Interpretation of “I have a house” by Memphis (Μ3ΜΦ1Σ)
Memphis (stylised as “Μ3ΜΦ1Σ”) is a Greek rock/metal band that I have covered before in this new section of my website (Interpretation of “The Sweet Paradox” by Memphis (Μ3ΜΦ1Σ)). They blend meaningful lyrics with high quality music. Really talented fellows!
For this entry, I am translating—and providing philosophical commentary on—the song “I have a house” (Έχω ένα σπίτι): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCrFjcfF4yQ (also check their bandcamp page for their entire discography: https://m3mf1s.bandcamp.com/music)
[ By the way, the solo at 02:48 is art at its scintillating best! ]
Έχω ένα σπίτι Έχω ένα σπίτι που δεν θέλω να κοιτώ Έχει παλιώσει πια και μου θυμίζει εμένα Ίσως να φταίει που δεν έμαθα να ζω Ίσως να φταίει που τα έχω πια χαμένα Κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό, κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό Θα 'ναι από θαύμα, μα δεν είναι γραφτό Έχω ένα σπίτι που όταν θέλω να κρυφτώ έχει παράθυρα και πόρτες καρφωμένα Ίσως να φταίει που φοβάμαι πια να μπω Ίσως να φταίει που δεν κάλεσα κανένα Κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό, κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό Θα 'ναι από θαύμα, μα δεν είναι γραφτό Έχω ένα σπίτι που γκρεμίζω από καιρό την κονσερτίνα του μου χάρισε για στέμμα Ίσως να φταίει που γλιστράει στον γκρεμό Και το κρατάω με δυο χέρια κουρασμένα Κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό, κι αν σωθώ απ' όλο αυτό Θα 'ναι από θαύμα, μα δεν είναι γραφτό
I have a house I have a house I do not want to stare at It has grown old and reminds me of myself Maybe it is because I didn't learn to live Maybe it is because I've lost the plot And if I survive all this, and if I survive all this it will be a miracle, but it is not meant to be I have a house that when I need to hide it has sealed windows and doors Maybe it is because I'm afraid to enter Maybe it is because I never invited anyone And if I survive all this, and if I survive all this it will be a miracle, but it is not meant to be I have a house I've been demolishing for a while it has given me its concertina wire for a crown Maybe it is because it slips down the cliff And I hold onto it with two tired arms And if I survive all this, and if I survive all this it will be a miracle, but it is not meant to be
The titular house is the personal space and selfhood of the poetic “I”. This is the edifice that was constructed over years on the foundations of insecurity, low self-esteem, and the concomitant feeling of worthlessness.
The house is, to me, a metaphor for what we call “the comfort zone”. We have a propensity to rationalise our condition as desirable. It is a coping mechanism to alleviate pain and suffering. Not only do we tell ourselves that it is going to be alright, we go a step further and convince ourselves that what we have is necessary and benign.
Writing from experience, the comfort zone can be a dreadful prison cell which has been rationalised away as a wonderful habitat. Depending on the circumstances, we can let life slip away as we lose control and allow our own devices to be employed against us. Kind of like an autoimmune disease killing the host, the “house” we construct to reside in is working to our detriment.
There is nothing wrong with comfort per se. The problem is to identify when it is genuine and when it masquerades as such. We must try to reflect on our condition by being as honest as we can. Does any of the activities I do ever challenge my sense of self? As selfhood is a subjective narrative—an opinion, basically—do my experiences ever question what I think I know about who I am?
[ Read/watch: On selfhood ]
If all that happens to us basically is an echo chamber, if every event is a pat on the back about how great we are, we may fall into the trap of developing a personal cult of personality. It is that dogma where we take our self too seriously and give it disproportionate value. We cling on to it as a prize we cannot live without. By obsessing over it, we become its servants. Why? Because we condition our behaviour in such a biased way as to always vindicate that which our rationalisation has already established as precious.
Even the truth needs to be disturbed from time to time, just to be sure it can stand on its own. If it needs pampers, if we have to actively confirm it through sheer prejudice, it is no truth at all. It is falsehood; falsehood writ large.
Do we ever invite anyone into this house to help us do a reality check? Or do we remain protective about it? What is it that fear? Perhaps our little charade will be exposed?
When we are in such a perverse comfort zone, we have a deep seated love-hate relationship with our self. We try our best to provide sacrifice to the altars of this deity we call “self”. We try very hard in order to distract ourselves from how much we loath what we have become. As this internal strife intensifies, we get sucked into it. Days, weeks, months, years go by. We spent so much time taking care of the house and forgot how to live.
The song’s refrain is that nagging rationalising voice which keeps reminding us how we cannot do it. It warns us how we will not survive breaking free from our prison. And it goes to great lengths to do so, even invoking fate, as if the universe is conspiring against us.
What do you mean “it is not meant to be”? This is! I just did what was hitherto uncomfortable. The house is no more. In its stead I will set up tent and live the rest of my days as a nomad whose doubt, whose unwillingness to settle for a convenient lie, inspires them to explore the space instead of remaining firmly rooted in the place.