I have been a fan of Father John Misty for a few years now. I’m trying to remember the first time I heard him. I was working the opening shift at a bakery. There was some radio show on, and they played a song of his. He reminded me of Dylan immediately, the sense of multiple meanings shining through. I never got hooked on his songs like with Bob Dylan, but I do appreciate his music and enjoy some of it. Recently, I guess he did a cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989, then erased it shortly after posting it. Apparently, a dream made him think this was necessary.
The main reason I wanted to talk about this was the two quotes, from dream Lacan and dream Lou Reed. “The only thing crazier than a peasant who believes he is king, is a king who believes he is king.” In Misty’s dream, Lacan tells him this. I’m not going to try to interpret this in terms of the music or the decision to remove it. I look at it as a maxim, a wise saying. To me, it means that we are not our roles, we are not as simple as we think we are. We need perspective. Belief can oversimplify things. Life is so complicated, and our interpretations of it are almost always missing some piece, some information. This means being openminded is helpful. I posted a Pema Chodron quote on Twitter recently about fixated mind leading to anger, and his is the same sort of idea. Fixated mind, stubborn obsessive mind, is a king thinking he is a king.
“Don’t summon the dead. I am not your plaything. The collection of souls is an expensive pastime.”
-dream Lou Reed
One strange thing about this one is that, by relating the story or quote, I’m going against Lou’s advice. I’m summoning the dead. Now, this one, especially, I don’t know how it applies to Misty and his music, but that’s not my point. As I see it, this one is about misusing the wisdom of the past, maybe in a materialistic way. The wisdom of dead writers, teachers, artists, was hard won. We shouldn’t just turn it into quotable quotes on the Internet for the amusement of our friends and acquaintances. Obviously, I’m guilty of doing this. I hope that this means doing a little of this quoting is ok- as long as you actually do spend some time learning from the past, reading, studying, appreciating.
Dreams are strange things, mean different things to different people. Often, they have some intense gravity to one person, and are utterly flat, meaningless, to someone else. I wouldn’t classify dreams as being on the same level of wisdom as actual teachings, but they are fascinating. Kings who believe they are kings need to let go of fixated mind. Collecting souls is expensive, and the past is not a plaything. What should kings do, and what is the right way to deal with the past? Kings should understand the way belief works, understand its limitations and strengths. The past may be expensive, but it’s also valuable, rich with meaning and power, and we are relating with it anyway. Do summon the dead. Just be intelligent about how you do it.