Exploring the Back Catalogue

Started by SueC, January 26, 2020, 02:58:00

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Say goodbye on a night like this
If it's the last thing we ever do
You never looked as lost as this
Sometimes it doesn't even look like you
It goes dark
It goes darker still
Please stay
But I watch you like I'm made of stone
As you walk away

I'm coming to find you if it takes me all night
A witch hunt for another girl
For always and ever is always for you
Your trust
The most gorgeously stupid thing I ever cut in the world

Say hello on a day like today
Say it every time you move
The way that you look at me now
Makes me wish I was you
It goes deep
It goes deeper still
This touch
And the smile and the shake of your head
And the smile and the shake of your head

I'm coming to find you if it takes me all night
Can't stand here like this anymore
For always and ever is always for you
I want it to be perfect like before

Oh ho ho, I want to change it all
Oh ho ho, I want to change

I'm coming to find you if it takes me all night
Can't stand here like this anymore
For always and ever is always for you
I want it to be perfect like before

Oh ho ho, I want to change it all
Oh ho ho, I want to change
Oh ho ho, I want to change it all
Oh ho ho, I want to change

Musically this is a very nice song, and I think that's a great bit of saxophone on it too - as mentioned previously - but right now, I'm finishing up my "getting-to-know" explorations of The Head On The Door by specifically looking at the words to the songs.

Looking at words is a fraught thing sometimes.  Like, when you get an insurance policy, and you've lived a bit.  You no longer go, "Oh, what a nice organisation, all the things they've thought of that could go wrong for me, in the event of which they will have my back, for this very reasonable fee."  Oh no.  When you've seen a few things, you end up reading all the large-print stuff suspiciously, looking for the loopholes and the equivocating, for the weasel words and the ambiguities, the stuff that's not there, and the tiny tiny fine print that can hold all sorts of unpleasant surprises for the unwary.  You try to read between the lines as much as you read actual words, and you mutter to yourself, "OK, where's the catch?"

Similarly, after a while on this planet mixing with the crowd, you can't help but look at songs about romantic relationships the same way - if you're female anyway.  The doe-eyed stage of looking at songs like this lasts until you're around 16, and then you (hopefully) start to say to yourself, "Lofty proclamations - whether from insurance companies, or advertisers, or courting males, or repenting males, make me smell a rat!  Where is this dead rat hidden, exactly?  And just how big is this rat, and what is its state of decay?"

It's sort of sad, because there are probably a few ethical insurance companies run by people who have actually reached Stage Six of Kohlberg's moral development model, and likewise, there are people out there who wouldn't sell their own grandmother to make a buck, and males who actually don't think with their reproductive equipment and who want to be decent to any prospective partner, or established partner.  I'm sorry, by the way, about these remarks being a bit gendered, but I can only speak from my own experience in this world, and from vicarious experience through others - I don't feel qualified to speak for males, although I'm married to one and frequently consult him about his own experience of things.  (However, he's one of that rare breed who thinks with his brain, and cares tremendously about being decent. ♥)

Anyway, people are strange critters, often irrational and inconsistent, fundamentally self-interested, can fall very short of their intentions and proclaimed principles, etc etc.  Think for a moment about all of the things you wouldn't need if every person was always fair and decent:  Locks and keys, security screens, insurance policies for theft or accidental damage, restraining orders, policemen, passwords, spam filters, car alarms, immobilisers, security cameras, agony aunts, psychotherapy, lawyers, fracking (just thought I'd throw that in there), etc.  (Brett particularly wants me to add "forum moderators" to that list!  :winking_tongue)

So a person can get a bit jaded with pop songs for that reason, as well (and for many other reasons :angel), and this is one reason I related that thing about a radio station nicknamed KY-Jelly-FM on another thread recently.

So, anyway, I have a reflex of looking for loopholes etc when reading stuff about this topic.  A Night Like This doesn't present immediate problems to me lyrically like In-Between Days did - it reads like "boy and girl have disagreement, girl walks away temporarily or permanently, boy has a think and then goes in pursuit and is talking about changing, not just things but by implication himself (/I want to change)" and that's all well and good (so long as it's not just words).

But now we're back to context, and who's saying it, and the relationship history - as we always have to be, if we're going to be rigorous in thinking about this stuff.  This could therefore be quite sweet, and I'm sure we can all relate to the scenario to some extent (if you're not sheep, you're going to have conflict, and you're going to have to learn to deal with conflict).  But, you can also put your "reading-insurance-policy" hat on here, and think about who you'd say, "Have a nice life!" to, in response to those same words.  Because actions speak louder than words, etc.

I've gotta say, "For always and ever is always for you" makes me smell a rat, because it's the kind of thing a Don Juan type boyfriend who thinks he's God's gift to women will typically say to you when he's trying to get back in your good graces, you know, "You're the most special of them all, the others don't mean anything, blah blah blah" (with or without, "...and I've seen the error of my ways").  So in the words of George Thorogood's female protagonist, "Don't feed me no lines and keep your hands to yourself."   :1f634:  :P

There is a trust issue in this song, as the narrator refers to having offended his partner's trust - which then makes it seem illogical to me that he would say, "I want it to be perfect like before."  If trust has somehow been wounded, the situation isn't "perfect" - but perhaps the reference is to the way it was before that trust was wounded.  On the other hand, in the case of a Don Juan type boyfriend, of course, "I want it to be perfect like before" could simply mean, "Damn, she found out about that, I liked it better when she was clueless, maybe I can sweet-talk her back to where I want her!"

I've gone out with people like that, and friends of mine have gone out with people like that, and as I've said in previous posts, I can't encounter any text about romantic relationships without that reflex engagement of the experientially acquired BS sensor.  I very much recommend cultivating a good BS sensor to any young innocent not-yet-cynical person about to set foot in the arena of romantic relationships - the sooner you learn to detect the BS, the sooner you won't have to be in it up to your chin, and the sooner you can find yourself a decent person who cares about you as much as they care about themselves and how much cake they get to eat.  ♥

It's good to practise on pop songs, a rich seam of that kind of BS, before you go out in the real world and hear all kinds of stuff from people who are getting in your face (and perhaps other places).  It's as sensible as practising your throwing in your backyard, before you get on the cricket pitch - it will stand you in good stead.   :smth023

Now if only we didn't have to be so cynical.  And if only we didn't need locks and keys, etc etc.  :1f62d:

In summing up:  The organic fertiliser content of the lyrics to this particular Cure song is entirely context-dependent.  There may be none at all, and it may indeed be a fine tune on encountering conflict with a beloved and being determined to resolve it (because the relationship is deemed worth it), and being determined to own one's own crap in the process.  Or, the very same words could be said by someone with ulterior motives that have nothing to do with genuinely wanting to be fair.  In real life, it's important to keep that distinction in mind.

As always, when I'm looking at words on a page I am responding to text, and to narratives - I'm not making surreptitious theories about the private life of the writer - and we've already talked about the difference between writer vs narrator before.  So, hopefully nobody will get high blood pressure about this particular post.  Sometimes it can be difficult to write this way on a music fan forum, because there tends to be a greater preoccupation with the artists, than there is when you're in a book club and discussing books, or in a poetry appreciation group - but to me it's the same principles, when I write. :)

An interesting snippet I caught while looking for background to this song was that it has an evolutionary relationship with another Cure song called Plastic Passion (that was one I really didn't like, but now I'm going to have to listen again).

Screw is next on the list - and I'm looking forward to looking at the lyrics of that one, it's quirky and it has actually grown on me!  :cool
SueC is time travelling


...I must get a move on... Wish arrived last Friday and we've already had a listen-through.   :smth023   And guess what turned up in the mailbox yesterday?  The self-titled album.  It's still in its wrapper... I have this thing about finishing something before beginning too many other things, but it's preposterous, the idea of looking at the lyrics to every Cure song on an album this way, and it's unnecessary... so I've decided that after finishing the sequential look at lyrics from The Head On The Door, I'm not going to do it like that ever again - I'm just going to pick out things I'm really wanting to think about and write about, rather than making this rod for my own back...

So let's see if we can't get this finished in one post.


When you screw up your eyes
When you screw up your face
When you throw out your arms
And keep changing your shape

T-turn, turn the taste in your mouth
T-turn, turn the taste on your tongue
The film on your eyes
Of the way I've become

What do I do when you screw up your eyes?
What do I do when you screw up your face?
What do I do when you throw out your arms
Fall on the floor and keep changing your shape?

J-j-jump, jump right into your mouth?
J-j-jump, jump around on your tongue?
The film on your eyes
Of the way I've become
Makes me sick at the way that I try anything in the world
To impress that I'm doing this only for you

This only for you
Only for you

Again, it's been read many different ways, but I can imagine it well as a relationship (romantic, family, friend, even audience, it would all make sense) comment - I love the lines, The film on your eyes/Of the way I've become - which makes me think of the phenomenon of typecasting, of putting people in boxes and padlocking those boxes - it can actually be really difficult to grow beyond where you currently are if people keep trying to push you back in a box they made for you.  This is one reason a lot of young adults find that going somewhere completely different geographically, to live and work, away from their family and prior social network, can be so incredibly liberating, because then all the people you meet don't have all these preconceived ideas of who you should be, and you've got this lovely fresh canvas.  It's actually so much easier to grow and change the way you want to when you have oxygen and freedom to do it.

I think that's especially true for limitations - so much easier to get past your own areas of struggle when you don't have people around you who think of you as limited in particular ways and who say, "That's not you!" when you're trying something more useful, or just something different.  And excuse me, it is you, when you're applying your brains and efforts to replace a particular autopilot with a more considered approach, in line with your own ideas of what you're trying to grow into.  You're not a computer with an unalterable set of programmes, you're a computer with a set of programmes and the ability to reprogramme your own code, so you can actually evolve.

One of my favourite authors, Jeanette Winterson, often talks about how you should see yourself like a book that you can write.  Well, exactly.  Being a person isn't about being stuck in some mould, it's about continuing to break out of any moulds you discover in yourself, and letting your shape evolve more freely.

That's just me thinking out loud; now let's look at the words for Sinking, the last track on the album.


I am slowing down
As the years go by
I am sinking

So I trick myself
Like everybody else

The secrets I hide
That twist me inside
And make me weaker

So I trick myself
Like everybody else
So I trick myself
Like everybody else

I crouch in fear and wait
I'll never feel again
If only I could, if only I could
If only I could remember
Anything at all

This song is commonly read as a comment on the "negative effects of getting older" - and I can see how you can read it that way, but there are other ways to look at these lyrics, too.  Before I do that, though, I've got to challenge this silly youth culture idea that progressing through your life span is cumulative loss - that's such utter BS, even on a purely physical level (which is not the be-all and end-all of who you are either, by the way - it's primarily a container).  Remember all the angsting we're culturally programmed to do turning 30, 40 etc?  Well, personally I was angsting when turning 18, at 21, at 25, and 30 - OMG, I was getting so ancient - and then I discovered that I was actually still getting better, even physically - strength and endurance continued to improve right up to about age 40 for me, and I also think I looked better in my 30s than in my 20s, and I think that's true for a lot of people, especially if they get enough sleep and exercise and have healthy eating patterns.

So by the time I turned 40, that milestone didn't bother me - I was happy, healthy, productive, creative, and married to a guy who has a healthy attitude to the life span, as well as being an all-round lovely husband.  Now in my late 40s, I think it's preposterous to ever angst about your age when you've not even reached your peak yet - but of course, it's what our culture conditions us to do, until we learn it's BS.

Obviously we should know we are mortal, that's really important - but we shouldn't waste our limited time in a persistent funeral mode when the funeral hasn't even happened yet, let alone the life peak (which is actually a series of peaks, more like a ridge walk than a single mountain) - there is so much to celebrate, and to learn, and to do.

If you've not seen a ridge walk before, it looks like this:

...It's not just going up a single mountain and back down, but actually going ridge to ridge between a chain of mountains/hills, so you stay "up" for a long time and get great views, just like in Lord Of The Rings...

Getting back to the lyrics - the way I look at those is as a portrait of what happens when we're held back, scared, compromised somehow - and that happens to all of us, at some point or other - and if we're unlucky and can't find a way out of that, it can describe our entire existence.  The years go by indeed, but that's not the central problem - and we should be careful not to confuse correlation with causation.  Just because a particular thing, or several things, are perhaps getting worse with the passage of time, doesn't mean the passage of time is what's responsible for that - and I would think, rarely ever solely responsible.

If you look at ageing, for example, it is inevitable that eventually you're going to reach a fatal level of decrepitude and shuffle off this mortal coil, but you do actually have so much influence on how that pans out for you.  If you don't use something, you lose it - whether it's muscles, bone, your brain, your creativity, post-reproductive age sex, fitness, pretty much any skill or virtue, etc.  Many of the things that I thought, when I was a young person, were inevitably lost with the passage of time, are actually primarily and prematurely lost through lack of use, and lack of care (by self and others).  Take fitness, that's chiefly about regular challenging exercise - and though I'd say my own potential physical fitness peaked sometime between 30 and 40, and I'm a bit lower down in that now than I was, in my late 40s all of that is still higher than the average contemporary 25-year-old's - just as my bone density worked out at around one standard deviation better than the average 18-25-year-old's in a recent "you're-nearing-half-a-century" scan.

This is because the general population is way too inactive, not just physically either, but also mentally, creatively, etc.  That's not meant to be a criticism - there's so many structural reasons for that, in the way we're dysfunctionally running our societies - it's just pointing out that we can decide to change the way we do things, to be better stewards of our own selves and each other.

Furthermore, the passage of time doesn't just take - it also gives.  You might lose your ultra-pristine youthful skin, and your hair colour might come out of a bottle, and you may have to fight gravity harder, and bits of you get more creaky - but we've been conditioned to pay too much attention to mere wrapping paper instead of considering what's inside.  You also get - more experience, potentially more happiness, potentially more confidence and security and skills and wisdom.  Your circle of real friends can enlarge with time, you potentially get better at relationships and see yourself more accurately and become more comfortable in your own skin.  You don't have to stagnate.

I hope we're all learning this as time goes on.  Isn't it funny how we can be so tragic about stuff when we're younger, and then laugh at ourselves in hindsight... and isn't it liberating.  ♥
SueC is time travelling



CDs have descended on our mailbox thick and fast and yesterday we found Pornography in it.  :1f631:  OMG, the things that happen when you're ordering from the Cure back catalogue... :winking_tongue  Alas, that and the self-titled are staying in their wrappers while I take a look at the 1992 album Wish.

We had our first play-through last Friday night and @Ulrich, the wag, said, "Oh, you listened to Friday I'm In Love on an actual Friday!"  :lol:  But of course, the real miracle was that I listened to the studio version of Friday I'm In Love without rushing to turn it off.   :angel  However, in this case I did - to hear it as part of the album.  It's not a bad song or anything, just like ryegrass pollen isn't a bad thing per se.  I'm just a bit allergic to both of them!   :-D  All that exposure.  I don't know what it's like in other parts of the world, but here in Australia, for the past 28 years, not a Friday has gone by without commercial radio stations playing this song at least once.  You simply can't avoid this song unless you completely shun society. 

On the plus side, it will have helped the band eat.  Also, I was thinking that if I'd never had this song shoved down my throat on a regular basis whether I wanted it or not, and had just met it in the middle of a Cure set, I wouldn't have had that reaction.

I was over-exposed to this - although if Lullaby got played once a week that wouldn't bother me at all, or any of dozens of other Cure numbers - actually, I'd love to make commercial radio play The Kiss on high rotation, or One Hundred Years or The Scream or Freakshow... or perhaps best of all, Babble...  :angel

Brett is saying, "When I become Emperor of the Universe, I will be able to arrange this for you."

Anyhow, so our first listen created a very favourable impression.  It's helpful that it doesn't sound the least bit 80s - the music I enjoyed listening to the most in the actual 80s didn't sound anything like the 80s either and even now is timeless.  I think Wish has a timeless sound too, and so does Bloodflowers, and I don't think you can place Disintegration in the 80s just by listening to it either.  I like it when music can't be easily dated to a particular decade by its sound - I guess I've never liked fashions and fads, and just preferred authenticity.  That carries right into preferring houses that people build themselves with a bit of imagination, rather than getting a McDonald's type experience.


Wish almost feels like a theme album lyrically - so many songs on love gone wrong (or love at least presenting difficulties), one song on love gone right, two on manipulation, a mental health song, and that famous weekday ditty.  That's just on first impression - I may be missing data at this stage.

Speaking of Disintegration, a couple of days later we were chatting about Wish in the car in-between listening to some live Cure, when the title track of that came on.  And isn't it interesting that so many songs from the follow-up release to Disintegration are variations on the theme of the title track of the predecessor.

So now, I've got a difficult task lined up:  Attempting to articulate why the lyrics of the song Disintegration continue to speak to me and to make my hair stand on end at every encounter.  Let's just look at it like a poem on a page - which of course is not what a song is, a song has so many more dimensions - but the lyrics to this track stand up extraordinarily well on their own, too:


Oh, I miss the kiss of treachery
The shameless kiss of vanity
The soft and the black and the velvety
Up tight against the side of me

And mouth and eyes and heart all bleed
And run in thickening streams of greed
As bit by bit it starts the need
To just let go my party piece

I miss the kiss of treachery
The aching kiss before I feed
The stench of a love for a younger meat
And the sound that it makes when it cuts in deep
The holding up on bended knees
The addiction of duplicities
As bit by bit it starts the need
To just let go my party piece

But I never said I would stay to the end
So I leave you with babies and hoping for frequency
Screaming like this in the hope of the secrecy
Screaming me over and over and over
I leave you with photographs, pictures of trickery
Stains on the carpet and stains on the scenery
Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
When we both of us knew how the ending would be

So it's all come back round to breaking apart again
Breaking apart like I'm made up of glass again
Making it up behind my back again
Holding my breath for the fear of sleep again
Holding it up behind my head again
Cut in deep to the heart of the bone again
Round and round and round and it's coming apart again
Over and over and over

And now that I know that I'm breaking to pieces
I'll pull out my heart and I'll feed it to anyone
I'm crying for sympathy, crocodiles cry
For the love of the crowd
And the three cheers from everyone
Dropping through sky
Through the glass of the roof
Through the roof of your mouth
Through the mouth of your eye
Through the eye of the needle
It's easier for me to get closer to Heaven
Than ever feel whole again

But I never said I would stay to the end
I knew I would leave you and fame isn't everything
Screaming like this in the hope of sincerity
Screaming it's over and over and over
I leave you with photographs, pictures of trickery
Stains on the carpet and stains on the memory
Songs about happiness murmured in dreams
When we both of us knew how the end always is
How the end always is

How the end always is
How the end always is
How the end always is
How the end always is

From a writer's perspective, this is A+ poetry - the use of language in this is magnificent on so many levels.  This piece is so visceral, and so supersaturated with evocative imagery, and displays such a consciousness of words and phrases and their various meanings and connotations... if you're a word nerd, it's a rare treat to encounter stuff like this.

As to the story being told, it's one of those where I want to back right off and let it tell itself - because it's one of those where discussion of it can attempt to railroad people into narrow perspectives, as I think is the case with the annotations to this song on Genius lyrics (click on the highlighted text to see), as well as the quotes from the Rolling Stone writer at the bottom of the page.  It's like these people are wanting to pin this song down, "prove" things, like that they have the "correct take" when the beauty of a song or a poem like this is that it's multi-dimensional and operates on various levels.  They'll correctly identify some element or other, but then often be tempted to leap to narrow conclusions from there, as if one proves the other when it really doesn't.

I really want to avoid adding to that pile with what I'm writing.  I don't generally think I have "the" correct take for a song or poem etc, I just have working hypotheses - and generally speaking I'm not as interested in narrowing things down as I am in broadening the way I see things (because that's something you have to work on), and learning to look in different ways.  This is why I started open-journalling about music here - because it's a learning process, and because writing things down has always helped me to think.  I just record my reactions honestly, then think about them - metacognition is something you can do like Pilates, but you don't need a mat for it.  Along the way with this project, I've had some strong personal reactions, both positive and negative, and seen some ghosts come out of cupboards to boot - and I like to joke that a full-priced Cure album costs you less than an hour of psychotherapy.  :angel

Getting back to the lyrics and those comments on them on Genius - attempts are made to personalise this stuff and forget there can be a distance between the writer and the narrator (as there clearly is here, e.g. the writer doesn't have babies...Brett the Empiricist says, that we know about or possibly he knows about, and I'm reminding him that there are surgical methods of permanent contraception if you're determined not to have any) - I've made that mistake before too with some songs (because they're so emotionally convincing - have you ever seen an actor play a string of villains so persuasively that you're starting to think the actor is like that themselves, and then you're surprised they're not?).  Anyway, I see Disintegration more as a piece that's informed by personal experience, than one that's strictly autobiographical - like familiar emotions draped over a fiction or a semi-fiction - which is also what writers of novels and short stories need to do in order to write convincing characters.

[more later]
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on November 12, 2020, 07:04:19Wish almost feels like a theme album lyrically - so many songs on love gone wrong (or love at least presenting difficulties), one song on love gone right, one on manipulation, a mental health song, and that famous weekday ditty.  That's just on first impression - I may be missing data at this stage.

Robert once said the title didn't mean much... but I doubt it. Because "wishing" seems to be theme of the album: to wish impossible things, "i wish you felt the way that I still do", the wish to fly "high" etc.!
From me and you, there're worlds to part with aching looks and breaking hearts


A few more early impressions of the Wish album, after several listens with headphones while going about chores... Lovely is an adjective that keeps suggesting itself when I'm thinking about the music.  Also, it's an incredibly cohesive album, so much so that I'm not having any urge to skip anything (even Friday I'm In Love :winking_tongue - total miracle that it should be so) - and in that way it's very like Disintegration or Bloodflowers - all the sound on it just fits together, and there's no song that sticks out like a sore thumb - not even Wendy Time, which I've seen much disliked in online fan discussions and I'd braced myself for, but thematically I can see why it's there - unpalatable as the situation in it is, if you're going to present various narratives on relationships gone wrong, you may as well have a narrative on a relationship never getting underway because the target is wise to the crummy manipulation on offer  :smth023 (and notice how the word "relationship" has "relate" in it; it's not a "manipulationship").

The sound, including the singing, on Wish is distinctly different to live performances of the same material, and though I generally prefer Cure material live (because they're brilliant live and the immediacy etc), in this case I'm drawn to both equally - sort of like a situation where you enjoy different "takes" on a classical music piece equally, because they bring out different elements, and all those elements are interesting in different ways.

The singing is kind of - dissonant doesn't quite describe it, because it's not a negative quality... it's kind of brittle and edgy without being grating.  You know how a good narrator of audiobooks adjusts their voice to the prose they are reading, and this really brings out the prose - in a similar way to how onomatopoeia works - the sound is like the sense of the word and this amplification happens as a result.  The distinct voice on this album marries well to the general themes.  In addition, you're not straining to make out what's being said when listening to this album, it's all pretty clear.

Audio quality is very good, almost as good as on KMKMKM (and unlike on our copy of Disintegration, which sounds really clipped and is an impediment to my enjoyment of the music).

Comments on lyrics will be expanded upon in my previous post as I go - because of the open-edit here I can do this retrospectively.  :cool
SueC is time travelling


Post #77 is getting too long, and I'm not done with the lyrics to Disintegration so I will reserve that space for that specific purpose, and use this post to have a look at songs on Wish which seem to me to be variations on that theme.


Wish has one love-gone-right song in High (which in turn has a supercalifragilistic B-side on love-gone-phenomenally-and-spectacularly-right in This Twilight Garden), and a whole swag of love-gone-wrong songs.  Not that it's a binary thing in real life, it's more like a spectrum, but for the purposes of this discussion I'm allowing myself these terms, because everyone will understand what I mean by that.

We're currently looking at people's favourite romantic songs on another thread - and mostly looking at love-gone-right songs there, because people say "How romantic!" when they see couples holding hands, kissing, giving off really positive body language, waxing lyrical (if they like the lyrics :winking_tongue), bestowing flowers or home-made marzipan hearts, etc, but (unless they are completely deranged  :1f632:) they most categorically do not say "How romantic!" if a couple is falling out of love, or breaking up, or if they are cheating on each other, or throwing things at each other, or mistreating each other in a multitude of other ways.

And yet, for some reason, the most deeply affecting love songs are often the ones where things are going wrong.  I think in part it's that almost everyone has been traumatised at one point or another by a relationship ending, or never going right in the first place, or starting out fine and then going off the rails (temporarily or permanently) - it's such a universal experience.  Added to that, our brains are biologically set up to pay more attention to bad experiences than to good ones (because this promotes our physical survival) - and tricks like metacognition and mindfulness and practising gratitude are all about working around our brains' preoccupation with monsters under the bed and the things that have gone wrong in our lives, and the things we use to distract ourselves from those.

But we also need catharsis - we can't just look elsewhere all the time, we do actually have to deal with the difficult stuff.  So in a sense, a good love-gone-wrong-song is community therapy, or even preventative medicine.  (A useless love-gone-wrong-song romanticises and therefore perpetuates the inherent dysfunctions - see also KY-Jelly-FM.)

And then there's the old argument that the devil has the best tunes.  Do you think that's true?  And to put a twist on this, do you prefer the heartbreak of From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea to the bliss of This Twilight Garden?  Do you prefer a good murder novel to a biography of a person who had a very nice life?  Do you prefer vampires to cherubs?  Jalapeño peppers to a nice sheep's milk cheese?  A bed of nails to a floaty-cloud-mattress?  Piranhas to goldfish? ;)

As readers and viewers and probably listeners, we humans are generally drawn more to drama than to things going swimmingly (though perhaps best to sample from both) - and for many of us, that's probably because we're trying to solve our own problems and understand things that are still murky to us.  Plus, who wants to listen to how wonderful someone else's life is when you've just had a major crisis in your own?

Before I sat down to write this, Brett and I came up with a joke together:  What kind of romance novels do goths read? ...Mills & Gloom, of course!  (...as opposed to Bilge & Swoon... :1f635:)

And as Sally Sparrow said in the very gothic Dr Who episode Blink, "I like sad things.  Sad is happy for deep people."  (Small commercial break - if you've never seen this episode, remedy this matter - this is a good stand-alone story, you don't have to like sci-fi, Dr Who is hardly even in it, and I've never shown it to anyone who didn't like it - that's several hundred people so far! :cool)   See here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHz8hulp2RM

Now without further ado, let's have a look at some love-gone-wrong lyrics from Wish.


He waits for her to understand
But she won't understand at all
She waits all night for him to call
But he won't call anymore
He waits to hear her say, "Forgive"
But she just drops her pearl-black eyes
And prays to hear him say, "I love you"
But he tells no more lies

He waits for her to sympathize
But she won't sympathize at all
She waits all night to feel his kiss
But always wakes alone
He waits to hear her say, "Forget"
But she just hangs her head in pain
And prays to hear him say, "No more
I'll never leave again"

How did we get this far apart?
We used to be so close together
How did we get this far apart?
I thought this love would last forever

He waits for her to understand
But she won't understand at all
She waits all night for him to call
But he won't call
He waits to hear her say, "Forgive"
But she just drops her pearl black eyes
And prays to hear him say, "I love you"
But he tells no more lies

How did we get this far apart?
We used to be so close together
How did we get this far apart?
I thought this love would last forever
How did we get this far apart?
We used to be so close together
How did we get this far apart?
I thought this love would last forever

Like Disintegration, this works beautifully even just on the page - it's so well written, and the choice and arrangement of the words make their own sort of music when you read through.  Here's two people beyond being able to give each other what they most need, ever again - and the impossibility is so wonderfully summed up in the lines He waits to hear her say, "Forgive"/But she just drops her pearl black eyes/And prays to hear him say, "I love you"/But he tells no more lies.  The chorus in turn captures so well the stunned disbelief, and the going round in circles of mourning. 

I really do think it's useful to look at lyrics on a page, to avoid unnecessary misconceptions.  I listened to this song on Paris for years because I often play that album on my iPod while mowing lawn, and I'd half-hear the lyrics, but I always missed that one crucial line, so I had the impression that this was about two people who'd come to an impasse in their relationship, and were pining for each other and wishing they could work things out, but that each was waiting for the other to make the first move.  Funnily, Brett was under the same impression - and it's not as if that's an unusual situation either.

But when I looked at the lyric sheet at last, I noticed the crucial line:  But he tells no more lies.  So, the forgiveness he would like is for not wanting to stay together, not (solely, anyway) for his part in the problems the couple had - while she is having a hard time accepting the relationship is over.  This is also a common scenario (and works both ways; the genders at each end to me are incidental). 

These are the kinds of songs that are very useful for inclusion in relationship education programmes, or in general education (e.g. English curriculum, middle and senior schools) to get people thinking and talking about relationships, expectations around those, when to work on it versus when to give up on it, breaking up and dealing with the emotions around that, relationship ethics, self-care etc.  Fictional scenarios (lyrics, poetry, novels, films etc) are really good for getting everyone involved, and encouraging people to make comparisons with real-life situations they've seen and experienced.

The ethics are a bit of a Pandora's box - and basically, within reason, everyone needs to draw their own personal lines where they think is right for them (and that may change with time and circumstance).  One central ethical conundrum brought up by the song Apart is around breakups of relationships that were begun on the understanding (or maybe the hope?) they weren't experimental - whereas if you have a relationship that's experimental and both sides are clear on this from the beginning, breaking up is usually a less painful experience, since no promises around longevity (and perhaps other matters) were made, and therefore you don't have to deal with broken promises, or the shock of suddenly being on vastly different pages to what you thought you were.

Want to put your hand up if you've been through a breakup similar to the one depicted in Apart?  Well, the breakup of my first relationship, in my early 20s, is a fit for that song - and I was the person who got very hurt and had difficulty accepting what had happened, just like the girl in this song.  However, how different these things are in hindsight - because I don't regret the loss of that relationship in hindsight.   I very soon afterwards learnt the truth of "better a painful end than an endless pain" - and I grew from the experience, and it paved the way to where I am now (and that's a very good place).

It's rather interesting surviving an ending you thought was going to kill you - because after that, you know that these things don't actually kill you, they just feel like they're going to.  This is a very liberating discovery, and puts a spring in your step.  A relationship ending is not the worst thing that can happen, just like death isn't the worst thing possible - it's far worse to live an "unlife" than it is to die, if you ask me.

Something I think is really positive is that in the last 30 years, the pressure on girls to "get it right first time" and immediately (or at all) end up in a lifelong relationship (or at least be prepared to make it one) has mercifully decreased significantly.  The double standard around that has been eroding, and girls are more likely to get experience dating different people, and to learn what works for them and what doesn't, and are less likely to feel obliged to settle down with their first serious boyfriend.  (In that sense, by the way, the gendering in Apart does make a point.)

Breakup ethics, anyone?  What do you do if you've got a relationship that started with the mutual hope that it would be lasting, and continued on with promises being made, and then one person works out that this is not what they want after all, or that it doesn't work for them and they can't make it work?  Or if one person finds that they don't really love the other in the way they think a person in a long-term relationship should be loved - and they work through the whole feelings-versus-actions thing, and are still stuck?  (I'm of the opinion that love isn't just some magical feeling, I'm of the opinion it's a disposition you have towards someone - and that love is a doing thing and a respecting thing, not a magical bit of unicorn dust the universe showers upon you, and that the attitude is more important than the feeling, and that good feelings follow good attitudes, rather than that you stop having a good attitude when the good feelings go temporarily missing.  This is not, of course, to say you should stay in a relationship that's lacking in respect, or that you think isn't going to be particularly helpful for the evolution of both its participants - even if you promised to stay long-term, and that's where these things get hairy... Love includes healthy self-love, self-care and self-respect - and having an authentic self to give from.)

I think it would be really helpful if the general population understood at an early age that a lot of those "magical unicorn dust" feelings are just products of our biochemistry that are about inducing us to pass on our genes - often compounded by situations where people grew up without sufficient love and support, and now any morsel anyone throws them seems like a religious experience by comparison.  A real relationship isn't about magical unicorn dust, it's about actually relating, and really seeing and hearing each other, instead of projecting our own fantasies or failings on other people.  It's about a sum that's greater than its parts, and creating an environment in which both people can flourish, and a couple who are helping rather than hindering each other to grow the way each wants to.  The relationship has to bring out the best in each other, or it's not sustainable, or even worth it.

Although of course, some people cling to, for example, staying married, just for the sake of not being seen to fail or because they don't know what else to do, even if they actually don't have a good relationship at all - and they celebrate their wedding anniversaries with big fanfare and personal pride, but they treat each other with contempt in everyday life, and have both become sad, shrivelled caricatures of human beings, and their own karma.  (That was how it was modelled to me by my own parents.)

All of these sorts of things need to be publicly talked about as a kind of social immunisation to repeating the cycles we were born into - so we can learn to thoughtfully create our own identities, lives and relationships around something authentic, instead of adopting the various moulds on offer.  Those moulds are pushed at you from all around - by consumer society, by politics, by religion, by culture, by your family, by your peers - and to adopt your own thing instead is generally not a popular option, and you're likely to experience blowback from the pushers of moulds.

This can be recursive - groups of people may form as a protest against the commonly peddled moulds, and then create their own moulds.  You see this in ever-splintering organised religion, you can see it even in some parts of the counterculture - hippies with hippie moulds, punks with punk moulds and so on.  The urge to act like a lemming is very strong indeed, for a lot of people.

So we need stories, and we need songs, and we need art that shows us our own tragedy, and that also shows us alternative universes to our own.  Not moulds, mind you; nothing one-size-fits-all - but alternative universes, alternative possibilities, alternative ideas, from which we can dream up our own.
SueC is time travelling


I'm really enjoying our new acquisition Wish, on multiple levels - musically there's so much on there that's lovely, and even the stuff that's not I think is the way it is to reinforce the story told by the lyrics - e.g. Wendy Time isn't exactly a beautiful song, but the quacking Donald-Duck type guitars and the dissonance and ner-ner-ness of the thing just goes with the portrait of an insufferable attempt at manipulation, which the narrator is wise to, which in turn makes me go, "Hooray!" because how many people fall for that, not just once but repeatedly...

It's mostly like aromatherapy for your ears (not roses or geranium, and nothing fake with phthalates from the chemistry lab either, more like sandalwood and boronia), while the lyrics to most of the songs are written with great care, go well as stand-alone poetry, and make you think.  If there's a main theme, I think it's interpersonal relationships and the human condition...but I would think that  :winking_tongue - it's like, "What do you see?"


I had a bit of a collision with the musically gorgeous track From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea a while back, before we got the album it was on, when I first looked specifically at its lyrics and found that an aspect of them actually triggered some really bad ghosts in my cupboard.  (When I find where that is on CF, I'll link to it...  Aha, it's this thread!)  And I mean, triggered them to the point that I was physically nauseated and in full fight-or-flight mode - an occasional oh-so-lovely by-product of having complex PTSD.  :1f635:   It took me a while to lose that subconscious response to it, but thankfully that's gone now.

It's been really nice for me to see this song in the broader context of the album it's from, and had I heard it like this in the first place, rather than as a stand-alone in concerts, I'd probably have had an intellectual "click" that would have forestalled the involuntary trigger response. I was unable to see or articulate what was going on clearly at the time - it was just something that jumped me from behind, some ghosts from nearly three decades before, the very smell of which made me want to throw up.

If I had to try to explain that to other people now, I'd say that if you're an inexperienced young person who spent their childhood with narcissists in the home and is now living with a malignant narcissist who makes the business of causing you pain not just a way of deriving sadistic pleasure for himself, but a way of successfully portraying himself to the sycophants all around him as a poet and a higher being than the person he is hurting, and who thinks of himself as the person most wronged by the universe, in this twisted, "It hurts me more to hurt you than it hurts you and I'm such a poet and people should have sympathy for me and isn't this great poetry!" way... well, then you just develop an allergy to anything that can be construed as romanticising or poeticising certain types of situations, and anything that takes you down the Pensieve to the powerlessness and despair you once experienced.

To be clear, if I were talking to that young version of me now, I'd say to her, "You've been brainwashed from early childhood to believe that all problems in relationships are entirely your fault, that you're not a good person, that you're not worthy of love, that anyone who gives you any semblance of love no matter how poor the facsimile is to be put on a pedestal and viewed with awe and gratefulness and I-am-not-worthy-of-thee, that the first person you sleep with has to be the person you're with for life or you're a slut whether or not you enjoyed the sex (not that it should make any difference, it's just highly ironic, and it's so utterly stupid in hindsight :1f62b:) and you're not really supposed to enjoy sex anyway if you're a girl, it's just a service you are beholden to provide for people with Y-chromosomes, and your body isn't really yours, and all sorts of total BS like this, and most of your brainwash isn't in your thoughts - your intellect will help you from early on to cut through those lies - but it's in the way you feel, which won't be changed by reason, and won't in fact go away until the Great Wall Of China you don't know you have in your head collapses in your early 40s, and then your feelings won't contradict your thoughts anymore, woohoo, something to look forward to!  :smth023

...and meanwhile, please understand that you have a right to remove yourself from situations that are harmful and painful to you, but you don't do it yet because you've been brainwashed to believe that to walk away means you don't love and you don't forgive and that you're of weak character and that you are unable to solve problems plus you're a coward - all which is also BS..."

As Joe Straczinsky says about his father in Becoming Superman:

QuoteI could debate endlessly his reasons for doing those things, or try to figure out why his personality had splintered to the point where he needed to inflict pain on others in order to feel alive, but that didn't alter the fact that those were his problems, his choices.  Like all abusers he wanted me to believe I had no choice but to accept this behaviour, that I could never escape him. That had been true when I was younger, but I was now old enough to walk away from an abusive situation; if I failed to do so, then it became my problem, my choice.  I had no control over my father's behaviour, but I had absolute control over my proximity.  He could only hurt me while I chose to remain within range of the fist and the boot, the lie and the scream.  If I wanted to stop the abuse, all I had to do was step outside his reach...

Was I running away from the problem?  Probably.  But when you're in a situation where nothing will change, running away isn't just a solution, it's the only solution.  No one being chased by a bobcat thinks, Maybe I should stick it out, try to make the relationship work.  And there's some people in this world who are just frickin' bobcats.

It is, of course, textbook to go from a narcissistic family of origin straight into a romantic relationship with a narcissist, and it's actually scarier to be in that romantic relationship than it was to be in your family, because you naively thought that was all over now...

So, no wonder that things that remind me of the twistedness of all that can still trigger me if I'm just mooching about, not expecting that to happen.  It was a song I really liked, and was at that stage not entirely familiar with, and for me to look at the lyrics and get triggered by that recalled all the old OMG I was lulled into a false sense of security, oh no not again where's my radar shock.  And then later you work through that, to discover what's ghost and what's reality, and of course ambiguity and tea-leafiness doesn't make for any cut and dried conclusions.

Something doesn't have to replicate a situation that once really traumatised you, it just has to smell remotely like it, when you've already let your guard down, to create that fight-or-flight response in your brain.  Then, your job is to herd the cats emotionally, while having a good think.  While that kind of reaction isn't pleasant to experience (it's roughly like a migraine in unpleasantness, and equally physical, but very different), it doesn't happen all that often to me these days, and when it does, I've got established ways of defusing it.  Not having a particularly precarious existence anymore has been helpful.  Also, you get to a point where being occasionally triggered by something helps you put the few missing pieces together in the puzzle you've been solving.

So I'll have a look at From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea again, this time without the trigger reaction.  Next time though, I want to look at A Letter To Elise.
SueC is time travelling


There's a soft sound to Wish that's probably the closest The Cure have come to folk.  There's a lot of acoustic guitar, quirky keyboards with more acoustic (as opposed to synthetic) sounds like those of bells and xylophones, general jingly-jangly stuff including from cymbals and percussion in general, a bit of piano and viola, and vocal harmonies - all of which are elements I frequently encounter in my favourite folk music.  However, I've never heard folk music with anywhere near that sort of bass playing, not even when Sharon Shannon really gets swinging...

(Look at the expression on her face hahaha, I've seen her live and she's always doing that!  :lol:)

Nor with that level of electric guitar, which is sadly often woeful when folk artists include it.  Here's an example; this piece by Máirín Fahy starts off wonderfully and is then totally ruined by the cheesy electric guitar...

She did an acoustic version of this called Sydney Harbour, without that dreadful guitar playing, that a housemate had on an album, but sadly I can't find it anywhere...  :1f62a:

I can't leave it at this;  to get that bad-cheese taste out of everyone's mouth, here's some dark folk from South Australian outfit The Audreys:

So, no horrible sounds, and happy ears with Wish:)

A Letter To Elise today.

I had no idea there was an official clip for this, since this is all relatively new to me.  But look, an extra guitar!  :cool   Interesting that Perry Bamonte is a leftie - I wonder if he strings his guitar the other way around because of it, or plays it as is, but can never seem to catch this information off live footage; it's not nearly as obvious to me as violin stringing.  (Speaking of adjustments people make, there's a violinist in our town who used to play with the West Australian Symphony and then had a traffic accident that made it impossible for her to hold a violin up, so what she did is learn to play it all over again, this time like a miniature cello... was part of an outfit around here with the hilarious moniker "Well Strung"... :lol:)

I heard this track for years on Paris before we got Wish...

It works very well live, and always reminded me of Pictures Of You musically - that sense of a string quartet working together, with the bass like the cello and the guitars working in like violin and viola.  Funnily, I always imagined that A Letter To Elise pre-dated Pictures Of You when it's actually the other way around.  I love the composition on both those tracks.

Back to the lyrics, and the theme for a large group of songs off Wish:



Oh Elise it doesn't matter what you say
I just can't stay here every yesterday
like keep on acting out the same
the way we act out
every way to smile
and make-believe we never needed
any more than this
any more than this

Oh Elise it doesn't matter what you do
I know I'll never really get inside of you
to make your eyes catch fire
the way they should
the way the blue could pull me in
if they only would
if they only would
at least I'd lose this sense of sensing something else
that hides away
from me and you
there're worlds to part
with aching looks and breaking hearts
and all the prayers your hands can make
oh I just take as much as you can throw
And then throw it all away
Oh I throw it all away
like throwing faces at the sky
like throwing arms round
I stood and stared
wide-eyed in front of you
and the face I saw looked back
the way I wanted to
but I just can't hold my tears away
the way you do

Elise believe I never wanted this
I thought this time I'd keep all of my promises
I thought you were the girl I always dreamed about
but I let the dream go
and the promises broke
and the make-believe ran out

So Elise it doesn't matter what you say
I just can't stay here every yesterday
like keep on acting out the same
the way we act out
every way to smile
and make-believe we never needed
any more than this
any more than this

And every time I try to pick it up
like falling sand
as fast as I pick it up
it runs away through my clutching hands
but there's nothing else I can really do
there's nothing else I can really do
there's nothing else
I can really do
at all

(Phew!  The line arrangements didn't make sense to me off Internet lyric sites, so I looked at the CD booklet - with our biggest magnifying glass, the one we use to look at tiny orchids, and my eyes are now sore - tiny black print on a red background, not exactly high contrast... :P)

It's been a strange day - I've picked up writing again after a day planting out tomato seedlings, baking bread, cutting firewood for next winter out of a tree that had fallen into the road, trimming donkey hooves, making a mushroom risotto, etc - and during a teabreak I came across a total idiocy in The Guardian, OMG, read it yourself, there's someone who's got it all back to front, but it made me wonder if that person could also read the words to A Letter To Elise and think it summed up their failing relationship (not that I think that particular individual has a poetic bone in his body, but narcissists will give themselves airs :1f635:).

It's not how I personally would read the song, but people will read themselves into things and that's part of the point of lyrics and poetry, that if you leave any wiggle room (and sometimes even if you don't) people will interpret the words in a way that makes sense to them for their own lives, and will try to find things to relate to.  (And yes, I do that too, but that's usually tempered by being professionally trained to take several steps backwards to try to look more objectively at a situation, to reason things out, and to look for alternative ideas, explanations etc, to what my own initial ideas about something are.)

Personally the song made me think of situations in which people are basically role-playing romantic relationships, the same way pre-schoolers will play "mummy, daddy, child, dog" - and then finding that there is nothing underneath, at the core - it's just surface stuff, window dressing for an empty shop.  I think that can happen quite unconsciously especially in people without much relationship experience, where they just go through the motions doing what they think they're supposed to do.

I love the line I just can't stay here every yesterday - it has Groundhog Day overtones (and perhaps actually, that film's message may apply here too - or of course it may not) - and also calls to mind for me that old Middle Eastern tale about a ghost ship, a sailing ship which a shipwrecked person manages to haul himself onto, only to find all the crew dead on the decks, and he's unable to shift the bodies, they are literally stuck.  The ship keeps sailing towards the distant coast, but as night falls, the ship reverses direction, and all the dead come to life and kill each other all over again in this shockingly violent scene.  Then the ship tacks back towards the coast, but by nightfall it reverses direction again, and the dead rise to massacre each other once more.  Our horrified passenger eventually finds that pinning verses from the Koran to each body makes it possible to pick them up off the planks and throw them in the sea, and this breaks the spell, so that he finally gets to the coast.

The relationship portrayed in A Letter To Elise appears similarly stuck.  Sometimes, there's a solution, but sometimes you do have to walk away.  Of course, a lot of people will walk away, only to find that similar problems arise in their next relationship too, and that this won't change until they change themselves.  Nevertheless, compatibility of personalities, values, life goals etc is very important in determining whether you're going to have a good relationship, and if that's not there, it's unlikely to have a happy outcome long-term.

(Brett says, "I have a boy bit, you have a girl bit, seems to work OK!"  :winking_tongue ...and I told him to mind what he says, because he's liable to get quoted.   :angel  He's given to shocking oversimplification just to tease me; e.g. he might grumble, "I hate people!" and I might reply, "Well, I'm a people, you don't seem to hate me, why is that?" to which he typically says, "Well, you have breasts!"  :1f62e:  - and which I typically counter with, "So does nearly half the population!  Your point is?" - to which he'll make various convoluted replies that don't stand up to rational scrutiny but do muddy the waters, should've been a bush lawyer!  :P)

Back to the scheduled programming... I guess because of the way people are, there's a range of contexts for which the words in A Letter To Elise could be appropriated, whether or not it's a good fit.  The song does suggest itself as a breakup letter - and often it is easier to express something difficult in writing than to do it face-to-face, especially in a charged environment where what you're trying to communicate may not even half come out before the arguments and recriminations begin.  (Just don't do this by sms!)  As a model for breakup, I don't think the text does badly - because the character in it has taken time to sit down and explain where he is coming from, and he does express genuine regret that it hasn't worked out.  Also, it doesn't strike me that he's trying to blame the other person, he's just looking at the situation really, and at himself critically too.

Now compare that to the total idiocy scenario linked to above.  That guy isn't breaking up yet but sounds close to it, and he's all me me me and apparently blind to the extraordinary arrogance, entitlement, fault-finding, blame and lack of empathy of what he's written.  It seems to me that he thinks sexual or any other passion is something that's inherent in a person, sort of like a setting on a robot, and that maybe his wife should dial up the setting a bit - and it doesn't seem to occur to him that it has anything to do with the actual relationship and how that's going.  Anyone here think they'd be passionate about a person like that?  Because hello, sexual passion, the lack of which he complains about in his partner, is so utterly related to how you feel about your partner as a person, at least in a long-term relationship - and in that context, is a lot deeper a thing than just the biological fireworks response to a new(ish) mating partner, which is rather one-dimensional and not usually lasting.

And at least from my perspective, how you feel about your partner as a person has so much to do with how they comport themselves in the world, how they think, how they treat other people, how open they are to you, how interested they are in relating to you on all sorts of levels  - and your own ability to see and appreciate and respond to what's there.  So that particular complaining husband actually needs to take a good look at himself in the mirror if he wants his relationship to improve, but he doesn't seem the type that's actually going to do such a thing; far easier to break up and repeat his cycle with the next person - unless he can find someone who's primarily interested in having sex and stroking his ego, preferably simultaneously, and who finds that an acceptable bargain.

As you can see, A Letter To Elise is a good springboard for discussions about breakups, and for what actually makes relationships work - discussions that are well worth having in classrooms, and in the broader community.

When I look at a song, I tend to trip over materials online about it, although I try to avoid that at first, because I'd rather just respond in the raw first, without being pointed in particular directions - that becomes interesting later, when I'm looking at a broader picture than just personal response.  Anyway, apparently A Letter To Elise was influenced by Kafka's letters to Felice, so there was some homework for me, because Kafka doesn't feature prominently in the literature curriculum for Australian secondary students, and the only point of recognition we had in our house was a novel by Haruki Murakami on the bookshelf called Kafka On The Shore, and that's one of the few by Murakami I've not actually read yet. 

Before anyone leaps to unwarranted conclusions about the quality of the reading lists of the Australian secondary curriculum, I'm going to point out that the people who usually leap to conclusions about that tend to unjustly privilege European writers and thinkers, and mostly men at that, when they try to dictate to everyone else what a quality literature curriculum should look like.  The same people probably have never heard of Kate Grenville or Kath Walker or Judith Wright or Sally Morgan, all of whom are examples of authors who are extremely valuable for Australians (and others) to read.  They have a lot more depth than just the cold theorising of quite a few invariably white male authors held up by some as the supposed gold standard of writing and thinking - and they think more broadly, and have more openness, and are far less anthropocentric, and they don't look down on having a heart.  Read something by one of them and see for yourself - in The Secret River, for instance, Kate Grenville astutely charts the inevitable collision course between European colonialists and indigenous Australians, and does it with a lot of compassion, and extraordinary poetic prose that captures the Australian landscape so beautifully well.  Her work makes you think - not just introspect and deal with your own stuff, but look at others with more empathy and see a broader picture than what you saw before.

So I looked at Kafka's letters to Felice, touted on Brain Pickings as "beautiful" and "heartbreaking" - and to be honest, I was distinctly unimpressed, because here's another example of the romanticising of relationship dysfunction the world doesn't actually need, except perhaps as an adverse example.  What it most reminded me of is this:

QuoteMost of us seem to be hankering after romantic love. But few of us realize that, far from being timeless and universal, romantic love is a modern construct that emerged in tandem with the novel.

In Madame Bovary (1856), itself a novel, Gustave Flaubert tells us that Emma Bovary only found out about romantic love through "the refuse of old lending libraries".

    ...were all about love and lovers, damsels in distress swooning in lonely lodges, postillions slaughtered all along the road, horses ridden to death on every page, gloomy forests, troubles of the heart, vows, sobs, tears, kisses, rowing-boats in the moonlight, nightingales in the grove, gentlemen brave as lions and gentle as lambs, too virtuous to be true, invariably well-dressed, and weeping like fountains.

...In Greek myth, eros is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid's arrows.
from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love

Elise is a far more healthy epistle psychologically than Kafka's deluded, bombastic outpourings to Felice as a 29-year-old, and for this I'm truly grateful.  The first thing I googled when reading Kafka's letters was "Kafka & codependency" just to check if anyone else had noticed, and they indeed have.  It's so disappointing for me to make a side excursion into the work of someone deemed one of the most important people in 20th century literature, and then to find this sort of unhelpful stuff - and the same thing happened when I read Sartre's Nausea in my 30s, something I'd really looked forward to because of that person's general reputation and all the hype about it.  I'm beginning to think that the kinds of people who have been classically venerated as important thinkers in Western culture are really just another symptom of the sickness that's inherent in Western societies, and that's driven us to the current point where we've nearly destroyed our own planet, after hundreds of years of destroying other cultures and ways of thinking.

That's not a new idea, of course - it's one of the main ideas behind ecofeminism, and the older I get, and the more I read and experience, the more I think that the philosopher Patsy Hallen, who taught me Environmental Ethics (excellent course) and philosophical writing 30 years ago as part of my undergraduate science degree, was very much onto something there, and not just participating in some fad.  Of course, her philosophy has much in common with the philosophy of Arne Naess, which you can sample in this classic essay; and my personal philosophy overlaps a great deal with theirs, and not very much with the classical anthropocentric philosophies of the West.

PS:  If you're interested in Robert Smith's book choices when he was in his 40s, here's a nice link I came across while fact-finding about this song.  Just be aware it's a poor translation from French...  http://www.picturesofyou.us/03/03-08-rockandfolk-fr-1.htm

PPS:  Brett just read this post, and said to me to remember that Kafka isn't renowned for relationship insights, but for absurdist novels - and told me he'd tried reading one of Kafka's absurdist novels, and found it didn't do anything for him, and he has no desire to read anything more by him in the presence of so many other books worthy of his attention, and he thinks the same about Sartre's work.  We've got a bookworm friend whose tastes range to more dark and nihilistic stuff than what we prefer, like Gould's Book Of Fish and the biographies of dictators (because he is interested in the pathology of how they think), and who is a walking encyclopaedia on famous "thinking" writers.  So, when I ended up supremely disappointed by Sartre, I asked this friend if he could point out to me some things of worth I might have missed, to which he grimly replied, "I can't help you with that, I couldn't even be bothered to finish that book."  Anyone out there who's a fan of Kafka and/or Sartre, don't imagine that you're automatically a more serious or sophisticated thinker than those of us who aren't (because I've met people like this) - I don't imagine you're automatically a lesser thinker for being a fan of them, either.  But perhaps realise that there's not just one way to think seriously, and perhaps give someone like Kate Grenville a go sometime before you look down your nose at such "lesser" authors - you just might learn something.  And just perhaps, cultivate a bit of criticism of what's considered to be gold-standard thinking by the narrow white boys' club that's been influencing literature lists for a long time.
SueC is time travelling



Here's a gentle, wistful ode to a lost love...


Remember how it used to be
When the sun would fill the sky
Remember how we used to feel
Those days would never end
Those days would never end

Remember how it used to be
When the stars would fill the sky
Remember how we used to dream
Those nights would never end
Those nights would never end

It was the sweetness of your skin
It was the hope of all we might have been
That filled me with the hope to wish impossible things
To wish impossible things
To wish impossible things

But now the sun shines cold
And all the sky is grey
The stars are dimmed by clouds and tears
And all I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away
And all I wished is gone away
And all I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away
All I wish is gone away

Of course, at a stretch, you could also avail yourself of this piece when your partner has to travel elsewhere without you for a while - but it does rather have a sense of finality about it, and will remind most people of a relationship that ended, which they didn't want to end.

The primary candidate that suggests itself here is the death of a partner - although being "disappeared" in a country that "disappears" people for political reasons would also fit the bill - or any other form of kidnap or imprisonment or detention (like Australia's shocking immigration detention, which has split families up, not to mention made people rot without hope on an island for years and years) or some other party interfering so that a couple is split up against their will.

Of course, sometimes people who have been left by a romantic interest will feel like this too.  In that case there may be some editing skewing the perspective, since the grass is always greener etc, and relationship-ends can be like funerals where nobody wants to remember the bad things, even though they should - even though it's so unhealthy to pretend everything was hunky-dory, and that the person who has died or the partner who has left you was some kind of perfect angel, instead of a human being with good sides as well as flaws.

Here's a really good description of "relationship editing":

QuoteIf you really want to know, there were some parts of going out with Tim that I didn't like.  But when I came home, I'd fall onto my bed and lie there for hours.  I'd watch the room floating with moonlight and scenes from my life would be silvered. Here on the bed I could change things.  I was like a film director, freezing some scenes while I had a good look at a particular expression, a certain gesture.  I played the first kiss scene over and over again.  I felt Tim's hands stroking my face, his tongue tickling my ear, the music beating its way into my body.  It made waves rise up in my belly like the tide coming in.  I'd wanted that song to last forever - 'Fire", it was, and I'd never forget that, no matter what disasters happened later.  I wanted that moment to last, to freeze that frame.  Tim with his arms around me, shining down on me while I quivered in his light.  I could feel his heart hammering hard against mine, the music vibrating through the floor, running like sap through my toes.

On my bed, I'd replay that scene until I was exhausted.  I was a star actor in a million-dollar movie.  Then other moments would creep in.  I'd chop the film there, letting the bad scenes fall into the dark.  I'd grind my heel into those.  I'd crush them down into the bottom of my mind, until no crack of light was emitted.

That's from Sydney writer Anna Fienberg's brilliant novel Borrowed Light, which examines the effects of emotional deprivation in childhood on young people's early romantic experiences.  If you love astronomy and sparkling writing and to learn about human relationships, and you want a book to make you laugh and cry and think and to learn things about yourself you never knew, read this book... and if it's still out of print, get a second-hand copy, or order a special print-run copy, offered by the publisher.

♥ ♥ ♥

To Wish Impossible Things is a song about grief, and I don't know about you, but when I'm grieving, I find it really helpful to listen to songs about grief - it helps with acknowledgement, and with the emotional processing that our brains need to do in situations like this - and apart from these practical considerations, of course, I think we'd not be fully human if we didn't allow ourselves to grieve when sad things happen.

And then, we have to be a phoenix, and rise up from the ashes all over again.

SueC is time travelling



Philosophy is a huge area, and you could never hope to read everything written about it if you lived to be a hundred and did nothing else all your life.  That's why I'm often suggesting people start with Sophie's World - it's cleverly written and accessible, and presents the best pocket summary of the history of Western philosophy I've read anywhere.

One of the problems with the way philosophy is commonly presented is that it often privileges the Western, generally white, disproportionately male perspective over and above the many equally interesting ideas and ways of thinking to be found in indigenous traditions, cultural minority groups, etc.  In that way, it can become a blinkers-on pursuit, which is ironic because one of the wonderful things about philosophy is the diversity of ideas which generally help to take the blinkers off people, and show them different ways of thinking and being, outside of their own lived and vicarious experience to date - a hugely liberating thing.

...but only if you keep going, instead of getting stuck in pet parts of it and turning it into dogma - which sadly, some people do, and academia is especially conducive to - both in philosophy and in science.  People can tunnel down in either of these to the extent that they lose sight of the bigger picture.  Just deeper is not enough - we need to be broader as well - I think that's our biggest contemporary deficit in the West.  The German language has a great word:  Fachidiot.  It basically means "specialty area idiot" and refers to people who are incredibly steeped and expert in one particular subject or even viewpoint, to the exclusion of other areas, in which they become really inept through lack of consideration and use.  And that's the thing I think we should avoid at all costs.

Synthesis (reconciling the truths of different viewpoints) is way more exciting and useful to my mind than the theses and antitheses some people get stuck in and defend like a religion (usually with the same misplaced sense of superiority).

In the earlier post this is a post-script to, I once again got frustrated by the immaturity, irrationality and psychological dysfunctionality in a piece of venerated writing in the Western canon.  And this is fine, because the point of reading is to understand, but also to always question what is being presented, and not to defer to other human beings because they have been put on pedestals by other human beings.  For me, reading (and listening to music, and looking at art and drama, and living life) is the ongoing business of slowly putting a huge puzzle together, with different pieces from all sorts of perspectives.  It is not adopting one tradition or one point of view and drilling down in it, and essentially closing my eyes to everything else.

Anyway, when I get a bee in my bonnet, I usually ask for input by trusted people.  Brett, obviously - he has an excellent head on his shoulders, is an even broader reader than me, and is forthright with his perspectives.  But also other people, and when I was annoyed by Kafka's epistles and more broadly the privileging of some viewpoints above others equally or more worthy of consideration, I turned to good friend and honorary family member Elizabeth, who has read Kafka and is familiar with broad swathes of the canons of literature and philosophy, and asked for her thoughts.  She read the above post and sent me this:

Quote"... I'm beginning to think that the kinds of people who have been classically venerated as important thinkers in Western culture are really just another symptom of the sickness that's inherent in Western societies, and that's driven us to the current point where we've nearly destroyed our own planet, after hundreds of years of destroying other cultures and ways of thinking."

That's the whole crux of it right there. I remember reading Madame Bovary in college and thinking, oh yawn, another depressed privileged white lady. I recently finished a new-ish book on codependency and snuck in my thoughts about encultured codependence as a symptom/requirement of systemic oppression into today's post (which has taken me all week to write and I lost sleep over it - (husband's) surgery tomorrow which hasn't helped, lots of stuff converging right now. I remain convinced it's all to make room for a major, positive shift!)

I agree that romantic love is very immature and as such, narcissistic. Very rich and very poor people are equally guilty of longing for ideal partnerships, the kind in love songs, movies and engagement ring commercials. Real love, as you and I are more acquainted with, requires things like cleaning up together after a bout of screaming, hiking while carrying a homemade birthday feast in your pack, doing introspective, messy healing work, having difficult conversations or carrying a box of used dialysis bags to the dumpster for the umpteenth time so the other person can get some rest. Not glamorous but full of much more substance than Hollywood marriages.

While I love The Metamorphosis for the way it parallels my high school bout of anorexia, it's essentially a story about a selfish person who'd rather curl up and die than face himself. At 17, starving myself to death was a narcissistic response to my trauma history and instead of curling up and dying, like the character I played, I chose to die to my ego and tackle all my issues so I could live. What remains is more or less a handicapped coping skill I've yet to find a healthy replacement for.

Anyhoo. Brilliant, spot on insights as always. Since we go against the grain it's hard to get lots of people to hear ya but at least there are blogs and forums to let it all out! I for one am always happy and satisfied to read your thoughts.

Elizabeth is a core go-to for complex discussions, albeit a tad busy at the moment, living in the USA where coal-face professionals work insane hours that have them constantly on the edge of burnout when not actually falling down the cliff of it, all against the perpetual backdrop of continuing economic insecurity, and where having a sick person in the family is not nearly as straightforward as it is in Australia, which has a Medicare system for all.  I'm sure you've all seen Breaking Bad... the financial and emotional stress of having a serious illness in the household when you're not in the moneyed elite is tremendous.  As an onlooker to the US, which has a penchant for priding itself on being a supposedly amazing model of democracy and justice and imagining itself the best of everything, my eyes are permanently wide with disbelief.

Well, Elizabeth has lived it - and like Frank McCourt, has crawled out of poverty and abuse and "made good" - which means she's overworking tremendously, living in rented accommodation with home ownership a distant dream, and trying to fathom the economics of her husband's congenital kidney failure.  I've laughed and cried and thought long and hard reading my way through the mesmerising pages of her fiercely intelligent biography for the greater part of 2019, and I hope the wider world will be fortunate enough to read and learn from her book.  I mention Frank McCourt because to my mind her bio is to the American underclass what his was to the slums of Limerick - but it's more than evocative and poetic and horrifying and funny, it's also incredibly educational and mind-expanding, thanks to the professional lens through which the present-day Elizabeth Bouvier can look back on the dysfunctional microcosm of her childhood and family of origin, and zoom out over the wider dysfunctional macrocosm of US society.  If you want to connect some serious dots, you need to read literature like this.   ♥

A big thank-you for being a person I can bounce things off on a regular basis.  Writing into a vacuum isn't recommended.  Other people help us be and think better, and I think it is important to acknowledge them.  ♥

Back to the regular programming next post!  :)
SueC is time travelling



This was one of our personal favourites on Show, which we had for yonks before Wish.  I guess we're not particularly into shiny music most of the time, so a song like End appeals to us way more than Friday I'm In Love, musically but also lyrically.  Let me hasten to add though that if you were to go the other side of End into deliberately wallowing, wrist-slitting, let's-lie-down-in-this-and-do-nothing-like-we-have-no-agency music, I'd be off the train as well, because I find that seriously annoying - the idea of deliberate victimhood, fashionable with some.  There's a huge difference between that, and healthy confrontation of dark things about life.

Speaking of, Wish strikes me as more together and emotionally mature than its predecessors lyrically (I've heard all but the first three, and I've heard bits of those).  Some (but by no means all) of the earlier material I've heard isn't what I'd consider emotionally mature, but then few people are particularly together in their 20s, and life is an evolution (unless people choose to stagnate).  I'd be worried if someone wasn't writing more maturely in their 30s and 40s than before they were 25.

There seems to have been an extra effort on Wish too, to write the lyrics very carefully and thoughtfully, and as a result most of them make good stand-alone poetry as well.  While that's not the only way to approach music and produce something excellent, it definitely works.

Now, I'm no expert on the history of rock music, but there was something in this musically that reminded me of the 60s and before.  Sort of, if the Beatles had decided to ditch the Wiggles part of them and gotten serious about writing dark songs, they might have sounded similar to this - although I'm biased enough to think that they'd never have sounded this good trying.  After all, in our view at this house, The Cure managed to outdo Jimmy Hendrix with their cover of Purple Haze - no mean feat.  End would have fitted right in at Woodstock.

Before I have a look specifically at the lyrics, I just want to talk about the chorus (usually one of the first things people reliably pick up when listening to a new song), and what it's made me think of for years...

Please stop loving me, I am none of these things

So much of what's thought of as love is actually projection - in romantic relationships, especially when people fall in love in the first place; but also in too many parent-child relationships.  This is when people don't love the actual person because they can't or won't see them; and all they see is a psychological projection.  If you've not heard of this before I found a good introductory summary here (but for the record, I'm not into astrology personally, and it's not necessary to agree with Jung's take to get this idea).

So in romantic relationships, people often project a fantasy onto the person they're falling in love with, like they're putting a mask on them and can't see their real face.  If you've had a troubled childhood, it can be particularly hard to get around that, especially in early adulthood.  By my 30s I was tremendously suspicious of falling in love, because I'd been burnt by the process a couple of times, and because I hated the blindfolding and irrationality it could plunge you into, not to mention the direct line this process had to all your oldest, deepest, most painful wounds, which would then put you in hell all over again.

If this is painfully familiar to anyone reading and you've not broken the back of this yet, let me encourage you.  ♥  Do not despair - you can get out of this.  I know it often seems, when you're walking in the valley of that particular shadow, that you're never going to see the sunlight - that you're doomed to stagger around in this darkness for the rest of your days, and be in that amount of pain forever, and the thought of that is unbearable.

There's this saying that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn.  That's an idea I liked and held onto for decades.  Hope and optimism, and humour too, are things you have to cultivate, because you can't do this without them.

When we were toddlers, we learnt to walk - and that process involved so much falling over, tripping up, experiencing hard landings and soft landings, getting bruised, frustration, pain, etc.  I love it when I see some parents respond to their toddlers' crashes by saying, "Ooopsie-daisy!" and combining humour with warmth and encouragement towards them - and this encourages their toddlers to laugh at their own crashes, and try again.  If parents handle this the wrong way - with indifference, or with chiding, for example - they set up their children for anxiety around making mistakes and around not getting to grips with something straightaway, and for internalised negative views of themselves and their own ability to learn.  These things stay with you - in your "reptile brain" - right into adulthood if you don't intercept and challenge that lot of BS programming that's been bestowed upon you.

Basically, if you had lousy parenting even in some respects, part of your job in adulthood is to re-parent those mis-parented aspects of you - to do what should have been done, and do it yourself - to zoom back to the toddler you were, and the schoolkid you were, and the teenager you were, and to sit with that person, to listen to them, and to talk to them, and encourage them, and embrace them, the way it should have been in the first place, and the way you would with any other toddler, schoolkid or teenager, if it wasn't actually you (and you learn as you go along that the toddler and schoolkid and teenager you were is just as deserving of love and care as the rest of them - no matter what you might have been conditioned to believe).

In a way, re-parenting yourself is also about seeing who you really were, instead of believing the projections dysfunctional parents routinely made of you, and pretended to themselves were you.  If you had a parent who liked to blacken your name to the world, you'll likely find that they were projecting their own shadow onto you, and hating and punishing you for what were actually their failings and flaws, and turning you into a scapegoat, rather than sorting out their own personal shiitake. 

Scapegoats and Golden Children

There's two classic projections dysfunctional parents make:  The scapegoat, and the golden child.  The kid who is picked as the scapegoat is more likely to be an independent thinker and empathetic and expressive and generally more different from the parent than the other children, and less likely to quietly go along with the parent's ideas and demands.  This kid also, in a sort of poetic justice, is more likely than the others to get their own shiitake together in adulthood, and to reject and escape the role that was imposed on them.  In part it's the nature of these children in the first place, and in part it's that there is no percentage in holding on to a negatively distorted view.  In large part, of course, it's that the pain of that existence drives you to needing to understand.

A golden child is the opposite projection - the parent sees the child only in glowing terms, and it can do no wrong, and if it is occasionally thought to be doing something wrong, it's always someone else's fault that this is so, and nothing to do with them.  The child who classically gets picked by a parent for that particular projection is likely to have key things in common with the parent (including narcissism and entitlement, although both of those are also nurtured into a child by making it the golden child).  The golden child will classically be recruited by the parent into physical and emotional abuse of their other children, and often become an emotional pseudo-spouse to the abusing parent.

While the golden child seems to have it made, and will likely be given a great deal of (excessive) power and showered in gifts and favours and affection, and have a spin-doctor PR machine that makes them out to be perfect and wonderful even when they're not, the golden child is also the least likely to break out of that view of themselves, and to undo their many dysfunctions, when they reach adulthood.  We can all see that casting a child as the villain/scapegoat is emotional abuse, but when you think about it, beaming an excessively glowing projection on a child is also a form of emotional abuse - neither children are seen as who they really are, or loved as who they really are; they're allocated roles instead, and those roles emotionally damage the children.  One of your jobs as an adult, after a childhood like this, is to come to grips with the dark fantasyland of your parents, and to distinguish that from objective reality - and if you're lucky, you will already have started this process by the time you were a teenager.

Because I journalled from age 13, and because I bumped into some really super adults in my orbit outside of my family of origin, and because of books and music and nature etc, I started the intellectual process of working out reality versus projection early on.  (The emotional baggage took far longer, and I wrote about that here.)  The scapegoating looked like this:  I was a "bad girl" from toddlerhood because I disliked the colour pink, which my mother wanted to dress me in, and because I said "no" a lot, and expressed my own wishes, which is completely natural for toddlers to do - it's what they're meant to do.  It also happens that what I liked, and what my mother liked, were diametrically different things - that was true when I was three, and it's true now.  Emotionally immature people find it confronting when people aren't like them, which explains racism, sexism, homophobia, soccer violence, etc.

So even though as a child, I got mostly straight As at school, and lots of academic and art awards, and kept my room clean and tidy, and kept to my own room or the outdoors a lot as my parents preferred me to do, and helped with chores, and had friends, and was compassionate, and kind to animals, and never picked fights with other kids, I was consistently portrayed as "bad" and "trouble" by my mother, and unjustly blamed for all sorts of things that went wrong in her life and in our family.  My mother routinely made up stuff about me that wasn't true, and published it as gospel to the wider neighbourhood, and to my teachers, and my friends.  She was still doing this in my 30s, repeatedly making up stories about how I'd been sacked from work when a fixed-term contract ended (no matter how glowing the references), or how no man wanted me (when I didn't have a boyfriend), or how I was a slut (when I had a boyfriend).  If anyone had anything bad to say about me she'd join right in - I can never once remember her defending my character - and if people said good things, she'd tell them they were mistaken, and that she knew the "real me" (which is so ironic, because my mother has never known, or wanted to know, the real me).

By contrast, my brother could do no wrong - even though he was a bully, and had a pronounced cruel streak, and thought himself too high and mighty to help with housework or offer courtesies to other people, and slacked off in high school to the point he had remedial tuition even though he was bright, and routinely swore at the dinner table (and elsewhere) using the foulest terms that would make even a sailor blush, and said things like, "What crap did you cook today?" to her as a teenager (I was in primary school and remember my shock; she'd have beaten me black and blue if I'd acted like this but all she said to him was, "Please don't say that."), and talked disparagingly of "poofters" and "boongs", and was generally rude and unkind and inconsiderate to the wider world around him.  Furthermore - while according to her, I was a slut for having a boyfriend at one point in my early 30s, she had no criticisms at all when my brother, at around the same time, and while still married and living in the same house as his wife, got his secretary pregnant - a girl barely out of school, and 20 to his 40-something, and in his employ (think about the power imbalance of all that).  But when my mother heard about that, she was gleeful, because she didn't like his wife.  My mother is an avid church-goer, and I asked her if her church lauded infidelity and abuse of power... but let's not go there today, because then we have to get into institutional hypocrisy, on top of the personal kind.  And I'll finish the examples from my own family of origin here, and they're necessarily summary examples.

When an unreconstructed golden child gets to be prime minister, the pattern is predictable.  Tony Abbot is Australia's prime recent example of that.  His sisters attest to him having that role in their childhood home, and what we got was an entitled, narcissistic, broken adult who, in government, continued to play the games he'd learnt at home:  That he is wonderful, that he can do no wrong, that everything he says is truth, that everyone should kiss his feet, that he's entitled to special treatment and more money and privilege than "ordinary" people, that what he says goes and everyone else be damned - and of course, Tony Abbot scapegoated those who have the least power in Australian society - the refugees, the unemployed, the poor, the precariat, the ethnic minorities.

I'm sure you can think of other examples of people in power who are like this, even in a past or present workplace... and they may never change, because they're used to having all that unearned power and privilege, and to running the show as they see fit.  The idea of consulting with others (other than their sycophants) is anathema to them, and they don't see any reason to.  They are God, in their own minds - or at least God's rightfully chosen.

So you can see for yourself the links between the microcosm of the dysfunctional family, and the macrocosm of the dysfunctional society.

♦ ♥ ♦

When I met Brett in my mid-30s, I did see his real face, for months before we became romantically involved - because we started out as very good friends, and I deliberately slowed everything down from my side, plus he's super respectful, and not the kind of man who would push a girl to have sex, even if he physically wanted it - when we talk about that now, he says that for him, the narrative is always more important than a shortcut thrill (and also that he was never particularly attracted to pornography chiefly because the narratives around that are such shiitake).  For my part, I wanted to know him very well before getting pulled under by the spell of sexual biochemistry and all the initial distortions that come with that - and I wanted to make sure I wasn't perversely attracted to the kind of pattern that had been set up in my childhood - I'd seen that too many times.

I did eventually let go and fall in love with him - after lots of getting to know, and a while after he'd made a clear declaration that he hoped we would become more than friends - to which I'd said, "I really really like you, and I hope you can melt through all that protective ice around that part of my heart, and I hope that part hasn't frozen to death in the process..."  But by then, I'd actually seen his real face and he mine, before the inevitable projecting of various fantasies that happens early on in a romantic relationship, apparently no matter how you try to avoid it.  (I have some poems I wrote in those first couple of months of being a couple that make me cringe - and far better poetry from later on, especially after we started having to solve some serious conflicts.)

Looking back, after projecting the fantasy face on him, I spent a while early on in our relationship projecting a shadow face on him, and reacting to that shadow face with all the stored-up pain and loneliness of my childhood experiences.  Then I realised what I was doing, and pulled out of the tailspin.  We each went back to seeing each other's real faces, and then things got extremely solid.  It's wonderful to have that deep level of friendship, relationship and co-adventure, not to mention sex as an expression of that, and not as this wrought kind of insanity that it will be if entirely in the hands of hormones and psychological dysfunction.  And don't let anyone tell you the sex is better when it's like that.  When all is said and done, flying is so much better than falling off a cliff.

I wouldn't wish to paint a picture of having some kind of perfect relationship.  People aren't perfect, therefore relationships aren't, unless you've got your head currently wedged in fantasyland.  But friendship is real, and an egalitarian partnership is a fine thing, and a good relationship can withstand the warts neither of you have managed to remove yet, and the occasional outburst and injustice and unkindness, and even not-so-occasional stuff like that, so long as you're not taking advantage and actually working through it.  Dysfunctional relationships trap people in unhealthy behaviours and stifle personal growth, and are a place of doom (and in some cases, incredibly dramatic near-death sex).  In contrast, imperfect but generally functional relationships encourage healthy and respectful behaviours, help each of you to be the best you can be, and are a place of nurture for your goals and talents (plus don't actually confuse sex with asphyxia).

♦ ♥ ♦

Jeanette Winterson wrote a book called Sexing The Cherry, a longtime favourite.  At the centre of it are dark fairytales with much mayhem.  Somewhere in it, after a particularly dark thing, she says, as your lover describes you, so you are.  You can substitute "parent" for "lover" - same sort of point - and I partly agree, and partly disagree.  I think it's significantly true until you learn not to march to the beat of other people's drums, and more significantly, and harder still, not to care about that drumbeat.  You don't have to be the label, the projection others put on you, but it's one heck of a fight not to be, when you are starting out with that.  Just the defensiveness that usually goes with that territory early on shifts you over towards those false projections - that's partly how curses and self-fulfilling prophecies work, until you learn to defuse them.  And of course, there's the poisoning of the well with others, the character assassination, which creates prejudice, particularly in the gullible and the malicious.  Moving far away and starting again can help, as can not giving a rat's posterior what the gullible and the malicious think about you.

♦ ♥ ♦

What got us here:

Please stop loving me, I am none of these things

A projection isn't reality, and love of a projection is not love of the real person that's being used as a movie screen.  Ditto hate.  The love and the hate are probably real, but on examination they have very little, if anything, to do with the real person they are aimed at - though they speak volumes about the person doing the projecting.  Of course, the act of loving or hating a projection can be very damaging to the people you're projecting on if you have any kind of power over them (parent, employer, spouse) - and also to yourself, because you're no longer in reality there, but in fantasyland - you're basically deranged.   Also, love of a projection is basically just narcissism - it's about your own wish fulfilment.  And the hatred of a projection is about the hate and unresolved shiitake inside of you - and sometimes, it's about some people taking actual enjoyment from the act of hating and harming others (such people do exist).

Please stop loving me, I am none of these things

So says a person who's essentially been put into "golden child" position by another person - rarely, says a person to their parent, rejecting the golden child projection that was aimed at them - more often, says a person who realises that someone who is "in love" with them doesn't actually see them for real and is just in love with a fantasy - and also, may say a person who has been put on a pedestal by anyone else, and is therefore dealing with projections.

The best way to stop yourself from projecting is to not put yourself above or below other people.  In Transactional Analysis terms, that means adult-adult interactions with other adults (and adolescents) - not parent-child or child-parent interactions.  When you put someone on a pedestal, you're likely to project your wish fulfilment fantasies on them;  when you talk down to them, you're likely to project your own shadow (and you're being condescending).  Neither of these is helpful.

Please stop loving me, I am none of these things

Celebrities are vulnerable to both types of projections by the general public:  Scapegoating, and being put on a pedestal.  It's a popular pastime, and there's entire magazines devoted to the practice.  The concert hysteria we've all seen with some bands, particularly young bands, is rooted in projection of fantasies, to the point of derangement.  It's narcissism in the form of high-pitched screaming, underwear throwing, etc.  It's also sometimes the projection of the kind of role model a person is looking for, especially in the absence of that in their own immediate environment.  As with a cult, that person will then defend his projection onto that person as if it is that person - even though the real person has flaws, and is not the perfect person they imagine them to be (although they may have good traits that were correctly identified by the person doing the projecting).

So can you love people you've never met, in any kind of healthy way?  I'll give that a qualified "yes" and refer back to the different types of love the Greeks had distinct words for (see this post for a summary if you're not familiar with that).  Accordingly, we can have agape-type love for everyone - it's a universal respect and goodwill and concern for welfare we can give other people on principle.  It's the type of love you have when you don't want people you've never met to starve in some faraway land or refugee camp, when you think of kids who have nobody they can talk to and your heart goes out to them, when you wish people well, no matter how well you know them (ditto for other animals; you have a disposition to care).  It's possible because you identify with them; because they are part of the whole which you are also part of; because you know how it is to suffer or be lonely or cold or hungry and you can use your imagination to extrapolate, and you care.

I also find I love some people who are dead.  This includes my maternal grandmother, with whom I had a warm relationship, before I was sadly separated from her at age 11 when we emigrated to Australia - I only saw her one more time, for a few weeks when I was 15, when she visited - but we corresponded avidly with letters until she died, and I have boxes full of letters from her.  She is dead, and we can no longer correspond, or meet, but it didn't change that I love her - that never left my heart, and she lives on in it.

Likewise, I have a love for Charles Dickens, even though he died before I was born and I've never met him.  Great Expectations was a set text for our English Literature class when I was a student, and is a book so full of humanity and compassion and honesty and wisdom that I love the part of this person that gave rise to this book.  I don't just love the book, I love the consciousness than begat it, and I'm glad Charles Dickens ever existed.  I don't imagine he was flawless, and I don't know if I would have liked him in person, but my general experience of that has been that if I like the values in someone's work, I have a good chance of also liking the person that's behind them, on actual acquaintance.

That Charles Dickens example, you can extrapolate to hundreds of other people whose books or music or paintings or other art forms gave me light along the road.  You may not know them in person, but they are part of the village that raised you, and in which you live - and it's important to you that they did what they did, so it's quite OK to love their work, and the part of them that brought it into the world.  It's a bit abstract, but that's OK too - our brains generally start to get comfortable with abstractions by around age 14.

...and now, I really have to stop writing, and go to the beach to get some fresh air and exercise, and social time with my husband and dog.  :)  So I'm going to leave it at that for today, and look at the lyrics as a whole next time around (and I expect that's going to be a bit more clinical, and less of a scenic excursion ;)).

Later!  ♥
SueC is time travelling


This thread is called Exploring The Back Catalogue, which was intended to refer to The Cure's recordings going back into the stone age from whence some of us hail. 🤪  It occurred to me after writing the last post that there is a valid secondary meaning to the thread title - because it turns out that when you explore and think about an interesting and voluminous musical back catalogue which not infrequently grapples with various aspects of the human condition, you end up also exploring and thinking about the back catalogue of your own experiences in the process.  That's nothing new of course, that's what good music and literature and art are supposed to do:  Get you thinking about life - both your own, and in general.

This seems to be especially effective if the musical back catalogue co-extends over much of your own life span.  You'll get an album from 1985 and say, "Ah, I heard this song on middle school summer camp!" and you'll remember the weather and the breakfast cereal and that one of the staff members had a wardrobe malfunction with his bathers, and how you brushed your teeth in front of the mirror while the English teacher who introduced you to journalling rolled her eyes at your technique (how rude! 🤬), and you'll get a fierce ghost of the aroma of dust and eucalyptus leaves that early summer, in that particular place.  It's amazing what music brings back to you, and how vivid such recollections can be.  It's also really interesting to retrofit albums you've not listened to before into your recollection of history, and go, "Ah, this and that happened, I wonder if the music referenced that at all."

It's really fascinating to do this trip, both because I really enjoy thoughtful music, and because it's like time travel - sort of like being a detective on a TARDIS and going, "What have we here?" at each stop, which also doubles as a deep dive into the layers of your own life.

Last post, just one idea from the chorus of End kept me very busy - and today, I want to look at the lyrics as a whole.


I think I've reached that point
Where giving up and going on
Are both the same dead end to me
Are both the same old song

I think I've reached that point
Every wish has come true
Tired, disguised oblivion
Everything I do

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

I think I've reached that point
Where all the things you have to say
Hopes of something more from me
Just games to pass the time away

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

I think I've reached that point
Where every word that you write
Of every blood dark sea
And every soul black night

And every dream you dream me in
And every perfect free from sin
And burning eyes and hearts on fire
Just the same old song

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things
Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

Please stop loving me
Please stop loving me
I am none of these things

We were just reading through the main verses out loud this morning and Brett said, "The narrator sounds seriously fatigued."  I laughed; it's not the first time a Cure song seems to come from the pitch-black bottom of the deep dark well of burnout.  I laughed not because burnout is funny, but because of the recognition, and because if you don't have black humour about stuff like that, you're doomed.  🌩

Perfectionistic tendencies and burnout correlate significantly - been there, done that, and have seen it in others.  Journalling is a nice antidote for me, always has been - it's actually relaxing, and enjoyable, and I love having no pressure on me, and not having to argue with an editor or withdraw a piece because they wanted to lobotomise it.  Paid writing is very different to this and after ten years, I'm taking an unspecified break and just writing for fun, while running a farmstay.  When the pandemic hit, I couldn't take any more articles about knitting hot-water bottle covers (not that I wrote those, or that there's something fundamentally wrong with knitting a hot-water bottle cover, it was just the umpteenth rendition of it, and the current historical context - let's knit hot-water bottle covers while the planet burns, etc).

I'm much more interested in the human condition than in knitted hot-water bottle covers, and it's far more relevant to what's going on around us.

Back to the song:  I talked about projection in the last post, and End reads well for a number of contexts involving that, but Brett and I both think that this song is particularly spot on as a telling-off to the more deranged music audience members.  It's a pity really, that this plagues contemporary music - and I think that's why I've never been very comfortable at a contemporary gig with lots of screaming fans.  I'm really at home in a classical or folk music audience - and I just found a little clip of what I mean:

That's the kind of audience I love being amongst, which makes me feel connected to the other people there, and happy to be part of the human species.  Have a look at them!  ♥  These are people you can actually talk to in a normal manner, and who aren't going to make the musicians uncomfortable by behaving like lunatics.  I mean, OK, there's clearly some lunatic musicians who enjoy having a lunatic audience - enjoy insane displays of veneration and hysteria, and underwear-throwing.  But I've never liked music by people like that, nor musicians or any other people who love sitting on pedestals.

From what I've read, The Cure came in for a fair bit of audience lunacy when they got commercial success, and I can completely understand why Mike Scott from The Waterboys made a point of disappearing whenever things got too big, or too crazy - went to an intentional community for a while, or disappeared to Ireland to play folk music.  Likewise, Liam Ó Maonlaí quit touring with Hothouse Flowers and went back to his roots:

Look at the audience interaction, it's fabulous.  ♥   Everyone there is on the same level; it's people hanging out as community.  I went to some Hothouse Flowers gigs in the 90s and their audience was actually so much more sane than the U2 crowd I'd seen in the same venue - you could hear a pin drop when Ó Maonlaí was singing a traditional Gaelic piece a capella during an encore, in an 8000-seater filled to capacity.  During louder songs, people were cheering and clapping but not screaming hysterically and fainting.

The first Cure gig I watched on a screen was Trilogy, and I thought to myself, "That's actually a pretty nice audience for a contemporary gig!"  It wasn't too over-the-top and people were doing nice things like slowly waving lights around.  Here's a sample:

I'd have largely felt comfortable with that, as an audience member - and I think the 2018 Hyde Park concert had a mostly reasonable audience as well, compared to the norm for large rock concerts.  Brett saw The Cure in Perth in 2000 and says the crowd there was pretty well-behaved too - and joked to me, "But they didn't play Friday I'm In Love so the audience cut Robert Smith's head off and put it on a spike."  :P

I can't remember if it was Paris or Show, but on at least one of those albums, there's the kind of female audience screeching that can shatter glass, not to mention permanently mangle the stereocilia in your inner ear.  (Brett is betting it's Show because that's an American audience.  :evil:)  I well know the sound from sometimes teaching in all-girls' schools.  :1f635:  A good water pistol ought to be helpful for nipping this undesirable behaviour in the bud.  I didn't encounter it in the classroom, or I really would have brought in a water pistol - it's more that you have to wear ear plugs on sports days, etc.

I know a lot of tricks for managing an unreasonable classroom - but how do you manage an unreasonable concert crowd?  Do you stop the concert and say, "We will resume when people are quiet - meanwhile, security will remove anyone who gets nasty?"  (Probably not, although I have heard of bands stopping mid-song and turning the place over to bouncers if people in the audience are getting crushed or there's fights breaking out.  Lovely.  🙄)

It's funny, isn't it, that people who actually enjoy listening to music for its own sake tend to behave in a civilised manner at a concert.  The hysteria seems to be largely associated with popular culture and fame - and if people go to concerts because it's fashionable or because there's a famous person on stage, that doesn't suggest they're particularly bright, or very mature.  It's this sort of herd mentality, too - or lemmings going over a cliff, I don't know.  I expect that people are more likely to behave like that when they're in their teens or twenties than when their brain matures a bit, although there's always exceptions to the rule... and of course there's also many people who refuse to behave like this even at age 15, etc.

Of course, lunatic tendencies don't always come with ostentatious outward behaviour, and clearly there's plenty of projecting onto people that goes on without screeching or fainting or underwear throwing.  It's a flaw the human brain is given to, and having a human brain is like having a high-maintenance exotic pet that you can't leave unsupervised, and have to engage in a lot of positive activities to prevent various disasters.  ("Oh no!  My exotic pet just ate the postman!  Tunnelled into the neighbour's garden and stole his shoes!  Rolled in a cadaver and then went to sleep on the sofa!  Peed in the pantry!  Chewed up my record collection!  Climbed up the curtains!  Left a dead rat in the washing machine! :1f62e:"  - "Well, you really should take it for long walks more often, dear!")

Ah, the rich tapestry.

Just getting back to the wording of End before I wrap up, here's some particularly nice writing from that song:

I think I've reached that point
Where every word that you write
Of every blood dark sea
And every soul black night

And every dream you dream me in
And every perfect free from sin
And burning eyes and hearts on fire
Just the same old song

It's unsurprising that you can also read these same words for a starry-eyed, overly adoring person in a romantic relationship - psychologically, all these things are related, through being about projections instead of reality.  You can't change people's behaviour, but you can work with boundaries and consequences so that they might think about changing their own behaviour -  and ultimately you can decide whether or not to hang around them.

Primarily though, the behaviour you can influence the most is your own, and that's really your main job in life.  Here's a little song about that which will nicely conclude this post.

SueC is time travelling


It appears we're not quite done with End yet.  Now that I've looked, I've found the following snippet online:

Quote from: undefinedIn a 1992 interview with Propaganda magazine, Robert Smith spoke about the connection felt by his fans towards the emotions reflected in his songwriting. In "End," the lyrics "Please stop loving me / I am none of these things," seemingly forms a plea to fans to limit their idolization of him:

"This will always be an emotional band. I find it easy to write about what pours from my heart.  It just so happens that much of what flows from it is downcast — almost desperate. Music is my way of moaning, of crying, of throwing a tantrum. It's not calculated, it's how I feel at the moment [...]

Because my very private emotions have constantly been put on display like this for so long, many of our fans have strongly identified with them. These people seem to believe that I somehow have a special insight into things — that I'm somehow able to deliver all the answers to all their problems in life. I'd really rather not be thought of in that way, which is why I included the song "End" on the last album."
from https://genius.com/The-cure-end-lyrics

Now isn't that interesting.

Psychologically, the problem isn't that people are identifying with emotions or situations - that's something our social-mammal brains are supposed to do, so that we have a hope of living peacefully in groups and so that cooperation and social cohesion becomes possible.  Identifying with others makes you want to be around them, makes you want to be helpful and to act in the common interest, rather than always prioritising your individual interest.  We're actually quite driven by emotional proclivities - by wanting to do things or not do things, as opposed to doing them because we rationally recognise they are good things to do - it's much harder for us to do something just because we know it's good for us, if we don't feel like doing it.  (But there's tricks to use for that, etc.)

So, it's actually a good thing for people to identify with each other, to understand that we have emotions, problems, dreams etc in common - and to understand where our differences lie.  Have you noticed how having common ground with someone else actually helps you be curious about your differences - rather than apprehensive or aggressive?  How a baseline level of respect and trust helps people understand and appreciate those things on which they think or feel differently?  That baseline level of respect and trust comes significantly from identifying with others.

The problem is that we're not doing enough of it - and that our social groups have become too large for our brains.  We're evolutionarily set up for small-tribe living, and we're actually living in complex societies with millions of people in them now.  It's impossible to have working relationships with a million other people - your brain can handle interacting regularly with a "tribe" of maybe 100-200 people in a meaningful way, at a stretch.  More than that, and it gets stressful.  In cities, people tend to avoid each other; and one of our modern dilemmas is that we're the loneliest we've ever been, even though surrounded by an ocean of other humans - too many humans.

And many of us aren't connecting with each other as much as we were necessarily connecting when we were hunter-gatherers, or even agricultural villagers.  In recent decades, with increasing job insecurity in the West and many people forced to up and move many times to pursue the next job, we're getting socially dislocated many times over, and a good support network necessarily becomes harder to maintain.

People who are into sports or religion generally get little plug-in communities when they relocate; but if you're not into those things, or you're introverted, or have social anxieties, or your daytime job puts a hundred people into your face every day and you can't face going to choir group or Scottish Highland dancing or the photography club or whatever else you might be interested in on a weeknight after that because all you want to do is be on your own and read a book, then you may end up having few social contacts that aren't around your work.

In addition to that, you may live in a culture where people tend to be more aloof and aren't that emotionally expressive or interested in welcoming new people into their circles - and this is the common experience I share with people from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African and other "warm-culture" backgrounds, as an immigrant to Australia - it's a shock (and if you grow up like that, you may not even realise there is an alternative).  I grew up in part in Italy, and am part-Italian, and that was culturally my favourite place to live because people were just so much more open, expressive, socially welcoming and generally colourful than what I'd seen in Germany, or what I've seen in Australia (although here you can hang out with cultural groups from those backgrounds to at least partially replicate that kind of experience).

The British culture is famous for the stiff upper lip.  It doesn't mean everyone British has it, but it's a cultural tendency.  A lot of Anglo-background men (and many men in general, more than women) would rather walk barefoot on hot coals than express emotions that make them vulnerable.  It's to do with how people are "edited" around culture and gender as they grow up - much is amputated in the process of "civilising" a person to a particular cultural standard.  And throw into the mix the international problem of family violence and other dysfunction affecting many families - well, it all adds up to a lot of disconnection, and a lot of deficit.

Many people who grow up with a lot of disconnection and isolation (and even many who don't) will use books and music as another way of connecting to the rest of humanity.  It's alternative universes you might actually want to live in.  It allows you to dive into how other people think and feel, and see other ways of doing things, including better ways of doing things than what you might see in your immediate environment.  Literature and music saves a lot of people from doom, if you ask me.

One problem with our modern culture is this:  When we lived in small tribes/villages, we had our tribe/village bards, but we actually knew them.  Although their music and poetry might have moved us (unless we were saddled with a Cacofonix), we also knew they had flaws because we lived with these people, and talked to them regularly.  They were just one of us, who happened to have the gift of the gab or of music, while others had the gift of woodcarving or boat-making or whatever.  Plus, music and poetry had more community participation - just look at the centrality of that to the everyday lives of many people who don't live in Western mainstream culture.

I'm going to break this loooong text up a little by posting this lovely clip of Australian indigenous band Yothu Yindi to illustrate that last point:

...and doesn't it make you want to jump up and join in?  It's social glue in that kind of community (lucky people!).  It's really something meant for participation.  There wasn't originally so much distance between performer and spectator - that's a more recent thing.  (If this makes you ache, sign up for an African drumming workshop, you'll love it! :))

These days, we may still have the equivalent of village bards in some places (and we do where we live), but we also have mass communication, including printed books and recorded music.  Someone who would normally just have been a village bard suddenly becomes a bard in many places that have a knowledge of the same language - not quite a global bard, but a bard with an audience of millions, instead of a couple of hundred villagers/tribespeople. 

And on the one hand that's great because it exposes us to so much diversity of styles and ideas.  On the other, it creates a problem for the brain, because we no longer have personal contact with those sorts of bards.  This is unsatisfactory to our small-tribe brains, which are programmed for connection and communication.  There's something missing if you can't sit down around a table with your village bards present.  Furthermore, you don't know from experience that these mass-communication bards have, let's say, really bad halitosis, or a short temper, or hate Chinese people, or are motorheads, or are greedy, or unhelpful, or have bad table manners, or poor personal hygiene, or enjoy stringing reptiles up and watching them die slowly, etc etc etc.  If you don't see that stuff, it can be easy to irrationally imagine that these mass-communication bards are somehow rarefied and extra evolved, and removed from the human grubbery you see all around you, and wish to get away from.

And now I'm going to come back to the point about modern social isolation, and common family dysfunction.  You may grow up with few people in your immediate orbit who enthuse you with their examples or values - but see things in books or in lyrics that you think are so much better (and they may be).  Or you may live in a family and/or society where people don't talk about their emotions, and you have a hunger for that, and then you see it in books or music, and you wish you could have that in your day-to-day life.  And especially if you're young, it becomes so easy for your brain to project fantasy onto those mass-communication bards, in a similar way people do when they fall in love with someone.  Plus, you're not cynical yet and you think it's bad manners to think badly of other people in the absence of evidence.  :angel

I'm trying to think back about the extent to which I did that as a young person.  My immediate family members were violent and emotionally abusive, and I grew up mostly either outdoors communing with nature, or indoors with my nose in books - magic gateways to alternative universes.  I was interested in music from a participation point of view (we had a really wonderful multi-instrumentalist teacher in primary school - a real village bard - and she also taught us to sing harmonies, call and response etc, rather than baa-baa-black-sheep stuff) - there really wasn't much music in the family I grew up in - and I'm not counting my brother's blaring of Kiss and other tasteless stuff through his expensive sound system until the walls shook and the neighbours started complaining.

I grew an embryonic interest in contemporary music when we moved to Australia, through the ubiquity of 96fm in Perth in the 80s - and they really were a very good station, not Top-40 but more educational.  At age 14, I managed to get a copy of U2's The Unforgettable Fire, and shortly afterwards the predecessors to that - it was an eye-opener.  The males in my household (father, older brother) were violent bullies (as was my mother, just for the record, but I'm trying to look specifically at male examples here), not to mention misogynists, racists and homophobes - all they ever seemed to express was anger and disdain, and the concept of love they promulgated was so toxic it took me decades to completely recover from it.

Because Bono (like Robert Smith) is rather free and lavish with his emotions (and wasn't nearly so annoying before U2 hit the big time), it was through those albums that I became super-conscious that not all males were like the ones in my family.  And by the way, I have that in common with Noel Fitzpatrick, the Bionic Vet - similar family of origin dysfunctions, same albums - let's take a little break to look at what he grew up to be (and if you've never seen Oscar, this is a treat):

Noel Fitzpatrick listened to these albums on a remote Irish peat bog, and I, on a remote Australian farm - with music, animals, books and some excellent teachers more common features in our respective stories.

Bono expressed anger, but on behalf of other people, or because of structural injustice - how amazing was that - a male not being angry for the sole reason of not getting their own way.  :1f62e:  Also, what he had to say about love, number one, wasn't primarily about romantic love, and number two, even when it was, actually expressed respect for his partner - how good was that?

I probably did have a hyper-inflated idea of Bono's personal goodness at that point, but the same would be true for authors like James Herriot.  At any rate, even with the warts I can see in those people as a grown-up, they were vastly superior specimens of masculinity than what I saw at home (or in the local community of rednecks), and it was really important to understand that men didn't have to be misogynistic, bigoted, bullying a-holes to be men.  I much preferred that take.  And while I probably overestimated the personal virtue of people like Bono, James Herriot, and other better examples of how to be human, I was much too distrustful of the human species in general to idolise those people in anything like the way I saw my classmates idolise their respective pop stars etc.  And I'd never have screeched or thrown my underwear upon meeting these people who were important role models to me - I would have died of embarrassment to even consider that - it's so vacuous and stupid, not to mention bad manners.

All young children will put their parents on a pedestal initially, given half a chance - and when your parents fall off the pedestal, the search for replacements is on, until one day you (hopefully) learn that pedestals are a really bad idea - and that you don't need to be a child anymore (or at least, that you have an adult at your disposal now).

I think my head solved my existential problem at the time by finding a sort of surrogate non-human that it was OK to put on a pedestal - having grown up non-religious, at 14 I was rather impressed by the way Jesus spoke of the Pharisees, and the Sermon on the Mount etc, and because you're sort of invited culturally to view him as superhuman and a completely different kettle of fish, I did.  By the way, I wasn't proselytised, I was just reading.  But the text invites you to view Jesus as a big imaginary friend you can talk to in your head anytime, and that was some wish fulfilment for an isolated kid (plus it's common for very young children to create imaginary friends, so with religion, you're really scaffolding onto that).  And in retrospect I think it's better to recruit a non-human story-based fantasy figure into your own re-parenting, than to project fantasies onto fellow humans and thereby turn them into some kind of God they're not (and yes, the parallels...).  Michael J. Straczinsky, by the way, put the cartoon character Superman on his personal pedestal for much the same reasons, when he was growing up (his bio is called Becoming Superman and is a great read).

Now where were we?  I know there's one thing I need to come back to before I can wrap this up; and that's the modern deficit in emotional connection.  Because there is a solution to that, and it is that more of us need to become forthright about our own back stories and flaws, and to talk about our emotions and thoughts, and how we got through various horrible things, and all that stuff that's usually hidden away as too personal, so that there's always people like that in the immediate community to talk to, and you don't need to project that wish onto some distant mass-communication bard.

Say I online, which is a form of mass communication too, but actually, a good forum is an online community, and makes connections between actual human beings, in an actual human way.  Just like snail-mail penpals are actually connected on a human level.  And also, I'm like this in person too, and was switched into this sort of thing in my 20 years in classrooms:  Emotional stuff was always invited into the discussion, even if we were doing Physics (but it is easier to do that with Literature classes - having taught both, and a few other subjects).

And now I want to put in a good word for the mass-communication bard.  I consider myself fortunate to have worked with crowd sizes that fitted (sometimes barely, depending on student load policies) into the small-tribe setup of the brain I have courtesy of being human.  Because of this, I could always connect with the people I was working with in a meaningful way, so that they weren't just faces or numbers to me, but actual persons I cared about, and could care about in more than an abstract way, because I could get to know them well enough - through surveys at the start of the year, and essays, and class discussions, and letting them tell me their stories and ideas and dreams - and by not being a robot, myself; not too secretive about my own life and experiences, but openly human.

Likewise, when I joined an online journalling group six years ago, the size of the group was conducive to personal connection and relationship.  It is large enough to have some diversity, but mostly not too big to be overwhelming or a chore.  It's a sort of subgroup in the main group, because the main group is too much to handle - that would be a fulltime job, and I have lots of other things to do...

I spent nearly a decade writing regularly for an Australian self-sufficiency magazine, which forms a kind of community as well.  However, that's where I was running into some limitations.  For nearly two years now I've had reader letters on my desk that I'd hitherto always answered, but it just snowballed, and though I keep saying to myself, "At least I could send a postcard!" the weeks and months go by and I do nothing about it - because it's just gotten too much for me.  The best will in the world comes crash bang up against the fact that I just can't do this forever and ever - it's overloading my brain, and my brain says no, even though the letters are still out and so is the stationery, and these are nice people.  I've stopped writing for this magazine for other reasons, but a nice side-effect is that this problem isn't going to keep snowballing.  And this is the baby version of the problem every mass communication bard comes up against - that you can't personally talk to everyone in your audience who wants to, because you're wired for small-tribe connection and will burn out if you try to do more than that.

Thankfully I was never mobbed etc, in working with the public.  Amusingly, Brett came home one day a couple of years ago and told me he'd been stopped in the supermarket with, "...I wonder, are you Brett Coulstock, husband of Sue, who writes for such and such?  Please tell her that her articles really cheer me up!"  :lol:  We laughed about that - the fact that he was recognised.  This year, I met that reader at the stockfeeds, "Hey, I met your husband at the supermarket a while back, I hope he told you XYZ."  Of course, when you've spent 20 years in education, you get kind of used to getting recognised in the street, around your workplace catchments anyway.  I'm sure some of them are hiding from me, but others definitely aren't, and these kinds of imprompu reunions can be really lovely.  But that's at a small-tribe level, and verbal, so it works out fine.

I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to be doing this kind of thing on a vastly bigger scale.  Unless you put some serious boundaries around yourself, like maybe living in hermitage at the bottom of a deep cave, it would kill you.  That's the other side of the equation of mass communication.

Let's finish by going back to this:

QuoteI find it easy to write about what pours from my heart.  It just so happens that much of what flows from it is downcast — almost desperate. Music is my way of moaning, of crying, of throwing a tantrum. It's not calculated, it's how I feel at the moment [...]

In other words, the writing is cathartic.

I've sometimes wondered why the UK and Ireland have come up with so much good contemporary music, compared to, say, Italy.  Here's a hypothesis:  Maybe Italians are happy to moan, cry and throw tantrums in everyday life, and therefore don't have the same need to go write songs about it, to let it all out.  ...or maybe, it's because they spend less time stuck indoors in miserable weather...

But I'm going to stop now, before another thousand words pour out.  :lol:

Hopefully, this is the end of the discussion of End and matters arising from it.  :angel

(Mine, I mean.  I'd like to actually get to the next song one day.  However, if anyone wants to jump in, and further discuss End or matters arising from it, that would be excellent, and a good reason to delay going to the next song.  :)  On my other forum people are always jumping in.  Maybe horse people are more verbose or extroverted or whatever, compared to fans of bands said to be gothic even though they're not.  :angel)
SueC is time travelling


The end of the year was rapidly approaching and two Cure albums are still queueing - I'd rather like to listen to them, so I better get finished with looking at Wish.


Cut is a jagged sort of number, a lament for a dying relationship:


If only you'd never speak to me
The way that you do
If only you'd never speak like that
It's like listening to
A breaking heart
A falling sky
Fire go out and friendship die
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do

If only you'd never look at me
The way that you do
If only you'd never look like that
When I look at you
I see face like stone
Eyes of ice
Mouth so sweetly telling lies
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do
But you don't
You don't feel anymore
You don't care anymore
It's all gone
It's all gone
It's all gone

If only you'd never pull from me
The way that you do
If only you'd never pull like that
When I'm with you
I feel hopeless hands helplessly
Pulling you back close to me
I wish you felt the way that I still do
The way that I still do
But you don't
You don't feel anymore
You don't care anymore
It's all gone
It's all gone
It's all gone

If only you'd ever speak to me
The way you once did
Look at me the way you once did
Pull to me the way you once did
But you don't
You don't feel anymore
You don't care anymore
It's all gone
It's all gone

Sometimes it's like that and there's nothing you can do - Sensate Focus won't fix this and psychotherapy doesn't look good here either; along with other tools they're better at preventing this kind of disconnection that trying to fix something that's broken into two separate pieces.  Sometimes something is just dead, and all you can do is write a dirge.  The sad thing here is that the death of the thing is so lopsided, as it so often is - with one party checked out, and the other wishing it wasn't so.  All that you can do then is to remember that there's lots of other people you can connect with - and that thinking you're never going to feel again like you felt about the person who checked out is a bit of a grass-is-greener thing, and a bit like when you've had a big lunch and you can't imagine ever feeling hungry again - because you will.

These lyrics are again nicely written.  The words are very balanced against each other, and at one point I can't help thinking, Double, double, toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  I like the logical structuring, the way the three expanded observations on the present are revisited in a verse about the past, the word flow, use of alliteration, etc.  Very effective piece.

Now another look at a song whose lyrics I had a difficult start with...


Every time we do this
I fall for her
Wave after wave after wave
It's all for her
I know this can't be wrong I say
(And I'll lie to keep her happy)
As long as I know that you know
That today I belong
Right here with you
Right here with you...

And so we watch the sun come up
From the edge of the deep green sea
And she listens like her head's on fire
Like she wants to believe in me
So I try
Put your hands in the sky
We'll be here forever
And we'll never say goodbye...

I've never been so
Colourfully-see-through-head before
I've never been so
And all I want is to keep it like this
You and me alone
A secret kiss
And don't go home
Don't go away
Don't let this end
Please stay
Not just for today

Never never never never never let me go she says
Hold me like this for a hundred thousand million days
But suddenly she slows
And looks down at my breaking face
Why do you cry? what did I say?
But it's just rain I smile
Brushing my tears away...

I wish I could just stop
I know another moment will break my heart
Too many tears
Too many times
Too many years I've cried over you

How much more can we use it up?
Drink it dry?
Take this drug?
Looking for something forever gone
But something
We will always want?

Why why why are you letting me go? she says
I feel you pulling back
I feel you changing shape...
And just as I'm breaking free
She hangs herself in front of me
Slips her dress like a flag to the floor
And hands in the sky
Surrenders it all...

I wish I could just stop
I know another moment will break my heart
Too many tears
Too many times
Too many years I've cried for you
It's always the same
Wake up in the rain
Head in pain
Hung in shame
A different name
Same old game
Love in vain
And miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Away from home again...

Here's an obvious love-gone-wrong number, which is elastic enough to pull over a variety of scenarios:  Falling in love with someone else when you're already in a committed relationship, and going places (to a greater of lesser degree) where by the ethics of that you shouldn't (unless you're in a consensual open relationship or polyamorous arrangement).  Or, having a pattern of short-term relationships (A different name/Same old game) where the lovers are one after the other under the mistaken impression that something longer-term isn't ruled out, but it is, he's just not admitting it to them (I'll lie to keep her happy).  Or a variant of this, namely serial infidelity.  Or, continuing to come back to a long-standing relationship that's gone wrong somewhere and the narrator possibly wanted to end but can't.

Miles and miles and miles away from home again - that's quite stretchy as well; it could obviously suggest an affair, if you take "home" literally, as a place, an "official" relationship etc.  If you're going to look at it as a concept, however, then you could apply it to just the one troubled relationship that the narrator keeps getting drawn back to, that for some reason doesn't get to the "ideal" of home - which might mean the concept needs adjusting in the person's head, and it's not just the relationship that needs working on.  Some not too uncommon reasons for that, especially in older generations like ours, are things like the Madonna-w'hore complex (I can't believe that got censored!!!) - basic programming errors that are partly cultural, which is why you've got to find and fix the source code and write your own instead.

Choose your own adventure, with this song, I think.  If anyone would like to read a nitty-gritty discussion we had on the lyrics to this a year ago, we did that here.  That's where I'm also going to refer people if they'd like to read ooohing and aaahing about how musically, this is one of my favourite pieces by this band (though there are many) - I could spend half an hour writing more about that, or I could be half an hour closer to finishing the journalling on Wish and putting the self-titled album on, which is still sitting there in its wrapper and getting really tempting.  While I am usually on the delayed-gratification end of the marshmallow test, I got two Cure albums last year :winking_tongue which I've not even listened to yet, and there is a point at which delaying your marshmallows results in mummified marshmallows... sorry, this metaphor doesn't quite fit, but I think you know what I'm getting at.  :)

Exactly one song to go in the category of Love Gone Wrong - Let Me Count The Ways - and then we can get to the one song about love gone right, two songs about manipulation, one mental health track, and the famous weekday ditty which constitute the rest of the Wish album.  :cool


There's no-one left in the world
That I can hold onto
There is really no-one left at all
There is only you
And if you leave me now
You leave all that we were
There is really no-one left
You are the only one

And still the hardest part for you
To put your trust in me
I love you more than I can say
Why won't you just believe?

Surprised to see this one under "love gone wrong"?  The relationship isn't over, is it?  (Though he seems to be trying to convince her not to leave.)  And the song sounds so utterly amazing that you feel like you're flying through a starry sky far above this planet (if you're me, which you're clearly not, so maybe it reminds you of bathing with a hippopotamus, what would I know :P).

Ah, but it doesn't have to be over to be in this category - it's so much better to catch something quickly before it goes way wrong, than to wait for it to predictably crash and then wheel the broken body into the emergency department.  And trust is very central to relationships - without it, they're mere commercial transactions, I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine, etc.  So when trust starts to erode, or problems around it crop up, that's a very serious thing in a relationship and you should hear the fire alarms going off.  It's a worthy topic to write a song about.

I've got to admit, I'd like to know how the narrator got into the situation that there's only one person left they can trust (I think is implied, but even just to "hold onto"), and it's a bit of an alarm bell, because sometimes it's what a person does, or doesn't do, that alienates people who have hitherto trusted them too, and alienates them generally for good reasons.  In that kind of scenario, the rest of the lyrics would be 1) trying to guilt trip / flatter the one remaining person into not joining the exodus, and 2) trying to convince them that ardent declarations of love make them trustworthy - which rationally is not convincing, of course.  Trust is something you earn through your actions towards other people and the world in general, over a significant stretch of time - not something you can buy with sweet nothings, or indeed lofty poetry - and this general topic I've explored before here, in the context of a Cure B-side called Home.

Of course, sometimes there are terrible situations where a person realises that they've trusted people who were never trustworthy in the first place, and they therefore have to reassess the way they relate to the world from the ground up (and that's happened to me, and to others I know).  That's an awful black hole to find yourself in, where you can be lucky if you actually have one person left whom you can trust, or hold onto (and they're not always the same thing, I realise that - but I don't think we need half a page of analysis on that at this point) - and I like to think of the song in that way, because I prefer a beautiful-sounding song to be about something of substance, and not a piece of cognitive dissonance where wonderful music showcases a lyrical house of cards.  :P

So, in those kinds of situations, Trust can be a very relatable song - excepting the concluding, logically non sequitur verse, I'd argue - for reasons explained in the paragraph before last - but that's a common mistake to make, I think, especially when you're in the early stages of adulthood.  Which calls to mind the sayings I've heard along the lines of, "Just when I'm finally getting a handle on things, I'm at the end of my statistically expected life span!"  :angel

I recently found a very lovely fan video set to this song, which promotes the idea of performing random acts of kindness as part of your daily interactions with the world.  Brett and I cooed over this clip, and I got tears in my eyes, because I'm a big softie, but more to the point, because I really get, because I've been there, how little acts of kindness from strangers (that sometimes also end up turning into friends) can make all the difference to you when you're in a difficult spot in life; can keep you afloat instead of drowning, can keep you hoping instead of despairing - to be at the receiving end of kindness, but even just to witness it.  So please, be a little lightbulb to others, because as we've all heard before, better to light a candle than all of us sit in the darkness.  Kindness is the antidote to all the alienation, cruelty and general shiitake out there...

Really gorgeous music, this...total aromatherapy for the ears, as is so much of Wish.
SueC is time travelling



We've looked at the considerable clutch of love-gone-wrong songs on Wish - and now we turn to the one love-gone-right song on the album, High

(For once, not off The Cure's official YT stuff because that forces you into video clips where they exist and I think clips detract from music, and that Robert Smith without long hair is scary 👺 :P)

...of course, when you look at some of the other material from this recording stint that didn't make it onto the album, you will notice a shining gem called This Twilight Garden which is a love-gone-spectacularly-right song, and a gorgeous musical watercolour at that; and people argue about how that should have been on the album instead of Wendy Time, but honestly, I'd keep that one in there because it rounds out the general themes, and simply expand Wish by two tracks, namely the abovementioned gem and The Big Hand - both of which are A+ tracks in every which way, to our way of thinking.

Let's look at the lyrics:


When I see you sky as a kite
As high as I might
I can't get that high
The how you move
The way you burst the clouds
It makes me want to try

When I see you sticky as lips
As licky as trips
I can't lick that far
But when you pout
The way you shout out loud
It makes me want to start
And when I see you happy as a girl
That swims in a world of magic show
It makes me bite my fingers through
To think I could've let you go

And when I see you
Take the same sweet steps
You used to take
I say I'll keep on holding you
My arms so tight
I'll never let you slip away

And when I see you kitten as a cat
Yeah as smitten as that
I can't get that small
The way you fur
The how you purr
It makes me want to paw you all
And when I see you happy as a girl
That lives in a world of make-believe
It makes me pull my hair all out
To think I could've let you leave

And when I see you
Take the same sweet steps
You used to take
I know I'll keep on holding you
In arms so tight
They'll never let you go

I'm not always a huge fan of The Cure's radio-friendly songs and I much prefer their other side, but I've always had a soft spot for this particular track.  It's musically not too unbearably poppy, and I like the playfulness of its lyrics.  As their radio-friendly love songs go, this one's my favourite, although I've also really warmed to Love Cats in the last half decade or so, for similar reasons - playful lyrics, musically not allergy-inducing for me, and nothing that can be remotely interpreted as co-dependency.

The writing style for High reminds me of ee cummings - and if you've never read this guy, here's a nice example:

anyone lived in a pretty how town

by ee cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

I've liked the puzzles and wordplay in his poetry for a long time too... and he's pretty hard to avoid if you do poetry at school. :)

And now, something of a rant.  One of the reasons I'm here typing this stuff on this site is because when The Cure came to Australia last, to do the 30th Anniversary shows for Disintegration at the Sydney Opera House in mid-2019, there was a certain music journalist who wrote a certain piece in The Monthly on The Cure which I thought was a really one-dimensional portrait of the band and their music, and said more about her than it did about The Cure's music (and of course, to a greater and lesser extent that's true for all of us who write, I think).  I got a bee in my bonnet about that and I had a stress fracture in my foot which required me to be off it as much as possible for three weeks and keep it elevated a lot of the time, so I got on the sofa with my laptop and wrote an alternative piece to the one that had me wrinkling my nose, because what else are you gonna do when you're a bit annoyed and you have a stress fracture and to cap it all, it's pouring down outside day after day in the Australian mid-winter.

One of the things that annoyed me was the music journalist's assertion that Robert Smith was glossing over sex in his relationship songs with pretty metaphors and tame euphemisms and had never left the shy teenage stage of writing about that stuff.  I'm paraphrasing from memory and am perhaps a bit harsh, so go read the original which is linked to above if you want it straight from the horse's mouth, but even as a fairly new Cure fan I was thinking, "Excuse me, which songs has she listened to?"

Quite apart from the fact that The Only One had been in existence for a decade when the journo made that outlandish claim, and is enough to make a fair few people blush with its graphic imagery (and some of us cheer because it's about time someone with a platform in popular culture educated the sub-30s that there is sex on the other side of the big 3-0 and no, it's not their monopoly, nor do they necessarily own the peak), surely if you've delved deeper into their albums you'd have known that it's not the norm for Robert Smith to "pretty things up" for the Mary Whitehouses of this world.

I do remember said journalist quoting from High to make that distorted claim - and apparently forgetting a good dozen or more other songs that would have lent perspective - and I'm not even through the whole back catalogue yet, and this journo was a long-standing fan, at least when she was growing up...

Anyway, I like High, and not every (or any, actually) song needs to be sexually graphic in order to prove to someone else that the writer is an adult.  And now it's time to wheel out this theory I have about people again...

I think basically that it's all still there, every age you ever were, and that you can access all the ages you've ever been if you go looking.  You can find the infant right in the centre, the 3-year-old, the 6-year-old, the teenager, the 20-something, the 30-something, any age you've been, just like you can in a tree.  Some people don't like to go looking for their earlier selves, especially for the child part of them - it makes them uncomfortable; it was too powerless, they felt stupid, they maybe look down on the very young, whatever the reason - and they wall that part of their life off and say, "I'm an adult now, all that is behind me!"  Of course, it's not; and it creates a lot of problems to stonewall the child you were, not the least of which is that you're going to have trouble undoing any adverse or dysfunctional early social programming; but also, curiosity and wonder and joy and spontaneous fun are just some of the characteristics you're likely to lose that way; and furthermore, people who've walled off the child within usually have difficulty relating to and empathising with children, and seeing them as anything but subordinates and lesser beings.

But the most together, alive and joyful people I know have integrated every age and everything they've ever been and live from the totality of that, rather than just from the surface layers of themselves.  They therefore retain the wonderful aspects of childhood - the awe, the wonder, the curiosity, the joy, the sense of fun and play, the openness - and combine those with the best things that adulthood can give you, like critical and analytical thinking, resourcefulness, independence, deeper insight, lots of experience, a huge mental catalogue of literature and music and art, etc (and let's not forget sexuality and pair bonding).

I think it's important to distinguish between childlikeness, and childishness - childlikeness encompasses the characteristics I listed above, but childishness is essentially immaturity, an egocentric orientation, "Mine!" and not realising you're not the centre of the universe.  I think it's ironic that the people who wall off their own inner child lose the childlikeness, but tend to lapse back into childishness (because they're not dealing with that part of themselves).

And just to return that to our discussion of High:  What you can see in those lyrics is childlike wonder, enthusiasm, joy, playfulness - and having those characteristics in no way disqualifies you from also being an adult - it's complementary, and it makes you more complete.  I can also attest from personal experience that when you're an adult having an intimate relationship with another adult, your life is so much richer if you can relate from all that you are and ever were, to one another - it's a far more complex and deep kind of relationship than "play-acting adult" could ever be.

And now I'm wrapping up this post; I'll tackle the "manipulation" songs next time.  :)
SueC is time travelling