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Interpretation of “New dizziness” by Trypes

I have written about Trypes (Τρύπες) before in an article that revolves around the theme of painfully experiencing life from the sidelines: Interpretation of Trypes’ “Treno” (Train). Trypes is an old Greek rock band that produced some of the greatest hits in this genre.

For the present entry I have opted for New dizziness which is more poetic and slow-paced than Trypes’ typical rock song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6RVn9eN-C0. An honourable mention must go to the cover by Rita Antonopoulou, which is masterfully done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5snUpMe3HkE (it also is a better video as you get to see the performers).

Here are the lyrics, followed by my translation, and philosophical commentary:

Κανούρια ζάλη

Ο χρόνος είναι ο χειρότερος γιατρός
Σε καίει, σε σκορπάει και σε παγώνει
Μα εσύ σε λίγο δεν θα βρίσκεσαι εδώ
Κάποιοι άλλοι θα παλεύουν με τη σκόνη

Θέλεις ξανά ν' αποτελειώσεις μοναχός
ένα ταξίδι που ποτέ δεν τελειώνει
Κάτω απ' τα ρούχα σου ξυπνάει ο πιο παλιός θεός
Μες τις βαλίτσες σου στριμώχνονται όλοι οι δρόμοι

Ποιοι χάρτες σου ζεστάνανε ξανά το μυαλό
Ποιες θάλασσες στεγνώνουν στο μικρό σου κεφάλι
Ποιος άνεμος σε παίρνει πιο μακριά από δω
Πες μου ποιο φόβο αγάπησες πάλι

Σε ποιο όνειρο σε ξύπνησαν βρεγμένο, λειψό
Ποιοι δαίμονες ποτίζουν την καινούρια σου ζάλη
Ποιος έρωτας σε σπρώχνει πιο μακριά από δω
Πες μου ποιο φόβο αγάπησες πάλι

Το όνειρο που σ' έφερε μια μέρα ως εδώ
σήμερα καίγεται, σκουριάζει, και σε διώχνει
Μια σε κρατάει στη γη, μια σε ξερνάει στον ουρανό
Το ίδιο όνειρο σε τρώει και σε γλυτώνει

Θέλεις ξανά ν' αποτελειώσεις μοναχός
ένα ταξίδι που ποτέ δεν τελειώνει
Κάτω απ' τα ρούχα σου ξυπνάει ο πιο παλιός θεός
Μες τις βαλίτσες σου στριμώχνονται όλοι οι δρόμοι

Ποια νήματα σ' ενώνουν με μιαν άλλη θηλιά
Ποια κύματα σε διώχνουν απ' αυτό το λιμάνι
Ποια μοίρα σε φωνάζει από την άλλη μεριά
Πες μου ποιο φόβο αγάπησες πάλι

Ποια σύννεφα σκεπάσαν τη στεγνή σου καρδιά
Ποια αστέρια τραγουδάνε τη καινούρια σου ζάλη
Ποιο ψέμα σε κρατάει στην αλήθεια κοντά
Πες μου ποιο φόβο αγάπησες πάλι

Ποιες λέξεις μέσα σου σαπίζουν και δεν θέλουν να βγουν
Ποια ελπίδα σ' οδηγεί στην πιο γλυκιά αυταπάτη
Ποια θλίψη σε κλωτσάει πιο μακριά από παντού
Πες μου ποιος φόβος σε νίκησε πάλι
New dizziness

Time is the worst doctor
It burns, disperses, and freezes you
Though you will soon not be here
Others will carry on fighting with the dust

Once again you want to terminate by yourself
a journey that never ends
The oldest god awakens underneath your clothes
All roads are crammed in your suitcases

Which maps have warmed up your mind again
Which seas dry up in your small head
Which wind takes you further away from here
Tell me which fear you loved again

In which dream did they awake you wet, manqué (incomplete)
Which daemons irrigate your new dizziness
Which love pushes you further away from here
Tell me which fear you loved again

The dream that once brought you here
today is burning, rusting, and expelling you
At times it keeps you grounded, at times it vomits you skyward
The same dream eats you away and saves you

Once again you want to terminate by yourself
a journey that never ends
The oldest god awakens underneath your clothes
All roads are crammed in your suitcases

Which threads tie you to another noose
Which waves expel you from this port
Which fate calls you from the other side
Tell me which fear you loved again

Which clouds have covered your dry heart
Which stars sing your new dizziness
Which lie keeps you close to the truth
Tell me which fear you loved again

Which words rot inside of you and resist coming out
Which hope guides you to the sweetest delusion
Which sorrow kicks you further away from everywhere
Tell me which fear beat you again (won over you)

To me, this song speaks about the uncertainty that prevails in all the major choices we make. Unlike a controlled environment where we can run tests and compare the outcome of all scenaria, life offers no rerun button. There are no retries where the “ceteris paribus” assumption holds true. All we can ever do is opt for a course of action and live with its consequences. If the case permits, we can change trajectory after the fact, though we may never revert to an original point of departure. There is no going back: change shall transpire and what once was either isn’t or is in a different way, even if ever so slightly.

Uncertainty grounds us in our humanity. We are not omniscient. We always labour under imperfect conditions. The ideal may be our guide, yet the realisable is all we ever get. We can try for the best, optimise for every detail, yet we cannot eliminate uncertainty from our life at-large. To wait for absolute certainty is to remain forever inactive.

We like to think that we are under control, though such is a sweet delusion, a distraction from our actuality. When we promise, for example, how “I will love you forever” we know it is not an absolute statement as it sounds. There is an implicit claim on the constancy of relevant factors.

Certain decisions we make are akin to a leap of faith. We jump into the pit and hope for the best. What is at the bottom may be a safety net or hard terrain. We cannot tell for sure. Our fear of the unknown chains us to our routines. Consider, for example, the all-too-common scenario where a person is doing some soul-crashing job in pursuit of inane ends. There is nothing rewarding about it even when it pays relatively well. The person serves their sanity and/or physical health as sacrifice to the altars of profit, convenience, and conformity with the status quo. The person eventually recognises the problem, though is afraid of the yet-to-be-known state of affairs that an alternative may engender. Should the person quit their job and do what instead? Not an easy answer and definitely not one that can apply to everyone equally.

There comes a point where we might feel an irresistible urge for change, but even then we cannot know if the likely new normal that awaits us will be any better than the previous one. Would a person substitute, for instance, a stable income for a precarious life in a remote area where not even warm water is available at their premises? At what point is the change not worth it? And what could have been done differently, if anything?

Again, there is no rewind in life. Contemplating the “what could have been done” is useful only insofar as it potentially applies to outcomes yet-to-unfold. Otherwise it poses an impediment to our attempts at living in the here-and-now. We cannot affect the past and cannot ever revert to it. Time is the “worst doctor” because it alone does restore what was lost. Such is what our humanity renders inescapable.

Uncertainty can easily lead to indecision, which then manifests as inertia. Our imaginary person from the previous example perseveres at their bullshit job. Not because they hope it will ever get any better, but simply due to fear of the unknown.

Fear is a powerful emotion that often deprives us of our means of action. Yet we know that inertia is not sustainable. When the need for change gains momentum, we have to act and hope for the best. One must then learn to live with their fears, to befriend and love them, as the song suggests. The poetic “you” figure in the lyrics is experiencing the inexorable power impulse that brings about change. It is the awakening of an ancient deity, the drying up of seas, the fate pulling from the other side, and so on. However we describe it, this transition must take place.

We adopt life-changing decisions so that unspoken words no longer rot inside of us and annul us from within. Our choice is not grounded in certainty and the concomitant mapping of all subsequent states of affairs. It is driven by hope. It may just as well be a lie; a lie that we need to stay close to our truth, to the truth that the current normal is unsustainable. One does not change things blithely. There is great pain and sorrow involved, death and rebirth, yet never a true escape, which in the song is described in various ways including my favourite: “Which threads tie you to another noose”.

Once we were enamoured with our fears and mustered the strength to enact reform. We look back and wonder if it was all worth it. The answer cannot apply to the past: we ain’t going back, anyway. Whatever we think might only serve us henceforth. The key is to remember that we are not strictly bound to a given state of affairs. Maybe we will learn to love another fear, which will send us on another journey. Where to? Nobody knows in advance, while those who took the trip have no definitive answer. Uncertainty; uncertainty writ large.

Finally, I find that New dizziness complements other entries in this series: