25 June 2006

saint etienne - "hobart paving" (from the smash the system : the singles and more lp, import available for purchase here.)

"and baby," sarah cracknell sings sadly, "don't forget to catch me." it's a game of trust, a game lost every evening; but who has the heart to keep score? to be sure, he doesn't, and she can't bring herself to believe that he's intentionally letting her fall ("why is he doing this?"); each time she hits the pavement, she dusts herself off and gives him the benefit of the doubt. we're running w/ the dogs again, here : others stand by--well, really, only one other person stands by ready to break the fall, but she'd rather be dropped by the one who owns her than another, kinder sort.

she keeps falling b/c she lacks self-respect; she's often unaware of this b/c she's a master of self-deception. joan didion writes, "self-deception remains the most difficult deception. the tricks that work on others count for nothing that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself." joan, joan, maybe you couldn't foresee it, but in the twenty-first century there are myriad ways to shoot out the lights in that "very well-lit back alley." really, lying in darkness brough on by oblivion, why, it's the only way one can sleep nights.

but one cannot remain deluded all the time. like the girl in the second verse, one returns at half-past two, on the brink of a dark night of the soul where, as fitzgerald wrote, it's always three a.m. sobered & stripped of illusion, one looks in the mirror and even though the reflection is dim at that dark hour, along w/ the streaked mascara and the hairs out of place, one notices something else awry : the absence of self-respect.
to live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. however long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.
for the girl in the mirror, it's going to be an interminable night.

but does it have to be that way? having been left in the dirt once again, sarah asks, from her accustomed earthbound position, "hobart paving, don't you think that it's time? the ticket's in my hand, the train pulls down the line." that'd be too easy, though : the train stops, one shows her ticket and boards. this train, it will only stop if knows you want it to, otherwise, every night, it's the same old scene : she asks him nicely, he drops her again, the tears fall from her eyes, the train passes in the night.

as a friend, one asks himself how many times he can bear to see such a scene repeated. it's not as if she doesn't know the outcome before it happens. a friend wouldn't stand by and let this happen--but, w/o any others around, she needs the hand of a friend to get her up off the ground. (and if one were to leave, the unheard scream would still resound in one's head.) no, one stands by, waiting for the day she begins to fall backward ... only this time, as he turns his back, miraculously, she begins to take flight, winging heavenward, pinions composed of words affixed w/ self- : dignity, worth, respect.


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