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When music and fiction mingle

In the last week, I found myself unable to put down The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Coincidentally, I happened to be listening to The Mighty Ocean & the Nine Dark Theaters by Astronautalis throughout the week. I now can’t listen to the song below without immediately being transported into the world of The Secret History. There are a melange of narrative elements at work here (I imagine “this house” as Francis’s house in the country, “her uncertain arms” as Camilla’s, “the smudge on the street” as Henry’s vision with his glasses removed) but it’s more to do with the mood of the song, the creeping menace and melancholy which builds through a juxtaposition of mundane elements, as life strains at the seems without anyone feeling able to recognise this is the case out-loud. If the book were made into a film, I could imagine this song as the background to a montage of Richard wandering through life in a narcotic daze towards the end of the book. However the song somehow leaves me feeling as if I inhabit the mood of the book in a way that transcends any one act within it.

A little kid turns the corner, quick on his feet
My vision’s no good no more; he’s just a smudge in the street
The colors blur in my eyes just like ink in the rain
The city, soaked in its lights, is slowly washing away

Everything is just a background, waiting to take shape and appear
Inside my windshield eyes with Vaseline tears
Muffled chuckles and leaky ceilings
Hazy coffee stains, collectible keyrings

A scrapbook of snapshots taken in shaky concealment
Never trusted my love and her wallpaper feelings
There’s something so comforting about her uncertain arms
There’s beauty in danger, safety in harm

A five dollar psychic offers bargain predictions
Connecting my murdering a mantis to my moderate affliction
Once when I was a child I ran to my door; upon grabbing the knob
I crushed the prostrate bug inside of my palm

I watched his little green frame fall far from my hand
I guess his prayers were never answered by God, He got the upper hand
Struck blind over time inside flashes in steps
We all pay for our sins in the most subtle respects

How quick we forget how fast the past is washed away
Diluted in music, TV, and the talk of the day
How slick a little kiss can get her bony hips to block the way
Lend the world your ears and they’ll just sweet-nothing it all away

You made your bed
Now, you must sleep
Underneath the sheets

There’s something inside this house, footsteps by the couch
It’s all shade and shadows tracking the suspect silence down
It’s not the sounds they make, it’s all the noises that we never hear
Old cliches on attraction, raindrops after the weather clears

Tapping fingers for living; counting out the notes
The door ticks when it sits open and rattles when clicks closed
Twelve lines, one in the light switch, a chip in the globe
The radiator is always breathing, teeth clenched and lips float

It’s more than I bargained for, but nothing I can’t handle
I learned to listen for the kitchen, feel dust fall on the mantle
Everything is done in inches, fingertips, and little skills
Nothing is done quickly except tying shoes and electric bills

The relentless drills, constant repetition, daily grind
Same set of pants put on one leg at a time
Every morning’s filled with breath and the rest is just fine
I never forget my mistakes but sometimes I forget I’m blind

Categories: Thinking

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Mark

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