It’s Valentine’s Day, which seemed like a good day to share a quick playlist of relationship goals. How about you, dear reader? What songs describe your relationship goals?
[Including the lyrics on this one, because they are important.]
Dear brothers and sisters,
Dear enemies and friends,
Why are we all so alone here?
All we need is a little more hope, a little more joy;
All we need is a little more light, a little less weight, a little more freedom.
If we were an army, and if we believed that we were an army,
And we believed that everyone was scared like little lost children in their grown up clothes and poses,
So we ended up alone here floating through long wasted days, or great tribulations.
While everything felt wrong.
Good words, strong words, words that could’ve moved mountains!
Words that no one ever said.
We were all waiting to hear those words and no one ever said them.
And the tactics never hatched,
And the plans were never mapped,
And we all learned not to believe.
And strange lonesome monsters loafed through the hills wondering why…
And it is best to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever wonder why.
So tangle – oh tangle us up in bright red ribbons!
Let’s have a parade.
It’s been so long since we had a parade, so let’s have a parade!
Let’s invite all our friends
And all our friends’ friends!
Let’s promenade down the boulevards with terrific pride and light in our eyes
Twelve feet tall and staggering
Sick with joy with the angels there and light in our eyes
Brothers and sisters, hope still waits in the wings like a bitter spinster
Impatient, lonely and shivering, waiting to build her glorious fires
It’s because of our plans man; our beautiful ridiculous plans
Let’s launch them like careening jetplanes
Let’s crash all our planes in the river
Let’s build strange and radiant machines at this jericho waiting to fall.
—Thee Silver Mt Zion, “Built then Burnt (Hurrah! Hurrah!)”
There is no language I know of that exists today that is able to truly convey our emotions, our inner needs. The scope just isn’t there — the best we can do is approximate it. We have words that are supposed to convey meaning, but even then, exactly what meaning is so fluid and amorphous, the true intent and meaning is lost in translation. Think about some of the biggest emotions in our lives. Think about love for a moment. “I love you.” “I love this television show.” “I love this song.” “I love my family.” There are so many valid contexts for the verb “to love.” As far as language is concerned, they are all valid, and we treat them as such socially. But the emotions underneath vary wildly. As human beings, we try to pick up on this additional nuance and emotional intent through body language, through situational awareness, the timbre of the voice, the tension of the moment. All of which rests on the hope that those around us are observant enough to notice, and aware enough to interpret these signals correctly. This is frightening, that so much of our emotional communication and well-being is reliant on others’ ability to perceive our comments in the way we intend. Given that, it is unsurprising that so many people feel isolated and alone.
Which brings us to another tool we have to try and communicate: if language does not have the tools to describe an emotion directly (not in a meaningful way, anyway), then it can at least describe them indirectly. Think about music, or books, or film, or photographs, or paintings, or any number of forms of art. The classic question of “What is art?” is easily defined to me: work intended to convey an emotional or personal response to someone. It’s an imperfect tool — there will inevitably be a lot of people who don’t “get” it. It’s not a fault of the artist, or of the viewer — they simply lack the shared context to invoke a response. A photograph of a weathered fence post in a field may not speak to some, but for others it can invoke a personal memory of visiting their grandparents on the farm, or strike a chord more metaphorically, describing for a moment the feeling of isolation that the viewer may be feeling or have felt. Put simply: art describes emotions.
Personally, I tend to draw from media sources to describe a range of emotions and personal thoughts pretty often. I’ve been doing so all week with video clips and songs and quotes, and this is hardly the first time, and I’m not remotely the only one — for every random silly link blog of goofy stuff out on the web, there is also a curated blog of someone trying to point at something in the hopes of getting their message across, and communicate something they feel is important to those around them. I post videos and quotes and songs and images to create a pastiche of who I am and how I’m feeling. (I’d be interested to see what interpretations people draw from the entries posted this past week.) Of course, I’m always afraid that I’m a bit of a Hector the Collector character when I do so, but if even one person gets and appreciates what’s shared, it’s worth it.
Apologies for the ads, it’s the only place I could find it still up. If you know someone with the Jonathan Glazer volume of the Director’s Label, you can watch it in a nice high quality. Well worth it.