Sorry for my prolonged absence; last week I was quite busy/productive, this weekend I danced a bunch, nearly all day Saturday literally, somehow amidst all this I (finally) read The Hunger Games trilogy, and this week I am sick. However, the post's title neither refers to myself, nor my commitment to this blog, but rather to the song about which I intend to talk. That's right, as promised, this is my final (planned) installment in the series on music video philosophy. For those in the home audience paying attention, you might expect that this would be my 100th post, but as I was looking through my archive I found a post that was just a placeholder and deleted it, so 100 should be the next one, barring further deletions.
Anyway, on to Dead and Gone. Let me first say that while I really enjoy this song, and I really enjoy a lot of N'Synch songs, having Justin Timberlake featured in your song really diminishes its street cred', you feel me? Although, maybe this is appropriate, as Dead and Gone is about an ex-gangsta who has since left the life, citing fear for family safety and remorse over dead friends. Central to the song is that "the old me is dead and gone," hence the title.
While I am not familiar with a past of violence and crime, the message of alienation from one's past self rings true. In fact, the continuity of self is a serious philosophical question. We experience our lives as though we possess a single identity, yet with reflection, it is clear that fundamental things about who we are change as time goes by. It happens so gradually, usually, that at any one point it is easy to believe that you are who you have always been, but viewed over time it becomes clear that one's identity is in fact quite malleable, and the old you may indeed be dead and gone.
Of course, when major life changes are made quickly, and one's environment becomes extremely tumultuous, for example moving nearly across the country to try one's hand at grad school, the effects of personality drift can seem more pronounced. This is, of course, a big reason this song has such personal relevance to me. Whether one's personality shifts to accommodated the new environment, or simply due to a lack of familiar cornerstones that had previously anchored one's personality, is a question I fend interesting.
This line of thought also raises interesting questions about the nature of accountability. If sufficient time has elapsed since I did something that I truly am a fundamentally different person than the person that committed the act, in what sense can be held accountable for the action? This is immediately related to my reflections on mornings when I sleep through class and, although I am logically forced to conclude that I must have turned off my alarm at some point, I have no recollection of the event. If the me who wakes up neither remembers these actions nor condones them, but rather finds them seriously irresponsible and worthy of condemnation, in what manner am I to be held accountable for them?
In the end however, while the old me may be dead, he is certainly not gone. Who we are may not be identical to who we were, but it is intimately wrapped up in our past experiences and personalities. If I realize that I am no longer someone who recognizes myself as "myself" it may be a long and futile journey to, "find my way back home," to something that feels comfortable to consider as "myself," but it is a worthwhile journey, even if the destination remains ever out of reach. The quest to, "know thyself," remains as important as it was in the times of the Ancient Greeks, made all the harder by the realization that the "self" which we are to know is constantly in motion.
In conclusion, I just wanted to note a common theme I noticed in my posts on music videos. My first, "Poker Face," dealt with the difficulty to know others, and our desire to both know and be known. The next, "Gives You Hell," talked about how our self is being shaped by both our personal attributes and societal intervention. Finally I discuss the difficulty in even knowing ourselves. This leads to one last question, is the search for a sense of identity widespread through modern music, something common to these songs which causes me to become interested in them in particular, or something about myself which I am projecting onto these songs?