Don't let me get me
I'm my own worst enemy"
Stupid pop song lyrics. Yet I can imagine lot of angsty young teenage kids singing along to them in earnest voices. I think back to myself as a teenager, and wonder if I would have sung along to this too.
Well, what I'd be singing about then, is how I have some dark evil part of myself that the rest of my personality is afraid of. An alter-ego. A schism.
Perhaps that's why I don't feel like I can relate to these lyrics. I've never shied away from any aspect of myself. I've never had a schism.
Oh come off it, you're loaded with personalities, all in conflict, each at war with the others. There's an endless gale in your brain. It never stops, even when you're asleep. And all the other parts watch whoever is at the helm, and take notes, and plan their military coups. If this isn't schism I don't know what is.
Ah but, consider this -- I don't wish to disown any of them. And though many of my selves are afraid of things out in the world, none of them fear each other. I don't consider any of my different parts a "hazard to myyy-self". I think anyone who does is avoiding self anaysis, and encouraging denial. Philosophically, mentally, or spiritually, I just cannot relate to this. I'd never sing along to it, let alone scream it at a concert.
On the other hand, just earlier today, you were screaming along quite well to the lyrics, "The me that you know is now made up of wires, and even when I'm right with you, I'm so far away." Schism here?
I don't think so, no. Presenting a different part of yourself to different people isn't really an indication of mental conflict. It's probably just an issue of convenience. Not even a lifelong lover can see all of another's personality, so we make and wear masks. Sometimes these masks become fixed, restraining, and shallow. And this is tragic and lamentable, yes, but I am not a "hazaaard to myyy-self" because of it.
Perhaps you would be a hazard to yourself if you insisted on wearing the mask. I think making the deliberate decision to adjust, or discard, the mask you use for a person is an uncomfortable act, one that requires bravery. And since many -- even most -- people live in fear, of each other or themselves, they suffocate instead, and write whiny song lyrics about it.
And the lyrics you scream are not whiny? "The me that you know, he had some second thoughts, he is covered with scabs, he is broken and sore."? I mean, come on! I can hear the whiny voice from miles! It comes ringing out of the words! And you sing that shit! Isn't it embarrassing?
Oh, fighting dirty I see.
No, really, I think that's a legitimate question. Why are you so aggravated by my singing?
Because it doesn't sound to me like truth. And when people don't sing the truth, it irritates me.
And you listen to Nine Inch Nails and that doesn't irritate you?
He seems to be singing exactly what he feels. And it makes sense to me, when I hear it.
So you're basically admitting it's a matter of personal taste, then.
I'm doing no such thing. I will not relinquish my position of authority just because some people consider it relative. Often the people who are so quick to declare it as relative are the ones the least involved or interested, and instead of admitting this directly, they would rather proclaim that there is nothing to be interested in, no difference, no truth. That it's all relative -- that one whiny lyric is just the same as another, regardless of time, and regardless of who sings it.
Regardless of who sings it. Hmm. Perhaps this is why nearly all Nine Inch Nails cover bands sound like irritating whiny crap, even though they're exactly the same lyrics. An interesting point, but you have yet to give a good reason why it is not a matter of taste.
This comes back to a debate my friend Ken and I had, actually. I told him I sometimes judged whether or not I liked certain music by examining the personality and the life of the artist who produced it. He said that was a stupid practice, because the life of the artist had no physical connection with the sounds on a CD or a record. I told him that, to me, music doesn't exist in a vacuum, and neither do the feelings that the music evokes in me. If I like a certain music, I feel inclined to learn more about the people that produced it, and how and why they did so. These things are as interrelated as everything else, after all. And if I learn that the singer is a heroin addict, who doesn't write her lyrics, spent a hundred grand on a sports car, and married her producer, despite a 20 year age difference, I'm not going to listen to her music anymore.
"Yeah, but, you're being unfair," he said. "I mean, you've watched a dozen movies with Arnold Schwarzenegger in them. You've enjoyed them all. And Arnold is a self-centered womanizer and a jackass. You liked the movies anyway."
"But I know all that stuff now. And now, when I watch him onscreen, I see that as part of his persona. I enjoy the movies still, but almost in spite of him. He's really not that good of an actor anyway, but he sure knows how to pick a film."
Oh sure, downplay it now. He's charming, admit it.
I'm not denying that. I especially enjoyed him in "Kindergarten Cop". But this is an unfair comparison. Arnold is not making movies about what a sensitive, romantic, humble human being he is. He's not trying to pass anything off as truth. He's a big rollicking hero who happily distracts me with puns and carnage for a few hours at a time.
People say the same thing about television. They say that the watered-down comedy shows, and the relentless, overbearing drama of the soap operas, provide a welcome distraction from life. You mock them because of their lack of truth. They irritate you because of their lack of truth. Perhaps you are just selectively pursuing your so-called truth. You reject television, but you don't reject big dumb action movies. You're as guilty as anyone else, you're just being a hypocrite about it.
But once again, this is an unfair comparison, and now it's also a straw-man argument. While I do tend to decry the lack of truth in a poorly-written script, whether a comedy or a soap opera or an action film, this isn't the only level on which to measure things. I dislike television comedies because I find my own friends more funny. I dislike soap-operas because I can't believe in the drama. They don't have any other traits I value, either. An Arnie movie, on the other hand, I can appreciate for the fabulous set decoration, the pyrotechnics, the computer animation, the music, the stuntwork. Serial comedies and daytime soaps are obvious crap by comparison. In this light, my "hypocritical" preference doesn't seem so misguided after all. But this whole debate, remember, started over music, and the artists behind their music. If a singer is going to sing, they have to mean and understand what they say for it to sound right. Celine Dion's gooey renditions of love lyrics didn't move me before, and learning more of her personal life simply clarified why. Danzig's near-toneless guitar-drowned muttering put me off long before I learned he was a dick in person -- I could hear the knowledge coming. Marilyn Manson is pretty clearly a wank in every recording, ever. I've been one hundred percent accurate, so far, in translating the personality and the music that artist generates back and forth. "Which takes precedence, in a conflict?" people may ask me. I've never had a conflict, yet.
What about Dwayne "aDuck" ex-Skinny-Puppy member? You like his compositions a lot, yet be died a big ol' heroin addict. You hate heroin addicts. That looks like a conflict to me.
Yeah, well William S. Burroughs was a heroin addict too, and he wrote some brilliant verse about that very subject. He was telling the truth. I respect him for that, and I respect Dwayne the same way. His music doesn't exactly sound like an ode to sobriety, you know. It's pretty clear that he's not trying to create something he doesn't feel.
So, coming back to the original lyric, what's so bad about some kid screaming "I'm a haaazard to myyy-self"? Perhaps he really means what he says.
Sure, and the Ku Klux Klan really means it when it says that the white "race" is superior. Just meaning what you say isn't enough. You have to say something that has meaning. And yes, a hundred thousand teenage girls can sing along to Alanis Morissette, relate to every word of it, and come away with a head full of petulant victimized mush. It certainly has meaning to them. But give 'em time, self-analysis, and a few more loud break-ups, and they'll leave it behind. One could still, I suppose, argue that truth is merely relative to age-group and generation, and that I am simply mocking whatever falls outside my personal sphere. Well you can keep that argument ... If you're willing to also declare that there is no such thing as ethical and social progress across generations, and that furthermore, there is no such thing as personal progress in the lifetime of any individual. Once you start stacking any of that up, you lay out a map for truth to be buried in. A truth that is larger than moral relativism can comfortably embrace. And that's how I choose to see the world : as a place in which truth can be found. Instead of an aging playground full of party favors and distractions and ways to waste time, all alike, all worthless.
Well well, now aren't we getting philosophical. It was just a simple question about song lyrics.
Good. And there's your answer. No go away; I need sleep.
What, you're not going to sing some more whiny lyrics first?
I'm warning you, I get moody when I don't get my sleep.
Perfect! Sets the stage for whinyness!
D'ooh, shut up.