Stop Making Sense

The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. – Bono

It’s not necessarily an original thought, but it is nonetheless true, in my experience.  Still, like the rest of us “mere mortals”, even the best artists are still blindly groping the elephant, just a bit more seriously, which ever way they’re moving from that pivot.

Sharp as a knife/Facts cut a hole in us – Crosseyed and Painless, Talking Heads

In an earlier post, I expressed my belief that our society has progressively traded context (or meaning) in it’s quest for what, today, passes for “knowledge”.  Naturally, we’ve gotten quite adept at throwing “facts” around, having so many close at hand, even as we grow ever more ignorant of their meaning.   

Facts are simple and facts are straight
Facts are lazy and facts are late
Facts all come with points of view
Facts don’t do what I want them to –
Crosseyed and Painless, Talking Heads

This subject has been on my mind of late, in part, due to a recent watching of the newly released 25th anniversary edition of the  Talking Head’s seminal 1984 “rockumentary”, “Stop Making Sense.”  While the artistic perspective of the music is, in of itself, still highly relevant here, my own original introduction to the film adds some interesting “context”.

In early 1985, I had just returned home from a year-long hitch-hiking odyssey that took me from Alaska to the island of Crete.  The journey took the better part of a year and, naturally enough, I was a bit “nackered” on my return and just a bit stressed over how I long I might survive on my last $100.   

For a month or two, there was a lingering bit of wonder at all of the serendipitous and, frankly, inexplicably good fortune I’d experienced over the prior year.  While I can think of countless examples, the ease and frequency that good rides had been provided like manna stands out the most. 

Still, as the months dragged on in my search for work, worries about the future mounted.  It became progressively easier to lose “faith” and forget (to remember) the divine order of the universe.  I owed the landlord his rent and was down to a very strict survival diet.  I was getting a bit desperate.

The island of doubt, it’s like the taste of medicine” – Crosseyed & Painless, Talking Heads

At one point, I decided that I’d had enough and wanted to re-discover that fading sense of wonder.  On this night I walked out to the nearest highway on-ramp and was picked up by the second car to pass.  As it happened, they were on their way  to the same movie theater I where I was headed to watch a showing of the new Talking Heads film, “Stop Making Sense”.  They gave me a ride home as well.

Making a list-Find the cost of opportunity
Doing it right-Facts are useless in emergencies –
Crosseyed and Painless, Talking Heads

To those who seem to be the most agreeable over this exchange of progress for meaning, I suspect that many have lost – perhaps forsaken, their willingness believe in such a thing as “absolute truth.”  As with any path you choose, there are always opportunity costs associated with that choice.  

You may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself
Where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself
Am I right?… Am I wrong?
You may say to yourself
My God!… what have I done? –
Once in a Lifetime, Talking Heads

While I might be inclined to think David Byrne and the Talking Heads are still missing some big parts of the elephant, this film and their music does remind us to ask some pretty important questions about the world we’re making and how we might make sense of it all.

Harry Tuttle

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis


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