Monday, April 28, 2014

The Ode to Joy Game, Completed

It's done, folks.  I started this game by placing pieces of music in the middle and bottom spots on the Hipbone board, so let's go with another song for the top spot.  In the tenth and final circle I place John Lennon's 1970 song "God."

(I've got to thank Michelle, who suggested adding Lennon to the board in the very first post of this game!)

If you've never heard this particular song before, go have a listen before reading the rest.  Lennon wrote it just after the breakup of the Beatles, and he was trying to convey (among other things) that an era has really and truly ended.  Sadness runs through it, for sure...

God is a concept
By which we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure our pain

...but there's also some clarity of thought that one may not have associated with Lennon at this crazy time of rapid change.  He takes a left turn into listing some of the "idols" that he's discovered he can no longer believe in.

I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings

Then it gets more personal.  I remember the first time I heard this next part, decades ago, on the radio while driving by myself.  I almost had to pull over.

I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
That's reality

I suppose this was controversial when it was released -- possibly of the same flavor as his earlier "We're more famous than Jesus" statement.  However, I say he's just following 1 John 4:8 here.  If you take "God is love" to its logical conclusion, then one's communion with the divine must be filtered through the direct experience of love.  John was thinking specifically about romantic love, which for him in 1970 was all new and sparkly, trumping and coloring just about everything else.  But I think that there are other kinds of love that can serve in this rapturous capacity -- fans of "boom de yada" have got to know what I'm talking about.

Okay, I won't belabor it with more words.  Links, can't forget the links...

The connection to Beethoven's Ode to Joy is clear, right?  Would you be surprised if the personified goddess "Freude" in Schiller's lyrics was really called Aphrodite?

The connection to psychoactive ergot fungus.  Well, I don't have a list of the substances that inspired Mr. Lucy in the Sky in his late 60s songwriting, but those albums ended up being mystical initiations for millions.

The connection to the Queen of the Night?  If you're thinking of Mozart's villainess, I don't know if I have a good link -- other than how Yoko was characterized by angry fans, maybe!  However, the Queen's amorous joys were conveyed by Aleister Crowley's own version: Nuit, the goddess of Infinite Space.  On a fateful day in 1904, he heard her tell him that "Love is the Law" of a new era of mankind that was just dawning.

Even though there's no direct link to Aerosmith's "Dream On" (in the bottom spot), there's symmetry here, in that Lennon ends the song with words as wistful as Steven Tyler's...

I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You'll just have to carry on
The dream is over

I don't think he meant that to be a downer, since he was filled with hope at getting to be "just John" for a while.  Of course, I wish he got to have more time for that next phase of his life than he ended up getting.  But all the evidence points to those next 10 years as being filled with lots and lots of joy.


  1. I think it's perfect! (and not just because I had suggested it because really, with my brain, it's like every day I start over fresh, new memories, not remembering anything!). But perfect as if you had thought the whole thing through from beginning to end before you started, even though you didn't.

    This is a really cool game. So cool.

    1. Aw, thanks. This was fun. I tend to get too much into the "theory" side of these games, and I'm glad I decided to just do one.

      What's next, though? I'm not sure...

  2. As I was reading through this post, I was wondering what I'd pick out to comment on and feel a bit of regret. This is one of those rare posts that is best savored without feeling the pressure to comment, rather to just receive. Well done.

    1. Well received, no regrets, with a cosmic Om on the side. :-)

  3. The man crammed a lot of life into 40 years. I just realized now, I've outlived him. Sigh...

    1. I remember having that same thought 7 years ago. I've mentioned my old plans for an alternate history novel in which he wasn't shot... it's weird that those plans were made in the late 80s, so much closer to the event itself than it is now.

    2. It has always seemed unusually cruel that his life ended just as he seemed to have achieved such a happy, healthy balance.