Lost Soul

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Lost Soul[1]
Somewhere Out There
Original Broadcast Date
June 1, 1996
Joe Frank
Narrative Monologue, Serious Monologue, 58 minutes
Preceded by: An Enterprising Man
Followed by: Mountain Rain

The parish was set on the rolling hills of a rocky coastline.

Lost Soul is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series Somewhere Out There. It was originally broadcast on June 1, 1996.


Joe describes a parish on a rocky coast, the village consisting of fishers and boat builders. It has 1 church. The priest, Tristan, is a young man recently appointed, idealistic, faithful, learned. He sees the poverty of the people, the suffering from the harsh sea, disease, disaster. From confession he finds the village's leaders: its officeholders, businessmen, union leaders, and bureaucrats, are corrupt: they cheat the people, line their pockets. On his walks in the woods, he sees animals eating other animals. All this challenges his faith.

12:20: He falls in love with a beautiful young woman, Catherine, but he has vowed celibacy. He feels he can't live without her, at the same time felt he has to fulfill his priestly role for the village's people.

18:40: Tristan consults the local monsignor. He is a soft, well-fed man in his sixties. They eat a luxurious feast. The monsignor tells him that faith is meaningless, that his duty is to his parishioners, that he should forget Catherine.

26:50: Tristan returns to his village. He and Catherine make music together

27:30: During Carnival, he disguises himself so he can be with Catherine. He gets her into the woods, tells her how he feels about her, then takes off his mask. She screams and fights him. He puts his hand over her mouth to stop her screams, she goes limp. Fearful that he's killed her he takes her to the shore, puts her in a ship, rows out, intending to throw her body into the sea then drown himself.

32:00: He hears her moan. The seas get rough. With his last strength he rows back to shore. He sends her home then disappears leaving no trace.

39:30: Joe tells the story of the rabbi on his way to Rzeszów.[1] A farmer offers him a ride on his cart for 5 zlotys. The rabbi takes him up on the offer, but the horse proves useless, the 2 of them have to push the cart to Rzeszów. The rabbi pays his 5 zlotys, asks the farmer why he bothered to bring the horse. He says nothing, but sells the horse to the butcher. Joe speculates on the morals the cartwright, the farmer, the rabbi, and the horse could draw from this story. The horse's is particularly expansive.

45:20: 'What happens when there is an overflow of meaning, a surfeit of meaning, when everything is imbued with inordinate importance, everything done, experienced, imagined, every word, every thought becomes worthy of extensive interpretation and examination. There is so much meaning, the meaning becomes more important than the thing. That is, the thing itself becomes meaningless when compared to what it means.'

46:30: A river complains to a bridge that is built over it. The bridge tells him to stop complaining.

48:20: A dam is built on the river. The river feels exploited.

49:40: A flood washes away the bridge, dam, and the town it served, leaving the river alone.

51:20: 'I want to be nurturing, empowering, life-affirming. I want to leave you with a feeling of optimism, with a spring in your step, a smile on your face, hope in your heart, because there are good things in life. Yes, we know there's starvation, war, incurable diseases, but there are also beautiful sunsets, scampi, sautéed and garlic, sitting in a caf´, talking with friends. Life is too short, too precious to dwell on the inevitable unpleasantness of it all. And death shouldn't be a source of anxiety, but the condiment that quickens the flavor of everything else, the spotlight that draws you toward beauty and truth. What purpose can possibly be served by dwelling on the negative? It will, after all, take care of itself. That small pain in the small of your back is probably the beginning of rheumatoid arthritis, that lump, probably a rapidly metastasizing tumor. But if we have lost our health, it only means we regain it. And if we have suffered from financial reversal, it only suggests the possibility of getting rich. And if we have been abandoned by the person we love, then we can look forward to finding someone without all those nagging faults. So I feel poised on the brink of the cliff of happiness, about to jump into the void of well-being. I'm about to hurdle myself into an ocean of hope. I feel the happiness of the man who sees the spider at the bottom of the goblet, and drinks anyway, knowing that it will all end badly, and that everything is fatal, but who chooses to embrace life anyway, to balance the terror of being human, against the joy of being human.'

Legacy Synopsis

A young priest joins a parish in a rural fishing village. He witnesses all the suffering in the village - widows whose husbands died in fishing accidents, children suffering from diseases, the sordid confessions of townspeople, a deer eviscerated by wolves, the brutality of nature. He falls in love with a young woman in the village, and considers leaving the faith. He visits a decadent Monsignor to discuss his crisis of faith. He is told that no educated priest could believe the Christian myths and that his job is to mimic faith in order to inspire his parish. At a costume event during Carnival, he wears a sheep's head and tries to seduce the woman. He removes the mask, she is shocked it's him and screams, and he accidentally smothers her while trying to keep her quiet. Planning suicide, he takes a boat and rows out to sea with her body, only to discover that she's alive. He saves her and then disappears from the village.

A story with meaning: a rabbi pays to ride on a cart pulled by a decrepit horse, he helps to push the cart when the horse fails, and the horse is later sold to a butcher. The meaning of the story from the point of view of the cart smith, the driver, and the horse. The horse considers other lives he might have lived. What happens when there is too much meaning in a story.

A river and a bridge argue over who has the better lot in life. A dam is built, and the river extracts its revenge.

Joe wants to be inspiring and positive. A list of the good things in life. Being "poised on the brink of the cliff of happiness," seeing a spider at the bottom of the goblet and drinking anyway.


Additional credits

The original broadcast credits state: "This program was created in collaboration with David Rapkin. Recorded by Theo Mondle. Edited and mixed by Bob Carlson. Music looping by Scott Fritz. Special thanks to Jennifer Ferro, Carly Eiseman, and Esmé Gregson."


  1. Thanks to the responders at http://reddit.com/r/Poland for the town name