i’ve been interested in the phenomenon of backwards masking ever since i first became aware of it, which was probably shortly after it was first reported in the late ’70s. it was incredible to me that people could be saying one thing, forwards, and, completely unconsciously, be saying a completely different thing, backwards. so, naturally, when i went to college and had access to a “professional” recording studio, with the ability to record things and play them backwards, i investigated this phenomena quite extensively. and, naturally, what i discovered is that 99% of the people who talk about “backwards masking” are completely full of shit and don’t know the first thing about the subjects in which they claim to be experts… or, for that matter, any other subject.
at this point, i would be thinking “big surprise”, but, at the time, i was still an impressionable 20-something, and was under the impression that these people “didn’t know” something on purpose, as though they were lying to the rest of us, or talking from ignorance. since then i have become aware that these people are just plain stupid, and no amount of “compassionate” education will sway them from their improbable course.
i started my “education” on the topic of backwards masking with a record (remember them?) called “Flee Pasts Ape Elf” by Orchid Spangiafora, in the late ’70s. at this point, i knew what i had heard on the news-media of the time, i.e. newspapers, radio and television, but when i was confronted with this album, it gave me a whole new perspective on what they were really talking about, and i started experimenting with my own sounds. one of my first finished examples was This Should Be A Love Song in 1979, which, among other thing, demonstrated that all speech didn’t have “ulterior motives” when played backwards. i then went into a period of examining language and developing an “alphabet” of symbols that i could use to transcribe what i heard backwards into a phonetic schema that i could then, recite forwards, record, and reverse, to make intelligible speech when played backwards, despite the fact that, when i was reciting it forwards, there was no hope of understanding what i was saying. i remember working the phrase “ritsbal yeh nawkus!” into a presentation that i was giving to my cross-cultural perspectives class, knowing full well that nobody in the class knew that i was really telling everyone to “suck on a lobster”.
i have, since, become aware of people like david oates of Reverse Speech and other people, like him, who claim that people unconsciously say things in reverse that they might never say, or even imagine, if they were saying them normally. it is my impression, having studied this phenomeonon since the mid-1970s, that people are far too stupid, forwards, to expect that, even subconsciously, they would be planning their speech to reveal the innermost secrets of their lives, in reverse, at the same time. a good example of that is the famous speech given by gary greenwald, in which he claims that Aleister Crowley was one of the most feared satanists of the 16th century. quite apart from everything else, aleister crowley would have been the first person to tell you that he was NOT a satanist, and he most definitely did NOT live in the 16th century — greenwald was only 400 years off, but who’s counting? with that level of obvious scholarship, why on earth would anyone believe that anything else he has to say is anywhere close to accurate?!? and yet, approximately 51% of americans currently believe the drivel he was spouting 25 years ago.
it is this sort of thing that convinces me that i am not human: i had to have been born somewhere else, and was kidnapped and adopted by my human parents and raised as human, because this sort of deliberate ignorance on the part of the majority of people, makes absolutely no sense to me at all.
One thought on “backwards masking”
I always liked it when we couldn’t make things come out quite right. Like Mosquito always sounding like Mosquitelo. And A Funny Joke sounding like A Funny Zhdoke. Some people hear Venus Venus Venus and some hear something else.
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