Emotional Motion Sickness

Pheobe Bridgers is an up-and-coming artist who uses storytelling to entrance her listeners into a moment in her life or feeling she has experienced. Her song “Motion Sickness” is the second track on her album “Stranger In The Alps”, which was released September 22nd, 2017. In this song, Pheobe is writing about being on a roller coaster of emotions. She describes a relationship where she has as been built up and broken down thousands of times and says it was like she had motion sickness from all the ups and downs in the relationship. In the song, she illustrates many moments and feelings where she felt as though she was being manipulated and thrown around. 

I hate you for what you did

And I miss you like a little kid

I faked it every time

But that’s alright

I can hardly feel anything

I hardly feel anything at all

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridger’s

In the first verse of the song, she starts out strong by using juxtaposition. She claims that she hates this person for everything they have done to her but still misses them. She misses the feelings she had with them and the idea she had of them in her head. Even though someone treats us poorly, we can still miss them and miss having them in our lives. She uses this juxtaposition to show the conflicting feelings one can have after a breakup, and especially after an emotionally abusive one like the one she experienced. 

Im on the outside looking through

You’re throwing rocks around your room

And while you’re bleeding on your back

In the glass

I’ll be glad that I made it out

And sorry that it all went down like it did

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridgers

In a later verse, Pheobe described feeling like she is on the outside looking into her own relationship. She describes being able to see her partner self-sabotaging themselves and the relationship when she says “You’re throwing rocks around your room.” This line isn’t supposed to be taken literally but is inferring the kind of damage this person did to themself and others around them through their actions. Although Pheobe recognizes that her partner at the time was purposefully abusing her mentally, and physically, she is still sorry that it all happened. This verse illustrates how once you are out of an abusive relationship, you can fully see everything that should’ve driven you away sooner from the “outside.” 

I have emotional motion sickness

Somebody roll the windows down

There are no words in the English language

I could scream to down you out

Motion Sickness – Pheobe Bridger’s

Finally, in the chorus, we can see the story come full circle when she talks about the emotional motion sickness she had from the relationship. This metaphor is referring to physical motion sickness becoming more emotional and a sort of feeling you experience when someone keeps letting you down and then getting your hopes up again. She even goes further with this metaphor by saying the windows need to be rolled down, as though she is going to throw up from all of the ups and downs. This line is a beautiful representation of how some abusive relationships go and the title of the song being “Motion Sickness”, fully encompasses what Pheobe is trying to describe. Pheobe Bridger’s use of metaphors, juxtaposition, and use of scenarios to illustrate a feeling or occurrence adds to the essence of this song and makes it an experience to listen to.

Art and Existentialism

When reading into existentialism, I found an article titled, “Why Creativity is the Cure for Nihilistic Despair,” though the title is somewhat misleading. The article delved into how and why many existentialist turn to art. The general argument made by the author is that, for existentialist, we are not born with any inherent meaning nor is there a overarching meaning in life. In order to exist alongside a lack of meaning (absurdity), we must develop our own sense of meaning. This is where the author argues that for many art creates this personal meaning.

In the modern world, there is a sense of heroism that is synonymous with having an eternal spirit. We all fear death and in order to maintain sanity we concoct narratives that help deconstruct the terror of death. For some, this manifests as religion or spirituality. The idea of heroism is that we go out of our way to take on an active role in society, through carriers, relationships, etc., because we feel that these roles will prevent us from being forgotten after death; they are your mark on the world that makes you somewhat eternal despite inevitable death.

The existentialist thought suggests that heroism is not genuine and by participating in it you are feeding into the “myth of significance of human life” (Ernest Becker). Instead, the way to live is by first accepting absurdity, meaning you accept that there is no ultimate purpose. Once you acknowledge absurdity, it is up to you to live your most genuine truth which does not originate from the social construction around you, rather it is a product of you mind alone. This is the concept of rebellion.

The author of the article I read argues that the artist is the ultimate rebel. The artist remains conscious about the absurdity of life and uses that lucidity to formulate art. That art is there genuine truth and meaning and prevents them from sliding off the edge of existentialism into nihilism. Ernest Becker articulates tis concept well, “the most anyone of us can seem to do is to fashion something — an object or ourselves — and drop it into the confusion, make an offering of it, so to speak, to the life force.”