Note: I have struggled for inspiration following the NaBloPoMo writing prompts this month, so I went back to my backup plan to the blog post I wrote at the end of September entitled “Prompted” for ideas. This particular thought has been on my mind for some time and I have struggled to make sense of it. I’m not sure I did it justice with this post, but at least there’s a little less rattling in my brain.
People aren’t the only ones who wear masks. Seemingly simple songs with lyrics that repeat with a slight twist of perspective often can reveal the emotional truth behind life’s experiences. There is one song that comes to mind called 9 Crimes by Damien Rice that has been rattling around in my head with its haunting starkness. The song itself is about an inherently painful and masked relationship and the symbol of that reality is portrayed in the giving away of a loaded gun. The gun is a symbol of the emotional power of the relationship held just a trigger pull away from disaster. The lyric “Give my gun away when it’s loaded” is tossed back and forth between the male and female singer as well as the next line of the song asking, “Is that alright with you? “ This song is about both betrayal and permission and how blurry the lines are between the two. Both lines are symbolic of a damaged relationship.
What haunts me about this song is that both parties of the relationship ask the other for permission to permanently detonate and decimate the relationship and there is never any resolution. You are left wondering what the truth truly is and whether the act of revealing the truth does more harm than good. It is a good example of how art portrays life, especially those hard parts of life. Visual artists paint the world that we don’t want to see, photographers capture the images that are invisible to the naked eye, actors play out our most intimate moments revealing our vulnerabilities, musicians give our life a soundtrack, poets capture the essence of our dysfunction, writers identify the antagonist and dancers put our secrets in motion. Our world reflected back at us by artists is a truthful world, a painful world made palatable, and often an unmasked world. Artists allow us to look at the world where we can retreat into denial and pretend that it is Halloween or we can embrace it and recognize it as the other 364 days of the year. Artists allow the truth to stand in its celebratory glory or in its ugly disfigurement.
That heady thought made me wonder what would happen if there was a candidate in this election year that would hire artists to run his/her campaign. Campaign platforms would tell the truth with stark and honest intention, aesthetics would count for something, and I doubt whether that candidate would be a competitive threat. The fact is, just as in life, truth in politics isn’t palatable. A candidate can’t risk giving away a loaded gun and most definitely can’t come across as less than assertive by asking if it is alright with you. Yet, they pass that loaded gun all the same. To a politician, artists are here to paint pretty pictures, sing happy songs, capture the family portrait, act in the latest comedy, write limericks and fairy tales, and dance a little jig. They will ask for our vote by promising a reality that doesn’t come close to the truth and we will comply, because everyone likes a good story.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012