WHAT ANALOGYMAN IS ALL ABOUT (Long Version)

I’ve agonized for months trying to introduce this ANALOGYMAN website to my fellow human beings. I’ve tried to summarize my thoughts in pithy little sayings. But I’m still nowhere close to describing in words what I’m trying to say.

That’s because the deepest truths, the most profound thoughts, are difficult to describe in words.

Words are inadequate to describe ultimate themes.   All experiences in life, whether actual or vicarious (through literature, art, music), whether factual or even fictional, (fiction to be believable must be based on real life) revolve around certain perennial themes.  These themes, when they are addressed in drama, or in real life, touch our innermost beings and can produce life-changing choices.  For instance, a man doesn’t have to go to war to conclude that war is hell and that he must do everything in his power to avoid it. A person doesn’t have to fall in love with another human being, he or she can experience this vicariously by watching others—even actors in movies— fall in love. In every circumstance of life, we are all under the spell of the same desires, the same needs, wants, fears, joys, and mysteries.

Therefore a movie scene can become a powerful archetype of a universal theme. If people are allowed to express themselves concerning their favourite movies and movie scenes, it can be demonstrated that they prefer those scenes because they meet a real need. I suppose it’s safe to say that our real need is to make sense out of life, to find a purpose in all the stuff of daily life, and then to be able to express this in words.

Of course, people are not inclined to admit they are looking for the purpose of existence. That’s a subject we press far into the corners of our psyche. We generally don’t want to admit that we’re looking for more than just fun, or money, or excitement. But when we get a glimpse of this important subject, say, for instance,  just for a moment in a movie—we take hold of it and will not let it go. It is these “moments” that we collect in our hearts that we tend to call “my favourite scene” or “my favourite movie” or “my favourite song”. Why is it a favourite? Because it somehow touches a chord.

What chord? The Moody Blues in the 1960’s cut an album, “In Search of the Lost Chord”.  They were making an analogy. There are many different chords in a song, and sometimes when we hear just a riff of music we are suddenly reminded of a song. But maybe we can’t put a name to the song and maybe we don’t fully remember  how the tune goes…we just know that chord belongs to something bigger, something more complete and satisfying. That chord becomes a tickle, an itch which we just need to scratch. Some things in life are like that— they hit a particular chord which reminds us that there is a full song out there somewhere, a song with a beginning, a middle, and an end, a song with a strong, powerful message, a message that helps life make sense.

That’s what we’re all looking for. Life to make sense.

The problem is, something as big and wonderful as life can’t be defined by a few words. We all try so hard to express ourselves in words. But words are really quite inadequate for the really big, complicated subjects. What works much better is experience. We experience music, art, literature. And even if the experience is fleeting, momentary, there is so much content in that fleeting moment,we are riveted to that scene, that moment, and we hold onto it just like an oyster encloses a speck of dust. And gradually we add to that speck other fleeting moments. Haven’t you noticed that all your favourite songs and films and scenes never actually disappear? You can totally forget them and yet recall them the moment you hear one riff of the music, or see one glimpse of a scene. In fact, if you go back and list every song that you ever liked, and every film scene that you ever enjoyed, and you place them on a sheet of paper in chronological order, you will be compiling the story of your life.

You will discover that that song, that line, that poem, that scene, is the archetype of the thought which is closest to describing your philosophy of life. (An archetype  is defined as : the original model or pattern from which copies are made).

We all have a philosophy of life, it’s just that most of us have never really thought much about it or put it into words. The closest most people come to expressing their true philosophy of life is when they quote their favourite lyrics, or reveal their favourite scene from their favourite movie.

Why is this true? Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and a song or a scene contains ten thousand words. (That’s why it’s sometimes so hard to describe what you heard in a particular song or saw in a particular scene.)

I have discovered that all the music I have ever heard and all the films I have ever seen have become a collage of my philosophy of life and if only I would step back for a moment and analyze the details, and put the details into words, I would surprise myself.

So that’s what ANALOGYMAN is all about.

All I’m doing with this site is demonstrating the concept.

Here on this site there will be (hopefully) dozens, if not hundreds, of scenes from films, clips from  songs, collages of album covers, quotes from literature and poetry. I can’t promise you that I’ll post YOUR FAVORITE, because that’s impossible.  But I can post material from the popular culture. And after all, popular means the familiar favourites of the majority of the people alive at any one point in history. So the Beatles and Star Wars and Jurassic Park would all be examples of popular culture.

But what I’m doing here is not film review. I am not an art critic. I simply take scenes and quotes from the popular culture and relate them to archetypical themes.

What are archetypical themes?

By archetypical themes I mean the universal themes or universal truths expressed in a particular piece of music, or particular film, or particular scene.

What is a universal theme?

A very wise man once said, “there is nothing new under the sun.”[1]  Writers know that there are only a few basic plots. That’s because life is pretty much the same for all of us. All experiences are simply variations on a theme. But what are these universal themes? They are the stuff life is made of.

“Where did we come from?”

“Why are we here?”

“Where are we going?”

“How can we find love, success, happiness, fulfillment?”

“What’s the meaning of life?”

 

If you’ve never asked yourself any of these questions, mark my words, you will ask them eventually. And furthermore, what you will find is that you already have answers to these questions, you’ve just never bothered to express them your own words. You are resting on the words and ideas of other people. You’ve borrowed their outlook and perspective, and the reason you have made their song your favourite song is because they are saying what you yourself would have  liked  to have said if you could have found the words. Or in the case of film, the actors are responding to their situation like you yourself would like to respond under the same situation. We are all looking for ways to express our personal philosophy of life, and because this is so hard to do in a few words, we express this almost unconsciously by the books that we read, the art we accumulate, the films that we watch.

Which brings me to my final point.

The whole point of ANALOGYMAN is that by using something familiar, I can quickly explain something unfamiliar. You may never have put your own personal philosophy into words, but your favourite scenes or song lyrics do it for you. The only problem is, bridging the gap of understanding between the piece of art and the words that relate to it is complicated. Explanations in words are complicated and difficult. Such wide gaps are best closed by analogies.

An analogy is a comparison of WHAT YOU KNOW with what you DON’T KNOW. In other words, if I say to you that chartreuse ( a color a lot of people are not familiar with) is sort of like lemon-lime ( a cross between yellow and green) you might know what I’m talking about. Or if I say that a FIAT is an Italian version of a Mini Minor, you might understand. The point is, I use what I know you KNOW, and make a comparison to what you don’t know. In this way I can introduce you to something NEW with a minimum of explanation. An analogy works where words fail.

ANALOGYMAN is based on the idea that when you recognize a song, or a work of art, or a film in the thumbnails on this site, this will be the basis for me introducing to you a completely new idea . So, for instance, if I say to you that the original film THE MATRIX is the closest Hollywood has ever come to describing the nature of reality, this will give you a chance to think deeply as to why THE MATRIX had such a profound effect on you, why you were so compelled to watch it several times, and why even if you didn’t fully understand it all, you were fascinated by it.

I can tell you why you were so fascinated. Because it stuck a CHORD.  That CHORD is only one chord in a song that has haunted you all of your life.  It’s a riff you hear occasionally when you hear a loon cry over a lake or in a line such as “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name” or “I could have told you Vincent, this world was not meant for one as beautiful as you,”—or any one of a thousand lines that may be floating around in your consciousness just begging for an explanation.

I cannot guarantee you will find what you are looking for at the first try, but I can assure you that if you hit on enough of these analogies (start with the thumbnails that are most familiar) and give my explanations a chance. You’ll find what I found after years of experience (I’m now 66 years old) — the real answers to the real big questions are there right in front of you. The reason you haven’t been able to see them before is because they are what I call hidden in plain sight. They are right out in front of you where everyone should be able to see them— the only reason you don’t see them yet is because you really don’t have any way to know when what you’re looking at is a universal truth.

You don’t have any way to tell when you’ve brushed against a universal theme, an archetype, a universal truth.

I guess the best way I can explain this is, again,  by analogy. Stand out on a dark night and look at the northern sky. Look at the myriad of stars out there. Be honest. How many nights would you have to stand out there and look at the stars before you would notice that the whole night sky revolves around Polaris, the North Star?  You could look for years and never discover this! But let somebody SHOW you on a star map, and point out by time-lapse photography that Polaris is indeed straight-up from the axis of the Earth, and you will be able to see this  from that point on. The same is true of the Constellations. The very LARGE patterns are staring you right in the face, you just can’t see them until somebody points them out.

That’s why my home page shows a night sky full of stars. Is the North Star in this photo? It may be or it may not be— only somebody who has actually found it could lead you to see it. It’s probably HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT…just like the deepest secrets of the Universe are probably staring you in the face…you’ve just got no way to tell that what you’re looking at is a deep secret!

But let’s face it. You are not alone. There are fellow travellers who have stared long and hard into the mysteries of existence and discovered patterns you  have missed. Or, you may not have missed them, you’ve just never been aware of what the patterns you do see mean.

So give it a try. See if there’s something familiar in any of the thumbnails already posted. Or come back occasionally to see what has been added. Or leave a message… suggest a theme, a poem, a song lyric, a movie scene… one that strikes a chord in your heart. I guarantee that the chord is a riff from a much larger song, a universal song, one that we all hear (mostly) only in bits and pieces.

If only we all could hear that song. Then we could all (as the poets say) join the dance.

john.idems@rogers.com

[1] Ecclesiastes 1:9

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