.@kdlang, Outside Myself, and the Death of Ego Part 3

Who is writing? Plato or Socrates?
Who is writing? Plato or Socrates?

This is the third installment in an ongoing project to show how k.d. lang’s album Ingenue can be interpreted as an investigation into the consequences of the small self (or Ego). By “consequences” of the ego I mean the devastating conflation between a disguised reality and Truth itself. Depending on the world view, this conflation results in severe ignorance, seeming evil and a continuing existence in a less than natural state.

So, to start, I have selected the famous image that highlights the historical question of Who really was the Philosopher? Was it Plato (as we are led to think today) or was it  Socrates, the “gadfly of Athens” who drove his peers nuts with is “innocent” questions that eviscerated  arguments. The reason for this is that I contend  all of Ingenue is an explication of  how what we may call our “small selves” get in the way and confound the nature of our True Selves. Western thinkers may call this the difference between ignorance and Truth (capital T) and Eastern thinkers may call this the difference between our current experiences and our “Buddha Nature”.  Whatever you call it, it is a major problem that philosophers have agonized over. In my case, I began “agonizing” over this around aged 14, and I suppose that this fact partly explains why Ingenue is “My Album”; the one I played literally for years in the car everyday. We all have one such album Ingenue was mine.

This post focuses on “Outside Myself” as a prime contender for one of the most enlightening thoughts about how this conflation between our small selves, that Ego we refer to everyday, with True Reality (Truth, our primordial essence, whatever terms you like to use). k.d.’s words are in italics, and my interpretation follows in bold.

“Outside Myself”

A thin ice covers my soul
My body’s frozen and my heart is cold
And still so much about me is raw
I search for a place to unthaw
Here, “soul” refers to our true nature. The ice symbolizes the fact that we have confused delusion with reality. But the good news is that the ice is “thin” because Truth is never far away from us. It is a simple question of changing our perspective. A frozen body refers to the fact that living in a delusional state prevents us from understanding Truth and seeing “What is” for its own sake and not for some temporary purpose. This brings about a “cold heart” because it is separated from its true nature. In spite of this state (being frozen with a cold heart), the part of the human spirit that never completely abandons its true essence understands what is going on. It “searches” to “unthaw”.
Something in me broods love into fear
It veils my vision, leaves my thoughts unclear
And my eyes from blue turn to grey
Hoping to mask what they say
Continuing the analysis of the effects of delusion, kd notices that the remote part of ourselves which never completely rejects Truth, insists on making it more complicated that it is. This muddles everything to our existential cores. And worse still, that vestigial part of our soul that never strays, is duped into playing along with the charade of delusion. Eyes going from blue (the color of clarity) to grey (the color of “say what?”) symbolizes the deliberate act of non-seeing. We avert our eyes practically on purpose. Duh Duh Duh.
I’ve been outside myself for so long
Any feeling I had is close to gone
I’ve been outside myself for so longI have been in a storm of the sun
Basking, senseless to what I’ve become
A fool to worship just light
When after all, it follows night
This stanza is the most profound, because the only way it makes sense is if we realize the insidious nature of delusion. It takes even the “simplest” experiences and sprinkles them with the most alluring complexity. Here is what I mean:
The Ego has been in a “storm of the sun”, where the sun/light represents Truth or knowledge. And yet the Ego is so convinced that more is going on than essentially is, it loses all direction. The soul becomes an injured shell; lost and “senseless” to its intractable dialogue with delusion. It “foolishly” worships “just light”; the misunderstood nature of Truth, the parts of our everyday life that seem true. But “after all” it is ultimately connected with Truth, capital T, or Buddha Nature or Love, capital L. Yet the only way for that connection to become productive is for “night”, the death of the Ego, to come.
I’ve been outside myself for so long
Any feeling I had is close to gone
I’ve been outside myself for so long
So longI’ve been outside myself for so long
Any feeling I had is close to gone
I’ve been outside myself for so long.
Wrier(s): Ben Mink, K. D. Lang

Copyright: Universal Polygram Int. Publishing Inc., Polygram Int. Publishing Inc., Bumstead Prod. U.S. Inc., Zavion Ent. Inc.

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