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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

 
Two metaphors for the Sanders campaign, and a song

by Gaius Publius


Gas bubbles collect on the inside surface of a glass, and when they grow large enough, rise up (source)


I've been using two metaphors to describe the movement around the Bernie Sanders campaign. One is the grain of sand in the oyster that allows the pearl material, always present, to coalesce, come together. The sand didn't create the pearl. It just "occasioned" it. Bernie Sanders didn't create the movement around him. He "occasioned" it.

The other is less intuitive, but much the same. When you have a gas dissolved in a liquid (CO2 in water, or coke, or whatever), and the mixture is in a glass, it's easy to observe that streams of small bubbles seem to rise constantly from the same point on the inside of the glass. Why is that?

Nearly invisible imperfections in the glass itself, little places where the glass material isn't perfectly smooth but almost microscopically sharp, are places where the dissolved CO2 "collects," reforms as a gas, and rises — again and again. (Thank you, high school chemistry.)

Bernie Sanders is that place on the inside of the glass. The dissolved CO2 was always present — it's all of us and our great discontent. Sanders just gives us a place to collect, reform, and (yes) rise up.

"Jeunesse, lève-toi"

One of my favorite songs about rising up is this one — in French, "Jeunesse, lève-toi," in English, "Young people, rise up." Note that the verb se lever (lit., "raise oneself") has a number of meanings, and all of them are intended. It's used for an uprising, a sunrise, for getting up off the ground, for getting out of bed in the morning, and more. The singer, Damien Saëz, is saying all of these things. Youth, get up. Youth, arise.

It's not just a song of rebellion, which Saëz also sings about. It's a song of impossible sadness as well, and a song of anger. It's about rising up to confront and face the hurt of life itself.

It's also impossibly beautiful. Listen. You only need to know the meaning of the title — Jeunesse, lève-toi, "Youth, get up" — to feel the impact of it.


Damien Saez - Jeunesse Lève-Toi (Live "Ce Soir Ou Jamais" France 3 10-06-2008)


French lyrics at the "See More" link. A taste in English (my rough translation):
Like a burst of laugh that comes,
Comes to console sadness,
Like a puff of breath that comes
To reignite the ember,
Like a whiff of sulfur gas
That gives rise to the flame,
Youth, rise up.

Against the life that comes, that goes, and
Then just gets extinguished,
Against the love we take, we hold, but
Never stays beside us,
Against the trace that gets erased
Behind us as we walk,
Youth, rise up.
...
Don't you hear this evening sung
The song of all the dead?
Don't you see at your fingertips
The heaven overhead?
Youth, rise up.

Youth, get up.

Youth, rise up.
Saëz is heir to the great French singer-songwriter tradition, le chanteur, la chanteuse, heir to Charles Trenet, Jacques Brel and Leo Ferré (think Bob Dylan, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Waits), and he's one of the best, in my opinion.

We can't rise up when we're in the ground, and the country in it with us. The time to rise up is now.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP
 

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