NIN … searching for redemption

Nine Inch Nails in concert
Photo by Bill T Miller

Anthony de Mello’s classic book on spirituality, Awareness, opens with these words:

Spirituality means waking up.

Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up.

They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence.

Compare this with an interview with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in the last edition of Terrorizer magazine about their new album Year Zero:

“It’d be ludicrous for me to say, ‘Oh there’s always been a real optimistic side to our music,’ but most of the time, no matter what state of despair or desperation I might be in on the records, there is an element of hope, of salvation being searched for. When I’m onstage reacting to people it certainly doesn’t feel hopeless or hate-filled to me …

Overwhelmingly for me, NIN is always searching for redemption of some sort. There was and is a positive reason for this record to exist. To get people to pay attention, look around themselves in a different way. It’s pretentious, it may not work, but it’s worth a shot. I’m only pissing my own money away!

And I’d hate to look back and just think my music sleepwalked through these years. Year Zero feels like the right thing for me to do right now. It’s the only thing I could’ve done and still been okay with myself.”

A couple of things struck me about these quotations:

  1. The religious language used: “hope”, “salvation”, “redemption” — and a real sense of searching

  2. Reznor’s need to ask questions of life and his encouragement for others to also ask those type of questions, and to consider looking at the world in a different way

  3. Reznor’s fear of ‘sleepwalking’ — in other words: he wanted to wake up, he wants ‘awareness’

You could argue that Reznor is fulfilling an important task of a theologian here: pointing to the BIG questions of life, and encouraging others to join in the debate.

The album Year Zero is rather good too, which is a bonus.

The Singing Ringing Tree (1959)

In a conversation with a work colleague, Andy, the other week we got talking about our memories of childhood TV.

One of my favourite shows was Rubovia, a Gordon Murray production before the glory days of the Trumptonshire stories. One of Andy’s was The Singing Ringing Tree.

While I had recollections of the name, the images of the show didn’t come readily to mind. That was until I looked it up on YouTube.

And I have to admit, as a children’s TV show it had everything:

  • a princess
  • a man in a scary-looking, poorly-constructed bear suit
  • a dwarf who can freeze waterfalls
  • a weird, giant fish
  • a woman beating ice with a shoe
  • and a terrible English translation

It certainly puts Pok√©mon in its rightful place in the history of children’s TV! You’d never find Pikachu beating ice with any form of ladies’ footwear. I think that stands as a testimony to itself.

And they say that it was in the 60s that they started taking drugs!!! Proof, perhaps, that some were dabbling at the end of the previous decade.