December 31, 2021

The Ghost in the Machine

People use machines to find people they lost.

A version of the painting His Master's Voice by Francis Barraud, which was adapted into a logo for RCA Victor



Ira tells three stories about the ghosts captured whenever you record sound. (10 minutes)

Michèle Dawson Haber wrote about hearing her father’s voice on tape as a Modern Love column "Hearing His Voice Changed Everything," in The New York Times. Thanks also to Jerry Fabris, Audio Curator at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park of West Orange, New Jersey.

Act One


Vauhini Vara lost her sister when she was in college. Even though Vauhini’s a writer now, she’d never really been able to write about her sister. It’s hard to figure out what to say about something like that. Somehow, it was a computer program that helped her find the words. Tobin Low talked to her about it. (23 minutes)

We learned about this story from The Believer, which published a written version by Vauhini titled "Ghosts." She also has a book coming out which you can pre-order. It's called The Immortal King Rao.

Act Two

Father of Invention

There’s a machine lots of us encounter as a big impersonal, mechanical apparatus, that has a ghost in it. But it’s a ghost that appears to just a small handful of people. Jean Hannah Edelstein tells the story to Ira. (11 minutes)