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Interpretation of “Between” by Memphis (Μ3ΜΦ1Σ)

Memphis (stylised as “Μ3ΜΦ1Σ”) is a Greek rock/metal band that I have already covered twice in this new section of my website:

For the present entry, I want to comment on the profound words of Between (Ανάμεσα), all while introducing you to another wonderful song from this exceptionally talented band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cSDDhv_OVI (also check their bandcamp page for their entire discography: https://m3mf1s.bandcamp.com/music).

Below are the lyrics, my translation of them, and subsequent philosophical remarks.

Ανάμεσα

Τα πιο μεγάλα κύματα μονάχα ταξιδεύουν
Και όσοι τα ονειρεύτηκαν μάταια τα καρτερούν
Τα πιο θλιμμένα πρωινά είναι αυτά που θα 'ρθουν
Σε όσους τα φοβήθηκαν πικρό φιλί κερνούν

Aνάμεσα μου λες σ' αυτό που είμαι και που θες
Χρόνια θα παρεμβάλλονται, αιώνες και εποχές
Aνάμεσα μου λες στο αύριο και το χθες
θα υπάρχει ένα σήμερα γεμάτο ενοχές

Τα πιο σφιγμένα βλέφαρα αυτά μόνο γνωρίζουν
Λόγια που τόσο θέλησαν μα ντράπηκαν να βγουν
Τα πιο αθώα ψέματα στα μάτια σε κοιτάζουν
Και όσοι μαζί τους ξαγρυπνούν μαθαίνουν να αγαπούν
Between

The greatest waves only travel
And those who dreamt of them wait in vain
The saddest mornings are those to come
They serve a bitter kiss to those who are afraid of them

You say between what I am and what I want
Years will interject, aeons and epochs
You say between the tomorrow and the yesterday
there will be a today filled with regrets

Only the most tense brows know
Words which wanted so much but were shy to come out
The most innocuous lies stare you in the eyes
And those who hold vigil with them learn to love

“Between” is an intermediate state. We might think of it as transitory, as moving from one stable state to another. But what if every experience is of this sort? What if all that we live through is transient. Are there, then, any real stops along the way? Is there a point that can be treated as fixed? What is this “somewhere” we are transitioning towards and are we really getting “there” or do we remain in transit, always chasing after it?

The “between” is an analytical construct. Yes, there is a past and a future, with the present in-between. Yet we cannot say that either the past or the future exist. Where are they located exactly? What are their attributes and mode of being? Everything that is ephemeral, is predicated on what has been. However, the cosmos is ever-lasting. Time is pertinent to items whose presence is temporary. For the cosmos as such, time is irrelevant. Such is the implication of it being ever-lasting: it always is. There is no past, no future. It is simply present: a total presence.

[ Read/watch: Cosmos, Logos, and the living universe ]

The “between” is the innocuous lie we all arrive at intuitively. Who I was yesterday, what my plans are for tomorrow… I can understand the analytical constructs of past, present, and future, ultimately taking them as universal constants. Still, I know all-too-well that I cannot live in either the past or the future. Behold the lie right in front of me! All I can ever do is be present. This is not a matter of choice. My condition as human, my condition as a presence, imposes as much.

We sometimes cling on to the past. Perhaps to the “good old days” of yesteryear which provide a stark contrast to the particularities of our dystopic locus. Or we daydream of what is yet to transpire, as we find solace in the escape from the immediate into the possible. Even the strongest attachment of this kind cannot refashion our actuality. The past or future can only be lived in the present. The mind may travel wherever it wants, though its phantasmagoric journey is one of continuous presence.

Those who love are the ones who have learnt about this innocuous lie and have overcome it. They understand that only the here-and-now is lived and they find value in that fact. This type of love is unlike the conventional one, for it has no expectations of commitment, contractual obligations, associated social roles of conformance with some norm, delusions of “happily ever after”, and so on. This love pertains to the undivided attention one gives to the moment.

Such peculiar “lover” operates with aloofness. They are not burdened by worries and insecurities.

  • Do they still love me?
  • Will they stay with me?

Questions along those lines are meaningless to the agent of action who only operates in the here-and-now. They are troubling thoughts about what isn’t “there”. The “lover” experiences love in the present. There is no other experience.

It is for this reason that the song talks about the saddest mornings that are to happen. If we worry about them, if we fear that which does not exist, if we reify the conceptual as a substitute of the present, we are to be served a bitter kiss. We become insecure, fearful, stressed, unsettled. The expectation, the distraction from our actuality, the “what I want”, is undoing us. Same principle for those who wait pointlessly for some eventuality. They too shall suffer.

What about the shy words, then? I think they are those inklings of recognition we have for the aforementioned, but are trapped in the taboos of our cultural setting and are scared to pursue their truth.

  • Will you always be by my side?
  • Best friends forever?

Whatever the answer, it is unreliable. The questions assume as real the impossibility of a present future. To entertain that notion as the basis of one’s life is to labour under beguiling illusions. Admission of this simple fact is hard—I know. Those words are too shy. The embarrassment to speak the truth is what holds one hostage to falsehood. The shy ones shall thus wait in vain and be given the most acerbic of kisses.

The present is full of regrets only when it is pulled on either side of this intermediate “between” state. It otherwise consists in aloofness: the lightness of being ever-present. No regrets, no expectations, no fear, no hope. Nothing. What is, is.