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Bewitched, Bothered, Bewildered

Bewitched, Bothered, Bewildered is a freely associative “gothic documentary” essay produced during 1997, and first broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s excellent Listening Room program in 1998, and since broadcast numerous times elsewhere, with themes that remain stubbornly contemporary.

Four very different conversations arranged into rotating quatrains, offering floating buoys for the listeners, who are invited to voyage down a foggy coastline by dead reckoning; the essay also became, inevitably, a meditation on the nature of making radio, for radio journeys often end in shipwreck, airwaves offering an electronic mirror for the submerged graveyard of the Atlantic. How do we navigate through such dark and beautiful vibrations?

Inspiration for the structure came from walks on the labyrinth of paths and tracks that wind through the Nantucket moors, in the company of Nat Philbrick who was working on his masterful In the Heart of the Sea at that time. The old Nantucket phrase for such a walk: rantum scoot, an open and intuitive venturing that seems to resonate very well with the nature of radio space.

Radio, like a human body floating in a vat, is nebulous, which is the very opposite of opaque, for the longer you look at a nebula, the more you see; it is simply a matter of allowing scant light to work on cognition, a process that cannot happen over the duration of a single sound bite. In deep fog, when you shine a bright light, you may actually see less – better to listen for the  buoys, the lap of the waves, and keep a mind open to every possibility.

WHO’S THERE?