Interpretation of “White storm” by Pavlos Pavlides

For this entry, I have picked a wonderfully subtle song by songmaker par excellence Pavlos Pavlides (Παύλος Παυλίδης). The translated title is White storm (Λευκή καταιγίδα):

Below are the lyrics, my translation of them, and further philosophical comments.

Note that I have written about Pavlos before. They were the lead singer of the old Greek rock band Ta Xylina Spathia (Τα Ξύλινα Σπαθιά, “The Wooden Swords”). My previous interpretations:

Λευκή καταιγίδα

Την πρώτη φορά ήταν σαν να 'χε αρπάξει φωτιά
κάπου μέσα βαθιά κάτι μες την ψυχή μου
Κοιτούσα τις φλόγες κι αυτόν τον αέρα μακριά
να αλλάζει αργά τις σκιές της ερήμου

Χορεύοντας μου 'δείξες μέσα σε πέντε λεπτά
τι θα πει πουθενά και πως χάνεται ο χρόνος
Ότι αν το πιστέψεις στα αλήθεια η αγάπη μπορεί
Ότι αν αφεθείς σ' οδηγάει ο δρόμος

Από τότε περάσανε χρόνια, κυλήσαν νερά
όμως κάπου βαθιά η φωτιά καίει ακόμη
Λυπάμαι που έφυγα εκείνη τη νύχτα κρυφά
βιαστικά και χωρίς να ζητήσω συγγνώμη

Το μόνο που θα 'θελα αν κάποτε σε ξαναδώ
είναι να πω ευχαριστώ για το θαύμα που είδα
και να δώσω για μια τελευταία φορά το ρυθμό
στον τρελό σου χορό στη λευκή καταιγίδα
White storm

The first time was like it caught fire
something somewhere in the depths of my soul
I was watching the flames and this wind far away
changing slowly the shadows of the desert

By dancing you showed me in five minutes
what nowhere means and how time is lost
That if you truly believe it love can
That if you let go the road guides you

Years have past since, waters have flowed
yet deep inside the fire still burns
I am sorry to have secretly left on that night
hastily and without apologising

The only thing I want if I ever see you again
is to thank you for the miracle I saw
and give for one last time the rhythm
to your crazy dance at the white storm

While we can think of the White storm as a love song given its apparent theme and Pavlos’ erotic voice, I believe its imagery is allegorical. This is not the type of poem you would tell your crush or lover, for example. Well, unless they are comfortable with concepts such as you abandoning them without a notice…

I do not read the lyrics literally as it would then be impossible to describe the general theme of realisation developed therein. The poetic “I” was exposed to a truth they could not fully comprehend. It did light a fire, but its extent could not be understood at the time. The person thus continued with their life, ignoring what they had witnessed. They did eventually understand the profundity of that “dance” which lasted “five minutes”: it was a simple message; a universal, and timeless message, hence “what nowhere means and how time is lost”.

To know the truth and to realise its significance are two distinct modes of being. In the former case, there is no consequence on one’s disposition. It is like those encyclopedic trivia or academic discussions that remain self-contained. Or the doctor who advises against smoking but still lights a cigarette. Knowledge on its own is ineffective. Whereas the latter case of realisation entails a change in one’s attitude. It is the “aha!” moment when things click and everything makes perfect sense. The person undergoes a certain transformation: their outlook changes and their view of the world is more refined.

What I often tell others who check my philosophical works is that my greatest achievement is when their immediate thought is “this is obvious; I know it”. No, I am not fooling you. Strictly speaking, I have nothing fancy to teach you. I can only draw your attention to what you can already discern. All I do is render conspicuous the patterns which are “there”. The real challenge is not the complexity of the meanings I convey or the obscurity of the words I use, but your disposition towards them; your capacity to go from knowing the truth to living the truth. For example, if I tell you that all you need to be a philosopher is patience, you will think I am playing games with you. I am not. If I say that you own nothing, not even your self, you will again think that this is some rhetorical trick. It is not. I am simply “dancing”: what you see is what you get.