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Personal contemplations

fortyshadesfortyshades Posts: 1,834
Let me first introduce myself. My name is Anhonie Holslag: I am a poet, writer of fiction and an Anthropologist living in the Netherlands (Amsterdam.) My expertise now is probably more important in the last four years than before that. I study tribalism, identity politics, how a state/ government can radacalize andn from this how mass violence or even genocide. can occur.  I even wrote a book on this topic. (And send a copy to TenClub, which I am embarrassed about. But my intentions were pure and honest. I thought my analysis would have been of interest with the identity politics playing in the US now. My motivation was therefore well intented, but coud have been interpreted differently, I realized later; like I wanted pubicity or something. I don't I dont even get get royalty'. I am not a rabid and a crazed fan. I am fan of their musicm their poetry and artistry and cannot make any comment about the artists behind that, for I don't know them. I even wrote some analysis of their albums from an anthropolgical point of view on my homepage. They are in Dutch, but some of you might think they ight be of interest, I will share them in good time. Now I just want to talk about Gigaton. For this album has an enormous impact on me. Mostly because of a personal reason. I lost my mother on the 16th of January, one day before her birthday and before the Corona pandemic. Even though I rather keep my feelings to myself and stay in the shadows (I saw Jeff once walking towards me in Prague, I freaked / panicked so much, that I rushed in a souvenir store). This time I do want to share my feelings though. Especially in the age of Corona. It may console some of you. I do not know. But I feel like it is something to share, for the last three numbers on the album hit me hard. I will discuss these songs in separate posts. I already did on Facebook, but will do it here also.

The first one is Come and Goes. 

I know that songs can mean different things to many people, and could even mean something else as the author intents. (I experienced this myself as a writer and poet.) But the last three songs of Gigaton hits me close at home, thinking about my mother that has passed away in January. The realization hasnt settled in yet and in other moments it hits me like a sledgehammer. I cant call her anymore. Cannot talk to her anymore and the world has lost its color in a way. Some moments I think of a cruise we once took (it would be our last vacation solely together). She loved the evening entertainment and would sit there in a chair near the stage, while the cabaret did its routine. (I was bored after two nights and would take the oppertunity to enjoy the night sky.) Sometimes I would sneak in though and watch her from a distance and I saw her glow. She was so short, her feet didnt even touch the ground. It melted me. There was so much happiness and vulnerability in her face. I dont know if she saw me. I dont know if she knew she was observed. I know I never told her. I planned to, but as many things in life routine and disagreements and other bs gets in the way. We always think we have more time than we have. But time is elusive. And there are moments that you realize how shortlived things really are: we simply never have enough time.

I wish I had told her. This song reflects to me the conflict of feelings all at the same time. Especially the lines below, which as a poet I think are of extreme beauty. Theye combines all the complexity of mourning. The contradictions. The love. The sadness. And the endless silence. It is silence that speaks the loudest. It is the silence that kills you.

"Sadness comes 'cause some of it was mine..."

And the following lines are also of a profound beauty (and I am a poet myself:)

"Evidence in the echoes of your mind
Leads me to believe we missed the signs
Can I try one last time?"


"Where you been? Cannot find
A glimpse of my friend
Don't know where or when one of us left
The other behind
Divisions came and troubles multiplied
Incisions made by scalpel blades of time".

I will discuss Retrogade tomorrow.

Post edited by fortyshades on


  • tishtish Posts: 3,301
    Thanks, looking forward to more of your thoughts.
  • fortyshadesfortyshades Posts: 1,834
    tish said:
    Thanks, looking forward to more of your thoughts.

    Thank you. I somewhat edited my original post. When I wrote the first draft, I hadn't slept in four days. (I suffer from sincere insomnia after my mothers passing.) And I saw I made some mistakes. I hope it was readable though.

  • fortyshadesfortyshades Posts: 1,834

    As stated yesterday, the last three songs of the new Pearl Jam album, Gigaton, hits me hard . The song yesterday (Comes and Goes) is about loss and is presumably about Chris Cornell who passed away by suicide. (One of the reasons why the song deals with conflicted emotions.) The following song is called "Retrograde". This is the second song on the album that refers to astronomy, astrology and the North Native-American belief system. The first song is "Superblood Wolfmoon"; both are astronomical events that happens once or a few times a year. Retrograde itself relates to the planet Mercury and that at certain moments in the year when (some of) the planets align Mercury seem to move in an opposite and in a reversed trajectory. (Besides these songs, astronomy also returns in other songs like Clairvoyants, Quick Escape and 7 o'clock - even though in the last song, Mercury also hint at Freddie Mercury. ) Within the North Native-American belief system nature played an enormous and pivotal role. Even though the belief systems differed per tribe, there were also a lot of overlap. They were all mostly nature oriented and animistic. (This means that everything - plants, humans, objects - are bounded and surrounded by a single spirit/ energy/ entity.) A beautiful metaphor for an album that is about climate change and our disconnect with ourselves, with each other and with the world. That some songs end in a chant, similarly used by Native Americans as a prayer, is not unintentional. It reflects the theme of the album. A "superblood wolfmoon" and "retrogade" both has similar meanings in astrology as in the Native American belief system (for I believe that Pearl Jam tabs more into the spirituality in the belief system of Native Americans, than Astrology). A "superblood wolfmoon" that occurs mostly in January, stands for inner conflict, contradiction and a reflection on this contradiction. It dictates that each one of us is conflicted. And that social conflict or interpersonal conflict springs from these inner demons.

    Retrograde means something else. It stands for being disconnected with yourself, but also with the world around you. (This because Mercury is not synchronized with other planets.) And this is also why this song maybe hits me this hard. If you loose someone who is that close to you, who has been a father and a mother to you, in the first instance you feel numb, followed by pain. And this pain is so overwhelming it freezes you. It is something you cannot share, convey, it eats you, follows you and disconnects you. I sometimes visualize it as standing still while the whole world around you moves. It just seem to have lost its significance. At the same instance you know that life didn't stop. That you have responsibilities. And they are mounting. You can see them far away, yet you feel nothing at the same time.

    I know that this a personal interpretation of the song, but it does represent how I feel. My favorite lines is the short verse before this song also ends in a chant. A chant of hope to reconnect again:

    Hear the sound
    In the distance now
    Could be thunder
    Or a crowd

    Hear the sound...

  • fortyshadesfortyshades Posts: 1,834

    The third song, is the last song on the album. I think the lyrics speak for themselves. This song is also the most painful. Especially the beginning verses. (The latter verses are more political, but fits in the whole concept of the album of personal struggles within a greater context and ends again with a chant/ prayer.) In my interpretation the river means the last journey we make. And when I hear the first verses I can not stop and think, that is what my mother must have felt in those last hours when she was fighting pneumonia; she was literally drowning in her own fluids on dry land. These images return and return. As a writer you can use these personal experiences sometimes, pour it in creativity. But the pain is here so raw, that I am completely stunned. And not being creative, well, is new to me.This was before the Corona virus, but by seeing what pneumonia could due, the virus hits me on a personal level.

    There are nights I can't sleep and just see her endlessly struggling and fighting. She was only half present. I am not sure if she heard me or what I said that day. If she even noticed my presence. I know we all cross this river at some point. I hope, truly hope, that she felt me next to her and that I helped her in those last moments when she crossed hers. We will all get there. We all have a river to cross at some point. I hope that she at least heard me and that she didn't feel abonded (a fear that strangled her, her whole life since she became an orphan at the age of three) or alone.

    Mom, if you out there, I hope you could hear my voice. I hope that you knew I was present and that you weren't alone in that last journey.

    The last journey we took together.

    "Always thought I'd cross that river 
    The other side, distant now 
    As I got close it turned and widened 
    Arising now, fading out

    Drifting off in the undertow 
    Can't spot a figure on dry land 
    And afterthoughts of safety 
    When in truth, none to be had 
    None to be had

    I used to tell time by my shadow 
    Til the thunder clouds
    They took the stage 
    These days will end, as do the light's rays 
    Another read of the same page

    Wide awake through this deepest night 
    Still waiting on the sun 
    As the hours seem to multiply
    Find a star to soldier on."

    Ma, I miss you.

  • So sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here...peace and love to you...
  • fortyshadesfortyshades Posts: 1,834
    edited April 2020
    So sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here...peace and love to you...

    Thank you. I was much in debate with myself if I should do this. I don't like to stand in the spotlight or become too personal on social forms. Since my mother died of pneumonia. (She wasn't a corona patient, so far as we know at least. She died a few weeks before the pandemic.) But I have seen the horrors of pneumonia up close. It is a horrible death. And I guess I wanted to reach out to those that either don't take it serious (enough) or more important, to let those who grief know that they are not alone. And that pain should or can be shared. And that my thoughts go out to them. I feel your loss. I understand.

    So this is not self-indulgent. I wrote this when those songs hit me. I have more time to digest it all now and will analyze this album, from an anthropological point of view, as I already did with Vitalogy, No Code, Binaural and Lightening Bolt. For the songs on Gigaton are enormously layered and full with meaning, and speaking as a poet myself, I think the poetry on this album, is the best I have seen in a long time. This album is very rich and at the same instance sonically spacious.

    To give you an idea, I will link the review re. Vitalogy I once wrote in this message. It is in Dutch though, but Google translate works wonders. It is a different as an average review for I approach it from an antropological point of view and will try to show the inner logic, the cross references of Vitalogy as a piece of art all by itself. (I am even considering of publishing these reviews in the University magazine.) Or what Geertz, a famous anthropologists, wrote: "Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.” He changed cultural anthropology from a descriptive science into an interpretative science.  And this is how I approach the album: as webs of meaning filled with significance.

    I thereby look at the songs as an expression by itself and do not use the explanations band members, fans or reviewers has said about certain songs, but how the songs themselves as seperate entities are connected on a more abstract level and that each album has a specific theme that connects the songs together. (Webs of meaning.) This may not even be the intent of the artist,, but creating art myself, I know that in many ways it is a conscious process, but even more as a subconscious endeavour. Sometimes, when I reflect on certain stories I have written years ago, I can see the theme more clearly afterwards and how themes, symbols, motives, style, perspective etc. are connected to my experiences in life. I get sometimes 4000 hits a day when my promotion starts to run for a new publication.(and other days when I am less active it is about 1200. This one has been read aprox 5000+ times). 

    I hope Google translate will translate it accoringly. I might translate it myself. But see if this works. (Let me know.)



    Post edited by fortyshades on
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