An interpretation unlike the others

What I normally do with these interpretations is to share a link to a song, translate its lyrics, and then comment on their meaning. It is a logical process throughout that helps forward my philosophical points; points which typically are tangential to the song. I am just searching for ways to make my abstract thinking relatable.

In this entry, I want to experiment with a slightly different format. There will be music and I will still be logical as I cannot do any better, but there will be no translation of any lyrics. Just an appreciation of the performance.

Backstory on serendipity

I always listen to music while I knead my sourdough bread. Today I wanted to revisit a beloved song by Socratic Malamas (Σωκράτης Μάλαμας) whose translated title is “Gift of the world (cosmos)”. As I don’t have it in my local collection, I searched online and got an exact match. So I hit play and went on to knead the bread.

It turned out that this was a female singer performing at one of Socratis’ concerts. Though the media team did not specify as much in the video’s title (which is bad form):

It is an outstanding performance! Wow! I had to learn more. This is Marina Dakanali (Μαρίνα Δακανάλη) who, apparently, does not have many videos of their work available. I did discover this gem, though:

The fully fledged human being

I am not translating the lyrics because I want you to feel these works. It is how I normally appreciate art: emotionally, aesthetically. These “interpretations” I started recently are, in a sense, artificial and misleading. I find songs that are remotely connected to whatever theory I want to expound on and then write the comments I already have in mind (or have covered elsewhere).

Feeling art is consistent with my philosophy on finding a balance in our life. The human condition is multifaceted. We are not purely rational, not me, not you, no-one. We are embodied, meaning that we are not—and cannot be—a spiritual presence. Our entire being will be at a benign equilibrium when we do not commit the mistake of wanting to be something we cannot.

There are stereotypes we try to conform with; expectations to fulfil in order to boost our credibility. Would we take an emotional philosopher seriously if we thought that philosophers are purely rational? No. It would contradict our view. We would have to either revise our position, or dismiss the information presented to us. The strictly rationalist philosopher is a figment of the imagination. As is every other fancy that is inconsistent with the multifacetedness of the human being.

This is why I like polytheism aesthetically (I don’t care about the religious aspect). It allows for different archetypes to be captured and to be expressed as the many sides of an otherwise singular divinity within the oneness of the cosmos. The goddess of wisdom (Athena) is not “better” than the god of festivities (Dionysos). Such is a false dichotomy. These are poetic constructs, symbols underpinning sprawling narratives, which help capture and express our all-too-human actuality. One can be wise and still enter the entrancing state that only a festival with no pretences enables.

I am against the “geek” or “nerd”, meaning the specialist who is obsessed with one thing but otherwise has no sensitivities. It is the kind of imbalance that inhibits our potential. Be an expert in your field, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Get out of your comfort zone and, maybe, you will learn something more about you.

[ Read/watch: On insecurity, confidence, and aloofness and The presumptive idol of you ]

There are no invalid emotions

A few years ago, I had an experience that inspired a certain publication: Why you are not important (all those “Why…” dialogues are based on real events). Part of the discussion covered the point of what are the right emotions for someone who wishes to be philosophical. This is a recurring theme in my exchanges.

I think emotions cannot be wrong per se. They are hard-coded into our being. Consider, for instance, feeling sad for the death of a loved one. Any philosopher who counts that as “invalid” either has a peculiar way of expressing their views or fails to consider that emotions are part of the human condition. The sadness is what it is. It is okay to feel sad in such a case. The real problem is to not recognise certain facts:

  • Death is inevitable. If we think otherwise, we are being misled by a belief in permanence. By accepting impermanence a burden is lifted from our shoulders.

  • To feel is human and we are human. Pretending that we have no emotions is the same as lying. And lying consistently is the kind of denial that engenders the imbalance in our state.

The key is to accept our humanity and work towards a disposition that avoids the extremes. Through moderation, we do not abolish emotions and enter some state of humanlessness. We simply learn to not be disturbed by phenomena as we have already normalised them. For instance, we take death with a certain calmness because we acknowledge impermanence, else the incessant transfiguration of presences in the cosmos, not due to a lack of feelings.

To be balanced is to cultivate all sides of our humanity with a view of the whole. We care for the body in the same way we keep the mind sharp. We experience awe through exposure to the wonders of nature. And we broaden our analytical skills by making them work in concert with the rest of our condition.

Just listen to the music. This is beauty. No gimmicks, no hypocrisy. I don’t need to explain it to you. And who knows? You might be moved by art and shed a tear. It will remind you what you are. It will keep you honest.