Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Sync: Ne(m)o and Morpheus

Today an obscure song from 30 years ago, one I haven't listened to or thought of in ages, came to mind. In order to establish that its coming to mind had nothing to do with my recent posts about The Matrix, I will have to describe my train of thought in some detail.

First of all, few days ago, I happened to be looking through my old sync log from 2016-17. One of the notes I read was this one:

2016 Mar 3 (Thu) – I read a few pages (pp. 87-89) of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine in [a cafe called] FM Station. They were playing the Lukas Graham song “7 Years,” which I had never heard before. It begins:

Once I was seven years old, my mama told me
Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely.
Once I was seven years old.

It then goes through various other ages: once I was 11, 20; soon I’ll be 30, 60. It ends by repeating the opening lines quoted above.

While listening to this, I was reading pp. 88-87 [sic] of Dandelion Wine. The children are discussing how Colonel Freeleigh is a “Time Machine” because he can remember so many of his past experiences.

‘Maybe old people were never children, like we claim with Mrs. Bentley, but, big or little, some of them were standing around at Appomattox the summer of 1865.’

Tom and Doug discuss what Doug calls “far-traveling” – meaning going back in time through memory.

“Far-traveling. You make that up?”

“Maybe yes and maybe no.”

“Far-traveling,” whispered Tom.

“Only one thing I’m sure of,” said Douglas, closing his eyes. “It sure sounds lonely.”

Thus the chapter ends.

A bit earlier in the book, on pp. 72-73, old Mrs. Bentley insists that she was once a little girl, but the children refuse to believe it. She shows them a photo to prove that she was 7 years old once.

In triumph she flashed her trump card, a postal picture of herself when she was seven years old…

“Who’s this little girl?” asked Jane.

“It’s me!”

The two girls held onto it.

“But it doesn’t look like you,” said Jane simply. “Anybody could get a picture like this, somewhere.”

They looked at her for a long moment.

“Any more pictures, Mrs. Bentley?” asked Alice. “Of you, later? You got a picture of you at fifteen, and one at twenty, and one at forty and fifty?”

The girls chortled.

“I don’t have to show you anything!” said Mrs. Bentley.

“Then we don’t have to believe you,” replied Jane.

“But this picture proves I was young!”

“That’s some other little girl, like us. You borrowed it.”

Like the song, this focuses on the fact that one was younger in the past – with a specific focus on “seven years old.” Both also emphasize loneliness.

That was several days ago. Today I was doing some mindless paperwork and humming to myself and discovered that what I was humming was the 1967 Monkees song "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," with the repeated line, "Oh, how I wish tomorrow would never come." It occurred to me that this was similar to Bob Dylan's line "The present now will later be past," in that both highlighted the need for a Dunnean model in order to make sense of the passage of time. If there is only one dimension of time, then the past never was -- and the future never will be -- the present. Tomorrow will never come, and Mrs. Bentley never was seven years old.

This made me think of the sync notes quoted above, and I tried to remember the term the children in Dandelion Wine had used for revisiting the past through memory -- "long-journeying"? I see now that it was actually "far-traveling," but "long-journeying" is what came to mind and what made me think of the 1993 Moxy Früvous song "Morphée," which begins with the words "Longue journée." It's all in French, a language of which I am relatively ignorant, and I never was very clear on most of the lyrics. I tried to sing it to myself but had to lapse into humming and dum-de-dumming for most of it. All I could remember was "Longue journée . . . chez Morphée . . . ce doux piège . . . et je fuis, je fuis . . . je rêne
Nemo en exil sur mes rêves fragiles" -- which I figured meant "Long journey . . . at Morpheus's place . . . something-something . . . and I went, I went . . . I reign, Nemo in exile, over my fragile dreams." Translating je fuis as "I went" was just a guess (wrong, it turns out), based on Spanish, and I hadn't the slightest idea what ce doux piège might mean, though it was one of the lines I remembered most clearly.

Then I thought: Morpheus! Nemo! I've just been posting about Morpheus and Neo -- and "Morphée" was released six years before The Matrix. Morpheus is the god of dreams, of course, but why "Nemo"? Is it a reference to those trippy old Little Nemo in Slumberland comics?

Sure enough, the very first panel of the very first Little Nemo strip (1905) mentions "His Majesty, Morpheus of Slumberland."

And what does ce doux piège mean? It turns out it means "this sweet trap." Here's the French Wikipedia article on the Venus flytrap:

Here are the complete lyrics of "Morphée":

Longue journée
Qui s'achève dans une chambre foncée
J'entends au loin les sirènes
Qui comme une vague me tirent, m'amènent
Chez Morphée
Ce doux piège
Ou les gammes en délire s'arpègent
M'emportent si loin des villes
Et je fuis,
je fuis les escadrilles du privilège
Beau sortilège
On solde les vieux pays au marché des gorilles
Caché dans les bras de Morphée je rêne
Nemo en exil
Sur mes rêves fragiles

And here, since no real translation seems to be available and I can't be bothered to do it myself (at least not now; I probably will do later), is the Google Translate version:

Long day
That ends in a dark room
I hear the sirens in the distance
Which like a wave pulls me, brings me
To Morpheus
This sweet trap
Where delirious scales arpeggio
Take me so far from the cities
And I run away
I flee the squadrons of privilege
beautiful spell
We sell the old countries at the gorilla market (???)
Hidden in the arms of Morpheus I reign
Nemo in exile
On my fragile dreams

That's "scales" as in do-re-mi, incidentally.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

This hardly counts as a sync because it's so common, but immediately after posting this, I checked /pol/ and found a "Redpill Thread" illustrated with a picture of Neo and Morpheus.

Hayseed said...

Well color me shocked. In the past 30 minutes I found and watched Morgoth's Reviews review of the Matrix: Resurrections in my YouTube recommendations, did a little research into the Matrix franchise and then stopped by the old Synlogos stream and found this post.

Very, very small scale sync but I thought it was interesting.

Bruce Charlton said...

And then there was Captain Nemo the submariner, presumably deploying a "pericope"...

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Don't adulterate my sync-stream with your bad Greek, Bruce!

I know I posted a comment here relatively recently in which I made a bad pun about Captain Nemo, but comments aren't searchable, and I can't find it!

ben said...


George said...

Sir, it's nearly 2023.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

ben, that's it! I was creating a mnemonic for the spelling of mnemonic: how le capitaine Nemo liked to remember the days before he took to sea, when he was just M. Nemo. So I was even talking about Nemo in French, making it a stronger sync with this French song.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Nemo : Neo :: Morpheus : Orpheus

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Like Nemo, Morpheus is the captain of a ship whose name begins with N.

Anonymous said...

I had completely forgotten the trippy NES Nemo game where you played a kid in Pajamas. I always wondered what was going on, like "why is captain Nemo a kid in pajamas running around in a forest rather than a captain of a submarine?" Didn't know there comics.

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