Pacing Issues in Oral Narratives

As Jen brought up, I  found myself having a difficult time focusing while listening to this week’s assignments,  This American Life, 20 Acts in 60 Minutes and House On Loon Lake. The most significant reason, I believe, why podcasts and oral recordings can be harder to follow than more palpable counterparts (e.g. books) is pacing.  When one reads a book, they follow their own mental voice and move from paragraph to paragraph at a comfortable momentum – of course, this varies from person to person, but books do not require a prerequisite reading speed nor require you to alter said speed at any time.  However, when I listen to a story such as “House On Loon Lake,” I am wholly subjected to the narrator’s pacing of events.  I cannot read ahead, skip over less-interesting passages, or linger one more poignant ones.  This can be aggravating, since I consider myself to be a quick reader and I get easily bored when I am listening to a story at what I consider a less-than-ideal rate.

Other mediums also require you to forfeit this control on how quickly you acquire events in a story (movies being the most obvious example); however, movies also rely heavily on visual communication as well as auditory, often accounting for slow dialogue with interesting visuals or actions on screen.  “House on Loon Lake” had no visuals other than those recounted by the author, so I was completely at his mercy, not only with what information I was being presented but how rapidly I was allowed to access it.  In an era of virtual, instantaneous gratification, this was EXCEEDINGLY frustrating.

House Loon Lake

A House on Loon Lake (not "the" house, unfortunately)


Intuitively, one might consider the overall length of the recording to cause boredom, but I found myself more distracted listening to “This American Life: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes” than with the substantially longer, continuous narrative of “House on Loon Lake.”  Perhaps it was difficult to submerge yourself in a story when said story was only 2 1/2 minutes long; so, as the host skipped from one piece to the next, I had not had adequate time to connect with the previous story on any emphatic level.  Although,  I particularly enjoyed “The Penguin Meets Mary Poppins,” where the Penguin, a villain from the Batman series, has dinner with Mary Poppins after realizing they both like to fly about on their umbrellas for transportation.  I found myself laughing aloud when Mary Poppins turns to the cape-wearing figure next to her and remarks that he if he positioned his cape in just the right manner, he could “fly around like a bat.”   The lack of any overarching thread connecting these stories also made listening tedious at times, but perhaps this was meant to represent the varied, sporadic nature of everyday life.


~ by victoriafrolics on January 30, 2011.

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