The Cure => Music and Lyrics => Topic started by: SueC on August 06, 2019, 14:28:23

Title: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 06, 2019, 14:28:23
Because this is getting too big for general threads, and because I think I'm going to want to keep writing down impressions as I go... on four CDs worth of stuff...

Well, as I mentioned last week, we're still slowly making our way through Join The Dots.  We started with CD-3 because we didn't realise The Cure had covered Purple Haze, and I'm much enjoying having my ears blown off by the noisy version, which somehow has more energy even than the original song.   :smth023

And isn't This Twilight Garden just lovely in every which way!

I don't like the Bowie cover - I don't think that's a song that lends itself to being covered somehow.  It's likely to sound anaemic if anyone else tries it (Bowie has so much counterpoint in it), and in this case it does, to me anyway.  I notice on one of the other discs there is a cover of Light My Fire (two versions).  I think that's going to be interesting - and far more likely to work...

(this was of course erroneous, but that comes out down the track and the whole thing is probably going to move here before I continue...)

...and it has - thank you, @Ulrich!  :cool
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: Ulrich on August 07, 2019, 10:05:56
Quote from: SueC on August 06, 2019, 14:28:23I notice on one of the other discs there is a cover of Light My Fire (two versions).  I think that's going to be interesting - and far more likely to work...

Tut tut, that's not "Light My Fire", that wouldn't have worked for the Cure (I think...)!
It's "Hello I love you" and it worked for me. Heard it back in '91, when I had a cd player I got me the "Rubaiyat" cd box, incl. both versions ("slight return" is brilliant, eh?). (
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: SueC on August 07, 2019, 12:28:12
Bwahahaha!  :D  Where can I get an external memory device to plug into my brain?  Not only wasn't it Light My Fire, but there's three versions of Hello I Love You on there, and I've listened to none of them yet...

You think that wouldn't have worked? It's a nicer song than Hello I Love You conceptually - that song is taking the definition of love really into la-la-land.  I think the Ancient Greeks ought to give some lessons to the English-speaking on love.  They had lots of different words for lots of different types and aspects of love, and probably a lot less confusion around it culturally.  The term love is so laden with grubby and dysfunctional connotations in the English language that I'm sure it sets us all back developmentally - and pop music is the biggest vat exemplifying that around.  I wish The Cranberries sang in Swahili because of that - such pretty songs and I can't bear the lyrics much of the time... not now that I'm out of my 20s and done with the idea that if you're not suffering, it's not love, etc etc.

I'll listen to the covers later.  Today we "broke open" the second CD.  I love the feel of the song Breathe but can't make out any of its lyrics yet, they blur into the song.  Maybe it's time for a hearing aid as well as a plug-in USB for my brain... but this was in the car, not known for being helpful with deciphering lyrics.  The third CD has songs - This Twilight Garden, The Big Hand etc - which are watercolours in sound, impressionistic and luminous - really beautiful.  It was raining today and that really suited the music actually.

I love love love the space this band leaves in a lot of their songs, like Arvo Pärt does in his compositions.  The valuing of silence as well as sound, and the way each are amplified because of it.  I love the tonal beauty of many of the sounds that go into their songs, and the fact that they actually combine complex percussion with keyboards (instead of drum machines or boring, pedestrian drumming).  And with The Cure, like with Bach, I'm often getting the impression of simultaneous equations playing out against each other, when I listen to the different parts, the instrumentation that makes up a song.  There's space, and within it there's complexity, and complementarity, and counterpoint, and rarely is it overcrowded.  And it's so evocative, so much of the time - putting scenery and images in your mind.  I think that's why this is a band that caught my attention - so few bands out of everything out there do this so well.

Here's a clip of Bach's Partita No.3 to show what I mean - have a listen to the first three minutes or so to get an idea of what I meant above.  It's mesmeric - and the fact that in this instance it's all done on the one instrument, by a single player, just blows me away. 

And The Cure do this same thing as a band, with many of their songs.  Fascination Street comes immediately to mind for me there.

Oh, and I think Robert Smith has really worked on the articulation of the lyrics, as a singer, because by Bloodflowers I can understand every word without straining. :)
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: Ulrich on August 07, 2019, 13:06:27
Please keep in mind this topic is about Cure songs you're listening... (edit: not anymore.)

I don't think "Light my fire" would've worked for the Cure. A long keyboard solo in a Cure song? Urgh.
At the time (1990) they were pretty guitar-oriented (see "Never enough") and Roger left soon after "Hello i love you" was recorded.
(I'd forgotten about the third version, which remained unreleased until "Join the dots" came out.)

I like the fact that Elektra had enough humour to include the short version on their anniversary album!
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: SueC on August 07, 2019, 13:37:56
Is it a problem to present audio demonstrations of an aspect of the musicianship of The Cure that I find amazing by relating it back to 3 minutes of classical that show so clearly what I mean?  Had I posted Fascination Street, it would have been harder to demonstrate because most of us already know that song... and I can't point it out that way; forest / trees thing...

If we can't relate it to other things, we're just going in a circle.  But if there's some kind of rule against playing non-Cure clips in such a discussion then I'll keep away.  I find it tedious to just post clips of Cure songs saying "I love" without explaining why.  ...I'll add Fascination Street to the above retrospectively, in case that makes anyone happy... then they can do a direct comparison.
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: Ulrich on August 07, 2019, 14:35:40
Quote from: SueC on August 07, 2019, 13:37:56Is it a problem to present audio demonstrations of an aspect of the musicianship of The Cure that I find amazing by relating it back to 3 minutes of classical that show so clearly what I mean?

No, but why is it a problem starting a new topic to demonstrate something like that?
Because the topic title here is quite clearly giving the direction...
Title: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 03:15:52
This is an accidentally duplicated version of the first post in this new thread, so I will replace the redundancy with a practical tip for achieving a classical Cure hairstyle I like to trot out at every opportunity.  Enter the Van de Graaff generator...  :angel


...just place one hand on the top, wait a minute or two, then spray into place with free hand (before taking other hand off).  Hair has to be grease-free and squeaky clean for this gadget to work properly, of course...
Title: Re: Re: Which Cure song are you listening to right now?
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 03:21:17
Quote from: Ulrich on August 07, 2019, 14:35:40No, but why is it a problem starting a new topic to demonstrate something like that?

Well, that's a great idea, and I've started this new thread... perhaps you could move the associated posts (including this one) over?  This will unclog this thread.  40+ new (to us) Cure songs are going to be quite a few to be "Listening to..." ;)


PS:  Thank you! :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on August 09, 2019, 10:02:32
Quote from: SueC on August 09, 2019, 03:21:17... I've started this new thread... perhaps you could move the associated posts (including this one) over?

I enjoyed "Join the dots" back when it was first released (2003?); of course I'd heard many of the b-sides (I own a few singles and 12"), but it was good to find them all on this cd-box.
"This Twilight Garden" and "Chain of Flowers" had always been among my faves, but there are lots more (The Exploding Boy, Snow in Summer, 2Late, Fear of ghosts, Halo, A Pink Dream...)

I knew the "Purple Haze" version which was released on the Hendrix tribute album back in '93, but I was most surprised about the rocking band version to be found on "Join the dots" (I hadn't even known it existed)! Good one.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 15:24:49
Quote from: Ulrich on August 07, 2019, 13:06:27I don't think "Light my fire" would've worked for the Cure. A long keyboard solo in a Cure song? Urgh.

Would you like a bucket?  :angel

Yeah, the organesque solo does sound a bit naff anyway, but you know what?  The great thing with doing a cover is that it actually gives you an opportunity to make improvements.   :evil:

So, if you hate the music, you can just sing something a capella. And if you like aspects of the music, you can focus on those and cut out things you don't like, such as an unsuitable keyboard solo.  What to do with that?  Ideas:

1) Toss it overboard and cheer.

2) Make reference to the notes in a less obvious way.  I wonder how that organesque thing, or aspects of it, would go as a bassline, for example.  Or you could make little motifs from particularly recognisable bits of the solo and scatter them around like confetti, on an instrument of your choice.

3) You could register your dislike by playing the solo on a kazoo instead.

And you can re-write bits of the lyrics.  :beaming-face 

Having gone back to look at the lyrics of Light My Fire, I am much less impressed than I was at 14.  Not like setting Yeats to music...

But those lyrics are better than the lyrics to Hello I Love You. I loathe those lyrics with a vengeance, and have done since age 14.  A little sociology here:  Many teenage girls quickly cotton on to guys thinking with their dicks and trying to dress it up as poetry, and can develop allergic reactions to it.  :1f635:


Note I include the above graphic only to help generate thinking, not as an endorsement of the concepts.  :angel

Quote from: undefinedAt the time (1990) they were pretty guitar-oriented (see "Never enough") and Roger left soon after "Hello i love you" was recorded.
(I'd forgotten about the third version, which remained unreleased until "Join the dots" came out.)

I like the fact that Elektra had enough humour to include the short version on their anniversary album!

Yes, haha!  :rofl When we listened to those covers last night, I had no idea that the third one was the third one, I thought it was just a little reprise at the end of the second.  Until the next song came on.

Of all of those, I prefer the first cover; because it sounds least like the original.  :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on August 09, 2019, 17:08:04
Of all the Doors' songs, to me "Light my fire" is the most overplayed one (radio etc.), so any thought of covering it, is not a good idea to my ears.
By coincidence, 1991 was the year the Doors movie came out (which I enjoyed at the time, of course it is only the "Hollywood version" of events), thus I was pleased with the Cure doing a Doors cover. :happy

Quote from: SueC on August 09, 2019, 15:24:49Yes, haha!  :rofl When we listened to those covers last night, I had no idea that the third one was the third one, I thought it was just a little reprise at the end of the second. 

It probably is a bit of a "reprise". The band were cheeky enough to send this to "Elektra" as their contribution! (Later they did send the longer version...)  :lol:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 17:14:12
Sorta like this, @Ulrich

How to have a cultural experience while saving time.  Hamlet backwards in 42 seconds etc.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 10, 2019, 15:28:07

We've been listening to the first half of CD-3 again travelling back from a hike, and were talking about ideas people have on love and relationships - as the material makes that topical - and also how that changes from the newly-intoxicated, quite irrational phase of falling in love with someone, to more than ten years down the track, when (if you're lucky) you love each other more than even at the start, but this time with your eyes open and more realistically (which is a comparison we can make from our own lived experience as well).

It's common when doing English Literature to compare two famous sonnets Shakespeare wrote on the theme of romantic love / partnerships.  One represents a fairly rose-tinted view that's perhaps characteristic of new love / young people's first in-love experiences, and the other presents a more sober point of view that basically says, "Stop exaggerating / get real!"  Here they are:

Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
    So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 130

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.

For ourselves, at this point we don't closely identify with either of these points of view - but were probably prone to the exaggerations of the first in the first year of our relationship.  The second sonnet is rather harsh in places - I suppose in Shakespeare's time, dental hygiene wasn't that great - but I do love the last two lines, which say, essentially, "You don't have to make false comparisons and pretend each other are things you're really not, and it doesn't make your love any less real or precious not to pretend like that."

When you're first getting together, you're just seeing each other's best sides, best behaviours, etc, all through rose-tinted spectacles made even rosier by the cascade of reproductive hormones and amphetamine analogues going through your system as part of the biological programme that induces you to pair bond, which is what you're dealing with - you're really under the influence of evolutionary biology at that point, and on top of all of that you're psychologically projecting stuff onto your newly-beloved that comes from your own imagination and your own unfulfilled desires, rather than who they are.  So, you're "idealising", and creating an image of a person, rather than seeing what is actually there.

That's all really heady stuff, and can be vastly enjoyable, but sooner or later you get a much-needed reality check, and it's when you can get beyond that, and the disillusionments that come with it, to learn who each other really are - and this is a long process - and to love each other for who you really are, after the disappointments and the misunderstandings and the arguments and the things you've said and done that you shouldn't and the times you've nearly or actually walked out, that you're getting real.  And in our experience, that reality is so much better and so much more beautiful than all that Cloud-9 stuff at the start.  It's based on actuality, and on choice, and on seeing far more clearly, and on learning to be good partners to one another.  It's a love not based on having to be perfect or on not making mistakes or not having wrinkles or never having fought - it's a love that accepts we are works in progress, and supports each other's progress and growth as human beings, and does it gladly.  And as the years go by, it's also the travelling the same road together and sharing adventures and experiences that you treasure - the sense of common history and a shared journey.

Why bring this up?  Because our experience of books, movies, songs is intertextual - you're bringing your past reading, viewing, listening and entire life experience to each new text or song or movie you engage with.  You don't experience them in a vacuum.  And when you find things you like out there, it's because they mesh with your own experiences of life, and your own sense of what you enjoy.

So that's part of what Brett and I are bringing to our exploration of Join The Dots (and all the other stuff we are currently engaging with).

I'm in my late 40s, and often have a lack of enjoyment listening to songs about love that are written by people much younger than ourselves - because many of them are still in the pretty immature stages of love (and/or in dysfunctional love) - and that's not my favourite stage.  Sometimes even very young people can nail things about love, though.

It's a compliment to Robert Smith that I can listen to things he wrote about love in his 20s and 30s without wincing, generally speaking.

I mentioned This Twilight Garden in a previous post - it's a lovely, layered watercolour of a song, beautifully evocative both musically and lyrically.  It's probably the loveliest song about romantic love I've heard from The Cure so far in my exploration of their back catalogue, and amongst the best from contemporary music in general.  Also included in that list for me are Breisleach by Capercaillie, Trumpets by The Waterboys, In This Heart by Sinéad O'Connor, The Ship Song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Your Nature by Hothouse Flowers, Electrical Storm by U2, and also Chance by Big Country (a love gone wrong song).

Talking about The Cure, I actually really like There Is No If for its presentation of rose-tinted spectacles on versus rose-tinted spectacles off (the word "forever" really has no place in love songs; our life span is limited...); and The Loudest Sound for a really evocative love-gone-wrong song.  I like High for its word-play, exuberance and childlikeness, and I think Catch is really charming.  And Plainsong, which I feel fits in this category, blows me away entirely.

Getting back to Join The Dots now, the meditation on personal earthly paradise which is This Twilight Garden is followed by Play, which is more like, "I'm an incorrigible no-goodnik and you ought to pack your bags for your own good." Of course, there really are relationships where that would be the best thing, since you can't let your personal chances at happiness and a good life be sunk by the consistent and unchanging bad behaviour of another person - romantic partner or not.  The interesting thing about the song is that the people who behave in that manner usually either don't realise or don't care about how they are behaving and how it is affecting the other person.  If the realisation and enough caring is there, you can work with that, even if you need to give yourself a good kick up your own @ss.

It's even conceivable to write two such vastly opposing songs out of the same relationship - in a good phase versus a troubled phase, and with the tunnel vision that can accompany each.  Of course, when you write something, your narrator doesn't have to be you - a fact often demonstrated in high school classes by getting students to read Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal (and I've done the same with Bob Geldof's The Great Song Of Indifference).

Halo seems like a very young-love song to me, and in keeping with its title, does seem to put the romantic partner on something of a pedestal - something that I think is generally best avoided, because the higher you lift a person in that kind of giddiness, the further they can fall; and because that mindset can lead to co-dependence; etc.  I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating the real virtues of other people - indeed I think more of that needs to be done, but in a realistic way; i.e. not like Shakespeare's Sonnet 18.  So while I can relate to some of what's being portrayed in Halo, the two elements in particular that give me unease here are "You are everything" - something another person neither can nor should ever be, examined rationally, no matter how much you love them (and indeed if you truly love them); and throwing around the word "forever" - as previously discussed.  These seem to me to point to a song written in (or about) a romantically immature phase, like Sonnet 18 and a plethora of songs and poems about love.  (And might I just mention at this point that I'm glad my own immature-phase romantic poetry from back in my 20s is not forever sitting in a public space. Phew! Sting even wrote a counter-song later on to an immature song of his that became a massive hit, just to set something straight...)

The last song I'm looking at today is Scared As You, which I think makes a really positive contribution to thinking about relationships.  Why do we do and say the things we regret?  For those of us who actually do give a damn about other people, fear is often a factor, and especially where the stakes are high.  The first part of getting past that is always the recognition, the acknowledgement of what is going on - it's when people bury their heads in the sand and live in denial that they can't get past stuff like this.  I think it's really brave, given the generally airbrushed frontstages of people's lives, to be honest about something like this, and to admit to your own flaws and mistakes in this way.  There does need to be more talk about the problematic side of being human, especially in the age of Instagram and pretended perfection.  It's not easy to do it, but the more of us do it, the easier it will get.  Nothing like a good counter-culture!  ;)

That's about all from me today, and I've not even looked at the music in this post - "just" the words, and ways of thinking about the topic.  However, I tend to just write wherever my mind happens to be at the time, unless I'm doing paid writing (and sometimes even then!  :lol: ).

PS:  It might be worth mentioning that the two Shakespeare sonnets cited above actually make a nice example of a thesis and an antithesis - a particular viewpoint and its diametric opposite.  Philosophy, and society, are studded with people arguing opposite extremes - e.g. "People have completely free will" versus "People have no free will at all" - or "Humans are fundamentally good" versus "Humans are fundamentally rotten."  Reality isn't generally digital like that.  A really nice idea in philosophy is that the truth is often found neither in the thesis or its antithesis, but in a synthesis that reconciles the truths of opposing points of view.  We get this in physics as well - is light a particle, or a wave?  Well, it's sort of both, actually.  You just need to get your head around it.

If I wanted a sonnet that expresses my own views of love and partnership, I'd have to write my own.  It would sit somewhere between Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 130 - I'd not be idolising or running away with the fairies, but I'd also not quite be saying, "You stink, but I still love you!" etc.  And while my husband's eyes are nothing like the sun, what of it?  He's got lovely eyes which I much love to look at, and the sun has a whole stack of "wow" aspects of its own - but I don't see that the two are competing entities.  Not that Shakespeare necessarily implied that, but the main point of stuff like that to me is to make you think for yourself, to figure out how you see the world and why.  We're back to Venn diagrams - overlaps in our points of view, and areas where we think and feel differently.  The overlaps help us relate to each other, and the other stuff can help us grow.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 15, 2019, 15:43:52
I'm just quickly going to comment on the music side of the four songs I looked at more in terms of lyrics in the last post.  This Twilight Garden, as I did say before somewhere, is a layered, luminous musical watercolour, just gorgeous, and I think it's one of the real competencies of this band to make the music a soundscape to the lyrics and ideas that are being conveyed - they do this exceptionally well much of the time.  I've never really liked "pub rock" or heavy metal or generic sorts of music - I've always preferred music that's cinematic and evocative - which is what you'll mostly find on the CDs I've bought, whether folk, classical or alternative / rock.

My husband's a Cure fan, but no more so than he is a fan of many other things - as is true for me.  Interestingly, his music collection contains a lot of soundtracks, and things that sound like soundtracks.  Yesterday he was running Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene Part 2, and that's also so extraordinarily evocative... and there's that bit about 1:25 in which just shoots me into the stratosphere and I'm looking at bursting silvery stars all around me.  I'm not sure if I have mild synaesthesia, it's possible, because music is so incredibly visual to me, but that's only one thing it is to me - that stratosphere experience is also like physically coming off the ground like I've got a rocket pack launching me rapidly upwards, with that drop in the stomach you get in a fairground ride, and it also comes with all the emotions of exhilaration and amazement that would go with a real physical experience like that.

I was saying to Brett yesterday it surprised me that purely electronic music can be so organic... and he was talking about how there was a lot of wind blowing through that music, and waves on the shore etc, and that how it was going to sound was more a reflection of the composer; that in the hands of a competent and talented musician you could make good music with any instrument.

So, we're both drawn to music that's evocative like this.  And to continue with the Join The Dots exploration, Play is another example where the music is just right for what's being conveyed lyrically.  So is Halo, but that's a bit too saccharine for my taste, lyrically and musically.  I might have enjoyed that as a much younger person with rose-tinted spectacles firmly on and giddily in love (whereas now there are nicer ways to be in love, to me), but it's not the sort of thing I'm going to go back to very much at this point in my life.

Scared As You, which as I said last time has valuable things to say about relationships, feels a bit sketchy to me musically, and doesn't quite work for me, but that's just how my particular brain responds to that piece.  Also I'm going to bring up the idea of "headache music" now, because this piece borders on that category for me.

What is "headache music"?  Well, just stuff that triggers actual physical headaches in me.  I can get terrible headaches from excessive noise of a particularly repetitive kind, whether that's music or jackhammers or industrial car crushers.  More on that tomorrow!  (Zzzz...)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 16, 2019, 02:48:14
I like to counter the tendency for the Internet to be impersonal by being as real as possible and an actual human being even when writing.  So I'm going to do a little side track, so you don't feel like you're being talked at by some sort of android or anonymous piece of protoplasm.

To put faces to names:  A couple of photos of our bushwalk on the Mt Hallowell track in Denmark (our Denmark, a little coastal town with an amazing bakery under 45 minutes on the back roads from our farm) last weekend. 

( (

( (

( (

"Bushwalk" is an Australian expression roughly equivalent to hiking.  We like to do a lot of it; always have done.  Both of us would get very unhappy without regular immersion experiences in the Australian wilderness, which is something else entirely, far from the madding crowd and the ridiculousness of modern life... the flora and fauna here are incredible.  We live in a world biodiversity hotspot as species-rich as an Amazonian rainforest; all on an ancient landscape with rocks that go back well over 1 billion years - you can walk on the monadnocks and imagine the life in past geological epochs - when those rocks were formed, there wasn't a great deal of complex multicellular life around yet - apart from unicellular organisms, some multicellular algae, the first land fungi, precursors to land plants etc.  And then the incredibleness of just being really hits you...

Also, we really like eating, so it's good to have a hobby to balance that, especially in middle age, which by the way isn't as bad as people make it out to be. :-)  You just really have to keep using your brain and body, or they both turn into custard very quickly at 40+ (but really, at any age).

We take a lot of photos of the beautiful landscapes and flora around here for our own entertainment - Brett does all the wildflower photos, and is also compiling a species list for the 50ha of conservation reserve we steward on our own farm.  You can find more photos here:

Our other favourite place apart from WA's South Coast is Tasmania, and you can find some of our photos and descriptions of that here:

We also love love love to read, and sort of live in a library:

( (

We designed and built the place ourselves, as owner-builders, and I do a lot of magazine articles related to owner-building, passive solar design, off-grid living etc.  We live completely off-grid and recycle all our nutrients into our food garden - we have a bit of an eco-house / eco-farm, because people should practice what they preach and because it's a really good feeling to live this way.

Neither of us ever made huge amounts of money, won the lottery, robbed a bank, inherited, went in for shonky investments etc... this was something achieved mostly through frugality, DIY and out-of-the-box thinking, combined with a load of good luck too.  So that's something else I write about, to try to help other people get off the wage-slave treadmill.  There's a piece on Successful Downshifting in the current issue of The Owner Builder where I explained in detail how we did it, and if you're in Australia, you can get that at any newsagency.  If not, electronic versions are done via the TOB website.

I have a writing bug, in case you can't tell, and apart from doing this sort of thing right here as a hobby, I also have an online journal, a blog recently presented to me by Brett, an annual paper journal, and two regular-ish magazine gigs with alternative media.  Brett does online essays (currently on Cybermen) and general writing for fun, and both of us also do other stuff besides all that.

Returning you to the main thread topic at next post; but if anyone wants to say hello and say what's important to them, please type away!  :-)

PS:  A separate social thread may or may not result from such interactions - we'll see what happens.  :cool
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 16, 2019, 11:47:12
Hi SueC, it's nice to hear more about you though I wonder if Admin should move some of these posts to the Introduce Yourself thread?
The idea of living off the grid really appeals to me. I met someone who designed and built a mud brick house in a rural Australian area and it was divine. Do you grow your own vegetables and have chickens (or other animals)?
I live on the outskirts of Melbourne, work in the public health system, and purposefully don't post too much more personal info or photos just because of my work role. For example most of my 'clients' are adolescents, and just a few months ago there was a young person I'd often see in the waiting room with a Cure t-shirt (part of me wanted to do this... 👏👍), but in the role I'm in it wouldn't be a good fit so felt myself a bit more like this...😶). ...This relates to a bigger topic for me, and one I'm trying to find the way towards.. how to live authentically while also being in a helping role (rather than feeling there is a split between who I really am, and the helping role).

Anyway, as I said it was nice to hear more about you, perhaps Admin can either move these posts or tell us where the most appropriate place for such discussions can occur, as it's not related to Join the Dots ...or maybe it is in some philosophical way 😉
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 16, 2019, 13:13:06
Hello @word_on_a_wing!  :)  Are you home safe? Did you get purple legs?

Introduce Yourself threads are great for more extended discussions on this sort of thing, and maybe we can continue this on one, but... if this is Christmas and I can have a wish, I would really super appreciate if, when I start a thread, I can approach it in a way that seems right to me, without people moving posts they consider off-topic (at least not without talking about it until everyone is happy).  I write holistically, not in boxes, and subscribe to the philosophy that things are connected in complex ways.  I'm so, so not interested in presenting a boring, academic review of Join The Dots, but a personal exploration of it - because music is a very personal thing.  I want to show both sides of this equation, not just write something one-sided and conventional - so there's going to be Shakespeare, and philosophy, and classical music, and sciency stuff, and personal conversations and anecdotes related back in the writing, etc, and it all matters.  The way I see it, nobody is forced to read it if they don't like that approach - but obviously I don't run this forum, so if that doesn't work for the powers that be, then I'll discontinue with this thread, as I don't wish to upset anyone's applecart, nor do I wish to lose freedom of expression.  It's a tricky one.

It's interesting what you say about being authentic while also being in a helping role.  The systems that employ you in social work, medicine, education etc can be really prescriptive, but when you're actually interacting with people, there's plenty of scope for authenticity.  You can be kind and genuine in any of these places, for instance.  Other matters are more complex...

Yes, we do grow many of our own fruit and vegetables; but we don't actually have chickens, because we've been bartering our excess honey (we have a few beehives) for a friend's excess free-range eggs.  Funnily, we made a Woodrow style chicken dome back in 2011 anticipating chicken-keeping, which is still sitting there awaiting use; and if anyone asks us what it is, we tell them it's our meditation dome!  :angel

We also have cattle, horses, donkeys, a dog, and a lot of wildlife. 

Mud brick houses feel lovely - all earth-based buildings do, really.  They're a world apart from the ticky-tacky mainstream shoeboxes that have been built in Australia especially since about the 1960s... It's ironic that colonial houses were far better quality buildings, and far better designed for climate, and far more earth-friendly than what's being mostly built in Australia these days.

Maybe we can move these two posts off and get more into these things, and I can make a note in the last one with a link in it if somebody wants to interact "off topic."  How would that be, as a compromise?

Returning to topic next post - as I see it. :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 16, 2019, 15:54:39
I'm going to pick this up again with the idea of "headache music."  What happens when we plug our brains into different kinds of music depends on the circuitry in our heads - genes and environment affect the sort of brain we end up with - plus, as adults we have quite a bit of control over shaping our own brain in ways we want to as well, by deciding what sorts of environments we're going put it in, what sorts of tasks we're going to give it, what sorts of books and films and music and other cultural activities we're going to feed it, whether we're going to allow it sufficient sleep and recovery, provide it with good means of maintenance and repair nutritionally, etc etc.  It's sort of like looking after a very exotic pet, except that this pet sits in your head and drives you.

My exotic pet spits the dummy when things are too noisy in particular ways - too many decibels, too much banging and repetition, sounds that are grating, screeching, jarring, and otherwise unpleasant, or just prolonged exposure to relatively repetitive loud music, especially overcrowded music.  So that means I mostly dislike heavy metal and grunge because it sounds to me like car crashes and people who need baths, and screechy operatic solos especially when sung in high notes with vibrato, and rock and alternative music with sub-standard drumming (complex drumming and space in the sound makes my exotic pet happy).

I compared my exotic pet with my husband's, and his gets less headaches from music than mine, but the triggering factors are similar.  However, clearly not everyone has these, because much of what I classify as "headache music" sells very well indeed, and doesn't come with complementary paracetamol.

I tend to dislike headache music - no surprise - but even some music I really like can give me headaches if I listen for more than half an hour. I often have this problem with Pink Floyd's The Wall, for some reason, and with some of Big Country's songs, for example.

Even more weird is that the opening bass for Last Dance gives me instant nausea.  I first heard this song when we were watching Trilogy, and I actually had to leave the room for a short while.  It was just like if I'm in a small aircraft and the pilot does a tight descending spiral - I found that one out the hard way once, because it was a whale watching trip and we were still 90 minutes out from the airport.  With motion sickness, we know what causes it - it's an inner ear thing.  But how on earth can a bunch of notes on bass you don't find unaesthetic and on a song you actually want to listen to give you nausea?  The same thing also happened to me when I went to see William Blake's actual paintings in an art gallery on an overseas trip.  Swirling and nausea.  It probably goes back to brain wiring.

I've digressed into this for a bit really to make the point that our responses to music are very much individual, and often say more about our wiring than the quality of the music etc.  "I do not personally like" is therefore clearly not the same as "this is crap" - whatever we might have thought once!

So having said that, and stopped to think about complex interactions between brains and music, I can now also say "I don't like" with impunity, and without apportioning blame, and get back to actual songs.

Going in list order, after Scared As You is a song about as far from headache material as it can get for me:  The Big Hand is another musical watercolour, but not a happy theme.  There's ambiguity in what the actual big hand is - time (big hand of the clock etc), God, god, fate, drug addiction, etc - pick your reading.  I think it's actually useful when there's more than one way to interpret something, more than one thing you can see in it - it then fits more situations, and also invites comparisons between them, as in, for example, "How is the effect of time like XYZ?  And how is it not?"  That's excellent for getting people thinking and reflecting.  If as a writer you specifically don't want that to happen, then you have to be really unambiguous.  I like a good riddle, anyway.

A Foolish Arrangement is smack bang in headache territory for me, so I actually looked up the lyrics so I could stop listening to it trying to make them out.  And there's a riddle I'm going to leave for another day.

Doing The Unstuck is an odd one, to me.  Elements of it I like, others I don't.  The thing I like best about it is the music starting about 45 seconds into it, and for about a minute from there; then it crosses in and out of borderline headachy for me.  The topic isn't bad, the presentation of it just a bit Playschool though - remove the mild sexual references, and you can have preschoolers bopping along to this and singing the words.  Brett doesn't like this one at all, and when I talk about the Playschool vibe, he smiles and says, "Well, guess who is the Dark Wiggle!"   :happy

Purple Haze (noisy version) was the first song I discussed in this thread, and it's a firm favourite with me.  I've also warmed to the second version that follows on from it, but it took me a while, probably because I just wanted to keep skipping back to the one that strips the paint off the walls so well. :angel  It's sort of like appreciating different variations of a classical piece, the different emphases people make with their interpretations.

Both of us were already thoroughly familiar with Burn from the soundtrack of The Crow - and this is the song that made Brett first sit up and take note of The Cure (he had an OMG experience in the cinema and went to buy a few albums) and later on pass his enthusiasm for this band on to me.  Burn is one of the all-time favourites for both of us.  There's nothing about this song we don't love, and we were delighted when we saw that live on the Opera House live stream earlier this year.  Brett was going, "Look, it's a kind of flute!" ... I actually thought there was sampled birdsong on the track, before I saw that - that's really excellent mimicry.

You won't see the Bowie cover or the Dredd song in this discussion because I decided not to copy either of them over onto the iPod. ;)

It Used To Be Me is one of those songs that would make an excellent springboard for long, long discussions about human psychology, popular culture, personal responsibility, ethical conduct, people looking for gurus instead of carefully working out their own lives and thoughts, etc.  And it's funny how the ACO's Richard Tognetti can walk through a shopping centre without a cricket bat, and people will be polite and unobtrusive - the audience relationship is different; with classical and folk audiences there's more of a feeling of a level playing field between performers and audience, and there's just not that insanity.  It's popular culture that puts people up on pedestals - just like religion does, actually.  The results aren't pretty, and they're not healthy either.

I like Ocean, but it's a difficult one.  It's sort of like, "I'm playing the pipe, so you should dance."

This brings us to the last one I'm looking at from this CD - Adonais. I'm not that keen on it musically at this present time, but the lyrics make an A+ poem, as would be befitting all the references to canonical poetry, Shelley and Keats.  It's very beautifully put together, as words go.  The strings are a nice touch in the music.  Treasure is similar in that it's a very traditional poetry theme, and has string arrangements - but I really love that particular song.  Maybe this one will still grow on me; sometimes that can take time.

CD-2 next time!  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 17, 2019, 14:04:28

I've really been looking forward to writing this next part - the second half of my last post felt kind of like homework I had to get through - my listening has been ahead of my writing, and there's some songs I'm falling in love with on CD-2!  :heart-eyes

The opener, A Japanese Dream, has really got me at the moment.  I love the sense of barely controlled mayhem.  Listening feels like you're inside a giant snow globe that's being shaken up. Whee!  Let's go for a ride! :winking_tongue   I love the energy of this song, how its seems to thumb its nose at things, the somewhat manic, all-over-the-place, xylophone-conjuring keyboards, the general pacing, and the sheer impishness of the thing.

I'm very musically drawn to it, so it's on repeat a lot, especially if I need a bit more energy to do a physical task (like digging a drainage ditch; and Paris is excellent for lawnmowing and pruning ;)).  I remember, in my initial listening for the lyrics, going, "What have we here exactly?  Is this a little laboratory report?  Is it a hero's journey?  Both? Neither? An actual dream? What is it?"  The deciphering is always part of the fun.  I'm still digesting that one!

The next track, Breathe, I also clicked with immediately, even with the lyrics so muddled into the song on the car speakers coming back from another bushwalk that I couldn't initially make out more than that they did actually contain the word "breathe"... I loved the sound and feel of this piece, the same way I love the sound and feel of my favourite classical music pieces.  Robert Smith could have been reciting the telephone directory in this one; it would not have been an impediment to me.

...for anyone not in Australia, we have a show called Spicks and Specks, where teams of people engage in music recognition and trivia.  One of the tasks they face on every programme is that someone has to sing a popular song, but substitute the lyrics with random material that's put in front of them, and then the others have to guess what the song is.  Variously, the singers are singing from things like cookbooks, quarantine regulations, knitting instructions, etiquette and deportment manuals, famous novels, etc.  It really is hilarious, and as hard for the singers to do as for everyone else to guess...

Alas, Robert Smith was not reciting the telephone directory.  The lyrics do in fact go with the song, and it's a beautiful, almost operatic piece - I say almost because opera doesn't get this good, in my opinion, not even when you're listening to the Queen of the Night diving off into the deep end and creating one of the better moments in the genre - this song just really, really speaks to me on some very deep levels.  It's not just what's conveyed in the words, which in itself is beautiful; it's the associations that pop up for me.  I've spent a lot of time with animals and have been there on a number of occasions when animals I've known and loved for twenty, thirty years plus are drawing their last breaths, or about to.

The helplessness of sitting on the ground with an old mare with a brain tumour, whom I'd known from her birth, when I realised we weren't going to be able to stabilise her, and she had her nose in my lap, and I had my arms gently around her head, and said we would take care of her, and I was so, so conscious of her breathing, and that it was going to stop.  It's just this aching, helpless moment, this head-on collision with the mortality of a being you've loved, and the mortality of everyone and everything.  I first had my arms around a dying horse at the age of 13, the grandmother of the mare I just mentioned above, who had mothered me in some mysterious, but very real, ways in my own rather bleak childhood - she bled out from post-partum haemorrhage, and there was nothing I could do other than be with her.

Do that a few times, and you can't watch things breathe anymore without the acute understanding that one day this is going to stop.  On an intellectual level, I get that and I'm reconciled to it - I understand that this is the way it has to be, for some very important biological reasons, and I also understand that the beauty and extraordinary diversity of species on this planet could not be, were it not for death, which is one of the big drivers of evolution.  When I go out into the wilderness, I know I would lay down my own life in order for it to be, which makes it easier - and one day I will be called upon to do exactly that, because new life can't be born without old life ending.

But, on an emotional level, it's a different story when confronting the death of individuals you've loved a long time.  And it transfers even, and especially, to your closest relationship, when you're holding your very favourite person in the whole universe in your arms and you're so conscious of their breathing, and because you really, really know that has an end point coming, even if it's hopefully still more than three decades away - but because you know that, you also really feel how beautiful it is that they are breathing, and it can make you weep with gratefulness and amazement and joy and sadness, and in the acute understanding of the fragility of individual life.  So you love and cherish, all the more, because you know how it has to be.

The flash of light between eternities of darkness.  On the other hand, the darkness to follow is unlikely to be different to the darkness before, and I don't spend my life terribly bothered by my absence from history prior to 1971.  You don't feel that darkness, because you're not there; that darkness and you will never actually meet, because you no longer have a self then - as the Stoic philosophers said a long time ago.  It's the people who have loved you who feel that darkness.  But they can carry your light, if you pass it on to them, and the best way to pass on your light is to love others, and the best way to honour beings you have loved and lost is to carry their light.

This leads us smack bang and completely on topic into the next song on CD-2, A Chain Of Flowers.  This is why I'm writing this; I'd not in a million years spend so much time writing up something that didn't deal with things that really matter to me, and didn't make me think and feel and want to arrange words in the right way.  And I'm going to actually post this song, even though most people reading would probably already know it.  It's a very beautiful song, with very beautiful imagery, and it's better listened to than discussed further.

There's a terrible beauty in grappling with these things.  But there's also a gentle beauty, and a peace you can find.  And above all, there are so many deeply precious moments, exactly because there is an end point.

Here's another philosophical perspective on all that, which is interesting to think about:

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

I'm now going to jump out of order for a minute to have a quick look at Harold And Joe as the last song for today.  I want to mention it because it sounds like Robert Smith is channeling Lloyd Cole there! :)  It's so uncanny; if you'd just played me that song without telling me who it was by, this would have been my guess.  Even the singing is so Lloyd Cole, down in the basement and so stylistically similar here that I'm still double-taking.  I like it; and I still listen to a fair bit of Lloyd Cole as well, one of the outliers of the 80s - he always had interesting things to say in his songs, and was influenced by genres I don't normally listen to, but for some reason his music really worked for me, and still does.  It's very, very competent, and carves out its own niche.  Lloyd Cole was not the sort of artist who was featured on alternative radio stations in Perth in the 80s; they didn't touch him with a barge pole, considering him too pretty and too boy-band, both of which objections I think are rubbish.  Any similarities are merely superficial.

And now another drawer has opened in the cupboard in my head, and this brings me to...

Scenic Side Trip

I'm going to digress for a while to reflect back to being a teenager in the 1980s.  It was Thatcher and Reagan internationally (...and you thought it couldn't get any worse! :1f631:), and I was very conscious of what they were doing to the world.  At around age 14, formal operational thinking really, really kicks in, and an amazing brain expansion happens if you're in the right environment.  People often vastly underestimate mid-teens; I've read many wonderful essays by them, and heard them articulate thoughts that are deep, and clearsighted, and brilliant, and wise, and compassionate, and I've often said to them, "What happens to take that away, for a lot of people when they reach adulthood? Please hold on to this - because if you do, your generation will make a better world than ours has done!"

In the 80s, I became very aware of the military-industrial complex that so dominates our society, and of the sociopathic tendencies of many people who hunt out leadership roles, and of the all-pervasive materialism that was exploding all around me.  The mainstream pop music seemed to match the materialism and the shallow thinking - it was just a soundtrack to that.  And by the way, if you've not seen Ashes To Ashes (the UK version), you may want to check it out - it just brilliantly parodies the 80s, and the music selected beautifully supports the critique offered.

So if I was loathing what was going on in mainstream society in the 80s, I was logically also loathing, from around age 14, all the music that sounded like puppets to that.  Fairly or not, things like Duran Duran, Wham!, Cindy Lauper, Madonna, and the plethora of shonky electronic pop of the time.  Music that seemed to say, "Let's party while the ship goes down!  Me me me!  I've got mine, I don't give a damn about you!"

A Perth radio station called 6UVS-FM played alternative music, and had this request show.  People who grew up in the age of music-on-tap won't be able to fully appreciate the lure of those erstwhile request shows - back then, you were so much at the mercy of what people happened to play on the radio, and what you could afford to buy with your meagre kid budget.  So request shows gave you a chance to hear again what you couldn't afford.  But 6UVS-FM also had a twist to their request show:  You could call in and request that they destroy a particular record on air.  This was in the dying days of vinyl, which makes such a pleasing, visceral crunch when destroyed.  CDs just can't compete here!  There were a lot of requests for the destruction of Wham! records.  There was even a list, in the university charity paper that went around to the high schools, of "100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Listen To A Jason Donovan Record" - and one of the memorable items on that list was, "Rub Drano into my buttocks."  :rofl

So, the alternative music scene was a lot of fun like that.  You could vent your emotions amongst people who understood and were supportive.  And you didn't have to listen to a bunch of shallow, plasticky music - music that was all the rage at the time and you couldn't avoid because it was piped into shopping centres and all over the mix tapes that your fellow students brought into art class and mooned over.  In the wake of the ongoing auditory assault, you'd go home to detox and to seek out antidotes.  Hello, 6UVS-FM!  Hello, 96fm Especially For Headphones, and Sunday nights showcasing interesting new music! Hello, small music collection!  Hello, paper journal where I can construct my own alternative universe music awards, and write down anything else I want to!

There is a bit of sociology in this.  The alternative music scene had a tendency to attract people who were thoughtful and caring and didn't like a lot of what was going on around them, both on the macro level - the materialism, the waste, the collective narcissism, the short-term thinking, the leaders that had been foisted upon us, the destruction of ecosystems and cultures; and on the micro level - the classroom bullying, the ostracising of people from non-mainstream ethnic groups and people with different sexual orientations and people who simply thought differently, and if you were from a family where there was frequent violence and cruelty, and/or a huge deficit of love, as I was, as quite a few of us are, then that too.

To this day, I can tell more about people I've just met by asking them what they like to read and listen to, than by asking them about their daytime jobs or where they live.  Music and books and art are about the inside of people, not the outside, and I'm far more interested in what's really inside the tin than what's on the label.  If the label is showy, it's funny how often the contents are insipid.

It's not the 80s anymore, but we still live in an age of fakery, and still have many of the same problems, some of which are really coming home to roost at the moment.  There's that saying, Marry in haste, repent at leisure.  Well, doesn't that make a nice analogy for all sorts of macro things, just now!

I still listen to alternative music, and "alternative" alternative music, and it's still a wonderful antidote to the ills of this world, and a source of hope because it shows that not every human being is like a lemming, and shows there is much beauty and amazingness in this world and being alive, and it's also a fuel top-up for your intellectual/emotional tank on which you can go out and do useful things, kind things, constructive things, positive things, creative things, out-of-the-box things, so your own life can be an antidote as well.

There's a person's personal circle - the people we know well and love and cheer on, who know us well and love us and cheer us on - but there's also wider culture, including counter-culture, and the precious understanding, through books and blogs and music and film and art, that in the midst of this giant Titanic sailing full tilt for the iceberg while people drink champagne in the glitzy dining room below with their minds quite vacant, there are other people out there who think carefully and care about things, and don't like where the ship is heading.  In wider culture, we can also have moments of reaching out to each other.  If I've struck a chord with anyone, that's nice.  Hello, stranger, fellow human, you have my very best wishes for your journey, and my heartfelt thanks for the efforts you make to make a difference somewhere and to someone.  ♥

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

With all the thinking and feeling that's elicited when listening to something worthwhile and new to you carefully, this was always going to be an exploration and a map of a personal journey, not a dry song-by-song review.  I'm wanting to not just discuss music, but the emotional and cognitive effects it has on a listener, and how it meshes with the life and past experiences of a listener, and fits into the wider scheme of things, and how it matters.  I'm not doing this by putting headphones on rabbits - real or metaphorical - but by being the test subject, and basically journalling my experience out loud:  Join The Dots intersecting this particular brain, and everywhere that goes.

My normal modus operandi, for most of my life, was to spend hours writing this sort of thing in paper journals which I then locked away in the cupboard.  I started doing this as a 14-year-old.  Five years ago, I discovered community journalling on my home forum.  It's simply journalling in a space where other people can read what you write - and in community journalling, you "visit" each other and read and leave your own thoughts on what other people are writing.  It's more of a conversation than an isolated experience.  Also, I love reading, and am always grateful for people who'll care enough to sit down and write something that then engages and inspires me - books, blogs, articles, letters, poetry.  (I love Charles Dickens for that, and Emily Brontë, and Jane Austen, and James Herriot, and Rudyard Kipling, and Jeanette Winterson, and Joanne Harris, and Haruki Murakami, and JK Tolkien, and CS Lewis, and Jostein Gaarder, and Anna Fienberg, and Peter Høeg, and Kate Grenville, and John Wyndham, and WB Yeats, and ee cummings, and Judith Wright, and JK Rowling, and many others, including Cherilyn Clough from Little Red Survivor, my lovely writing sister Elizabeth Bouvier-Fitzgerald, and my Grass Roots and open-journalling communities; and I send big, respectful air kisses to them all, dead or alive. Mwah!)

I realised one day that I could return the favour, and started doing public writing, beginning with alternative magazines and then even open-journalling, once I got over the trepidation of revealing quite personal things about myself on the public record.  And then it goes "click" - and you realise that part of our problem in wider society is that we don't talk enough about the things that really matter, because they are so personal, and that really, all the books and music I'd ever been especially drawn to did exactly the thing I was frightened of doing myself, when I was away from the comfort zone of my paper journal and my own personal circle and my classroom groups.  There are such things as safe spaces to open up in - the mass media probably isn't one, although I know people who try, and admire that.  It's good role modelling, and the more it's done, the easier it gets for others.  Also, you can grow a teflon shield to go with your open heart.

We can't read or listen to everything that speaks to us, but we can make sure when we're reading and listening to favour things that are going to be nourishing to us, or at least useful in some way; and we can also make sure that when we're giving back, we're giving it our best shot to produce something from our own authentic selves that will strike chords with someone out there, get some people out there thinking and feeling and laughing, and crying sometimes too, because of how life is.  You can't hide your light without detriment to yourself and others - so bring it out and shine it on things, and help make flowers that may be hidden from your sight bloom in turn.  As others did for you.  ♥

I will continue with CD-2 next post - after a few days' break; other things to do! :P   At this stage, I'm not expecting another side trip this lengthy.  Probably a few little ones.  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 23, 2019, 15:16:38
I'm up to my usual trick of listening ahead and finding things that really appeal to me, and then feeling like it's homework to talk about the next songs in sequence, which I'm not swinging off the trees with excitement about.

Have you ever been to a Smorgasbord?  I used to go for my birthday as a university student, when I was living off my $60 per week student allowance back in the late 80s / early 90s, and half of that was rent in a dingy share apartment.  So, I used to go past the dried apricots when shopping, and swear to myself that when I graduated and started working fulltime, I would buy all the dried apricots I wanted, and also all the fresh fruit and vegetables that my budget didn't allow for (I wasn't yet growing my own), and I wouldn't live primarily off liver, cheddar cheese, 2-minute noodles, tinned tuna, cooking chocolate, oats, apples, onions, celery and potatoes - I'd have a more varied diet.

But I saved up my pennies so that for my birthday, I could go to a Smorgasbord.  And once a year, I ate all the things that were not usually available to me: Prawns, really nice fish, asparagus, exotic salads, lots of strawberries, blueberries, and the desserts: Tiramisu, Crème Caramel, Trifle, Profiteroles, etc.  It was sort of like an annual food orgy. I'd spend three hours there, loading food into a famished frame that went everywhere by bicycle or on foot.  I didn't need to diet, I needed to eat properly.  Between the ages of 16 and 20, I worked out that I could maximise the amount of desserts  I could eat in one night by cycling through savoury - sweet rotations.  I usually managed four on Smorgasbord night.  I'd finish with Profiteroles and then feel so replete I'd just sit there grinning like the Cheshire cat.  I'd not be able to move for another half hour.  The mere idea of eating anything else would make me laugh until I had tears running down my face.

What do you like to eat at a Smorgasbord?  What are your favourite things?

And why am I banging on about a Smorgasbord?  Because some bands are like seafood specialist restaurants, and some are like curry houses, and some are like wood-fired Italian pizza places, and others like McDonalds - known for a particular, distinctive (or not so distinctive) sort of thing.  Well, The Cure is like a Smorgasbord, with all sorts of musical things on offer.  You can listen to them for long intervals of time just by changing between different things when you've had enough of one.  And because they're a Smorgasbord, and you're an individual, there's going to be some things you'd rather not eat, but that's OK.  Someone else will put it on their plate, and be happy.

I don't like stuffed capsicums, or pineapple in any form except on Toast Hawaii, or mangoes or papayas.  Brett can't stand bananas, cheesecake, blue-vein cheeses, and coriander leaves.  And neither of us really like pop music all that much.  I also generally don't like stuff I call headache music - heavy metal, opera, rap, other stuff with to me unpleasant elements and monotonous repetition, which I talked about in a previous post.  And I think like food preferences, our music preferences are to do with our biochemistry - and in the case of music, specifically with how our brains work and the experiences we've had (which are more biochemistry).

So my general impressions trawling through the back catalogue by The Cure these past five years or so have been that the standard of the dishes on offer is generally very high, even if I don't like some of them and will take my plate over to other options instead.

Today, I'm going to discuss a couple of songs following on from the last lot I looked at and swooned over, which I don't like so much.  And also, since this doesn't have to be a monologue, I would be really interested to hear from people who like the things I do not, and can tell me what makes it work for them.  What is it about the music, and / or is it the associations that pop up in your mind - is it a soundtrack to a particular significant experience for you, or a link with good memories that were being made when you first heard it, for instance?

Some songs will forever recall for me particular scenery I was in at the time of first hearing them, or particular times in my life, for example.  I've got U2's Where The Streets Have No Name forever associated with a 6-hour solo walk I did along the Harvey River and Peel-Harvey Estuary, complete with swimming across the river, when I was 16; and with the smell of crushed mint when I was resting in the grass, and flocks of sea birds rising en masse off the estuary, and the way the light played on the water.  I wasn't carrying a walkman, I was carrying the song in my head, from my first couple of listens of the album it was on, and it popped up because it fitted the scenery, and became forever married to that particular experience for me.  More recently, that happened for me when we played a newly acquired Sharon Shannon album going around the peninsula from Huonville through Cygnet and Flowerpot and Kettering and Snug on a trip around Tasmania - now I always see that scenery when I listen to that album - in part because it was such a good fit for it!

David Bowie's Changes was playing on the radio when I was 13 and coming to grips with leaving childhood.  That fitted the situation as well, and various others on the journey since then.  Mike Scott did a sung version of Greensleeves which goes, "I'll build you a home in the meadow" - and I discovered that one just as we were starting the task of building our own home in the meadow, literally so, back in 2011.  It became like a theme song for that long process, of Brett and me fronting up for years to put it all together until it was done, and here we are.  And Jenny Thomas, an Australian violinist probably best known internationally for playing her fiddle on the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, has done a track called Sweet Tooth which to me embodies so much about living where we do, and with each other.  It's a lilting tune with little catches in it that make my heart flip over.  You won't find it anywhere on the Internet; it's off her album Into The Ether.

So having said all that, I'm going to start talking about the next bunch of songs on CD-2, briefly!

Snow In Summer jars me musically; I think it's sort of "boy music" more likely to appeal to males.  I don't like all the banging and jarring in it; borders on headache-land for me.  Lyrically it's sweet enough, and I think it's sex dressed up in a landscape-and-meteorological-events metaphor (but then sex itself can be so metaphorical too).  But hey, maybe that's just my dirty mind speaking.  (Would you like to take my standard "Do You Have A Dirty Mind" test?  If so, answer the question:  In which place do most people have curly black hair?  ...answer at the end of this post! ;))

I'd like to point out I completely avoid reading sleeve notes or other people's interpretations of songs when I'm listening to newly acquired music.  I want to have a go at decoding things myself without prejudice / easy answers / cheat sheets; and let the chips fall where they may.  Later on, after that initial phase, I'll get around to reading sleeve notes and perhaps look at other people's ideas - but I'm not at that point yet, with this collection of songs.  So, I will often find other ways of looking at something by looking around, after I've come up with my own hypotheses.  It's good brain training to think as far as you can yourself first.

Sugar Girl is a bit saccharine for my taste, but it's also well done, conjuring up for me boys in their early to mid-teens and not quite caught up with the girls their age yet physically and emotionally, but with this yearning in them for something they can't quite reach yet.  I had a boy in a class of 14-year-olds once who was such a sweet kid.  I had a habit of stapling Freddo Frogs to particularly good assignment efforts, and if he ever got one, he'd carefully split it exactly in three and then share it with the two girls sitting either side of him.  I always used to turn away to hide my smile so I'd not spoil the moment for him, or draw excessive attention to that little scene.  He was sharing genuinely with these girls he was good friends with, not trying to buy advantage for himself.  I also knew from my friend Maggie, who was teaching him English, that he wrote the most ardent love poetry and that one of his poems ended, "Will you marry me?"  We laughed and cried when she related that to me.  It's hard to explain - these kids can be so sweet, and they're half-fledged, like adolescent albatrosses about to take their first plunge off a cliff.  And you're sort of taking turns sitting on them and keeping them warm, when you're teaching them, and then you get all teary when you see them fly.

Icing Sugar isn't doing anything for me musically, there's too much banging on in it and not enough complexity to get me interested.  The saxophone is, well, a saxophone.  Lyrically, on first encounter, I find it unsettling, like the movie Psycho, and I don't like the way it's sung either.  The whole thing just puts me on edge and feels really unpleasant to me.

Hey You again isn't my cup of tea in any way, shape or form; and musically, neither is How Beautiful You Are.  Lyrically, that track is a mixed bag for me, and that's where I will pick up next time.  I'll have more fun with this next time, because there are a couple of tracks coming up which I really like...

(Answer to test question above:  In Africa.  How did you go? :angel)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 27, 2019, 13:41:26
Why How Beautiful You Are is a mixed bag to me lyrically:

With the story told in this song, on the one hand I can feel for the narrator, and on the other I entirely disagree with his conclusion, and I will explain why.

The story starts like this: Two lovers are walking in Paris - such a popular-culture epitome of romance it's almost a cliché (and why should it matter, etc, but you can see that it does to a lot of people even when you look at the back of cosmetics containers, where ingredients are commonly written in French, because eau somehow sounds so much more impressive than water or, God forbid, H2O  :evil:).  I'd guess them to be in their 20s, because of the notions raised in the song, about what love should be - and I'm not suggesting everyone in their 20s believes this, or that some people 30+ don't.  It's just related to mature views of love versus more problematic views of love, and we tend to acquire more mature views of things over time.

Anyway, this presumably young couple are walking along happily when something occurs to disillusion the narrator:  His beloved has a response to some obviously poor people which he finds distressing.

I can understand the distress - to an extent.  However, here's his conclusion:

And this is why I hate you
And how I understand
That noone ever knows or loves another.

So, we're going from, "I'm having a problem with my lover's response to that social scenario, I'm maybe afraid she's cold, lacks compassion, is self-centred, doesn't really look at people carefully, I'm definitely upset that we're not on the same wavelength here...", "And therefore, I know nobody can ever really know or love anyone."

This is one heck of an overstretch.  Do you know the saying, If you think there's good in everybody, then you obviously haven't met everybody?  Or, Just because you've only ever seen black crows all your life doesn't mean all crows are necessarily black?  Beware, in other words, of jumping to general conclusions based on your limited personal experience.

Because the narrator didn't hitherto know this thing about his lover, means nobody anywhere can possibly really know or love anybody else?  Tell that to two still-in-love octogenarians who've been having authentic, open, honest conversations for their 50-plus years of marriage - and who moved beyond starry-eyed notions of romantic love, and projecting their own fantasies onto their partners, a long time ago.  And, not everybody is Jack The Ripper hiding a double life, either, in case anyone wants to raise that example, and extrapolate from it.

You just simply can't conclude from your own inability to do a certain thing that nobody else can therefore do it either.  There's many things I can't do, that other people can.  But, there's also many things I can't do, that I can learn to do with education and practice, and for the narrator to prematurely conclude on the basis of their particular disconcerting experience even just that they themselves will never truly know or love anyone is actually something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is going to make an obstacle in front of you if you believe it.

It's far more constructive to come away from a disappointing experience like that by thinking, "So, I thought I knew this person, but clearly there's stuff I didn't know, and likely more unknown things still.  How can we know each other better?  And this reaction of hers really bugs me, but does it have to be set in stone?  Can she develop insight here, and see that the message she received from her 'environmental / social inputs' is not actually the message these people intended to send out?  Can she grow and develop like this? Can I grow and develop in ways that would be helpful to me, and to my partner? (Hey, maybe she's just really uncomfortable being ogled by strangers for whatever reason, have I asked her about that and tried to understand her perspective, or have I leapt to other conclusions about it?)"  And if the answer is yes - and that depends on the attitudes of both people concerned - then as a result of that particular challenge, the couple will actually know and love one another better than before they were tested this way.  One is a castle in the air, the other is a tested and overcome bit of reality.

I was talking about love and maturity earlier; the opener, "Want to know why I hate you?" was a factor here, but mostly I was thinking of this idea from the song:

(We) promised to each other we'd always think the same
And dreamed that dream
To be two souls as one

It's such a fallacy to think that you have to have exactly the same opinions on everything, in order to love one another.  You're not sheep, and you're not lobotomised - you're (presumably) thinking, feeling individuals with different sets of life experiences.  I've heard it said, If two people think exactly alike, one of them is superfluous - and there's something to that, if you're interested in evolving as a human being.

To love another person only insofar as they duplicate your own opinions, ideas, feelings and desires isn't actually love, it's very close to narcissism:  "I can only love what I see in the mirror, only love what is exactly like me."  A good relationship is a negotiation, a conversation, a nutting out why you have differences, a mutual stretching, and above all, respecting each other, including your differences.  That's the hallmark of maturity in love.  It's not very mature or noble to get on a high horse and assume you've got this super-elevated view, and if the other person doesn't share it, you get to hate them, and make universal conclusions about the ability of anyone else in existence to know and love one another.  I mean, wake up and smell the coffee, here.  Start examining your own assumptions about the world, about the situation that upset you, about yourself, and about your lover, before you start throwing stones at her, or anybody else.

I think the narrator has a pretty immature life perspective here, and not a very logical one, but I can empathise with him a little, plus he's probably young and hasn't learnt any better yet.  But here he is, beautiful girl on his arm, he's besotted, he's proud of her, his imagination is running away with him, he's feeling so close (but feelings are feelings and reality is reality; strong feelings aren't love, but often confused as such - love is an attitude, is caring and respect and a 'doing' thing, and it's not always smooth sailing).  And now, he's confronted with people obviously doing it tough, unlike him, and he's got this sort of survivor's guilt thing going on.  And they're looking at his girl, and what he sees in the way they are looking is that they think she's beautiful.  He may or may not be correct here.  He obviously thinks she's beautiful, and he may sometimes project his own feelings onto other people.  These people almost certainly mean no harm, no imposition.  They're looking, and sometimes you can't help looking.

And now she notices them looking, and she's uncomfortable about that.  And he's upset because instead of feeling whatever sadness and compassion he's feeling for them, she seems to see them as insects, "Make them go away!" and suddenly she seems harsh and selfish to him, and his rose-tinted ideas about how one-in-mind-and-soul they are as a couple are rudely shattered.

But this is where people need to have debriefings, serious conversations about stuff, and check things out, instead of kneejerk reacting like this, and leaping to all sorts of probably incorrect conclusions about love, each other and the human race.  And also, it helps to get rid of the rose-tinted spectacles.  Reality might sometimes surprise you pleasantly as well.

Ah love!  :heart-eyes  How many songs have been written about it, how much poetry, how many stories.  Sometimes I do wish that older people were more proportionally represented especially in contemporary music, so people 40+ wouldn't be, whenever they turn on the radio, constantly having to hear the common misconceptions of people who are relatively new to love, and still have so much basic stuff to nut out.  But, popular music is disproportionately written by young people.

Having said that, of course The Cure have stayed with us - which is excellent - in spite of what a certain singer said about being too old for this business at the ripe old age of 25; and continued to write as they have gotten older, and have shown plenty of evidence of growing and evolving as human beings, and having important insights over the course of time.  And of course, artistic license decrees that not every song has to be about you, and that your narrator can be a construct with which you're making a point (as in Bob Geldof's The Great Song Of Indifference, to give a notable example).  Whatever the case may be with this particular song, it certainly provides a scenario that's an excellent springboard for discussions about the nature of love and relationships, and those discussions are always worth having.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 27, 2019, 15:19:09
SueC I'm loving this last comment, I totally agree with what you're saying.

I actually have a theory on some of RS's lyrics... I wonder if sometimes he may say stuff to try get the listener to think for themselves, and how he goes about doing that may be a bit indirect or upside-down. For example in these lyrics I don't think he's actually believing what he's saying, but is perhaps saying something that elicits a response (perhaps similar to your own) in response. So the lyrics aren't telling us what to think (I don't think he'd want that from the listener, to blindly agree with what he says), but perhaps I feel they may be intended to be a catalyst to stir something in us. Perhaps it's completely in sync with your statement that ...
"You're not sheep, and you're not lobotomised"
Maybe he wants us all to WAKE UP

...that's my guess anyway. 🙂
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 27, 2019, 15:55:22
And Sue I would VERY much welcome you to analyse the lyrics of The Only One a female I find the lyrics very distasteful. (I'm not sure if I'm being ridiculous about it or oversensitive?)   Anyway I would truly celebrate a strong articulate female such as yourself giving your views. I say feel free to take a sledgehammer to it! 😛
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 27, 2019, 16:12:22
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on August 27, 2019, 15:19:09SueC I'm loving this last comment, I totally agree with what you're saying.

I actually have a theory on some of RS's lyrics... I wonder if sometimes he may say stuff to try get the listener to think for themselves, and how he goes about doing that may be a bit indirect or upside-down. For example in these lyrics I don't think he's actually believing what he's saying, but is perhaps saying something that elicits a response (perhaps similar to your own) in response. So the lyrics aren't telling us what to think (I don't think he'd want that from the listener, to blindly agree with what he says), but perhaps I feel they may be intended to be a catalyst to stir something in us. Perhaps it's completely in sync with your statement that ...
"You're not sheep, and you're not lobotomised"
Maybe he wants us all to WAKE UP

...that's my guess anyway. 🙂

Hullo, @word_on_a_wing ! :)

I'm neutral on this subject, because I'm not a mind-reader, nor do I have aspirations to become one!  :angel  I'm just going by general literary conventions, and by what I know about people's changing perspectives over the course of a lifetime.  This is sometimes (unfairly) summarised as:  Young people think old people are fools.  Old people know young people are fools. ;)

One of the biggest laughs I ever got was a group of senior students, when I played them The Great Song Of Indifference, getting all outraged over what a nasty man that singer was!  :rofl  They had the same response to Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.  This particular group had difficulty with the idea of parody, and had to have it broken down into little pieces and spoonfed to them.  While it was funny, it was also disconcerting, because in my prior experience, mid-to-late teens had been rather cluey about this sort of thing.  I wondered what had gotten in the water that year.

Of course, in the case we've been discussing, the possibility does exist that the writer once believed what the narrator believed - after all, none of us are born super-wise, and we have to learn a lot of stuff through bitter experience.  A lot of teenagers believe this sort of stuff about love - age 3 and the teenage years are both a bit coloured by self-absorption, and narrow ideas about having to be one and the same to call it love.  It would be a bit unrealistic to expect the writer of these lyrics didn't go through that stage as well.  But you're right too, that sometimes the best way to make a point is to be rather sly and write from a perspective you don't share at that point, and see which way people float!  :angel  You could have a lot of fun with that one.  And sometimes, with keeping people guessing.

I used to say random outrageous things to students a bit, so they'd question question question what people in authority positions were saying to them.  We had rolling power outages at one point, and I had this Year 8 class when the power went off, and I said to them, "Of course, none of this matters for my dinner, because I have a microwave oven and the microwaves have not been turned off, so I'll just cook in the microwave tonight."  And waited, with my poker face on, just looking at them.  Until, about a minute later, one of them said, "Are you making a joke?"  :rofl

It's fun working with the public!  :evil:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 27, 2019, 17:13:57
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on August 27, 2019, 15:55:22And Sue I would VERY much welcome you to analyse the lyrics of The Only One a female I find the lyrics very distasteful. (I'm not sure if I'm being ridiculous about it or oversensitive?)   Anyway I would truly celebrate a strong articulate female such as yourself giving your views. I say feel free to take a sledgehammer to it! 😛

Oh, that song!  :-)  Haha!  You know, I wrote a response essay to an official essay that appeared in The Monthly, by an official music critic, who was presenting, in my view, a very lopsided idea of The Cure, and of audience-music interaction in general.  One of her in my view misguided ideas was that Robert Smith was a very, in her words, coy writer, and I actually used that song as a counter-example, because I would not have been able to use that one in the classroom, it's too graphic.  (The Monthly thanked me kindly, but declined the essay, saying it didn't suit their style.  Bwahaha, of course not.  But it's online, anyway, in case any nerdy people enjoy reading 7000 words about this subject.)

But did I get offended by that song?  No, I didn't, and I'll tell you why.  Because I'm in my late 40s, and married, and I think it's high time someone exploded this youth culture myth that we're just knitting these days, and playing lawn bowls.  This is peak sexuality, in my experience, unless it gets better yet.  And this fact was a big, and very pleasant, surprise to me, after all the press about that I heard all my life. 

I'm not quite sure I'd comfortably write using those exact same expressions, but I'm me, and that's not the point.  I think I like to dress things up a bit more, be more metaphorical and murky.  But what if someone says, "Well, I'm fed up with it, and I'm going to be direct about it this time!" ?

But this is an interesting subject to discuss, where do we draw the lines?  That's a personal thing, an individual thing. (And by the way, what you find distasteful personally is what it is, it's a boundary you have, and that you have every right to have - you don't need to worry about being ridiculous or oversensitive - those words may have in the past been used to push at your boundaries, by people who didn't respect them.  It doesn't matter if your boundary around something is tighter or in different places to someone else's, because that's your boundary, and you can put it exactly where you feel comfortable, and nobody should judge you for it, and if they do, that's their problem, not yours.)

I'm interested in what exactly you find offputting about the song.  Is it the unsubtle nature of the descriptions?  The apparent references to oral sex?  Something else?  I know I personally couldn't sing it. I'd blush to death, but you know, I'm also really funny about language around sex, and one of my pet hates is people not using correct medical terminology for genitalia, especially in the bedroom.  (Not a problem I've had to deal with since meeting my husband, thank goodness.  Because I think half the world exists in a gutter, not to mention desperately needs a dictionary and a Thesaurus, and to seriously engage with both of these.)  Colloquialisms freeze me up not just on that level, but on the emotional and intellectual levels as well.  As does the use of the term of endearment, "baby" - because I find that so incredibly infantilising.  I'm a highly pedantic language nerd, and people need to watch their vocabulary around me, bwahahaha.

So I tell you what, having asked you to articulate what you're offended by with The Only One, I noticed you like Led Zeppelin, and I can do a similar exercise by telling you about a song they did I found incredibly offensive from the first time I heard it, and why - and you can tell me what you think. To clarify, I don't hate Led Zeppelin, I think they have some great songs, but I do loathe this particular song, have done so for over 30 years, and also loathe the sort of macho presentation they embodied.

The song I totally loathe is Whole Lotta Love, everything about it.  The reason is because to me, first of all, I wish they'd stop misappropriating the term love for what they're actually talking about. We really don't need that term made more abused than it already is by popular music, certain areas of fiction, etc.  The song should have, by all rights, been called Whole Lotta Sex.  Brett, who's very practical, says that this was not an option if they didn't want to get banned from the radio at the time, but I think they could have found some other title that didn't have the word love misapplied in it.  Even worse is this whole misogynistic "let me give you a lesson in what you really need" idea, which underpins toxic masculinity - this dreadful sense of entitlement and superiority. It really makes me retch.  Thank goodness not all men are like this, but I've seen enough of those attitudes to know it's very much around.

I don't see any evidence of toxic masculinity in The Only One, just someone who's being very direct about an aspect of life worth celebrating, although if you're going to be this graphic in public, you'd better have cleared it with your partner first! :)

So yeah, very interested in how you think / feel about those two songs! All of us come with skewed vision, and it's often vision-correcting to talk to other people whose vision might be skewed in a different direction! Vision and boundaries are different things, of course - and while we can help each other see better, boundaries are a sacred personal thing we should treat with respect.

So nice to have someone join in the discussion!  :-)  Have a wonderful week.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 28, 2019, 13:34:14
To The Sky is the next track on CD-2, and this is once again something that really appeals to me musically and lyrically.  I'm a big Wordsworth fan, so of course this sort of thing is going to go well with me...

It's really nice to have regular instalments of lyrics of this sort coming from a contemporary band.  A lot of people in that industry wouldn't give a fig about that stuff, and be too "cool" to care about landscapes, flowers and so forth.  But Robert Smith is capable of penning gorgeous imagery, in impressionistic splotches of complementary colours, flowing down the stream of consciousness.  I'm glad he doesn't feel too "cool" to air these things.  Here's the start of To The Sky:

One perfect morning
I was all alone
Listening to
The blaze of summer

Drifting, I was falling
I was floating in a golden haze
Breathing in the sky blue sounds
Of memories of other days

And in my dreams I was a child
Flowers in my mouth and in my eyes
And I was floating through the colors of a sky
Up to the stars and angels

It immediately recalls for me so many times from childhood onwards I've lain on my back on the earth, looking at the sky and listening to the sounds all around, crickets, songbirds, humming bees, rustling leaves, slants of light through the trees, and then closing my eyes with the sunlight on my face, and seeing other colours dance in the red-gold behind my lids.  It's such a key moment of being human, of letting go and just being, of integrating with nature - and that's becoming a forgotten thing, in this age of hothoused childhoods and screens everywhere.

I just wanted to award some extra points for Breathing in the sky blue sounds / of memories of other days - the multi-sensory sandwiching there, of colour, sound, breath and memory, which I've seen Robert Smith do in other songs like this as well - it's so effective, and so wonderfully evocative.  I'm stapling a metaphorical Freddo Frog to this metaphorical assignment...excellent. :)

Next, Babble - I love experimental stuff like this.  I'm assuming everyone reading either has Join The Dots or knows how to look up the tracks on YouTube etc, so I generally don't post the songs, but I will post something else experimental I love, from around about that era:

Out Of Mind is just conjuring up car crashes for me - if I ever want to trigger a migraine, this is one sure way to do it. To avoid this predicament, I've looked at a lyric sheet, and now I want to tell everyone a joke:  A man goes to the doctor, and says, "It hurts when I do this."  The doctor says to him, "Don't do this, then.  That'll be $50, thank you."

2 Late, on the other hand, is a gorgeous, impressionistic, bittersweet song, so much like the sort of things I know The Sundays for, actually.  I always enjoy that kind of music.

And I love love love Fear Of Ghosts, it's got such wonderful atmosphere... lovely, lovely music.  The lyrics make me think all sorts of things, mostly a gratefulness that in spite of the horrors I've had in my own life when I was younger, I've never quite gotten this bleak.  Another friend with complex PTSD and I, from similar cabinets of horror in childhood, were talking about this last year; the survival instinct is so strong that you just don't go there, you just don't go to the bottom of the black hole.  We were also sort of wondering why some people seem to go looking for trouble, for a pool of darkness to bathe in, if they've come from comparatively happy childhoods.  We've had so much darkness already, more than enough for our lifetimes, and we got away from it, painstakingly, by becoming independent adults and then working through the BS that had been left in our heads and hearts, and making so many mistakes along the way, and we prefer to spend our time contemplating beauty than deliberately seeking out more desolation.  This is why I've never, ever gone near recreational drugs, and never intoxicated myself on alcohol.  Complex PTSD and those things are never a happy combination - you've got your hands full already, without introducing more complications into the mix.  Obviously I didn't know I had cPTSD as a teenager, but the survival instinct was there, and said, "You need to concentrate on getting out of here, and you're going to need all of your brain cells to do it, and you really don't need to dig another hole for yourself."

This is not a snipe at people who've gone down the road of recreational drugs and binge drinking - we all have to choose for ourselves what we do in our own lives.  For me personally it was unthinkable, and because of that, I managed to reach the surface after a long, long deep-dive in the darkness and the cold, and I am so happy to be where I am now.  I had an uncle who was an alcoholic; my father is workaholic, my mother a TV addict.  I wanted to be as functional as possible, as human as possible, and to really live, without falling down holes that were avoidable.  I'm glad that I've been a productive, contributing, human member of the community in my adulthood to date, while never forgetting how amazing it is to have that flash of light between the two eternities of darkness, and how beautiful many aspects of the universe are.  I'm glad I never gave up on hope, even when things were hard, and to have it comparatively easy now, in my 40s, in all sorts of ways; and most of all, by being in a meaningful relationship that's now been with me a quarter of my life to date and that compensates me to overflowing for all the things I lived without for so, so long, and especially real family (instead of a fakery, like Neil Gaiman's Other Mother), and home.  Nothing like deprivation to give you appreciation when you get there.  I really, really feel love, and beauty, and amazement, in all sorts of instances where "normal" adults have become so blunted.  So the time in the coal hole has resulted in dazzlement with the light for me, and I have so much joy as a result.

Back to reviewing.  :winking_tongue

The Hello I Love You covers were talked about before, on Page 1 of this thread.  That Doors song has never worked for me, not musically and not lyrically - I consider that really cheap chatup and would have dripped in sarcasm even as a teenager had anyone tried to approach me like that.  This approach probably worked for Jim Morrisson - if you're a rock star, there's always enough groupies around for a successful fishing expedition with something cheap and nasty like this, but it makes me want to get out an electric cattle prod (and a dictionary) to apply to the enquirer.  So out of the three covers The Cure did here, I prefer the first because it sounds the least like the original song, but I'm not bringing my plate back to this one, because it doesn't matter who cooked this pineapple, it's still a pineapple.

Which brings me to Harold And Joe, briefly mentioned before.  Yes yes yes yes yes!

...fabulous.  When The Cure have finished with their current last album ever, maybe they could attend to making an album with 10-12 tracks in this style, preferably by next Christmas.  Heck, this is something Robert Smith could still do when he's 80, and I'd still be tapping my toes to it.  This is timeless, if you have an effective "basement" voice, which he certainly has.  Which begs the question, why didn't he bring this voice out more often?  In the 80s, Robert Smith often sang up in his nose and with this whiny affectation.  On Bloodflowers, he'd stopped doing that, and was actually using his voice far more fully, not to mention articulating much more clearly.  And when he does that, he's got such a beautiful voice.  We heard him sing Pirate Ships for the first time on that Opera House live stream earlier this year, and my hair was standing on end, and I had to remind myself to breathe.  And people were complaining about this!  OMG, people.  Let them all go jump in the lake; this was amazing.  I can't believe how rude audiences are these days.  A band is not a jukebox.  There's some Cure songs I dislike, but I wouldn't be complaining about them as part of a gig; I'd be expecting some of them to get played, and it's just so disrespectful to whine about it, or pull faces etc.  Anyway, live is different, and always offers angles of interest that there aren't on studio recordings - like watching a bunch of people put music together, which I enjoy.

So, Harold And Joe totally works for me.  And those dry, dry lyrics, bwahahaha!  (The almost-rhyme was also duly noted. :rofl) I've always enjoyed this sort of thing.  Here's one of that sort from Lloyd Cole:

Those two could have a cynicism competition with those two songs.  I'd call it a draw.  Well done to everyone here.

This brings up the last song on CD-2, a remix of Just Like Heaven.  I've just had two serves of Roadkill brand beef jerky, and someone has brought out the strawberry trifle!  Oh the tapestry of life and art.  While this is really not my favourite song, I am really glad that Robert Smith writes lyrics like that, and coming from stiff-upper-lip Anglo culture as well.  It's a marvellous antidote to all that posed macho stuff in contemporary music, and broader society.  It's good alternative role modelling for boys, too - we'd have so much less trouble in society if men were less emotionally and socially constricted by their upbringings and the culture around them.  On that note:

This leaves me with CD-1 and CD-4 to look at.  That's going to take a while to get around to.  Meanwhile, discussion of associated music and anything it may bring up is completely welcome here.  I personally see topics as loose guides around which to meander in all sorts of directions.  It's so interesting what you can discover on the scenic roads of life.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 28, 2019, 14:35:39
I'd be interested to read that essay you mentioned, is it online?

What is it about The Only One? ...I'm finding it hard to completely work it out, and have been thinking about it lots today.  So far my thinking is...
At a surface level I think the unsubtle phrasing, the obvious sexual references bothers me a bit.
I've come to understand that I feel sex is a sacred thing.  While it can be approached and experienced in an animalistic way, it can also be approached and experienced in an elevated and (beyond merely physical), energetic, expansive, divine way.  Therefore the sort of language he uses, to me really misses the mark. It also surprises me to hear him use this language, as I though he had more depth and understanding than what these lyrics seem to convey.
...But that sounds a bit detached or judgmental and that's not my intention... to be honest I think it also effects me more personally because I find myself feeling warm and fuzzy feelings towards him (if you get my gist 😉) but for reasons completely opposite to these lyrics. A gentle loving man is my 'cup of tea' and how he comes across in this song is like a rude shock.

I think there's more, not just about this song, but more generally some other stuff I'm processing and making sense of...

Led Zeppelin... I actually thought you were gonna say The Lemon Song, those lyrics are even worse in my opinion.
Not to try justify it, but I think some of their lyrics are to do with the roots in their music being in early blues standards. For example their song I Can't Quit You Baby was written by Willie Dixon, and I find a lot of their music maintained similar bones/structure to these sort of early blues standards, both musically, but also lyrically.  I feel this also occurred with The Doors, as for example Willie Dixon also wrote Backdoor Man which The Doors later covered, and Then a while later they wrote Build Me A Woman and songs like that (have you seen those lyrics!). ...geez some of these men need a strong woman to kick them up the arse! Perhaps redefine the meaning of Backdoor Man 😂
I'm wondering also about whether the vocalisations in Whole Lotta Love perhaps also contribute to why you loathe that song? If so can I suggest checking out Achilles Last Stand particularly from 6min onwards.  That song really helped me hear and appreciate Robert Plant's vocalisations in a new way.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 28, 2019, 15:55:53
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on August 28, 2019, 14:35:39I'd be interested to read that essay you mentioned, is it online?

"Alternative Cure Essay" in the General Cure Discussion section.  Also here:

Quote from: undefinedWhat is it about The Only One? ...I'm finding it hard to completely work it out, and have been thinking about it lots today.  So far my thinking is...
At a surface level I think the unsubtle phrasing, the obvious sexual references bothers me a bit. I've come to understand that I feel sex is a sacred thing.  While it can be approached and experienced in an animalistic way, it can also be approached and experienced in an elevated and (beyond merely physical), energetic, expansive, divine way.

Yeah, I get why it's possible to feel this way, and felt like that myself a lot more as a younger person than I do now.  I hated then, and I still hate now, the cheapening of sexuality, and the commodification of it.  Another thing neither of us go near recreationally is pornography, which by the way is also very scripted, and so deadening to the imagination from our point of view.  I'm completely disinterested, on a sexual level, in what other people get up to, because that's private stuff in my world - not a spectator sport (but it still needs to be talked about, and there are productive ways to do that).  I found it really interesting that my husband wasn't particularly drawn to that either, other than curiosity in high school - given the male brain, and all of that!  ;)  But he says that while he responds to visuals, where's the story?  Where's the people, in that?  So it just bored him.  He has a fabulous imagination he's nurtured all his life, through books and art and music, and that serves him well in many ways, including in that aspect of life.  I feel really lucky to be married to someone like this.

And here's the funny thing:  When you're in a safe space like that, in a relationship where you are genuinely loved for your whole person, the physical aspect of sex is no longer, in my experience, a "lesser" thing, as opposed to the "higher" meanings and metaphor etc etc.  It's in itself a sacred thing, and I no longer have any reason to view it with suspicion.  Of course, I see that from the inside, and that's different from seeing it from the outside - sex really doesn't make a good spectator sport, not to me.

I had to spend a lot of time reclaiming my sexuality, because of the emotional incest and inappropriatenesses in my childhood, and just the controlling and shaming in my family of origin.  The vibes they gave off about sexuality were poisonous.  There were no loving role models.  I didn't understand until after I was diagnosed with complex PTSD in my early 40s that my body really, truly was my own, and to see the layers of shame over sex that were still background noise for me - this was an emotional thing, rather than an intellectual thing.  And confronting my background head-on also had the fortuitous side-effect of throwing off those shackles for me.  It's really amazing not to carry those shadows around, and just to be who you are, and to own your own body in that way, and to have absolutely no negativity or shame about the physical aspects of sex anymore.  And my husband never had any of that BS in the first place, so that was helpful too.

So you know, that changed how I look at sexuality, and stopped me looking at the "mere physical" versus the "higher" stuff.  It's just one thing to me, two sides of the same coin, but a transparent coin - I don't have to compartmentalise sex that way anymore.  And I do think the physical is totally worth celebrating, and not lesser-than, not in this context anyway.  You know who's good on this?  Esther Perel, who has a lot of interesting things to say about eroticism.

I didn't hear The Only One until last year, and once I'd gotten over my initial, "Is he really singing that???"  I very rapidly thought, "Well, OK, that's really what most of us are doing in some way, shape or form, we're just not talking about it that openly."  And interestingly, the song represents us, too - aspects of our own relationship.  I also thought it was high time that someone nearing 50 said, in the context of youth culture, "Hold on a minute, don't think for one moment you've got the monopoly on this!"  Because there is no monopoly, there are just all these misconceptions.  And I've been an educator most of my life (including of sex education courses to teenagers, which never fazed me by the way, one of my qualifications is a degree in biology, and I have an excellent sense of humour and had absolutely no compunctions about delivering the curriculum in that area, including the highly fun carrots-and-condoms practicals which are de rigeur here), and I do think this is something people should understand.  If someone goes out on a limb and shares their own story, then that is far more effective than reading about it in a textbook.

(Just in postscript, you can see where my own line is in writing about this sort of thing here: - that's about as far as I will go, with a general reading audience.  We just hope our parents stay away from it. :))

Quote from: undefinedTherefore the sort of language he uses, to me really misses the mark. It also surprises me to hear him use this language, as I though he had more depth and understanding than what these lyrics seem to convey.

When you've got five minutes to convey something, you're not going to write a treatise on sexuality, you're just going to pick an aspect!  ;)

Quote from: undefined...But that sounds a bit detached or judgmental and that's not my intention... to be honest I think it also effects me more personally because I find myself feeling warm and fuzzy feelings towards him (if you get my gist 😉) but for reasons completely opposite to these lyrics. A gentle loving man is my 'cup of tea' and how he comes across in this song is like a rude shock.

Gentle loving men are wonderful cups of tea, and exist in this world.  Some of them are even single! :)  Don't accept pale imitations. ;)

And your gentle loving man may very well let his hair down with you and you with him, too! ;)

I'll listen to and think about the LedZep stuff in coming days!  Dog needs walking... :cool
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 29, 2019, 14:23:33
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on August 28, 2019, 14:35:39I think there's more, not just about this song, but more generally some other stuff I'm processing and making sense of...

If you want to hit this ball around, I'll be in it! :)

Quote from: undefinedLed Zeppelin... I actually thought you were gonna say The Lemon Song, those lyrics are even worse in my opinion.

OMG, @word_on_a_wing!  :1f631:

I'd never heard that song, and still haven't, because reading the lyric sheet was enough...

So what was LedZep's main crowd when they were singing things like this? Emotionally immature "tough guys" who wanted to feel in control?  And who were clueless about women while parading themselves as sex gods?

This is really amusing though:

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby

[Guitar Solo Hook]

:rofl  :rofl  :rofl

This competes quite favourably with the Beatles' "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" choruses! Saves all that inconvenient having to remember cohesive sentences and all that.  :1f637:

Quote from: undefinedNot to try justify it, but I think some of their lyrics are to do with the roots in their music being in early blues standards. For example their song I Can't Quit You Baby was written by Willie Dixon, and I find a lot of their music maintained similar bones/structure to these sort of early blues standards, both musically, but also lyrically.  I feel this also occurred with The Doors, as for example Willie Dixon also wrote Backdoor Man which The Doors later covered, and Then a while later they wrote Build Me A Woman and songs like that (have you seen those lyrics!). ...geez some of these men need a strong woman to kick them up the arse! Perhaps redefine the meaning of Backdoor Man 😂

I think together women have better things to do than beat their heads against a wall.  It sort of reminds me of a friend of mine, who once said to a guy like that, "If you were the last man on earth, I'd resort to a cucumber."  If you're an adult - whatever gender - and you want to have adult-to-adult interactions in a relationship instead of parent-child interactions, then you've got to pick another adult to do that with, not a child masquerading as an adult.

People really need to mature for themselves, and be the ones to make it happen.  It's everyone's own responsibility to do that.  Noone else can, or should, do it for them.

Quote from: undefinedI'm wondering also about whether the vocalisations in Whole Lotta Love perhaps also contribute to why you loathe that song? If so can I suggest checking out Achilles Last Stand particularly from 6min onwards.  That song really helped me hear and appreciate Robert Plant's vocalisations in a new way.

Yeah, I don't know, on songs like that he always gives me the heebiejeebies, like fingernails down the blackboard, with his singing.  I've never liked it when people do most of their singing towards the top of their vocal range, it's like playing everything on the E-string of a violin.  Sort of like in this:

I find it nicer if they sing mainly in their middle range, and then go up and down from there.  Alternatively, if they want to do a submarine excursion into their lower range, and stay there a bit, that's also often fine by me.  :)

And Robert Plant does have a nice voice when he's not singing like a hyena.  Good singing on this cover.  :)

Maybe that was his way of making humble reparation to the universe for all those shocking lyrics sung with a "my pants are too tight" voice.  ;)

It was certainly a change of direction... :)

PS to anyone new to this thread - we are currently meandering, and will be returning to B-sides when I've listened to the next CD a couple of times. :cool
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 29, 2019, 15:04:45
"OMG, @word_on_a_wing!

I'd never heard that song, and still haven't, because reading the lyric sheet was enough..."
Glad to have shared this gem with you. Now I'm racking my mind for other shockers ...🤔😆

"shocking lyrics sung with a "my pants are too tight" voice."
 ...yep that's a fair statement 😂

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 29, 2019, 22:58:01
Dear @word_on_a_wing , I have been racking my brains to find lyrics of a similar calibre to the ones you have lately provided with which to return the favour, but regrettably to no avail so far.  I simply have nothing that competes, although I am sure such items exist.  All I can tell you is that to me, the popular number Achy Breaky Heart achieves towering heights of awfulness in relation to a whole spectrum of criteria - but the song is simply outdone by The Lemon Song on lyrical OMG-ness, and I never thought I'd be able to say that.  I thank you heartily for educating me on this front, and hope I can somehow repay you for this service. :) do you like this little snippet though, from The Smiths:  Let me get my hands / on your mammary glands.  Personally, I want to give it some awards, but I'm still trying to work out what sorts of awards.  I do have to give them points for use of anatomically correct language; it's so much more refined than "Show us your tits!" - for which I've long loved our Kaz Cooke's comeback, "You can always tell a bottle-fed baby!"  That Smiths line is so, "Oh, I've met an anatomy student!" and kind of begs the comeback, "Let me stimulate your bulbourethral gland for you!" - if you're contemplating taking them up on the offer.  And you can just imagine how this conversation then proceeds... "Your labia minora are like rose petals!" - "Thank you kindly, and you have a very fine prepuce in excellent working order!" and so forth...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 31, 2019, 08:44:55
Having obtusely started with the middle CDs of this B-sides box set, the question was - 1990s next, or go right to the start?  I was sort of veering towards CD-4 because I knew there were things on it I would enjoy.  However, we just came back from a seaside walk, and on the road home, we had a spare half hour and popped in CD-1.  Given our reaction to it, I am now thinking it might be best to review this lot next,  so that I can finish on a happier note.


Just to reiterate:

1) We are in our late 40s
2) Neither of us were into The Cure as teenagers

So, we sat back and listened to the start of CD-1, and we were just going, "Do you like this? OK, next!  OK, next!" Basically, it was like listening to a teenage garage band.  I want to be clear here - like listening to a teenage garage band, and not like listening to teenagers in general making music.  The subset, not the age group - because I have heard a lot of fine music from that age group, including in contemporary music.  Here's someone who used to be in my English class, doing a local gig when he was 18 and just barely out of school - and I really like what he is doing, and what some of his friends who have also stuck with music are doing:

You can hear his influences, but it's not a postmodern pastiche, it's very original, and actually adds something interesting to the huge ocean of music in this world - which is more than you can say for the vast majority of new music.  Would I listen to this?  Yes, I would, and I do, and we've been to a couple of gigs by him as well - and not just to show support to young people I've worked with, but because he's really good at this.

And he's only one example of teenagers I've personally known who've been really, really good at performing arts.  The high school he was from was bursting with them, even though not a specialist music school.  The combined lunchtime concerts were fabulous.

So - our response to CD-1 is not a prejudice against what very young people can do, just a dislike of particular music for us.  It might be that we'd have to be teleported back into the 70s as adults and acclimatise a bit to be able to appreciate this CD more, but we can only do this from the here and now.

Brett immediately said the the first song on the CD was obviously influenced by The Clash; and the first three were definitely very punk - imitate what you love, and eventually you might be adding to it, you've got to start somewhere and with humans, it's usually monkey-see, monkey-do.  The main reason we were turned off by this stuff was, for both of us, predominantly lack of space, and also a difficulty hearing the lyrics.

The first song in the sequence that sounded vaguely interesting to me was Splintered In Her Head.  I was totally unable to catch the lyrics (being in a car doesn't help) and will do that later; I'm just going to relate our first impressions of the music.  I thought it sounded like a bunch of people whose project for the day was making tortured sounds on their instruments to a jungle drum rhythm.  Brett said, "Yeah, but you know, I can also hear that this is the band which is going to do Burn down the track.  The hint of that is there."

...we went back to listening to the above tracks a bit more (making felafels, opportune moments), and talked about them a bit more.  It really struck me that one of the things that's putting me off is that they sort of sound like many other bands from that time - just nothing that really distinguishes them for me.  The other thing - and this is a big thing - is that they don't sound like they mean it, to me.  They sound like they're playing at it, but not like their hearts are in it.  I'm not hearing any passion, I'm sort of hearing people playing at being in a band.

I'm sure other people see that differently from us.  We weren't teenagers when this stuff came out, and as teenagers in the 1980s our tastes didn't include The Cure - not because they didn't make some amazing music at the time, but because we got to hear very little of it for various reasons - and what we did hear was mostly their highly repeated radio songs, which mostly weren't our thing.  Similarly, I bet you at least half the people reading have no clue either that the Hothouse Flowers actually had many fabulous songs which were very, very different to pedestrian radio tunes like I'm Sorry, Love Don't Work This Way and Movies, or that U2 once sounded raw and spine-tingling and utterly compelling, before they hit the big time and well before they played those annoying multi-media shows in the 1990s.  Those songs just don't get played on the radio.

So in the 1980s, as a high school student, Brett was buried deeply in Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene, getting into film soundtracks, discovering Suzanne Vega, and listening to 96fm's Especially For Headphones and 6UVS-FM for alternative music.  I had the same tastes in radio, also enjoyed Suzanne Vega, and had a huge enthusiasm for bands that did their own thing, and sounded like they actually meant it - back then, bands including U2, The Waterboys, Big Country, and Lou Reed and his various outfits - people who really wore their hearts on their sleeves, and who most certainly didn't make pop music, thank you very much (says the 15-year-old me).

Something occurred to me about all that - neither Bono nor Mike Scott nor Stuart Adamson had happy childhoods - is that part of the reason they had such driving passion in their music early on? And why, from a likewise difficult background, I was drawn to it?  Robert Smith appears not to have been through hell and back as a kid - is that why he sounded comparatively blasé to me in a lot of those early recordings?

I'll keep adding as I go - picking up with Splintered In Her Head again next time.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 31, 2019, 16:21:01
Your comments sound pretty harsh to me, and so I'm gonna throw my 'two cents' in.  Perhaps my comments could come across a bit blunt, but I feel your someone who appreciates some honest thoughts from others ...and these are mine here goes:

To start, I have to question the validity of your apparent review given this seems to be the first time you have listened to these songs (correct me if I'm wrong on that).

It reminds me a bit of reading NIN forums after new music had just been released, and people were already making comments about what they viewed as good or bad.  ...sorry, no.  Is that really the way to experience music?

A few years ago Trent Reznor was discussing about the experience of listening to vinyl, which forces the listener to stay with the album a bit more and give it more of a chance:

" It's something that, you know, I turned out the way I did, and the music I loved, the music that's shaped who I am as an artist, is because I had to -- I listened to it that way. I only had a few albums that I could afford, and frankly, I didn't like some of them. You know, I didn't like the Talking Heads' Remain in Light when I got it. I couldn't understand it. It scared me, you know? But I only had 30 albums, and that's the one I invested in that month, and I listened to it. You know, and on the third listen, it started to make sense to me. You know, and on the 10th listen, I enjoyed it. You know, and on the 50th listen, it made me smarter, you know, and it changed my viewpoint. And I don't think -- when you have access to everything, that it's so easy to say no, no, no, no, skip, skip, skip -- you know, you live with that stuff."

God knows many of my now favourite albums and songs would never have been so if I hadn't allowed them time, so I could really understand them  (and some I am still, many years later, still allowing them time, as I feel I still haven't fully absorbed and understood them). 
The Fragile by NIN would have been in the bin after my first listen ...thank goodness I restraint myself.  It actually took several years and MANY listens before I really truly heard that album.
I'm still absorbing the most recent EPs from NIN (particularly the last one), and aware that although I've initially found them a bit hard to digest and 'get', by no means will I judge that this means they aren't good. just means that I haven't yet managed to fully connect with them.  I'm not sure if I ever will, but I'm willing to suspend making hasty judgements.

But anyway, back to The Cure and the 1st disk of Join the Dots.  I'll admit there are some tracks on this disk that I've struggled to connect with (but perhaps in the future that may change ...who knows?).   In particular I've yet to feel the love for Plastic Passion, Do the Hansa, the Flexipop version of Lament, Mr Pink Eyes, or Happy the Man.  (Ok, now it seems I'm the one giving the harsh review ha!).   But what I feel also is just because I don't connect with these songs doesn't mean they aren't good, others may hear it differently (This is one thing I love about the area of psychology, and actually the concept that propelled me into this field as a career :    The idea that there can be one stimulus, such as audio or visual, and MANY different perceptions of the same thing.  ...and yet no one is right, and no one is wrong ...its just perception.  Who is to say what the objective TRUTH is?)

..aannnddd back again to Disk 1 Join the Dots  ....there is SO much I do love, and what an variety of different textures there is moment at Descent and Splintered in Her Head and the next moment at Just One Kiss, Lament, The Upstairs Room, Speak My Language.  Then throw in The Exploding Boy, Stop Dead, A Man Inside My Mouth... whoooo yeah!!
...and Another Journey By Train is one that continues to grow on me. 
...and oh my gosh ...A Few Hours After This... LOVE!

and yes, while it may not be their 'best' work, it probably shouldn't be expected to be as if they were viewed by the band as their best songs then they would have made it onto the albums (rather than this compilation of b-sides).  I personally feel the songs here capture something very important, as it is part of the story, that joins-the-dots on who they became.   

....This whole discussion reminds me a bit of the recent Disintegration shows.  I still recall how stunned I was at the first show that people were leaving during the b-sides and rarities, and hearing comments afterwards expressing disappointment. People saying the b-sides and rarities weren't the songs they prefer to listen to  ...fine, perhaps audiences like that would be happier to go listen to their favourite Cure album (for some at that concert I'd guess it may be the greatest hits CD).  Meanwhile those who value a release like this one, and a concert like that one can enjoy. 

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 01, 2019, 02:51:07
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on August 31, 2019, 16:21:01Your comments sound pretty harsh to me, and so I'm gonna throw my 'two cents' in.  Perhaps my comments could come across a bit blunt, but I feel your someone who appreciates some honest thoughts from others ...and these are mine here goes:

Yeah, as I said, some people are going to disagree - and should obviously feel free to.  :) Also, in my smorgasbord analogy post a while back I did say people's personal tastes differ, and that I would be really interested to hear from people who like the things I do not, and can tell me what makes it work for them.  What is it about the music, and / or is it the associations that pop up in your mind - is it a soundtrack to a particular significant experience for you, or a link with good memories that were being made when you first heard it, for instance?  So, go for it - tell me what you like about it! :cool  And I'm glad it's working better for you than it is for me!

Remember your reaction to The Only One?  To people who aren't offended by its directness and its sexual references - which are worlds apart, to my mind, with the Led Zeppelin songs we looked at in comparison - it might seem harsh that you're judging a man because he expresses effervescent enjoyment over his sexual relationship with his wife, and thinking he's somehow less evolved or somehow doesn't "get it" on some level because he's celebrating the physical aspects of that.  (Which is not the same as saying you didn't have a right to be uncomfortable with the level of explicitness, because everyone has a right to determine where they draw their personal boundaries with things like that. Or that I thought you were judging the person, I think you were just trying to get your head around something you found intensely uncomfortable. Perceptions and realities often diverge.) We come at music, at life, at words with different perspectives, and one of the really interesting things to me is when people start to talk about their differences in those perspectives, because that is potentially very enriching - suddenly there's not just two eyes and one brain, but there are many eyes and brains that have engaged with life.  So thank you very much for pitching back here, that's great! :)

QuoteTo start, I have to question the validity of your apparent review given this seems to be the first time you have listened to these songs (correct me if I'm wrong on that).

I did say repeatedly through this thread that this is not intended to be a dry, academic type review of the material, but a personal journal type exploration of listening to Join The Dots after it arrived in our mailbox. :)  Quite different exercises, with quite different purposes.

In the last post, it was also pretty clear that I was giving an instant reaction to a first listen - and that I would continue to write down my impressions as I went.  Both Brett and I can tell on a first listen whether something rubs us up the wrong way, for us to ever hugely enjoy it, and that's the case with these tracks for us.  People's musical tastes differ.

Also, we were playing the Boy album - from the same era, U2's 1980 debut album - criss-cross with these tracks yesterday night, to figure out why one appealed to us very much and the other stuff left us cold.  There was a warmth, a depth, and "meaning-it" and a passion to the singing and playing on Boy that there simply wasn't on those half-dozen Cure tracks.  Brett points out that this is comparing B-sides to album tracks, but I generally like B-sides, both from The Cure and from U2, as it turns out.  And you know, there are many, many songs by The Cure where they absolutely do have warmth, depth, "meaning-it" and passion in their music.  We just don't see it in those particular ones, and they are from the beginnings of a group, when people are still finding their feet.

The funny thing for me is that U2 and The Cure are almost reversed here:  U2 started out really original and sounding like nothing else, they were really distinctive from the start, and just playing what was in them - and then at the end of the 1980s they began to look closely at how other musicians did things, and stopped sounding like themselves, which I thought was detrimental, but again, other people will disagree with this, and obviously you have to grow and evolve somehow, and this they did.  Personally I prefer how Mike Scott did his growing and evolving over how U2 did theirs, but again, I'm not those people, and when everything is shaken up, Bloodflowers and Songs Of Innocence are both albums that resonate immensely with me, and albums I love to bits.

So it seems to me that The Cure started out sounding like other people, and then learnt how to be themselves - which is how many bands do it, and how many people do life, as well.  And if anyone here feels I've got the wrong impression, then educate me! :)

When I compare U2 and The Cure, I see one band that was once undeniably authentic, but to me lost something along the way - and I see another band that didn't sound as authentic at the beginning, but when they found their feet and grew up a little, they grew into their own authenticity, and no matter what they've done since, and whether or not I like particular songs, they've managed to hold on to whatever it is that I feel is missing from U2 these days.  While I think U2 are still a fabulous band, and can still relate to a lot of their more recent music, I've never quite felt, after about 1987, that I live in the same universe as Bono, but I do feel that I live in the same universe as Robert Smith.  (Brett says, "That's because Bono's universe is population = 1!")

(And now I better hide under a chair, because this is like managing to offend both the Republicans and the Democrats simultaneously!)

QuoteIt reminds me a bit of reading NIN forums after new music had just been released, and people were already making comments about what they viewed as good or bad.  ...sorry, no.  Is that really the way to experience music?

A few years ago Trent Reznor was discussing about the experience of listening to vinyl, which forces the listener to stay with the album a bit more and give it more of a chance:

" It's something that, you know, I turned out the way I did, and the music I loved, the music that's shaped who I am as an artist, is because I had to -- I listened to it that way. I only had a few albums that I could afford, and frankly, I didn't like some of them. You know, I didn't like the Talking Heads' Remain in Light when I got it. I couldn't understand it. It scared me, you know? But I only had 30 albums, and that's the one I invested in that month, and I listened to it. You know, and on the third listen, it started to make sense to me. You know, and on the 10th listen, I enjoyed it. You know, and on the 50th listen, it made me smarter, you know, and it changed my viewpoint. And I don't think -- when you have access to everything, that it's so easy to say no, no, no, no, skip, skip, skip -- you know, you live with that stuff."

To which I will say, we're in our 40s, and know ourselves pretty well, we listen to a very broad range of music, we are predominantly album listeners - and some things just don't do it for us, and we can usually tell pretty quickly, because of the absence of certain things - space, complexity, passion are all really important to us.  It also wouldn't matter how many times I listen to Kylie Minogue, I still wouldn't like it - or how many times I eat mangoes, I still wouldn't like them.

But we do listen to, and like, a lot of experimental music, and still pick up new things that really appeal to us, and stretch us as well.

I also think there's a big difference between being a kid who doesn't understand adult music, and being a midlife adult who isn't drawn to most people's juvenilia - I often favour people's more mature work, whether that's Dickens or The Cure, or preferring Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 to his Sonnet 18.  There are exceptions, of course - some people seem to be really extraordinary right off the bat.  Also, Brett says that in music you're more likely to hear people's juvenilia because the threshold is a bit lower - so you didn't see Jane Austen's juvenilia, or the Brontës, etc, until after they'd had success with their published novels.

QuoteBut anyway, back to The Cure and the 1st disk of Join the Dots.  I'll admit there are some tracks on this disk that I've struggled to connect with (but perhaps in the future that may change ...who knows?).   In particular I've yet to feel the love for Plastic Passion, Do the Hansa, the Flexipop version of Lament, Mr Pink Eyes, or Happy the Man.  (Ok, now it seems I'm the one giving the harsh review ha!).   But what I feel also is just because I don't connect with these songs doesn't mean they aren't good, others may hear it differently

And with the bit I've highlighted, you and I agree completely! :)

I'm only up to Splintered In Her Head!  ;)  More to come.  As this is in chronological order, I expect that I will meet things that appeal to me more, as this goes on.  I'm looking forward to the rest, from what you've said about some of the upcoming tracks!

It's fabulous to talk to people who care about music! :cool Have a wonderful day!
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 02, 2019, 17:21:12
"I did say repeatedly through this thread that this is not intended to be a dry, academic type review of the material, but a personal journal type exploration of listening to Join The Dots after it arrived in our mailbox. :)  Quite different exercises, with quite different purposes."

...apologies, I hadn't read the earlier posts when you said that as I was on holiday, I only started reading the last little bit of this thread.

"I'm only up to Splintered In Her Head!"  ...I also didn't read that the first time. That makes more sense to me now, I find tracks 2-5 are a bit challenging to my ears too, but it does get better. Overall I'm still glad they released all of these songs  (even the ones I'm less fond of). Perhaps a bit like seeing a play and it all contributes to the story unfolding of what is developing.

I meant no offense, and can we please drop any further mention of my irrational The Only One trigger. It was never intended to convey judgment towards him, I recognise it is my own Shenpa (ie something that hooks me, gets me stuck). I find it remarkable how things can align that further highlight this. I listened to The Cure in shuffle and what songs appear? A Reflection followed by The Only One (*me calling out to the universe "ok! I get it!!"*)

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 03, 2019, 12:56:52
No problems at all, @word_on_a_wing - and I'm sorry if there were any misunderstandings, which I really didn't want to create.  Sometimes what we really want to say sort of doesn't come out unambiguously, and I really don't want anyone to be uncomfortable.

Hope you're having a lovely week!  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 03, 2019, 13:04:21
This has led to me thinking about choices, though - how we make them, regarding music and life in general.  So I sat down and journalled about that the next day, and am going to post that for anyone interested (bookworms are probably going to have points of overlap).  If anyone wants to respond to that with the way they go about things, and do a "scenic drive" post, that's great - I will get back to B-sides when we listen again.  But, yesterday I moved the wrong way and impinged a nerve in my back - and that produces all sorts of ouchiness not conducive to listening to music.  Better today - and that'll teach me to be more regular with doing Pilates.  If only there were 40 hours in the day...


I was 14 when I first stood inside a university library.  I'd gone there for the day because our school had a staff development day, which meant the students had a day off.  I was in the city for senior high school, had just started Year 11, and could take a bus to places like this.  From the age of six I had spent much of my spare time in school libraries, browsing and then borrowing voraciously across fiction and non-fiction alike, books like treasure to take home.  I could open them up and jump in, thresholds to other worlds, and to this world too - but like in Gulliver's travels, where you could see things both in finer detail and from further away than your everyday perspective.

So a building reputedly with several floors of books drew me like a pilgrim might be drawn to a cathedral.  I'd never been to a place like this before.  I walked through the sliding glass doors; two university students smiled at me.  I was struck by that because generally, older age groups in school hadn't been that welcoming.  These people were old enough to vote, were doing degrees, and they were friendly, acknowledged me.  It gave me a good feeling, on top of being about to see more books in one place than I ever had in my life.

And it was extraordinary.  The ground floor alone was ten times the size of our high school library, the shelves much taller, rows and rows and rows of books, and long, wide tables in the middle with people sitting at them, books piled around them, writing furiously into notebooks.  Ground floor, sociology, philosophy, theology, history, art, literature.  Basement, botany, zoology, physics, chemistry, geology, geography, a section of coffee table books filled with photographs of the world.

After a reconnaisance through the building, I settled into the sociology/philosophy section and browsed.  I pulled titles that intrigued me off the shelves, opened them to the chapter index, flicked through randomly, and got shivers down my spine as entire new ways of looking and thinking opened up to me and tripped open trapdoors in my mind.  Eventually, I chose a handful of books on the American civil rights movement, and on the philosophy of nonviolent action, and carried them to a distraction-free study desk tucked away by a window.  And I read, and read, and read, electrified and barely breathing.  When I looked up, the sun was setting, and my stomach was growling at me - I'd completely forgotten to have lunch.  As I returned the books to their shelves, I was suddenly struck by a piercing realisation:  Even if I lived to be one hundred, I could never read all the books in this library.

Two years later, I returned to spend four years doing a double-major science degree at this university - Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia - and even with all the required subject reading, and taking home recreational reading predominantly from the literature, art, and philosophy sections, I wouldn't have read 0.5% of the books in that library.  And it makes you think, about how you might make your choices, both in books and in life.

Brett always says to me, "Life is too short to read books that don't interest you."  Like me, he's very aware that the amount of worthy reading material on offer vastly exceeds the amount of time we will have to read.  And the same is true for movies, and art, and music as well - we have to find ways of choosing from the vast sea of these things, and that tends to make us very selective.  Also, cultural forms of recreation and self-education need to share space in our lives with other priorities, like physical activity to keep our bodies in good shape, enough sleep, doing our part-time paid work, managing our farm, and growing and preparing food.

We often wish for 40 hours in the day, as a sort of bonus life, to fit more in, but when we look at it, we actually do fit in amazing amounts, and tend to use our time well.  At midlife, you tend to review how things went in the first half, and make priorities for the second half.  We're both happy with what we've achieved in our first 40 years on this planet - and then we tree-changed, of course, owner-built and downshifted, so we no longer work full-time outside our home, and we finally have enough time for each other and for the important things that were always on hold before we quit the rat race.

We're pretty happy with our decision-making protocols - I know I've become very much the kind of person I aimed to become, when I was a teenager, and I've contributed in ways that mattered, and continue to do so;  and if that weren't enough, I also found a sort of personal Eden - the thing I didn't have as a child, and not until I met Brett a dozen years ago - namely generous lashings of love, support, connection, camaraderie in the household I live in; and a microcosm run according to our own shared values and preferences.

So in the context of that, making decisions over which music to listen to is just one small piece of the puzzle.  But how do we decide?  Well, here's what I want from music:  I want it to be nourishing in some way - either emotionally, or by making me think.  I prefer it to be beautiful, although I also have time for experimental music.  If it is those things (and much of this is subjective), it will find a place in me.  I'm the kind of person who prefers to have deep engagements, rather than more superficial ones - I will re-read books I like many times, knowing it means there will be some books worth my while I will never read at all; but I really want that deep engagement with things that have especially moved me, instead of endlessly chasing all over the place for more things that might.  Same with music, films, art.  With that approach, I get a balance of continuing dialogue with "old friends" from whom I am still learning, and picking up new material from the as yet unfamiliar.

And I'm with Brett on this:  In general, if it doesn't make you sparkle, don't waste your time - not when every yes to something is a no to something else.  So for us:  Don't eat Cadbury's chocolate when you could be eating one square of Lindt.  Climb a real mountain if you can, walk a real shoreline, instead of just exercising in buildings which make exercise one-dimensional.  Pick the things that are good for you off the smorgasbord, and be confident in your instincts.  It's your life, be responsible for it, live it.

Of course we all have chores to do in life, which may not be so pleasant, but even there we can choose our attitudes, and our reward systems.  When we do housework, we are both motivated by wanting our partner to have a nice environment to live in, good food to eat, etc; and often we will do a particular task so the other person won't have to do it when they're tired.  Brett usually won't let me wash up; he turns into a growly bear at the sink and tells me washing up is man's work and I should go sit down and relax.  Since I do most of the food preparation, which I really really enjoy, that's fair - although doing dishes is dull, Brett says not to worry, he has audio dramas on his iPod especially for this purpose.  It's so much easier to do your chores when you're doing them out of love, as well.

That's chores... and as for listening to music or reading books, for us that should be a joy, or at least highly thought-provoking.  So those are some of the values we live by, and each person must decide for themselves what their values are, and how to live by them.

Sending best wishes to everyone out there for living your own lives authentically.

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 11, 2019, 09:58:58
This is just an "under-construction" note to say that this thread will be continued just as soon as we've gotten around to listening to more B-sides!  We made an attempt on Sunday returning from a hike, but this turned out to be incompatible with Brett getting a headache, so back to acoustic guitar music it was (Rodrigo y Gabriela).

Both Splintered In Her Head and Lament (Flexipop Version) distinguished themselves from their predecessors though, by having a soundtrack quality to them - a soundtrack to madness perhaps, in the former; at any rate, an attempt to capture a mood with music.  It's not pleasant listening, but I don't think it's meant to be.  The lyrics to Lament were interesting, if brief.  More soon...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 20, 2019, 12:57:02
OMG, is it September 20 already?  (...and is it really 2019??? What am I doing so far in The Future???)  Time to listen to more B-sides I think - which I promise to do immediately I start making spaghetti sauce later this evening.  It's raining tomorrow and miserable apparently, so this means I should be able to write something more up... :angel

...and then add it to this post...

PS:  It didn't rain much today, so I did outdoors stuff.  I have written up some songs, but won't be posting the thing until I finish the whole of CD-1.  I'm looking forward to the next CD! :angel of the most unpleasant tasks is finding you're not drawn to an entire CD's worth of music (as is the case here, and re-visits aren't helping any) and then you write and delete and write and delete and think, "Maybe it would be best if I simply said I really don't love anything on this CD and like very little of it and leave it there and then just go to the next one, instead of saying why I feel this way..."
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 27, 2019, 12:37:05

There's few things more dull than talking about a CD of songs you don't actually like, so it's taken me forever to post this.  Executive summary for our response to CD-1 of Join The Dots:  We neither of us love anything on it, and like very little of it.  It's still been interesting historically to give this a listen, given there is so much stuff this band did later on that we do really love.  But, this part of the archaeological dig has been unexciting for us.

It would be great to leave it at that and skip things over, but this is an open-journalling exercise in which I'm trying to do the same thing that I would do on paper in the privacy of my own home - i.e. be honest about all my responses, positive and negative, and go wherever the thoughts set off by this listening expedition might take me.

For anyone who's not read the rest of the thread, there was lots of material we happily engaged with on other CDs in this box set - we've just hit a dead zone for us here.

In summary from more recent posts, and in stark contrast to many of the B-sides already reviewed from CD-2 and CD-3, tracks 1-6 on CD-1 were not our thing at all, but we thought things improved a bit after that because at least the next couple of tracks began to sound like they were intended to create an atmosphere, and less like a garage band.  Please refer back to those earlier posts for further details.

Then, things nose-dived for us again.  Just One Kiss, The Dream and The Upstairs Room strongly reminded us of the things we really didn't like about a lot of 80s music first time around, as teenagers.  Coming back to these three songs again a week later didn't improve the experience for us.  I pulled an 80s album off my shelf which I'd bought about 20 years ago from a $5 specials rack for historical interest, and had similar reactions to back then - it's one of the least played CDs in my collection and I doubt I've given it a spin this millennium.  I played it back and asked Brett to tell me if he liked it better, worse or about the same.  The album in question is Real To Real Cacophony by Simple Minds.  Brett said "OMG, it's all such dire, insipid 80s crap!" (we don't usually spend time listening to music we don't actually like, so it can get exasperating) but that he slightly preferred the Cure songs because they were slightly more acoustic; cautioning that this shouldn't be interpreted as him enjoying any of it because he really wasn't.  When I looked at the lyrics for a while, I said to him, "I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, I'm looking for something to commend, but I keep getting the impression that these things were written on the run and/or in a state of substance intoxication."  He said, "Well, they probably were, you might be wasting your time looking for something profound here."

All three tracks are off Japanese Whispers, which we bought a while back and were largely (but not entirely) unimpressed by, and which is our least favourite Cure CD to date (I guess it's now our second least favourite, if we're going to count this one).  So, we'd heard these tracks before a couple of years ago as well.

I kind of like Lament, especially the guitar on it - not so much the vocals, or the keyboards, or the drum-machine sound.  Lyrically, I'd caution that it's thin ice to be describing people with different philosophical and religious views to your own as fools (glass houses, etc), but other than that, it's nice to have a coherent theme here, and something that's a bit more together.

Speak My Language, we already knew from Japanese Whispers as well, and it shares some instrumentation characteristics with its A-side, The Lovecats, but without rising anywhere to the heights of that song.  It also showcases a through-the-nose, distorted singing technique which kind of gives me a rash - we've seen from later work that Robert Smith actually has a really lovely singing voice when he's using it fully.

Mr Pink Eyes, Happy The Man, Throw Your Foot and New Day are back in the same territory as Just One Kiss etc, discussed above - the same broad comments apply lyrically; and the music now sounds to me like a chimera between Playschool and an opium den - not something I'm going to inflict on myself again, not when there's so much wonderful music in this world that I could be listening to instead, including by this very same band (!!!).

The Exploding Boy is a far more pleasant song musically than its four predecessors, and slightly reminiscent of its A-side In Between Days, but the lyrics still have the same feel as the predecessors.  Here's a thought - maybe a clear head isn't incompatible with creativity and quality lyrics.  I was getting rather riled at this point, listening to song after song that comes across so puerile - and I was remembering that this was the exact thing that really put me off The Cure as a teenager, because the pool of music I heard from them back then on the radio very much felt like this most of the time.

A Few Hours After This, A Man Inside My Mouth, Stop Dead, are to me much of a muchness as what I've already discussed, and I'm really glad I've come to the end of this CD at last and can now go on to the last CD in this set, which isn't going to be such musical purgatory for either of us.

I don't like to end on a low point, so I want to relate what happened after a re-listen to this CD on the weekend, where we attempted to identify what it was that didn't appeal to us about these tracks and then fast-forwarded to 1989's Fascination Street for juxtaposition - and what a world of difference by then - there's proficiency and musicians listening and responding to each other, there's space, complexity, counterpoint, and a whole lot of finesse that just wasn't there on the CD-1 B-sides; and the track is so mesmerising that you don't care there's no singing for over two minutes, and when the voice does kick in, it's just right, and Robert Smith isn't singing through his nose, but from his heart - and that's the sort of music that attracted both of us to this band for further listening.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 28, 2019, 11:29:39

This is a little side post on how people respond to music, literature, art, etc - what determines whether they're going to love, like, be neutral, dislike or really loathe something.

A lot of our "like/dislike" can be quite subjective - particular genres and styles can rub us up the wrong way for sometimes mysterious internal reasons, the same way certain dishes at a smorgasbord can be off-putting to us even if they are prepared to a high culinary standard - nothing innately wrong with the cooking and preparation, just it doesn't agree with us: Maybe we have a food allergy, a chemical intolerance, we don't like the taste or the look, we have bad associations with a dish, our body is steering us to other dishes which are more likely to address particular deficits currently being experienced, etc etc.

So, there are some music genres I don't enjoy, much as I don't enjoy pineapples or stuffed capsicums - it's not about the food or music necessarily being substandard, it's that it doesn't agree with me.  I personally generally dislike heavy metal, grunge, elevator music, schmaltz (is that a genre? ...but you all know what I mean! ;)), Country & Western, rap, keyboard-heavy plasticky-sounding insipid 80s mainstream music, and cock rock.  (I had no idea there was such a genre as cock rock until I started writing this thread. :rofl  ...but the description fits perfectly... I also refer any bookworms amongst you to the relevant chapter of Desmond Morris' classic The Human Zoo :) ...if you've not read it yet, it changes the way you look at things...)

So, some of my reaction, and my husband's reaction as well, to CD-1 of Join The Dots was because much of it (from Just One Kiss onwards) fell under the umbrella of a type of 80s music we have simply never liked.  I'd have a similar response if I had to listen to a Country & Western album, or trash metal, etc.

Humour spot:  I've just finished reading the novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine, which I enjoyed very much and from which I wanted to share a really funny scene of un-worldly-wise Eleanor going to a gig without knowing exactly what she would be in for:

The bar was poorly lit and, as implied by the name, utterly filthy.  Loutish, unkempt people of both genders sat around in Stygian gloom, and the music from the stereo system was both unfeasibly loud and unspeakably terrible.

We went downstairs to the venue.  It was already almost full.  As I'd stood waiting for Raymond in the doorway, I'd noticed a procession of ridiculous-looking young people entering the premises - this, it transpired, was where they were going.  We were surrounded by black - black clothes, black hair, spiked and shaved and sculpted.  Black make-up on both men and women, applied in a way that Bobbi Brown would not have endorsed.  There were a lot of spikes everywhere too - hair, jewelry, even on backpacks.  Almost no one wore normal shoes.  All Hallows' Eve, I thought.

...The audience started making a collective animal noise and surged forward.  We stayed where we were - the musicians were now on-stage and had begun to play.  I put my hands to my ears, unable to believe what I was hearing.  Without exaggeration, it could only be described as the cacophonous din of hell.  What on earth was wrong with these people?  The 'singer' alternated between screaming and growling.

I couldn't bear it a moment longer and ran upstairs, rushing outside into the street, panting and shaking my head like a dog in an attempt to rid my ears of the sound.  Raymond followed shortly afterward.

"What's wrong, Eleanor?" he said, looking concerned.  "Are you OK?"

I wiped the tears from my face.

"That wasn't music, that was...oh, I don't know.  The horror, Raymond! The horror!"

Raymond started to laugh, proper belly laughs (for which he was very well equipped), until he was actually bent over and struggling to breathe.

"Oh, Eleanor," he said, wheezing.  "I knew you weren't a fan of grindcore!  What the f*ck were you thinking?"  He started giggling again.

"I just wanted to see the venue, listen to a band," I said.  "That such sounds could exist - it's beyond human imagining...Let us retire to an inn or public house, Raymond - a quiet one - and please, allow me to buy you some beer in recompense for this wasted evening."

"Oh, it wasn't wasted, Eleanor," he said, shaking his head.  "Your face!  This is one of the best nights out I've had in ages."

We've looked at how quite a bit of our inclination to like or dislike music, literature and art is subjective, and often more to do with our tastes than with objective criteria.  However, this doesn't mean objective criteria can't be applied to give you some idea of the quality of music, literature, art, cooking etc.

With food, if it's accidentally burnt or if it's overcooked, over-salted, maggot-infested etc, this decreases its objective quality, and most people's enjoyment of it.  Of course, rather paradoxically, if it's deliberately burnt (the stripes on chargrilled meat), or deliberately mouldy (Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Brie etc), this can indicate you're dealing with a very high-quality food as well.

With writing, there are also quality criteria.  When we're formally assessing student poetry or creative writing, for example, criteria include:

* Technical aspects like grammar, spelling, paragraphing

* How well does the author convey their chosen topic to the reader? Is what they're saying clear, understandable, evocative, does it capture the reader's imagination? (some of which is of course subjective, but you can compensate for this)

* What literary devices are being used in the writing?  If it's poetry - use of onomatopoeia, similes, metaphors, imagery, alliteration, assonance etc to convey meaning are often very effective.  You don't have to have everything off the list, but it helps to be able to use these techniques.  What kind of rhyme scheme, if any? Rhythm, meter, arrangement of stanzas?  Allusions to other works?  Satire, parody, comedy, tragedy?

These kinds of criteria can help get writers thinking about their writing, and help in grading people's work for assessment in schools and universities.  It's not like assessing maths tests, of course - it's more nuanced, and though there's lots of things to look for, the overall effect is the most important thing - and different pieces of writing can be brilliant for very different reasons, and sparse prose can be as extraordinary as a word painting, and free verse as breathtaking as a well-written, highly structured sonnet.

Similarly, with music, there are criteria which can help point to quality.  The most obvious ones are things like:  Are the musicians competent on their instruments, at least for what they are attempting to play?  Are they playing in time?  How well is a mood created, an idea conveyed, can you dance to it, does it matter if you can't?  Is there simplicity, complexity, counterpoint, call-and-response, etc etc, how are these used, how effective is it?

These are questions to consider, but not black-and-white prescriptions... because we all know what happens when you get too black-and-white about this:

Anyway, thinking about the difference between personal taste and objective quality can be helpful in our encounters with food, writing, music, art etc.  Too often, people think that because they don't like something, it's automatically rubbish.  It helps to know whether you don't like a particular crime novel because it's not that well-written, or because you don't like crime novels (or both).  :)

As always, if anyone wishes to chime in and relate their own ideas and thoughts, you are most welcome.  And, for those of you who enjoyed CD-1 of Join The Dots, or love particular songs from it, I'm always really interested in hearing from people who like the things I do not, and can tell me what makes it work for them.  What is it about the music you like?  And / or is it the associations that pop up in your mind - is it a soundtrack to a particular significant experience for you, or a link with good memories that were being made when you first heard it, for instance?

Similarly, is there music that sends you running from a room?  Why does it do that to you?

One of the most interesting times in a high school English classroom is when teenagers bring in their favourite music and do projects on it.  It's wonderful when they start to listen to things they wouldn't have considered listening to before, simply because they know and respect another person with different tastes to themselves, and they understand the distinction between our personal tastes, and ideas of objective quality - and when they then say, "Although it's still not a genre / band /song I personally enjoy, I can see why you like it, and I see it differently now because I've seen it through your eyes, thank you for letting me borrow your eyes." :)

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on October 02, 2019, 15:36:05

I'm becoming rapidly familiar with CD-4, which is easy because it's mostly right down my street.  I'm going to discuss the songs on it chronologically when I get around to it, but I'm a bit busy at the moment and would like to do a small advance post on the big big treat that I found on CD-4 - something I'd not heard before and my favourite track off this CD.  It was apparently an unreleased song from the Bloodflowers sessions.  Bloodflowers was, of course, the album that got me into The Cure in a big way when I first heard it five years ago in consequence of my husband encouraging me to borrow his iPod when working outdoors.

I've not made a habit of posting clips of the songs I've talked about on this thread, since all of us know how to use YouTube etc, but I'm going to make an exception for this one because it isn't as well known as it should be, and because I'd like to encourage anyone reading who hasn't heard it before to give it a spin.

I was listening to this CD "by osmosis" while doing other things, rather than headphones-in-the-dark, which was my method as a teenager - and this song just leapt out at me, first musically, then lyrically.  I love the creation of atmosphere on this track, the spooky, dislocated feel.  This fits the lyrics to a T - a very cleverly written Jekyll & Hyde number.


The other one feeds on my hesitation
Grows inside of my trepidation
Buries his claws in my dislocation
I whisper your name to lose control

I take a step and over my shoulder
His roll-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His snow-white thighs press closer and colder
Murmur in me to let him go

The other one thrives on my desperation
Fills me up with my intoxication
Sinks his teeth in my deviation
Suffering me to lose control

Hold my mouth, taste his breath
Hissing, breathing are the same
Snakes its sound inside my head
Sickening me to let him go

I take a step and over my shoulder
His pain-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His stain-white thighs press closer and colder
Murdering me to let him go

I try to resist the gruesome kiss
I twist to deny the blood-hot bliss
But I always feel myself becoming him
And the last thing I remember
It isn't me, it isn't me, it isn't me

But then it never is...

Now there's something to get your teeth into.  I'll discuss this in more detail when I get back around to it chronologically because once I start on this, I'm not going to finish in under 500 words...

When I was listening to this track, I was reminded of another song, very different musically, which also deals with this general theme, but in a very different way.  I love the twist at the end - the whole way through, when I first heard it, I thought he was talking about his father. 

The self, having a shadow, and how to manage all of that...

PS: Brett also reminded me of the Billy Joel song The Stranger, on a similar theme:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on October 03, 2019, 11:15:28

Open-journalling is like journalling at home in your paper journal as far as content goes - you're just writing in the open, where someone might get something out of it (and others not, but that's OK), and where conversations can happen and things can get interactive if someone wants to jump in, which can be fun.  I've done this for years in a journalling group on my "home forum" where we're all used to each other and know each other quite well, and jump in and discuss all sorts of things on each other's journals.  There we have designated journals with specific interaction rules, but you can really apply the principles of that anywhere on a forum.  This thread isn't a journal, but I'm open-journalling responses to music here - specifically to the Join The Dots box set which arrived at our very rural West Australian mailbox a couple of months ago.  I could have done this on my online journal, but because it is so specifically on music by The Cure, it made far more sense to do this here, where other people have a familiarity with the general topic, and enjoy this band and alternative music in general.

I've had paper journals since age 14, and used them from the go-get to think out loud, record experiences, host alternative music awards from parallel universes, explore all sorts of subject areas, review books, films, concerts and CDs, write poetry etc. When you journal, often you're trying to make sense of the world, or understand who you are and why, and this naturally carries over into all sorts of subject explorations.  You're not stepping back in this kind of writing, it's more of a dialogue.  I'm not reviewing Join The Dots in the traditional sense, I'm journalling a personal response to it - so there's the music, and there's how it affects me as a listener, what it makes me think about, etc.  I think that's actually an important part of what music does - what happens at the listener end - but we don't usually get to read about it, not as a two-way street.  Music is reviewed in the general media by "experts" and rated by them, often without half the understanding of it a thoughtful general audience member would have, and often without making the distinction between opinion and fact.  I'm fed up with various "experts" ranking all the Cure albums from "best" to "worst" when what they're really doing is to rank them from "the one I like the most" to "the one I like the least" - and those are not the same thing.

We're so encultured to think this way that I still frequently have to remind myself to correct my language as I'm writing down impressions, to make the distinction between personal response and objective quality - to say, "I really don't like..." and, "This really rubs me up the wrong way..." and, "This doesn't agree with me..." instead of, "This is crap, this is bad, blah blah blah!" and conversely, just because I like or even love something doesn't necessarily mean it's objectively brilliant.  That's in part what the Subjective vs Objective scenic detour above was about.

Today I have another scenic detour, as is the nature of responding to music or books or films etc that move us personally.  It's a long detour before getting back to the music, so unless you are interested in scenic stuff, you might want to skip this one.  ;)


It was impossible for me not to think about the recreational drug culture and in general about addictions to substances and more covert things, when listening to this material - those are referred to both specifically and in passing on a number of songs in this box set, and in associated interviews as well.  I listen to a lot of podcasts too in my everyday life, on all sorts of subjects including neuroplasticity, brain biochemistry, the mind, addiction, mental health, etc, and this will tie back to other things I'm doing or writing about.

1. Personal background

Last night we were discussing Coming Up and made a list of songs we know on related subjects, which I will interweave when I get back to discussing songs chronologically in a bit, and this started a long conversation between us.  My husband and I have both always been outliers when it comes to recreational drugs and binge drinking, because we've simply not gone there at all - much to the astonishment of some of our friends recently, when for some reason that came up for discussion - since we're not religious, or anything like that.  One lovely young woman we know said, "What?  I don't know anyone else like that in my whole circle!" and we laughed.  She was quizzing us on how we could possibly not have had boring lives (we really haven't) and how we could possibly deny ourselves such pleasures and explorations (because we have many alternative pleasures and explorations which mean the world to us), and then telling us how she lost two to three years of her life and an architecture place at university because she got incredibly affected by excessive pot-smoking and just ceased to care or have ambitions.  That's not how it goes for everyone, of course, but we did ask, "Was that worth the price, to you?"  She reflected on that, and really, we worked out that in that scenario, family of origin issues played a large part anyway, for her.  She says that the heavy dive into drugs for her delayed dealing with the real issues, and of course that's often the case when people have addictions, to drugs or to the many other things we can get addicted to.

Brett and I were thinking last night, "What made us avoid recreational drugs?"  Both of us, from childhood, reacted badly to cigarette smoke, and weren't going to be interested in anything administered that way, and of course, that was the main thing about when we were growing up.  I always gagged at cigarette smoke - and pot smoke is actually worse, for me - just one whiff of that, with its sickly sweet smell, gives me instant, horrible nausea.  I have sensitivities to a lot of synthetic chemicals as well - can't handle perfumes, and have to walk through the cleaning agents aisles in supermarkets with my breath held, unless I want nausea and migraines.

Brett told me that his high school was a high drug use high school, mostly peopled by pot smokers.  He was offered drags, but always politely declined.  He says it wasn't just the smoking aspect, it was that he decided he liked his brain chemistry the way it was.  Also, he says there was a park opposite the school where groups of alcoholics lay in a stupor during the daytime, and that this always made him think, "I don't ever want that to be me!"

After he left school, he ended up in a tertiary course where people were far more interested in video games than recreational drugs - "And they're really addictive too!" he told me, laughing.  He had some musician friends whom he understood to be partaking various things, just as they understood him not to be, so they just mutually respected that.  (How very civilised!  You try not drinking, in some social environments. :1f62e:  Some drinkers can be extraordinarily judgemental and rude - presumably, that type is insecure when confronted with behaviour unlike their own.)

Brett says, "I've always wanted to buy books and CDs in preference to acquiring and financing substance habits.  Quite apart from the health ramifications, I would consider smoking and regular drinking etc a waste of my book and CD money, and if I won the lottery, I'd just buy more books and music - and pay off the remaining mortgage, of course, and travel more, and fix the driveway.  I love my books and CDs, they're exploration and experience and alternative universes."

In my case, people at school knew better than to offer me drugs, since I wasn't shy about my stance on that for my own self.  I remember a friend who was on the yearbook committee with me, coming up to me at the end of one lunchtime in an incredible fluster, going, "Sue, I just tried some pot and I'm scared my teacher will be able to tell when I go back to class."  I said, "Don't breathe on anyone and quit looking like a rabbit in the headlights!"  That advice was probably no use to her - when I was 22, and doing my final practicum for my post - B.Sc. Grad.Dip.Ed, one of the department teachers was laughing uproariously one lunchtime and telling me, "If you're not teaching next period, come into my Year 10 class, I have something to show you!"  As it turned out, he knew a group of boys in his class were regular lunchtime pot smokers, and he derived great amusement from the amount of paranoia that he could induce in them just by looking at them.  He said he didn't report them because they were far less of a disturbance to his class when they were in a pot haze than when they weren't, and far easier to manage. :rofl

When I was a university student, binge drinking was de rigueur at all the social functions - they had drinking competitions where you could avoid elimination if you needed to vomit, so long as you threw up in your glass and drank it again, and people actually did that. :1f635: I thought that was really disgusting, and ceased going to these functions - you couldn't have a decent conversation with people at these things anyway.  I simply socialised with people in the private study room, after classes, over lunch etc.

I spent my first 11 years of life in Germany and Italy, before coming out to Australia, and I'd never come across binge drinking back there (although it probably existed in enclaves away from me).  The culture was simply different - people drank a glass of wine with lunch in Italy, but they didn't drink to get legless.  Children in these cultures are offered tastes from an adult's glass, so it's never a big thing that's not allowed until you're grown up, and doesn't get the same rite-of-passage mystique attached to it.  I decided I disliked beer and champagne before age ten, and have never reversed my opinion on them - beer to me tastes like something brewed from the socks of soldiers who have been on a forced week-long march in the tropics, and champagne is sickly - so sickly I threw up a tiny glass of pink champagne pressed on me at a New Year's function as a kid, all over the sofa - it was just as if I'd been forced to drink diluted mustard - instant vomit, and "No thanks!" from my body.

I did enjoy Advocaat on my ice-cream occasionally from little - some Germans said, "OMG, you're training her to be an alcoholic!" and actually it was quite the reverse.  I don't like the stuff on its own.  My biggest adult use for liqueurs, wine, brandy is making desserts.  We occasionally have a glass of wine with cheese - usually when friends bring wine when coming to lunch.  We enjoy cider and perry in summer as a treat after working outside on hot jobs, but I'd get a sore stomach if I had more than a standard drink, so we share a small bottle between us, and we only do that about twice a week on average, that time of year.  We have sweet tea with brandy in the winter - a cultural thing from rum-and-tea in Central Europe (we just prefer brandy) - everyone had their thermos - I once watched a girl showjump an obstacle course after having too much of that, and she was quite unable to effectively communicate with her horse.  She eventually got dumped headfirst into an obstacle, and her horse jumped over the arena entry gate and raced back to the stables, while a little friend and little me were rolling about with laughter at the silly thing the older girl had done.

Coming to Australia was a shock - many of the kids at school were obsessed with alcohol, in a way I'd never been because it was just something you had in moderation with food where I came from.  Binge drinking was a life ambition for school leavers... and then those antics at university... Travelling to London at age 26 on a working holiday, I was sharing house with three other young women give or take a couple of years from my age, and couldn't get over their habit of drinking themselves under the table every Friday night, and much of the weekend.  I spent my Friday nights journalling, and my weekends sight-seeing, going to museums and art galleries etc.  I sat with Emma on a Friday night if she found herself left behind by her pals, and chatted.  She'd have a bottle of wine or two she'd brought home after work, and proceed to drink herself through these.  She'd offer me some, and I'd sometimes accept a glass (my limit).  I noticed that Emma actually started to open up about stuff I talked about as a matter of course, when she'd had a glass or two, and we could have interesting conversations.  I couldn't understand why she couldn't just be open without drinking alcohol.  She'd keep on drinking, though, and then went through a progression from silly to maudlin before starting to slur and then finally collapsing unconscious on the sofa or floor.  It was winter when I was there, and I worried about her getting hypothermia, since the central heating switched off after midnight in the lounge, and there was no way she would make it back to her bedroom upstairs - so I'd get her quilt and wrap her in it, turn off the light, and go back to my journal, bemused by these strange things. I often feel like an alien who's accidentally landed on a strange planet.

Part of my personal avoidance of drunkenness and recreational drugs came from a very strong drive to survive, which I had from childhood, because I had a really difficult childhood, from which I have complex PTSD. I didn't know I had complex PTSD until my early 40s (I've related that on the Music for Emotional Health thread), but the brains of children who grow up in war zones - domestic or international - develop differently to normal brains, because they get pickled in stress hormones and because particularly when your home environment is profoundly unsafe, that little brain can end up throwing all its resources at survival, and becoming prematurely independent, so that safety might eventually be reached - which is how my brain responded to that environment.  PTSD and alcohol / recreational drugs are not a happy mix - same with depression.  It tends to make it worse overall, while giving people temporary relief from symptoms.*  I seemed instinctively to know that it would be dangerous to me, and I actively avoided it from the outset.  On a rational level, as a teenager, I knew I had a lot on my plate already and that the last thing I needed is to make more trouble for myself.  I steered actively towards activities that made me feel genuinely better, like spending time in nature, hiking trails, reading, listening to music, sleeping 8-9 hours a night, and focusing on good nutrition once I was out of the student poverty trap.

So that's our current personal contexts and how they developed from our backgrounds.  Next I'd like to look at a wider view.

(*A few exceptions apply - I'll refer to the experimental use of psilocybin etc in the treatment of depression in Section 5.)

2. Overt and covert addictions

When I was growing up, my father often voiced his decided opinion that people who took recreational drugs are weak, stupid, useless, criminal, and a general waste of space.  He was also intensely homophobic, fat-shamed my mother, thought poor people ought to be sterilised, punched me in the face for putting a poster of a male pop star wearing make-up and a kaftan on my bedroom wall when I was 13, and often came into my room to mock the music I was listening to - amongst many other things - so it can be quite safely assumed that I didn't think him a reliable source of good opinions, and tended to think (and journal ;)) about alternative points of view.

In retrospect, I think his diatribes against recreational drug users were a case of, "Look over there!"  His brother was an alcoholic and looked down upon in the family because of it, but my father is a workaholic, and my mother is a TV addict who schedules her life and social engagements around re-runs of Days Of Our Lives and other dreadful American programmes where everyone seems to be living in a sort of fantasy world which viewers love but to me is one of the nine circles of hell.  My mother kept house, but was not available for conversation to me as a child - the familiar refrains were, "I don't have time!" and, "Wait until the commercial break!"  My parents were as effectively disabled from meaningful, positive parenting by their addictions and unsorted emotional baggage as full-on heroin addicts, while still retaining their social respectability.

I think, looking back at this from my late 40s, that my father is one of those people for whom a dose of hallucinogenic mushrooms might have been therapeutic, to break him out of his mental prison, black-and-white thinking, and general ruts.

A friend's sister actually experimented with this quite literally.  They were twins and had grown up in a strongly religious northern Irish family who'd migrated to Australia, and they were belted and shamed and emotionally abused as children in ways that were more extreme than what happened in my own upbringing.  My friend took on the role of "the responsible one" and "mother's slave" - but her sister rebelled.  She drank, smoked, swore, openly came out as lesbian, and when the parents were somehow cajoled into attending her wedding recently (I don't know how they fandangled that, my parents didn't attend our wedding because of the inconvenience of our living four hours' drive from them, but that was probably a blessing in disguise anyway, knowing what they're like at these kinds of milestones), she turned up drunk, dressed in leather, on a motorbike, and tongue-kissed her bride.  It's kind of funny, but the sad thing is that she is probably as much defined by her parents as the daughter who did not rebel, instead of living freely (if we can aspire to such a thing).

Anyway, family Christmas used to be an ordeal for both these women as adults.  They were expected to turn up, and the biddable one was fat-shamed in front of all assembled - her mother actually brought out bathroom scales and put them next to the dinner table and ordered my friend to get on, in front of everyone - which to her credit she refused to do.  The mother was so unpleasant in so many ways that one Christmas, the rebellious twin brought Christmas cookies into which she had baked marijuana, just for the parents - and my friend said that was the best Christmas they ever had together.  Her parents practically melted into their seats and giggled a lot, while the sisters took care of Christmas dinner.  It was the only time they ever received compliments from their parents for their efforts at this event, instead of constant criticism.  It's a pity the effect wasn't lasting.

The best thing, of course, is simply not to go to things like that, when people have appalling manners and the occasions are never happy.  Unfortunately, it takes many people who grew up with childhood abuse a long time to break away from these disrespectful relationships. It's amazing how long people will still go back to families like that, when they'd not put up with that sort of treatment for five minutes, coming from anyone else.  It's like Stockholm Syndrome.

3. Intermittent variable reward

You don't need to have externally sourced chemicals to get an addiction.  A lot of covert addictions work by triggering our own brain chemistry - things like dopamine and endorphins (= endogenic morphine).  We have internal chemical reward systems which are, in evolutionary terms, meant to encourage us to engage in life-sustaining activities, like eating the right foods, getting enough exercise, engaging socially (for social mammals, like humans), sleeping sufficiently, bonding with a partner, engaging with them sexually, etc.  This works very well in less complicated mammals than ourselves, but it's a bit of a Pandora's box with the strange brain we humans have ended up with - especially when we're taken out of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and plonked into the modern world of our own construction.

Now, the internal chemical reward systems give false positives to industrial non-foods high in sugar and low in actual essential nutrients, widely distributed depictions of other people engaging in sex, social media "friending" and "likes", telephones beeping at us, poker machines, video games, the acquisition of materialistic status items, and a whole horde of other things that aren't necessarily great for us.  Our internal chemical reward systems aren't adapted to our strange modern world.  This is one reason a lot of people report feeling so much better when they've sea changed or tree changed and are getting back in touch with nature, and when coming off the treadmill gives them time to reflect, and figure out what's important to them and how they really want to live.

One thing that's put to work when corporations hire psychologists to design strategies to manipulate consumers is the concept of intermittent variable reward.  It has its roots in needing to survive in nature, and it rewards persistence, which is great when you're out hunting, or looking for wild strawberries, or fending off a bear, or helping a friend in peril - but not so great when you're sitting at a poker machine, or doing Facebook, or engaged in a dysfunctional relationship with a narcissist.  All three of these are examples of the use intermittent variable reward to purposely create addiction in others.

My husband and I actively avoid things like Facebook and other deliberately addictive social media.  By its nature, the Internet is a rabbit hole of intermittent variable reward anyway.  This can be great when you're researching something, or writing something - hunter-gathering, so to speak.  It can also be an awful time-sink when you're tired and unfocused and procrastinating, and we've designed strategies to help us avoid the pitfalls of all this, while allowing us to use the Internet for things that we've decided are important to us.  We both engage in a couple of forums, which to us are the more benign forms of social media, and which encourage discourse and even actual friendship and community.  I'm always really aware that the people I'm talking to on forums are real human beings, just as they would be if they were in a physical discussion group with me.  I'm from a generation who had snail-mail pen-pals as children, and we often met our pen-pals and became face-to-face friends.  Forums can be like pen-pals all talking to each other, and it's amazing what can be shared on that medium - not just words, but music, art, photos, film clips, you name it, and in real time - much more alive and immediate than the pen-and-paper medium (which still has its place for us though).  As forum communities are so international, you'd need a TARDIS to catch up in person with people on it.  ;)

A couple of superb and accessible resources related to this subject:

..including these books:

4. Cold turkey off covert addiction

I didn't know half this stuff when I was 24, and going cold turkey off my own hijacked brain chemistry after a breakup from a long and painful relationship with a narcissist (which is textbook for people from backgrounds of serious childhood trauma).  This wasn't love, this was addiction - as became patently obvious to me when I finally left, and house-sat for a friend while getting back on my feet.

In a normal, healthy relationship, the default setting is for people to be nice to each other, treat one another with respect and consideration, offer their authentic selves, really look and listen, nurture each other, work as a team and avoid being an ass.  When one is an ass, one offers apologies and reparation, and works conscientiously on avoiding slipping up like that again - both out of self-respect, and out of respect for the other person.

In dysfunctional relationships, the being an ass is a default in at least one person, and is not truly regretted by them, although they may occasionally offer hollow apologies / fauxpologies when pressed.  The ass(es) operate superficially and often don't understand authenticity because their lives are cut to an external template (many templates for how to be are offered in our consumer society, and most of them are money-spinners for corporations).  Being nice is intermittent, and because it's intermittent, this can be really addictive as the other person subconsciously tries to work out what they can do to make niceness happen again.  Meanwhile, they're getting depleted, and their biochemistry becomes hooked on the game the other person is playing.   Also, perversely, sex becomes terribly loaded under circumstances like that, and when you're young you might think that nothing can ever possibly beat that, when in reality it's yet another trick of your biochemistry (and trust me, what I thought was so stratospheric very much pales in comparison with how it can be when you've got a respectful partner, and a healthy relationship - you just can't know this until you've experienced it) .

Many "love" songs have been written, which are really about this sort of thing.  The beautiful, lilting Cranberries tune Linger is an example of a song that actually romanticises dysfunctional couple relationships:

It's a gorgeous song, but I can't listen to it without a bitter taste in my mouth, because I've been there, over twenty years ago now, and it's beyond awful, and should not be romanticised.  People shouldn't think that it's not love if you're not suffering, and not giving up your personal boundaries and self-respect.  These kinds of ideas need to be thrown out into the cesspit where they belong, instead of being recycled to make yet another batch of human beings miserable - but they are often taught in the home, overtly or covertly, as they were in my family of origin, which is why children from those homes often have painful relationships until they can work out that they actually have the equivalent of a software virus, propagated by dysfunctional families and also by aspects of popular culture.

You can get rid of that virus, but you have to know you have it before you can do that.  It's not easy, but it is possible.

So when I was 24, Linger was still constantly being played on the radio, and I'd finally managed to extricate myself from that sort of relationship.  What followed was roughly two months of significant physical illness.  At the start, I was shaking uncontrollably, cold all the time, nauseated, not eating, all my muscles hurt, it was painful to move, painful to open my eyes, loud noises made me feel like I was dying, I was crying uncontrollably for hours, I felt miserable and completely hollow inside.  I had to make myself get up and shower, make smoothies for myself in an attempt to coax some kind of nutrition into my body, make myself walk around the block, make myself do things that were normal and healthy, to break out of that cycle.

The physical symptoms were very like what people describe coming cold turkey off heroin and similar substance addictions.  That's because the brain biochemistry is very similar.  And the thing that makes it stop almost instantly is to go back to the person, like going back to a drug, and this is also why a lot of battered women return to their abusive partners (and why rebound relationships are a thing).  This is exactly why I had returned to this partner after two previous breakups (I was dealing with systematic emotional abuse and serial infidelity, and of course he was always angelic until I had re-committed), but this time I had a shadow of an idea of how these things might work. I was starting to look beyond the emotional level and its traps, and the BS idea that you've not forgiven someone unless you let them do it again, and the romantic, dysfunctional songs on the radio, and instead was looking at biochemistry, in which I happened to get an A as an undergraduate.  I was highly trained, dammit, and it was time to apply my brain to this, and I finally managed to do that.  Compartmentalisation is an interesting phenomenon - and re-integration is fantastic.

So, obviously, the other way to get past the biochemical withdrawal misery after that kind of relationship is to realise that this misery with which you're going to live for a month or two is something of a biological trick, and that it's the only way you're going to actually remove yourself from something that's been harming you, and that going back is not a healthy solution, no matter what anyone twisted who might be around you says.

When I was 24, I experienced that final breakup from that painful relationship consciously as the equivalent of a drug withdrawal, and this helped to address a lot of the instinctive fear and dread that has so many people going back to situations like this.  It's good to have your rational brain switched on and on your side when you have to brook something like this.  The rational brain is very good at organising the practical things you need for recovery - like showers, smoothies, walks around the block - and at talking to the rest of you, reminding you about the biochemical trick, and that it will fade in time, and that each positive thing you do for yourself will make you better.

My rational brain was probably particularly good at it, paradoxically because it is a complex PTSD brain with many disaster drill and self-care routines I had already pre-established in childhood.  All I had to do was access these things, and it became almost automatic.  And so, in the midst of the very physical misery, I didn't miss even half a day of my part-time work running laboratory sessions and tutorials for undergraduate science students - I was always able to somehow gather up the energy to do that, even if I spent a lot more time in bed asleep or resting than usual - and though I probably looked tired, I always arrived at the university clean and tidy, with my professionalism, courtesy and sense of humour in place, and glad of the positive human interactions and the interesting work.  And it's so, so important not to get isolated from people (in healthy, safe contexts), when you go through rough spots like this.  Good interactions are as important as rest, and smoothies, and long hot showers, and walks, and any other TLC you can bestow on yourself when you sorely need it.

Gradually, the physical illness and misery subsided, and one day I woke up genuinely wondering what on earth I'd ever seen in this man, and why I had stayed in that situation for so long. This is where I needed help - I did a lot of self-educating on family of origin, toxic behaviours, addiction, personal boundaries, dysfunctional patterns, healthy relationships, and what respect looks like, through many excellent resources that were available. I also consulted various professional people about these things on and off for many years - some were brilliant, others a bit ordinary - you have to find what works for you.  Eventually, the puzzle pieces came together, and then I met Brett nearly 13 years ago now, when I had finally re-written the dysfunctional script that had always drawn me romantically to exactly the wrong sorts of people.  The difference is enormous for me, between past and present - it's fabulous to be in a healthy, respectful partnership, and I feel it the more because I never had a healthy, respectful home environment as a child growing up.

Sharp Point, Torndirrup National Park, February 3, 2008

As is also typical, I wasn't diagnosed with complex PTSD until quite a few years after I was finally in a safe relationship - that's when my brain decided it was safe to show me some suppressed footage from my early childhood.  I've discussed what that looked like on the Music for Emotional Health thread - and it was a real "aha" experience which forced me to confront some very awful realities.  What helped me the most during that time, apart from my husband's love and support and the long conversations he had with me about really difficult things, and my GP who'd clearly been there herself, were the many firsthand stories of other people who had been through similar experiences growing up, which I read over the next couple of years.  They made me realise that this was common, but not much talked about - that I didn't have to feel like a leper.  And in time, these people's stories gave me the courage to finally speak and write openly about my own story, and I saw that this in turn helped other people who had been down this same dark road.

Some places that helped me come to terms with my childhood:

I also, of course, discovered the album Bloodflowers on Brett's iPod around this time, and it struck so many chords all over the place for me.  Where The Birds Always Sing was just the right fit somehow when I had to re-assess and re-jig a whole lot of things about life.

Then Songs Of Innocence was released, and this particular song was also right place, right time for me:

It's funny how human beings are hell, but also redemption.

Stay safe, everyone.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on October 06, 2019, 01:41:28
I'll finish this long scenic detour with a fun section where we can all laugh.

5. Non-neurotypical brain with automatic mushroom setting?

We all have a brain.  (And this is how you can prove it:  If you look in an ear and can't see daylight, there's something there, most probably a brain.  Test this on people you know today. :angel)

We tend to think, at first, that everyone perceives the world the same way as us, and learn as we grow up that this is not the case.  If we could magically swap noses, ears, eyes, tongues, fingertips for a bit, we'd see some of the differences in sensory perceptions.  But, even with sensory perceptions, the processing centre is more important than the sensory receptors - because the way the brain interprets the incoming signals is what we really experience.  Swapping brains would be much more instructive in observing our differences in perception.

We think we experience the world, but we don't.  We experience the interpretations our internal software makes of the incoming sensory signals.  It's a construction, an interpretation of reality.  It is not the same thing as the external reality.  For instance, we visually perceive solid objects, like tables and doors and rocks, as really solid - when they're actually just lattices of mostly empty space.  An atom is over 99.9% empty space, with the tiny subatomic particles taking up very little room in that space - and if we could squeeze all that empty space out of you, what was left would fit into a full stop (and that's what black holes do).  We don't see all that empty space.  What we see starts with photons being reflected off objects entering our eyes and interacting with receptors in the retina to produce an image, and electrical signals going to the brain from there, for processing on internal visual "software" - and that's what we perceive.

The differences in perception are even greater between species.  Here's an idea of the difference between the average human and average bee visual perception of flowers:



A link to a super article comparing bee and human vision further:

Each species senses the aspects of the environment that were important historically to its survival, i.e. aspects crucial for obtaining food and shelter, avoiding predators and accidents, finding mates, migration in migratory animals, etc.  We're none of us given access to objective reality, not via our limited spectrum of senses and the processing of those signals.  We only see what we biologically need to see.  It's sort of like living in a matrix that simplifies reality.

Human beings as a species have extended their perceptions of the world beyond their own biological equipment through science and technology, with extensions to existing senses (e.g. using telescopes, microscopes, night vision goggles etc), and with equipment that senses what we can't sense at all, like the magnetic field (compasses).  Brett is just telling me that he read about an interesting experiment where researchers tried to add another "sense" to humans participating as test subjects, by equipping them with belts which would apply slight pressure at the magnetic north point so they could now be physically aware of compass directions.  They became extraordinary at not getting lost.

The take-away point here is to be aware that our senses are very limited and only allow us access to a small spectrum of reality.  I remember when I was about eight and first heard that dogs couldn't see in colour.  I cried rivers for our dog, and all the lovely things it couldn't see that I could.  Of course, I learnt later that dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, compared to which my nose is basically deaf.  All species have strengths and weaknesses in perception - and none of them sense more than a limited spectrum of reality.

That's perceptions - and then there is thinking.  There's a whole lot of variability in how we approach that as individuals as well, and aspects of it can change with time, as it should if you're continuing to be open and to actively learn, instead of shutting off because you think you've "arrived" - and I know people like this, who seem to think, "I'm an adult now, out of school, nothing left to learn, don't want to learn, how boring, and I already know everything I need to know, and my mind is made up on everything, set opinions in place and in stone."  (Very sad.  The walking dead.)

I didn't get an awareness of my patterns of thinking until I was at university - and this great thing called metacognition got better for me, the older I got.  An awareness of your own limitations, both as a biological specimen and as a person, can help you develop what you haven't yet, and to work around some of the hard deficits creatively.  - It never ceases to amaze me that the people with the highest amount of confidence are certifiably closed-off and ridiculously unaware of their own limitations.  You don't get intellectual humility without being acutely aware of how little you know compared to all there is to know, and you need intellectual humility in order to think well.


In case you've not noticed, I'm not neurotypical. ;)  Neither is my husband.  Neither are probably quite a few people reading.  Brett and I aren't just social and cultural outliers - never peer-group driven as teenagers, tending to be outsiders, tending not to jump on bandwagons, not interested in fashions, more interested in alternative culture than mainstream culture, we usually vote for people who never end up getting in, and we're Australians who aren't interested in cricket, football, or beer :1f631: - but we're also neurological outliers.  Our brains don't operate the same way as typical people's operate.  As far as we're aware, we aren't Aspies, but we seem to be cousins with Aspies, and share some characteristics with them.  Some of these appear to be inborn, others can be explained by upbringing, yet others by conscious development and highly driven learning, some by the way my brain was structurally changed as a young child by living in a really stressful, unsafe environment.


Comparing notes with an Aspie friend: Brett and I both get extra annoyed by tags in clothing, seeds in socks etc - a far bigger deal than for typical people.  Also we can't listen to music when eating, or we won't be able to taste the food like we want to. Things like that. We also get deeply into our areas of interest, which are quite wide as well, so we really wouldn't get bored if we had 1000 years to live, and can't understand how anyone does.  We both graduated as the top academic students in our respective tertiary programmes.  Our brains are very interactive and very much on, a lot of the time. We enjoy the particular brains we have, more so now than earlier on in our lives. And of course there is neuroplasticity - the ability to keep learning new things, and to make new synaptic connections, all your life if you actually use your brain. Brains and muscles have in common that if you don't exercise them properly, they turn into custard...

As kids, both of us had low kinaesthetic intelligence in some respects - we both found it really difficult to learn dance steps.  In my case, this was at least partly due to the fact that my parents didn't do the usual catch and turn-taking games with me when I was a toddler, and that they shamed me when I spontaneously jumped around to music as a pre-schooler, and anytime after when I tried to move in any way to any kind of rhythm, to the point that I was automatically embarrassed well into adulthood when anyone asked me to attempt something like this.

On the other hand, I needed very few lessons to catch onto horse-riding as a nine-year-old (my best friend from primary school went, and so I was eventually grudgingly allowed to go too), and was eleven when I first trained up a yearling to become a competition-level riding horse, with the aid of some excellent horse training manuals, but completely on my own on the ground.


Little me above; and with my current riding horse a couple of years back below - I saddle-trained this fellow when I adopted him in 2009 post harness track, as a replacement for the above mare, who was in her late 20s by then.  I may not be good at dancing, but I'm good at riding horses, and communicating with animals in general.  Unlike many people, I don't anthropomorphise the horse when I work with it, but respect and try to understand its own perceptions of the world, and work with those.  I also don't think of myself as the superior species, or the one in charge - I think of my horse as my dancing partner, and hiking partner, and I negotiate and encourage, rather than bully them into doing what I want - and you get better results when you work in partnership with an animal, and it actually wants to do what you're asking, than if you're compelling it.   Just like with people, really!  ;)


I also progressed rapidly when I took up a musical instrument as an adult learner in my late 20s, after many years believing the hype that you could just forget it unless you started as a child.  So clearly, I'm not a total kinaesthetic dunce. :)

Brett and I are both voracious lifelong readers, but started differently.  I was reading simple books on my own at age four (I really craved positive human interaction, and seeing as that was in short supply in my family of origin, I dived into books the moment I learnt to de-code them).  By age eight I was reading mainstream adult reading level books, and by 14 literary and academic material.  Partly I'd say there was a genetic propensity, but probably even more so it was environmental, because that was my way of experiencing connection with the world, and other ways things could be - things I was so desperate for.


Brett had a reading delay early in school, but discovered Dr Who novelisations at age eight and this became a complete obsession for him until he was 12, at which point he started branching out and reading other books as well.  He still re-visits Dr Who novelisations in his 40s, but is a voracious literary omnivore, which is one of the things that really attracted me to him  :heart-eyes - here was a person who was even more obsessed with books and reading than I was, and who introduced me to all sorts of fantastic authors and concepts!  :heart-eyes  Here was another individual who had spent his childhood earnestly reading dictionaries and thesauruses!  Who wrote for his personal entertainment, regardless of whether or not there was an audience.  :cool   ...and he had the most unbelievably gorgeous speaking voice - I was often weak-kneed in our lengthy telephone conversations early on.  He sounds like an audio book commissioned by the BBC.  And he has the most extraordinary thicket of hair, and such kindness in his face... but I digress, and I'll stop with this train of thought before it turns into a novel...  :winking_tongue 

So, come on, get on with the mushrooms already, I hear you say...


At this point, I really have to relate a funny mushroom story.  When I was training in biology, I spent half a year reading about and researching mycorrhizae - symbiotic fungi that sit on plant roots and harvest minerals for the plant in exchange for sugar.  When you read extensively about fungi, you also catch some hilarious anecdotes of their psychedelic properties and the lengths which people will go to in order to trip on them.   The funniest story of them all came from Siberia, where a certain mushroom was very popular historically, so that a shortage would often arise, and prices would go up.  The catch with this mushroom was that the psychoactive substance in it was one of the few such substances that passes through the body unmetabolised - i.e. completely unchanged.  Can you see where this is going?  ...the psychoactive substance is excreted in the urine, so that you can trip by drinking that urine, and people actually did this.  Poor people who couldn't afford the exorbitantly priced mushrooms would actually buy the urine of those who could afford the mushrooms... :yum:

It's a recyclable tripping agent... :rofl  ...I should write an article about it for the hippie magazine I contribute to, hee hee.  Forget my usual DIY rustic furniture, wholefood recipes, livestock management, environmental rehabilitation.  I mean, mind-altering substances that are also recyclable?  Like wow, man!  :heart-eyes

The reference to "automatic mushroom setting" in the subtitle earlier is due to a friend telling me a while back that I didn't need psychedelic mushrooms because my mind seemed to conjure that kind of mode on a regular basis anyway.  Well, having not swapped bodies with a neurotypical person and gone tripping on mushrooms during such a body swap, I can't tell you if she is right, except to say that I certainly have never experienced vivid visual hallucinations as described by some mushroom trippers (but go read the first couple of chapters of Ezekiel, and tell me if he was possibly on mushrooms...or perhaps had temporal lobe epilepsy, which we'll explore later).  Like pretty much everyone else I've talked to, I occasionally get mild visual hallucinations lying in the sun with my eyes closed.  Initially, you just see the typical sight behind closed eyelids in the sun - reds and oranges airbrushed into each other, whose intensities and patterns you can change by screwing up your eyes - and that's all normal perception.  Sometimes, at certain angles, I seem to see the actual capillaries in my retinas in enlargement - which is also in the realm of normal possibilities.  But, if I lie there long enough, and especially if I'm drifting into half-sleep, the colours can change to include greens, blues, purples and greys, and start to swirl or to arrange themselves into shapes or chequerboards.  I can then somewhat affect what I see with my mind, and/or by moving or screwing up my eyes - make the shapes move or change or re-set.

All of this is pretty mild, and mildly entertaining - it's something I've experienced since childhood, and that my friends also seemed to spontaneously experience.  It's colourful, but not hugely vivid or defined - nothing like a kaleidoscope, or a swirly screen saver.  I'd guess that as you relax and drift towards a sleep state, your brain gets a bit more permeable somehow - regions talking to each other and interacting with each other that stay more separated when you're fully alert.  And I'd guess that people on psychedelics would be experiencing way more amped-up stuff than this.

That drifting-towards-sleep state (and also gradually waking up in the morning) is an interesting one creatively, because things will often just suddenly occur to you and jolt you back into alertness - like answers to questions you've asked yourself, a name you tried to remember, the solution to a problem you've been working on, a new idea, a sudden recollection.  There's always background activity in the brain, and whenever that arrives at something deemed useful, it just messages your consciousness like this.

So, nothing unusual there, I think.  However, there are other things which I used not to think were unusual, but they seem to be.

The other day I was listening to this podcast:

You may have seen this guy in The Guardian last year, and read his book:

In the podcast, there's a description of how Michael Pollan experienced his garden while tripping, and I thought, "Well, that doesn't sound very far from how I experience nature when I'm switched on properly!"

And then I realised I probably sit more towards his experience than the "standard experiences" as my own "normal" - and that I've always had a deep-level connection with nature and a sense of sacredness about it, that a lot of people I talked to couldn't quite relate to.

For instance, the way beach sand forms cusps because of wave action is something of a spiritual experience to me - it's very emotionally laden, with joy and a deep calm and a sense of eternity.


Also the way light strikes through the water surface and casts patterns on the sand below, at our beaches at certain times of day - the way sheets of water left in the sand reflect light when the waves have receded - the way light slants through leaves and dapples through trees - these are some examples of things I don't just oooh-aaah over aesthetically, but things that I've always really felt deeply.  Nature gets inside me somehow, just as I am inside it, when I go into a wilderness area.  I don't feel any distance, I don't feel separate, and I can't understand anthropocentrism - people feeling they're somehow something apart from and superior to nature.  Superior?  No they're bloody not, they're wrecking the planet and one another, while paradoxically feeling superior.  I could quote Revelation at them, For you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

♦ ♥ ♦

I realised overnight I'd have to go into a sort of time vortex to write the next bit - or into a Pensieve, if you're a Harry Potter fan - and return to my childhood and adolescence.  Nature was always a huge consoling presence for me, from the time I was tiny.  Because my earliest memories are this... and I'm sorry, this really isn't pleasant, but the antidote will come later...

From my online journal:

Some Notes On Physical And Emotional Violence

Physical violence is really obvious: Cheeks are slapped, your ears are banged, fists fly, noses bleed, skin is bruised, wooden cutting boards are broken over your head, your shins are kicked viciously, you are chased with implements which will be applied to you violently if you don't get away, skin is bunched and twisted till it burns, hair is yanked painfully, you are thrown against walls and on the floor, your stomach is punched. All these things happened to me at the hands of my family, and all three of them participated: Father, mother, eight years older brother. I was the youngest, and no physical match for them. At age 14, I was taller than my mother and once, after she broke that cutting board over my head and pursued my running self with more threats and flying fists, and I got trapped in a corner, I caught and held on to her wrists to stop her hitting me, and she hissed, "How dare you!" and started kicking my shins to pulp.

I don't remember a time when there wasn't physical violence in my family. It was already a dark presence when I was in the cradle, and I could feel it even then. People say there are no memories before age three, but this is wrong. There are no verbal memories, but there are impressions, mental photographs, states of feeling that can be remembered, just as other nonverbal creatures can remember, especially if you felt in danger from the beginning. If there is neural pruning that deletes early memories from most people - well, that didn't happen to me. I could reliably describe the first nursery I was in back to my parents as an adult, even though I was in it for less than a year and had no recollection of the rest of the house we lived in then, and moved from when I was still a toddler. I knew where the door was - right in front of me and slightly to the right, and have memories of it opening in the dark and making an upright rectangle of light, like a film someone has shown you. I knew the window was to my left, a square of light in the daytime, although I didn't know it was a window. I saw the bars of my cot and I experimented with moving my legs, which were over there visually, but somehow seemed connected to me. I asked my mother once, as an adult, about a doll I was sure I'd had once and was missing from my childhood collection - a red doll, simple fabric, flattish, round head - and she said that was my first doll that was taken away when I was eight months old, because I'd sucked its arms to pieces and it could no longer be washed and made presentable and hygienic. She wondered I could remember it.

I was a restless and anxious baby, and sucked my own thumbs raw. I was still doing this at age three and had mustard applied to them, bandages around my hands at night, and admonitions to be sensible. My parents apparently had no clue about the reason I was doing this; it always seemed to be treated as some sort of vice. I was terrified and I remember the terror. It was the first sensation of my dawning consciousness. There was a darkness and I was alone. The darkness was more than the physical darkness that came on and off in the day-night cycles of this planet. It was an ominous thing; it inhabited the air.

I don't remember anything specific apart from this - other than that I hated the sensation of lying in wet nappies from very early on, and cried, and learnt to cry when I knew it was coming. My mother's side of this story is that she took me to the doctor at three months because she'd find me in a purple fit and open my nappy to find it dry - and then I would immediately empty my bladder. The doctor was very practical and told her to hold me above a potty instead of letting me go on my nappy. My head had to be supported, but it worked. If there's any sceptics out there about early bladder control, they should read up about the African tribes that toilet train their babies from birth, to a sound cue, and hold them over the bushes - or research the Scandinavian concept of "elimination communication". It's a nice alternative to learned helplessness.

The first act of violence I distinctly remember in detail is when I was around three or four? I don't know, except that it happened in Italy and that the dining table still towered over the top of my head, because I remember that. There was yelling from the kitchen and then my father put my mother into the rubbish bin. I was mortified - and strangely I laughed, hysterically, in big sobs of brittle laughter that felt as if it was coming from someone else, and I was ashamed and horrified that I was laughing, and thinking I must be a bad person to do it. And then I sucked my thumbs even harder at night.

The episode disappeared under the surface of things. Nobody referred to it. People swanned around in their holiday clothes and went sailing. Whipped cream was served with the cake. What violence? It was always like that. It officially didn't happen. You were just crazy and had a vivid fantasy life. You'd been born neurotic, what else could be expected? You were a bad person to make such things up. You had a perfectly nice, happy family. So you stopped asking about it. And you sucked your thumb, and hid behind people, and were afraid of new people, and were "the problem child."

There is this saying in psychology that if parents bring their child to psychotherapy, it's they who really need the treatment. My mother went psychologist shopping until she found someone who agreed I was the problem and she was the victim. By this time, she'd made me into "the other woman" competing for her husband's affection. When I was six or seven, I overheard my primary school principal irately telling my father once, after listening to my mother going on about me and my ills, that my mother needed psychiatric treatment, not me. It was a little fairy light in a dark universe, a fairy light that said, "Maybe it's not true that you are a freak, that you are bad, that it's all your fault."

Other people were both hell and redemption. My family was unsafe, skating on this perfect disneyfied surface but turning into hell beneath on a regular basis, a hell that was afterwards denied and glossed over, until it ate everybody. Redemption was in people like my first primary school teacher, whom I had for two years: In her thirties, warm, colourful, encouraging, player of multiple musical instruments, facilitator of art and craft and stories, patient and highly competent instructor in grammar and spelling and mathematics. I secretly wanted to sit on her lap, to hug her, to tell her my troubles. I didn't, but she picked up a fair amount, I think, and was so helpful to me on my road.

Within six months of being in her class, I was no longer undersized and skinny, I had hope in my little heart, and lovely things to look forward to every weekday. I learnt to smile - I'm smiling on my Year 2 class photo, beaming ear to ear, delighted to be there - and I learnt that there were warm, safe people in this world. And I excelled academically, blossoming with the encouragement, and the acceptance of me as a person, which she gave me. Art classes were heaven. I loved to paint. I loved the new ideas she showed us, and the materials she brought in - the paints, the glitters, the matchsticks for making cute wooden hedgehogs with pointy noses. I loved her clowning, her involvement with us.

At home there was none of this. My mother cooked and cleaned the house and made sure I made my bed and did my homework, but it was like living with a caretaker, not a mother. We didn't do art and craft, or colouring - I was given colouring books to take to my room and do on my own. We didn't do storytimes, and if I came out of my bedroom wanting to read a book passage I'd just come across and loved out to my parents, their expressions froze, and they tried to find me other things to do that would get me out from under their feet. As a family, we played cards and board games - and my mother was always upset if she got beaten at the silly competitive games, and I learnt early on to make deliberate mistakes and let her win, to avoid that emotional fallout.

It was much more fun playing with my friends, who had non-competitive games like fishing for magnetic fish with a magnetic fishing rod, or loading up a mechanical donkey's basket with goods until its spring was activated and the donkey kicked up its hindquarters, scattering everything while we laughed and laughed. Or we played with plasticine - the hairdressing salon with the plasticine hair sprouting from dolls was particular fun - or we braided bracelets, or made flower crowns, or pretended to be fairies, or Indians, or veterinarians tending to our plush animal collections. We flew kites and rolled in the mud and rode our bicycles, and went to the dairy farm to brush the cows and help with milking. We went to the circus when it was in town, and begged to brush the ponies. My father was angry about that, saying that these people were exploiting child labour. I felt bad, but went back anyway, with my friends, breathing in the scents of the big animals I learnt to love.

And so I was a bit buffered, from what went on in my family. In those days, the violence was successfully concealed - it was done quietly, without the neighbours hearing, with promises of more painful punishments if you screamed. And of course, you always deserved what you got, which is the pattern in such families. The usual conflict point for me was when I didn't agree with something my parents said, or when I wanted something different to what they wanted, or when was tired of being insulted, and flung a name back at them for a change, or when I called my mother a bad mother because she would instruct my brother to beat me to spare her the dirty work. There was a lot of conflict with my mother when I was in primary school, over things like my not wanting to wear pink clothes and pointy shoes, or not liking sugar in my cream, and not eating it, or generally expressing personal preferences. My favourite colours were, variously, yellow, red, blue or green, early on; violet and other complex colours later. I didn't like pointy shoes, they hurt my feet - and I ended up with deformed toes from footwear like that, and from my feet getting too big for my shoes as I was growing.

Once we moved to Australia, the gloves were off. We were on a remote farm, and nobody could hear what was going on. Loud yelling and physical violence were now a daily reality. When not at school I hid in books, over my homework, under headphones, went walking on long walks to where I could not hear the yelling. I remember being 14 and waking up, once again, to raised and angry voices, and praying that one day, when I was an adult, I would have a family where people loved each other, and treated each other with decency, and enjoyed one another's company. It took a while, and the quest took wrong turns, but it did happen.

Emotional violence is a harder thing to detect than physical violence, especially if you grow up with it, and it's your daily "normal". There are no visible bruises, and you do not bleed, or swell up. The overt stuff is put-downs, gaslighting ("You're imagining things again!"), undermining your confidence - but there are also lots of very subtle versions of this, which I too did not fully understand until more recent years.

Here's an excellent website about this common problem - thank you, Veronica:

When I started under the current subheading, I wanted it to be a fun way to end this long scenic side trip, because I'd already gone some dark places before that - but this is so much worse.  However, I realised that trying to discuss the idiosyncrasies of my particular brain would not make sense without going down that particular vortex.  You have to know what shaped you, to make sense of your own mind.

Anyway, that's the backdrop of family life to which I had to find consolation elsewhere.  I was fortunate to grow up in places where nature loomed large - I really don't know how I would have coped had I been cooped up in endless suburbia on top of everything else - artificial places like that.  Access to wilderness areas was a huge thing in my favour.

You can see just how large nature loomed in the place we spent four months every year, in Italy.  These were the exact foothills and mountains behind the old town where I spent many hours, over many days, walking with the dog as a child, getting away from that atmosphere described in my journal extract:


It's an image I found online, but it best represented what the place looked and felt like to me, and looking at it now, I can see exactly why, once we got to Australia, I eventually made my home on the South Coast:  Because here too are mountains, extraordinary shorelines and wilderness - which is exactly what I deeply bonded with as a child.

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That last photo captured my unconscious "Wow!" gesture as I went down the steps to this little beach we discovered a couple of months back.  I first lived on the South Coast in 1994, we've both lived here since 2008, and we are still discovering new places because this is such a wonderland...

Here's a short clip I found of one of our favourite places - it's amazing how few people know about this mountain, which has a cave on top.  Yes really!  A cave you have to climb through...

...and once you get out of the other side, you see this - like Lord Of The Rings...


I can't go to places like this, and not feel that it's something far bigger and more profound that human beings and their troubles.  I am instantly lifted by being in places like this - they're like enormous natural cathedrals against which anything of human construction simply pales in comparison.  And if you let it, nature will embrace you.

Here's a song which always expressed that well for me.

I first heard that when I was 14, and seriously beginning to get into alternative music.  Here's a few other "landscape" songs that were significant to me as a teenager, starting with another Waterboys song which really "gets" both connection to landscape, and to life:

It wasn't until I first came down to the South Coast in 1994 that I found a landscape that matched the power of that song!

Another song that was significant to me:

This song fitted me well because I had a habit of going out when rainstorms came in at night, just to experience their power - and frontal storms in Western Australia are often deluges, like turning the tap on full in the shower.  There was no point taking an umbrella, as the gusts would turn it inside out, and I didn't have a proper raincoat, so I went in jeans and a jumper, and when I returned after walking around in the downpour for an hour or so in the bushland around the farm where we lived, I'd hang my clothes up off the line and towel myself dry.  My parents rarely knew I went out; I'd sneak out quietly after bedtime and walk in the dark, without a torch.  There's actually a lot of ambient light once you go out at night and your eyes adjust, even when there's a new moon - just the stars make quite a bit of light, unless they're behind cloud.  If it was really pitch black, I'd play a game of 'trust' - I would find my way around by touch.  I remember a number of really amazing thunderstorms I witnessed over '85/'86/'87 - those were the best, with their sky shows and electricity.  So, Step in, step out of the rain was exactly what I was doing, and this song was a pretty good soundtrack of how that experience felt.

I tell you what does it even better though - and these were later discoveries, in my adulthood.  The first ten minutes of this:

And this:

Both of these tracks have a raw power to them, and light and darkness, and the same amazing grandeur you can witness standing on a remote floodplain at night in a full-on thunderstorm, with lights flashing off everywhere and thunder shaking you and water pouring down from the sky -  as I did repeatedly as a high schooler.  These were spiritual experiences to me, things that gave me hope and recharged me.

Here's a song about confronting art made by survivors of Hiroshima, which I was very drawn to growing up.  It's incredibly evocative, and conjures up landscapes for me like every other song in this section:

The next song is forever associated in my mind with a six-hour impromptu daytime walk I did sneaking away one day on my own, following the Harvey River all the way up to the Peel-Harvey Estuary when I was 16.  I remember the sea birds flying off the estuary as a sheet, and filling the sky:

And finally a rousing track that works for me for both physical and metaphorical journeys, and has done that since I was 14:

All these songs have a sense of power and hope in them, which is enormously useful if you have some dark things to deal with.

♦ ♥ ♦

By the way, the top of Mt Talyuberlup looks like this, after you go out the other side of the cave, and turn right, and climb up this little goat track until you're on the actual summit, on top of the cave - this is us in the cairn in 2018:

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And the view east out of the circular summit cairn:

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That tall mountain in the middle distance with the three spires is Toolbrunup, on the central spire of which Brett proposed to me nearly 12 years ago.  Since then, I can never glimpse the shape of that mountain on the horizon without my heart flying upwards in me.  It's so lastingly lovely to me, and so fitting given everything, that he asked where he did - in the wilderness, and not in the human zoo.

♦ ♥ ♦

I'm conscious of leapfrogging around a bit trying to get to my destination.  I wanted to stay with the 14-year-old, but when I talk about dark things in the past, it's inevitably painful, like any grief is painful - it never completely leaves, but is gets less sharp and you learn to live with it over time, like broken glass buried under enough sand.   So, every now and then I have to come up for air and look at our present reality, which is a good reality.

Getting back to commonalities with the positives that people like Michael Pollan report from their mushroom trips: Deep connection with nature, deep awareness of interconnectedness, deep appreciation of all that, seeing yourself as part of something bigger - that's all true for me.  And so is having a huge transformative experience I can look back on, which changed a lot of things for me.  I don't generally talk about this in public, so this is going to be a bit of an undertaking.  And, it takes me back to that 14-year-old.

So: When I was 14 years old, I had an unexpected and profoundly spiritual experience that changed my life and my thinking enormously, ever after.  I didn't talk about it with anyone, or even mention having such a thing, for many months afterwards, in part because I felt that words were completely inadequate to express this experience.  It would cheapen it somehow.  When I did start to allude to it, it was in response to other people bringing up related topics in discussion.  I could say, "Something like X has happened to me."  But, I would not describe it, because I couldn't.

As I got older, I got better with words, and I read profusely about these sorts of experiences, which allowed me to compare notes.  I started to talk about that experience carefully sometimes, always prefacing with the dilemma in trying to talk about it:  Imagine you have seen a face beautiful beyond anything you even imagined possible, and then someone gives you a piece of rough charcoal and some paper, and says to right-handed you, "Please draw me what this face looked like with your left hand."  You might be able to point to aspects of the experience, but you can never adequately depict it.

One of the reasons I included that extract from my online journal earlier is because I think it's good for readers to know the context in which this experience took place.  It will be pretty obvious that home life wasn't happy, and that it regularly entered the principalities of hell.  I had nobody to talk to about any of this, and carried it on my narrow kid shoulders for my whole childhood, forever absorbing absorbing absorbing more horrible stuff.  It was particularly bad in my middle school years, when I was physically isolated on a remote farm with my family, and attending school was my only form of social contact with my peers - the school bus took me there and back each weekday, and there were no opportunities to spend time with friends after hours.  If things got too much at home, I'd take a walk, maybe take a book down to some secret places I found on the river bank.

When I was 13, I had decided to give up crying.  I was determined not to give my family members the satisfaction of obvious pain any longer, when they insulted or hit me, or devised other ways to hurt me.  I cultivated a stony face and nonchalance, and kept my feelings bottled up.  They'd try to hurt harder, and I'd just go away mentally.  (Psychologists call this dissociating.)  I thought I'd found a better way to manage these scenarios, to keep my dignity intact - but underneath, I was still paying the price.

One evening, there was a violent argument, and I ended up on the ground getting punched in the face and ribs and bleeding from my nose.  This was so violent an incident that my mother, who normally both perpetrated and incited violence against me, attempted uncharacteristically to restrain my father.  The cynic in me thinks that happened because she became afraid that I might end up in hospital or dead, and then there would be some explaining to do that might out the family's dirty secret and decrease their respectability in the eyes of the world.  (My parents have never apologised to me for their violence towards me as a child.  If they regretted any of that, they didn't show it; not when I brought it up with them repeatedly as an adult either.)  I was a kid who worked hard at school and to pitch in with family chores.  I kept my room clean and did my homework and won academic prizes.  Punch-ups would happen over things like music and differences of opinion - and one memorable time over my having put a poster of a male pop star wearing make-up and a kaftan on my bedroom wall.

That particular night, my mother shoved my father off me and told me to run.  He was quickly in pursuit of both of us.  My mother told me to get in the bathroom and lock the door.  She stood in front of the door and there was a screaming match, and threats from my father to break down the door if I didn't unlock it.  I took one look at the narrow window, removed the flyscreen, and squeezed myself through it into the night.  I ran and didn't stop running until I was far away from the house, safely hidden in the bushland and the night, and completely out of breath.

And then I went to pieces emotionally.  I'd not cried for over a year at that point, but now the dam broke and everything flooded, and all the horror and loneliness and despair of the situation I was living with, and had been living with for all my life, just hit me full-on.  I was bruised and bleeding and full of adrenaline and tears, and I felt so terribly alone in the world.  I wondered what was the point in even trying, and why justice wasn't available to people like me, and why people had children at all if they couldn't love them.  I wished the ground could just open up and swallow me.

And then suddenly I was filled with light, and it was as if another dimension had opened up all around me.  It was as if I was soaring off into infinity, and meeting the infinite.  Everything I had known and thought significant dropped away until I saw how tiny that was, and how vast and unstoppable the light that now blazed all around and inside of me.  And there was love.

Not as I had conceived of it, but love showing its true face to me, and an infinity of it, and it both took me in, and filled me up until I was completely overflowing, and where there had been cold and despair and loneliness and pain there was now only warmth and gentleness and healing and intimacy and bliss.  There was so much bliss I was struggling to breathe.  I felt like I was going to explode out of my skin, like I was going to take off like a firework, like I was going to turn into a comet and go flying off into the vastness of the universe, all the while enveloped in this infinite light and warmth which was everywhere, and which was eternally unstoppable.

JMW Turner, The Morning After The Deluge

Just a reminder, that's only a rough charcoal sketch of that experience...

The way I interpreted that experience as a 14-year-old, and the way I interpret it looking back over 30 years later, are very different.  As an adult looking back, especially post complex PTSD diagnosis five years ago, I'm so well versed in psychology and in human brain biochemistry - and these are lenses I absolutely didn't have at age 14.  I've heard so many podcasts with people discussing out-of-the-blue experiences like this and what they made of them, and how that changed over time for them, as their world views altered.

What I see looking back is a teenage brain at crisis point and very close to giving up, and for good reasons.  I see a warm-hearted, complicated kid in a cold universe, who is extremely emotionally starved and has noone to go to with very difficult and painful problems.  Children need love, support, emotional nurturing, encouragement.  Babies who aren't held can develop failure to thrive - they get physically ill, don't gain weight or grow and develop normally.  I was held a bit as a baby, but also left on my own a lot, and my mother really disconnected from me when I was two or three and, like every other toddler, developing into a little person with opinions and preferences.  I was skinny and plagued with physical illness throughout my childhood, especially my early childhood.  I caught up in size and my health improved when I had the good fortune to have two years of warmth, support and stability courtesy of my wonderful Year 1/2 teacher.  It was other people outside of my immediate family of origin who saved me, who saw me, who thought I wasn't a waste of space - significant adults like my first teacher, the parents of some of my school friends, a few neighbours in Italy, my art teacher in middle school, most of my teachers in senior school, random senior citizens on the bus.  Their kindness and openness mattered.  (And please, be that kind of person to someone, even just on the bus - smile and acknowledge people, show them courtesy and be open - it's good practice anyway, and you don't know how significant that can be to some of the people you might randomly encounter.  The world is full of venom.  Make anti-venom.  Start chain reactions of kindness and hope.)

Of course, I couldn't go to them about what was going on in my family - as a child you're too ashamed and terrified and you fear losing those people if you confide in them - but I know some of them could see it, especially after they met my parents and saw their interactions with me.  My senior school English teacher actually wrote a letter to the school principal about it, which he CCd to me - saying he could see I was unsupported emotionally and in other ways at home, and would staff please keep that in mind and help me out and not think I was just some bomb-proof high achiever.  Reading that letter, part of me went, "Wow, things could be different, should be different at home!" - because most of the time, you're too busy trying to survive to think about that much, and too engaged in activities that promote your survival, like homework, and journalling, and reading, and listening to music on headphones, and going on walks - getting qualified so you can become independent, and DIY therapy, when you really look at it.  It's so valuable when adults take the time to mirror accurately for young people who may be getting really distorted un-funhouse-mirroring at home... to mirror their good qualities back for them, and to say what they see.  What you want is to promote good outcomes, so a young adult from a troubled background can say this as they go into the world:

As an adult looking back on that transformative experience I had as a 14-year-old, I am now so aware of what a human brain under duress will do in order to survive.  I'm so aware too that my brain was just bursting into formal-operational thinking at the time, and that the experience I had coincided with an explosion of new connections being made, with a huge opening up of my world view, with the onset of critical thinking, with a flood of adolescent sexual chemistry.  These things were correlated in me.  Correlation and causation are not the same thing, of course - and I can't make any black-and-white conclusions about what was really going on, in objective reality - whatever that is, and considering I don't think we have nearly as much access to that as we like to think.

People can have experiences like that spontaneously, as I did, especially under duress.  They can have them mushroom tripping, they can have them as a result of temporal lobe epilepsy, they can have them after long bouts of sleep deprivation, they can have them after brain injuries, they can have them as part of psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder.  You can see such experiences as extreme mental/emotional phenomena, as constructs thrown up by the brain under certain circumstances when the brain is "leaky" and temporarily not in its railroaded normal getting-on-with-daily life mode, entirely internally generated, and sometimes, as in my case, with huge survival value.  I am very much, these days, tending to that point of view.  But that's not how a lot of people see it, and it's not how I saw it at 14.

JMW Turner, The Angel Standing In The Sun

At 14, when I was in hell one moment and then inexplicably flying around the universe the next, so completely filled with and surrounded by light and joy it felt like I would burst into a stream of happy silvery meteors and ricochet around the space-time continuum for all of eternity, when I was wide-eyed seeing infinity instead of constraints, warmth instead of ice, hope instead of despair, and a big-L Love that completely embraced me, and everything was dropping away around me to make room for endless beautiful space, and eternity literally took me by the hand and said hello, I quite reasonably thought I had met God.

Depending on how you define God, maybe I did.

I was not from a religious household, and my grandmother, the only person in my family with whom I had a warm and happy relationship (and whom I saw only once after we came to Australia), laughed when she told me a funny anecdote once about the time I was six and explained to her that I was giving up on angels and Santa Claus, "Because Granny, they've sent astronauts up there, and it's just space and stars, and they didn't see angels or Santa, or God!" :angel

When I was reading back through that recount above of the night I had that transformative experience, I joked to Brett, "It was really just Dr Who pointing his sonic screwdriver at my brain, reversing the polarity!" :rofl

At the time though, it felt really personal, and I embraced it, and ran with it.  I decided I had met God, and that I was going to have faith in this experience.  I also decided that the God I had met was very, very different to the God I had been told about at school, and in popular culture.


God didn't have a beard, and wasn't a vengeful dictator.  God wasn't watching you so he could catch you slipping up and make black marks against you in a book that would be referred to in order to torture you after the apocalypse.  All those ideas of God can be traced back to the effects of dysfunctional parenting on the human psyche.  It's just a big case of, "Wait till your father gets home!"

And the "God-experience" I had wasn't like that at all.  It was beautiful and blissful and respectful and warm and benign, and incredibly powerful, and encouraging, and supportive, and mindblowing, and everything amazing. It said, "Let me help you.  Here's some waves you can ride across space-time, and through your own life.  Here's light that can transform you, and you can be a lamp filled with this light."

It also said, "I'm sorry, but they are wrong, and you don't deserve this.  You deserve to be loved.  I'm the real source of you, and I care about your life, and I love who you are, and who you are becoming."  That sounds kind of nice on this virtual paper, but in the actual experience, the thing that struck me so deeply was that God wasn't interested in punishing me, only in knowing me, and in filling me with light and love, and in inviting me to dance.  And I can't even begin to convey the sense of infinity that went with that, and how that made everything so indescribably astonishing.  I'm trying here to use greyscale to give a hint of an idea of the colours that I saw, and had never seen before.

At 14, as a direct result of all this, I became a very unconventional and largely standalone and broadly Christian mystic.  That sort of happened because the same month I had this experience, we were all given little red pocket-sized New Testaments at school, by a visitor from The Gideons.  Some of the boys in the class ran out into recess to use pages they tore from these books as toilet paper, and tell everyone that's what they were doing.  These were the stupid boys in our class, and some of them were hurtful bullies to boot.

I decided I wasn't going to judge something I hadn't read.  I'd just finished The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and was between books, so why not?

It's a good thing they didn't give us full Bibles, because if I'd started with Genesis, I'd have given up on my reading pretty quickly.  But, this started me smack bang in the Gospels, and those contain lengthy tracts of beautiful and inspirational reading (and we'd been given a language version that wasn't dumbed down, and was all poetic prose).  The ideas about love and life in these passages were consistent with my own "God-experience" - they were inclusive and expansive and transformative.

When I got to The Apostle Paul, I got really outraged by the contrast, and attempted to resign from my newfound spirituality.  I said, "This is stupid, and it's unjust, and if that's how it is, I quit!"  But that's not how it was... for around two and a half years after my initial "God-experience" I was able to slip back into that alternative universe whenever I wanted, to compare notes.  And when I dipped back in, it was, "Hello, yes, that's fine, that's just someone's human opinions, don't let it bother you, come sail on the infinite light."

And I never afterwards took seriously for long anything I was reading that was inconsistent with the overwhelming sense of love and justice of my own "God-experience" - not in the Bible, not in other "holy books" and not in secular literature either.  This, as you can imagine, made me generally uncomfortable with organised religion.  I got on well with Quakers because they're completely undogmatic and concerned mostly with social justice and environmental stewardship, which are also huge areas of interest for me.  I could work with that.  I was also surprised, much later, in my late 20s, that I could work in the Catholic school system without getting uncomfortable - obviously I'm not comfortable with the systematic paedophilia amongst what the Catholic laity call "the Career Catholics" (or with the systematic paedophilia which also rears its ugly head amongst secular power structures involved with the education and welfare of young people, by the way), but a classroom full of kids there was like any other classroom, nobody interfered with the Science curriculum (just don't try teaching at Evangelical schools), and there were philosophical points of overlap I really appreciated.

I never had any issues reconciling my spirituality with my intellectual life.  I didn't need God as an explanation for the universe, and I thought the fundamentalist ideas about God were harmful to both religion and science (not to mention people).  I saw God as Love, basically - not as something to beat people over the head with.  When I ceased to believe in a personal God in my 30s, my values remained much the same.  A Buddhist once said to me, "Ah! Dismount your donkey at the summit." ...very true.  You can have a rough landing from the dismount, but you'll still be in a place with a good view.

I think Alain de Botton gets so much of how this works (, and I love many of his talks and basic philosophies, and the concept of never throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  At 14, having that experience and subsequently believing in a personal God was something that allowed me to be re-parented on a psychological level, and for a significant amount of the damage that was done to me in childhood to be undone.  It was very helpful to feel truly loved when there was noone else to help, and to have running internal dialogues about the things that mattered to you.  It was very helpful to not feel alone when something terrible happened, and to be able to process the many subsequent experiences of family violence between that night and when I left home at age 16, by dialoguing about them internally with a God you believed in who loved you - instead of pushing these things behind The Great Wall Of China.  It was good to cry and to express your grief openly, in your own safe space, away from the people who were doing this to you, and not feel alone or uncared for.

Michael Leunig, Australian national treasure ♥

Something I find really interesting is that when my complex PTSD eventually manifested in a stream of sudden vivid nightmares five years ago, none of the flashbacks were from 14+.  They were all from before I had that transformative experience.  After that experience, I was processing these things, so while those memories are still difficult to talk about and are never going to be easy, they also never returned to terrorise me in the middle of the night - unlike the unprocessed experiences.

It's instructive in that context to look at the current work on the potential role of psychedelic agents for the treatment of depression and anxiety (see the Michael Pollan podcast link earlier, and also  They hinge on the production of a "leaky brain" type transformative experience.  If they can be therapeutically produced, that might work for some people.  Of course, I think those things are butterflies, and you have to avoid chasing them too much to really get one to sit on your shoulder.

♦ ♥ ♦

Well, that's been quite a ride.  The thing about journalling is that the tangents are inevitable, and often as important as the main theme you came to the table with in the first place.  You never know where a sudden urge to follow a thought around a corner may lead you.  :)

Music, books and film can all make excellent springboards for examining and clarifying our own points of view, and juxtaposing our own experiences with those of others.  These things can tap you on the shoulder, and 5000 words may fall out before you know it.  I've seen it in me for a long time, and I've seen it many times in high schoolers doing free-response music and book projects.  It's good to go there.  These things humanise us, and help us understand the world and each other. ♥

PS: This was not a postscript to the main topic, it was just an aside. ;)  I've still got all of CD-4 to go - after a little holiday from writing furiously. :angel
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on October 13, 2019, 01:11:48
Side note on re-watching the Opera House gig from May for the first time since it was streamed live - which meant watching it complete for the first time, without the signal dropping out and costing us a couple of songs in the middle:  The difference is also that we were now watching after getting, and getting familiar with, their B-sides box set.  The reason we ordered Join The Dots is because what we saw at the Opera House gig impressed us.  We really enjoyed those B-sides for which a lot of nincompoops gave them flak on Reddit and in mainstream concert reviews, and that gig is the first time we heard a lot of the ones they chose for that night.

By the way, we just loved the instrumentals they played near the start of the show.  Each time we sit down to watch a Cure concert, we're just impressed afresh by how together and professional their shows are.  I've been to, and seen on video, some gigs by some international artists I like where I was very disappointed with the singing, for instance - a fair few singers just seem to take shortcuts on stage and abbreviate a phrase, or skip some notes.  I don't think singers (or instrumentalists) have to sound exactly like on the records when playing live, I like when people improvise and change things, but not when I'm under the impression that they're just taking the easy road, that they actually couldn't sound like they do on the recordings even if they wanted to.

Great live bands actually sound better live than in the studio - no matter how good their studio material might be.  We both think The Cure are a really amazing live band - I've never been disappointed watching them play, or hearing Robert Smith sing in a concert - and there was a fun spot in that gig we watched last night where there was a great demonstration of lung capacity and a note just went on and on until it filled the whole house, and we were looking at each other after what seemed like an impossibly long time, "Is he going to fall over now or what???"  Or what.  :rofl  Just excellent.

Whoever shot and edited the film side of that gig did a really great job too (and on the hop - for a live stream).  I like a live film to clarify for me who is playing what (when there's multiple guitarists etc), and I like it to not just focus endlessly on some band members at the expense of others.  There's a lot of concert films where you hardly ever get to see the drummer at work, or the bassist - but the rhythm section is so important, and underpins so much musically, and I find it frustrating when I hardly get a glimpse of that.  I like it when people shoot and edit a gig in a way that's more equitable.  Yes, we should see the singer singing, but that's not all we should see, and we don't have to have the camera on them every time their mouth is open either.  I love the way this gig was shot, and Trilogy was shot as well - it supported the enjoyment of the music for us, and of watching how people put music together, and was educational rather than just presenting some kind of visual spectacle or saying, "Look, eye candy!" as lots of pop films do, for instance (I need a vomit emoji!).

When Brett was getting into The Cure in the late 90s, he bought two of their live albums first.  He tells me he always starts with a live album (if available) when he's listening to a new-to-him band, because if they're crap live, he doesn't actually want their studio albums.

LIttle update:  WIll definitely be getting back to this after I've dealt with a few deadlines.  It's never a good idea to start on a recreational tapeworm when supposed to be working on other stuff,  Meanwhile, I will post a little ditty on the experience of doing this B-sides open-journalling exercise.  It came about because of a rule I have that if I don't fill in daily entry sections in my paper journal, I have to retrospectively fill them with nonsense ditties.


Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 05, 2019, 06:26:02

OK, I'm ready to write about this, but in dribs and drabs, because it's going to be a long one!

A (repeated) heads-up:  This isn't a review, it's a personal open-journalling exercise in response to the material on Join The Dots.

As mentioned in a "preview" post above - in fact so far above, owing to lengthy scenic side trips, I'll put in a link:  ...I really like this CD, and there's lots to talk about. There is only one song on it I actively dislike, for personal reasons, and I'll explain why when I get to it.

I will be working chronologically through the CD, starting with the opener Home, which I prefer to its A-side both musically and lyrically, being the ornery individual I am.  :evil:  :angel

So, Robert Smith has a way of writing about love relationships which is sometimes really lovely, sometimes alarming, sometimes exasperating, and sometimes capable of generating a fair bit of cognitive dissonance in me personally - and sometimes I'm not entirely clear on which of these it is, or something else.  For discussion of an alarming example, see here:

Also, I've just read and responded to a thread which deals with some of that dissonance: - and I think that this is going to impact on the way I'm going to look at Home today, in that I'm not just going to discuss its most charitable interpretation - a man, perhaps after an attack of foot-in-mouth disease, writing a cathartic piece about the frustrations of trying to communicate something important-but-difficult-to-verbalise to their partner, and having it all backfire.

But to have the miscommunication backfire to the point that your partner is crying does make me wonder if the context has something to do with the tears - rather than just the verbal bumbling.  As people far removed from someone else's personal situation, we don't get the context, unless it's specifically (and fully, and honestly) presented to us - and that's not something we usually get, or should expect to get.

However, stuff like this does make you generally think about relationships, which is a good thing.  So, I'm going to discuss a few general relationship scenarios which would make tears and disappointment natural when someone is trying to say something they seem to feel is nice to you.  I'd like to do that in the context of these lyrics:

Every time I try to tell you how I feel inside
I always make the same mistake
Tie myself in knots
Sometimes even make you cry
When all I ever want to say
Is "Nobody else in the whole wide world
Makes me feel this way...
Nobody else in the whole wide world
Takes my breath away"

Makes me feel so strange inside
Dazed, confused and starry-eyed
I couldn't love you more

Makes me feel the wrong way round
Inside out and upside down
I couldn't love you more

And every time I try to tell you what I really mean
Nothing seems to come out right
And I end up murmuring foolishly it makes me want to scream
How I get so stupefied

On the one hand, this could simply be a case of, "Here it is, I've managed to write down the words I wanted, and what I was unable to say face to face before."

On the other, both a difficult context and even the actual words could potentially lead to disappointment.

Let's take as a "difficult context" example a relationship where there has been infidelity, for whatever reason.  In a situation like that, if your straying partner tries to sweet-talk you with lofty words, it could have the opposite effect to what would happen in a context not involving infidelity - and yet, sometimes people don't get this, probably because lacking the empathy to put themselves emotionally in the position of their hurt partner.

Adopt, as a mental exercise, those two different contexts.  Context 1, no infidelity, generally happy relationship, and your partner writes you the words cited above.  Context 2, infidelity has been a part of the package, you're still raw, and your partner writes you those words - how are you feeling, in each scenario?  How are you responding?  (You can invent and respond to other hypothetical contexts as well.  Contexts vary, and are always important in how someone's words are received.)

As people aren't clones, I'd expect a range of answers to the above hypotheticals.

The purpose of these hypotheticals is not to speculate on the personal life of the writer, but to learn something about context, about the complexities of relationships, and about ourselves as individuals.

Leaving the discussion of context (which we could spend pages on alone), I'd now like to explain how the words from the song above could make me uneasy if they were directed at me, in a relationship not involving infidelity.  It's because while they are very sweet, they also represent a kind of immature vision of love - love as "you make me feel wonderful in all these different ways" - and that's very much "I love ice-cream, it makes me feel so wonderful" love - it's what's not being said that's the problem here.  It's love entirely from the perspective of the benefits of you to me, what you can do for me, of what your effect is on my feelings - it's very one-sided, and very limited.  It's not about how I love trying to enrich your own experience and quality of life because I love you, or about how I love your values and principles and integrity and humour and the things you're trying to do with your life, and how I want to support you in that; and how I love that this is also how you see me, and how you look at me, and how you support me.

By the way, the "I love ice-cream, it makes me feel so wonderful" aspect is a part of mature love as well, it's just that it's only one aspect of love, and it's a real problem if that's all you've got (or if that's all you're going to say).

I understand that a song is not a PhD, it's a necessarily quite limited vehicle length-wise for trying to express something you're focusing on at a particular time - it's more of a short story, and less of a novel, and therefore, sometimes you just can't explore more than just a tiny aspect of something complicated.

Having said that, I'd have fewer concerns about this take on love, because it's a bit more multifaceted:

This is coming from a person in their mid-20s, and I'm taking that into account here - because even with this song, some of the lyrics and concepts would worry me if they were directed at me - most of all, the "save my soul" bit - your partner is not your rescuer, you're each responsible for your own soul, your own self - but of course it's OK to acknowledge how others are helpful to you on top of your own sincere efforts to deal with your life.

By the way, both these singers are people who met their life partners in high school and report happy marriages of 30-plus years at this end of history, which is quite a feat.  And they're also both singers who wrote songs as presents for their wives, and I happen not to particularly like either of the most famous of these songs - not Lovesong (why here and not The Sweetest Thing, which I find terribly saccharine.  I'm generally uncomfortable with "you make me feel..." stuff as well, because often it raises the spectre of co-dependency (or at least your partner as a fairground ride) and I want to see more than that, like an understanding of personal responsibility for the self, or love that's more than ice-cream love, before I can get enthusiastic about it.

Perhaps that's why instrumentals usually convey love better for me.  ;)

And I've not even talked about the musical aspects of the song Home yet - the pace of it, the inclusion of strings (or faux strings, I might need a hearing aid), etc etc.

But, isn't it great when songs make us think - and think for ourselves, instead of defer to others. :heart-eyes  Amongst the greatest gifts you can give other people are unconditional love (with boundaries, of course) - and encouraging them to learn, and to think, thoroughly, critically, independently and fearlessly.

More later.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on November 05, 2019, 16:49:16
Quote from: SueC on November 05, 2019, 06:26:02And I've not even talked about the musical aspects of the song Home yet - the pace of it, the inclusion of strings (or faux strings, I might need a hearing aid), etc

As far as I remember, the band used "real" strings during the recording of "Wild Mood Swings", thus (of course) any b-sides from that era should have a real string quartet on them too!

(Found this info from "discogs":
Strings [String Quartet] - Audrey Riley, Chris Tombling, Leo Payne, Sue Dench)

Personally, I thought these strings gave some of the songs a "depth" which otherwise wouldn't be there. (If you listen to older tracks, e.g. "Sinking", the band often used keyboards and made them sound like strings, thus it was a good idea to use real strings in my opinion.)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 06, 2019, 02:07:43
Thank you very much for digging that up, @Ulrich! :)  I was pretty sure they used real strings but have misplaced the sleeve notes from Wild Mood Swings - twenty years from now, I'll probably find them in an obscure book (I have a bad habit of making things I shouldn't into impromptu bookmarks).  And for this exercise here, I've avoided going online to look stuff up because I'd rather not have too much information / song interpretations etc, to affect my first run through.  I generally enjoy the riddles, and then look up alternative hypotheses / interviews later to see what I've missed. :)

Generally speaking, real strings have more personality than synth imitation, but that can be increasingly hard to pick because the imitations are becoming better all the time, and if it's just backing with fairly even playing, and you're listening on an iPod and dealing with the evils of data compression and on-the-run headphones... That's how I have to do a lot of it during the working day - using the proper sound system is an after-hours luxury... I'm currently doing bushfire safety preparations which is standard for this time of year in Australia, and mowing and pruning fire risks away while listening to music and then coming in during coffee breaks to write about the music...

I agree very much that strings can potentially add a lot of depth to songs, and they do to Home, and to my favourite tracks off Wild Mood Swings - namely Jupiter Crash and Treasure. long as the violinists stay off the E-strings... ;)  ...much torture has been caused to my ears by screechy E-strings and screechy sopranos engaged in vibrato at the high end...  :1f629:

I like the feel of those particular songs from the Wild Mood Swings sessions, as well as their themes.  I generally like the album as a whole too, just I avoid two tracks on it like the plague, namely Mint Car and The 13th.  I knew Mint Car from "before" - from the radio - and have never liked that song, and in part it's like generally enjoying ee cummings' poetry but really disliking she being Brand-new; Mint Car reminds me of that poem, and in itself has features I don't care for, and isn't music I like.  :expressionless:  The 13th, I really don't enjoy the theme of that at all, plus when I hear the music, I feel like I'm being attacked by a horde of loud Hawaiian shirts.  But I'm sure someone else enjoys pineapple, and it's easy enough post cassettes and vinyl to skip tracks that give you a rash.

We're currently playing The Top a fair bit after acquiring it last year, and both enjoying the Eastern sounds on it, and I actually really love the title track off that album.  But neither of us liked the B-sides from that on CD-1.  Funny how that goes.  I generally like good bands' B-sides as much as their main material, because I generally like experimental stuff, and to hear another side to someone's music - traditionally a less commercially viable side which I often find is a plus for the sound.  For instance, I've enjoyed most of the post-mid-80s Cure B-sides I've heard, and many of U2's B-sides from all sorts of eras, and also I love the Fisherman's Blues outtakes stuff from Mike Scott - the Too Close To Heaven CD - particularly The Ladder is just cartwheel-inducing as a track...  :angel

Ah well, back to mowing and some more B-sides, I suppose...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 06, 2019, 04:54:32
Next-up on CD-4 is Waiting, which seems to me to most likely be a song about missing your home and your spouse during work-related travels (/touring).  I like the way the words to that are written; the imagery used, the sketchiness of it.  There's a bit of reflecting and trying to make sense of the world and the self:

But if I don't believe in magic
And I don't believe in blood
And I don't believe in miracles
And I don't believe in love
Then how come I believe so soon
In a cherry tree girl
And a dust blue room?

...Then how come I believe it seems
In a girl called Home
And a world called dreams?

So the first three references - magic, blood, miracles - are commonly associated with Christianity, but also with voodoo etc, and general woo-woo (draw your Venn diagram of these any way you like).  Love is more widely contested as a general theme, and it's pretty sad to not believe in it, but I guess that depends on your definition of what it is, and your personal context.  Generally I would say that love is something I value (if not "believe in" - on reflection) personally, but I see love more as a doing thing, a caring thing and general respect and personal responsibility for your own stuff, than a whole bunch of pink emotional clouds, or something that's going to come along and save you, and solve all your problems - whether that be in a religious or a romantic context, which is where "love as rescue" is most commonly applied.  That kind of stuff I'm not so keen on.  I'd probably have to write a lengthy essay to explore that properly, but I'm really not in the mood for that right now.

Once, on my home forum, a friend started a topic, "Do You Believe In Love?" and unfortunately, not only was the context pink and fluffy, but she also posted the Huey Lewis & The News track of the same name, which I loathe.  She then tried very hard to get a "yes" out of me and I just couldn't give it to her, wouldn't.  I spent quite a while discussing definitions, assumptions and implications; talking about how the Greeks have multiple words for various aspects of it, like the Inuit have many words for snow, and how that is actually really helpful for avoiding misunderstandings.  I can't sign up for the way that term is commonly used either in trashy pop songs or religion.  (I will make the distinction that I was fine with Martin Luther King's working model of love and the way he defined various aspects of it in his book Strength To Love, and also with much of the take on it in the gospels - that was far, far less dysfunctional than what was being displayed to me in my family of origin, or in much of wider society.)

I think though that rather than toss a word or concept out because it's much abused, it's better to reclaim it, and to explain very clearly what this does and does not mean for you.

So, our protagonist above doesn't believe in magic, blood, miracles or love, but somehow believes in home and his girl (if I'm re-phrasing that correctly, and this may not be what was intended, of course), and wonders why this is so.

OK, I'm going to be naughty here and say that the protagonist seems to be something of an empiricist, and that the proof of the pudding has been in the eating. :angel

Anyway, it's a nice little contemplation on life, the universe and everything, and again something to make you think as a listener as well.  For me, that's always a sort of unavoidable reflex - trying to figure out other people's values, working hypotheses (/dogmas in the less astute) etc and then comparing notes.

Musically, I found this track fairly neutral - it didn't particularly grab me, but it didn't particularly repel me either.  However, the next track... well, that's the track I was referring to earlier when I said there was one track on this CD I actively dislike.

A Pink Dream has several features which pretty much guarantee I'm going to run from a room making retching noises if I can't turn it off or hold my ears shut.  I have pretty intense emotional and visceral reactions to music, which is wonderful if I'm listening to stuff I really enjoy, but conversely also very trying if I'm in a place where stuff is getting piped over a PA and I can do nothing about it and something that horrifies me comes on.

With A Pink Dream - yes, I did make myself listen to it several times over to be fair, and that had about the same effect as getting stung by a bee if you're already sensitised - it just exacerbated my reaction to it with each listen, so now I don't.  The very start instantly turns my stomach with its suction noises - one of my pet hates is having to listen to other people's real or simulated body-function noises - I always feel they should go see a doctor or get a room, whichever is more applicable.

There's just nothing about this particular track I like, and much that gives me a rash - the suction noises, the music, the lyrics, some of the implications.  There's ways of reminiscing about old flames that make songs I enjoy, and ways of doing that which I really don't.  The old Fleetwood Mac track Gypsy is an example I enjoy, as is Suzanne Vega's track of the same name, as is her Songs In Red And Gray, as is Jackson Browne's In The Shape Of A Heart, and Paul Kelly's Winter Coat, to name a few.  All of those tracks have a grace and a thoughtfulness to them which A Pink Dream decidedly lacks.

I'll close with one of them.  Paul Kelly may not be very well known outside of Australia, so this is a good opportunity to share.  This isn't his best thing musically, but he's always an excellent lyricist and story-teller.

More next time.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 06, 2019, 18:20:03
This brings us to This Is A Lie - a lovely ambient version of the song, where the string arrangements really come to the fore, and everything sounds gorgeous and profound.

But, I'm going to debate its lyrics big time.

There's already a prelude to the following discussion of the lyrics of This Is A Lie here:

I'm going to re-post here my responses to that thread, and then expand on those.

♦ ♥ ♦

Quote from: undefinedIn "This Is a Lie", one of the most sombre songs on "Wild Mood Swings", you describe life as a lie. You sing that every love relationship is a lie, since by choosing one person, you deny everyone else in the world, without being able to know if you have made the right choice or not. That you only pretend, all the way until the end. Is this something that you feel very strongly or is this only a thought?

It is something that I feel strongly since I don't think it can be any other way. It is like that. No one can be sure. But you can't walk around thinking about it either, you would become insane...

It's been interesting reading everyone's discussion on this topic over the years!  :smth023

I just wanted to say that I personally very much disagree with the idea that a love relationship is somehow a lie just because it's not the only one of all the possibilities that might have worked out for you.  I think that part is a given - like a few of you have mentioned, I don't believe in a "soul mate" either, but I do think people can be right for each other, sufficiently compatible so that they're not going to be driven up the wall by, for example, one person being a neat freak and the other leaving their crap all over the place, or one person being a leftie and another a far-right Neo-Nazi, or one person being interested in self-education and the other a total anti-intellectual - things like that (and obviously then some).

I think it's a given that there is more than one person in the world who would potentially be right for you.  If you're conventional, you have a statistical advantage for bumping into someone who will work for you.  If you're a bit of a black sheep, finding such a person can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, and that was very much the case for my husband and me - we didn't meet until our mid-30s, and then only with the help of a good database that assisted in searching for outliers.

But we're not each other's only possible theoretical matchups.  So what?  We're very happy.  We don't spend a millisecond wondering if we could be marginally happier with somebody else.  That's like not fully enjoying a really fantastic book because you're worried that you should be reading some other book that's marginally more fantastic that you happen not to have come across.  Or that the wonderful song you're listening to is potentially less wonderful than some other song you happen not to have heard.  Or that you're wasting your time with the lovely dog you've got because you could theoretically have a better dog. Or that the A+ essay you're reading is perhaps surpassed by something else out there and that this other thing would somehow be more worthy of your time.  (These analogies are limited analogies for the situation, but do illustrate a point that also applies to that situation.) To me, thinking like that is self-defeating, and kind of insane.

Anyway, the book, or song, or dog, or partner you're enjoying isn't a lie because you might be enjoying another book, or song, or dog, or partner that you don't have in front of you.  You make choices - hopefully well-informed choices - and that's a valuable part of the whole story.  I'm way more interested in living the life I have than belly-aching over the lives I could have had.

And marriage, to us, was saying, "You mean enough to me that I actually don't want to explore other alternative paths, but get to know this particular path really well - and that I want to get to know you better than anyone else in the world; and this means more to me than all that philosophical analysis on the merits of alternative possibilities."

People think monogamy is such a chore, and we don't find it so at all - to us it's the privilege of getting to know each other far more deeply than anyone playing the field can get to know any of their partners.  It's saying, "You are worth that to me."  It's having someone say that to you.  It's working towards common goals, as a team.  It's making memories in common, and as the years go by, looking at where you've been together as human beings, like travellers looking at photo albums of their trips.  It's looking at how you've had to grow as people to accommodate each other, what you've learnt about yourself and the other person, how difficulties you've had have forced you to become a better you.  All sorts of things like that, and all of them valuable, and none of them a lie, or a pretence.

Who here has heard of Buridan's Ass?  It's the classic idea of a hungry donkey starving to death between two equally attractive bales of hay, unable to make up its mind about which one to eat.  Real donkeys don't do that, nor do they have philosophical conniptions when they're tucking into good-quality hay...

( (

This is Sparkle, who's not worried about whether this bale of hay is a lie, just because it's not the only bale of hay in the world that is compatible with her.  She's fully enjoying her hay, and is pretending nothing.  :angel

Quote from: Chain Of Flowers on December 30, 2008, 16:08:29It's interesting how different people interpret Cure songs, and the fact that the songs can mean something different to so many people is one of the things that makes them special.

I never really thought of 'This Is A Lie' in a way that would make a wife raise her eyebrows at all (I'd expect that from 'Watching Me Fall' or 'Open').  I saw that song as one of those wondering concept tracks like a lot of what Bloodflowers is, just wondering about life and why we all play the role we play.  That line about losing everyone else in the world I took as the fact that some day we'll all be gone, therefore nobody stays around forever.

I think my initial reading of This Is A Lie was more along the lines of COF's reading - especially about losing everyone else in the world, which made me think about how we will all lose each other to mortality eventually - and that kind of thing serves as a memento mori to me, and helps to stop me taking things for granted, or wasting time.  I've sometimes wondered how much procrastination would be going on if all of us lived eternally.  "Oh, I'm not getting out of bed until next year."  - "I want to learn a musical instrument; I guess I'll book in for 300 years from now." - "Oh, I can do that tomorrow / next year / next century / next millennium."

When lyrics or poems are sufficiently murky, reading them can be like reading tea leaves!  ;)  And in that case, I think we're all going to look first of all at meanings that make the most sense to us personally.

I remember a couple of weeks ago I had a bee in my bonnet because of another Cure song I'd listened to, and then when I re-listened to This Is A Lie I said, "Oh, I could also read it as a whine about relationships / angsting about not having the most perfect of all the theoretical possibilities!  Like, "What I have is really excellent, but what if..." and I've got to say, I want to shake people like that, make them spend time in a slum in India with an extreme deformity that means no chance of any romantic partner whatsoever, let them experience some existential problems which are on an entirely different order of magnitude to what Western people with a happy marriage and stable financial arrangements and good friends and nice surroundings experience - and then maybe bring them back after ten years or so, and see how they feel then. :evil:

By the way, I think Watching Me Fall is sufficiently murky that you could read it so it's not necessarily about an extramarital affair - e.g., my husband and I regularly have affairs with each other - and we can play on the joke by one of us, or both of us, not wearing our rings.  Of course, every relationship is different, and I'd hate to extrapolate from our relationship to anyone else's...

♦ ♥ ♦

So, adding to that:

Sometimes, a song stays quite unobtrusive if you listen to it on the run - and this was the case for me with This Is A Lie, until I recently started putting the lyrics under the microscope and thinking about them deliberately and critically.  It was double-taking at another Cure song I was listening to, which made me go back and re-examine This Is A Lie from a different angle.  Instead of viewing it as benign philosophising, as it's possible to do when you're half-listening while working on outdoors tasks, I started to realise that this song represents a world view I have very little in common with, and find ill-considered.

A running commentary on the lyrics:

How each of us decides
I've never been sure
The part we play
The way we are

So far, so good.  That's something really worth examining. But go on to examine it, don't just emote about it and go around in circles! So much has been written about these exact topics in general philosophy, and different cultures have different takes on stuff like that - it's fascinating, and rich, and a good bit of immersion in this material is highly recommended for anyone, to get to know yourself better, to learn to navigate life better, become aware of assumptions and autopilots.  The problem is, most of us are railroaded by our social surrounds, and it takes a fair bit of thinking and swimming against the tide to start actually living life more deliberately and consciously and more in line with the things we value personally.  If you don't decide actively how you want to live and how you want to be, and really work on those things, those decisions will largely be made for you because you'll just be going along one of the paths of least resistance, with the rest of the mob.


An excellent online resource for dipping your toes in this kind of stuff:

How each of us denies any other way in the world

I can read that two ways.  One of them, the more benign reading, is the idea that every yes you give is an automatic no to something else, because you're so limited by available time and energy and resources.  (And therefore, you should consider very carefully what you say yes to.)  But I don't think that's what the writer means in this case, looking at the whole of these lyrics.

I do take issue with the generalising in the cited line above, and in the lyrics as a whole.  You can't automatically extrapolate from your own life to other people's, or tar everybody with the same brush. The fact that we live in a particular way - whether largely considered or largely autopilot - doesn't necessarily mean we deny any other way in the world.  Sure, whatever path you take in life over whatever roads you choose will exclude other paths - so choose carefully, and keep navigating carefully.  But, this doesn't mean you necessarily deny the other paths - you may even be learning from them, like each time you, for example, pick up a serious book and get vicarious experience of someone else's path.

I'm just finding the way of thinking espoused in these lyrics too closed, too generalised, and pretty self-defeating.

Why each of us must choose
I've never understood
One special friend
One true love

I don't know where the narrator gets the idea that each of us must choose the things he purports we must choose.  Many people choose quite different things.  If monogamy doesn't agree with you, then be polyamorous or whatever else - but be honest about it.  Nobody is, these days, in Western society, that compelled to choose from narrow social mores.  You're not a victim of the system here, you're responsible for making your own choices.

Why each of us must lose everyone else in the world

This line either goes with the above, or can be considered separately - and I used to consider it separately, and wrote about that on the other thread (excerpt was included above).

But, it seems from that discussion and from the interview excerpts, it actually was really intended to go with the preceding three lines, and that the writer considers the act of choosing one relationship the loss of every other potential relationship, which is kind of silly when you think about the fact that you couldn't get around to everyone else who would agree to have you anyway even if you didn't choose just one person - which nobody is making you do... It's sort of like the Monty Python parody called "Every Sperm Is Sacred" - millions and millions of sperm on a daily basis from just one male, and yet only a very tiny fraction of them, if any, will ever actually go into making another individual, even if you had a thousand concubines, a roster to get around to them all, and a truckload of Viagra.  So, I'm not going to weep over the loss of all those potential genetic combinations, or the loss of all those potential love lives / that marginally better love life someone feels they are missing out on.  What I'm actually going to say is, get over yourself, and appreciate what you have, and perhaps think about what you're giving, as an antidote to what you think you're not getting.  It's funny how you get more out of life if you put more into it...

If you've got a healthy, functional, affectionate, alive, adventurous, fun, intellectually stimulating, mutually supportive relationship with a person you love and who loves you, just count your blessings.  It's kind of grating to be writing a song like that from that position, and not just for your partner.

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day play out our lives
However confused
Pretending to know to the end

If you're confused, and pretending, then the person you need to take to task is yourself. Why make a pretence of something you don't believe?  Why just fit your life into some kind of external mould like you're a piece of jelly - and then complain about it?  This is the very opposite of living authentically - of being true to yourself.  If you're going along with something you don't agree with, you're not offering an alternative take, just adding to the peer pressure for mindless conformity.

It's the pretending to know I have particular issues with, because it's lying to everyone else, and knowing it.

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

I've seen this kind of leaping to unwarranted conclusions before, in How Beautiful You Are:

So, what is the truth?  What is right?  What is love?  What is real?  It's far more constructive to think about what those things mean to you, than to just say what they're not.

I can really, really see how the writer's wife was upset about this, because it smacks of self-indulgence and self-pity masquerading as philosophy, and because it's a completely disrespectful thing for a person who chose to get married to another person, and purports to be happily married, to say about their mutual life.  You sort of think, sheesh, maybe you ought to have had these thoughts before, and maybe you shouldn't have pretended, as you say... because that's dragging someone else into your crap. :evil:

How each of us believes
I've never really known
In heaven unseen and hell unknown

Apart from the over-generalising, which has been a consistent problem throughout, that's a fair enough thing to wonder.  But, the over-generalising is really starting to get old.  Not everyone believes in heaven and hell, in the religious sense.  You know what though, people can be really good at creating their own hell, for themselves and those close to them, with their attitudes.

How each of us dreams to understand anything at all

This isn't fair enough, this seems to be extrapolating from yourself to other people.  It is actually possible to understand some things - even William Berkeley, with his idea that all of reality was just a big matrix created by God and we were all just blobs of disembodied consciousness thinking we were physical beings in a physical world, thought there were some things you could definitely know.  Here's some basics:  1 + 1 = 2 (even though mathematics is a construct, its tenets are backed up by proofs and the system is internally consistent).  The earth revolves around the sun (unless you're going to argue that we're living in a big matrix and that these things are abstract ideas instead of physical realities).  You can make a green watercolour shade by mixing blue and yellow watercolours.  January is followed by February.

Epistemology (how anything can be known) is a really fascinating part of philosophy - I'd encourage anyone who's not looked at that to do themselves a big favour.  Accessible resources exist, and for a complete beginner, I'd recommend Jostein Gaarder's Sophie's World, and the Teach Yourself series book on Philosophy.

Why each of us decides
I've never been sure
The part we take
The way we are
Why each of us denies every other way in the world

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day play out our lives
However confused
Pretending to know to the end

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie
This isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

Etc etc, as had.  It's interesting how some close listening, and looking at an interview comment, can change the way you see a song.  I also think there's a danger, when you write a song like that, that you're going to be more likely to keep upholding a limiting point of view, or errors in reasoning, than if you hadn't, because you've sort of set it in stone, and it's a beautiful-sounding song, and each time you sing it, you're likely to reinforce that way of thinking.  This gets us into the psychology of previous investment, which is another interesting thing to consider - isn't it great that a massive library is at our fingertips in this day and age?

So, the art of disagreeing, and distinguishing between opinions/arguments and people.  I've got a bit of practice at that, having a number of friends who are religious fundamentalists, and deniers of anthropogenic climate change (and it's generally unproductive to discuss these things with them, and more productive to focus on positive things you can co-operate on).  Those are big differences, and it's my view that fundamentalism and climate change denial are especially difficult positions to uphold when examined rationally, but those friends give me plenty of reasons to respect and value them, and really deserve to be my friends.  So, I don't think it's necessary to look down on people who hold views we don't agree with.  I'm still learning lots of stuff, and I sometimes blanch at some of the things I believed in the past, and will most likely blanch again, but we're none of us born knowing anything, and we're all works in progress.

♦ ♥ ♦


I'm going to tack on another post-script, to talk a little about how I saw this song before I looked at it the way I do above.  Imagine for a moment you're seeing the Earth as a blue marble in space, and zooming in on it, and getting closer and closer until you can see individual rooftops in a city, and then you're swooping down into someone's lounge room looking at their TV screen, and it's the evening news.  It's madness, it's obscene - the wars, the feuds, the lies, the desecration of the planet and each other, the unimportant things held in high esteem, the important things that are trampled, the greed, the unkindness, the sociopaths in power in dictatorships but also in places where people actually vote for their leaders... etc.  How did it get like this?  And in the context of that, watching all that mess, it would be natural to wonder - and now I'm going to paraphrase part of those lyrics slightly differently, from the point of view of a visiting space alien, who says:

How people decide
I can't understand
The part they play
The way they are
Why so many deny other ways to be in this world

However unsure
However unwise
Day after day they collectively play out their lives
However confused
Or even pretending to know to the end

But this isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie
This isn't truth this isn't right
This isn't love this isn't life this isn't real
This is a lie

The angle from which you look makes such a difference.  Here, we're looking at really obvious problems.  I've paraphrased to "they" because we now have an outside observer of this madness we see on the evening news, which is more familiar to even the most evening news-avoiding of us than to this completely bewildered outside observer of our supposedly intelligent species (I'm imagining our observer to be in nature very like a hrossa from Out Of The Silent Planet).  The comments become about the overall pattern, the overall mess, and avoid generalising, because there's a spectrum out there.  They rightly point out that there is a big problem, and that the problem boils down to how individuals decide to live  - or are anaesthetised, whichever it might be.  Collectively, we're making bad choices; and individually, each of us makes at least some bad choices, even if we try really hard not to (but hopefully we get better with reflection and practice).

The quick paraphrase above is just a sketch for the purpose of this discussion - I'd not offer that as any kind of song lyrics because first of all, it doesn't sound poetic enough now that I've put qualifiers everywhere and messed up the meter and the flow, and I'd have to find a way to be both specific like that, and poetic.  Secondly, I'd want another week or so to check and re-check for errors in thinking or in conveying - to de-bug the software, basically - before coming up with a more acceptable version, and even then...

Anyway, that's the sort of images that were popping up in my mind in my early listens to This Is A Lie, when I listened impressionistically to lyrics which are open to interpretation - sort of like a Rorschach test  ;) - as opposed to taking them literally, with the added information from that interview, and deconstructing them and seeing if their premises hold up to scrutiny.  I don't think I've pinned this song, by the way - just explored some implications earlier which may or may not have been intended by the writer at the time of writing.

I don't envy professional songwriters and poets that their life's work is forever on the public record from its beginnings, which might be early 20s or even before that.  We're generally learning and developing as we get older, and tend from the beginning to be saddled with quite a load of dysfunctions and human error, some of which we might become aware of down the track.  So, if you write and publish poetry about personal things, any early (or later) misconceptions will be out there, even if you now think totally differently about many things.  It's why some songwriters have written "antidote songs" in response to earlier songs they were unable obviously to undo, such as Sting writing If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free in postscript and as a correction to Every Breath You Take; and why Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 is so different to his Sonnet 18.  Of course, we can't expect to "get it right" from the go-get, or all the time, and that's normal.  And if you wouldn't do certain things differently now compared to ten years ago, then you've not learnt anything in the last ten years...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 07, 2019, 15:31:24
Now we're onto remixes, a big feature of CD-4 of this set.

When I was much younger, I was less interested in remixes and more interested in the "right" version of a song. Sometimes I liked a remix because it made a song I loved much longer, without interfering with aspects of its character that I enjoyed.  But, often remixes sounded "mangled" to me.

Sometimes, I still think a remix does kind of mangle a song; but I no longer think any remix that's got a very different character to the original song has been mangled.  For me these days, "mangled" means filled with (to me) unpleasant sounds or sound effects; and I'm sure some of the stuff I'd describe as mangled, other people with different tastes would really enjoy, and be surprised I feel that way.  (I now refer people back to the Smorgasbord analogy:

One thing that really changed my attitude to remixes as a young person was grunge happening.  This is because the advent of grunge, in my 20s, meant I stopped listening to contemporary music radio and went instead on a deep (and ongoing) journey into classical and folk music.  I now had a CD player in my car and no longer needed to default to radio, so the commute became an opportunity for music education.

I'm not from a musical family - other than that a grandfather I never met played piano.  The only real exposure I had to classical music was at school.  I remember when a primary teacher brought in a classical piece and said it was about flowers waiting to burst out from under the snow in the springtime, and we were all going to be flowers and listen to the piece and get ready to burst out from the snow and grow towards the sun - the music would tell us what to do, when.  And so, we all got on the floor in child pose, all over the room, and listened to the sound unfolding, and slowly unfolded ourselves, and when the music built to a crescendo, we all stood up and reached up our arms and tilted our faces to the sun, and there were smiles everywhere because this was actually a really lovely thing to do.

In middle school music classes later on, I was forced to listen to Holst's Planet Suite, which struck me as dreary and violent, and coloured my opinion of classical music as torture dreamed up by boring old fogeys for infliction upon the young.  The classical stations were chloroform via soundwaves, to my young mind.  (I think in part that's a programming problem - a lot of classical stations do sound like anaesthesia when they're playing really long, boring, nothing-happening symphonies, usually in the middle of the day - you know the sort, with E-strings scratching away in the background like fingers down the blackboard, and the occasional violent burst of kettledrums to wake everyone up.)

But then, in 1984, the film Amadeus came along, and considerably tweaked my perceptions.  I was now once more open to the idea of listening to classical music.  But, I didn't buy my first classical CDs until I was a university student - Mozart, from the specials rack - because, as I said, music was not much of a thing in the house where I grew up (I'm not counting being exposed to heavy metal turned up to wall-shaking levels by my older, teenage, brother), and my CD collection as a high school student was tiny - less than a dozen.

The next fortuitous thing that nudged me further into classical music was boarding in a very musical household for a while, when I was 27 and doing my first year of teaching at high school (post research / university teaching).  Mother and daughter played piano, and loved music, and I very fondly remember listening to them play.  They also talked passionately about music with me, and played back CDs, and encouraged me to borrow from their collection.

When you start listening to classical music on a regular basis, you can't help hearing different versions of the same compositions.  I started to notice, for instance, how different recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons emphasised different qualities in the composition, and how there was no one right way to perform it, just versions I preferred to others.

And this exact thing now makes me far more interested in remixes than I was as a young adult.  I'm interested in hearing other versions of songs I like - and sometimes surprised that I enjoy a remix of a song I didn't like before.

The fourth track on CD-4 of Join The Dots is an ambient remix of This Is A Lie.  This version really foregrounds the string quartet and is beautifully arranged.  I listened to the original version on Wild Mood Swings for comparison and couldn't tell you which I prefer - I think it would depend on my mood.  The original version has more energy, the remix more depth.  If I was only allowed to keep one version, I would keep the remix, because the strings really carry this piece.

Brett and I had an interesting discussion over how much lyrics matter to us in our enjoyment of music that's got singing in it.  He estimates that for him they're usually worth about a third.  He says lyrics can ruin a song for him - like finding out a song he liked for its Medieval atmosphere was actually about John Lennon (the same song, Moonlight Shadow, I thought sounded like an advertising jingle for a dishwashing liquid, but if you'd told me it was about John Lennon I might have liked it slightly more).  Brett says that often he's not even fully aware of the meaning of a song, in part because he can't hear a lot of the lyrics - he says singers often mumble them, or think guitars are so much more important that they drown out the vocals with them.  He doesn't look at lyric sheets much, and says that a lot of lyrics are inscrutable anyway - wryly adding that many songs are probably written with people totally drunk or high and that you'd have to be on the same stuff to have half a chance of working out what they mean, or at least for it to seem profound.  He kept citing Cure lyrics at me and saying, "I don't know why you're not putting this in, it's funny!"  :-D  :kissing_smiling_eyes:

So it would be fair to say that Brett has lower expectations of lyrics than I do, and is therefore less likely to be disappointed - especially as he doesn't often sit down and solidly work at figuring out what a song is about.  He says some songs have very obvious meanings and their vocalists sing clearly, but he's not particularly into figuring out murky things, which may not be worth the time anyway as they may just be badly written.

Sometimes, if a radio is on somewhere, I'll go, "OMG, what are those people singing???" and I tell you what, perhaps it's better that you don't know.  I think my overall enjoyment of contemporary music as a whole would be much improved if everybody sang in Swahili.

For me, lyrics make up around half of my enjoyment of music, and I've almost always sat down to try to figure them out - more seriously in my youth than now - sometimes I just half-listen these days. I can't run a full literary analysis on every single thing I listen to anymore, it would just get exhausting.  I appreciate it when people articulate clearly and write lyrics that can be followed first time around - people who are really good at that include Suzanne Vega, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Kate Miller-Heidke, Mike Scott, Karen Matheson (from Capercaillie), Paul Kelly, and Liam O'Maonlai - and I think Bloodflowers is really worth commending on that front too.

It's funny, I've had people on Reddit say to me, "You like Bloodflowers? Wait until you hear a good Cure album."  Presumptuous ignoramuses.  If I'd heard any of their previous records instead of this one as my first full listen, I'd not have been anywhere near as impressed - Disintegration is excellent, but not particularly emotionally mature.  That's been a bugbear for me with earlier Cure albums, and was a big reason I was never a fan as a teenager.  I was looking for responsible, thoughtful adults for my role models back then, seeing as I didn't have those at home.

It is actually pretty difficult to be mining the back archives of a band when you're in midlife, and you're going backwards from a gem like Bloodflowers, where you feel you're actually listening to an equivalent adult singing.  Sitting down seriously with the lyrics to This Is A Lie was really disappointing, even though that was recorded only four years earlier - and there's a few like that on Wild Mood Swings, and on earlier albums.  It's a particular pity with This Is A Lie because it's musically fabulous, and it's a decent vocal performance too.  I don't think it's totally ruined the song for me, but it's certainly put a damper on it - about like listening to a song with lyrics trying to convince people that the Earth is only 7000 years old, or that the Port Arthur massacre was a government conspiracy.  I'd enjoy it more in Swahili.

Anyway, returning to remixes - the fifth track on CD-4 is a remix of Wrong Number.  I have a great deal of affection for the original - I love its energy, and it was a song I misappropriated for dealing with an ongoing difficult situation in my life - does anyone here ever do that, just cherry-pick bits of lyrics that go with a particular situation, and re-write a song in their heads so they can use it for a particular purpose which has nothing to do with the intended meaning (if any) of the song?  Or write comedic lyrics to go with classical pieces?  I misappropriated The Blue Danube to write a very silly ditty about Brett once.  We also like to "translate" the lyrics to screechy opera duets on the run - you know, when the lovers quarrel in Italian - and I'll do the female part, and Brett will do the male part, like, "What, potatoes for dinner again???"  :winking_tongue

Anyway, the original Wrong Number is wonderfully noisy in the right kind of way; the remix feels like a party remix to me, and I never was into those sorts of parties.  Usually I enjoy female backing vocals, but I don't enjoy this vocalist, she's really brash; also, I'm not a fan of the voice processing exemplified by that remix; it sounds in parts like there's reverse peristalsis going on.  To me, the original version rockets off into the stratosphere, while the remix is rolling around on the ground convulsing.  However, if I'm netting fruit trees or making compost, it's OK listening because I'm not listening too hard, or thinking about it too much.  Brett, by the way, didn't like the remix at all, but really liked the original as well.

Next on CD-4 is More Than This, from the X-files soundtrack.  Musically we both enjoy it.  Brett was a fan of the TV series (for the first five years only), I wasn't.  The song goes with the UST between the lead characters in the drama series.  That kind of being in love I got over a long time ago because it's just a form of self-torture and not based on anything real.  It's the kind of being in love that increases in direct proportion to the lack of interest of the beloved, and that's a dysfunctional thing that takes you nowhere good.  It's the ignored toddler in you hoping the significant others in its life will finally shine sunbeams upon it, and it's just as doomed.  Paul Kelly wrote a wonderful song called Beggar On The Street Of Love.  It's topical and I'm going out with the Jenny Morris cover because she sings it beautifully.

More on the weekend (maybe - I'm temporarily out of words  :1f634:).
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 09, 2019, 13:48:11
Construction notice - a postscript has been added to Post #49.  Just one of those topics...

In my CD-4 discussion, I'm up to World In My Eyes, which I didn't realise until last week is a cover of a Depeche Mode song - because I don't consult sleeve notes etc until later on in the piece (although I do look up lyrics I can't hear clearly fairly early on), and because I'm not a Depeche Mode fan.  I wasn't in the 80s, because I didn't like synth pop, and I'm not after checking back for the purposes of this discussion, either.  I don't like the original World In My Eyes, having now heard it; and musically much prefer the Cure cover of it, which is more layered, more complex, not grating, not cold.  I don't have any urges to skip that track when running through this CD.

Lyrically, well, let's just say that I'm getting a bit ambivalent about looking too closely at lyrics at the moment lest it destroy my enjoyment... The words to this kind of grate if you look at them one way, and pass as just another of the countless odes to sex which are neither offensive nor particularly inspirational, if you look at it from a different angle.  (We went to a blues gig last night and heard quite a few of these there...

Which brings us to the brilliant track Possession, my favourite off this CD and already previewed here:

All right - here's the clip for Possession again, simply because:

It's worth going back to the lyrics for this (the prior post has them) if you don't catch them all.

I do think this is a fabulous song, and it's the kind of song that isn't spoilt for me if I listen to it frequently - it's got enough depth to keep getting new things from it with each listen.  The lyrics are about something quite fundamental to the human experience - something that everyone has to grapple with - and the music is wonderfully evocative, even spooky.  You could use the instrumental part of the music as a backdrop to stories about haunted houses (of modern construction, like a haunted skyscraper or airport terminal), zombies (albeit happy, upbeat ones that perhaps have just found a big vat of brains to eat), quests etc.

I've just asked Brett to have a listen and he's getting computer game vibes, and travelling montages going from A to B.  So there we are, folks - that's the concept of intertextuality raising its head again - every person brings a different set of prior texts/experiences and ideas to literature, music etc and it affects how we interpret it.  In some ways, music and literature are like Rorschach tests - what do you see?

If we're going to compare texts, an obvious one for me to bring into the discussion is the 1960s classic drama series The Prisoner, which I just finished watching last week: The last episode of that just instantly connected to this song for me, because both are about our shadow sides / evil twins.

If you've never watched The Prisoner, I highly recommend it.  It came to me courtesy of my husband's extensive interest in good drama and cinema - something in his collection he said I should give a try almost from the moment we met - and because of that I've also seen, and very much liked, Edge Of Darkness (BBC version), The Lives Of Others, Life On Mars / Ashes To Ashes, Secretary, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, American Beauty, Wonderfalls, Neverwhere, The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Almost Famous, Blade Runner, House (which I binge-watched like nothing else), most of the classic series of Dr Who (we're up to Sylvester McCoy), and the modern series from Matt Smith onwards (going to get to the earlier ones after the classic series, but I have seen Blink :heart-eyes).  Although he's definitely put more time into watching drama than me, I did manage to introduce him to a few gems as well - Amadeus, Three Colours Blue, Three Colours Red, and Scientific Eye's Food Chains :rofl.

(So, let me also recommend marriage to you for the purposes of mutually beneficial exchange of cultural experiences.  :cool)

If you've not seen The Prisoner, you may want to stop reading until you have, because I'm going to discuss the answer to the question:  Who is Number 1?  So shoo, unless you've seen it!  :P

Here's the usual intro to episodes of The Prisoner, as a taster:

So, all through the 17 episodes, the big mystery was:  Who is Number 1?  Who is behind all this stuff?  Except that typically, I didn't care very much about that, because I'm used to that sort of facelessness.  Nevertheless, the big reveal in Episode 17 is that Number 6 himself is apparently Number 1! Bwahahaha!  At that point, I saw the whole thing as a modern fairytale, and took from it that the source of all the awful stuff in society is actually from the shadow side of ourselves. I wasn't going down the road to thinking he had an actual evil twin - there were too many other things shifting too, for it not to be a fairytale, in my opinion. Brett has a different interpretation - he thinks Number 6 is strapped to a table somewhere hallucinating the whole thing - but can't tell me when the hallucinations began - they'd have to be at least two episodes long, or indeed, maybe he just started hallucinating at the very beginning when they piped that gas through the keyhole of his house! Famously, there are a thousand different interpretations of this series, and meant to be.  (More Rorschach testing!  ;))

I think it's a great ending, and that it's way more important that a work of art gets you thinking and asking all sorts of questions, than that it provides a "satisfying" ending.  Cognitive dissonance is a great motivator for learning.

So, in the end, it's very like something I wrote in an essay as a 16-year-old, in a bout of youthful cynicism:  People keep going on about the Apocalyptic Horsemen, but in reality we see them in the mirror every morning.  I was a funny 16-year-old, but I was spot on about that one, and it's actually not cynicism, it's more like realism...

There's this human tendency to want to locate evil outside of the self.  When bad things happen, it's someone else's fault - the bad guy's, usually, because according to this way of thinking, in the world there's good guys and bad guys, heroes and antiheroes - and nothing in-between.  (Well, that's cartoon-land, and B-grade cartoon-land at that.)  If it's not someone else's fault, but it's demonstrably my bad, then it's still not my fault really, because the devil made me do it.

How much more honest and refreshing is the idea that each of us are capable of great goodness as well as great evil - and that we're each responsible for our own actions.  Most of us are chimeras, mixtures of dark and light - and I don't think it was an accident that the masks used in the final episodes of The Prisoner had a black half and a white half over each face; it represents that same idea, of opposites in the same person, contradictions in each of us.  Nobody is entirely good, and presumably nobody is entirely bad either - Hitler was apparently nice to his dog - although I have heard it said, "If you think there is good in everybody, then you haven't met everybody."

So there's opposites, and things on a spectrum too - think of good and bad on a spectrum with neutral in the middle - and then there's that good and bad in itself is a) an oversimplification, and b) insufficient to describe everything relevant to this topic.  There's a line from Where The Birds Always Sing, "The world is neither fair nor unfair / The world is neither just nor unjust" and that's not just an important thing to understand about being in the world, but also a concept that sometimes applies to ourselves - for example, when you're slapping a mosquito, you're destroying a life - but it would be a mistake to assign that a moral value, since it's an instinctive reaction to an insect bite - in the same way that you can't call a lion "bad" for killing a gazelle.

I'm not quite done with Possession yet.  Let's have those lyrics again - and this time I'm annotating:


The other one feeds on my hesitation
Grows inside of my trepidation
Buries his claws in my dislocation

...I like how this is pointing out that it's our internal problems which feed our shadow side.  I like the wording - feeding on / buries his claws conjures predation, and growing inside parasitism.  The shadow side very much comes across here as an illness, a menacing entity, something that besets you rather than being invited or encouraged.
I whisper your name to lose control
...the name of the shadow side? ...also interesting because this wording could suggest playing with fire, and now actually inviting the shadow side to do its thing - letting it have the steering wheel. Just conjecturing - this one you'd have to talk to the writer about.

I take a step and over my shoulder
His roll-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His snow-white thighs press closer and colder
Murmur in me to let him go

...this so neatly mirrors the first verse, both in its construction and rhyme scheme (AAAB), and in its contrast between the first three lines and the last.  Again, the first three lines sound like something horrible you'd want to avoid, and then the last one suggests an invitation extended to this thing - although more under duress in this verse... And I love the word-play, as I often do with this particular writer of lyrics - High is a nice example of that... we all know snow-white, but roll-white is a neat little construction and very cinematic; I'm seeing it immediately...
...also, the imagery in the first three lines does strongly suggest that what he sees looking over his shoulder is himself, some version of it, and at the same time I'm getting goblin vibes...

The other one thrives on my desperation
Fills me up with my intoxication
Sinks his teeth in my deviation
Suffering me to lose control

...the shadow side again comes across as menacing and opportunistic, and increasingly evil, and somehow with the imagery of teeth being sunk in, the whole thing is becoming vicariously painful... I think it's intriguing here to have the wording my intoxication... and likewise, the choice of the term suffering me to lose control - the term means allowing, but because few people use it that way, its more common usage comes across strongly at the same time... allowing me to lose control, but also, the pain of it... and a tension between being the person who is being parasitised, predated upon, haunted, hurt by this thing, and also on some level extending an invitation to it... this is so very well done, full of the contradictions and cognitive dissonance that come with being human...

Hold my mouth, taste his breath
Hissing, breathing are the same
Snakes its sound inside my head
Sickening me to let him go

The nightmarish imagery just keeps intensifying here... and the rhyme scheme is temporarily abandoned, but doing that, apart from probably being due to practicalities, also creates a structural contrast with the verses before and after, and a slight setting apart; so it all works really well.  This is thoroughly effective writing.  There's this overwhelming sense of struggle, of intrusion, and just layers and layers of imagery.  Note the ambiguity in the way the word snakes is being used - is it a noun, or a verb? - but you can read it both ways, and in various ways, and these things just pile one on top of the other, cumulatively, making a mountain of weight out of an economy of words.  Four short lines, one long and vivid nightmare.  This time, the last line is suggesting that giving in to this shadow side is like an illness.

Were these lyrics an assignment, I'd be getting the Freddo frogs ready to staple to it.  It's A+ already and we've not even finished yet.  You can't give someone more than 10/10, but you can certainly attach more than one chocolate frog to their piece and plaster smilies everywhere. :)

I take a step and over my shoulder
His pain-white eyes shine wilder and bolder
His stain-white thighs press closer and colder
Murdering me to let him go

This verse echoes the second verse, but intensifies it.  Roll-white has become pain-white, and snow-white has mutated into stain-white.  Again, brilliantly evocative imagery.  You can also look at pain and stain as an echo of the ideas already conveyed earlier, of hurt and shame being yet more vulnerabilities this beast can sink its claws into.  ...and now the shadow side is murdering our protagonist, or at least who he would (mostly) like to be, in order to take over.  This is full combat and a divided self; I'm also getting Gollum riding Frodo inside Mount Doom...

I try to resist the gruesome kiss
I twist to deny the blood-hot bliss
But I always feel myself becoming him

I like the way the first and second lines set up a tension between disgust/horror and blood-hot bliss (again, just such evocative wording here, and multi-component imagery from the same phrase)... it echoes the running theme in this song of the tension between being the victim of this thing, and being its enabler and on some level willing host...
By the third line, the protagonist becomes his shadow, like someone turning into a werewolf...

And the last thing I remember
It isn't me, it isn't me, it isn't me
But then it never is...

...and that's an excellent conclusion, both the horror of not being who you (mostly) want to be, through having turned into your own shadow - and the ironic reference to the excuses that can be made for this kind of thing, in the last line... I don't think he lets himself off the hook for this; it seems to me that the sense of being responsible for your own self rather than making excuses is also in that last line - but again, for the definitive commentary you will have to apply to the author! :)

Just excellent...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on December 04, 2019, 10:19:26
Just wanted to let people know I will actually eventually finish this, I promise, we're just really busy right now and both had a nasty cold for weeks, which didn't help any.  You'd think it would, because being ill involves bed rest or semi bed rest, and laptops exist, even at our place, but I felt like an elephant was sitting on my head and bleh and therefore, writing cohesively was not on the agenda...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 14, 2020, 14:14:41
Well, Happy New Year, everybody! :)  I've finally got some time to get back to this.  Since I've got three more Cure studio albums arriving in the mail over the next week or two, I thought I'd better finish this before I'm up to my chin in new stuff again...

Next on the list after that marvellous track called Possession are two remixes from Bloodflowers, which is one of my favourite albums ever, and one of only two released in the last 20 years that made a deep impression on me to date (I don't listen to much contemporary music anymore, and certainly don't cast my net wide in that genre - there's too much else to appreciate and do to be fishing around much in that murky billabong populated by anaerobic bacteria).

These remixes of Out Of This World and Maybe Someday are like songs that have taken off their wizard robes to get into pyjamas.  A nice person is still a nice person if they're wearing their pyjamas.  You wouldn't mind offering a cup of tea to Gandalf in his pyjamas, would you?  But you'd probably cheer if he put his pointy hat on and started reciting incantations.

Brett was telling me that the island of Ibiza has a reputation for UK tourists coming there to dance to (often hideous if you ask me) electronic music... and perhaps this offers a clue as to why a lot of perfectly good wizardy songs get a danceable remix treatment.  Personally, I find the idea of dancing to deep and meaningful numbers paradoxical - for those kinds of songs I prefer to sit on the ground and listen.  If you want to wiggle, you can listen to The Wiggles.  I don't get the urge to wiggle very often myself - and if I do want to tap my toes, there's plenty of decent folk music to be had.

A general question about the remix of Out Of This World - what on earth is that person saying in the background?  I keep hearing "bathtub" and find that highly disconcerting.  Surely that background person can't be saying "bathtub"!  Yes, yes, I am beginning to look at special offers for hearing aids, to prepare for the future, but meanwhile, if anyone reading wishes to present a more plausible alternative, do you see that "Quick Reply" box below?  Avail yourself of it, I pray thee.

And now, the lyrics to said song:


When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me wide eyed
I wonder will we really remember
How it feels to be this alive?

And I know we have to go, I realise
We only get to stay so long
Always have to go back to real lives
Where we belong

When we think back to all this and I'm sure we will
Me and you here and now
Will we forget the way it really is
Why it feels like this and how?

And we always have to go, I realise
We always have to say goodbye
Always have to go back to real lives
But real lives are the reason why
We want to live another life
We want to feel another time
Another time, another time
To feel another time

When we look back at it all as I know we will
You and me wide eyed
I wonder will we really remember
How it feels to be this alive?

I know we have to go, I realise
We always have to turn away
Always have to go back to real lives
But real lives are why we stay
For another dream, another day
For another world, for another way
For another way

One last time before it's over
One last time before the end
One last time before it's time to go again

Today was the first time I looked up these lyrics, and saw that I had slightly misheard some things when listening these past five years, and sometimes when you mishear things, you keep mishearing them - especially if they make sense to you that way.  My slight mishearing of things gave me a different context to the one this was officially written for.  According to Robert Smith, "Out of This World is about how The Cure operates in some wonderland, a parallel universe. The Cure is an island. It always has been." ...and ... "I was just trying to get that sense that I often have which is a kind of curse that whenever I'm enjoying something, I'm always thinking that it's gonna end."  (from

It's very useful to have commentary from the actual writer, and the song makes perfect sense that way.  However, the song is also applicable to other stuff.  For example, I very much felt like that about being in a classroom, because often that was magic, and I feel aspects of that about being married to my favourite person.  One of the big things about poetry and music is being able to find things in each of them that resonate with your own experience.  It's that sense that you're not the only person who feels like this.  Since these kinds of things aren't discussed very much in the everyday business of life, many of us, as adolescents, start doing deep dives into poetry books and music to discover that other people exist who think and feel on levels we might rarely see in our immediate environments.  Eventually our circles expand to include such people, and then we even get to have discussions about these things whenever we want to.

A line just popped into my head when I thought about the last sentence above:  Every shipwrecked soul knows what it is to live without intimacy.  That one, by the way, is courtesy of Bono, from the other album of the last 20 years that made a significant impact on me.

With Out Of This World I was thinking how that phrase immediately means two things to me:  If something is "out of this world" it is extremely good - but to go "out of this world" is to die, and I think the song is about the tension between these things - and for me, this is a reminder to live a meaningful life, instead of letting it slip away amongst the anaesthesia of frivolities.  I'm going to quote Thoreau:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..."

That quote went up on the wall above my desk when I was 17, and it has informed my life ever since - along with a bunch of other things. I love how humanising writing and thinking and music can be, and how critical thinking, and independent thinking, are the antidotes to the general brainwash and Newspeak out there.

Before I finish:  Besides the two angles to the phrase "out of this world" mentioned above, there's a couple of additional ideas that come to mind.  One is the idea of escape; how a good book or piece of music or visual art etc literally takes you out of this world, to another place - a sort of magical realm.  The same thing can happen, if you're lucky, with stuff you do professionally - as per Robert Smith's parallel universe with his band, or with magic moments in a classroom where ordinary life is transcended, or with times when writing prose is like taking dictation, or whatever creative and/or cooperative thing you do that lifts you up to the sky on a regular basis.  And another way to look at the phrase is that we make these things "out of this world"...literally from the raw materials of existence.

Also, an elaboration on how I "heard" the song before reading the writer's comments:  The mishearing was around not hearing "real life" but always thinking it was "realise" repeated - and I was therefore interpreting the song as a general comment on life and mortality.  I was also thinking the "you and me" referred to a couple, because I was reading the "you" as singular - and that's something where the English language is really unhelpful, because you never know how many people are being addressed when it is used - is it one person, or several?  With those variations, it was easy to think it was a like a conversation with your spouse, where you're saying, "Here we are with everything very good, kind of at the peak of our lives, having such wonderful experiences, but we are going to get old (unless we meet our demise statistically early), and how will it be then, and what will we see when we're looking back on this time of our lives, when we're 80?  And won't we wish we could have our lives over again, because time is so short?" (ad-libbing here)

I think that's the kind of thoughts any happy couple would have, at some point - wanting to slow down your good moments, to stretch time so that you can get a hundred years in the place of one and be none the worse for wear.  Personally, it's something my husband and I are aware of, but avoid wallowing in, because you could really spoil the time you do have by stressing out over the fact that it's limited.  It's better to live it to the full, and to remain emotionally in the present, and not to look a gift horse in the mouth, either.

Sometimes that's easier said than done - when I started having to put down large animals due to illness/age, and had three deaths in a row in the space of less than five years, I started seeing dead bodies everywhere - I couldn't look at our animals without imagining them ending up as corpses on the ground.  It took a while before I could get myself out of that macabre forward projection, and stay with what is, in the present.  In part, I had to come to better terms with mortality, which is actually easier for your own case than it is to accept it for the beings you love, but even that you can come around to (and how I did that is here:

Anyway, although the song actually wasn't about that, I find many of the sentiments expressed to fit it too.  Shakespeare famously used the stage as an analogy for life (, and it works here as well.  In broader terms, we're all human beings trying to make something meaningful out of our lives, facing mortality with so much of beauty and worth all around and with other beings who are precious to you in the same boat.  You don't have to be on an actual stage to feel the things expressed in this song - there are all kinds of parallel universes where those thoughts would fit.

And because of it's an age-old subject which was touched on in this post, here's two poems by William Butler Yeats about love and death which I really like, and which I think have more of use to say than Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (


When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Behold the flashing waters
A cloven dancing jet,
That from the milk-white marble
For ever foam and fret;
Far off in drowsy valleys
Where the meadow saffrons blow,
The feet of summer dabble
In their coiling calm and slow.
The banks are worn forever
By a people sadly gay:
A Titan with loud laughter,
Made them of fire clay.
Go ask the springing flowers,
And the flowing air above,
What are the twin-born waters,
And they'll answer Death and Love.

With wreaths of withered flowers
Two lonely spirits wait
With wreaths of withered flowers
'Fore paradise's gate.
They may not pass the portal
Poor earth-enkindled pair,
Though sad is many a spirit
To pass and leave them there
Still staring at their flowers,
That dull and faded are.
If one should rise beside thee,
The other is not far.
Go ask the youngest angel,
She will say with bated breath,
By the door of Mary's garden
Are the spirits Love and Death.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

Maybe Someday next time - and then something I've been plotting for a while, which is going to take in a lot of other music for a bout of comparative musicology.  :winking_tongue
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 19, 2020, 04:25:52
Well, 4:13 Dream has arrived in the mail for $13 including postage, "slightly used, excellent condition" and indeed has no scratches and you wouldn't know someone bought and listened to it before me, other than it didn't have a clear wrapper over the top, which not all new CDs have anyway.  The remastered versions of Kiss Me and The Head On The Door are on their way from the UK, so I want to get a move on and finish this B-sides thread.

An aside - this is the worst cover art I've ever seen on any album, I mean, honestly, it's just horrible.  The cover is reminiscent of a burnt clown talking to a burnt bushfire victim and conjures walking corpses and Stephen King horror as portrayed by a 9-year-old.  I live with an actual graphic designer and have actual artist friends, all of whom are perfectly capable of doing quality work that is delightful to look at, or at least has a point... and this kind of "professional" work simply leaves me cold.  The lyric sheet looks like someone has sneezed all over it in technicolour, just yuck.  I've turned the cover back to front to improve the experience of picking this CD up off the shelf.  It's a good thing you can't judge a book by its cover.

Today I'd like to briefly tackle the Maybe Someday remix on Join The Dots CD-4, so I can clear the road for a post I've been planning for a while.  So here goes.

Music first.  I compared the acoustic remix to the Bloodflowers version by listening to both repeatedly in the past couple of weeks.  If I'd heard the acoustic version first, I'd still have liked it, but with the electric guitars it's just so much more powerful.  The acoustic version inspires reflection, the album version is like lift-off in a jet airliner - the same feeling of becoming airborne, of being hurled forwards and upwards.  Music really does do interesting things to one's brain, and has a visceral power not generally equalled by other forms of art.

Something that keeps me listening to The Cure - and there's lots of things that keep me listening to this band - is the tonal beauty of the guitars on a lot of pieces, this one included.  To come up with arresting melodies and textures is already a gift, but to have those things combined with exceptional beauty in the tone of the playing and the voices of the instruments is magnificent.  (The Loudest Sound, by the way, is a particularly good example of this.)

It seems to me that quite a few male musicians, especially in the "hard rock" end of the spectrum, play their guitars like they sing - really "rough and tough" with deliberately grating qualities, rather than beautifully - and I've never liked that.  Jimmy Barnes, for example, sings like he gargles with Drano before breakfast.  He's a lovely person in interviews, but this is just something many rock singers seem to do deliberately - a lot of heavy metal singers screech and sound generally constipated.  Not my thing.  It almost seems as if some people think you can't reconcile masculinity with anything remotely touching on beauty or gentleness or emotional expression, but if they do, they're wrong... It just seems there's a lot of insecure males in rock and heavy metal who like to present a tough front, and who posture in ways that look ridiculous to me.

I could also get into some weird, and tasteless, things some female performers do, and maybe one day I will, but right now I'd like to return to Maybe Someday.  Let's look at the lyrics:


No, I won't do it again
I don't want to pretend
If it can't be like before
I've got to let it end
I don't want what I was
I had a change of head
But maybe someday
Yeah, maybe someday

I've got to let it go
And leave it gone
Just walk away
Stop it going on
Get too scared to jump
If I wait too long
But maybe someday

Yeah, I'll see you smile as you call my name
And start to feel and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come again

So tell me someday's come
Tell me someday come again

No I won't do it some more
Doesn't make any sense
If we can't be like it was
I've got to let it rest
I don't want what I did
I had a change of tense
But maybe someday

Yeah, I'll see you smile as you call my name
And start to feel and it feels the same
And I know that maybe someday's come
Maybe someday's come again

If I could do it again, maybe just once more
Think I could make it work like I did it before
If I could try it out, if I could just be sure
That maybe someday is the last time
Yeah, maybe someday is the end
Or maybe someday is when it all stops
Or maybe someday always comes again

I guess all of us have felt an ambivalence about the work we do at some point or another, or even quit things when they turned sour or tepid, so Robert Smith writing a song about ending his band or not, and the processes around that, is very relatable to other work scenarios where you care greatly about the quality of what you are doing, and things are getting in the way of it.  And I really did personally relate to that, because when I first heard this song in 2014, I'd recently gotten out of education after half a lifetime of having some of the best experiences in my life there - because it was getting harder and harder to do the same quality work, and have the same magic moments, without running into bureaucracy or having to sacrifice increasing amounts of your personal life to do it.

On the bureaucracy side, there was increasing interference with the way you could teach in a classroom - for example, when I started out, two out of four Science sessions a week were practical and hands-on for a class, and increasingly, the bureaucracy was making that harder for us, by allocating less funding to science equipment in favour of (unnecessary and annoying and really un-educational) IT in the classroom, and by banning certain types of experiment / demonstration for alleged "health and safety" reasons - like the banning of the super-popular sodium / potassium metal demonstrations (mini-fireworks when the teacher drops small amounts of metal into a basin of water - and indeed, that's the basis of fireworks) in some states of Australia, because one irresponsible teacher hadn't kept his eye on his metal containers, and an irresponsible student had stuck a lump of sodium metal in his pocket and ended up with a hole burnt right through him - you really have to be so daft and irresponsible as a teacher for that to happen, and not know how to safely run practical demonstrations - and the skilled majority ought not to be penalised for the act of one incompetent person who ought to have been sacked).

Or, the banning of the cheek smear practical that allowed 12-year-olds to look at their very own cells (always an oooh-aaah experience) - on the basis of what might happen if a student was infected with hepatitis etc and another student took the popstick they'd scraped the inside of their cheek with and for some god-unknown reason started chewing on it - I mean, have you ever seen a student do that?  I haven't, but I saw plenty of students in the playground sharing ice lollies, and they didn't ban that, so where's the sense in this?  It just doesn't exist, it's just ignorant bureaucrats covering their own backsides.  And in this way, towards the end of my years of teaching, I was down to one practical session a week, and disproportionate amounts of textbook learning, and that's not the same.  Student engagement and enjoyment were in this way actively boycotted by bureaucratic decisions beyond my control.

And then there was the experiment with OBE assessment in favour of ABCDF, because the bureaucrats thought that by making a system which didn't have a fail grade, only a "not achieved yet and still working on it", they would somehow change the reality that all of us are bad at something, and need to get over it.  In order to make an assessment and reporting system that candy-coated lack of achievement, they invented a system which was basically like levels on a video game - and life is not a video game.  This system took over four times as long for teachers to administrate, and confused the hell out of students and parents; and undermined student achievement by tying teachers up with unnecessary hours on complicated and wishy-washy assessments, which took time away from creative planning for actual learning activities (not to mention our personal lives - I was doing 60-hour weeks at the end and burning out) - as well as by students and parents actually not knowing where they stood in relation to everyone else.

So yeah, when you're in a position where you keep watching the quality of what you are able to do decline further and further despite throwing increasing amounts of your private, unpaid time at it, and you're watching whole cohorts of students not getting the same opportunities for learning as they did a decade previously, and when you started Australia used to be Top 5 internationally in Science achievement, and then they're not even Top 20 anymore despite the best efforts of Science staff who are increasingly hog-tied by bureaucrats, and when you're teaching English / English Literature classes you're seeing the level of language ability, grammar and spelling erode to further and further lows because the kids aren't learning what they used to in primary school (and because of overuse of IT and devices, both in the classroom, by the say-so of bureaucrats who want clever-looking classroom photos, and outside the classroom, I mean, whatever happened to a hands-on childhood, and the development of the imagination, let alone handwriting and real-world skills, don't get me started...) - well, you do come to a point where you're thinking of quitting, and for years what keeps you there still is that you love the magic that can happen in classrooms anyway.  I was basically forced to quit by burnout, in the end - coupled with viral damage to a vocal cord nerve, which meant I actually couldn't talk for a year - which is why we owner-built our own house etc, and I started homesteading and writing, and the rest is history.

But yes, I could completely relate to the sentiments in Maybe Someday, transposed into my own work situation.  I think Robert Smith should thank his lucky stars, or whatever he thanks, that he doesn't experience quite the degree of interference with his own creative work as a lot of people in salaried employment do.  Yes, I know that record companies suck, and that artists have a right to complain about that, and they totally have my sympathy, and I'm not playing "my pain is greater than yours" - just saying that The Cure have been able to go on producing quality work, and forever improving their live performances, in spite of all of that, and I'm happy for them, and for me, and all the other fans, that this is so.  :)

And as for me, away from bureaucracy (but of course, not all of it, there's layers of it even here), I'm happy with the life I now live, and the new creative and otherwise useful things I am now able to do, and for the past as well and the wonderful things that happened in it, and if there's anyone out there with whom all this has struck chords, all the best to you as well! :cool

Coming Up is next.  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 22, 2020, 09:43:50
OK, so on to Coming Up, and as this is a song about drug use, there's already been a prelude here:

Before discussing the actual song, I thought it would be nice to rope in all sorts of songs on related themes by various artists, and then finish off with Coming Up, so we've got something to compare it to.  Anyone reading, feel free to post relevant songs as well - I really don't have to be the only person talking.  :angel

I'm going to start with a number that always makes Brett and me laugh when we put this on.  It's by Hugh Laurie, and of course, this is especially hilarious because he played the lead role in House - a brilliant intellect with drug issues and, ahem, impaired empathy, which made him say many things that were completely outrageous, but often very funny regardless.

It's off an album of his called Didn't It Rain, which we really enjoy - he's very good, as is his band.  It's basically blues, with a bit of a twist, and great for a weekend morning.  Obviously, not all songs on it are about drug use.  :rofl

Next, three songs all called Cocaine.  We'll start with an irreverent number by Australian band The Cruel Sea, in keeping with the above song.

This one, by Eric Clapton, pretty much everyone will know:

Jackson Browne did a more thoughtful number:

From one classic to another:

So, I can have a good laugh at the first two songs, can take or leave the Clapton tune, but love the last two songs here, because at the end of the day, without thoughtfulness, there's going to be a heck of a lot of heartache.

Here's another classic, which I appreciate very much musically:

This one's cryptic, and someone in the band joked, when in Australia, that it was really about Vegemite.  :rofl   However, one of the funniest things that ever happened to me was this song coming up on random play on my iPod just as I was emptying the cartridge of our compost toilet into our hot compost bin.  Entirely new way to think about it!  :-D

Here's a great little recent interview with Hugh Cornwell, on this song and a bit of historical context:

Next, I've got a suggestion from Brett - a favourite song of his, a Johnny Cash cover of a NIN song. Really great lyrics, and all credit to the writer, but Brett says Johnny Cash was singing this when he was dying, and did it so well that he now owns this song...

A late addition that was just brought to my attention:

More to come, but later! Feel free to jump in with your own tracks on the topic.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on January 22, 2020, 13:29:35
Well I recently listened to "Coming Up" (and "Posession", btw), not very impressed and I'm kinda glad they didn't make the whole album like these two (as was the plan at first).

And a quick remark or two: Hasn't Jet Black said he thought "Golden Brown" was about toast?
"Cocaine" is not really a Clapton tune, but a cover (written by JJ Cale).
Here they performed it together:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 22, 2020, 14:00:46
Thank you, @Ulrich, re the songwriting details :cool - and that version sounds slightly less... anaesthetised!  ;)  Oh the irony...

Toast? :lol:  Not nearly as resplendent a golden brown as the contents of a compost toilet. :winking_tongue

Maybe it was really about maple syrup...  Brett, as a young lad, thought it was about a very suntanned girl...  :angel

We in Australia got Coming Up as part of Bloodflowers, and it didn't stick out like a sore thumb musically because there was a bit of diversity there anyway.  I think Possession would have been a musical mismatch on the album, but I'm glad they put it out there as a B-side, I do think it's an excellent song lyrically, and with those lyrics I think you can just about get away with anything musically, as long as it suits those lyrics.  But yes, I'm glad they made Bloodflowers after something of a u-turn; I can't imagine I'd have liked ten songs in the musical style of Possession half as much.  As it is though, I'd give both the album and that song 10/10.  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 23, 2020, 00:29:52
A few more songs on the general theme:

This was off U2's The Joshua Tree.  I love the imagery in this one - the lyrics are very well written.

A couple by Pink Floyd:

With this particular song, it always strikes me that it's also a really good fit for the way propaganda and materialism basically drug a large section of our own society.

The next one is often read as a song about a recreational drug experience, but actually came about because Dave Gilmour was taking flying lessons to become a pilot.  It surprises a few people that real-life experiences not involving drugs can also be mind-blowing - and this is why some people working in drug rehabilitation take young people mountain climbing.  I recently heard a podcast where the response of a young lad coming off ice addiction was related - when he got to the summit of the climb he was taken on, he stood there and told his companion, "Wow - I had no idea you could feel like this naturally!"

That's not how you scythe, by the way - although it's great to see it portrayed. ;)

Who has noticed that all the songs I've posted so far are by male artists?  My CD shelf is brimming with female artists, but not a single song of theirs comes to mind that's on this topic.  So just for fun, I am including this one, because it was the nearest thing I could find:

And then there's this one, which you can read any way you like.  Karen O sings beautifully even with a cold, and this was the closest equivalent I could find on YT to the acoustic version of this on my iPod, which is gorgeous...

More to follow - and again, a general invitation for others to post songs on the general topic!  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on January 25, 2020, 16:59:03
So, having looked at a selection of songs about the use of the so-called recreational drugs, which covered various angles, I'm just going to pull up the lyrics of Coming Up, and do a little annotating.  Just in preamble though, this particular song is written from the perspective of a drug user and is mostly about the actual experience, but I think also gets into motivations and addiction.  It's interesting that the drug has been personified, and even given a gender, with the effect that the relationship with the drug is being described in terms of a relationship with a woman.  That kind of personification is commonly used; just think about boats for a minute - it's always a "she" and sometimes the way sailors come across talking about their boats is like it's a substitute relationship with a female for them.

Roaming further afield, there's the idea of the female as temptress, like Eve in Eden, and then Adam attempting to use the Nuremberg defense before it was a thing - "I was only following orders!" If you do a feminist reading of this whole idea, then basically you're going to arrive at a cultural tendency to scapegoat females in order not to take full responsibility for your own actions (and of course, adults should be taking responsibility for their own actions).  And, if you see your drug as a sort of woman tempting you, then it becomes easy to miss the point that this is something you are actually doing to yourself - and also the whole thing takes on an aura of poetry and mysticism, when it's really biochemistry and psychology.

Of course, even though all of this becomes a consideration when you're looking at Coming Up, this doesn't mean that it's invalid to use that kind of analogy.  Analogies are great for exploring subjects; we just have to keep in mind that our two subjects will have points of overlap as well as points of difference. There's many ways that the moon is a ghostly galleon, but also many ways it isn't.


Yeah, it's a snow white original mix
And she's fixing me
And the heartless thing she does is everything I love
It's all I ever need

Those last two lines, were you to use them about your significant other, would indicate a really dysfunctional relationship; and to describe a drug in this way also indicates that dysfunction is in the driver's seat here.  It's interesting, isn't it, how people's emotional baggage seems to be at the root of both drug addiction and dysfunctional relationships; and it's sad that people can feel like the things that are destroying them are things they love and need - instead of being able to love and need things that are constructive and beneficial.

Yeah, it's a skin tight sensational strip
And she's tripping me
And the shameless way she turns
Is all I ever dream

The double meanings here reinforce what I said above...

You ask me why I use it
It could be just a way to pass the time
I never really choose it
It's just another play to lose
My mind

There seems to be a lack of insight here, as well as an abdication of personal responsibility.  There's such a world of difference between "it just happened" and "I did it" - and yeah, on some level, we are making choices about things like this, although of course once you veer into addiction, it becomes much harder to make constructive choices and people act more and more out of compulsion, at least until some kind of circuit-breaker is introduced.

Yeah, it's a bright light promotional taste
And she's wasting me
And the tearless time she breaks is everytime I ache
It's all I ever feel

You ask me why I need it
It's maybe just a way to pass the time
I never really mean it
It's just another play to lose
My mind

Yeah, it's a big night emotional kill
And she's thrilling me
And the careless way she hurts
Is all I ever scream

You ask me why I take it
It could be just a way to pass the time
I never really make it
It's just another play to lose

It's interesting that "my mind" has been left off here, and we're perhaps getting closer to a more significant reason.  It kind of reminds me of the lines from another song (not The Cure), Every gambler knows that to lose is what you're really there for; and also that famous quote that goes, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?...Your playing small does not serve the world...(etc)

I'm coming up in the dark
And every part of me is bruised, and raw, and pained
I'm coming up in the dark
And every part of me is loose, and sore, and stained
And so I play it when I use it
If I need it, then I take it and I play it all again
And then I hold you
So cold you
Like I know you
Yeah, like I always know and like I always lose
My mind

That "Then I hold you" line is interesting, because it's not quite clear if that's just an extension of the analogy, or if this is now referring to holding an actual person, who is cold, perhaps (conjecturing) because that relationship is also dysfunctional, or because the partner is fed up with dealing with the protagonist's addiction etc.

I've taken those lyrics from, which also has the following citation from Robert Smith:  "When we started Bloodflowers in Christmas 1998, we wanted hard electro pop and did a handful of tracks, including Coming Up and Possession, that used loops and synth bass. We sat around taking various kinds of drugs, thinking, 'This is the future!' Suddenly in 1999, I had a road to Damascus moment. I thought, 'This is f*cking awful, this isn't The Cure.' I wrote Out Of This World and decided, 'This is what I want to do', because that song had more emotion than the six tracks we'd recorded up until that point. So we binned the other stuff - it's hard to kill six songs, because you're halfway there, but it was a decision that had to be made. The others thought I'd lost it, but coming back I proved them wrong!"

Interestingly, I've read other comments by the author which give a slightly different take; e.g. where he thinks Possession was a really good song.  I don't think Robert Smith is always a reliable witness - and few of us probably are, and we're liable to change our minds and our moods.  So, sometimes quite contradictory things are said.

If anyone wants to add to this, or chime into the discussion, go for it!  I'll be dealing with one more "new" song and two more remixes, soonish.

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on January 27, 2020, 15:13:16
Quote from: SueC on January 25, 2020, 16:59:03I've taken those lyrics from, which also has the following citation from Robert Smith:  "When we started Bloodflowers in Christmas 1998, we wanted hard electro pop and did a handful of tracks, including Coming Up and Possession, that used loops and synth bass. We sat around taking various kinds of drugs, thinking, 'This is the future!' Suddenly in 1999, I had a road to Damascus moment. I thought, 'This is f*cking awful, this isn't The Cure.' I wrote Out Of This World and decided, 'This is what I want to do', because that song had more emotion than the six tracks we'd recorded up until that point. So we binned the other stuff - it's hard to kill six songs, because you're halfway there, but it was a decision that had to be made. The others thought I'd lost it, but coming back I proved them wrong!"

Interestingly, I've read other comments by the author which give a slightly different take; e.g. where he thinks Possession was a really good song.  I don't think Robert Smith is always a reliable witness - and few of us probably are, and we're liable to change our minds and our moods.  So, sometimes quite contradictory things are said.

Sometimes there are mis-quotes and misunderstanding too. And Robert Smith changing his mind, as well.

I guess he thought "Posession" was good enough to put it on "Join the dots"! Otherwise he'd just left it in the vault where it was. Same goes for "Coming Up", which ended up on some versions of the album.

Anyway, this is interesting, because I'm kinda looking back on the "Bloodflowers" period now.  :smth023
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 24, 2020, 03:15:47
Just in postscript to the following post ( where this sort of stuff was discussed earlier in this thread, here's a Crikey article that popped up again today:

It's a bit over-simplified, but interesting anyway.  And I had to laugh at this reader's comment:

QuoteDog's Breakfast
February 1, 2020 at 5:14 pm

"Hofmann's conviction that psychedelics bring users closer to nature is a trippers' trope that's easy to dismiss as woozy utopianism."

Ha yeah, except it isn't. 50 years later and the medical and scientific community are just opening their eyes.

I've often thought a major dose to the world's water supplies would solve most of our political problems, and consequently all other issues.

This 'otherness' and disconnectedness from each other and the world around us might be called a personal bubble. ScoMo is a perfect manifestation of this personal bubbledom, nothing getting in, nothing coming out and no concept or recognition or connection with any other.

This is actually my politics, I am less left or right than I am connected, wholly and always. All other states of mind are juvenile steps towards the fulfillment of the promise of adulthood. The bodies grow but the mind stays in this pupae stage, and due to the lack of connection with the other they never understand their unrealized state.


Like I said in the original post, I have no personal experiences of this sort to contribute except an already atypical brain.  :lol:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 24, 2020, 06:21:08

When 4:13 Dream arrived in the mail, I started another thread ( and got so immersed in it I forgot that there were two tracks left to go after Coming Up.

What is a dangleberry?  Well, we'll start with the Australian expression "dag" which literally is a shitty bit of wool on a sheep's bottom, but which is also used affectionately in this country to tease a person who tells "daggy" jokes, wears "daggy" clothes, or does other "daggy" things.  When I explained that to some Americans once, they laughed and said, "Oh, a bit like a dangleberry!" - that's for the literal meaning of "dag" and not its symbolic application - you could say that a dangleberry is a specific subset/potential component of a dag - and I'm using it symbolically here to refer to a bit I left dangling months ago and will now be tidying up. :angel

Two versions of Signal To Noise first - a track that was new to me when I got this CD set.

...and which I will be attending to shortly in this thread...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: MAtT on June 24, 2020, 12:57:26
Hi Sue, just back-reading some of this thread. On the How Beautiful You Are lyrics you commented on a while ago, you may already be aware of this now, but they are based on a poem called 'The eyes of the poor' by Baudelaire:

As you see, they don't quite include the "no one ever knows or loves another" you find jarring at the end. I've always taken it to imply that to love someone completely is to understand them completely, and it's that which is impossible.
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 24, 2020, 13:31:31
Hullo @MAtT!  :) 

Thank you for the link and also your own take.  I remember your comments on journalling on another thread where you were doing a recount of a mix tape.  :cool  Nice to "see" you here.

It's interesting to look at the differences between the original story and the re-telling.  That could be someone's project!  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: MAtT on June 24, 2020, 16:49:24

And it's great to see your analysis and opinions. Keep up the good work!


Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 25, 2020, 01:51:02
Thank you, @MAtT! :)  It's occasionally nerve-wracking to write like this, because I'm well aware that a) I'm a recent Cure fan and don't have a lot of the back story, and b) this stuff means a lot to a lot of people and here I am opining through my own particular prism of experience, which I guess is all that any of us can do, but still it can be awkward, and c) I'm really just journalling in public, and sometimes that's a bit like you're on a nude beach, instead of in your own bathroom.  :1f633:

But generally, I'm enjoying the process because writing about it makes you look at it in so much more detail than not writing about it, and having skin in the game is the difference between being fully there versus just coasting along.

If you want to chime in with this stuff here in any way no matter how tiny or enormous, you're most welcome.  The vista really starts to expand when there's more than one pair of eyes to look through!  :cool
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: MAtT on June 25, 2020, 20:31:07
Hi Sue,

I don't think you need to have been a fan for a long time to have insight into the songs generally, though there are a (very) few cases where it helps to know some of the backstory to their influences and context in the history of the band.

Personally I've probably thought about the meaning of the lyrics less than I might have over the years. I love the music and the lyrical flow, neither of which necessitate any insight into what Mr Smith is waxing lyrical about! (I mean, I'm also a big Cocteau Twins fan, and many of their songs are sung in a made-up nonsense language!)

But it's really interesting to see your takes on them.

Which albums have you reviewed so far? I've read through Kiss Me and some of Join The Dots, but have you done any others? (I know, I know, there's a search facility!). If not I'll look forward to my faves: Pornography, Faith, and Seventeen Seconds...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 26, 2020, 15:05:28
Quote from: MAtT on June 25, 2020, 20:31:07Personally I've probably thought about the meaning of the lyrics less than I might have over the years. I love the music and the lyrical flow, neither of which necessitate any insight into what Mr Smith is waxing lyrical about!

Ah, so you look at it more like Brett does! :cool  I can do that when songs are sung in a language I can't understand, but not when things are sung in English - then I can't ignore them... and if I can't decipher some of the lyrics, it bugs me until I can...

Quote(I mean, I'm also a big Cocteau Twins fan, and many of their songs are sung in a made-up nonsense language!)

Do you like The Jabberwocky?  :)

QuoteWhich albums have you reviewed so far? I've read through Kiss Me and some of Join The Dots, but have you done any others? (I know, I know, there's a search facility!). If not I'll look forward to my faves: Pornography, Faith, and Seventeen Seconds...

Well, there's just the B-sides thread here, and the other one I started when I got 4:13 Dream in the mail after that, and now I'm up to the current new arrivals at our house, KMKMKM and The Head On The Door.  I wasn't on this forum when I first listened to various others we have, of which my favourite is Bloodflowers, that's the first Cure album I listened to start to finish and my jaw just hit the ground... it narrowly pips Disintegration for me.  We also have and like The Top and Wild Mood Swings, but aren't hugely fond of Japanese Whispers, although it has some good stuff on it too.  Brett had Bloodflowers, Paris, Show and a Best-Of when we met, and we have Trilogy and the most recent live films from 2018 (plus other stuff on YT).

So we've not looked at the ultra-early stuff yet, other than what we've heard live and on the B-sides.  I think I'm going to get Wish next and maybe the self-titled, which by the way Brett had been interested in after Bloodflowers but decided not to get after previewing it.  And then maybe an excursion to the more distant archaeological strata... :angel

I'm definitely going to keep writing about "new" things coming into my mailbox; I'm not sure if I'm going to back-track to the things I listened to earlier.  Who knows.  One might always get hit by a truck or struck by lightning etc.  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: MAtT on June 28, 2020, 13:52:37
QuoteDo you like The Jabberwocky?

Ha! Yes, but I've not read it in an age!

I'll look forward to more analysis from you  :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on August 22, 2020, 06:26:57
A while back, I noticed that this thread had a dangleberry, and promised to attend to it shortly.

Ahem, "shortly" turned out to be four weeks later.  :angel  But here goes.  There's two versions of Signal to Noise back-to-back on CD-4 of Join the Dots - acoustic and not.  I know absolutely nothing about the historical context for this song and I usually make a point of not looking for my first play-through, hence I'll not know if something is based on some poem or book or other thing until I either start digging, or someone points it out to me, like @MAtT telling me Baudelaire inspired a lyric I find pretty problematic (  But now I'm going to have to get the Join the Dots set physically from another room (just when I've gotten extra comfortable with the laptop, isn't it always the way?), because I'd like to know what year it was from and what album if any it was associated with.

...ah, OK, B-side of Cut Here, post-Bloodflowers and apparently not leftovers from that.  I'm not sure which version I prefer; it's one of those songs I find musically OK but not "ooooh-aaaah" and that's true for both versions.  Here's the acoustic.

Let's have a look at the lyrics.


Nothing I do makes much sense
Say you don't really get me anymore
I wonder if you ever did... if you ever did at all?
Nothing I want means a lot
Say you don't understand me like before
I'm not sure if you ever did... if you ever did at all?

Nothing I think has a point
Say you don't quite believe me anymore
I wonder if you ever did... if you ever did at all?

Gets hard to guess the best way through
The thing to do if none of this is true
I wish I knew how to undo
The doubt I hide inside
I grew in you...

The knot I hide inside I tied in you...

Nothing I am shows the way
Say you don't seem to know me like before
I'm not sure if you ever did... if you ever did at all?

No nothing I do makes much sense
Say you don't really get me anymore
I wonder if you ever did... if you ever did at all?

Gets hard to guess the best way through
The thing to do if none of this is true
I wish I knew how to undo
The knot I tied in you...
When more or less the yes and no
Is all for show it isn't really so...
Look high and low where did we go?
You moved too fast or maybe I just moved too slow?

There's so much noise...
All the signal seems to fade away
Too much noise...

Or could be this is how it always sounds
With nothing left?

...not sure if this is "official" - I always read it "so" not "say" as it made more sense to me, but anyway...

This is a relationship-in-trouble song - friends, romantic partners, even family, it could apply to any of those because the principles are pretty similar, though if I had to guess it's probably about a partner, because of the knots tied etc, and because of the exclusivity that often goes with / is expected in a romantic relationship.  (At an outside chance, you could read this as a response to an audience complaint, which would give a different twist to the ending, but I won't follow that possibility up in this post.)

Astute idea here:  The doubt I hide inside, I grew in you... The knot I hide inside I tied in you...    ...the problem with sweeping things under the carpet is that you can end up falling over the lumps you make that way...

Today, I mainly want to unpick one thing that instantly jumped out at me here - and it's something I've noticed with Cure songs like this before (, especially the early ones.  The narrator has a bit of a me-focus, and doesn't spend nearly as much time attempting to see things from the partner's (/other's) perspective as he spends saying what things are like from his perspective - at least in his thinking-out-loud in this song.  And then, apparently before spending the same amount of time considering the other person's perspective, walking a mile in their shoes and applying some empathy, he seems to be drawing conclusions and making decisions about the situation, rather prematurely.  It's "you don't understand me" without the "do I understand you?" and that's not effective for overcoming a relationship impasse.  This is a really, really common problem with couple conflicts/miscommunication (as well as general conflict and miscommunication) - and if you don't address it, you can end up splitting up with partner after partner because you're always going to hit this wall and then end it (or else stagnate unhappily), rather than work out how to get over that wall, into a more understanding, truly mutual relationship.

Family of origin dysfunction has forced me to really look at this issue, so I tend to notice it, and lots of other stuff, that appears in people's poems and songs about relationships.  I think it's useful to think about these things critically, and that's certainly the only reason I've managed to find myself in a stable, very happy partnership of 13 years, despite of family history, and I think it's important to be open about the stuff you find challenging, and the things you have learnt (  Let's have these conversations, as couples and as communities.

In a way it's brave to put yourself out there on this topic, whether you write songs or prose or agree to talk to a newspaper etc.  We're none of us perfect, we're none of us finished learning, and we're bound to expose some of our own flaws that way - but that's the point, isn't it, to normalise all of this instead of hiding it away, or airbrushing it all - to say, "We all have flaws, here you go, here's some of mine I may or may not be aware of yet, but that is the reality, unlike the glossy social-media spin etc."  The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can also start to work on it - and the sooner we can learn compassion for the self as well as other people.  The point of looking critically at public pieces and conversations around relationships isn't to show people up, but to develop our skill set and to help make our life experiences more positive.

Signal to Noise actually reminded me thematically of a song Mike Scott wrote in the early 80s, called The Thrill Is Gone.  Let's have a listen, and then compare lyrics:


I'm too tired to deceive you
We can't pretend there's nothing wrong
Who'll be the first to say it?
That the thrill is gone
And we never get it back...

When we talk of old acquaintance and
Speak like two strangers all day long
The only four words that I hear
Are "the thrill is gone"
And we never get it back...

When evening falls magenta
And goodnight hangs on and on
I won't need to go to sleep and dream to tell me
That the thrill is gone
And we never get it back...

Another impasse, but more from a "we" perspective.  What this song describes, of course, is the end of the honeymoon phase, when the rose-tinted glasses come off and the hormonal rollercoaster plummets back to earth.  But here's the thing, much of that stuff is just biology - a bit of hoodwinking so you'll propagate your DNA.  It collides with psychology because once you're down from reproductive-hormone-Cloud-Nine, you start to actually notice that you're looking at a human being with flaws, not some perfect deity who can do no wrong and with whom you're going to have a stratospheric ever-after, goodbye real world, I never loved you anyway, it was all too hard.

And a mature relationship isn't blind interaction between two projections, but a deep-dive of two human beings actually getting to know each other for real, and learning to love for real, and in my book, that has to be mutually respectful, and it has to be egalitarian; and by the way, I think sex actually has a lot more potential when it's not this thing that has you by the throat, but when it's an actual choice - when you've got the steering wheel yourself instead of just crashing through the undergrowth.

Here's another song on this general topic:


Everything is rags
And there's nobody to blame but me
And it would be so easy
If there was no one to hurt but me
But now everything that I do
Comin' out of me
Will just tear through you
In and out of you
Up and down your life
Like a curse
Cast by the only son of rags
Who would wrap you up
In all the finest tatters
But he wanted nothin' more
My loved one
Than to wrap you up in joy
But it never be with me
- you and I are like
Two worlds
Not meant to collide
Death to each other
In the unravelling of time
So how do you...
How do you like it?
What kind of dream
Would you call it -
To have one foot in Eden
One foot in Hell
To be always numb
Plagued by demons
Summoned by Angels
At the same time
But I will burn me
Right out of this place
I will lay you down to sleep
So when you wake
I'll be gone
And You
Will remember
Will remember

Notice that this writer is putting his own hand up when it comes to responsibility, which is refreshing, but of course can be a trap too if done to excess.  It's a relationship-in-trouble song, with an interesting little fantasy at the end, good luck with that.  Let's all go watch The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, now!  ;)

Imagine life where humans were like hydra, just budding off the next generation asexually in their armpits, no need for all this perilous interaction.  What would our songs look like?  :lol:

♦ ♥ ♦

In postscript, let's have a look at what another writer has done with the metaphor of signal to noise.  This is Peter Gabriel's take, and it looks like a pretty mature one to me - basically, if the noise bothers you, then you make sure you signal, and do it clearly...


You know the way that things go
When what you fight for starts to fall
And in that fuzzy picture
The writing stands out on the wall
So clearly on the wall

Send out the signals deep and loud

And in this place, can you reassure me
With a touch, a smile while the cradle's burning
All the while the world is turning to noise
Oh the more that it's surrounding us
The more that it destroys
Turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise

Send out the signals deep and loud

Man I'm losing sound and sight
Of all those who can tell me wrong from right
When all things beautiful and bright
Sink in the night
Yet there's still something in my heart
That can find a way
To make a start
To turn up the signal
Wipe out the noise

Wipe out the noise
Wipe out the noise
You know that's it
You know that's it
You know that's it
Receive and transmit
Receive and transmit
Receive and transmit

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 03, 2020, 02:31:54
For some reason, I was under the mistaken impression that there was only one song to go on CD-4, and that this song was a remix of Just Like Heaven.  This is partly due to this being a dangleberry I forgot about and I'm actually listening to other parts of the back catalogue just now and writing about that on a separate thread (

So, I woke up with stuff already laid out in my head to write about a song I actually don't need to write about here, and already mentioned briefly when I looked at CD-2.  Oh no!  :lol:  But I'm going to say it anyway.  This is actually one of my least favourite Cure songs; it's just too saccharine for my personal taste, which of course doesn't objectively make it "bad" - I simply have the same reaction to it as I have to pavlova, or icing, which makes me go blergh.  Some people would be happy to have pavlova, or indeed icing, as main course, but that has never been me, nor will it be.

I can occasionally enjoy a slice of well-made pavlova with fruit and cream (gotta have the cream! :yum:) if I've had a nutritionally sound main course, as a sort of add-on, and that's also probably why I'm fine hearing Just Like Heaven as part of a live performance, where it's in context and not part of a river of glucose syrup, which I definitely couldn't stomach.  But this is one of the swag of Cure radio songs which rather put me off this band when I was a teenager - not knowing that there were also far more nutritious offerings hidden away.

I've said it before and will say it again, that there's nothing objectively wrong with the lyrics, or with the idea of publicly celebrating a person you love - this is a very fine thing, and it's especially nice to hear that from Y-chromosome-bearing individuals, as quite a proportion of them (especially from our generation and before; the young'uns seem to be doing better) appear to have difficulty expressing such "soft" emotions... particularly if they come from the lands of the stiff upper lips.  It's good role modelling for people to see you don't need to be constrained by ridiculous gender stereotypes on what you should feel and think and how you should be (isn't it, @MAtT ;)), and it's good for mental/emotional health when people are encouraged to feel and express their emotions rather than disconnect from them, and shown examples of how-to.  So I'm all for that.

Interestingly, my response to the words on the page isn't blergh; so it must be something about the manner of presenting it, and the type of music it's wrapped in, which by the way is undoubtedly a good fit for the lyrics.  It's just a visceral reaction, like to anything overly sugary for me.  I've used sugar as an analogy here but in brain terms, I wonder if there's actual similarities in processing the respective blerghs for me.

OK, let's broaden the view.  In Perth, there's a radio station called KYFM, which some of us refer to pejoratively as KY-Jelly-FM.  (What's KY-Jelly?  Over here, that's foreplay in a tube.  ;)  :evil:  It's not strictly necessary if you approach things, ahem, properly... excepting of course if you're ill, or the glands you've got that make your own product are acting up. :angel)

Anyway, there's a reason for calling it KY-Jelly-FM, because that station specialises in producing a continuous sickly stream of mostly harebrained "romantic" music that makes people like Brett and me cringe, and rush to turn it off, or attempt to break the world land speed record in order to put distance between our ears and the piped saccharine, or else, and this is Brett adding a comment, we end up in a diabetic coma;  and he points out that another moniker he indeed frequently heard for KY-Jelly-FM amongst his erstwhile office colleagues (with whom he went to see a Cure concert) was Coma-FM.

KY-Jelly-FM does have Just Like Heaven on its playlist, but on this radio station, that represents the top bracket of offerings.  KY-Jelly-FM specialises in giving airtime to the dysfunctional, and the melodramatic, and the mostly hormonal, and the rose-tinted, and the obliviously honeymooning, and anything that sounds like pink marshmallows.  "Iiiiiiiiii-aiiiiiii-aiiiiiii will always love yooooooooooouuuuuuu-hoooooo-hoooooo!" yowled from this station several times a day, when we were unfortunate enough to have to bear witness to it.   Likewise, "Everything I doooooo, I doooooo it for yooooooooooouuuuuuu..."

OMG, where's my bucket?  ...are you borrowing it at the moment, @Ulrich? (Perhaps to milk your new goat into? :angel)  I need to find my bucket, to circumvent unnecessary house cleaning, and to recycle the nutrients to the fruit trees outside.


If I were to enter one of the darkest circles of hell, where I was forced to listen for weeks on end to a radio station like this, if I survived that form of torture, then I'd be giving special accolades to Just Like Heaven in comparison with most of the rest of the playlist.  I mean, it's like a piece of well-made pavlova, with some actual fruit on it and generous amounts of cream, compared with aisle after aisle after aisle of plastic bags containing artificially coloured and flavoured boiled lollies, all of which feature high-fructose corn syrup as their main ingredient and are just total empty calories, and will clog up your liver as an added bonus.

We're all different people, so different things make us reach for the proverbial bucket.  As we know from our 80s thread here, @Ulrich loses his stomach contents if he's forced to listen to John Farnham, who, by the way, also featured heavily in the KY-Jelly-FM playlist back in the day when it was unavoidable for us to notice - and also (from my perspective) represented the top bracket of the lamentable range on offer there.  At least Farnham isn't propagating totally dysfunctional versions of romantic love in his body of work (which, as we know from our 80s thread, Brett would forever banish were he the ruler of this world) - he actually has a reasonably balanced view on stuff like this, although of course some of his songs are dreadfully 80s, complete with fake handclaps.

The most vomit-inducing aspect of KY-Jelly-FM to me, besides the nature of much of the music, and the general low quality of the lyrics represented, is the predictability with which the artists who are howling about how they're going to love their wonderful, perfect romantic interest forever are onto the next wonderful, perfect romantic interest they're going to love forever a year later (if they can manage it that long).  It's like a revolving door of self-deception; like the Groundhog Day of the emotional three-year-old.  Please, please, please, take a step back, take a deep breath, and start using your brain, instead of just being this simple stimulus-response machine.  Because there's actually such a big difference between the thing you're describing in the throes of your hyperventilating vocalisations, and what love is.  It would pay to consult the Oxford Dictionary and a few philosophical texts before writing your next song...

Of course, I'm being slightly unfair here, considering that most of us mere mortals will go through very dysfunctional ideas on love in our short journeys through space and time, and will probably always have vestiges of dysfunctionality no matter how hard we try to overcome that, and none of us ever become completely enlightened beings - but I do think it's so, so important to want to learn and progress, instead of wallowing in a quagmire for the rest of our days.  The problem is that a station like KY-Jelly-FM helps to perpetuate the quagmire, by crystallising the very worst of the immature and dysfunctional stages of various people's journeys, and offering them up as an existential template for their general audience.  And thus the cycle repeats.

And isn't it funny how often all of that also tends to go with music I dislike for musical reasons?  It's like, you're never going to find scintillating prose in formulaic Mills&Boon (AKA Bilge&Swoon) - everything is dumbed down - not just the concepts, but also the verbal expressions in which they are couched - not just the contents, but also the container.  And there's something about our capitalist system, I strongly suspect, which actually promotes this kind of Prolefeed, whether in music or in trashy magazines or trashy novels or the bilge that makes up most of commercial television or indeed most of commercial anything - because you've got to anaesthetise the masses so that they'll go along with your programme, instead of learning to think for themselves and deciding that there's better ways to live...

Next time, the Just Say Yes remix.  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on September 04, 2020, 15:00:24
Hm... I always found that "Just like heaven" was one of the most beautiful (pop) songs ever! When I hear Simon play that bass intro, it's sheer heaven for me! (And the energy he oozes when he plays it live!!)  :happy

(I could live without the remix though... as is the case with most re-mixes in the world.)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 04, 2020, 15:38:38
Hmmm. Isn't "beautiful pop song" an oxymoron?  :evil: :angel :winking_tongue

PS:  The permissible fermented fruit dosage for a goat is lower than for a cow, by the way. :)

PPS:  Part of me prefers the remix, because at least it's different to the high-rotation radio song that was inflicted on me countless times in public places for over three decades - that and Friday I'm In Love are the two Cure songs I'm most allergic to, in part for that reason (also there's a couple of others I actually loathe  :1f62b:).  On the other hand, it doesn't matter how often I hear Plainsong or Watching Me Fall or The Loudest Sound or If Only Tonight We Could Sleep or Like Cockatoos or Fascination Street or Fear of Ghosts or Chain of Flowers or Lullaby or Babble or A Japanese Dream or Jupiter Crash or From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea or The Kiss or Harold and Joe or The Big Hand or Letter to Elise or dozens of other things, I don't get sick of those, if anything they grow on me further.  Sort of like a good cheese will improve with age!  :yum:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 05, 2020, 06:22:18
Without further ado, back to the track list and so, Just Say Yes.  I first came across it on the "Best Of" (which by the way it's really not, no matter if the record company deigned to call it that - it excludes so many gems in favour of more lightweight material) - and I liked that track from the go-get; it rates highly on the naughtiness scale.  It's the kind of song you can bounce around like kangaroos to, chasing each other around the dinner table.  This does happen at our house, especially when we're cold or want to wake up or just need some incidental exercise - although we don't usually do this to music - but that's why we related to it.

I was going to post that particular version first, to compare it to the remix on Join The Dots, when we discovered that there's actually a clip for this, and spent the next ten minutes laughing and freeze-framing.  I also discovered that the high-pitched vocalisations in this song are not actually courtesy of Robert Smith - although I had always assumed they were, since I wouldn't put it past him, even if he had to cross his legs really hard and breathe helium to do it.  :angel

This clip is very like animal feeding time at the zoo - and just look at all that surreptitious and not-so-surreptitious instrument swapping.  :lol:  I had to freeze-frame several times to read the label on the bottle the girl is holding up at intervals; initial guesses at blurry frames included "Goat Bile" and "Edit Me" but a later shot showed it was just "Eat Me"...  (Brett said, "Aha, Alice in Wonderland!")

If one was going to examine the main premise of this song's lyrics, I imagine one could have a lot of fun setting up two debating teams to discuss the affirmative case versus the negative case.  But what are we saying yes to?  Broccoli?  (Excellent - we need some decent F&V promotions in the service of public health!  Just don't overcook it!)  Bungee jumping?  Neoliberalism?  Colonic irrigation?  Wife swapping?  A frontal lobotomy?

Each to their own with what they want to say yes to - always remembering, of course, that due to the finite nature of life (plus the potentially fatal consequences of some of the yes options) every yes to one thing is automatically a no to something else (or in the worst-case scenario to everything else).  But rather than overcomplicate this post with philosophical meanderings, I'll just tell you what I would say if I was on the affirmative team for "Just say yes!" as a concept.

I'd say that negativity is a widespread affliction, and that many people are very narrow in how they live and what ideas they will consider; that this is part of what breeds a hatred of difference in the population, which in turn unleashes disrespect, behaviours like ostracising, bullying, belittling and other forms of abuse, plus hate crimes including rape and murder, and also war.

I'd tell you that the Germans have this saying, "Was der Bauer nicht kennt, frisst er nicht!" - which roughly translates to, "What the farmer doesn't know, he won't eat!" but since the word used for "eating" here is the form usually applied to (non-human) animals (people "essen" but general animals "fressen"), this comment is much more acidic than the rough translation suggests, and ascribes both poor table manners and non-human status to these farmers/peasants.

But don't you all know people like that, who only eat within a really narrow (and usually, ironically, also unhealthy) comfort zone?  I've got a relative who will only eat stodge and junk food, and only Western stodge and junk food, at that.  You can poach pears in white wine with cinnamon bark thrown in, and make a chocolate sauce only from cream, dark chocolate, vanilla essence and brandy for pouring over the pears, and she'll screw up her face and eat hesitatingly and upon finishing, she'll say, "The chocolate sauce was OK, but you can leave out the pears for me next time!" - and the same person will eat unlimited amounts of supermarket cinnamon doughnuts - the sugary Australian ring things fried in industrial grease, mind you, not the European less-sugary creations containing good-quality jam with actual fruit in it.

You'll hand her an apple fresh off a tree, and she'll screw up her face even more.  "Yeeech, no."  You don't even try her on fresh celery from your garden (she only has supermarket celery, which she keeps for weeks until it's rubbery and tastes evil).  Once I made sushi.  "What's that???"  ...well, smoked salmon and cucumber in the centre, rice around that, wrapped in seaweed.  "Seaweed???  Blergh!!"  What's wrong with seaweed?  It's very like spinach, just from the ocean.  "Blerghhhh!!!"  Would you like to try some wasabi?  :evil:

Here comes the aeroplane! :angel

I met someone else once who wouldn't eat sushi; in his case, because he hated the Japanese, each and every one of them, blanket hatred, though he'd never actually met one.  I wonder does he also refuse to travel in Toyotas?  He certainly won't be reading Murakami.  :rofl

So many Anglo-Celtic Australians will eat fast food hamburgers by the dozen, but turn up their noses at things like tabbouleh, or chargrilled octopus, or harira, or a properly made Spaghetti Bolognese (it's been "naturalised" - and massacred - into flaccid overboiled spaghetti covered in some sort of fried-up mince and onion, with or without tomatoes, celery and carrots, no red wine, no garden herbs or mushrooms and smoked ham, let alone chicken liver... Madonna mia...), or pizza without pineapple...

Because I came from a rather unadventurous family background, I had to expand my culinary range later, and this is where the "Just say yes!" concept came in handy.  I had, for a long time, a disgust reaction at the thought of eating raw fish, which by the way I still have at the thought of eating wiggly witchetty grubs, despite of the fact that they are supposed to taste delicious...

The way I overcame my ick at the idea of raw fish is entirely due to the efforts of a former work colleague who went to the trouble of going fishing before work one day, and then prepared sashimi from their catch to offer around the staffroom on a platter at morning recess.  Because I knew this person and knew they were meticulous, I gave myself a push.  I remember blanking my mind and just suspending prejudice, and then I found good sashimi tastes very much like good cold-smoked fish, just without the smoke.  Since we don't have the nasty tapeworm here that can be transmitted via raw fish - not an ordinary tapeworm, by the way, but one that digs through various organs and causes all sorts of damage - I wasn't dealing with a health risk, just ickiness.  And since that time, I've not blinked at eating sashimi (in the no-tapeworm zone anyway).

I think in the right cultural context, I could probably do the same for witchetty grubs - although I've got to tell you, I'd really prefer the ash-baked versions of them, conceptually.  If I could bring myself to eat a live one, then - well, I even used to bite the heads off gummy bears as a kid to provide the poor things with a relatively quick demise...

Getting out of our comfort zones can be good for us, and give us more common ground with others not from our own cultural background.  One thing I really love about Australia is its multiculturalism; especially in Sydney (where nobody asked me, "Where do you come from?" and therefore, I had to refer nobody to the famous library book Where Did I Come From? ( :angel



If any of you are from a cultural minority group and get asked that stupid question in the country / backwater where you're living, you can turn the tables by employing this little strategy.  :-D   Just to clarify:  I never have a problem with people's genuine and respectful interest in a person's background - I love finding out about different countries and cultures too.  I have a problem with loaded questions from people who imply they have a greater right to breathe and take up space than you do - and that's what a lot of bigoted Aussies do with that question - just ask immigrants, or indeed the SBS who ran a programme called Go Back Where You Came From - refugees cop it especially here:

But back to multiculturalism.  One fabulous thing about living in this country (or the non-Angloceltic enclaves in this country, anyway) is that you get to meet so many people from all over the world who are very happy to share their traditions with you.  The Australian mainstream has had a tendency towards white supremacy, and particularly, Anglo supremacy, and has a long history of immigrant-bashing, and indigenous-bashing.  Those sorts of people (also found disproportionately in our current Australian government) are forever screaming for immigrants to integrate, but I've spoken to lots of immigrants, and we all have in common that the majority of our friendly social interactions are with other immigrants, because that's who actually invites us to their house, and is nice to us, and doesn't talk down to us.  The calls to integrate are frequently synonymous with obliterating your own cultural traditions and languages, to become a faux Anglo/Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy.  And this from people who usually don't speak any languages other than English, and are insular to the point of imbecility.

I hasten to add, not all Anglo-Australians are like this, and it's not just Anglo-Australians who are, either.  I'm married to an Anglo-Australian, who's one of the most respectful people I know and who is really interested in other cultures and other ways of doing things.  Also, I have close friends who at least visually and accent-wise pass for Australian mainstream, and they're lovely people.  I think sociopathy happens in any cultural group, and they're forever targeting the "not-us" no matter where they live.  So here, immigrants get targeted by Ocker Aussie sociopaths and ignoramuses, and in Germany you'd be targeted by German sociopaths and ignoramuses, etc etc.

So anyway, one of the best things socially about living in Australia is ready access to non-mainstream cultural groups from all over the world who are happy to share their traditions with people who are genuinely interested.  Diversity is the lifeblood of the biosphere; and I find it's the same with culture.  There's so many different ways to look at things, to do things, to eat, to tell stories, to make music, to think; it's such a richness, such an expanding process.  I love to hear the sounds of other languages even if I can't understand them one bit; I watch the Japanese news sometimes just because it gives me a kick how they smile at each other, and bow, and how their intonation is so supercharged with energy and enthusiasm, and how you can catch words like Herikoputā, which actually sounds so much like helicopter. :)

So when you can have a cultural experience - just say yes!  ;)

Ding.  That was the sound of the bell, and this was an unscripted speech that just fell out, or it might have been tidier, and more multifaceted.

I'm not doing the rebuttal for the concept of "Just say yes!" - I'm sure you can imagine all sorts of arguments and jokes for that side - but I will wrap up now, and post the remix from Join The Dots:

The aspects of the remix I don't like:  The bleepy electronic sounds and "dancy" overtones.  Aspects I like:  The rather amped-up guitar here.  Can I live without it?  Yes, but then people can live without all sorts of things, and this is only a remix!  :winking_tongue

Last track, next time.  (Are we still awake?  :angel)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on September 06, 2020, 10:31:14
Quote from: SueC on September 05, 2020, 06:22:18... I first came across it on the "Best Of" (which by the way it's really not, no matter if the record company deigned to call it that - it excludes so many gems in favour of more lightweight material)

Well it says "Greates hits" (as opposed to "best of") and those "hits" are included!
Apparently Robert agreed for the record company to release this, as long as he was allowed to compile the b-sides & rarities, which eventually was released in 2003 as (you guessed it) "Join the Dots"! (This project seemed way more important to him than the "hits" compilation.)

Quote from: SueC on September 05, 2020, 06:22:18If one was going to examine the main premise of this song's lyrics, I imagine one could have a lot of fun setting up two debating teams to discuss the affirmative case versus the negative case.  But what are we saying yes to?

Well, I believe Robert said there was a government campaign, versus drugs: "Just say no", which kinda inspired the song... ahem... :1f631:

Also, I seem to remember the song was a "leftover" from the Bloodflowers sessions (because it did not fit the mood of the album). It was a surprise to hear the Cure doing a "duet" (with the singer from Republica, who'd had a few hits in the 1990s).
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 06, 2020, 12:37:25
Quote from: Ulrich on September 06, 2020, 10:31:14Well it says "Greatest hits" (as opposed to "best of") and those "hits" are included!

:cool  Ah, thank you for that, @Ulrich - that will teach me not to look at a cover (but it was in an obscure shelf low down and I think I'm trying to avoid scrabbling around there) and to try to rely on my memory (these days I seem to be using the word "thing" and other metasyntactic variables more often, when I can't remember a word...).  :-D

Quote from: Ulrich on September 06, 2020, 10:31:14Apparently Robert agreed for the record company to release this, as long as he was allowed to compile the b-sides & rarities, which eventually was released in 2003 as (you guessed it) "Join the Dots"! (This project seemed way more important to him than the "hits" compilation.)

Brett is muttering about having to do deals with the devil. :lol:

But as it turns out, we have both, though I forgot the name of one of them!  :beaming-face

Quote from: Ulrich on September 06, 2020, 10:31:14
Quote from: SueC on September 05, 2020, 06:22:18If one was going to examine the main premise of this song's lyrics, I imagine one could have a lot of fun setting up two debating teams to discuss the affirmative case versus the negative case.  But what are we saying yes to?

Well, I believe Robert said there was a government campaign, versus drugs: "Just say no", which kinda inspired the song... ahem... :1f631:

Yes, ahem. :1f636:  You know, Brett mentioned when I wrote that last post that he remembered Nancy Reagan being involved in that campaign, in the 90s, and he said, "What's the chances it was about that?"  (By the way, the campaign didn't work, when you look at reviews of the data - top-down stuff like that rarely does.)

...I rather like your idea that if you can make a song fit your own circumstances and values (at least in your own head, and often consciously so), this can be a good thing!  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 07, 2020, 15:04:17
Just Say Yes
...I notice an apple in the video, which seemed a bit out of place, but made me wonder the lyrics have to do with Adam & Eve? The snake trying to invite Eve to eat the apple, encouraging "just say yes"?
Just a theory...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on September 07, 2020, 16:13:56
Quote from: word_on_a_wing on September 07, 2020, 15:04:17...I notice an apple in the video, which seemed a bit out of place, but made me wonder the lyrics have to do with Adam & Eve? The snake trying to invite Eve to eat the apple, encouraging "just say yes"?

Yeah sure; why not? It's an image that can come to mind when it's about "just say yes"! Of course the video will be done long after a song is written, but still it can contain images that were in the writer's mind.

As Sue said above "you can make a song fit your own circumstances and values (at least in your own head, and often consciously so)". To me, that song was a positive one, about saying "yes" instead of "no", e.g. having fun going out instead of staying at home.  :happy
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 07, 2020, 23:56:46
That's a good theory, @word_on_a_wing - anytime there's apples, it's so easy to think of that little story... :)  True story to illustrate - we live on a farm so when we don't have visitors, we're a sort of part-time nudist colony, due to lack of immediate neighbours (the cows don't mind :angel).  So it was summer and hot and I was coming in with some apples straight off the tree, and when my clothes are sweaty I often just leave them in the laundry on my way to the shower (at the other end of the house).  So I did that, picked up my apples again, and... there was Brett walking the other way in the corridor to greet me, having just come home.  His eyes were getting wider as he was getting closer, and what else could I do but theatrically hold out an apple, wink at him and ask, "Would you like an apple?"  :lol: 

I mean, that's probably never going to happen again, what are the chances of that? - and how could one possibly miss such a rare opportunity... :winking_tongue

Anyway, I agree it's way more likely that the apple in the clip is a reference to Eve tempting Adam (what with the Alice in Wonderland overtones with the "Eat Me" bottle as well), than that it is a health promotion exercise, or some kind of "remember to eat nutritious foods to offset your cocaine use" message.  :angel  To be more historically accurate, a pomegranate could have been used, since apples didn't exist in the Middle East thousands of years ago (and the Biblical translators probably had no idea what a pomegranate was).  Of course, going for historicity would be a bit of a stretch here, anyway.  It was really just another story to culturally ingrain the idea that Adam's sexual urges are always Eve's fault - and the world hasn't properly moved on from this narrative, sadly.

I did like the inversion of having Adam offering the apple (or maybe he'd just accepted it from his offscreen Eve and was saying to the audience, "Ner ner, look what I got!" - sort of like the joke, "Why do Australian men come so fast? So they can go tell their mates about it.").  But yeah, could also be the snake...

It's kind of amazing what symbolic loads are put on some fruit and vegetables.  Let's not even start on cucumbers.

By the way, do either of you know what that contraption with a hundred buckles that Mr Smith (AKA Adam) is brandishing is supposed to be?  Brett thought it was an abseiling harness, but it doesn't look like one I've ever seen.  Maybe I shouldn't ask...  :1f62e:

...and yes, @Ulrich, like you I continue to give that song my own take as well, and turn it into a motivator for doing things I consider to be potentially useful.  ;)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on September 18, 2020, 09:18:25
And so, to A Forest - a song that's grown on me, but in its original form was never really my cup of tea - just as The Cure wasn't, early on.  I'm listening to four different versions of this song to write this post - the original studio track, two live versions, and the remix from Join The Dots.

So, the studio version:  What I've always disliked about the song is the deadly dull drumming on it (I don't care whose music it's in, I never like this kind of monotony), the 80s plastic overtones, and Robert Smith's rather whiny and nasal early singing (he sounds so much better these days - I came on board with the Bloodflowers album where the singing isn't annoying, and have been working backwards through the catalogue ( ever since while warning everyone reading that I would in all likelihood enjoy the music less as I went further back, and beyond KMKMKM - which I love, most of anyway - that's how it appears to be turning out; although we do both like The Top so who knows.  Anyway, the studio version of this would never have encouraged me to further explore this band's music.

But seeing that other things did, and listening again, there's elements about it I like, and mostly I'd have to say it's the bass line that's the standout for me on it; plus the guitar playing towards the end of the track, which complements the bass well.

However, the Cure songs that I never especially liked as their studio incarnations (in particular, early material), I've tended to enjoy live anyway, and it's the same with A Forest.  Listening to the Hyde Park version played decades later, everything's been improved - nice new intro and other embellishments, everything sounds better, even the drums have more life to them here - and Robert Smith sounds infinitely better now as a singer - having really grown into the role, and honed his skills over the years (and perhaps dropped unnecessary affectation?).  This version, I definitely enjoy a lot.  :cool

The only thing that's not improved is the lyrics, which are a bit so-what to me... and this is a recurring thing for me with early Cure lyrics.  It's pretty hard for a mature-age person to get excited about the sorts of things that might have been viewed by some as profound when we were teenagers (but I didn't, even back then - I was looking for intelligent lyrics from the time I was 14 and what I heard from The Cure back then - which admittedly was mostly the radio hits, but also this track - just didn't make the cut for me).


Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
While you can

Come closer and see
See into the dark
Just follow your eyes
Just follow your eyes

I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark

I hear her voice
And start to run
Into the trees
Into the trees

Into the trees

Suddenly I stop
But I know it's too late
I'm lost in a forest
All alone

The girl was never there
It's always the same
I'm running towards nothing
And again and again and again

These particular lyrics are better than some of the other early examples of Cure lyrics I've come across.  They at least offer parallels to some of the Anderson and Grimm fairytales of people lost in forests - it can make a good story (depending on how metaphorical you want to get).

On that topic, by the way, I've heard Robert Smith hated a press comment made by one journo at the time about their work (and reacted with a bit of vitriol, it seems), but I do have to agree that when a bunch of teenagers/adolescents (or most adults, for that matter) attempt to go on about the great yawning emptiness of existence, I can't take that particularly seriously either - especially when it seems to be an affected position, that's adopted like a fashion (or a religion, don't get me started), rather than from wide and varied lived and vicarious experience (reading narrowly in your pet area doesn't count - and drug benders aren't necessarily a gateway to great insight either, not judging from people I've met who've been enthusiasts).  My eyebrows always go up when the early Cure go there, and they even went up when I was a teenager three decades ago, and living through a terrible family situation, and understanding even then that this kind of thinking would get me nowhere fast.

A good spoof on this kind of thinking is this:

Quote(Existentialist) Tuna Casserole

Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish

Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.

from The Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook (

It's something I've compared notes with, with other survivors of early trauma - it seemed to a friend and me, when we talked about this specifically, that some people go through oceans of darkness not of their own choosing and in response head for light, while other people from perhaps more fortunate circumstances rather ironically seem to seek out swimming pools of darkness to deliberately dabble in, almost recreationally, and then seem to attempt to turn that into something profound, to wear like a badge. I'm not sure if this is coming across clearly, and I don't mean that those more fortunate people don't also have painful experiences - everyone does.  It's just that from the perspective of someone like this friend and myself, this approach looks very strange.  We were able to find meaning even in our worst days (and they were bad enough to give both of us complex PTSD), because we learnt how to create meaning for ourselves - and we were wide awake to the beautiful things about the universe, even when we were in terrible pain - and we never, ever sought to stay longer in the dark than was imposed on us, or to wallow in it somehow.  Had we done so, we'd not have survived.

If anyone's got different lived experience, please chime in - we're all different, and it's always good to understand things that were previously inexplicable to us.  And clearly there's a difference between acknowledging awful stuff, and wallowing in it (and I think Bloodflowers acknowledges, but some of the early material definitely wallows).

The remix off Join The Dots is this one:

It's more soundtrack-like than the original song, and has some elements I like, and others I don't.  The re-done vocals are excellent.  The remix was good, and interesting to listen to, but if I've got to vote, I still vote for a live version of this track as my first preference.  What about you? :)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 12, 2020, 16:18:44
Something I came across last week that gives a lot of context for Join The Dots - a very interesting read:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on November 13, 2020, 12:24:00
Quote from: SueC on November 12, 2020, 16:18:44Something I came across last week that gives a lot of context for Join The Dots

What exactly? I only find some news from 2006 when I click on the link(s).
(Note: JTD was released in 2003.)
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on November 13, 2020, 13:35:35
Thanks for pointing that out.  The link isn't what I thought I'd put in - something went wrong with it.  I'll endeavour to fix it when I find the thing I was actually reading again - it was several pages of interview on Join The Dots from 2004... from something called the Record Collector, which had been typed out and archived... black screen, white print... Unless the link disappeared / was substituted ('cos I have no idea how that thing ended up on the end of that link, I thought I was just copying and pasting the URL...)

...luckily it was on the history.  It was a missing suffix - incomplete copy.  All fixed now and enjoy!  :cool
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on December 15, 2020, 14:21:07

Earlier today, @Matti kindly dropped a link ( into another thread discussing Wild Mood Swings which offers a lot of background and context for the album.  Bits of that interview made me think and therefore inevitably want to write, and I wasn't going to do it on that thread because what I'm thinking about is too off-topic for it, and I'm sure that @Ulrich will appreciate it if the Wild Mood Swings thread doesn't end up in Timbuktu, with a discussion of the local wildlife.  :angel

I'm also not doing it on Exploring The Back Catalogue ( because I haven't gotten around to discussing that particular album on it - we had it before I joined this forum, and on that thread, I'm prioritising "new" stuff as it arrives.  Currently that's Wish, and the self-titled is sitting there blinking at me but I won't listen to that until I'm done with Wish, and Pornography also came in and ditto, but we did listen to One Hundred Years just because we were so curious to hear the studio version of that one (and we both liked it).

However, what I want to write about does link directly back to previous long posts in this thread about This Is A Lie ( and How Beautiful You Are ( - songs whose lyrics I've debated because they don't sit right with me.  And that, by the way, is why we should debate stuff - to hone our own working hypotheses of life, to think some more as we go, to pick up additional ideas, to try seeing things from other perspectives, to modify or expand our views when necessary, to learn how other people see it, to work out our own boundaries and who we are while respecting other ways of doing things.  But also, to critique things that don't seem to stand up to rational scrutiny, or that seem narrow or ill-considered or one-dimensional - as one does in peer review (when you critique each other's scientific papers, treatises etc, to improve the overall process of the evolution of general understanding).

(Brett's sitting here going, "And above all, to emerge the victor!" and I'm miming pouring a bucket of water over his head. :lol:)

This post is going to start with stories.  I'll just jump right in with some quotes from the interview, beginning with one where Robert Smith was asked about This Is A Lie.  (This particular take, by the way, is different to the one from another interview to which I responded in my earlier post on the song in this thread.)

Quote"Yeah, well, that particular song came out of this ongoing discussion in the band about various ways to live. Monogamy and so on. Within the group, there's a point of view that it's much more satisfying to have several relationships and within those, give and take what you want and what they want. I represent the other extreme, because I'm with one person."

The Friend In The Basement

My mind immediately went back 17 years to Sydney, and I had to laugh, recalling an ongoing conversation I was having at the time with my very good friend Stephanie.  We'd both decided to come to Sydney to work, and met there by chance, in the basement of her friend's house (don't ask, maybe I should write it "friend"...).  It's not often one meets a new friend holed up in a basement.  I noticed somebody was living down there - I was on the top floor, renting a bedroom because Sydney is hellishly expensive - and one day went down to have a look, and introduce myself.  Stephanie had recently flown in from Germany for an internship, and just had her suitcase, no means of transport etc.  I couldn't understand why she was in the basement with the washing machine and broom cupboard when there was an empty, furnished bedroom upstairs.  She said, "I can't afford the bedroom, I can only afford the basement."  I scratched my head.  "But isn't this your friend?"  It seemed odd to me that a person would keep their friend in the basement, but I digress.

Stephanie had to go everywhere on the bus and this was Castle Hill, where the public transport was woeful.  Because I'd come from Western Australia, I had my own transport with me and was using it to go hiking every weekend - the Blue Mountains, Barrenjoey Peninsula, walks around Sydney Harbour (much of it on the North Shore is still fringed by strips of wilderness), or further abroad.  Since this new housemate was transportless, and spending her weekends holed up in the basement or trying to go places on the woeful buses, I naturally offered that she could come on hiking adventures with me if she wanted to discover Australia a little, now she was here.  She happily accepted.  It was a win-win - I was new there too, and already going on weekend outings one way or the other.  We became very good friends, and eventually decided to be sisters (neither of us had a sister and we'd both always wanted one).

Both of us were single, and occasionally dating.  Neither of us were meeting the kind of person we wanted to meet - we both wanted something serious, with someone who would go the distance.  We were both in our early 30s and tending to the view that the good ones were already taken.  In reality, that was not the case, of course, but it sure felt like it to us at the time.  We enjoyed our time with each other far more than we enjoyed spending time with various dates, and at one point I said to her, "If there was a pill to change my sexual orientation I would take it, because then I could potentially date you.  You're just so much nicer than any of the men I've met.  We get on great, we don't have arguments about housework but both of us just chip in and it works out fair, we have really interesting conversations, and fun adventures.  You're beautifully presented and hygienic and you never smell bad.  You self-educate and you're not bigoted.  You don't have commitment phobia and you don't want something on the side."  (Brett, incidentally, also ticks all these boxes, but it wasn't easy to find one like that with Y-chromosomes, particularly in GenX.)

Stephanie sighed and shared a theory (and now you will see why the interview quote above recalled that for me).  "A friend of mine back in Europe said to me once that the things we hope to find in one man can rarely be found in one man, and therefore we should get used to looking for four men:  One for intellectual conversations, one for outdoors, one for the bedroom, and one with handyman skills."  :lol:  (Brett says, "I'm the bedroom one."  🤪)

This became a running joke for us - as did making reference to hypothetical pills that change your sexual orientation.  We laughed about the old Woody Allen quote that being bisexual doubled your chance of a decent date for a Friday night.  We did a lot of thinking about and discussing matters related to human relationships.

The woman who was our landlady (and Stephanie's "friend") was a fundamentalist Christian who believed America was ordained by God to set a Christian example to the world (nice example, no? :1f635:).  This was at a time when there were protests in the streets about the lies world leaders were peddling as an excuse to invade Iraq.  Stephanie and I went to the peace protest in the Sydney CBD.  The ferries going there were crammed with people, many saying to us, "This is the first time I'm doing such a thing, but I just can't not."  Of course, at home, we were now the Antichrist - and more than that, our landlady seemed to suspect us of homosexuality (which she was hung up about, what with her charming fundamentalism, and we weren't - and since according to her, we "endorsed" the "homosexual lifestyle choice", who knew what we got up to when other people weren't looking 🌩).  We'd sit on the basement sofa at night giving each other neck massages after work, and foot massages, and this drew alarmed expressions from her if she happened to come down.  (Brett says, "Surely you could have played on her misconception by making monkey noises from the basement in the evening." ...see what I've married... :lol:)  She'd now invited another friend from Germany to stay with her in Castle Hill.  We thought he was going to get the upstairs bedroom, and wondered what price he would have to pay.  But to everyone's surprise, including his (as he later told us), she accommodated him in her own bedroom. 

Soon there was tension in the house, and he was left on his own by her.  (This is around the same time she began to accuse me of shedding hair all over the bathroom.  This was curly body hair, which I've never knowingly left lying around in bathrooms - you wash those down the drain, and make sure they don't end up adorning the soap.  Stephanie and I were puzzled.  There was indeed a lot of curly hair in the bathroom lately, but it was probably mostly her male visitor's, who had stuff like that all over his chest and arms and legs, and would logically shed it just towelling himself.  Men don't seem to be as self-conscious either about shedding their own body hair about the premises.)  He asked if he could get a lift into Manly with us - we were going on a Harbour walk, he just wanted to get away to the beach.  I agreed, but did mention during the trip that our landlady was now likely to accuse us of stealing her boyfriend.  He told us he wasn't her boyfriend and was dreadfully embarrassed by how things had played out after his arrival.  Apparently she was upset that he was sharing her bed but not having sex with her - "That's not what I expected when she invited me to stay with her in Sydney!" also wasn't what we had expected from a moralising fire-and-brimstone enthusiast, but there you go.  We did know that she was in her mid-30s and desperate for children, and we've noticed that people who preach narrow straitjackets around sexuality to others don't always walk their talk.

Ah, the great tapestry.  I've no idea what the truth of that was, but I do know that things can be incredibly complicated when it comes to relationships.  I'm including this detail to give some idea of the surreal backdrop against which our friendship was forged, which led to all sorts of discussions on life, the universe and everything between us - and particularly, humans and the ways they behaved.

♦ ♥ ♦

The Travelling Circus

Stephanie was a classically beautiful girl - photogenic from all angles, which I'm definitely not, dark glossy long hair, beautiful creamy skin all over (unlike us sun-blighted Aussies - I overheat easily when hiking and therefore had the choice between acquiring sun-damaged arms, or dying early of hyperthermia).  She had these lovely green cat-like eyes and this wistful smile, and the way she'd curl into a sofa or move her limbs languidly when relaxed again reminded me of a cat.  It's the sort of thing that makes me go awwww and think about fetching a mug of warm milk and a snuggly blanket. 

When we weren't hiking in our spare time, we went to museums and art galleries and rode the ferries all over Sydney Harbour.  I noticed that whenever we were out in public, men in her vicinity were nearly falling over their feet, and frequently made excuses to introduce themselves.  I found that rather amusing.  I'd read about that kind of thing, but never observed it in person.  She did nothing to encourage it and politely fended off the attention.  She told me it had always been like this, and wasn't particularly useful because it attracted the wrong kinds of people, for the wrong reasons.

Once we were in the Museum of Contemporary Arts at Circular Quay in Sydney, on our way out again in the late afternoon.  There was a coffee stand in an interior corner near the exit of the building, and Stephanie mentioned she could use a coffee.  Then we saw on a sign that it closed half an hour before the museum proper - we were just five minutes late, and the barista was tidying his stand.  "Bummer," she said.  I thought about it.  "If you want a coffee, go ask him.  There's no point me asking - if I do it will be, Sorry, Madam, we are closed! - but if you ask, 99% he'll unpack everything and make you a coffee, with complimentary cream on top, and he'll probably ask for your phone number."

She considered for a moment.  "But that wouldn't be right."  I agreed with her - it's not right, strictly speaking, but neither was that she couldn't go anywhere without men getting in her face.  It was like being in a travelling circus, it was uncomfortable, and it was bothersome.  Here's the funny thing - a subset of men think it's such a wonderful compliment to a woman to go up and make a pass at her.  That's the type we both found odious, and if there were no other types of men we'd both have either taken up voluntary celibacy, or made a serious effort to discover just how fluid sexual orientation really is.  Not all of them were like that, of course - some of them might even have been nice, but it really isn't fun to have to deal with that level of attention every time you're out in public.  And what was she supposed to do about it?  Wear a burqa?  Well, that would just have singled her out for another type of unpleasant attention.  Stay home?  Maybe get a mohawk and wear chains through her nose?

"Go on," I said.  "Play the tourist and ask for a coffee.  He could choose to say no.  But he won't.  We can't always be tying ourselves in knots about stuff like this."  And off she went, blushing at her own audacity.  "I'm sorry, I know I'm five minutes late, but is it still possible to get a coffee?"  The barista smiled a 100W smile I could see from across the room, and soon after, Stephanie returned with a big paper cup and a sheepish expression on her face.  "Got your coffee, I see,"  I teased her.  We are a strange species.  What can you do?  Love your friends.  Walk a mile in people's shoes.  Find reasons to laugh.

♦ ♥ ♦

Just Be You

We were talking about these events while walking through coastal woodland high on a sea cliff along the Bibbulmun track near Torbay last night - the UV is so high here in summer that we're now doing twilight hikes.  It occurred to me looking back that I've never been plagued with envy.  Some people might have had a problem going around with someone so beautiful they were rendered invisible, but I just laughed and observed people.  Stephanie was my friend, and I was glad of all the things that made her shine because I loved her, and because those things made the world a better place.

And I think that's true in a wider sense too - I've never been envious when someone is wonderfully creative and does something I can't do, or when someone is incredibly physically beautiful, or when they do something magnificently intelligent that I couldn't have.  Those kinds of things are light to me, and reasons for celebration (just look at all the wonderful books and music and architecture etc we have because other people developed and used their gifts and yes, there's a lot of rubbish as well but I'm not talking about that here).  When teaching high schoolers, everything intelligent or lovely or creative or funny they said or did filled me with joy, and made me glad to be human, and gave me hope for our species - it's an antidote to the wider picture of corruption and injustice and destruction, and because these are young people, there's a sense that they will steer better than the current captains when they get near the rudder.

I think envy comes from two things especially - from not feeling that who you are and what you're doing in the world is enough, and from seeing everything as a competition for supremacy (as is the cultural brainwash).  But if you are broadly happy with your path, and you can see that we're all part of each other, envy just doesn't happen.

Maybe it's comparatively easy for me these days - I recognise that I have gifts, and I give them.  (By the way, that's a nice ethos from Catholic schools where I've taught - that we all have gifts, and that we are to develop and use them in service of others. :cool)  Also it helps to have a fair few objective strings in my bow, like multiple university qualifications and academic awards, really positive employment references through the years, a professional publication sitting in the National Library of Australia; and a broad skill set that includes things like milking cows, saddle training horses, trimming hooves, managing biodiversity and sustainable farming, designing and owner building our own off-grid eco-house, growing food and flowers, creating habitat, writing articles for magazines, dabbling in strings (for my own entertainment mostly - when you're learning an instrument, you can literally feel the new neural connections forming, plus it's great meditation for people who can't sit still), producing nutritious and delicious meals which are one of the backbones of our good health, climbing Australian mountains (which by European standards are molehills) and being good at off-the-track hiking etc.  Of course, it's a common thing with high achievers to feel like nothing is ever good enough, or enough - but I got past that a while back, and am happy with the contributions I am able to make.  All you really need to do is quietly keep plugging away at the things that are important to you.

I've never, ever wanted to be anybody else but me; I just wanted to become good at being me, even when that was so hard for me when I was younger that I repeatedly came to the point of wishing I'd never been born.  If there had been an "undo" button, there are many times I would have wanted to use it in my late teens and 20s, when life was just too painful and dark.  Luckily, I was never attracted to putting an end to my existence now that I was here;  just the idea that I could undo having been born, and because that's not possible, I am still here.

Brett laughed last night when I said, "The other thing people don't understand when they would so gladly swap existences with someone else is that they'd just be swapping one set of problems for another."  Because there is no getting away from having to confront some really tough things, whoever you are; and if you don't, you just become an empty shell, like certain outgoing leaders of the so-called "free world" (now that's a joke :1f635:) - and that can cause so much damage to others, and the world in general.  (Of course, when dying people want to swap with someone not dying, that's a different matter to the general, "I wish I could swap with X so I could be more beautiful and accomplished and admired and wealthy and famous etc etc.")

The real challenge is to become good at being you.  It's also a wonderful thing to witness when other people you know are making progress in that direction.  There's too much surface activity and window dressing in our world and not enough underneath and authenticity, so if we can help each other with that, that's excellent.  And it's a bit like an avalanche - it tends to grow and gather momentum once it gets rolling.  The more we do this, the easier it gets, both for ourselves, and for other people around us.  ♥

♦ ♥ ♦

Thought Experiments

Stephanie and I continued to be disappointed with the quality of the available males we were meeting (see footnote*), and in quasi-desperation we joked that if even one of us were to find a good one, we were going to share him, provided he was happy with that arrangement.  Stephanie laughed until she was bent double.  "If he's happy with the arrangement!  That's a good one.  It's what most of them fantasise about - multiple women - and not having to hide them from each other is surely a bonus, unless the hiding and lying bit is part of the attraction!" 

It was an amusing thought.  "He'll think he's got it made...but he doesn't know what he's in for!  Try getting out of your share of the housework when you're up against a united team of two women.  Or leaving the toilet seat up, or not checking for tissues in your pockets when you put dirty clothes in the wash basket.  And forget about watching the football - I hope you like interior decorating shows, All Creatures Great And Small, movies about diseases, and period romances!"

When you think about it, a man in an all-around agreed-upon relationship with two women who are friends has far greater opportunities for becoming properly civilised and house-trained.  :angel   It's such a vastly different proposition to a scenario where two women in separate households and not in a sharing agreement are being played off against each other, overtly or covertly, by one guy.  All a man learns from that, I think, is entitlement and bad manners.

Jokes aside, the situation did make me think, looking back, about whether an alternative universe exists where I could have ended up in a non-traditional arrangement, and I think the answer is yes.  If the right person had come along then I think I could actually have shared him (if he was agreeable :winking_tongue) with Stephanie, or a very close female friend like that, without getting jealous or freaking out.  I'm not the kind of person who's inclined towards extra people in the bedroom, and I would have wanted my friend to have privacy too, so it would most likely have been on some kind of equitable roster basis.

Of course, I do think that the more variables you add, the more unstable something potentially becomes, and the biggest risk, in my view, in that sort of scenario, is that somehow or other you end up falling out with your friend somewhere along the line in the process.  And I've got to say, I think a close friendship is worth more than a sexual time-share, and your friendship may be less at risk if you scale down your expectations of sexual partners and each of you just have separate "bonking buddies" for that particular purpose, while having the intellectual conversations, mutual support, fun outings and adventures, plus a fully functional, equitable household in your platonic friendship(/s).  Please note, I'm just speculating and extrapolating here, having not done specific fieldwork in this area.  :angel

*To give a prime example, but not quite the worst, I had a date with a Frenchman who, walking along Shelley Beach in Manly, asked me, "What would you do if you were my girlfriend and I hit you?"  I replied, "That would be the end of the matter.  You'd not see me again - I've no intentions of enabling a violent relationship."  He said to me, "That's not very forgiving, and you don't understand men.  What you need to do when a man hits you is to cry so he can understand he's hurt you, and make it up to you."  You couldn't make this stuff up. Here's a guy who wants to bash women and then have sex with them.  Brett says, "Why not ask him, What would you do if you were my boyfriend and I kneed you in the balls?"

Another, this time seemingly nice, guy I dated in Sydney for a while swore blind he'd been celibate for over a year, and was getting regular HIV tests because he was a regular blood donor, when we were discussing contraception options - and a couple of weeks later he mentioned having had sex with a neighbour who'd been locked out by a flatmate a few months earlier, "to comfort her" but "that it didn't count because she was lesbian" - you tell me...

Stephanie dated a New Zealander at one point and did, for once, have impromptu sex on a date (saying to me, "It's just been far too long...").  In the morning, she discovered a photo of his current NZ girlfriend in his wallet.  She had no intention of being "the other woman" or a bit on the side, but people usually aren't upfront about stuff like this.

These are just a couple of examples of a long, long list of fishy things experienced by myself and by friends in the sphere of dating and relationships, and they're not even the worst.

Practical Experiments

But that's not how it worked out.  Stephanie and I both ended up leaving Sydney to go home again, she to Germany and I to Western Australia.  Back home, a couple of years later, I finally, miraculously met an available, highly compatible person in possession of Y-chromosomes.  It was very quickly as good a friendship as I had with Stephanie, and it's now had 14 years to get broader and deeper, as good friendships will, given time and care.  I was adamant this time that friendship had to be the foundation for a potential life partnership, and that it wasn't going to be complicated with sexual involvement before the friendship had time to develop solidly.

That sounds so twee, and so conservative, but for my personal background it was totally the right thing to do.  Everyone has a thing called a "sexual script" that's unconsciously written for them in childhood, which can be modified later as long as you go looking for the source code, successfully locate it, and re-write the bits you personally find objectionable.  Because I grew up in a violent, emotionally abusive household, with a controlling, narcissistic father, my sexual script early on in my life caused me to be attracted to controlling, narcissistic men.  I don't mean that I set out consciously looking for people like that - if you'd asked me to write an essay on what I was looking for, I'd have written a description of Brett, pretty much, from my late teens - personality, values, interests - plus he's on the spectrum of physical traits I personally find particularly attractive (pale skin, dark hair and lots of it, great smile, strong eyebrows, lithe and lean and able to scramble up mountains and cliffs with ease - not that this was all essential or that I couldn't have learnt to find other traits attractive).  But the thing is, it's not intellect that's in charge of who you're sexually and emotionally attracted to, it's all that subconscious stuff, including the bad code that you got as a kid.  You end up having powerful physical and emotional reactions to exactly the wrong sorts of people - all your mating biochemistry set for the wrong parameters - and until you understand why, you're liable to question your own sanity, and to have a series of bad relationships with people with similar behaviours as your family of origin.

I was still re-writing that code when I met Brett, and there came a point in our relationship where I had to explain that to him - that I'd never previously managed to be sexually and emotionally attracted to a person who had his heart in the right place (but would very much like to give it a chance).  I was very much afraid that I wouldn't be able to break the pattern, and I also felt bad for Brett because he clearly had no issues with being sexually and emotionally attracted to me and here I was with my own heart under a layer of ice.  However, he was understanding, patient and, it turns out, very good at melting all the protective ice.

So we had a drawn-out courtship, for contemporary standards, and I actually think, looking back, that this was so much nicer than just catapulting into sex before knowing each other well.  So we started out holding hands a lot, which was really lovely, by the way - and weirdly, holding hands with him was very different from holding hands with other people I'd dated, or been involved with previously.  It's at the same time the most innocent thing in the world, and such a sensuous experience that it was better than my best prior experiences of sexual intercourse (which were not all woeful; some of them were technically very good).  So you know, should we lose the capacity eventually with advancing decrepitude, we will still be very happy holding hands.  :)

( (

Even now, when I've had well over a decade to get used to it, we'll walk down a beach holding hands and I'll say to him, "Why, why, why is this always like foreplay for us?" and he grins at me and says, "Everything is foreplay for us."  Which by the way doesn't mean we're constantly banging away - but it means that everything is incredibly well integrated, in a way I'd never remotely experienced before.

I remember one evening early in our courtship where we ended up hugging in front of the heater and being unable to let go, and we spent hours lying on the floor until the sides of us facing away from the little heater were freezing (nightfall in an uninsulated house) and we got incredibly sore from being on the floorboards.  Still, the idea of letting go and going to our separate beds (he was in the guest quarters downstairs) was unthinkable.  At around 2am, I finally said to him, "We need to sleep, we're both freezing and sore, I really don't want to stop hugging you.  I have a nice comfortable queen-sized bed with a warm quilt which would accommodate both of us, and that would be a far better place to hug each other than this horrible cold hard floor.  The problem is, inviting a man to your bed has these certain overtones which I don't intend with it.  I don't mean the conventional subtext, I just want to keep hugging in a nice, soft, warm place where we can go to sleep."

This was just fine and dandy with him, and so that's what we did.  ♥  He's the first man ever who didn't pressure me for sex as a result of extended (/any) hugging.  I can't tell you how good it felt to be valued as a person, instead of treated as an object, and not to have a man going on about how much he was suffering from having to restrain himself (...this notion has Brett rolling his eyes... told you I'd previously dated a-holes 👺).  And also, the hugging was exquisitely lovely.  ♥  It was really nice just to be able to enjoy it for its own sake, and not as a prelude to anything;  and not to feel that because you've done this, you must therefore do that, like some kind of obligation.  (Honestly!  :P  Brett is making an indicator needle with his finger, swinging it to the right, and saying, "...but I did know that the probability of really interesting stuff happening was creeping upwards!"  :lol:)

That particular night has a name in our personal relationship lore:  We called it Corduroy Night, because Brett was wearing a soft cream-coloured pair of corduroys all night, and that's unusual bedwear, but it would have wasted valuable hugging time if he'd gone downstairs to put on his pyjamas, plus at that stage, pyjamas would have been a bit too informal.  :angel  We hugged all night, got snatches of sleep, and in the morning, we had breakfast in bed while tangling bare feet and reading - which set a precedent for ever after, because we still don't eat at a breakfast table unless we have guests or particularly messy food, and we still tangle feet and read things.

I could fill volumes with our early days and our life together since - and I have, in my paper journals (one special entry of which I scanned and put here ( - but I'll leave it at that, here.  I'm going to look back on this stuff fondly until the day I die.  Life is so much nicer when people's focus is on what they can give to each other, rather than what they can take take take - and when they take pleasure in giving, and not just in taking.  And when they actually see and hear each other, and don't make another person a screen for their projections - because you can't get to know someone for real if you're projecting on them.  (And by the way, I always thought that last point was one of the themes of Pictures Of You - I never saw it as a breakup song, as quite a few people did - I saw it as "let go of your projections and try seeing the real person" - keeping in mind that songs are often another form of Rorschach test.)

♦ ♥ ♦

We're back to the same point again that songs, literature etc all help us work out who we are, and who we're not, and all sorts of other useful stuff.

Let's get back to another interview quote:

QuoteDo you still see people from the old days', like Siouxsie?

"No. She's probably very nice now, but the shit I was given then for having a girlfriend f*cking hell! She thought that was a very middleclass thing to do. Now look at her - comfortably married and living in the south of France. I'm sure she's a lot nicer person for having discovered that love isn't a thing that has to be tucked into a corner."

She gave you crap for being surburban?

Smith shakes his head: "She gave me crap for being in love.

The Baby And The Bathwater

Ever noticed the tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater?  Someone grows up in a middle-class family, and if they're that way inclined, may rebel against what they see by going to opposite extremes.  Their parents were married?  Well, they sure as hell won't be - they'll just have flings then dump people.  Their parents keep their house deadly clean?  Ha - they'll live in a bomb site when they get a house.  Their parents have ceramic dinner plates?   They'll have plastic picnicware, or eat straight from the tin.  Etc etc etc.  Because they're their own people.

The funny thing is that you're then equally defined by the person you're rebelling against than if you were to slavishly imitate them.  It's giving them a heck of a lot of power, while you think you're the one taking control.  Obviously it can get up those people's noses, but isn't it more important to live your own life based on working out your own values, ideals etc, than just to kneejerk react into the opposite direction of someone or something you despise?

So I've never really liked rebelling-for-rebelling's-sake, or music about that.  If you're going to critique, don't just tear something apart and storm off - actually offer a better way of doing things - think about what should be, not just what shouldn't.  It's really easy being an armchair critic if you don't have to get up there and perform yourself.  I've heard some artists saying that they have no responsibility to fix the system, just to point out it's broken - and that it's someone else's job to fix it.  To me that's such a copout - we're all human, we're all in this together, and we all have responsibility for what we do to the world and each other, and what we let other people/"the system" get away with doing.

My parents were married and I didn't like what I saw in how they conducted that relationship and general interpersonal business in the family - but that didn't make me swear off marriage or family.  There were plenty of better examples around.  My parents often bought cheap low-quality junk to save money when ironically they had a lot of it - but I'm not buying the most expensive and prestigious stuff I can afford in response to that because I think that's idiotic too - we look at quality, longevity, local production or fair trade, environmental standards etc - not fashion or status - and we don't collect possessions like magpies, either, whether cheap junk which my mother used to come home with by the bagful, or the status items some people like to surround themselves with.

You don't have to repeat a pattern, nor do you have to confect the opposite - just start with a blank slate and figure out what you want to do.  To let someone else's dysfunction push me in a reactionary way into a different kind of dysfunction, or into opting out of something entirely if there's better ways to do that, isn't very smart.  Snobbery or inverted snobbery, two sides of the same coin, two wings of the same vulture.

That tendency some people have to adopt the dead opposite of what they grew up with can also be seen in how philosophy has often been conducted. Traditionally Philosopher A would expound a theory, and then Philosopher B would come along and construct a theory that was dead opposite to Philosopher A's; for example:  We have totally free will versus We have no free will at all when both those extreme viewpoints are are actually incorrect - we can exercise some free will, and get better at it as we go, but there's other things in which we're constrained, whether temporarily or permanently; and it's different for different people and situations.  Even the language of philosophy reveals this:  Thesis versus antithesis - and synthesis, which attempts to reconcile the truths of opposing viewpoints, and present a more complex, and complete, picture.

That's a broad sweep out to various subjects that connect back to the idea (from the quote) that a person is being ridiculed for having a steady girlfriend - which I find preposterous, obviously.  And it's not just that issue that would be targeted by that kind of subculture/counterculture - you try not drinking alcohol, or very little of it, or "not-doing" anything else that the subculture/counterculture or peer group commonly does.  So I actually find many of the subcultures/countercultures that formed in reaction against mainstream culture just as bigoted and prescriptive as mainstream culture, albeit in the opposite direction, or alternative directions - and the reality is that many people in subcultures/countercultures don't think for themselves either, just as is the case in mainstream culture.

So in the mainstream culture, several decades back, you could get lambasted for not marrying;  and in the countercultures you could get lambasted if you did decide to get married.  Ditto, taking drugs, not taking drugs.  Riding motorbikes, not riding motorbikes.  Saying fvck and not saying fvuk.  Etc etc etc.  And it's all so silly, because none of these groups, mainstream or not, seem to encourage you to truly think for yourself - it all seems to come back to conformity to whatever the rules of the "club" are - to the herd instinct, basically.

Brett and I were both essentially outsiders through middle school and mostly went off and did our own thing, like browse in the library, instead of get involved in group politics.  Therefore, neither of us were ever under any pressure to take up smoking (popular in the 80s) or to binge drink or to have flings, all of which seemed to be seen as "initiation rites" in our social environments at the time, and all of which we personally thought were silly things to do.  We didn't get caught up in the crowd like that - we had a handful of good friends each that we'd talk to, but avoided groups and their little games.

I noticed with the younger generations that came after ours, that there seemed to be a bit more freedom for people to be genuine, rather than conform; and the world of friendships in middle school was less dog-eat-dog.  As a result, people didn't have to be quite as "outside" anymore in order to do their own thing, and I think that's an encouraging development.  :cool

I suppose when Siouxsie Sioux gave Robert Smith crap about having a steady girlfriend, she would have thought herself more liberated and sophisticated, and less brainwashed, than the person she was giving crap, but the irony is that her ideas, and those of her ilk, seem to me like just another type of brainwash.  Brett likes some of The Banshees' music, I think he mostly added that to his collection in his 20s, but as a teenager I remember not liking a lot of stuff that I found too cold, and/or too conformist and not independent enough, whether mainstream or from subcultures - and I was therefore not attracted to stuff like The Banshees.  It seemed to me that it was the devil or the deep blue sea, with mainstream culture versus many subcultures.

I still liked alternative music much better than mainstream, but that's because amongst people making alternative music there were also some people who did think seriously and independently, instead of mostly just being reactionary.  I liked reading or hearing interviews with them; it was interesting, like their music, and it was educational.  It also was such a relief that there were people you could interview in this world who weren't just going to regurgitate stuff that their particular culture or subculture had programmed them with and who had this great vacuum behind their words.

Siouxsie Sioux appeared to discover later that those early sweeping pronouncements were in error, considering she got married herself.  Or who knows, maybe it was a practical experiment to test the running hypothesis that marriage is all middle-class, bourgeois, boring, unenlightened, demeaning, etc etc.  Well, a bad marriage can be these things, of course.  But it's like Christmas, really:  What I see in consumer culture around me when Christmas approaches makes me want to throw up.  I could refuse to hold Christmas altogether, or I could do what we do, which is to do Christmas our own way, focused on people and not materialism, without the technicolour full-sized model Santa outside the front door and the seizure-inducing plethora of aggressively strobing fairy lights all over the house exterior, without the set traditional Christmas lunch and the annoying relatives, etc.  (This is NOT a magic formula - other people that have actually thought about it critically may very well have the traditional Christmas lunch, and an enjoyable extended family to gather in, and manage to do the technicolour Christmas in a way that actually fits in with them in a positive way - we're all different, there is no prescription.)

We still have a tree and all that, but it's a potted Albany Woollybush that lives in the garden for the rest of the year.  We do decorate it, and put gifts under it, but mostly for us the actual Christmas Eve/Christmas Day is a private couple retreat, where we might go for a night walk to look at the sky, eat whatever we want to for dinner - Brett makes an amazing mushroom/smoked ham/celery salad which is always a firm favourite around that time - and we might have stir fry for Christmas lunch, or just salads if it's hot, and we usually go down to Cosy Corner or Lowlands (remote beaches near our place) for an early walk or a twilight walk.  Much of the day will be spent reading books companionably, maybe watching some Dr Who (Brett's treat, but I've come to enjoy it too), just kicking back.  Occasionally when Christmas Day is unusually cool, and we're feeling energetic, we may actually go for a 3-4 hour hike along the coast.  So we're pretty happy with our personalised Christmas.

( (

...that's from a couple of years back when we still had the aerial in the house because we were too chicken to mount it on the highest part of our gable (even though we'd plastered that gable ourselves :lol:); we ended up getting professional assistance, and now it's up.  :)   

I think this is a good place to wrap up this post - and I'd like to wish everyone out there a really good Christmas, however you choose to do it or not do it.  ♥  Enjoy your snow, or sleet, or drizzle, or (for those in the Southern Hemisphere) your white-hot heat and skin-blistering, melanoma-inducing UV.  :angel  Maybe indoors is a good place to be in both hemispheres on Christmas Day - perhaps in an igloo, or a tent by the sea?

Oh and if you're looking for a nice Christmas movie, here's an Australian cult classic we can thoroughly recommend - full version now on YT!

Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on December 19, 2020, 17:02:53
Quote from: SueC on December 15, 2020, 14:21:07Stephanie sighed and shared a theory (and now you will see why the interview quote above recalled that for me).  "A friend of mine back in Europe said to me once that the things we hope to find in one man can rarely be found in one man, and therefore we should get used to looking for four men:  One for intellectual conversations, one for outdoors, one for the bedroom, and one with handyman skills."  :lol: 

And the most important thing: all four of them should never know about any of the others!!  :beaming-face

Quote from: SueC on December 15, 2020, 14:21:07[Under construction...this is going to be a long one and I may end up adding to it for weeks.]

Oh Lord, have mercy upon us! :1f632:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on December 19, 2020, 17:09:12
Bwahahaha, @Ulrich!  Very good!  :winking_tongue

And as to your second point, nobody is twisting your arm, or anybody's arm for that matter. But maybe you got tired of The Sun (  :angel  You could try War and Peace, maybe - read that yet? ;)

So many good books, so little time!  :angel

The Brothers Karamazov comes highly recommended by James Herriot as a book to assist in getting to sleep at night - about equal with a complicated book on eye anatomy, particularly a bit on how the ciliary body is suspended... and by which ligaments... :)

PS:  I rolled my ankle today, so if anything, my output will increase... 'cos I can't hike on it at the moment...
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on December 21, 2020, 04:16:32
@Ulrich, a miracle has happened!  :1f631:  I actually finished that post I thought might go on and on for weeks!  :-D  Now I can get back to other threads, and the general public will have something to read in case they are trying to cure insomnia!  :1f634:

PS: Brett reckons I should have written, ...and the general public will have something to read in case they are trying to Cure insomnia!
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: Ulrich on December 22, 2020, 11:37:15
Quote from: SueC on December 21, 2020, 04:16:32Ulrich, a miracle has happened!  :1f631:  I actually finished that post I thought might go on and on for weeks!

A Christmas miracle, hooray. Sometimes you get what you ask for!  :-D
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on December 23, 2020, 00:32:58
I've just done an edit and added a footnote to the bottom of Thought Experiments that can be kept in mind by anyone who gets annoyed with me when I get annoyed about something that appears to be fishy in a set of lyrics... it's not having one or two experiences of fishy behaviour in the real world, but a whole stream of those, and your friends also experiencing this to a greater or lesser degree, that sets up this kind of allergy.  I know there's a lot of decent people in this world too, and if they haven't seen very much of this themselves, then coming across such allergies might raise their eyebrows.

PS:  @Ulrich, sometimes you even get things you don't ask for!  :winking_tongue 

And speaking of such things, Brett is making a little Christmas surprise for CF! :lol: 🤪
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on February 27, 2021, 00:24:44

I came across something trawling the CF archives last night that started a discussion between us here at home, and I've decided the topic needs writing about.  I'm not going to link the quote back to the archived discussion; the person it's from seems to mostly make very intelligent contributions and this isn't to get back at them, this is to discuss a cultural problem.

I'm posting it in this thread because even though it's not a B-side, we've already talked about The Only One previously here (, so it can be a post-script to that, and a discussion opener if anyone is game to jump in. the way something that one guy said on that morrissey forum describes it rather well: "Sure, hearing Bob sing about getting an awesome blowjob is mildly entertaining, but..."
yes, 'but' indeed. ;)

As a couple we unanimously take exception to the careless (and ridiculing, and vulgar) language frequently used around sexuality in casual discussion, as it was here - and more specifically, the summing up of an attempt to write openly about sex in a song as, "...(this person) getting an awesome blowjob."  (And they are mildly entertained by that.  Ho hum.  Yeah, people write about intimacy in order to entertain Neanderthals, apparently.)

The lyrics to The Only One were graphic, but they weren't vulgar, and they weren't toxic, and they weren't misogynistic; but let's not miss the opportunity, apparently, to describe that song, and oral sex actually, in vulgar, toxic and misogynistic terms.  (And why are we specifically making this about oral sex?  The song was about sexuality more generally, and oral sex was only an aspect of that.  I've got some ideas, and will try to weave those in later.)

English is not my first language, and I had quite a few surprises learning it.  It's the only language I've come across in which "it blows" can mean exactly the same thing as "it sucks", and in which abbreviation is such a long word, and where there's at least four different ways of pronouncing the letter combination "-ough", and umpteen other things like that.

I first heard the word "blowjob" in middle school, where I also heard frequent joking/insulting references to "vibrators" - and those references left me perplexed and emotionally reeling at the apparent crudeness and idiocy of adulthood.  As for the latter, I imagined it must be a joke - surely people wouldn't have constructed machines to stick in their private places.  But as the years passed, it dawned upon me that people had done exactly that, and as the decades passed and I caught some documentaries on SBS on Friday nights, I was kept intricately up to date on the evolution of sex robots.  Because sex is a commodity, apparently, and human intimacy is optional (/scary?).

I'm an adult these days, and I'm not wanting to shame anyone over the use of electrical appliances in the bedroom, even if that concept baffled me as a teenager and still doesn't do anything for me personally - ever heard the saying, "My erotica, your porn, their filth"?  But let's talk about shame, and ridicule, in the wider sense, because it's a discussion that needs to be had.

"Blowjob" is one of those words that seems nonsensical, amongst other things.  "Why is it called blowjob?" I asked my husband.  "One doesn't actually blow.  It's not like inflating a flotation device."  He replied, "You might want to look up the etymology of that one.  Or on second thoughts, maybe not."  (And then, "Hey Sue, what's the entomology of insect?"  - "Hey Brett, what's the etiology of your mental disorder?")

Logically, the word "blowjob" should refer to inflationary activities, as applies to balloons, camping mattresses, the aforementioned flotation devices, inflatable sexual partners, etc.  Scenario:  You go camping, and you delegate the blowjobs.  But let's put the jokes aside.  Why refer to oral sex in this way?

And is it all oral sex, or specifically oral-sex-as-applied-to-males?  I've never heard the word "blowjob" used to refer to oral-sex-as-applied-to-females - where frankly, a jargon-induced misunderstanding about what you're supposed to do is potentially dangerous:  Blowing up the vagina occasionally leads to embolisms, and to my mind is no more erotic than trying to blow up your partner's oral cavity when kissing.  ("Hey, I'm not a Resusci-Annie!")


I'm scraping around my memory for a crude term specifically for oral-sex-as-applied-to-females, and am not coming up with anything (although there's a myriad ways to scaffold it onto existing intentionally offensive terms around female anatomy and general sexuality).  My fishing failure here may be because I don't usually hang with people who discuss sex in crude terms, and/or perhaps because oral-sex-as-applied-to-females is a rarer thing in the real world than oral-sex-as-applied-to-males, and/or because when certain men who like crudity do condescend to perform such an act on a female, they see it as a heroic act of masculine virility and/or a shining example of how they're God's gift to women?  (If they can even look past their penises as the be-all and end-all of everything for long enough...)  Maybe the kind of people who construct these crudities are men who see themselves as entitled to receive such attentions from the females they are attracted to, and yet to spit upon them semantically and metaphorically for the performance of it?  And would never be caught dead offering oral sex to a female partner (however fleeting), unless it can be used as a means of ego inflation, control or humiliation?  Toxic masculinity is a thing; and there's whole packs of men like that online, discussing their misogynistic fantasies and talking about their "right to rape" and even how rape "doesn't actually exist because a natural man has a right to females."  (It's funny you know, in nature, if a stallion gets a notion like this, he may find himself educated by a resounding kick in the chest by a mare.)

Which brings us to this:  People suck.  They really do.

Some people, of course, may be immature, and embarrassed by sex, and therefore need to resort to jokes and ha-ha about it.  I'm not pointing my rebuke at them, but they are the chicken and the egg both, really - the embarrassment is partly due to this cultural shiitake, and it perpetuates the cultural shiitake at the same time.

And it's all such a long way from this:


Because human intimacy is an extraordinarily beautiful thing, to which the crudity, lack of respect and inequality I discussed above is anti-matter.

Think about kissing for a moment.  Not kissing in order to pressure someone to have sex with you; kissing to convey love and appreciation and togetherness.  Kissing in order to express and to create intimacy, emotionally as well as physically.  Perhaps, but not always, kissing to express and create desire in both of you - not always because the tail doesn't wag the dog; it's the other way around.  Kissing as a warm and intimate and sharing thing - and as a respectful thing, as well as a wild thing.  It's one of the loveliest things there is.

So would you dismiss that as "face-svcking"?  (Sorry about the v - ironically, s'ucking is automatically censored by the forum software, but you can say suck till the cows come home.  :winking_tongue)  I'm sure face-svcking is also a thing; the kind of stuff people do with their faces in order to say, "Me-Neanderthal-you-Jane-I-want-sex-now!" is actually more aptly described that way - it doesn't dignify the application of the word "kissing", if you ask me.  (I'm so extremely lucky - my husband is not a Neanderthal. ♥  My heart does cartwheels over that every time we're intimate.  If you've seen a lot of dross, you appreciate gold all the more.  Metaphorically.  I don't give a flying fvck about the metal per se.)

Accordingly, let's consider oral sex for a moment.  (It's not a very positive term either; it kind of sounds dental and clinical and odd.  We need a better word...)  If I were to draw a Venn diagram, with a circle with the word "kissing" in it, then the circle I'd draw with the word "oral sex" in it would actually have a lot of overlap with the "kissing" circle.  It's an extension of kissing in an erotic context.  And it's not like there's only the mouth or the genitalia either - how many square metres of skin on the human body?  Yet some people seem to see it as a soccer field, with two goals either end.

As you can see, I'm coming at this from the perspective of intimate relationships involving actual love - I understand that there's also the mutual-Neanderthal stuff (and regrettably, the one-sided Neanderthal stuff, which is another matter); that some people just want to bonk as a sort of recreational sport and not recognise the other person's humanity while they do so; and as long as both sides are happy with that kind of transaction, it doesn't bother me.  Each to their own - as long as there is consent.

But it does seem to me that the Neanderthals do a fair bit of projecting; and I don't think it's fair for them to describe what people for whom love and emotional connection matter do in the language with which they refer to their own activities.  I don't give my husband blowjobs - there's no blowing, it's not my job or even a job, and it's not like this:

QuoteYoung women reported a lack of respect and satisfaction in their sexual experiences. Even on dates, women said they felt pressured to provide pleasure. Orenstein was surprised when "a freshman at a West Coast college said to me, 'A girl will give a guy a blowjob at the end of the night because she doesn't want to have sex with him and he expects to be satisfied. So if I want him to leave and I don't want anything to happen...'"

(Read the rest of it here (  How did we get to this?  It's appalling.   :smth011

In the context of that Cure song, it's also the narrator's partner you're insulting here.  Go on, have a dig at the woman - taking a sexual dig at a woman is what lots of people do, some maliciously, some for entertainment, many without thinking because it's so culturally ingrained, and because of how it has stained the language around sexuality.  And if you belong to the third category, wake up please.  (If you belong to the first two, I don't know how much hope of that there is.)

Attitudes matter.  Language matters.

The in-common-use problematic language around sexuality colours people's attitudes to sex before they even reach puberty.  It normalises things that it's actually really unhealthy to normalise:  Exploitation instead of mutuality.  Ridicule instead of respect.  Double standards. 

Think about it for a moment:  Sexuality is potentially one of the most beautiful, intimate, connecting things between two people - so why is it that so much sexual language is also co-used - and actually predominantly used - for insult and derision?  Why is it that when a person wants to take a really below the belt potshot at another, they describe them in terms of the anatomy and physiology around urination, defaecation and intercourse?  Why is intercourse thrown into the same bucket as waste removal?  Why is it that when you want to be really mean, you use words related to female anatomy, and females?  Why is it that when you call a man a dick it's almost a friendly insult and means he's a bit silly, but when you call him a c*nt he's a really horrible person?

If the language of ridicule and shame also enters the bedroom, it can kind of taint the experience.  Maybe this is more the case for word nerds who are super-aware of these things, but it's there to a degree with everyone.  Language is our symbology; and if we dip our symbology in shit, it's going to smell, even if my nose is more sensitive than yours.  If the casual (and the vulgar) language around genitalia, sex and sexuality is loaded with ridicule, insult and shame, how will this not bleed into your experience of sexuality?

I do know how we personally in part avoid that - we simply don't use such terms in an erotic context.  We use neutral language, anatomical language, medical language, and a fair bit of metaphor.  We make up language if we need to.  Also of course, sex can be a language of its own, where you go way beyond words, just as music takes you way beyond words.

Some couples might be able to reclaim terms that we personally don't use, the same way you can reclaim Christmas from all the BS consumerism around it, and if that's you, good on you - there's more than one way to skin a cat, etc.  And just as I don't want any consumerist BS around my Christmas, I don't want any demeaning BS around my sexuality, or my husband's sexuality, or sexuality in general - yet our whole society seems to have this shiitake loaded onto our shoulders from the go-get, and we have to learn to get rid of the foul taste and the bad smell, if we're wanting to have experiences with one another that are completely and unequivocally beautiful, in that brief flash of light between those eternities of darkness.  :P

I may or may not be finished.  You can check back tomorrow if you want.  Meanwhile, other stuff to do...


[Probably still under construction - and if you persist with this, you will need a securely anchored Jesus handle]

Recommended Reading

From Elizabeth ♥ who kindly recommended Peggy Orenstein on this stuff - and it's excellent:
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on March 03, 2021, 01:09:14

Since the last post is so long, I'm leaving it be and writing postscripts (which is getting kind of recursive :lol:).  This is from discussions about The Only One with friends and where that went to, and us talking to each other at home, and just general ongoing reflection.

One idea that surfaces is that you don't want to end up with mental videotape of the particular, person-specific scenario in the song (well, maybe some people do, but not the people I'm talking to).  Remember when you were on the cusp of adolescence and you'd become intellectually aware that a lot of the adults around you were having sex, and you then needed brain bleach because of the footage your mind's movie department automatically created?  And you had to interact with a lot of these people "normally" even after becoming aware of this hidden world, which you never gave another thought before puberty, because way back then it only existed in cartoon shapes in birds-and-bees books for children, and you'd think, "Adults are weird - the strange things they do when there's all these cool train sets you can play with!  Adults are boring!"  (Hahaha, kiddo.  :yum:)

Part of the process of growing up is becoming the director of the movie department in your head, who says, "Yes, that's a great movie concept, let's explore that!" versus, "No, this is really B-grade and has ethical problems, and ramifications for real life that are better avoided."  But there's a bit of a curly problem with the mind that's well illustrated by, for example, a challenge not to think about a particular word for 60 seconds, like the word aardvark.  You try it!  And actually, as is often the case with thought and behaviour, it's so much easier to redirect yourself, than to try to not do or think something.  So, the best strategy for actually not thinking about the word aardvark for 60 seconds, if that's your brain-gym challenge to yourself, is to recite a non-aardvark poem in your head, or to do quadratic equations, or to conjugate verbs, etc.  In some ways, it's like distracting a toddler.

Confidence is also good for banishing a hypothetical aardvark for 60 seconds - if you're nervous about your own ability to do that, you're less likely to be able to do it.


A friend of mine works in trauma therapy and general psychology, and told me the biggest consumers of pornography in her country (USA) are evangelical Christians, who of course, frontstage, make huge proclamations about how evil that is - and they're also the ones showing up the most for porn-addiction problems.  In part we could talk about hypocrisy, in part we could talk about toxic and infantilised cultures masquerading as together and ethical cultures, and in part I think this is actually just another application of the hypothetical aardvark problem:  The more emotionally invested you are in not thinking about something, the more likely you are to think about it - and then you're thinking more about the hypothetical aardvark than you'd ever have done if you'd not decided that for whatever reason you shouldn't think about the hypothetical aardvark.  (And thusly, people create their own demons.)

What do you personally think about pornography?  Answers will vary; I'll answer that question for this household.  (Brett says, "Great album that, haha!"  :winking_tongue)  Let's start this at the beginning:   To me personally, sex was never a spectator sport, I'm not interested in watching other people have sex, even less than I'm interested in watching sport on TV (with the exception of tennis when the Australian Open is on ;)).  I don't make a point of watching animals that happen to be mating in a paddock or in the wild, either.

And just as an aside, a funny story:  The most popular photo on our Flickr stream is one of horses in a paddock where one of them has started to drop his penis out because he's going to pee soon (horses have retractable penises, which is really handy for running, and also to deny predators this particular soft target).  We couldn't work out what was so special about that photo for it to have suddenly had thousands of views, and followed it back to the profile of the person who had faved it.  Turns out they had an obsession with animal penises and a huge collection of photos about that, which in turn were immensely popular with other viewers.  Brett and I turned to each other and said, "People!  What strange planet have we landed on?"

Back to sex as a spectator sport or not, I've got this concept around privacy which intersects with all of this.  Talking about sex is one thing, and it's a generally positive thing to talk thoughtfully about curly topics, but when it comes to actual sex, I'm only interested in that as an aspect of the relationship I am in - and I think it's fabulous how we can take something that's essentially about DNA transfer and make it about affection and intimacy and pleasure and our own personal universe which no others may enter (biologically, that's the pointy end of pair bonding :)).


Pretty obviously, I don't think sex itself is evil, or that marriage is a prerequisite ethically.  Another funny story:  Brett was reminding me this morning about the half year I spent in Perth working out of his place before we were married or even engaged, gigging around local schools on a day-to-day basis instead of teaching my own classes because it was well paid and a very good way to make a big dent on the remaining mortgage, while also giving us free evenings to do things together instead of me marking essays etc.  For that half year I had a number of schools on my list, some of them secular (and some of those pretty wild), some of them Catholic, and Brett says he used to have especially good evenings if I'd taught at a Catholic school that day; I'd be like, "Funny how going there has this side-effect that I become extra motivated to come home and have unmarried sex."  :rofl   That's very like the time I accidentally spent a term working at an evangelical Christian school in Sydney, before I met Brett, and by the time I arrived home in the late afternoons I wanted to build an altar to Baal and to dance naked to AC/DC (and I don't even like AC/DC).

So sex is one thing, and obviously has ethical issues around it largely to do with consent and respect, but I do have ethical problems with pornography in general because of how it objectifies sexuality and how that's unhelpful (the links on the last piece go into that), and because (and this is Brett's biggest bugbear about it) the narrative is often really damaging, not to mention boring (for how the narrative is damaging again see the links at the bottom of the last post), and also because it kind of sucks that women often make less money for their skills and thoughts than they would for selling their bodies for public consumption.  (Women more than men - men still tend to get the more lucrative positions in the work world but at the end of the day the message being sent to women is that their greatest worth isn't as a contributor to scientific problems, education etc etc, but to sell their body in some way, shape or form for the sexual gratification of others.)

Ever noticed the effect of modern toys and childhoods on children?  Our generation was at the tail end of Westerners still playing with wooden building blocks, pretending broomsticks were horses, making up impromptu imaginative games, building little hide-outs out of whatever was available.  More recent toys are like prepackaged experiences - plastic "electric guitars" that play a tune when you press a button, theme Lego where you don't have to construct the spaceship out of blocks but just assemble it from a few ready-made sub-sections, making it look more realistic but also making the activity more inflexible and less fostering of imagination, sensorimotor and problem-solving skills - and don't get me started on the portable screens and how "smartphones" are dumbing down childhood.


Pornography too is a prepackaged experience for consumption, creating a box within which people start to think - while sex that's not shackled to narrow received ideas can be an open-ended experience, and a far better experience than the scripted mechanical bonking on a screen.  There's great books, great art, great pre-recorded music, great food traditions, but there's no great McDonalds, literally or in its metaphorical iterations.

Pornography in general isn't about intimacy and imagination, it's about sensation, and sadly often about power and stereotypes - sort of like consumerism is about greed and disposability etc.  Pornography is really what consumerism does to sexuality, the same way consumerism applied to food gave us the fast-food hamburger and other empty junk food.  - OK, you can make a good hamburger too, but I mean the shitty ones from the chains that taste like plastic and create public health problems.  And in theory, you could make pornography that's got better standards than average, and it probably exists, but I couldn't tell you because I don't do any fieldwork in this area.

(A related anecdote:  Brett and I went to a lot of festival films when we lived in Albany, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  We vividly remember seeing quite a good Italian film with this completely jarring sex scene in it that didn't even need to be there, for the plot.  It was just kind of dropped in there, completely out of left field, as if the director said, "Gotta have a sex scene, this is Italy!"  And it was just the most hideous scene you could imagine - showed enough detail of sexual organs to be indistinguishable from porn, and was just completely mechanical, sort of like an engine being taken in for a service.  There was zero intimacy in that scene.  At one point we were treated to a close-up of the actress' nipple, which was being savagely twisted while she moaned away climactically.  The whole thing under surgical-type lighting, like it was a joint replacement or something.  We were just looking at each other going, "Pass the bucket!" - really unusual for a film.  I mean, film sex scenes usually aren't great - though I did like the one in Ghost - it was well constructed, it was obviously affectionate (I get that not everyone wants their own sexual experiences to include affection, but personally I prefer it with), and to me it's really about what you conceal and leave up to the imagination, rather than shoving everything into people's faces...)

But those problems with it are not really the reasons why evangelical Christians think pornography is evil - they think that primarily because they're so prescriptive around sex, who's allowed to have it and how etc etc, so that it becomes only something between husbands and wives, and only the missionary position etc etc - and often they seem to want their sex to be entirely spiritual metaphor, and not the physical thing it is at the base of it.  And you even see that with new-agers etc, for example, the surprise that Robert Smith would write a song like The Only One - "...but I thought he was enlightened, how can he write like this, be so base..." - but sex doesn't have to be base, even if you don't shroud it in metaphor.  It's like there's two extreme positions:  The people who get drunk and grab whoever is available and do really surface stuff without intimacy and without knowing one another, and the "purity brigade" who think the only place for it is marriage and you're only allowed to do "approved" stuff and you're not really supposed to enjoy the physical aspect (especially if you're female) but just see it as metaphor for something "higher"...

So the more I look at this stuff, the more I think there was a serious social point to writing The Only One - and also obviously as a "How do I love thee, let me count the ways, here's one..." by the person who wrote it, to his partner.  (Please note that I am making the assumption that the author and the narrator are in this instance one and the same;  if you're in a happy stable relationship and writing about the wonderful sides of happy relationships I think that's a fair assumption.)

Notice something about this song that's not particularly common in contemporary music, especially as sung by males?  It's a sexual scenario where the female is taking the initiative.  Whether in music or pornography, the stereotypical scenario paints heterosexual sex as being about a dominant male doing things to a submissive female, and the female typically giving a performance for the male - playing dead, faking orgasms, whatever.  It is still, after all this time, non-mainstream in popular culture to hear sex discussed as a mutual interaction between partners, as an egalitarian thing where either or both people will take the initiative - and in contemporary music, which has a fair bit of toxic masculinity in its DNA (just listen to Led Zeppelin's The Lemon Song and other such delightful little ditties), it's something of a statement when someone breaks that stereotype.

One of my friends doesn't like the "Robert Smith is singing about getting an awesome blowjob" comment I took to task in the last post either, and frowns upon that kind of drawing attention to the person who wrote it and his partner, but wants to see the song in terms of their own special lived sexual experiences.  And I think that's how it's supposed to work, don't you?  Like any other song.  What you can relate to, and your own experiences, and not some kind of voyeuristic exercise where we're discussing the author's sex life in particular.  The interesting thing is, if Robert Smith were a run-of-the-mill on-paper poet and had written this, then this is exactly how it would be seen - because that's how we relate to print poetry; as a general kind of thing about life and what we can personally take from the reflections, thoughts etc in a poem, which fosters our human-ness, our consciousness of what we do and how we think, our relationship with the "big themes" of life and all that.

But when it's a well-known musician, or anyone really who's got their face all over popular culture, people are more inclined to make it about those faces and to make mental videotapes about those people's situation, instead of reflecting it back into their own experiences.  To be fair, some pop stars actually encourage this - and I think Madonna is one, and Kylie Minogue, etc etc - they weren't averse to objectifying their own sexuality to make money and get famous; but that's worlds apart from what Robert Smith was doing if you ask me, when he wrote that song.  It wasn't, "Please imagine me and my wife and aren't I lucky!" - it was just a piece about intimacy, and a celebration of that, and in some ways pushed the boundaries and made us think because it was using fairly graphic images - what do we do with that?  How are we reacting, and why are we reacting the way we are?  And that's how we learn about ourselves, and evolve.

As a footnote, if you go to YT for the clip above and read the comments below it (which is seldom a good idea), this particular clip doesn't come so much with the immature-idiot-level comments like the one I talked about in the last post, this one comes with an equally problematic type of comment which elevates the writer and his wife into some kind of super-special, angelic beings and how lucky they are etc etc.  Well, anyone who's in a relationship that really works is very lucky (and probably also very very skilled in some interpersonal things as a result of past car crashes in that realm, and having a desire to learn how to do difficult things).  Why don't people get this:  Other people you've put on pedestals are not "angels" - they're flawed people too, with strengths and weaknesses both to work on.  And why don't they get this other thing:  You can be brilliant too, not just other people, but if you keep on infantilising yourself and holding up some other adults as your demi-gods whose perceived levels you can never hope to reach, you're just engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

I think that's enough thoughts for one post....
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 16, 2021, 04:30:06

I'm chucking a bit of a philosophical discussion I'm having with a friend on here as a post-script, as it relates to previous posts in this thread (especially this one ( - but beware, unless you love a long convoluted read, just read the start and then the last bits of it with the Turner paintings etc). Those prior posts were spun off by some song topics etc in the process of open journalling on bits of Cure music. It's all become tangential, but I still think it's worth a post - and if anyone wants to join in and say how they see all this stuff, be my guest. We don't all see things alike, and we can learn from each other's viewpoints. This is just a little springboard - where this goes from here depends on who takes a leap, and on the degree of enthusiasm with which they leap.   :winking_tongue

Playing nice is pre-requisite: Mature round-table discussion. We can all respect each other's views, even if we don't agree with them - but we can also say honestly why we don't (without insulting or character assassinating anybody).

Religious Instincts, Evolution, Brainware etc etc

Humans have a religious instinct, and if they intellectually reject the idea of religion, it's still amazing how many end up believing in crystal power or astrology or other magic effects of natural phenomena...

Well Umberto Eco said that when (many) people stopped believing in God, that didn't mean they believed in nothing, instead they believed in anything!! ;)

Too right. And John Mellencamp has a song that goes, "You've got to stand for something, or you're gonna fall for anything!"  ;)

My question towards this is: why do humans have a "religious instinct"? Is it because there is a "higher power" which wanted us to believe in "something"? Is it a by-product of "evolution" (probably not - why should evolution do this)?

This is a really interesting topic!  :cool

As with many complex questions like that, there's no "right answers" but various good ideas.

My own favourite idea is this: It's to do with how our brains are programmed in early childhood. (And you're probably going, "Of course she was going to say that!" hahaha  :lol:)

As a baby you're totally helpless and in this huge void and this miraculous big-person keeps coming to make sure you don't die of hunger etc. They seem to know exactly what you need and what you're feeling.

I think that this phase gets embedded somewhere, just like lots of subsequent things get embedded (to a person's chagrin if it's the wrong sort of stuff, because you're from a difficult home, or even a too-easy home etc).

Because it's a pre-verbal thing, and because it's our first experience of being in this world, this particular thing we don't remember embedding (which is why the pre-verbal programmes, before age 3 or so, can be particularly damaging if they're faulty - the pre-verbal stuff we can't get to intellectually, we have to look at our feelings and behaviours and deduce it backwards from there...which is what I had to do with the "bad programmes" from my own early childhood that I've managed to access).

I kind of see it like this: Evolution gives you the hardware (the brain) and perhaps an operating system. The software is environmentally acquired. It's possible to have shitty software and "bugs" just like with a computer, and it's possible to do some conscious de-bugging and re-programming, rather than merely going with the automatic upgrades (which themselves you can influence by changing your environment and activities, and perhaps shepherding certain experiences).

Side issue of why evolution does "weird" things:

1) Because some of that weird stuff was useful in the past - even if it isn't now.
2) Because not everything evolution produces is useful. A lot of random mutations are lethal, or just disadvantageous to a degree. Most of them are weeded out quickly, but some persist by, e.g., being tied to another trait which is actually useful.
3) Because some existing traits can't be easily changed anymore in the body architecture, e.g. one reason humans are predisposed to sinus problems is because our sinuses were adapted to quadrupedal life, and then we became bipeds. So, the holes are in the wrong places for easy drainage in the upright position we now spend much of our time in.

That is definitely one thing which humans have and animals don't. (religious instinct)

But how do you know that? How would we even know if horses believe in a big horse in the sky (like their mum used to be when they were tiny), or dogs believe in a big nice doggy-owner in the sky, etc? We can't read their minds. Historically, Western philosophy has pushed "human exceptionalism" for which there was never broad scientific evidence, and in doing so got many, many things wrong about the other animals. Other animals DO feel pain. Other animals DO use reason. Other animals DO dream. Other animals CAN do symbology. Other animals are not "just instinct" - and human animals are also prone to instincts. Modern zoology has shown these things, but even as recently as the 1960s various zoologists couldn't publish their complete findings (e.g. Jane Goodall) because they'd have been booed off the scientific stage, so strong were the flawed and ingrained Western perspectives about all this.

The main problem child of Western philosophy (and Western religion) I think is this pervasive cultural/personal idea that infects so much of history and everyday life, that we are "superior" - whether as a species, or as Europeans versus Africans, or any one culture over another, or as men versus women, or one philosophical or religious group over another, or heterosexual over LGBTIQ, or one group of soccer fans over another etc etc. And you can see the mess we've made of things because of it. Our wonderful so-called superior species, Homo allegedly sapiens (do we give ourselves airs...:1f62e:), has been so super-clever that we're the only animal to have caused extensive damage to the entire biosphere - and we also have one of the worst track records for how we treat others of our own species. (And I think that's particularly true for Western members of our species.)

See this cartoon for a related topic:

...and they're all of them projecting...:angel


But: why (religious instinct)? (If we can ever answer that, we'll probably have the proof whether God does exist - or not.)

And I don't think we can ever get proof over the existence of God or otherwise - because it's beyond the realm of science to investigate things that are, in most Judaeochristian religious views anyway, located outside the physical universe. Science investigates the physical universe. I think it's our best tool for doing that particular thing, and that it's limited of necessity by the limitations of human senses and reason. We can extend both with machines, of course, but we don't know what we don't know and we can't always get around that. And we're set up in our brains to think causality is a thing when it isn't necessarily, etc - and to have confirmation biases, and a whole lot of other unhelpful things.

Science in my view has totally de-bunked the "abracadabra" creation myths - we've traced the origin of species pretty reliably through science. You don't need a God to explain life or the universe - in my view (and that was my view even when I did believe in a God). But as to the idea of "God" itself - (and how do you define God? Because the definition is also crucial...) - or any other "higher being" or even any being(s) you can't ordinarily perceive? Looking for God through science is a bit like trying to prove or disprove an invisible dragon that lives under your bed.

CS Lewis interestingly created this fictitious world in which "higher beings" were part of the physical universe. You can read that for yourself in Out Of The Silent Planet etc. I personally hold no religious beliefs anymore - but that doesn't mean that I don't think the universe is amazing, and that I don't have "spiritual" sorts of experiences (by which I mean profound, not supernatural). That the human brain can have spiritual-type experiences, through various mechanisms, has been well documented in books on neurophysiology. Then it's down to how you interpret those.

Maybe I should go back to the topic "weather" before it gets too philosophical here!

Too late bwahahahahaha!   :winking_tongue  :angel
Title: Re: Exploring "Join The Dots"
Post by: SueC on June 17, 2021, 03:23:03

Following on from the last post, further to the idea that human "religious instinct" is to do with how our brains are programmed in early childhood - because as a baby you're totally helpless and in this huge void and this miraculous big-person keeps coming to make sure you don't die of hunger etc. and they seem to know exactly what you need and what you're feeling...and I think this gets embedded...

Wouldn't it be interesting to see if there are differences in religious views (and general views of one's relationship to the world) depending on how babies are raised culturally? Western babies (if you don't have hippy or enlightened parents - not that I'm suggesting the two are strictly synonymous) tend to be left in cribs on their own and be tended to when they cry, or at intervals. So their first experience of being in the world is as this mostly lone, separate little blip in a big void who periodically gets tended to by a "big person" - and isn't that how people in Western religions see themselves, and God? God as this "big person" and the "main person" who you have to hope will turn up when you're gonna die if you're left on your own? When you're hungry, when you're lonely, when you're distraught, when you're stuck? Could that early experience condition us to hope, to have faith in the "big person" returning and caring about us, etc etc?

Then you've got cultures who carry their babies around in a sling and take them everywhere (i.e with body contact, and not like in a pram). Those babies never have that early experience of being mostly separate and alone. (You can bet Kierkegaard wasn't carried around in a sling. Maybe he was left in the crib for long intervals and his caregiver didn't show up regularly enough and ignored his crying so little baby Kierkegaard's first experience of being in the world was disproportionately of hunger, pain, despair, hopelessness? And more of the void, than of warmth and interaction and being cared about?)

The sling-carrying cultures tended to be non-industrialised, working in the fields or hunter-gathering, etc and there, monotheism isn't the cultural norm, and people tend to have a greater sense of being connected to community and nature, and part of these things rather than separate. There's lots and lots of variables here, obviously, but I do wonder if the earliest experiences of a new baby go on to colour their views of their relationship to the world, other people, and nature - their connectedness versus their separateness - and whether it affects how they think about God/gods, if they do...

I'm sure this exact same thing has occurred to other people before me (it's logical, and clearly attachment theory per se is huge in early childhood psychology), but it really is so interesting to think about, and would be fascinating (and very difficult, given the complexities etc) to try to untangle...