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Passtimes
© 1982, Roy Stucky

They can take me higher than I knew how to go,
They can build a fire that I cannot control.
They'd have me acquire vain thoughts beyond belief,
They would plant desires where I'd find no relief.

Each empty alley has a tale to unwind,
Seed that leaves hollow the spaces in mind.
Such knowledge must be left far far behind.
Walk down the path much too simple to find,
Past ancient clutter that can't be refined.

They're gathered as an army to occupy my time -
They're planning my assault on a hill no soul can climb.
I got a great deal for the day I let them steal -
Tomorrow will reveal the true nature of the crime.

Each empty alley has a tale to unwind,
Seed that leaves hollow the spaces in mind.
Such knowledge must be left far far behind.
Walk down the path much too simple to find,
Past ancient clutter that can't be refined.

This great host's assembled to lead me to my grave
Through days seeking pleasure drown under sweet waves.

 


In an affluent society such as the U.S., people have time to spend on things beyond the toil for survival. Around this 'free' time (precisely what it's not) an entire complex of industries has arisen to help us kill time, to distract us from thinking about anything important, like the state of our souls. And to make such waste seem reasonable.

Given the finite nature of a human's time on Earth, it is rather chilling to see the host of frivolous dissipations, and worse, being so enticingly offered to the population. The distraction industries created to consume (pun pardoned) our excess time tie directly into Dostoyevsky's image of modern freedom being merely the right of multiplication. The envy, murder, isolation, and spiritual suicide he describes as flowing from this are seen everywhere around us.

From tv and movies and music to sports and collecting and 'self help' ideologies (again precisely what they're not), our culture has immersed itself in fancies and pleasures at the cost of mature development. These are the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches which choke the Word in our lives and make it unfruitful.

"Higher" is excitement. What the King James describes as revelings. In our vicarious society, how many people can be emotionally moved to shout aloud without being at a concert or game? Why are we not as involved with our own thoughts, our own life? How many people who've walked away from their families to 'find themselves' were moved to tears by the death of Princess Diana, a person they'd never even seen from afar? In our cold hearted culture, an industry has arisen to give us something to shout about.

"Fire" is the fanning of lusts, a greed for pleasures. Hedonism. Our entire culture seems shot through with addictions to almost everything imaginable. Is this a society in control? Yet an industry has arisen to fuel the flames with which people would struggle even without this industry of suggestion, of enticement. In particular, in a society already unable to keep it's pants up, sex is peddled everywhere from Internet porn to toothpaste commercials.

"Thoughts" represents the ideologies, religions, and philosophies with which our culture is awash. We will search anywhere in time and place for something to believe, something higher than ourselves and our dead machines. Idols of Egypt, perversions of Babylon, meditations of the East, aliens from space who crashed in a volcano, shamanism, all these and more have spread though our culture. Yet they are "beyond belief" because they substitute the creations of human hands and minds for the worship of the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Creator of hands and minds. Further, this ties to the surrender to the void.

"Desires" represents materialism. In advertising it is called marginal dissatisfaction. The industry tries to invoke, "plant", enough dissatisfaction so you will not be satisfied until you get this new thing, but not so dissatisfied you abandon the entire pursuit of things in disgust.

The idea is based on self envy, in that you are to envy the person you could be if you had this new great thing. You sure would be sexy if you had this new sports car. You certainly would be respected if you had this incredible house, stereo, boat, tv, dress, computer, baseball card, antique, gun, jewel, ad nauseam. But because these things cannot make a person happy, the itches being fostered are always out of reach to keep people buying, keep us running on the treadmill of the happiness machine until the day we die. Then the industry gets what it can out of the corpse and moves on in search of new prey.

"Empty alley" is that all these things are distractions that make enticing promises they cannot deliver. The seed of these distractions increase the emptiness they promise to fill. The thorns that will choke the Word beckon from all sides, show us the kingdoms of the world as an offering to those who bow, say to us, 'bread eaten is secret is sweet.' There is some kernel of reality inside every lie, like the dust speck in a drop of rain, so it can entice.

"Seed" ties to "plant".  It's produce, like a worthless symbol, takes up the space in us that should be occupied by the Life producing Word.

"Spaces in mind" ties to Asylumthink on the Predator album, and the line, "limit the spaces you take up in my mind".

"Such knowledge" is that God knows the thoughts of humanity are vain.  Any knowledge that clutters up your mind, that produces the thorns that choke the Word and make it unfruitful, must be brought into subjection to the knowledge of Jesus if you are to walk the strait road that leads to Life.

Against the clutter of mystic rites and information overload, eternity being based entirely on accepting or rejecting Jesus seems too simple.  Our information society is basically a culture of shouting.  The tv shouts at you, your employer and customer shout at you, the billboards and banner ads and junk mail shout their messages at you so often and loud that most people have gone nearly deaf.  Many then hear the whispers of the guru's recycled hollow knowledge as a balm.

"Can't be refined" is that our spirits cannot be repaired.  We must be born again.

"Occupy our time" is of course a play on what an army does, because the distractions do occupy our time the way an invading army occupies a territory.  They hold it against the rightful owner.

"Hill no soul can climb" is that human works cannot reach up to God.  We must accept Jesus' grace reaching down to us.

"Nature of the crime" is the confidence trick of trading baubles for the irreplaceable.

"Under sweet waves" is that the distraction industry has the effect of putting us to sleep, like a person dozing off in a warm bath and sliding under the water. In contrast, we are commanded by God to redeem the time.


This lyric was written in August of 1982.

This song came from an intersection of several things. In talking with some people at the time, I realized the ideas they held had come from a couple of albums by a popular rock band. It was clear they did not understand either the roots or the ramifications of these ideas.

I'd also been reading about the recreation industry, which Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, said had become as important as smokestack America. Mix this with some study about cults and advertising, some SF stories about societies where people lived on estates and only communicated electronically, and with the clear fact that time burning is the consumption of the great nonrenewable resource; and out comes the song.


If it can be allowed to reference back to the Epiphany album, this song represents the young builder seeing for the first time the true nature of the daily 'rewards' given for participation in the Tower.

The tools of hedonism are the true opiates of the masses.

"Hill no soul can climb" can be seen to tie back to The Tower. The hill cannot be climbed because it is actually a pit.


The time we have been given to resolve our eternal destiny is infinitely precious.

One of the primary requirements for being whole is the ability to distinguish between the essential and the trivial. Otherwise you dissipate your all too finite time and energy on "each empty alley". Those who buy into the modern ideology of no absolutes, no standard, no right and wrong, are lost because such a belief makes this discernment impossible.

Indeed, the tendency of this oozing ideology is to mock as quaint everything human history has deemed valuable, such as honor, responsibility, honesty, duty, fidelity, nobility, integrity, dignity. What hope is there for someone who sees the urge to party as the equal of these? What level of wisdom can be possessed by someone who considers these traits boring and stuffy and outdated? Honor can only seem a vain thing until you must depend upon someone who lacks it. Integrity can only seem pompous until you are denied justice by a bribe in the hand of your adversary. Fidelity can only seem prudish until you are the one betrayed.

 


"The Lord knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are as grass, he flourishes as a flower of the field the wind passes over and is gone, and the place knows it no more."
Psalms 103:14-16


“Actually man does not care for pleasure and happiness as such but rather for that which causes these effects, be it the fulfillment of a personal meaning or the encounter with a human being.  This even holds true of an encounter with the Divine Being.  From this it follows how skeptical we must be with respect to that form of peak-experience which is induced by LSD or other sorts of intoxication.  If chemical causes are substituted for spiritual reasons, the effects are mere artifacts.  The shortcut winds up as a blind alley.”
Viktor Frankl


"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"
Isaiah 55:2


"Shower upon (man) every earthly blessing, drown him in a sea of happiness, so that nothing but bubbles of bliss can be seen on the surface; give him economic prosperity, such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep, eat cakes and busy himself with the continuation of his species, and even then out of sheer ingratitude, sheer spite, man would play you some nasty trick. He would even risk his cakes and would deliberately desire the most fatal rubbish, the most uneconomical absurdity, simply to introduce into all this positive good sense his fatal fantastic element. It is just his fantastic dreams, his vulgar folly that he will desire to retain, simply in order to prove to himself--as though that were so necessary--that men still are men and not the keys of a piano, which the laws of nature threaten to control so completely that soon one will be able to desire nothing but by the calendar."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"What news abroad i' the world?"

"None, but that there is so great a fever on goodness, that the dissolution of it must cure it: novelty is only in request; and it is as dangerous to be aged in any kind of course as it is virtuous to be constant in any undertaking. There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure; but security enough to make fellowships accursed: much upon this riddle runs the wisdom of the world. This news is old enough, yet it is every day's news."
William Shakespeare


"See then that you walk prudently, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15-16


"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."
Henry David Thoreau


"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed in a cloud. A rainbow was on his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire."

"He had in his hand a little open book, and set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the the earth. He cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars, and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. When the seven thunders had spoken, I was about to write when a voice from heaven said to me, 'Seal up those things the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.' "

"The angel I saw stand upon the sea and the earth lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him Who lives for ever and ever, Who created heaven and the things therein, earth and the things therein, the sea and the things therein, that there should be time no longer."

"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he begins to sound, the mystery of God will be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets."
Revelation 10:1-7


BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Holy Bible

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997)
The Will to Meaning: The Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy (1970)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Measure For Measure ()

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Walden (1854)

 


Script

<intro>
------------------------------------------------

1.  Fire on top of water.


They can take me higher
Than I knew how to go.
------------------------------------------------

2.  Higher montage

Montage of people jumping & yelling in a stadium, bar, concert, arena, national convention.  People at a massive funeral procession.

Intercut with view from behind of man slouching in a chair before a tv, which is not on.

A remote control is in his hand resting on arm of chair.


They can build a fire
That I cannot control.
------------------------------------------------

3.  Fire montage

Montage of t&a shots from tv and ads, shots from food, tobacco and alcohol commercials.

Intercut with man slouching before tv, which is now showing flames.

Remote control is on floor beside chair.


They'd have me acquire
Thoughts beyond belief.
------------------------------------------------

4.  Thoughts montage

Montage of religious icons, especially Eastern, ancient, and occult.

Intercut with man in lotus position on the floor before tv, which shows static.

Remote control is not visible.


They would plant desires
Where I'd find no relief.
Itches just out of reach.
------------------------------------------------

5.  Desires montage

Montage of material goods, but this time they are shown on the tv.  Man is on his knees in front of the tv, holding out dollars in each hand like offerings to the tv.

Remote control is now on top of tv, pointing back at the man.


Each empty side street
Has a tale to unwind,
<< chorus shot 1 >>
------------------------------------------------

6. Side streets

The above man walks down narrow street with many alleys leading off.  At each entry is a tempter, beckoning, and pointing behind them and up to the mirage summit.  But the alley floor always slopes down.  Among the tempters will be harlots, but most will not be so.  There will be scientists with test tubes, punkers with electric guitar, suits with money, paramilitary soldiers, candy makers, card players, video gamers, athletes, and so on.


Whose seed leaves hollow
The spaces of my mind.
<< chorus shot 2 >>
------------------------------------------------

7. Thorn bushes

Around each entrance, but behind the tempters, rise thorn bushes without leaves.


So much knowledge must be left behind
To walk the path too simple to find
When past clutter goes unrefined.
<< chorus shot 3 >>
------------------------------------------------

8. Obstacles on road

All kinds of obstacles are on the narrow road, but through them all there is a laser thin tunnel of sight right to the Throne.  The tempters are multicolor light and motion, as distracting as possible.


They're gathered as an army
To occupy my time,
------------------------------------------------

9. Tempter army

All the above tempters, now solidly massed along both sides of the narrow road.  As we've gone on, the alley slopes have steepened, because the narrow road has been rising.  All kinds of military garb are scattered through this crowd.


And with the boredom steal a day
Tomorrow will make prime,
------------------------------------------------

10. Trailing abyss

People walking, and the road falling into an abyss right at their heels, but they appear not to notice.


By helping me survey
A hill not there to climb.
------------------------------------------------

11. Mirage mountain

Hill is actually a pit, as mentioned above.  We watch as people with blueprints and transoms lay out their plans, looking and pointing at the mirage mountain.


<< chorus shots >>


------------------------------------------------
12.


This great host's assembled
------------------------------------------------

13. Tempters to host

The tempters are now a solid host of people.


To lead me to my grave
------------------------------------------------

14. Host to graves

Host melt into a vast field of tombstones.


Through days seeking pleasure
Under sweet waves.
------------------------------------------------

15. Sea and party hat

Tombstones melt into a sea.

Slow zoom in on section of sea.  As we near we recognize a party hat floating, pointing up like a tombstone, bobbing.  But as we near it, it sinks.



<< instrumental close >>
------------------------------------------------

16. Sea empty

Sea; rolling, empty.


     THE END

Overall image will tie forward to The Tower on the Epiphany album and it's pit.  Idea here is to show entryways that lead to that pit.  Hard image of narrow street cut by alleys as channels sloping down, with mirage image of roads to the sky.  Here image is somewhat that of city sewer.

Closing shot on sea ties to Silver Light line, "death's an empty sea".  Also, party hat preceeding this is a play on a wizard's hat, representing human magic against God's creative faith.

When we get a clear look down on all this from above, it will tie to Curve of The Earth. High view will show all the alleys bend back away from narrow road leading to God, until they all empty into the pit. Smoke rising from this pit ties to Sky of Smoke and to the smoke rising out of the bottomless pit.

In fact, you should take a look at this passage in Revelation and see if it will work properly in the context of Sky of Smoke, which may get itself another verse.

Note: Make full tie out pages, then copy these to a holding dir and use a partial tie out page until the future items are released.  This lets you think about future ties at the start of the process.

Note: Each Predator song could represent an entire future album, especially allegorical ones.