June 6, 2008

Walls: More Fun With Music

For some reason, I've been listening to Pink Floyd's The Wall album nearly every night lately, sometimes on repeat.

"All and all, it's just another brick in the wall..."

The concept album tells the story of Pink, a man who builds a metaphoric wall separating himself from society after experiences with an absent father, a overprotective and smothering mother, an emotionally abusive teacher, and later, a cheating wife. After a time, wall completed, Pink starts to see himself as a sort of dictator (the character is a rock star) rallying a mob (his audience.) More time passes, and Pink cannot take the self-imposed isolation anymore. He examines the events that had led him to this point, and realizes that society wasn't being mean to him; it was the opposite: he thinks that it was his fault. The wall crumbles, and the most common interpretation is that Pink, unable to cope with these new revelations, shoots himself in the head.

It was not the suicide that got me thinking last night, but rather the idea of the all-important Wall.

Does everybody have a Wall? For introverted people, maybe the Wall is chest-high, while for the most extroverted it only brushes the ankles. Maybe some, like Pink's, are heavy stone and brick, and others are made of wood or Styrofoam. After all, no one is completely public; there are a few, at the least, thoughts or secrets that are kept hidden away.

Do we subconsciously build our Walls as a natural defense, to keep ourselves from being hurt again? Is that why those who have felt that they've been abandoned have difficulty forging new relationships?

I do not like answering many personal questions. I have been called a very private person; I've been told I've become more so over the past twenty months. Am I slowly building my Wall higher?

I remember a time, probably about October 2006, when I couldn't see over the Wall. I didn't speak unless absolutely necessary, and withdrew from nearly all human contact. I was trapped in my own hard little cyst- or should I say Wall?

So I guess it's possible to tear down the Walls; the internal construction crew is always hard at work. I think everyone needs a Wall for protection, but how long could one really go when it gets too tall?


  1. I think we build walls for defense and protection. I think that it should be like a permeable wall where the wall keeps somethings out and lets other things in and vice versa. A wall block the "good" from coming in and blocks you from giving to others and everyone has something to offer. The blogsphere is a good example of this type of wall.

  2. I guess we all build walls around us (some higher than others as you stated), however for the most part I consider this a good thing. In my experience most people are just not worth knowing (either they’re stupid or malicious, or both) and those that are won’t mind having to pass certain tests before gaining entry into your inner sanctum. I think a lot of misery and mental suffering is caused not by chemical imbalances in the brain (it’s never been proven conclusively) but by the cold, uncaring and sometimes downright brutal way people treat eachother. Yet in our society the victims are put on trial (enter psychiatry with their ludicrous stigma’s and endless variety of labels and their almost godlike authority to judge) and not the perpetrators: it’s obviously immoral and criminal to murder someone and retribution is swift and certain yet if you break down another human-being mentally or torture them endlessly you’ll almost certainly get away with it. My advice: build yourself a sturdy fortress with multiple walls and heavily reinforced gateways, that way you are protected yet you won’t shut yourself of from human-contact (in its various degrees), humans are social animals after all.

    In Japan there is an old saying that everyone has or should have three hearts: one for the outside-world, one for friends and family and one for oneself. I think this is both true in a descriptive sense and prudent. Granting people too much access to your emotional life can be as disastrous as shutting them out too much. Most of all learn to live with yourself and care for yourself: if you love yourself, value your own company (it’s not very likely you’ll ever find better or even equal) and trust your own judgements you’ll be fine. If there is indeed such a thing as genuine happiness and it is possible to achieve it I’m confident this is the surest way to it. And this above all: To thine own self be true.

    On another note: I remember you said somewhere you liked all sorts of music, perhaps this is a bit too old-fashioned for you (I’m not that old but I do remember what it was like to be 17) but you might like this. While I’m certainly not a Christian I do value beauty and genuine spirituality and this piece in particular moves me and comforts me. I’ll include a link with the text but I do think this is what death is like: of course the antiphon (in paradisum) is part of the Roman-Catholic mass and the lines come form the bible but it’s not necessary to believe in an afterlife to appreciate the deep truth behind them: whatever we may have been or have done in life death is peace (the cessation of suffering) and this in itself equals paradise. I especially like the last line: “May the ranks of angels receive you, and. with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest.” In a way we are all like Lazarus, aren’t we?


    If you liked this you might also want to look up Fauré’s version (part of his Requiem), it’s more eerie, romantic and complex but equally beautiful.

    Have a nice day,