just before cueing up Palimpsest to listen to on my ride home from work. Yeah sometimes the universe is a little too heavy handed.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            I’ve noticed that people who insist on making decisions with all the relevant information in mind or those who advise others to do as much, often don’t. Yes, there is something in human nature that is inclined to make mistakes, but more than that, there’s just as lot of information to consider. And it’s easy to lose track of it all, particularly if it’s not something you ever stopped to think about.

            Like your past. Like the way it might have affected you or what is most likely to happen next as a result.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            We met up for lunch in a place by his AirBnB. He was still looking for more permanent housing, but he could afford this very expensive type of couch surfing, so he was fine, I guess. When he told me that much, something just hit me. Or I hit something. Like I was pen danced across page and hit a snag, another crevice of what had been there before.

            I had come to hate the materialism of where I grew up. It just didn’t sit well in the mind of someone who had gone through a horrible loss. Like hey this physical thing and its acquisition matters, so just ignore the very real pain in your soul that came from losing a parent. No one understood that. And I hadn’t expected them to. So I had just left, which worked out for me.


            Partially because, I suspect, no one came after me. Everyone was too busy living their own lives to invade mine, and I was doing much the same thing. So really, it worked out for all of us. For me, and I guess for him. Despite the shock he caused his family a few years ago, they had reconciled, and his parents were still supporting him with the money that had been set aside for his college tuition.

That’s their business, and it largely didn’t interest me other than to be a flashback of the status quo I had left behind.

We talked for a bit more. The conversation never improved. Even when he did ask me about my own life, my brief dip into the local theatre scene, and what I was currently doing, I just felt very disengaged. He was nice enough. Nothing he said was really all that off-putting. Not to anyone else. But his very presence alone didn’t sit right with me.

Once again, anti-climactic tale, but I walked away from that talk the second lunch was over. I even slipped my portion of the bill to the waitress while she was taking our plates and that was that. And by the way, that included, like, a thirty percent tip, just to be sure I was fully covering everything.

            Regardless that was probably rude on the surface. But I had learned that it was okay to be rude sometimes, and it’s not like I made him pay for me.

            Honestly, I thought those sorts of things didn’t bother me anymore. I thought I was over it. Many people had told me I was over it. That this discomfort of days gone by had finally been cleansed from my soul, and I had rewritten over it. But sure enough, it was still there. It shaped my presence. And to him, it likely made me an unpleasant person to be around.

            But that’s Palimpsest: a past that never really went away despite your best efforts because it is part of your present. It’s part of your present and that of the larger world around you. How you handle that—once you have that knowledge—is entirely up to you.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            It’s something I had suspected long before I picked up this podcast. And maybe you or others have had that thought too. That there is something from your past or from the past that is trying to manipulate your present when it shouldn’t be able to do that anymore. Because you or everyone else has moved on. But really, it’s never that simple. I think it’s slightly deceptive to say that our lives are linear. Deceptively simple. Really, we build up layer upon layer, and the cracks of the past are always going to be at risk of breaking through.

            That’s the perils of Palimpsest, which apparently we are all stuck practicing.

            But at least it made for a truly beautiful podcast.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

            Oh hey, look, I’m going to promote my new audio drama again. I know I said I wasn’t going to keep doing that, but who really listens through to the very end of episode anyway. And now would be a good time to jump into it, I guess. At this point, the Oracle of Dusk, as she is known, has reached out to every one of the clients in this batch, so now would be a good time to catch up?

            Here’s the first trailer. Find it wherever you are currently listening to my voice.


(Beep. Music fades in)

I have a question for you. Suppose someone knows something bad is going to happen. Or they know something important about another person. Something that needs to be said. Should they say it? Are they under any moral obligation to do so? Would you think less of them of they didn't.


Interesting thought experiment, right? Well, I have one more question for you. (Music cuts) Are you listening?

(Music fades out. Beep)