I watched this interesting video breaking down the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” into its symbolic musical elements. When I say it like that, it sounds pretty abstract and a bit pretentious- it’s a musical number from a mainstream movie, after all: who is to say that the musical elements have any symbolic meaning at all?

I know, I had my doubts too.

Then again, I’ve learned that movie scenes have grammar and sound has shape and color has mood so why shouldn’t music have symbolism? It was an interesting video (and not actually pretentious in spite of my fears) and made some interesting observations about how the structure of the song follows the structure of the film with Dorothy making a leap from home to Oz in the early moments only to journey back to home by the end and arrive there to see it with new eyes because of her journey. The speaker made an interesting point that Dorothy spends her story longing both for the adventures of Oz as well as the comforts of home. If that isn’t the story of my life then I don’t know what is.

I find myself thinking about the story of my life more and more often these days. Well, not my life in particular- more the story of life inn general. I sometimes wonder if there is a point: not in a depressive way, just in an existential way- what is the point to life? Why do creatures live? Why should evolution create something so needlessly complex as life with elaborate systems of respiration and metabolism and sometimes even intelligence? And why does life end? Certainly death is a natural part of the cycle, but why? To create urgency? To prevent overuse of resources? To encourage procreation so that evolution has another opportunity to roll the dice?  Why do we have built in life spans? It is an universal default in humans- we will eventually die of “old age” if nothing else kills us first. If we’re lucky we’ll get the better part of a century in before we go. If we’re lucky we’ll be remembered when we’re gone ( and if we’re cagey we’ll even produce a few personal reproductions to do the remembering for us).

Why should I care about the meaning o life? After all, life is going to happen to me whether it means anything or not. I don’t know. I sometimes get this that time is going by so quickly and it only ever flows one way and I want to make it count. How can I do that if I don’t know what it counts towards? If the point of life is to sit back and absorb the experiences of living then I ought to live differently than if the point of life is to go out and exert will upon the world and create works of recognition and note.

I think, perhaps, the point of life isn’t in knowing the answers but rather to be in this state of longing between home and adventure and the constant, shuffling, circling, longing journey between the two states. Perhaps life, like music, doesn’t need to have an explicit symbolic meaning because it will speak to us even if we never break it down to examine it. But by the same token, just because one doesn’t need a thorough critical breakdown to enjoy “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” that doesn’t mean that the observations gained from considered thought have no value. Perhaps the notes are just notes, but then again perhaps they are symbols for home and Oz and the journey between the two.

Worth giving some thought to.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 7, 2015.

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