Roots, Muse and Symbolism

23 06 2017

I recently wrote about Music and Economincs, using the song ‘The Trees,’ to tie together points of Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin’s use of a Marx quote in the recent elections in the UK. This article uses symbolism in the title, in order for me to address some of the apparent discrepancies between the lyrics and the idea that I presented. Normally, I would not presume to take any writers words out of context, yet, even though it is generally well known that Neil Peart, (Rush’s main lyricist) went through an Ayn Rand phase, in regards to ‘The Trees,’ Peart has stated the song is ‘A very simple statement.

Symbolism, (archetypes) as the visual side of Poetic Phonetics, finds that his statement recalls the paradox described in the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Oaks in the song are described as natural leaders, the maples, the megalomaniacs. Acting as any over sized brain, the maples form a coalition (in the song, union) in order to enforce political pressure and try to take over the world. Here is (imho) where the ‘roots’ of symbolism speak, though Peart seems to be writing from Rand’s perspective, in regards to consolidating community with a purpose. Though historically, unions have been formed to protect and enhance the rights of workers, in the song, the use of the word ‘union’ emphasizes Rand’s definition. This usage might be preferred by Marx’s bourgeoisie, as it overlooks that the leaders of corporations reflected, during the birth of the industrial era, and in many areas today, tendencies described as megalomaniacal, sociopathic, and narcissistic.

Interestingly, these behaviors, which most societies rally against, bring us to the ‘underground’ where the roots of change are always growing. Essentially, the current class structure uses a leveraged (unnatural) state, to uphold elitism, while denigrating the physical (natural world) intellectually. Perhaps the (not so subtle) debasement is due to the fact that honoring the values and principles of the laws of physics develop qualities attributed to ‘natural’ leaders. The paradox is further seen, while the ‘maples scream oppression,’ yet claim moral high ground in ‘legal’ actions such as raising the price of Daraprim 5,000%. These epidemics, promulgated by the privileged, create the tension which is addressed by the final lines of the song, pointing to communication (a state of oneness, unity, union) as the foundation for the ‘logos,’ (plan, speech) which can then be twisted, allowing ‘the trees (are all) kept equal by hatchet, axe and saw.’

As a musician, and an artist, I am often surprised when others notice symbolism in my words or images which were placed either supra- or sub- consciously. Occasionally, I am in the zone enough to knowingly create double entendres, yet most of the time it seems I am still only a monkey in a tree, not knowing that I am seeing things upside down.