Silhouettes

The song “Silhouette” comes from Aquilo’s album Silhouettes, it’s the namesake song of the album piecing together the story of the artists’ beginnings being told. Though Aquilo put out different EPs prior reflecting the same style, Silhouettes was the debut album of the band released in 2017. Silhouette is the opening track of the album portraying life as different memories and old identities compiling into one experience. When listening to the song the confusion and loss of being unable to really know what their life has been or will become is evident while still hoping everything will turn out alright.

I can remember being nothin' but fearless and young
We've become echoes, but echoes, they fade away

These opening lyrics to the song show the reflection on past relationships and memories, the “echos” mentioned representing the wanting to hold onto who they were and what they had while the “fading” represents the knowing of not being able to hold onto everything once possessed as the artists grow in their careers.

(I heard you say)
The devil's on your shoulder, strangers in your head
As if you don't remember, as if you can forget
It's only been a moment
It's only been a lifetime
But tonight you're a stranger
Some silhouette

The chorus explains the change others have seen in the pair and also the things they knew becoming distant. The feeling of becoming unrecognizable to people they once knew and unrecognizable to even themselves is heavy, leaving behind things familiar. These “silhouettes” they mention represent the haunting of these memories and the people they once were remaining to be seen, not being completely gone, while still being unsure of who they are now. They explain how different lived experiences shouldn’t be that easy to forget because in the moment they felt like lifetimes. However, the notion of something having the ability to be a moment and a lifetime in one reveals that the things you know will always fade even when wanting to keep those moments.

Just hold me
Just hold me

The repetition of these lines four times in the bridge encompass the desperation of wanting the ability to have specific moments last forever before going back into the reality, that is the chorus, mentioned before.

Let's go out in flames so everyone knows who we are
'Cause these city walls never knew that we'd make it this far -- 
So let's dance like two shadows, burning out a glory day

This part hints to the doubts they unquestionably faced and their decisions to leave and prove to others and themselves that they could make it. Though this highlights the real feeling of loss of self and the lives they’d known, they know the journey they’re on will prove to be something great. Throughout the song the battle with letting go and accepting is seen but in the end we see the beginning of them knowing what they had have in fact become things that at one point they’d known, becoming silhouettes.

Exit West and Focusing on the Why of Immigration

The story Exit West by Mohsin Hamid helps imagine a reality where the how of migration is not the focal point of immigration but instead something that just happens, something where anyone could walk through a door and instantly be in a new country. This idea Hamid constructs his book around, these passages being reduced to walking through a door, helps to focus on what was happening that made it necessary for someone to leave their homes in the first place. That idea he invokes helps to restore humanity into these characters while reading, in contrast of the real world where stories of immigration focus on the how instead of the why, stripping humanity away from the people who partake in this journey. Often, this dehumanizing makes it easy to alienate but Hamid challenges that idea throughout the whole book and through his characters of Saeed and Nadia. As Saeed and Nadia go through change with each journey they take through the doorways, we see that migration is normal and identities can alter as a result. Though it is easy to other when looking at the journey of someone else, one you may not be able to relate to, we are all migrators as the world and people around us shift and change as well.

The Shift of Power in “The Secret Woman”

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette’s short story “The Secret Woman” tells the story of how dishonesty between a husband and wife can lead to a shift in power because of a shift in perception. In the opening of this story we see the husband lying to his wife explaining that he is unable to go to the green and purple ball because of a patient he has to take care of. In response the wife tells her lie, telling him that she is too shy to be able to go to the ball and put herself in front of a group of people. This promotes the idea that she lacks courage and depends on him, seeing this in the way she made her husband think that she was against the idea of the party.

“As for me.. Can you see me in a crowd, at the mercy of all those hands..” (Pg. 328).

Despite their lies they end up at the ball, just not together. When he first sees his wife he doesn’t think that it’s her, under the impression that she wouldn’t be there. Once he realizes that it is in fact his wife he follows her and notices the way she is projecting herself, surprised, rolling her hips and dragging her feet. Once following his wife, we see that he looks at her more of an object that her own person.

Once seeing his wife for who she truly was, flirtatious, secretive or promiscuous, the way he described her shifted.

“She laughed, and he admired her narrow face, pink, matt and long, like a delicate sugared almond…” (Pg. 327).

This quote shows the way the man viewed his wife in the beginning but once he saw that she was actively choosing this for herself the way he saw her shifted, shown by the stark contrast in how she was described in the end.

“[T]he monstrous pleasure of being alone, free, honest in her crude, native state, of being the unknown woman, eternally solitary and shameless, restored to her irremediable solitude and immodest innocence by a little mask and a concealing costume” (Pg. 331).

Her freedom was shocking to him because of who he thought he had known her to be, once he saw that she was in power of her own situation, her own person, he didn’t really know how to deal with it. In the end I think he may have felt unsure of himself in the end, now seeing her at this party he wasn’t sure of his role in their relationship anymore, because he realized his role was always fake and apart of her lies.

Jessica Benjamin’s Theory Surrounding Power

Jessica Benjamin’s book, Bonds of Love, introduces her theoretical argument around subjectivity and power combining the ideas of domination and social, gender, and family roles to bring light to the problem of the power structure. She uses the idea of binary thinking as leverage for domination and hierarchical thought processes. Benjamin ties individualism and the idea that you are you because you are not them into what creates a false sense of self hood and the roles or expectations given to certain people.

The main argument, evident throughout the examples she presents, is that there needs to be a mutual recognition of power and a connectedness to find a common ground on theory of identity. She also highlights the importance that the theory doesn’t deny anyone else’s sense of self as a means to achieve personal individuality and self.

Total domination is a result of unhealthy subjectivity, not being able to be humble enough to fathom the idea of being equally powerful. Mutual respect and recognition between others, being able to recognize an equally respectable sense of self, is what generates a healthy identification of individuality and balance of subjectivity.