Author Archives: joseph

Message 347: Little By Little

The OED confirms that the phrase construction “x by x” first appears in English in Langland’s Piers Plowman (the year: 1393). The phrase “little by little” itself first appears in English in 1483. In this: Catholicon Anglicum: an English-Latin wordbook.

Little by little, the phrase “little by little” seemed to have entered the English vernacular c. 1865.

 

Message 345: Watch Me Dance, I’m A Puppet

From In Rainbows. The song “Up On The Ladder.” One line: “Watch me dance / I’m a puppet / You can almost / See the strings” (line divisions are best guess).

In the video for “Lotus Flower,” we cannot see strings:

What we do see is “peculiar but totally liberated dancing,” to quote Ben Sisario (“Thom Yorke’s New Band, From Many Angles,” October 5, 2009 in the New York Times.

Similar to a later description at another Atoms for Peace concert: “Twitching, strutting, pivoting, hopping, jittering and gesticulating, he let the music propel him in ways that were anything but cerebral” (“A Thinker Finds His Funk“, Jon Pareles, April 6, 2010 in the New York Times.

Consider this dance the antidote to the claustrophobic near-drowning of “No Surprises.”

Yorke’s head is submerged by water, his body is submerged by camera–dry but out of sight (correction here suggested by caitlin, comment below). No dancing. Not even with puppet strings.

The song “No Surprises” is about a form of contentment with failed failover safety. Contentment becomes quiet contempt that becomes a carbon monoxide handshake—suicide as formality. For the video, Yorke underwent entrapment. The making of “No Surprises,” as seen in Meeting People Is Easy, shows the entrapment’s extent. The real claustrophobia, the real risk:

Yorke’s energetic frustration at his inability to hold his breath is the negative image of his frenetic dance for “Lotus Flower.” Dance without a helmet. Doing whatever you want while the cat is away.