The road to freedom goes through the sewer
Six months are worth the wait for this. Let’s see what ; john is all about.
Read these (approximate) lyrics:
Used to be clean
now I’m filthy as can be.
Used to be mean
now I’m good as can be.
Raise me up!
I’m your slut!
May that god of me protect my soul
as I stay a little while longer
in this dusty rabbit hole
to sing my song chained on to your bed
Used to be told
my silence is gold
Used to kiss more
now I’m granting you all
I’m your slut
May that god of me protect my soul
as I stay a little while longer
in this dusty rabbit hole
to sing my song chained on to your bed
Used to be clean now I’m filthy as can be.
Not think of terry cloth. And of toilet paper.
a person who uses the services of a prostitute
slang for toilet
There’s you, there’s your dragon (evolution), there’s the evolution road (road to civilization – a road of continuous wandering and various choices – see the running CU choosing first the right side of this path, then jumping over it, on the left side), there’s your fear of evolution and, to be more specific, your fear of getting dirty in order to walk on this road.
One image I found very interesting when it comes to rendering the idea of the I in iamamiwhoami is the one at 01:27 – 01:43. The director did an amazing job of identifying the I with this particular CU. Fortunately, this is not the only CU, therefore, this time, CU clearly stands for any and every ONE. The ‘replacement’ is done beautifully lovely idea: I stands for any of you. The fact that the CU drifts away from this pillar only comes to sustain it.
Never forget ; john is still based on the Alraune myth and this is the loveless child at the end of 20101104:
A scientist, Professor Jakob ten Brinken, interested in the laws of heredity, impregnates a prostitute in a laboratory with the semen of a hanged murderer. The prostitute conceives a female child who has no concept of love, whom the professor adopts. The girl, Alraune, suffers from obsessive sexuality and perverse relationships throughout her life. She learns of her unnatural origins and she avenges herself against the professor. (Wikipedia)
Hence the lyrics, which definitely show how MO detaches herself from feelings that come close to what love implies (purity of love – clean, kisses). She’s not a lover, she’s a slut. I am now waiting for the revenge.
Maybe the most relevant source of inspiration for me is Hanns Heinz Ewers’ – Alraune (translation by Joe Bandel). It is amazing and I recommend it to whoever is interested in seeing where this project might be going, plot wise and meaning wise. I am going to post just an excerpt, regarding ; john:
And Mother Earth?–What is her symbol? What does she represent? She is fertility, uncle. The earth is the feminine, the woman. She takes the semen, takes it into her womb, nourishes it, lets it germinate, grow, bloom and bear fruit. So you take what is fertile like the earth herself–take a woman.
But Mother Earth is the eternal prostitute, she serves all. She is the eternal mother, is always for sale, the prostitute of billions. She refuses her lascivious love to none, offers herself gladly to anyone that will take her. Everything that lives has been fertilized in her glorious womb and she has given birth to it. It has always been this way throughout the
ages. (above mentioned, pp 32-33)
You be the judge. Out of respect for this project, I shall go no further with quoting Heinz Ewers’ text. Search for it and read for yourself.
All I can tell you is this: after reading the book, I now understand:
- what the dogs stand for (apart from the myth)
- the meanings of: the T and Y cover, the envelope and the hair piece MTV James got (this one is really good and… mean, lol, SMART JOB, YOU GUYS!) and the hair pieces above the cradle
- why the men in the mirrors quarreled (in 6th previd)
- why 5 shades of men in the 6th previd and why 6 masks in O
- why the scene of MO on the house at the end of the 6th previd
- why ‘disciple’
- why the llama spit
- why the snail at the beginning of T
- why the hunt theme
- why those sequences of numbers
- what ‘why?‘ is actually all about
- why the forest was silver
- why the laughter during ‘in concert’
- who the golden hair boy filming in N is and also the bottle man
- whom SUTS portrayed and why he got burned
- where the dancing scenes from ‘in concert’ came from and their meaning
- the purpose of the mirror symbol
- why: ‘dress the part, it’s story telling’, ‘tell me how the story ends now’
- where the king/queen/priest/knight references come from
- who ‘u-1′ is dedicated to and why on earth ‘you can’t be the knight’
- CUs real name, possibly
…and so, so many other things. I swear to you, you will have all the answers and you will be amazed at how this JL has managed to write those wonderful lyrics in such a way that no one would ever guess. Enjoy reading! Now back to blabbing.
Alright, the video oozes sex, I have to agree. However, with iam, I believe that when sex screams right in your face (both lyrics and images simply go there, they’re as explicit as they can be), it might be about something else. I mean this video is somewhat opposite to a classical video in which the idea of sex is rendered. With the classical, concepts are suggested, with John, they’re visible and even explained. So I am 110% sure the team is actually trying to suggest other meanings and just hide them under this form. Maybe in order to prove that this type of ‘prostitution’ (selling sex via images in all media for example) is going way too far.
Right, we’re in MO’s room. White all around, walls draped bedroom style, a king size bed in the middle. Materials used? Plastic foil for the walls and toilet paper for this bed. MO’s outfit is made of what it looks like terry cloth and we can definitely see what she is trying to portray: a dominatrix. The way they use antithesis, I swear! This is not an outfit built to subdue, but to… well… clean.
Speaking of which, perfect timing for those lyrics. And for the bed. The sole purpose of toilet paper is to clean. And a bed made of toilet paper only has one purpose: to clean. What? Whatever lays on it. Bodies.
Getting back to the first stanza, I have to admit again someone is a genius of lyrics.
Used to be clean, now I’m filthy as can be, scrapping off every spot
Used to be mean, now I’m good as can be.
Having these two phrases placed one after another, their parallelism actually brings out a paradox: in the end, we understand that clean is mean and filthy is good.
To me, this remains a problem of good vs. evil, an issue of who and what exactly decides something is good or bad. Naturally, clean represents a positive trait. It means tidy, immaculate, pure, however it also means inexperienced, immature, blank, and sterile. In the same extent, filthy has a natural negative vibe, it means dirty, untidy, vulgar, obscene, even corrupted. However, to me, in this context, it also means sexy, stimulating, experienced, hence mature. It’s related to the sewer I was talking about. Maturity implies getting dirty (being aware that you have to get dirty in order to gain your freedom as an individual). That is taking matters into one’s hand and doing something with yourself, constantly changing, constantly seeking to escape boundaries, prisons (of bodies, minds, etc).
Moving forward, mean is negatively charged, however it is often used to render a positive trait (that’s mean car etc), and, in this context, again sends to the experienced part (being extremely good at sex). Then good, even though it is charged positively, in this context, and compared to mean, could be just average.
After I’ve watched the video, it was clear to me that John refers to a person who uses the services of a prostitute. Notice I have said ‘person’, not man. Reason is obvious. But is MO a denotative prostitute, or are there various connotations the concept of ‘prostitution’ can take?
I don’t believe in denotation with iam.
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. Now leave the sex aside and replace some terms in this definition. Prostitution is the act of providing certain services to another person in return for something else.
Seller? MO. Buyer? Men and women (anyone, including you). Means of payment: jizz/milk (well, hm, your seed/innocence). Provided services? Change, in my views. Change through cleanse. Purification. Re-birth. All well hidden inside an explicit metaphor of (mean LOL) sexual intercourse.
Back to the prostitute. There’s nothing clean about a prostitute, at least in the concept itself and how it has been regarded over the years. Yet MO is not only clean, but also cleans other individuals. She’s a visual oxymoron. She’s dressed in towel material and her action completes the action of the toilet paper bed. Body is trapped between the two and is purified. I know you cannot get away from the actual sex scene, but try, lol.
Why do men and women seek for the services of prostitutes? To try new things, to fulfill hidden desires, to make the first time happen, in one phrase, to get what they lack (love, experience, rush etc). These are things which, if they’re not fulfilled, prevent these persons from their evolution. Lack of courage. The act of going to a prostitute is closely connected to feeling the shame of it. This is something one wants, yet one does not want others to know one wants. MO is playful and joyful, she draws you in, she makes you want her, she’s… ready to burst. Prostitute MO stands for hidden desire, fear, obstacle. She knows those poor souls are afraid to take the leap, she’s fierce, she looks for the camera in the waiting room, to meet their eyes and make their spines freeze. Check them out, covering their faces, sitting down, crouched, waiting for their turn. Yet she’ll be the one to ‘release’ whatever lies inside them. The sexual act, the cleansing act, it enables change, re-birth. When she opens the door to take another in, the way she reaches for his hand (palm right up, waiting for his) is actually very mild. This is an invitation and the man is only to make a choice. Notice how his posture is changed when he enters her room. He becomes more relaxed. That’d be Claes, the first one, btw, haha. Aaaaaaand he takes a left. Is that the right way?
I really like how they portray the change by slipping in two images, first showing weakness of one’s initial state (shame of one’s body, fear – psychological weakness) and then strength after re-birth (physical strength, right posture of body and relaxed attitude):
Since I was talking about the ‘waiting room’, that room is made of polystyrene. I’m going to leave aside the fact that it reminds me of the ‘white pearls’ in u-2. The purpose of polystyrene is to prevent things from breaking. Valuable things. I’m thinking minds, in our context. We do not want the core to be affected by the cleanse, do we? We just want the mind to be deflowered. Penetrated. That is to be opened. Mindfucking, I know.
Another interesting thing about polystyrene is that it takes the shape of the objects they protect. I can see some intriguing patterns, yet I haven’t tried to find out anything, it’s just the idea I was interested in.
LE:“Polystyrene can be recycled, and has the number “6″ as its recycling symbol” (Unplugged70)
A prostitute to open our minds. Art sold for the purpose of making change happen, hence evolution happen. (May that god of me protect my soul /as I stay a little while longer/in this dusty rabbit hole/to sing my song to your bed – ok, fine, I’ll take the wrath of my god, I’ll sing/sell another song for/to you, if that’d help you become aware of the things I have said in the past). Possibly.
Ah, about minds… I think the gesture of unwinding one’s hair (02:37) is a synonym of opening one’s mind, letting thought flow. Sensuality connotation left aside, again
One’s body is the epitome of one’s limits. While mind can travel and cannot be touched by the action of certain factors (time and space, for example), body needs help to be able to survive. Art has always taught us we cannot have limits. The change these androgynous CUs are taking is just for that. To break boundaries. To me, what is hidden in those plastic bags is what needs to be protected from the somewhat violent change. That would be one’s core, one’s self, one’s I. In the process of escaping our limits, our reason must be protected, for example. Selves, identities cannot get dirty. Dirt is corruption and corrupted identities cannot be I’s, but ‘others’. If you look at 07:41, that’s our old Y shape of a vagina, which now really resembles a human shape, head, shoulders and trunk. You can clearly see that, after the CUs have changed their clothes/skins, they put them in plastic bags and they place them in what I make the head of the shape, while they move forward trough what I would consider the body of the shape. Both CUs and their plastic bags will meet later on, after experiencing the filth in the ‘sewer’ (difficulty of the change – death, for example).
The end of the human shaped tunnel is equivalent to making a choice. Notice the first man going through. He first looks to the left and then he turns right and takes that path. Shame we cannot see what choice the woman makes, she seems to be lingering for a long time inside the tunnel.
Lovely way to render the idea of equal bodies. After the ‘skins’ are off, CUs are wearing what I would call a ‘uniform’ (white undies and socks nothing else), hence they are unified signifiers. They stop representing men and women, they are just individuals. Androgens. Heck… maybe after resurrection, suts will come back as sutsella! Kidding, I just like how they portrayed that. The difference between man and woman is that plastic bag.
I wonder if I’d go too far to call these CUs the heroes I was talking about in my previous articles. After all, they are undergoing a process of rebirth, they are going through hell (prostitute, as filth), meeting their darkest selves (their own prostituted selves), facing themselves (shedding their skins and cleansing themselves) in order to come out changed and ready to produce changes.
Re-occurring themes and motifs:
I absolutely love the sequences involving the dog. The fact that the dog is filmed running makes me think it is somewhat connected to CU in the beginning. As if it’d run to meet him.
However, the more interesting thing about it is the fact that the director chose to portray it in six different scenes, with six different backgrounds, which I am pretty sure could mean a thing or two. I mean I have been given the impression that this run is actually a metaphorical recollection of the six BOUNTY videos:
That would be the house in B. I say this because someone opens the door so the dog comes out. Also, the fence screams domesticity. Screams ‘home’. LE: that’d rather be the door at the end of 20101104.
That to me would be the pot house in O. Because of the air conditioning system and the need of a ventilated industrial space. Mh… might be a little bit forced though.
This might sound far fetched as well, but the huge fence blocking our view reminds me of the break of u-1 and u-2 and of the time when duality became clearer and clearer.
The only thing I can say to relate this to N is the presence of this tree trunk tree as the representation of Nature taking over or taking its rightful place inside the city walls. If anyone could find a better analogy, be my guest.
That is definitely the forest in T.
And those would be the great white walls of Y. Notice the presence of number 6 once more.
Water remains a very important motif with iamamiwhoami. Strongly connected to the idea of birth, water is now present in the process of rebirth/change. This time, under the form of a small river. The main purpose of water in John is to give guidance and to flow the new bodies out. It might be filthy water, but it is water still. And it’s even better if it’s filthy, because it conceals the body, keeps it hidden during the great escape. This resembles the amniotic liquid, of course. Connect it to the second ‘urban’ meaning of John and there you have it: bodies flushed into new life.
Believe it or not, the mirror is also present in John, this time under the form of a TV screen. Hence image travels only one way and does not reflect anything back, nor does it let anything go back through it. This means the message is meant to go in one direction only. Message is just transmitted, no feedback requested.
I absolutely love how MO is portrayed in all videos and I’m referring to her… should I say dressing code? Damn right. It’s IS a code!!! Those jumpsuits speak more about who/what she embodies than thousands of words! Big congratulations to whoever makes those costumes, I bet JL has tons of ideas, I cannot wait for more. The concept of functional removable skin is absolutely amazing and it is a great way of rendering the idea of identity switch/ multiple identity. I said it before and I’ll say it again: hope the jumpsuits become a MO trademark.
; John cover
The cover is typical for iam. It’s wonderful they’re continuing on the palpable texture thing. This time, terry cloth. Direct connection to cleaning/cleansing. Writing code is similar, which can only make me happy. John appears to be the first item in an enumeration of more, hence there seem to be more videos to come. If we’re to follow the pattern, at least 5 in this bunch.
If you like, I consider the ringing phone in the end to be anther assurance that this goes on. Speaking of which, at first I thought the damn phone is going to ring around six times and be answered, but it rings more than that and it stops right in the middle of the ringing sound. Also, there are actually two sounds which are repeated. They gave me the impression the CUs are called for this ‘mission’ (suts style) and counted.
I keep playing this track, it’s on repeat, and it definitely gives me a feeling of freedom. I’m happy when I listen to it.
PS: I just made the greatest mistake when I started to write this post today: I wrote ‘; John’ instead of ‘; john’. There’s no capital J in iam’s ; john. That is not a name. It’s a signifier.
If you take a close look at the ‘hangers room’, that appears to be some sort of ‘black skin’ on the left side. I immediately thought of the black mandragora and of the lyrics used to be clean, now i’m filthy. If that’s what the CUs place in their bags, I can only think that their evil selves is what they’re flushing away.
Dots (holes) and lines (tubes) seem to play an important part in this video. To me, they make tunnels and they are closely related to the idea of change/cleanse.
As a new means of punctuation, I would mention the presence of the ellipsis – ‘…’ – which mark an intentional omission of a word (in writing)/something, often indicating a pause in thought/concept, an unfinished thought or, placed at the end of a discourse, a trailing off into silence. Of course, with iam, I could easily assume it means ‘and so forth’ or simply ‘no comment’. I guess we shall see.
I purchased Joe Bandel’s version of ‘Alraune’ here.
A very well written review of the track from 2020k. I love it when dudes know about sounds.
First ;john remix by eineinmeier
Unplugged70’s lovely collage – Give me to drink Mandragora – man, I love this!