One of my favorite songs of, say, all time is Anthem by a (now-defunct, I believe) band named Corporate Whore. (You can listen to it in full here and download their CD–trust me, it’s worth it!–here.) My favorite line is
“do or do not, there. is. no. try. (that’s what Yoda says!)”
I mean, really, how can you not love a song that quotes Yoda?! My second favorite line (and it’s tough, because this is one of those songs with amazing lyrics that you can easily miss) is
But wisdom listens
That’s why I’m list’nin’ to myself”
I’m curious: does that read as more conceited or smirky to you OR, if you think about it a little bit, does it make absolutely perfect sense?!
Wisdom is information / experience translated into something that is useful + inspiring.
Now, here’s the funny thing: when I read this in Google Reader, I read the slash as an italicized ‘i’ which changed the meaning for me. Not just taking information or experiences and fitting them into a new home, but taking the information I have, FILTERING that through my experiences with the information and then translating that experience into something different or new.
I guess this is my own little version of a mondegreen. And yet, this totally works for me. So, see, even when we do something “wrong” we can get it right! The point I’m eventually making is that listening to oneself is less about conceit and more about honoring our own experience and the gut reaction, that little voice inside our head that is trying to give us insights if we’d just shut up and listen already!
And this totally fits in with what I wanted to say about anthems.
What is an anthem? The dictionary isn’t much help:
Main Entry: anÂ·themPronunciation: \Ëˆan(t)-thÉ™m\Function: nounEtymology: Middle English antem, from Old English antefn, from Late Latin antiphona, from Late Greek antiphÅna, plural of antiphÅnon, from Greek, neuter of antiphÅnos responsive, from anti- + phÅnÄ“ sound â€” more at banDate: before 12th century
1 a : a psalm or hymn sung antiphonally or responsively b : a sacred vocal composition with words usually from the Scriptures
2 : a song or hymn of praise or gladness
3 : a usually rousing popular song that typifies or is identified with a particular subculture, movement, or point of view <anthems of teenage angst>
\ËŒan(t)-ËˆthÄ“-mik, -Ëˆthe-\ adjective
Snore. Way to take the fun out it.
First: what’s with the derivation drill down to something that equates to “one who is against sound”? That’s totally backwards from what an anthem is! Spiritual? Meh. Even praise and gladness are just sort of sitting there, doing nothing to actually inspire. Definition 3 gets closer to the heart of it but then shoots itself in the ever-lovin’ foot by giving a negative example.
But wait! We’re talking about one of the 64 Arts here, and what is art? An exercise in creativity and interpretation. So…
Time for a DIY definition!
- Back and forth litany of responses (antiphony)Â is out, Spirited self proclamation is in!
- Praise and gladness–while okay–is still out, in favor of Riotous wonder and amazement!
- I don’t think a song has to be popular to be an anthem (although they probably mean that as in common to the populous, but anyway), it just has to resonate with you–it’s your song. Rousing is good, but I think we can do better: A song of personal resonance that inspires and activates!