Thursday, January 08, 2009

Vertigo makes my brain grow

Like many fans of the worship band formerly known as The Hype, we are awaiting the new U2 single any day, and the new CD in March, with some fear and trembling...

...and a bit of memory jog to the day the first single of the last record came out.

That song, "Vertigo," was...among other things..."about" Jesus' (and our) wrestling with devil's temptation. But one of the layers that soon hits the listener is the way Bono weaved the lyric.
He used a literary technique (I am sure there is a name for it somewhere on this list)
where, by the meter, he allowed some lines to blend into each other. It is sometimes up for grabs whether one section of a sentence belongs with one line and/or the next (I assume it's usually a both/and).

For example, is it:

"It's dark, the jungle is.
Your head can't rule your heart."

"It's dark.
The jungle is (that) your head can't rule your heart."

Is it:

The night is full of holes.
As bullets rip the sky of ink (as in "the sky is made of ink") with gold (the bullets produce gold)
They (bullets? holes?)sparkle as the boys play rock and roll


The night as full of holes,
as bullets rip the sky of ink with gold (as in "the sky is made of 'ink with gold'")

at the end, is it:

"You give me something I can feel.
Your love is teaching me how to kneel"


"You give me something.
I can feel (that) Your love is teaching me how to kneel."

By the way, a more obvious use of this technique appears on the next song, "Miracle Drug," with
"Love makes no sense of space,
and time will disappear,"


"Love makes no sense of SPACE-AND-TIME"

...Which contemporary physics can attest to. One of the key discoveries of relativity and quantum physics is that “the arrow of time is not necessarily unidirectional.” Einstein of course discovered a version of time travel by proving that time can outrun space. So “Love makes no sense of space and time,” far from being a corny Bono lyric is pure physics, great science, even Einsteinian in its truth and brilliance.
link, part 9, here

Of course Bono plunders another classic literary device--inclusio-- to frame the entire CD around the Divine Name. "Vertigo," the first song on the record, famously begins with the countoff, "Uno, dos, tres, catorce", which no matter what story gives in different interviews, almost certainly is meant to mean (among other things, which is precisely the point:

1. First Testament
2. Second Book
3. Third Chapter
4. Fourteenth verse

Thus, the verse (Exodus 3:14)where God reveals his name to Moses, and that name is...

"Yahweh," ..

which just happens to be the last song on the record
(unless you have a fast car from Japan).

Back to "Vertigo," the line:

"girl with crimson nails
Has Jesus round her neck (sometimes sung as "the neck"

can shapeshift into several possible meanings:

the girl has crimson nail polish

the girl has crimson nails (as in the nails that went into Jesus the cross; crimson being loaded with biblical and messianic imagery

who has who around the neck? is it a literal neck (as necklace) of the girl
or Jesus' neck? etc etc

The fluidity in interpretation, parallel to the fluidity of interpretation of characters in "the Matrix" ("Neo" is Jesus, but also a believer, and also everyman; "Morpheus" is John the Baptist, but also Peter; "Trinity" is obviously a Trinity/Godhead figure, but also the Holy Spirit, and also the Bride of Christ/Church; "Cypher" is Judas as well as Lucifer/Lu-Cypher etc.)
is classically postmodern..

...and also helps your brain grow!

Neurological studies have suggested that:


  • intentional blurring the borders of meter
(as Bono does in Vertigo)


causes ones brain to enalarge,
and intelligence to expand.

It seems the creative problem-solving that the brain activates when encountering such material (even when we are not aware of the puzzle!)
kicks us into overdrive as the brain-engines hum,
and can't help but grow to tackle the parable.

Hmm, now wonder "Jesus never once opened his mouth to th crowd without a parable."
(Matt. 13:34-35).
This scientific find might even help solves the common dilemma of why it is said in the next verse that he spoke this way so his critics would NOT understand."

If they were baffled and offended by his parables,
they were forced into vertigo,
and into a brain-stretching..

so that they might eventually "get it,"
once their brain and heart grew into it.

It's often quoted that the pun is the lowest form of humor;
perhaps at its most prophetic, it is (pardon the U2 pun) the most elevated form by far.

I feel smarter already.

Can't wait for the next album...
Though I fear it may not be as good for my brain.

Okay, I will be positive:

It will be good indeed
And wordplay will previal

or did I mean:

" It will be good in deed and word.
Play will prevail"

As long as it teaches me to

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