Album Review: "Animals" by Pink Floyd
Ask not your place in society, but society's place in you.
"Animals" by Pink Floyd earned no reknown for subtlety or diplomacy, Waters leaves very little to the imagination and yet there is much by way of commentary that seems to completely ignore his basic message. For what it's worth, here is the impression he leaves me with. Please feel free to criticise this appraisal, my email address is below.
Pigs on the Wing Part I
Here Waters portends that most mundane of possible modes of human existance, a careless world and all that failing to care for each other implies. He invites us to consider the ramifications of successfully substituting our very real need to strive for each other (and the satisfaction earned in so doing) with whatever 2nd, 3rd or nth best substitutes of perceived self interests (and the inevitable dissatisfaction this accrues) we can manage to muster from the limited possibilities afforded by so impoverished an outlook as to fail to value caring for each other.
Waters acknowledges that even from this bleakest of situations hope would spring as much in vain as eternally and would remain so for as long as we chose to avoid the bitter reality that while we continue to pass the buck of blame and avoid doing something ourselves about the pain and boredom we wear in life, which are only the external manifestations of the mental gymnastics (and resultant fatigue) required of living such lies as "there are more important things than caring for each other"
Corporate ladder, greasy pole, back-stabbers' larder, the pejorative lights we shine on this aspect of existence should be ample for the modicum of scrutiny required to work it out for what it is, a place to sacrifice the common well-being for seemingly that of your own. Waxing somewhat more concilliatory here, Waters acknowledges the subsistence acquiessence dance we could so easily find ourselves in when convinced by those for whom the system seems to work that a worthwhile lifestyle is far more affordable than morals and despite any gut reactions it's not too long before you're part of a game that you joined for convenience and comfort. Before you know it you're defending actions that you know in your heart of hearts are fundamentally wrong and well on your way to the next phase - earnestly joining in, working on "improving" your lot and the status quo in general, becoming a component of the system yourself.
The initial convenience and comfort solicited in youth is rather short lived though, it's not many of us who can play these kind of games without at least the occasional tap on the shoulder from our conscience. The initial enthusiasm for a comfortable lifestyle having worn a little thin by now, you find that not only are your options somewhat restricted but you've also hard-wired some pretty debilitating stuff in your brain, making it only the harder to do something about the situation you've cornered yourself into. From the cradle onwards with each punishment and privelige you've done what you were told, been good girls and boys and now you're good citizens, except now it's time to ask just what does that mean? What exactly were you told again? Something's not quite adding up but you've toed the line so long now that you wouldn't even know the end of a thread if it strangled you, let alone chance attempting to unravel it. You've become a living, breathing Marley, draging the chains you continue to forge with every lie, every betrayal, every cheating act and every rejected opportunity to care for your fellow creature.
Of course consoling yourself with such fatalistic expressions as "finding yourself in these situations" is in reality a euphemistic attempt to deflect the unpalatable fact that you relinquished authorship of your own destiny, so stop feigning suprise at your current plight because, with every best initial intention (at a pinch), the tacit approval and facilitation of everything you know to be wrong that you now "find" yourself an agent for was entirely self engineered and how long you suffer this uncomfortable predicament is entirely your own decision, forever maybe, if you've got the stomach to keep shrugging it off and can fool yourself you've enough spiritual credit to keep up the payments on the high price of cowardice and inaction.
Pigs (Three different ones)
A hint is also made of the notion of sublimating the desire to voice opinions oneself via censorship. This might come closer to the crux of the issue - if you're part of the system and you voiced your own concerns, who knows what might come out? There may just be less to stemming the evil tide than meets the eyes.
For each of these stages of development along the road of the turning away, easy though it is to haunt the mocking finger, pity is the only appropriate response.
Pigs on the Wing Part II
Be more explicit, remove all such dogmatic abstractions as "the system", "making a stand" and the like.
Extrapolate Waters analysis.
obtain permission (if required) to present lyrics.
Discuss class, Waters' acknowledgement or otherwise regarding emancipatory potential of workers, lack of heroic element. Tease out Marx' and Engels' on alienation as it applies to Waters' condition as a middle class artist wanting a better world.
The sacred perspective - alienation demands reconnection and with something far more substantial than the spiritual fumblings of inward retreat.
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