Wordsmith Wednesday: Kendrick Lamar’s “LUST.”

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Our words this week come from Kendrick Lamar’s song “LUST.” from his latest record “DAMN.”

The words are:

“We all woke up, tryna tune to the daily news
Lookin’ for confirmation, hopin’ election wasn’t true
All of us worried, all of us buried, and the feeling’s deep
None of us married to his proposal, make us feel cheap
Still and sad, distraught and mad, tell the neighbor ’bout it
Bet they agree, parade the streets with your voice proudly
Time passin’, things change
Revertin’ back to our daily programs
Stuck in our ways, lust”

On a collection of songs built around breathing life and form into broad human themes, Lamar engages lust not just as a sexual concept but also one of desiring the easy, the pleasurable, the lazily indulgent. The self-centered default. He reflects on this concept in men, women, and himself before dropping the above words at the end of the final verse. These lines reflect something essential and troubling about the recent US presidential election and the national response in the months that followed. After clenched stomachs and disbelief came genuine discussion and community building efforts, energetic and directed and productive. But sustained, unsexy resistance is hard. Legs start to hurt and throats go hoarse. Victories are small and meaningful outcomes require a marathon. Time passes. Normalization begins. Constant engagement and outrage get exhausting and complacency starts to return to those privileged enough to afford it and to some that can’t. Back to the default. So, while it may be human nature to seek the comfort of the self-centered action, real growth requires personal sacrifice for collective progress, less lust and more love. I’m definitely guilty of making the selfish choice in the face of greater injustice, but I’ve also made sacrifices to reach out and pull others up. It’s right, but it’s hard. Damn.

– NR

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Wordsmith Wednesday: J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

It reads:

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Most people who have any recollection of Harry Potter are familiar with this quote. It is spoken to Neville by Dumbledore while he is passing out House points at the end of term.

Harry Potter is something I always seem to return to in times of turbulence or disorder within my life or the outside world. The story it holds is one eerily applicable to our present day. When I read this quote, I can’t help but see it as a guide to our role in this world right now. It’s a reminder of the importance of standing up for what we believe in even when it is against those who we view as friends or family. This is the moment to stand up and fight. Keep it up even when it seems, and is, tough.

– KK

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Nirvana’s “Aero Zeppelin”

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Our words this Wednesday come from a song off Nirvana’s first demo that appeared on their 1992 compilation album Incesticide.

The lyrics from “Aero Zeppelin” are:

“All the kids will eat it up/
If it’s packaged properly”

There were a handful of Nirvana lines I considered highlighting this week, but I settled on these because they seem relevant outside my skull. Kurt Cobain’s lyrics/music/interviews /art/writings were essential to the shaping of my identity from about age twelve to fourteen, teaching me to reject racism/sexism/homophobia/heteronormativity/ consumerism in ways that weren’t stilted or self-righteous. He gave me values to align myself with before I had any idea what that meant. He showed me it was OK to try to be an individual in a society that seemed to always be actively trying to limit your individually in its self interest. Maybe I’m just getting old or paranoid (or both), but I’m afraid adolescents are at a loss for contemporary role models that provide that same encouragement to resist the strong desire to shape identity around the things they have and want to have. There’s money and influence in exploiting a consumer’s insecurities, and who is more insecure than kids? It’s way easier to be a good little consumer, attaching one’s own worth and that of others to brands and products, than to create meaning and value for oneself. Don’t get me wrong, we all consume. Sometimes it’s just knowing when to puke.

Thanks for showing me how to stick a finger down my throat, Kurt.

– NR

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Cursive’s “The Great Decay”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is an excerpt from Cursive’s song “The Great Decay” off their album Burst and Bloom.

It goes,

“This is the bed I’ve made/
This is the grave where I will lay/
These are the hands where I will bury my face.
I don’t believe in wasting time/
Searching for truth you never find/
Nobody moves we live in the great decay.
All these ghost towns share a name/
Anywhere, USA.
All these strangers look the same/
Day after day after day.”

Tim Kasher grasps at the mundane and uneventfulness that often encompasses life. The sameness that we experience and feel everywhere we go. Through these lyrics he points directly, with his index finger, at the parts of life that can tear us down and waste our time. This pointedness acts as a calling to break the cycle of monotony and progress forward toward a world, or even just a life, more exciting and different. To push past the tedium that wears one down and create a place unique from all the rest.

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