Exploring the Back Catalogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

This only for you
Only for you

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

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

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

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


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

So I trick myself
Like everybody else

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[more later]
SueC is time travelling


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

Robert once said the title didn't mean much... but I doubt it. Because "wishing" seems to be theme of the album: to wish impossible things, "i wish you felt the way that I still do", the wish to fly "high" etc.!
It's never enough...


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

As Joe Straczinsky says about his father in Becoming Superman:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

A Letter To Elise today.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ ♥ ♥

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

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

SueC is time travelling