Musical Existentialism (Box of Noise)

Detail of frame from music video for "Box of Noise" by Lilly Wood and the Prick. (2016, Choke Industry Records; dir. Benjamin Cotto)

Ladies and gentlemen, Lilly Wood and The Prick.

No, really, I’m not certain what else goes here.

If I am ever stuck in silence, please kill me; for I would rather die than hear nothing. When I attempt to sleep, I get scared of the emptiness; I am so afraid of disappearing. If so, kill me. And if I feel like I am losing it―if so, kill me, kill me. If there is no reason to be, then kill me. Please put my body in a box, in a box of noise. Please don’t write anything on my box, on my box of noise. If they ever find a way to happiness, please wake me from this sleep. I can’t stand this: Is it bad to say that I am okay with numbing through this all? I won’t stand this: Could we please admit that nothing will fix this? I can’t stand this; I won’t stand this. Please put my body in a box, in a box of noise. Please don’t write anything on my box, on my box of noise.

Lilly Wood and the Prick, “Box of Noise” (2016)

Perhaps it is enough to simply reflect on pathos. To wit, sometimes it helps to know you’re not the only one. We can take what we want from a song like this, and for some people that is a glimmer or blaze of familiarity. We find it in story, sometimes. We find it in song. We can even find it in Strasbourg, circa late fifteenth century. It is sometimes small, like the smile in the background of the fourth panel of a comic strip. It can, in fact, change one’s life. But whether merely a knowing grin because yeah, I saw that, too, or something more profound like the every now and then someone would say that album saved their life and in the moment you can actually believe it, the important thing is pathos, which requires that one is not alone.

It is said that if we need to laugh at something, and have nobody to share it with, human beings invent a second person in our minds in order to empathize. By pathos, art can become our surrogate witness: Someone else sees; someone else knows―ergo, someone else.

The cogito inversion of Ergo Proxy comes to mind: I think, therefore you are. This is even more profoundly existential: By your witness, I am.

It is not enough to simply be; we only rest assured believing someone knows we are.

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