WILHELM:

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This has the distinction of being my 101st blog; which is more of an achievement to me than having completed my 100th blog, because 101 has two ones in it and as such is a better number than 100! That said I wanted to mention the infamous Wilhelm scream. It can be heard at the link following this blog. I know you’ve heard it because it’s been in so many films, a lot of which are George Lucas movies. The Wilhelm scream is a sound effect that’s been used by Hollywood over 200 times thus far. To name a few movies where it’s been used: Star Wars, Planet of The Apes, countless Disney cartoons. It was first heard in a 1951 western movie.

You’re saying, Sure I’ve heard that scream. But you’re also saying I need to refresh my memory. I need to go listen to it. I’ve definitely heard it because I’ve seen those movies but what EXACTLY does it sound like? Isn’t memory a curious thing? “Fuzzy Trace Theory” tells us there are two types of memory:

  • verbatim traces: remembering things exactly, word-for-word, and
  • gist traces: remembering the general meaning of things

NOTE: the word ‘gist’ has a soft g. It’s a little pet peeve of mine that I forgot to include in my last (100th) blog. I wince when people use soft g’s when they should use hard g’s and vice versa. This stems in part from my pedantic nature but also because my maiden name was Gerry with a hard G and everyone pronounced it ”Jerry” more often than not. In fact in high school, when I started to sit next to a boy in studyhall named Tom, a new jibe was born: “Look, it’s Tom and Jerry!” But I digress.

The subconscious mind is sort of like the Wilhelm scream, don’t you think? We are aware of mantras and subliminal messages being our own personal soundtracks or sound effects, that play hundreds of times in the back of our own minds, but do we truly listen to what EXACTLY verbatim, these mantras are sounding like? Here are some common negative mantras from Robert Moss found at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/dreamgates/2012/02/spit-out-your-negative-mantras.html :      (Change a few Parts Of Speech as you read the negative mantras and that’s the difference between can and can’t.)

“I’m too old”

“I’m a klutz”

“I don’t have the money to do what I want”

“My job sucks.”

“I can’t draw” (or write, or hang-glide, or speak in public)

I’m no good at…” (fill in the blank)

“I have no choice”

“It’s not up to me”

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So, are you getting my gist? A scream is a scream is a scream. A mantra replays and replays and replays. Until we’re AWARE. Only then can we see it in a new way. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, states that 10,000 hours is the magic number of practice needed to make someone an expert at something. But it’s actually the QUALITY of the practice that matters; isn’t it? If you do something 10,000 hours, and you’re doing it the wrong way and making mistakes, your body will have developed muscle memory and ta-da! You’re an expert at perfecting the mistake!

Fuzzy Trace Theory explains to us that sometimes we aren’t aware of something in a verbatim way, we are just hearing the gist of it. I never want to see a tree and think a tree is a tree is a tree. Here’s something everyone should do: Schedule out some time for yourself on a nice Autumn day or whatever season it happens to be, that’s not important – it’s just that it’s Autumn as I write this – and browse around an antique shop.

There’s no need to over-analyze your memories as they well up (is this gist or verbatim? It’s a fuzzy trace…) and they will surface. Here’s some vintage antique shop items:

il_570xN.460530368_e3gwthis image found at https://www.etsy.com/listing/151579677/instant-download-printable-paper-doll?ref=market

il_570xN.370567589_lv2mthis image found at https://www.etsy.com/listing/108207030/vintage-paper-doll-set-with-mother-child?ref=market

These are examples of vintage paperdolls, similar to the ones I used to adore when I was a child. Perhaps I coveted these dolls in particular. I can’t say. I know I had a big collection and spent hours and hours with them, but I don’t recall exactly what they looked like. I know what it felt like to play with them. I know what it felt like when Star Wars first came out. I stood in a very long line to get in and ended up standing in more lines. I saw it numerous times. The local newspaper was there and I was one of the kids standing in line who was interviewed. They even followed up my interview with a telephone call the next day.

“How many times have you seen the movie?”

“Six.”

At the time, I was about 12 years old. Not only did I not know that George Lucas used a scream in Star Wars which was the same sound effect used in the film Charge at Feather River when a man named Wilhelm is struck in the leg by an arrow, but I wouldn’t have cared if I did know.

Another thing happened to me when I was 12 which has just surfaced in my head like a bobbing buoy. It was Sunday. Apparently our old black and white TV was showing a marathon of Marx Brothers movies. I wanted to play outside but my father wanted me to watch the marathon with him. “But Kimmy,” he said, “you have to watch them with me today. After the marathon they’re burning all movies with the Marx Brothers in them!” My father let me in on his ruse AFTER I sat and watched ALL the films with him. No one was burning anything! I can’t remember a single plot line, but I remember how it felt spending a Sunday afternoon laughing with my father.

Come to think of it, I’ve sat through a whole lot of westerns with my father, and it’s probable that I’ve seen Charge at Feather River with him. But I’m not sure. Westerns seem to blend one into another and the memory gets fuzzy! Happy 101st blog to me! I still remember my first blog, it was about thumb malfunctions! I’m going to have to check and see what my 11th blog was, because 11 is my favorite number.
Read more about mantras and other awareness related things at beliefnet.com

Have you liked my blog yet? There’s a button somewhere on the site… I’m getting a kick out of checking out my Stats and seeing where readers are located. MORE about the Wilhelm scream here: http://www.wilhelmscream.net/