Pure Comedy

Pure Comedy” is a grandiose satire voiced through perspective of an unhinged, broken skeptic of humanity. The title song is no different, as Father John Misty simplifies the existence of humanity to its most basic core in an almost unbearably nihilistic tone. His tone gives off a sense of superiority, making him a bit unlikable in this song. The satire starts immediately as Misty begins, “The comedy of man starts like this:/ Our brains are way too big for our mother’s hips.” This opening line exhibits satire through the duality of its meaning. While our large brains, and heads by extension, cause birth to be quite painful for the mother, this line also suggests that humanity is too smart for its own good. This line leads into the central idea of the first verse: the satire of early societal structure. Misty starts his idea by stating that “…half of us are periodically iron deficient/ So somebody’s gotta go kill something while I look after the kids/ I’d do it myself, but what, are you going to get this thing its milk?” Misty alludes to early societal structure in hunter-gatherer groups, as the men would often hunt for meat (a strong source of iron) while the women would stay and tend to the children as only they can nurse them.

Today, this structure isn’t needed anymore. Grocery stores hold all the food and nutrition we need to survive, yet women still often are the ones to stay at home. Through describing the process of gathering food to be primitive and basic, Misty makes the idea of raising a child and providing seem backwards.

In the second verse, Misty begins to dismantle Religion in an extremely superficial tone, but he also discusses the hypocrisy and idolization of corporations. When FJM says “They build fortunes poisoning our offspring/ and hand out prizes when someone patents the cure,” he discusses how we are stuck in a cycle of gluttony. The “poison” refers to could be seen as alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, which when overused, can lead to health issues or death. As a society, we’ve showered these industries with money, and when someone comes up with a cure or solution to a societal issue, we shower them in money as well, creating a cycle of greed and wealth.

The final chorus closes with the irony of survival: “The only thing that seems to make them feel alive/ is the struggle to survive/ but the only thing they request/ is something to numb the pain with.” Humans innately want a challenge to occupy themselves with, but this challenges can easily become overwhelming. This can result in substance abuse to simply carry on. This song is certainly poetic, but I’ve always found it difficult to truly enjoy due to the larger-than-life FJM seems to project. The song, while insightful at times, is almost consistently pessimistic and depressing.

"Beloved" and the Power of Perspective

Throughout “Beloved” Toni Morrison intentionally provides possibly limited but illuminating points of views. The stories of struggles and triumphs are told almost selectively from the perspective of former slaves and their relatives. While some may argue that it limits the scope of the story, I think it is important to hear the story from the lion’s perspective instead of the hunter’s. Through the textbooks that circulate our country’s public school systems, we are desensitized to the atrocities of slavery. These books often sugarcoat the horrors that took place on many plantations during the era of slavery. Until reading this novel, I had never heard of a “bit” or many other forms of systematic torture of slaves. Slavery was almost primarily discussed through the scope of civil war. We were taught that it was a divisive topic between the north and south, but rarely were we taught about the slave’s lives stuck in between the Union and Confederacy. That is why Morrison’s utilization of perspective is so essential. This novel, while fictional, gives a voice to a underrepresented community.

Morrison also shows the reader how dangerous the hunter’s perspective can be. While Sethe and Baby Suggs tell their own stories of escape, Sethe’s infanticide is told through the perspective of the schoolteacher. This perspective spreads to all of Sethe’s neighbor, essentially ostracizing her from her own people. Those that knew what happened didn’t care for Sethe’s reasoning. They didn’t care that Sethe did it to protect her infant daughter from a fate worse than death. They only cared about the story of a mother killing her child in cold blood. That is why the hunter’s narrative is so dangerous in isolation. If left unchecked, inaccurate information spreads like wildfire until the lion’s point of view is eradicated.

Exit West and the Strains of Migration

Exit West provides and interesting perspective on the migrant experience, giving the reader a unique insight into how migration can affect relationships and mental states. Like many migrants, Saeed and Nadia attempted to migrate in hopes of finding a better life for themselves, but the effects of migration show immediately through their relationship. The abuse they face at every turn from so-called natives is straining and eventually leads to the dismantlement of their relationship. In their native country, it was clear that Saeed and Nadia were fond of each other, but as they migrated from country to country, they avoided each other more and more. While it is possible that they never truly loved each other and they only dated due to their dire situation in their home country, I choose to believe that they were once in love. Throughout this novel, Hamid illustrates just how impossible the migration experience can be through Saeed and Nadia. Maintaining a relationship in a new world, especially one with so much instability, is extremely difficult. What Saeed and Nadia had was strong and passionate, but to be in such close proximity with someone through almost constant turmoil is a recipe for disaster.

Existentialism and its Relation to Isolation

Existentialists value the rejection of standard social constructs as a pillar of humanity, but this conviction can be extremely ostracizing. Unfortunately, while leading an existentialist life may be personally liberating, it is extremely unpopular. Outside of those who share in the existentialist ideology, an existentialist would have quite a difficult time fitting into society. In The Stranger, Mersault keeps everyone at an arm’s distance. He has some friends (Marie, Raymond), but it is very clear to the reader that Mersault isn’t particularly close to these people. The reason behind this is because Mersault’s outlook on life holds him from coexistence. He can no longer understand conventional societal norms.

Existentialism isn’t an ideology for the social. Its lonely, and besides the perceived personal freedom, it could ultimately be unrewarding. It is difficult to judge whether or not existentialism is truly worth the effort. Sure, you may have a new outlook on life, but said outlook immediately puts you on the outside looking in to society. The norms that existentialists reject are pillars of mainstream society. Existentialism imprisons one in their own mind, as they can no longer willingly be apart of a society that contradicts their beliefs. By choosing a path of existentialism, one creates a cycle of rejection. By rejecting societal constructs and norms, society will reject the existentialist right back.

Why The Elephant Never Mattered

In “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami, An elderly elephant disappears from a suburb outside of Tokyo, but none of it matters. The elephant came into the ownership of the town through somewhat comedic means, and even though it caused quite the uproar for some time, the elephant was never more than an amusing oddity to the town. When the elephant disappears along with its keeper, the town sinks into a temporary state of mass hysteria, but as blame is thrown to just about anyone, the town slowly forgets about the elephant.

Our main character, despite his passion for keeping up on the happenings on this elephant, unfortunately slips back into the functions of everyday life. In time, it is clearly shown that everyone forgets, or wants to forget, about this elephant. Why do they forget? Because the elephant has no significance to them. It’s an oddity; a conversation starter. What did the elephant ever contribute to the town besides some possible publicity? It was simply an abandoned animal, and why the main character ever cared is an illusion.

At the time of the disappearance, there was a lot of attention given to the elephant. There were multiple high class investigations, and it even led to some political unrest. Even though all of these things seem significant, they made no change on the state of the suburb or those living in it. Our main character still went to his day job just like everyone else, and life moved on. The suburb before and after the elephant was the same. The status quo remained the status quo.