wake up!

28 01 2009

from Arcade Fire’s song “Wake Up:”

Children, wake up.  Hold your mistake up.  Before they turn the summer into dust.
Children, don’t grow up.  Our bodies get bigger but our hearts are torn up.
We’re just a million gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust!

In case you’d like to hear it:

I spend a lot of my time airing out my conflicts with my culture, and other cultures, but I’ve lately thought that I should perhaps just let others do it, since I find them often doing so more eloquently and beautifully.  “Wake Up” is a grand example, and this passage is particularly great to me.

In fact, it’s so good, that I’m not even sure how my experience relates to the songwriter’s.  I think about the fully automated nature of our economic system and the droids it seems to make of us–promoting the need for continuous consumption, cradle to grave, from the utilitarianistic educational system to the imposition of fears of financial inadequacy and everything in between–and I want to grab everyone I meet and yell “Wake up!” myself.  I walk amongst robots in my mind, and they’re all full of largely thoughtless mechanisms that fiercely avoid or defend their programming when they are challenged, no matter how clear any evidence provided.  And they march through their lives as their seasons pass…. and sooner or later, their summers turn to dust.

My favorite bit is the admonition against growing up.  We physically grow but our hearts get torn up.  We don’t learn to take care of our and each others’ hearts, and they, neglected, are eventually wrecked.  Not irrevocably!  I don’t believe that, ever.  But wrecked nonetheless.  I think the point is that it’s important to continue to foster a belief and an engagement in the magical aspects of the world.  It’s such a huge world, such a mysterious place, and so many of us allow ourselves to be creatively bottlenecked and pigeonhole ourselves, our skills, our interests.  It’s the silliest thing I can imagine, and yet it is the norm in our society.  It’s normal to stagnate our learning, or to follow the mandates of others’ ideas of education.  It’s normal to learn to perform a highly specified vocation and to do it repeatedly for many years.  It’s normal?

Ahem… we’re just a million gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust!