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Equilibrium – Better Than I Know Myself video

February 8, 2012

One more time……..or two or….. 

 

By Xena

Illusion

Allusion

Profusion

Confusion

Inclusion

Infusion

Conclusion

Prologue

During the past few days as I’ve watched the Better Than I Know Myself video countless times, these words rattled around in my mind for no apparent reason.  I tried to ignore them but they insisted on being recorded, so here they are.  As I wrote them, they sorted themselves into this little order.

Once again, I can only lament that there are so many interpretations, so little time to cover them all, but there are many brilliant minds out there staring at the same flickering images, most ideas are bound to be covered by someone.  I can’t wait to read Juneau’s and everyone else’s essays which I have resisted until this is posted.  Each of us approaches this narrative with our own mind, experiences, knowledge even baggage, so it’s unlikely any two versions will be completely alike.   There is no “right” or “wrong”.

 One could undertake a classic Jungian analysis, identifying archetypes, applying definitions and interpreting the iconic symbols that appear.  All the masculine traits rolled up in one character, the feminine in the other.   One might look through the lens of battling philosophies, existential vs. reason.  Passionate vs. rational.

Passionate

Irrational

Rational

Compassionate

In this film – yes it is a film, a story with a plot, with a beginning, middle and a dramatic end.  Sets, characters, crisis and conflict, emotion and commotion tell a complete story in a mere three minutes and forty seconds.  Each second, indeed each split second counts, each frame, each shaft of light.  There is so much going on, it’s presented in split-screen so there’s even more than a single frame can contain.  Is there enough here to justify two frames, two lenses, two visions, two characters.  Indeed there is and more.

The duality conveys the impression of two minds, two sensibilties at work: the one who produced Adam’s “For Your Entertainment” video and the other, who produced the “Whataya Want From Me” video and we have ringside seats as each presents his or her case before us. From the opening credit, we are confronted with the genius of Ray Kay, the Norwegian male who also directed the FYE video.

 About thirty seconds into the story, the screen splits and we see the WWFM female director’s vision in the soft, sweet, feminine images.  Just today, after developing my theories I discovered that indeed, Diane Martel was involved.  I suppose that watching each of their videos intently dozens of times singed the different styles in my brain.  Kind of like hearing Adam’s voice and knowing immediately that it’s him.

Equilibrium

Grainy, ragged edged frame on a jerky spooled film starts up on the projector and organ music which would accompany a dramatic silent black and white film is prelude to the first act of the story.  Quivering stills of the desiccated skulls of a macabre collection are presented – cattle, saber-tooth tiger, an antelope.  A shot of the cones from the side table is included and the scene closes with the bottle of Matador Tequila before we meet the main character of the piece.  He’s flawed, tormented and tragic but nonetheless, the protagonist.  How much does this nasty environment contribute to his bad mood?

 It’s Nosferatu – the 1922 German film from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.  I first saw that film in 1972, have never forgotten how it felt and the same cold shudder came over me as it did the first time.  The original Vampire Dracula, selfish, arrogant, evil, night dweller, carrier of death and plague, not the romanticized versions we see today.  It would take a week of make-up and pounds of prosthetics to disfigure Adam to look like the original but we’re glad they haven’t as he looks far more seductively dangerous in his handsome guise, features sharply defined with eyes that look as though they have not slept nor seen light in eons.

Cold as ice, And more bitter than a December….

He sings as he appears before the mirror to primp and lift his collar against the cold.  A cold he feels despite his heavy leather coat and boots.  His warmth has dissipated.

That’s how I treated you, And I know that I……

The camera once again glances off different objects in the room – continuing to establish the character of the anti-hero.  A large classic Staunton “Knight” chessman on a shelf with a few books – its stark white makes it appear like a captive, perhaps a trophy from a bygone chess tournament, another hunt?  Ornate, exotic mirror frame, animated oriental candlestick, animal skin underfoot and that forest of pointy cones, looking like “Liberty Caps”, worn by French revolutionaries or mystic mushrooms of the same name.

This cone shape has been referenced as the origin of the ubiquitus gay male decorator accessory – the obelisk.  To the Egyptians the obelisks symbolized the protector who obviously was phalically endowed.  These are particularly prickly and sharp, with a smooth surface, you won’t pick up one of these for some licks of French Vanilla.  Maybe they’re just a reference to Madonna.

This is the room of some worldly, affluent, sophisticated gentleman who spares himself no pleasure.   Wears his coat like the cape of the matador, the armour of a warrior or contemporary super hero.  Batman?  Neo, the rebel hacker in The Matrix?   Stalks the room as the lone wolf agitating for trouble that eventually discovers that his angst is not caused by external forces, but those within himself.

I sometimes tend to lose my temper……

“And I cross the line, Yeah that’s the truth”

Damn! There’s another film reference in the room design – again a silent film by a German director.  “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”, 1920.  Stark, edgy, sharply pointed – blackened trees and branches in dramatic, German Expressionist sets.  Again, the murky, pulsing light, framed with the uneven black edges of film.  Another frightening movie with a timeless nightmarish story and dangerous character – the murderous somnambulist Cesare or is it?  In Expressionist fashion and philosophy, our perceptions of reality are being challenged in time, space and character.

How fitting to have Adam as that much romanticized original Vampire, the Count who possesses mystic powers and exists only in the darkness, as the club cruiser, sexy and passionate.  Ageless and timeless like Dorian Grey.  Women want him; men want him or want to be him.  A lot of Mesmer too in those golden kaleidoscope eyes.  Stare too long and you’ll follow him anywhere…….

We were seduced by the Sinister one, his masculine sexiness and powerful persona.  Promise of passion however is ultimately tragic if left alone.  Unchecked he is destructive and deadly, self-centred, he needs to validate his existence in the mirror, pleased at first, he preens.  Protectively armored in leather and tall boots he can move through a space/time continuum.

He wrestles with whatever beast is within him, temper flares, tempestuous twists, turns and in a short series of quick cuts he expels that which is tormenting him.  In a blink of a nanosecond, the shiny, sharp phallic cones appear side by side with red, orange and green spheres, then just as quickly, the screen splits, daylight seeps in and his Righteous self appears.  Bathed in warm sepia, pink cheeked and guileless, the boy looks at us as if to say “Hey, I’m the sane one here, he’s dangerous, but hang with me and you’ll be warm and live in the sunlight, not that cold twilight he can never leave.  Yes, I can’t step out to breathe the outdoors but I have everything I need right here.”  An almost virginal perfection.

Now our attention has been usurped by the sweet boy-next-door, with no eyeliner and not much of a life either.  Inexperienced in the world.  Who appeared to me?  Robert Redford – first sight in The Way We Were. 

With the screen split, we now see how the Righteous Boy’s side was created by the same author as the Whataya Want From Me video.  Similar set, warm colours, cleanly edged frame.  Here things can grow, plants are green, there is a sense that this space has been like this for a very long time.  Vintage clock and radio, old suitcase and train case.  Ancient fan at the window.  Where we see Tequila on the left side, it’s tea on the right.  It’s the Garden of Eden.

These two characters appear hermetically sealed with their own air supply and unable to exist out-of-doors.  Bubble boys? The Righteous Boy looks out through blinds wistfully while Mr. Sinister keeps the blinds closed to minimize the light and lives forever in a cool sfumato atmosphere.   In spite of their completely different environments, one cannot survive without the other, the canisters of air link them, like an umbilical cord to a single womb.

O young innocente!   So perfect, so sugary, I feel the cavities forming and feelings of guilt at my multitude of imperfections.  Surely I’ve given in to all seven of the deadly sins.  He beams and glows so brightly I reach for sunglasses!  In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s world in Kansas is filmed in black and white while the fantasy Oz is filmed in powerful colours and bright light.  Only Dorothy is eager to return to her real home in bleak Kansas.  The Boy strikes a modest pose with his hands clasped in front of him.  Have never seen Adam stand that way.

The Boy looks at his twin, his nemesis with pleading eyes “how could you reject me like this?”  “You know I can’t exist without you and you need me as much as I need you”.  He finds joy in music, peace in words, he’s right-brained, creative, and he is the clean conscience to Sinister’s dangerous playboy.  The Boy almost annoyingly persistent as he reminds that there are consequences and Sinister’s own self-destructive nature will take others with him.

Mr. Sinister mocks the Boy with book tearing and Tequilla swilling – trying to bully him into giving up and to which the Boy turns the other cheek and pours his tea calmly.  His manner is cool while the tempest rages red hot on the other side.

They sing together:

“I get kind of dark, Let it go too far

I can be obnoxious at times

But try and see my heart

Cause I need you now

So don’t let me down

You’re the only thing in this world I would die without.”

Sinister shows the Boy how their heart can be crushed like the pomegranate he destroys with a powerful squeeze.  They need each other to restore their heart and be whole.

Righteous Boy evokes the virtuous Knight in Bergman’s Seventh Seal, challenging “Death” to a chess game in order to preserve his own life or at least, survive as long as he can keep the game going.  While Death accepts Knight’s invitation, our Dracula spurns the Boy’s offer.

The Boy pleads and tries to mollify and bargain.  Attempts to engage in play are rebuffed but he has such limited means to save himself from Sinister’s determination to die, killing them both.  One in flames, the other gasping for the oxygen they burn.  Doesn’t that boy know what a lousy world it is out there?  He’s better off dead.

Try and see my heart……

Sinister is playing with a flame, testing his threshold, finally gives up and attempts self-immolation without a thought to the potential for complete destruction.  He acts as conjurer to fill the room with cleansing but deadly flames.

Looking in the mirror, he tries to clear his eyes, smearing his face until he has the crying eyes of the tragic Pagliacci but we’ve seen this move before!  The Highline concert where he played a similar character but more naughty than bad or evil.   Here he is trying to see who he is beneath the mask of paint.  He’s lost himself.

In a moment of clarity and desire for self-preservation, Sinister breaks the glass, a mere membrane separating two sides of the same mind.

Finally Acceptance “I can’t fight it; it’s going to happen, it’s inevitable.”  He saves the Boy, the virtuous, good and patient one.  The bisected mind and heart are restored to the single soul, completing the person.

Emerging from their imprisonment, the reunited whole can stride in the open air, in the sunshine, on the street, right by the police tape.

Epilogue

Ultimately we are shown that we cannot live only in a sombre black and grey netherworld or in a world of perpetual golden light.

Attempting to survive in either world, with either mind exclusively, is surely impotence and death.  Allowing only Mr. Sinister to survive, killing off his nemesis would allow evil and violence to prevail.  But without the passion, drive and awareness of our Sinister side, the Righteous is unaware of having a purpose since they are inexperienced and innocent, yet full of love.  Adam and Eve before the fall, before that sleazy serpent showed up.  Actually I shouldn’t pick on him, it’s because of him that we’re all here.  That “sin” is integral to life.

Tragically we know people such as Mr. Sinister do exist in the world, incomplete as human beings.

Interesting that in the video of a song Adam tells us is about interpersonal relationships, he and his producer/director(s) raise the bar in the video to present us with a more complex, far more fascinating scenario of an internal battle between the two sides of him locked in symbiotic existence.  They are still side by side as we can see through his eyes, windows to his single soul.  One without the other would produce an indivual bereft of a soul.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 8:58 am

    I know he had 2 Labs growing up!

  2. Jean Renard permalink
    February 10, 2012 11:34 pm

    Xena, if you listen closely to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s famous song, Hallelujah, you will notice that it also describes the light and the dark side of the word, hallelujah. There is a triumphant halleluajh and a cold and broken hallelujah. And, in his beautiful song, Dance Me To The End Of Love, his lyrics speak of the romance and beauty of young love and the long lived love that displays the passage of time and death we shall part. What a topic that Adam’s song has “broken open”, (pardon the pun). Life can be so shallowly lived but the soul is so very deep, therefore, in all things the twain is destined to meet and with luck and hard labor, the best will be triumphant!!! Jean Renard in Scottsdale, Arizona

  3. February 11, 2012 12:17 am

    Thanks Jean!

    Brilliant observation to link this song with Cohen’s.

    Here’s k.d. lang’s perfect performance of Hallelujah.

    My daughter sang this simply accompanied by an acoustic guitar and got a standing ovation – I was a mess of tears. She performed as though she wrote the lyrics.

    Really enjoyed Cohen’s video for “Dance Me to the End of Love”. To reach “the end of love” needs two people who love each other to the depths of their souls.

    Xena

  4. cimi permalink
    March 25, 2012 1:51 am

    I Love Adam and all his work, and all that he does. But I just want to see a little bit of the Adam I know from American Idol. I think these music videos of his are beneath him. Coming from such an intelligent man, I think he could do much better. Like I said, I like the videos, they are ok. ok being the operative word. I just think that, with all Adam has shown us of his intelligence, personality, wit, worldliness, and the like, I just was expecting something more on the muture side. I don’t mean any disrespect. He is so above these mediocre videos.

    • March 25, 2012 8:08 am

      Mediocre!! Interesting conclusion. I think the BTIKM video is the best I’ve ever seen. To me it is hauntingly beautiful–a complete and perfect musical drama. I love that everyone gets to have their opinion. And I love that Adam’s vision totally concurs with mine. TOTALLY!!

  5. cimi permalink
    March 25, 2012 1:53 am

    ;

  6. Annie permalink
    July 27, 2012 1:12 am

    I love Adam! And I think his voice is just spectacular! This music video was truly amazing 🙂

  7. October 20, 2012 3:17 am

    Oh yes, yes yes! I come here from the Freddie Mercury business – Nosferatu, lol… chess… it would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic but Adam showed me that the Spirit does live on, so it can all be worked out in any situation. I love the idea of a Love Song for a Vampire – that’s why later versions are romanticized, trying to access “Princess Mina” etc. They just represent the view that no matter what state we’re in, somebody still loves us.
    And here, in Adam’s video, when his Dark side acts as the White Knight to finally break the glass, and puts his hand on the Light side’s shoulder, it’s inspired from real life. That’s what happened in Helsinki. Notice the colour of their respective fingerless gloves in public appearances. “My best friend, my light, my love”. This Light has been kept protected and very innocent from what I sense (may be just the overall frequency of the country).

    Whoa, this website really drew me in, I’m going to deal with the fallout for a month… I just think Adam is our King now – all this stuff he does, his origins, his struggles and ongoing questioning, his magic, his worldwide following… I have tears in my eyes because from my point of view, they really don’t have to be here, the high-consciousness royals – we have different governments now, and the royals can very well exist in their higher vibe which is beyond this extreme polarity; and yet he’s here now and dealing with this and such a GIFT from the Universe, which makes me think that this stupid life and feelings do matter after all, that we really are merging with our own souls at present.

    Your book is very pioneering, but I have to ask, if this situation is ever-expanding, ever-evolving, how can you keep a book like that from becoming dated in a week. I sometimes imagine myself writing things (I have this project about The Lord of the Rings) but I just realized, the ongoing awareness about my projected concepts keeps manifesting at a rate that’s beyond me. I can barely keep up with everything, let alone create a product out of it.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this, and find your findings reflect a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately; except I have a slightly different direction in that I don’t decode everything through sexual innuendo, but allow that sexual energy awareness to act as doorways to initiatic realms. Also, it’s very important to me to realize that no, Adam is not “singing to me” like you try to project in this book, he is singing to the Love inside all people, i.e. challenges the soulmates to come forth by enacting this irresistible pull on our blockages/misconceptions. He represents an Energy that’s coming to the planet (or is in fact already here). So let’s not turn him into that dark Vampire for real. “Woman you need love” indeed, but he’s not the one who will “take me home” – he just points to it.

    • October 20, 2012 11:52 pm

      Hi Flori!
      Welcome to our parallel Universe On the Meaning of Adam Lambert. I’m delighted that you’re finding so much to think about and react to. We’ve been enjoying your prolific comments. Pace yourself! We’ve been at this for three years!! I invite you to pop into our Lounge as well, for free-ranging conversation and information-sharing among a loving and intelligent group of fans. – Juneau

  8. rosemary permalink
    October 20, 2012 12:53 pm

    If I’ve interpreted it right, I agree with what you say in your last paragraph above, Flori. Well-said. Adam represents an energy that is in all of us. Energy just flows through him and out into the world. He’s not the one (your words)” who will take us home” (I think we ourselves are), he just “points the way”. There’s a really interesting video once posted on this site of a film-maker named Strickland who also used to be a music critic for Rolling Stone mag. In the video, Strickland muses about the charismatic appeal of Adam’s singing and performances. Among other things, Strickland talks about that unfettered energy that flows through Lambert.

  9. Red permalink
    June 9, 2014 12:56 am

    I truly enjoy and benefit from your video analysis. You “explain” them magnificently and quite perceptively. Great work on the ones of Adam. Also hoping you’ll branch out to other artists’ works as well (if you already have, please post the links as I would like to partake. Thanks!)

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