Take Me to Church

The song “Take Me to Church” By Hozier is part of his Take Me to Church E.P. The song was inspired by the oppresion of the LGBTQ community in Russia. At the time there were anti-gay propaganda laws passed in parliament that suppressed the LGBTQ community for expressing their natural rights in public. In fact, parliament upheld a public display of homosexuality to the same severity of beastiality and pedophelia. As a nation, Russia felt the need to “protect” the children from non-traditional sexuality. Therefore, there was a vast array of attacks by neo nazi gangs. 

Hozier’s song focuses on the expression of one’s sexuality and how religious organizations advocate for the suppression of such a natural act. In fact, through the song Hozier expresses that he feels closer to god through sexual acts rather than abiding to organizations or policies that value prejudice. 

Towards the beginning of the song, as Hozier introduces the disapproval of the Christian church. He follows this by repeating the statement “I was born sick.” This figurative sickness is mentioned in order to establish the hateful attitude of the church towards the LGBT community. According to the Christian church it is seen as a sin. However, as Hozier repeats the line a second time he states, “I was born sick, but I love it.” He repeats the line in such a way to suggest that he will not support organizations that discriminate the natural act of expressing love for others. 

This then leads to the chorus of the song that reads as follows:

“A-amen, amen, amen

Take me to church

I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

I’ll tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knife”

Through the chorus, Hozier uses juxtaposing diction and overall develops his argument through such a contrast. First, the juxtaposing diction is evident especially in the line “I’ll tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knife.” By structuring the language in such a manner, he continues to develop the idea of oppression. If someone apart of the LGBT community were to express their feelings to the church, they would be faced with immense resentment and possibly violence, as seen through the metaphor of the knife. The whole point of the song is for Hozier to express his disapproval of these oppressive institutions. Therefore, by writing the chorus in a format that sarcastically worships the church, he show the negative effects that would be imposed on someone like him.   

Towards the end, Hozier speaks more about the liberation he has found in expressing his identity and loving who he wants. Specifically he states:

“There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene.

Only then I am human” 

Through speaking about an “earthly scene,” Hozier shows that the church would consider homosexual intercourse a sin, however, he sees it as an act of liberation. He uses this portion of the song to sum up his argument. Faced with such hateful events in places like Russia, that don’t allow for expression of natural human acts, he explains how truly satisfying it is to love. Expressing one’s natural human rights and love for another is far more fruitful than worshiping an harsh institution.

Why are Eyes so Prevalent in Beloved?

“Halle’s girl-the one with iron eyes” 

“It must have been her eyes that kept him both guarded and stirred up”

“Sethe’s eyes bright but dead”

“The man without skin, looking. He is looking at her.” 

Moving through the course of the story, I noticed a repetitive nature when discussing the characters eyes. I pondered over the reasoning behind Morrison’s discussion of the gaze at vital moments, such as the point where Beloved pushes Sethe around and the first intimate moment between Paul D and Sethe. 

When analyzing the meaning behind Morrison’s discussion of the character’s eyes, I realized that it serves as a window into past experiences. As the story focuses on different moments of time, and the impact that slavery had on the present lives of character, the repetitive use of eyes furthers emphasizes the individualized trauma that characters experienced. It does this by giving direct insight into lives and their emotional state. In fact, the repeated mention of eyes connects to the larger theme of the novel, the idea that while trauma negatively impacts individuals, they must acknowledge it to recover rather than repress. 

At first, I found the book a little challenging to process. The constant shift in not only perspectives but also time make the novel a more abstract than most. However, both the emphasis on eyes and technical elements used in the novel ultimately made the story a powerful and unique piece of literature.

The Tea Behind Why Saeed and Nadia’s Relationship Suffered

When speaking about the deterioration of Saeed and Nadia’s relationship, Mohsin Hamid states “They had not been very romantic of late, each still perceiving the grating of their presence on the other, and they put this down to being too long in too close proximity, a state of unnatural nearness in which any relationship would suffer”(140).

This passage brings into question: Does a relationship tend to suffer due to an unnatural closeness or excessive time spent together?

First of all, couples vary in how much time is spent together. To some couples, hanging out everyday is natural, but to others, once a week is just enough. Therefore, spending an excessive amount of time together varies with each relationship.

The problem comes into the picture when the amount of spent time together leads to arguments and a sense of distress when the pair is separated from one another. These signs often suggest codependency.

A codependent relationship is one where a person is needy or dependent upon another person. Upon first glace, this may not sound like Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. Both are very strong characters, especially the independent Nadia who moves out of her house at a young age, without marrying. However, there is far more to a codependent relationship.

A codependent person’s goal often becomes fixing things, helping others, or pleasing people. This is evident within Saeed and Nadia’s relationship because at various points in the story, although they were experiencing tension within their relationship, they mentioned that all they wanted was to help one another. Saeed wished that he could please and help Nadia but he couldn’t and it filled him with sorrow. This is a sign of codependency because over time he slowly began losing his original identity and started caring solely about helping Nadia.

A codependent person also leans on someone else for support or solutions. Nadia and Saeed relied a whole lot on each other to make decisions. If one did not agree with the other there would be a lot of tension and they always made sure to come to a final decision together. There was no way that they were going to make independent decisions at such a point in their relationship.

Therefore, spending too much time with another person can often lead to toxicity because of the development of codependency.

The line on page 140 struck me as foreshadowing of Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. Similar to a lot of psychological issues, there is a sense of awareness of one’s problem but confessing it is difficult. In this case, Nadia started becoming aware of the toxicity of the codependency but she did not do much to fix it. Instead, they looked towards giving each other space, until ultimately they grew apart completely.

Is it Valid to Label Meursault with Antisocial Personality Disorder?

At the start of part two of The Stranger Meursalt states, “I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything… he asked me if he could say that that day I held back my natural feelings. I said, ‘No, because it’s not true’ (65).” Once I got to this point of the story it really got me thinking, Is Meursault a psychopath? Or is he just living life correctly? I was sure that he exhibited similar characteristics, but here I will take time to analyze his behavior and determine whether he is a psychopath or not. 

Psychopaths have what is called antisocial personality disorder. According to the encyclopedia Britannica, “Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the feelings of others and often accompanied by violation of the rights of others through negligence or overt action.” I feel that upon first glance it is easy for readers to make this connection. Meursault throughout the story shows a lack of empathy for others, especially when considering how he acted at his mothers funeral. He does not seem to care about much other than physical disturbances and he did not even feel remorse for killing the Arab. This is jarring, considering that most people would feel quite the opposite in all of these situations. 

However, after thinking more about it, antisocial personality disorder is not only a matter of lacking empathy, there is far more too it. For example, people with the disorder have issues maintaining social norms, causing them to have difficulties with employment. Although Meursault does not care much for social norms, he seems to be perfectly fine at work. He does not show any instances of challenging his boss or the people around him, he is simply indifferent. Additionally, people with the disorder tend to use charming mechanisms to manipulate or treat others badly with harsh indifference. Meanwhile Meursault is indeed indifferent in many of his relationships, he does not try to manipulate people close to him or treat them poorly. Finally, I wanted to highlight that most people with antisocial personality disorder lie in an excessive amount. However, it is evident that Meursault is quite the opposite. There has never really been an instance in which he has lied after being asked a question. This is especially seen when he was questioned by his lawyer. When the lawyer asked whether he held back his natural feelings, Meursault answered honestly, no. This is only one case of Meursault answering with pure honesty despite consideration of how the truth will impact others’ outlook on him.

Therefore, upon initial glance of Meursault’s character in the story, it is easy to label him as a psychopath. However, his lack of empathy is the only strong psychopath characteristic he exhibits. Other than that, he does not exhibit the other symptoms enough to label him with the disorder and instead is simply indifferent. I would like to conclude that Meursault does not have antisocial personality disorder, he just has a different view on life and how to live it. He is an existentialist.

“The Secret Woman” and its Tie to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

As I delved into Colette’s “The Secret Woman,” I was immediately reminded of one of Stanley Kubrick’s popular films, Eyes Wide Shut. Eyes Wide Shut is a film concerned with a married couple and how the fantasies of other strangers, as well as anonymity, play in their sex lives. The main characters are Bill, a doctor, and Alice, a stay at home mother. The film brings to life the challenge of marriage and how couples have to veer between two different sides of the spectrum: one side being relations without intimacy and the other side being complete intimacy with a significant other, which is often associated with boredom. 

This film connects to “The Secret Woman” in various manners. The most straightforward way they connect is that both the male characters in the pieces are doctors who use their profession to their advantage. In the film, Bill often lies to Alice about leaving to work with a patient, when in reality he is up to other buisness. Similarly, in the short story, the male character begins with a lie that he was called out by a patient in order to avoid going to the ball. The two pieces also share this mysteriosity. Both stories incorporate the use of costumes to hide one’s identity. Finally, the female figure in both stories shares this urge for freedom. In the film, Alice and Bill go to a party together. She lies to him about needing to go to the bathroom when in reality she uses the opportunity to drink and indulge in flirtation with other men. She has an intense urge for this freedom from him and has to lie in order to get it. Additionally, in the short story the female figure finds liberation by disguising herself at a party. She indulges in the ability to be free of any ties to her husband and allows herself to move person to person indulging in sensory pleasure. Both women are chained to the total intimacy side of the spectrum back home, but crave relations without intimacy because of the invigorating nature of the anonymous. 

Meanwhile “The Secret Woman” is a short story, “Eyes Wide Shut” is a developed film that extends on a few ideas not mentioned in the short story. Regardless, I was pleased to realize how intensely similar the two pieces were to one another.