Thursday, October 2, 2008

Deconstructing Radiohead: Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore (in rainbows)

Radiohead - Reckoner - by Clement Picon

Radiohead offering up its material for free, and then encouraging interpretations of it is nothing new (see:

Clement Picon, a French Radiohead fan, made the video for "Reckoner" in his free evenings. After his video was voted on by fans worldwide, Picon was one of four grand prize winners penultimately chosen by Radiohead and, and, ultimately to be the "official" video by because "it goes with the song so well." Yes, yes it does Thom. It perhaps even speaks for the song.

After reading about Derrida's hermetic view of language recently, I've come to agree with him that words, like the lyrics in this song, can only refer to other words. The lyrics aren't really an expression of some thought in Thom's mind, since no one can grasp the full meaning of their words alone. Words stand only in relation to other words- In Rainbows is not Out Rainbows, as much as it isn't any other word. So words can't point to any greater Truth or essence, even though they are sometimes our greatest tools in which to ascribe meaning. But, as in many instances, what we don't say is often as important as what we do say. If all of the cuts for the album made it on In Rainbows, it would frankly suck. Because Radiohead chose not to include these, it enhanced what they did say and play.

However, what we know empirically: The sounds of the guitars traveling through amplifiers into recording equipment, lyrics sung at an audible wavelength, and a video created out of an inspiration to and then eventually blending with the song lend themselves to the fullness of a moment. And that moment may feel differently to everybody, since it is then not only open to, but expectant of, the inevitable interpretation.

Does this seem like a vapid existentialist conclusion? Can meaning never be tacked down because of an endless chain of signifiers and symbols? Perhaps, but if many moments could look, sound and feel like you are in a song, the resulting peaceful -not staid- placidity would not be such a terrible existence.

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