"I really like 'The Division Bell' myself, although I wouldn't say it's an immediate album. You have to put a bit of work in to get out of it the riches that are there."
"'The Division Bell' is not like its
predecessors. Although all great music is subject to multiple
interpretations, in this case there is a central purpose and a
designed solution..." -Publius
Being familiar with the key ideas in the book, (Cybernetics and Society) and the online component of the concept, is the key to enjoying the riches (prize, treasure, bounty) of The Division Bell. The reflexive perspective, framework, and ideas that stem from the book and online concept bring to light another level of meaning that hides underneath the surface throughout.
Listen to the complete album on Youtube
For the complete album lyrics click here.
On first impression, many of the lyrics seem to refer to past band members. Also, there is not much recognizable continuity of theme, from song to song, or even within songs. This could be misleading. Consider the following comments by David Gilmour in Interview Magazine:
Interviewer: The album could easily be interpreted as an allegory about the split with Roger.
David Gilmour: I don't think that it is. There are a couple of hinted mentions that could or could not have something to do with him. But all that I read from people working out what they think it's about has been either fairly or wildly inaccurate. I enjoy that. I'm quite happy for people to interpret it any way they like. But maybe a note of caution should be sounded because you can read too much into it. 'A Great Day for Freedom,' for example, has got nothing to do with Roger or his 'wall.' It just doesn't. What else can I say?"
Pink Floyd is communicating to You
The music is communication from band to audience. (message) This is already apparent in "What Do You Want From Me". You means the audience. You. In the next song, Poles Apart, You seems to refer to Roger Waters or Syd Barret. Seen in the new light, You means You more generally throughout the album, atleast in those verses cited by Publius. Pink Floyd is communicating to You!
Furthermore, there is more continuity of theme than meets the eye. David Gilmour comments:
"I suppose you could say that, you know, there's a, a theme throughout the album which involves communication. And um, *all*, pretty much, *all* the songs are connected to the theme of communication, in some way or another."
Previously, it was difficult to see how the theme of communication relates to the songs "Take it Back" and "High Hopes", for example.
[Rather than providing complete analyses of the songs, I'll show how new interpretations are now possible. I'll try to keep things as simple as possible, just enough to open the door to demonstrate the new level of conceptual integrity and meaning to be discovered. As with any interpretation of a work of art, you might not agree with everything here.]
Cluster One (Instrumental)
Noise to Message. (Need I say more?)
Listen to the demonstration of musical communication, feedback, and simple beauty formed.
The rays from the sun (heard as electromagnetic noise from the solar wind) are the source of virtually all life on earth, and all order, organization, humanity, art, etc that follows.
What Do You Want From Me
If I don't promise you the answers would you go.
Do you think that I know something you don't know?
Quoted by Publius.
The song is clearly communication from band to audience. Notice the lyrics to the second half of the song, though, including:
You can have anything you want
You can drift, you can dream, even walk on water
Anything you want
You can own everything you see
Sell your soul for complete control
Is that really what you need
You are in a virtual environment. The only place you can have complete control. We are in cyberspace here. (controlspace)
"The research on cyberspace is a quest for God. To be God. To be here and there." -Paul Virilio
In the new light, You means You in this song, as Pink Floyd fan and enigma sleuth. The music was made knowing how people would respond to the messages. Playfully programmed to seek a goal:
"It is easy to make a simple machine which will run toward the light or run away from it, and if such machines also contain lights of their own, a number of them together will show complicated forms of social behavior..."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society
Did you know . . . it was all going to go so wrong for you
And did you see it was all going to be so right for me
Why did we tell you then
You were always the golden boy then
And that you'd never lose that light in your eyes
Hey you . . . did you ever realise what you'd become
And did you see that it wasn't only me you were running from
Did you know all the time but it never bothered you anyway
Leading the blind while I stared out the steel in your eyes
Finally, having come to ones senses:
"I never thought that you'd lose that light in your eyes"
Could the light in this last verse be the light from the last verse of the previous song? (What Do You Want From Me)
A Great Day For Freedom
On the day the wall came down
The Ship of Fools had finally run aground
Lyrics quoted by Publius and designed to have double meaning in the aftermath of the online engima event?
On the surface, a reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Symbolically, centrally controlled, command, communist systems radically transformed into self-governing, dynamic, democratic (feedback based) systems.
In a new light, a further reflection on the band-audience relationship. Pink Floyd is communicating to You. Pink Floyd did not know something you don't know. Pink Floyd doesn't have the answers.
If that's too much, you can appreciate that this song concerns human relationships, at the foundations of which is communication. (feedback)
Now frontiers shift like desert sands
While nations wash their bloodied hands
Of loyalty, of history, in shades of gray
Globalization. Through the proliferation of communication technologies and infrastructure, including the Internet, the world is more closely connected and inter-related.
Wearing the Inside Out
Human boundaries are extended, transformed, in this song. (Need I say more?) Heavy cybernetic imagery in this song.
Pink Floyd is indeed "Wearing the Inside Out", as are we all in this environment, and as we all are in a world transformed by electronic and digital tele communication.
Take It Back
The earth as complex self-regulating feedback system.
A living island of decreasing entropy.
Gaia - a fundamentally cybernetic concept.
Coming Back to Life
While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words
Dying to believe in what you heard
I was staring straight into the shining sun
On one level, this song can be interpreted in terms of human relationships, communication between people.
To stretch, Pink Floyd is communicating to You.
"Speech is the greatest interest and most distinctive achievement of man."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society
Communication is a basic need and drive of human beings - the cornerstone of relationships, human progress, etc.
Not to mention the fact that Stephen Hawking, cyborg, speaks.
Similarly, David Gilmour speaks cybernetically using a talk box in this song.
Lost for Words
On one level this song can simply be interpreted in terms of communication and failed relationships. Failed communication between human beings. Progress eventually succumbs to entropy.
Because there'll be no safety in numbers
When the Right One walks out of the door
Quoted by Publius. Indeed.
In light of universal themes of communication, progress and entropy, applies broadly to: Pink Floyd as band, technological progress, pioneering of the Internet, human civilization, life on earth, etc.
"The Greeks regarded the act of discovering fire with very split emotions..."
"Beauty, like order, occurs in many places in the world, but only as a local and temporary fight against the Niagara of increasing entropy."
"We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves. A pattern is a message, and may be transmitted as a message."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever
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