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For those of you who don’t know him, Mel Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was a voice actor fondly known as the “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” His more popular characterizations included Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky PigYosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the MartianSpeedy Gonzales, and many, many others. The podcast below examines Mel’s near death experience in 1961, and the events around his death in 1989. It leaves a lot of questions as to how it may be possible that the characterizations brought to life by a man may have preserved his life in 1961, and were a part of his final moments. In this case media appears to have become a part of the man.

“Cognitive cues are strategies that help the individual remember the sequence of steps, as well as content …  They are especially important to those who can’t seem to retain, or follow multi-step, or multi-element situations” (Packer, 2009).  These cues can activate neurological networks associated with them that affect the way a subject behaviorally executes their self-concept.

Discrete social identities, such as those formed based on relational roles and positions with other people and social groups, may correlate to specific neural pathways, which when cued, would lead to certain typical behavioral responses associated with them (such as specific way of talking, walking, thinking, relating to oneself and others etc.).  These discrete identities are normally not experienced as such, as the mind instantaneously re-creates a sense of a singular, continuous, unchanged, overarching self that encompasses them all – unless damaged.  Thus, while the observed behavior might change from one situation to another, a different identity may be cued when prescribed situations come into play – or possibly when another can’t respond.  Neurologically, there is interconnectedness between these circuits, and a higher order organizational principle – the sense of a unified self – that maintains continuity, and creates enough consistency in observable behavior for others to witness an underlying singular personality that changes minimally throughout many different situations. Blanc, as discussed, easily slipped in and out of various characters all of his life, and any number of times throughout a single day over the course of more than 60 years, therefore the range of possible cognitive cues for his various discrete personalities would have been exceptional. Which leads to the possibility that when his singular self could no longer respond due to physical stress or trauma, his characterizations still could.

Podcast by the group at Radiolab, with analytical contributions from my wife, Liza Persson.

Packer, L. E. (2009, Jan). Environmental Cues, Supports, and Strategies. Retrieved Nov 7, 2012, from Tourette Syndrome “Plus”: http://www.tourettesyndrome.net/disorders/executive-dysfunction/environmental-cues-supports-and-strategies/