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WAtV: Lyrical Similarities to other works

Discussion in 'Dark Tranquillity' started by stizzleomnibus, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    This is very long, so here's a preview: WAtV bears some striking similarities to other works, such as:

    - a song by Elliott Smith,
    - the anime Neon Genesis: Evangelion,
    - selected poems and a suite by Lorca,
    - and Shakespeare.

    Let's begin.

    Following are a number of similarities and coincidences noted between the lyrics of WAtV and miscellaneous items. These are (generally) not meant to suggest any actual influence, except where they are. They are also absolutely not intended to suggest any sort of plagiarism, as it is perfectly natural for similar ideas to occur to people around the world independently (often, mysteriously close in time as well). Also, some of these similarities are based on meaning that I dug out of each work, so they may not even be there. Beyond that, look hard enough and you'll find similarities and coincidences everywhere; they probably don't mean anything. They're interesting anyway, though!

    Elliott Smith - Can't Make a Sound

    Lyrics - Song

    Elliott Smith is a singer/songwriter folk-rocker and one of the most genius musicians to have ever lived. He had a mastery of unique harmony, often packing dissonant jazz chords into his songs. He was also a particularly clever lyricist.

    Three elements present themselves here:
    1.) World within a world: a fairly simple expression - a human is composed of as many varied and amazing things as the world itself.
    2.) Book of strangers: the combined category of humanity, made up of individuals foreign to each other.
    3.) All voices fear their own sound: a fear of declaring one's individuality.

    Here's the interesting part of "Can't Make a Sound", from the end where the music gets awesome (I am a sucker for tremolo picking):

    Both songs share the "world within a world" phrase, referencing the depth of human existence. Both songs (SiOB in the lyrics, the other in the title) reference the inability to speak, and both refer to rejecting others. Interesting, no?

    Neon Genesis: Evangelion

    NG:E is an anime series from the mid-90's. I don't know if there are any other anime geeks here, but if you've never seen this one you should. It's starts off as a really cool story about giant robots of mysterious construction, but turns into the most gruesome, unsettling brainfuck ever published (and aired in a children's time slot, no less).

    ***MASSIVE SPOILERS*** Basically, the series ends with an attempt to evolve the human race, the Human Instrumentality Project. Based on Freudian psychology, the concept is basically that humans maintain physical form by erecting ego barriers (also known as "absolute terror fields") which separate individuals. Our lust for privacy and independent existence separates from others, and allows us to maintain our being. The show ends with this huge catastrophe that causes every human on the planet to lose their ego barriers, collapse into a sludge of primordial soup and form into a single consciousness. They will never be alone, and never feel pain. The protagonist has to decide whether he will sink into it, becoming a part of everyone he's ever loved and lost, or accept the pain of his individual existence.

    The incredible depth of a human, maintaining it's form through it's separation from others.

    The loss of individuality and freedom. Death as a chemical and physiological reunion with nature. This is pretty much the exact psychologic battle which ends NG:E.

    Federico Garcia Lorca

    Federico Garcia Lorca was a Spanish poet and playwright. He's really well-known as a playwright, but I only know him as a poet. There's probably a literary term for his style, but I've always thought of him as a surrealist. He was actually in love with Salvador Dali, the great visual surrealist, but Dali was straight:(. Lorca's poems are chains of incredible images - sometimes forced, sometimes suggested - crafted into a somewhat hidden meaning. Sometimes, I have no idea what he's talking about, but I always love it. I will be transcribing these from English translations (sorry Danny), found in "Federico Garcia Lorca: Collected Poems," edited by Christopher Maurer.

    "Mortal field of moons/and subterranean blood." - "You walk on soil that dreams of blood."

    "I came face to face with death." - "He takes a stand/and looks his enemy in the eye."

    "Cathedral of ash." and "The snow moans and trembles/on the other side of the door." - These tie into my picture of Arkhangelsk: a burning monastery, and the protagonist freezing to death. YMMV.

    "A death and the man I am./A man alone with her,/A little death." - This really reminds me of Her Silent Language.

    That rocked. Seriously, "the brokenhearted fugitive will meet on the street corners/an incredible crocodile quiet beneath the tender protest of the stars" is probably the coolest line ever written. Ever.

    "But there is no oblivion, no dream:" - Huh. Something about this line seems familiar. I was wondering whether the coincidence came from translation, but the original words are "olvido" and "suenyo", where "ny" is actually a tilde'd n. I'm not sure how to type one or type the name of the character. Anyway, they translate perfectly to "oblivion" and "dream". The two are not completely unrelated, and it could be a coincidence that they occur here and in a song title so close, but it's so coincidental that I think that it means something.

    "those who are frightened by death will carry it on their shoulders." - This line is pretty much all about fatalism. Specifically, it describes the story of our fatalist in WAtV, recognizing his mortality and losing his will to live because of it.

    "There is a corpse in the farthest graveyard" - The original text uses "cementerio," which probably translates better as "cemetary." Possibly a cemetary for unlived life?

    "a boy who was buried this morning cried so much/the had to call the dogs to quiet him." - this line, like the dog in the above poem, could conceivably be the source of "the howl/That calls you out."

    "will attack the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cattle." - If cattle here represent cowards, then perhaps "the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of [cowards]" is related to "what drives the hopeless/between the closing yellow walls."

    The following is from "In the Garden of Lunar Grapefruits," a suite of poems with a prose prelude. I have dug into all of my available materials, and Google-bot, but I cannot find proof of my earlier assertion of a link between Jorge Luis Borges and Federico Garcia Lorca. There are several later works by Borges with similar titles, but I seem to recall reading years ago that Lorca got this idea from Borges. In any event, here's a chunk of surreal prose. The text begins with the Pero Lopez de Ayala excerpt.

    Our hero prepares to sneak out in the night to take part in a great (and imaginary) adventure. From Out of Gravity: "Each and every night/my heart shoulders the armor/and charges into the dark/to slay what took you from me." A tenuous connection, sure. But wait; there's more.

    The "backwards into death" part probably means that we never move back in time. What is written stays written; our history is the only version which exists, and the future is limited to what is possible from here forward. Our protagonist bitterly yearns for all of the non-existent possibilities, past and present.

    The remaining possible past "stays filled with yellowing underbrush." Because it is dead. Because those unlived possibilities can never be. Because "man is a cemetery for unlived life." (!!!)

    Further, in my earlier lyrical breakdown I had posited that a "day that holds no other" could be a reference to a day which is not accompanied by parallel time lines. That is, a day of possibilities constrained by the limits of history. The protagonist of the Lorca suite is having a vision of unlimited possibility. Here are a few more lines form throughout the suite (an ellipses will denote truncation):

    So, our protagonist is viewing an impossible dimension composed of the limitless paths of past and present. How interesting. Obviously, this is impossible, so how did he get into the garden? "I'll have to go through an awful invisible fight before I enter the garden. An ecstatic & ferocious fight against my secular enemy, the giant dragon Common Sense." He had to battle his common sense. Hold on to that thought for a moment.

    In WAtV, our protagonist is faced with mortality. In fact, he realizes that he was born mortal, like all of humanity before him, and every man is destined to end his life in death. Because death was always a part of his journey, it has permanently constrained his possibilities. He realizes the meaningless of choice (paths).

    BUT, then he "question the meaning of it all" because "the answer in our system [is] bound to kill the spark." The "answer in our system" is the most apparent realization that we would reach regarding mortal life. It is fatalism in WAtV. Isn't the obvious answer, the one in our system...the same thing as common sense?

    In WAtV, our protagonist must defeat his simplistic fatalism in order to reclaim the possibilities of his existence. In "In the Garden of Lunar Grapefruits" our protagonist must defeat common sense to enter the realm of possibility. (!!!)

    William Shakespeare - Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1

    I am so angry about how long it took me to notice this one. It's really pretty simple. Shakespeare's English is advanced in its mechanics and archaic in its vocabulary, so I apologize if this is unreadable to anyone. God knows it gives American high school students a problem, but we're not exactly known for our language skills. :( This is probably the most famous bit of the play, and gets right to the heart of the subject of WAtV.

    Short version: Hamlet really wants to die because he's very sad. So he wonders which is the noble choice: live with his suffering or die. But, notice the specific language.

    "Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,/And by opposing end them?" - Take arms? Maybe "take a stand/and look [your] enemy in the eye?"

    "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,/.../When he himself might his quietus make/With a bare bodkin?" - That is to say, who would put up with this shit when they could realize their fate on their own terms. Why put up with meaningless suffering when we could just end it. From Dream Oblivion: "This goes no further/I have the upper hand/This ends on my terms."

    I believe that several of the bonus tracks tell a story of suicide. The Bow and Arrow almost certainly bears that subject. Similarly, Out of Gravity deals with loss. It is likely that the lost friend referenced in Out of Gravity succumbed to fatalist thought and realized death on their own terms. The album's protagonist "charges into the dark" to slay fate, possibly by ensuring that "this ends on [his] terms." That is, suicide as a means of slaying the specter of death. How ironic.

    At any rate, the next lines are "There in the eye of the prey/I see my reflection/the armor now shatters to pieces/until I hear the call again." This sentiment appears almost exactly the same in Shakespeare: "With this regard their currents turn awry,/And lose the name of action."

    The reason for the loss of resolve in Shakespeare is "what dreams may come," the unknown realm that exists after death. "Dream Oblivion" could similarly refer to those dreams. However, in taking a fatalist, atheistic view of death, the dreams are not ones of torment (i.e. Hell), but rather oblivion, a state of being completely forgotten and non-existent. Oh, and that whole loss of individuality bit.
     
  2. Defiance

    Defiance I vårens ljusa kvällar

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    I haven't read everything, but it's an interesting analysis. I especially like the EVA part ;) . There's actually a geek thread on the forum, but it's not used much. Have you seen Eva 2.0/2.22? It's simply amazing.
     
  3. EvilKatarn

    EvilKatarn Jaaniöö, Bodomi Öö

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    This has just one reply?

    Wow, I loved the read. Really enlightening and cool.

    PS. I watched NGE just a few months back and it was damn great.
     
  4. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    Thanks for the appreciation! This forum doesn't get too terribly much traffic, and it's a fairly well known fact that eyes cross and people black out when attempting to read long passages. So, not much discussion.

    If you want to read more on the album, check the stickied topic. The majority of the project is about the music itself (I assume from the gear in your sig that you are a musician), but there is a hefty portion all about the lyrics beginning about here.
     
  5. EvilKatarn

    EvilKatarn Jaaniöö, Bodomi Öö

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    Yes, I would call myself somewhat of a musician.
    It just baffled me to see such a deep impression of an album and even going to the lenghts of comparing it to other works. I am one that sadly has not much patience for long reads, but when it goes to the topic of my favourite music then I just become grabbed.
    Having spent most of my time on the Children of Bodom part of UM forums, then I thought that this kind of really deep dissecting of lyrics and music would be impossible on the internet, but you have proven me wrong. Makes me think that DT has more mature fans than CoB, but whatever. I love them both. Can't get the community in my way of appreciating music.

    I'll read your other stuff soon enough. Too much effort goes in these kind of things to just let it pass away.
     
  6. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    DT does seem to attract a special sort of fan. I think the really cool thing about the Internet is that we can write and publish whatever quantity of analysis on any subject and get it to the people who would appreciate it. While this type of writing would never be commercially viable in the print age, it is possible now to create whatever we are able and get some value from it by distribution.

    As for the CoB forum, at least it's not as bad as the Opeth forum of yore.:heh:
     
  7. Naglfar

    Naglfar As Naglfar devours us all

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    I read it attentively. Sometimes it's just that I read things, and I let myself think on them. Particularly the part on Lorca, who is one of my favorite poets ever (and one of the few poets I have read more than just superficially once or twice in my life). I don't have the same chatty reflex with creative work that I do with politics or history. I prefer to soak, rather than soak others, if that makes sense!
     

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