17 September 2013

A-Wake! Part Two

"Now, were was I?"

"Spirituality and success... 
That's literally what you natter about all the time. 
So, I guess it couldn't be far from this." 

Paul's ironic words made me realise that I must've been talking on that subject for ages. For a split second Paul managed to make me feel embarrassed.

"Just pulling your leg.
You were saying about the success of Wake Me Up."

Paul had been a perfect English gentleman until then. He'd invited me to visit Dewsbury and was playing cicerone. He'd been patiently listening to my considerations on Wake. Then I asked him to take a pic of me while I struck a pose reading Revenge Wears Prada

A few shots later, when I'm finally happy, with the angle and background of the pic, I forgot where exactly I'd interrupted my line of thought.

I was actually offering a possible explanation to such a strange combination of words and lines in Wake Me Up. I had Revenge Wears Prada in hands because I was showing Paul that the title would sound quite odd if not for the title of the previous book The Devil Wears Prada. Revenge, collocated with Wears Prada, gets its coherence of meaning when considered by the reference to The Devil; then, one automatically gets that the Devil, Miranda Pristley, who had her buttons pushed all the way in the previous novel, now personifies the will of revenge. Similarly, once we consider the original references to the choice of words in Wake, we do understand their meaning under another light.

And whilst the music video sheds a helpful light to the meaning of the words in Wake, the words actually precede the video. 

So, in terms of coherence and meaning, the words in Wake should be self sufficient.
Even if the first lines don't seem to follow a logic connection, we tend to complete the meaning. How's that a beating heart can be used as a mean to guide some one who is feeling [his] way through the darkness?

A guiding dog, the arms and hands, a stick; all these would be more appropriate material. But we, naturally, complete the meaning with our life experience. The composer refers to the heart of the person who is feeling the way. Beating heart is used as synonym to / metaphor of intuition. This is an authentic interpretation.

These two lines (and whole song), however, gain new colours when
we realise that they seem to refer back to words and ideas from
American texts on Law of Attraction.

The Science of Getting Rich by
Wallace Wattles (1910).

The Secret 
of Ages by 
Robert Collier

The words in Wake refer to a journey dreamed by someone young; judging by the words of admonition such journey seems to be too great to be accomplished. He/she is faced with a daunting prospect. But the young person seems to be sure of him/herself because he/she knows something that others don't.

The person knows how to be guided by a beating heart in order to feel his/her way through the darkness. 

Beating heart, rather than a metaphor, is used here as a metonym to the subconscious mind. In Secret of Ages, the first reference to the biological organ heart is made to explain how powerful and all-knowing is the subconscious mind.

"The subconscious mind is a distinct entity. It occupies the whole human body, and, when not opposed in any way, it has absolute control over all the functions, conditions, and sensations of the body. (...) Nutrition, waste, all secretion and excretions, the action of the heart in the circulation of the blood... are positively under the complete control of the subconscious mind."

The notion of feeling (not seeing) a way through the darkness is introduced just 7 lines below the reference to the action of the heart. "And more, it (the subconscious) can see without the use of physical eyes. It perceives by intuition."

Nowadays, mostly everyone is used to the expression trust your heart as a metaphor to intuition. But trust your heart may have once sounded in the past just as strange as trust your lungs or trust your bowels may sound today. Even so, these expressions are equally based in the metonym 'organ functions for the subconscious'.

"Your conscious mind may slumber. (...) But your subconscious mind works on, keeping your heart and lungs, your arteries and glands ever on the job."

According to precepts explained iScience and Secret, the subconscious mind is just part of some greater intelligence - called Formless Stuff (Science) and Universal Mind (Secret) - that controls the laws of nature and some events of reality. So, besides controlling all the complex functions of the body, our subconscious mind serves as a link of communication with this greater intelligence. That's how humans have the power to accomplish even the most impossible endeavours. This leads us to the following lines of Wake.

I can't tell where 
the journey will end
But I know where to start

These lines, it seems, refer to a precept of Law of Attraction that is explicitly explained in Science.

"I recall now the case of one student (...). He was (...) living in a rented house, and having only what he earned from day to day; and he could not grasp that all wealth was his. So, (...) he decided that he might reasonably ask [using the power of his subconscious mind] for a new rug for the floor of his best room. (...) he obtained these things in a few months. (...) He went through the house in which he lived, and planned all the improvements he would like to make in it. (...) [He continued] moving toward what he wanted, and he owns the house now."

I can't tell where the journey will end diverges from the precept preached in these books that one 'must form a clear mental picture of what you want'. Still, I know where to start seems to refer to the initial image that one has to form and achieve to go for the greater picture. Also, it seems authentic to interpret that I can't tell where the journey will end expresses irony, since the line I know where to start actually conveys certainty and a definite purpose.

Irony is actually all over the following words; it's a response against the admonition of those who doubt that he/she is able to accomplish the journey.
They say I'm caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don't open my eyes
Well that's fine by me

Irony is also a sign that he/ she isn't shaken by opinions of doubters.

Irony is, perhaps, used as more than just a reaction. 
It's conveys observance to precepts of Law of Attraction.

This is what Science says about doubt.
"If doubt comes to you, cast it aside as a sin."

Think and Grow Rich
by Napoleon Hill (1938)...

...is another work that approach the precepts of LOA. It has a lot more to say about the matter of admonition.

"The majority of people who fail (...) are, generally, easily influenced by the opinions of others."

"If you are influenced by the opinions of others, you will have no desire of your own."

"Close friends and relatives, (...) often handicap one through opinions."

It goes on...
The great success of Wake may have nothing to do with its subtle message of spirituality and success. It may just please the public as some other meaningless songs do. Its references to texts on Law of Attraction seem evident though. And perhaps the success Avicii is enjoying is a result of his own mastery of the precepts of LOAttraction.

If the intersection of words and ideas between Wake and the texts mentioned above isn't sufficient to substantiate their connection, then the association between Avicii and the American soul singer Aloe Blacc should do.
One of Blacc's first hits is called Shine Through; it contains words like

"Do you know that you have a soul
And it's worth more than gold.
Open your mind (...) And you will find treasures."

The message here is clearly one of spirituality and success (wealth);
and such topics are undeniably the focus of LOAttraction.

Hopefully, after this much consideration, I managed to establish two points: the words in Wake fit the category of strangeness and the words in Wake depicts a message of spirituality and success.

Wake doesn't end here, but that's enough for now. 
I'll continue with these considerations in A-Wake! Part Three.

Please, continue coming back.

Meanwhile, check out
The Book

16 September 2013

A-Wake! Part One

“So, Nick, as I was saying…”
It was a sunny Sunday of August. I was filling the ears of this lad from Huddersfield, who’d rescued me from a lonely afternoon in Leeds by kindly inviting me to go to Wakefield Pride.
Wakefield Pride - 11th of August
“Yes…” answered Nick, who patiently listened to my considerations on spirituality and success.
“…this idea is present in the words of many songs.
I continued explaining such ideas to Nick whilst we sat on a bench, having a break from the noise and gaiety of Wakefield Pride. 
Wake Me Up by DJ Avicii - Lyric Video

When we returned to the event, they started playing the number one UK hit of the Summer: Wake Me Up.

“Listen, this is one of the songs I told you about.” I said all excited.

Nick perhaps didn't get the association straight away. Worse yet, perhaps he found I was going nuts to see any association between Wake and the idea of spirituality and success. 

I couldn't blame him. I myself consider the words in Wake a bit strange; it’s not really easy to put the meaning of the words together.

The strangeness one may feel when first trying to understand the words of Wake is probably the same feeling I had when I first saw the O2 billboard in London.

You don't really get what Be More Dog means until you see the O2 ad on tv.

The tv ad shows an aloof and indifferent cat that decides to act as a dog - i.e. be more (like a) dog.

Thus, by watching the official video of Wake we can start making more sense of the words. So, considering the video, here I share my impression of the meaning of the words in Wake.

Feel my way
through the darkness.
Guided by a beatin heart.
I can't tell how the journey will end.
By I know where to start.

It starts with this stunning lass waking up by who seems to be her little sister. 

So, wake me up when
it's all over.
When I'm wiser and
I'm older.

As the chorus starts, the stunning lass is shown walking alongside her sister in what seems to be a rural traditional community.

The people who they come across in the street are apparently cold and hostile to them. The video  depicts a clash between the lasses, who dress up a trendy fashion, and the people, who dress in more traditional clothing.

Such depiction highlights the meaning of previous lines.

They tell me I'm too young to understand.
They say I'm caught up in a dream.
Life will pass me by if I don't open up my eyes.
So, that's fine by me.

The image also highlights the irony of the chorus, as the trendy lass seems to assert herself in the face of others. She is shown to be out of place in the community.

The video depiction of a clash between the lass v. community does match the song's initial words of admonishment - They say I'm too young / caught up in a dream / life will pass me by. The other half of the video, however, match the lines of Wake in a more abstract level.

The trendy lass mounts a horse, leaves the small community behind, gallops through a field, and reaches a big city.

Then, she takes a shine to a lady even trendier than her, and follows her along other young ones to a gig by Avicii and Aloe Blacc.

The video images are symbolic of the song's idea of freedom - 
I tried carrying the weight of the world. But I only have 2 hands.
Hope I get a chance to travel the worldI don't have any plans.

- and the song's idea of adventure and playfulness.
Life is a game made for everyoneAnd love is the prize

The coda shows the lass galloping back to the community,
waking up her little sister, and cheerfully telling her: 

"Get up. Pack your things. [We're going] somewhere we belong."

Then, they hit the road. 

The idea of finding one's true self seems to be encapsulated by this image - as expressed in Wake.
All this time I was finding myself.
And I didn't know I was lost.

The video certainly conveys the idea of breaking free from traditional values, of leaving a life of slumber behind, of pursuing to experience the vigour of youth to its full potential. Possibly, to some, the video still doesn't clarify what the words of Wake Me Up has to do with the idea of spirituality and success.

Here are some final considerations.

Nothing says spirituality more than a reference from the Bible.
And it's easy to find some references about waking up/
being awake in the books of the Bible.

For you are all children of light, (...) So then let us not sleep, (...) but let us keep awake... Thessalonians 5.5-6.

For the hour has come for you to wake from sleep, for salvation is nearer... Romans 13-11.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep. (...) Death is swallowed up in victory. Corinthians 15.51/54.

Awake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5.14. 

Sleep in the Bible is a metaphor for death. It isn't too far-fetched, I suppose, to see that the lass in the video is depicted as somewhat being buried alive in a dead end of the world - a place offering her no prospect of progress. The lines of Wake mention admonishment against a dream, a chance to travel the world - metaphors to departing from one's current reality and place of birth. The lines of Wake also reveal a disdain against such admonitions. Well that's fine by me. Such disdain implies desire to wake from t' slumber of a static life.

And what about success?

At the end of the video, the lass decides to leave the community and pursue happiness by going to a place where she and her sister belong. The image of the girls hitting the road couldn't be more symbolic of the human exodus towards a promised land. Is it too much to parallel this to pursuing success?

Now, what's is undeniable is that Avicii is enjoying a great success
as Wake Me Up was created to shine.

Wake reached number 1 in t' UK, Ireland, USA, n' many countries of Europe.
I heard on radio Aire Wake is considered so far t' song of 2013.

Is there a special reason to explain the great success of Wake?
Does it have anything to do with some spiritual principle?

I do affirm that Wake contains words that transmit a strong message about spirituality and success and that Wake subtly speaks its message to the people who are living the dawn of an awakening era. 

I, particularly, can trace the choice of some words and lines in Wake back
to modern American texts on the philosophy of personal success, 
i.e., self-improvement, self-fulfilment, and getting rich.
That's how some odd choices of words and lines in Wake, I suppose, gain further meaning and reveal more clearly its relation to spirituality and success.

If you want to check the origins of such choices, please, 

click the link below.

A-Wake! Part Two

7 July 2013

What Your Name?

What is your name? must be one of the 1st sentences that is formally taught in school either to children or learners of English as L2.

It's quite a complex sentence but, nonetheless, useful and easy to  remember.

It'd be less complex perhaps if it had no verb to be - as in, What Your Name?

What Your Name is actually a variant form of saying What is your name? Such form doesn't obey the grammatical norms  of Standard English.

What your name, however, occurs in English perhaps more often  than we suppose.

What you name omits the verb be - am, is, are. In such position be assumes the grammatical function of 'copula'.

Copula, as defined in the
Concise OED, is a connecting word, in particular a form of the verb be connecting a subject and complement. So, in My name is Earl, 'is' assumes the function of copula, linking 'My name' (subject) and 'Earl' (complement).

A fact that some may ignore is that omitting the copula be in English is considerably common.

The omission of copula be was documented as a common feature of the African American Vernacular English - aka, Black English or Ebonics - in the work Language In The Inner City by William Labov (1972). 

In Language... Labov presents examples of actual speech like:

Means he a faggot. vis-à-vis Means he is a faggot.
You out the game. vis-à-vis You are out of the game.
But everybody not black. vis-à-vis But everybody is not black.

But the omission of copula be is not a feature of an isolated dialect of English. It can be noticed in other varieties, including British English.

A simple example can be observed in the Big Brother UK (Series 14). When the presenter Emma Willis says 'the vote lines (...) are now closed', in the 3D captions on screen the copula - are - is omitted.

Walking through the streets of Leeds, I could observe other examples.

All Welcome, instead of All are Welcome, is written in  a notice board at the side of Wrangthorn Church in Hyde Park Corner.

Walking down Cardigan Road (Headingley), we can equally read Everyone Welcome, instead of Everyone Is Welcome in a sign outside Milford Builders Merchants.

Towards the district of Sheepscar, in the sign outside Geoff's Upholstery one reads No Job Too Smallinstead of a more standard form No Job is Too Small.

At the city center, entering in a Pound Shop , I spotted Everything 99p or Less

The form Everything is 99p or Less would be more in accord to the standard norms of English.

The examples above show that the omission of be is indeed common in English and, apparently, such feature doesn't affect intelligibility of the message. Particularly, I can't avoid the sense of strangeness when I encounter sentences of English that omits the copula be. 

In the pictured examples, it seems, the omission of be - is, are - obeys a principle of economy in writing. And since we living a time in which the new generation are using English to exchange messages through written media, particularly via text messaging and social networking, I wouldn't find strange the omission of am, is, are will perhaps become more and more common in actual speech across all varieties of English.

All Comments Welcome.

15 June 2013

Who puts the Cheddar in Cheddar Cheese?

Gorge Cheese Co
only producer of 'cheddar' actually based in Cheddar
In the Consice OED, Cheddar is defined as a kind of cheese, firm and smooth, yellow, white, or orange, and originally made in Cheddar in South-Western England.

Cheddar cheese gets its name from the village of Cheddar in Somerset - where it was originally produced around the 12th century.

The comercial use of the word Cheddar is not restricted by any commercial law. That's why we may easily come across some cheese tagged "Cheddar" in a supermarket even if it's not genuinely produced in Cheddar.

The same isn't truth about the word Cornish, as used in Cornish pasty.

Pasty Shop outside London Victoria Station
Cornish is an adjective relating to Cornwall; Cornish pasty designates “a pasty containing seasoned meat and vegetables, especially potato” (Concise OED). Despite the name, Cornish pasty doesn’t have to be produced in Cornwall. But if a Cornish Pasty is stamped with a PGI or a PDO badge of honour, it means that the Cornish pasty really comes from Cornwall.

PGI and PDO are labels legally created by the bureaucrats in Brussels to protect heritage food across Europe. PDO, protected designation of origin, means that the food was produced and processed and in a particular area – Cornwall, for example. PGI, protected geographical indication, means only that the food was assembled there (Rip Off Food, BBC ONE, aired in 29 Oct 2012).

That's when the strangeness starts, as I see. We call cheddar a cheese that actually mayn't come from Cheddar, and we call cornish a pasty that actually mayn't come from Cornwal. So, the words we use to name things doesn't really obey a strict logic, unless one advocates that cheddar and cornish means 'in the style of'. Then, we are actually bending the meaning the words according to our convenience.

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding: from BBC Food Recipes
And don't get me started with Yorkshire Pudding!

6 June 2013

Don't mention the privates.

Basil Tower: funny Hitler walk

 The title makes a reference to the expression "Don't mention the war"
said by John Cleese/ Basil Fawlty in the episode
The Germans from Fawlty Towers.

No subject is more fertile for linguistic strangeness than when speakers talk about their privates.

A certain embarrassment or rudeness about uttering the words penis or vagina compels speakers to be linguistically creative - and weird - to disguise the subject.

Once I challenged a lad from Doncaster to guess the meaning of a few ‘gay’ words I’d learnt watching Will & Grace. In return he challenged me to guess the meaning of a few words he knew.

“One eyed bed fairy. ’umpton. Tally wacker. Bald Avenger. Widgy. Todger. Doofer. Shaft.”

“What?” I said confused.

“’ow ’bout…” He continued, “Sixpence. Fluzie. Minge. Muff. Fanny. Beaver. Snatch.”

He explained that such terms referred to the male and female genitalia.

I thought I’d learned all, but then I realised that such list of words are infinite. Probably because, with time, people become familiarised with terms as such, and so to keep subject disguised, speakers tend to create new terms.

Recently, I learned a few new terms as I watched The Wright Way on BBC 1.

The terms were uttered by the character Victoria who, in her words, “took an embarrassing rudy selfie.”

Selfie is already a brand new word. Rudy selfie, as I understand, is an euphemistic way of saying ‘picture of your lower body’.

Victoria clarifies ‘how rude’ her rudy selfie is: "I took a pic of my... Fanwa.”

Victoria is a DJ and, after having gained a Facebook fan page for her anwa, she becomes known as ‘DJ Vee-Jay-Jay’.

Vee-Jay-Jay seems to have been popularised in Greys Anatomy, and is a common word nowadays.

The linguistic creativity doesn’t stop at the level of the common noun. It’s common for people to name their lower parts with proper nouns.

This week’s Sweat the Small Stuff (series 1, ep. 6) on BBC 3 presented examples of how people nickname their ‘downstairs pal’.

Some names borrow from the owner's name. A guest suggested, for instance, that Tulisa should call hers Tulipsa. A particular man, whose name is Yasin, called his Yas. Unlike Yas, other nicknames mentioned - Carlito, Hercules, Minky - are unrelated to the owners’. A lady - name Claire - called hers Minnie Moo, a lad - name Brad - called his Bobby. This also seems to be the case of Jerry - nickname given by fans to Justin Bieber’s.

Whatever the reason - be it for jocosity, politeness, or intimacy – the varied terms with which people refer to privates make of the subject an everlasting spring of words for English.