Friday, April 29, 2011

Ecclesiastes 9:11 & 12 and Pink Floyd

Ecclesiastes 9:11 & 12
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
 or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
 or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,

so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
and you have the Pink Floyd approach, from Time (video link) on the Dark Side of the Moon album:

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

The song concluding with:

Thought I'd something more to say.
So in one, the race is either rigged or random as to its results, and in the other, someone forgot to tell you there was a race on.

Both are noting despair in the face of what passes for normal human existence.  Although Ecclesiastes tends to loop back on itself a few times, one of its main points is that the net results of human endeavours all end in death.  It also clearly has a Malthusian world view that all progress is transitory in the long run.   Both point toward the thoughtlessness the general herd-like behaviour of humanity.  Pink Floyd in particular is noting that day-to-day life can be a distraction from pursuing anything meaningful. 

Ecclesiastes is at the point in the bible where there is really no interest in a personal afterlife and its rewards,  so its concentration on leading the devout life comes fairly close to Pink Floyd's trying to find something meaningful to say.

You can find more of Ecclesiastes here, and the rest of time follows...
(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say.


Waldow said...

The concentric ideas in the Pink Floyd lyrics and Ecclesiastes is remarkable. Sad loops.

Both are examples of a sort of poetry to me. Having spent a lot of time reading amateur poetry in the blogosphere, it it becomes apparent quickly that often the function of poetry is to sentimentalize dysfunction. When you recognize this in poorly written verse, it becomes easier to spot it in the work of skilled artists.

" life can be a distraction from pursuing anything meaningful." I prefer this statement. It is practical. Now of course, the Devil prefers the carrots & cakes nowadays to sticks & stones.

russell1200 said...

I am going to have to remember your marker. I had not thought of that. Sentimentalized dysfunction! LOL - I like it.

Pink Floyd has some very profound music and lyrics. But they come very close to being whiney at times. They often seem to feel very powerless to take a course of action to resolve their difficulties. But that of course is a tension that a lot of people feel.

Anonymous said...

Ecclesiastees chapter one verses 4,5,@6 and pink Floyd time the second chorus starts at 4:56 both say the exact same thing only worded slightly different. I figured this out about 5 years ago and so far have not seen where anyone else has picked up on this. I think waters did this purposely but I can't prove it. Look for yourself. Also song 9 and the mention of the earth eclipsed by the moon correlates with revelation and the moon turns blood red "this is an eclipse" also the sun turning black as sack cloth is a solar eclipse.

russell1200 said...

Anon: Very possible. Of course the idea of racing around to get nowhere -somewhat like the Red Queen's Race - is also a pretty common theme today. What is interesting is how old the theme is.