Into my ears, but through my eyes.
What are you? The girl said.
What am I havin?
No. What are you? Are you a character?
He studied her. The only people I know that know what a character is, he said, is other characters.
-No Country for Old Men.
Salman Rushdie (and Scarlett Johansson)
Interpreting “Slow Applause”
I was thinking about the first line of the song “Slow Applause,” when something struck me: the intro of the drums sounds very reminiscent of rain and thunder- as the song continues, the bass and rhythm guitar overtake the drums and replace the thunder with booming chords. “Thunderbolts will fly forever,” a line that, for whatever reason, struck me as a possible notion to “Operation Rolling Thunder.” Although this does not seem applicable; the following line in the song is: “Sure as the west wind blows.” The “west wind” connotes the notion of Western ideologies “blowing” or “rolling” into other geographic or ulterior ideologies. In this case, Vietnam. Which is referred to as “Thunderbolts will fly forever,” by and by could also reference the P-47 Thunderbolt, which saw WWII, and minimal roles in Vietnam; or its contemporary, the A-10 Thunderbolt, which was used in the Persian Gulf War as well as the recent Middle Eastern (Afghanistan and Iraq) offenses. Thereby tying the historic “West winds” and the modern “West winds” occupation of foreign (non-western) territories.
The song then moves into, possibly, civilian perspectives, or, simply those who were against the the war (historic and modern). “Atrocious and baffled/ Sentenced to life in sound prison” connote the oppression of the protesters as seen in the Chicago riots, and other anti-war protests. These individuals, despite their multitudes, were unable to sway Western involvement in the Vietnam War. Therefore: their agony of “atrocious” war, their bafflement; were incapable of change, and therefore, were stuck in an unchanging (“sound prison”) system of western democracy and capitalism. The rest of the song seems to point to an individual persepective (a la “entropy ingested”) of protesters finding some kind of anarchist revolution within their self, or to a common, deep seated personal hatred of the powers around them. This is seen in the line “Somewhere near the top,” which denotes the individual, spoken of in the line prior, being below the powers above. “Saw yourself in reflection- yourself in circuit” points to this individual (which is the listener) stuck in the system, quite clearly. But, the notion of seeing oneself in reflection also points to everyone around them. A mirroring is evoked, which I dare use the colloquialism of “sheep.” Although, the reading of “sheep” in this as though the individual is not an able-thinking person is tossed to the side because of the prior lines noting ”Atrocious and baffled.”
Questions as to what “… somewhere near the top you heard the slow applause” refers to could be infinite. For this reading, thunder could be the slow applause, which either connotes “the west is still rolling” (a la Iraq and Afghan conflicts), or, nature will take its turn (as though the western imperialism will fall to protesters or other peaceful minded individuals). Although, an interpretation of the powers above are giving a slow applause for folding back into the system, a kind of “nice try” to the protest, or other sarcastic response from the powerful.
The anarchist, or any other system of thought which stands against the system (protesters in general), is once again drawn in the lyrics: “… patient as the light is in darkness.” This also breaks any notion of “sheep” because it infers illumination in darkness; or “enlightenment in ignorance.” As though eventually the individual will rise above and force change.
This is an open interpretation, not what I believe is the only interpretation, or the correct interpretation.
"Contemporary life is dominated by the pervasiveness of the network." (Varnelis, Friedberg, 1) I thought of the coffee shops we discussed in class as the "birthplace of ideas," as I paraphrased coffee shops in my notes. But I began to question how they countered the bars. Today, breweries are meeting places of like-minded individuals, Uinta’s brew-pub is a specific example that I imagined immediately. A return to the old-school meeting haus. Utah’s breweries are collectively working together against the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC). Utahbeer.blogspot.com features many write-ups of "town hall" style meetings between the DABC and restaurant owners, bar owners, vintners, brewers, and consumers. Much like coffee and tea shops who helped fuel the Renaissance, breweries, brewers, drinkers, connoisseurs, etc… are countering the DABC collectively. As Squatters and Wasatch have learned, teaming up in one brewery works better. The greatest example of teaming up was the "no taxation without representation," a stand against the Utah beer tax. A keg was dumped into the Great Salt Lake as an homage to the Tea Party (Not the tea party of recent years, mind you.) The commonalities stem from things which pleasure us, and therefore, that which hinders our ability to attain that which pleasures us. As the case was for the coffee shops, intellectual thought was hindered. Today, in Utah, beer, wine, and liquor are hindered from consumers. Networks are formed from oppression . The group works together to regain, or gain, the freedom to have what they desire.