Wow! Just wow. These are so thoughtful, diverse, and eloquent. Thanks to everyone who submitted.
I've so enjoyed watching the video through each of these lenses. Read and watch! It's truly an amazing experience and speaks to the power of collaboration and art. Below are two wonderful anonymous entries. More to come!!
“Already There” was a video unlike any other I’ve experienced; the song betrays no great detail, and yet tells a distinct story. Perhaps unlike other writers or viewers, I didn’t have to watch the video twice to go looking for meaning. It jumped out at me immediately.
Love was too obvious. Death, too contrived.
No- for me, the meaning of this video was perfectly subtle and yet stunningly obvious: This story is about time.
Somebody clearly stole time from the protagonist of this video. He is living in limbo, lying in wait. Having survived great suffering against all odds, he is silently waiting to make his move: “Thought you’ll sleep the whole night through, wake knowing that I’m coming for you.” It may be days, months, years until revenge is taken, but it will be taken. Time will be his again. The only trouble is: the longer he waits, the weaker he gets.
The two dancers represent the past and the future, his only company in limbo:
The brown-haired dancer embodies anger of the past. Her first movement takes place on the lyrics: “I wonder, wonder. Was that all a dream?” She is his disbelief and his indignation. Follow her movement though the video—she is angry, hurt, sad, and in pain. She is a constant reminder of fresh wounds.
The red-haired dancer is the protagonist’s fading hope for the future. Her movement is stronger, perhaps signaling the moment the protagonist will spring forth and take revenge. We also see a bit less of her, which signifies the protagonist’s curiosity about the future and his fading hope that he will ever escape hell.
The piece is cyclical. It begins exactly where it ends: at the spark of life. It’s as if hell has been but an instant in the protagonist’s head, prolonged for a lifetime of reflection by time’s meddling hand. He must live a thousand years within each second. As he lives in this stolid state of lonely reflection, his past rears up and his future escapes him. He is but a toy in time’s perpetual game—forced from position to position and memory to memory.
The Closing of a Chapter
The overlapping images in Russell’s music video “Already There” potently capture, for me, the experience of being caught in the grueling bind of escaping a detrimental relationship while still feeling irrevocably bound. Cutting ties with someone who was once a loved one, or pushing back against someone who has been only partially conscious in their act of exploiting you, can be one of the most conflicting, fragmenting experiences that I have known, and that sense of disruption invades the body, senses, and all thought.
The embers of a candle wick flaring back up in a surreal and unprompted way evokes the volatility I have known in feeling both magnetized and endangered by a person I am pushing away, and as my pushing hurts them, my impulse to comfort them flares up again, and on this goes.
Bodies move in halted time, reaching in slow motion and then spiraling out and away in choreographic episodes. These sequences conjure the interruption and stretching out of time during such a period of emotional tumult. It is pretty extraordinary how emotionally colored our perception of time can be. The periods of our life where we wait and reach out in suspense slow down, and uncertainty pervades, as everything seems to pass us by, moving at a speed that we can’t translate to our own protracted life. When joy and renewed vigor return, life flies past in a transported, rapturous blur. In an ideal world where we could declare that we are truly and unequivocally present and in control of our own attentional perceptions, we would stretch that joy and safety to create a sprawling space so that we could never say we took the good for granted. But nature has another way, as emotion and struggle dictate the tempo of our lives, and we have no choice but to move forward to the given rhythm.
When I ended a relationship for the first time, I did not know how to express the hurt I was feeling in the face of my former partner’s anger and horror at my ability to hurt him. Our empathic channels were broken, and I had to grapple with the reality that I had done the breaking. He threatened me with how much I had devastated him, and the counter argument of my own feelings of devastation within the relationship held no weight. Suddenly the authenticity of any of our intimacy was questioned, and the present feeling of entrapment burned my capacity for hindsight. Had I been lying when I gave my love to him? Who was deceiving whom, and how much had we each been deceiving ourselves in isolation the whole time? In order to escape the scorching interrogations and anarchic struggles of this break up, I had to pull myself back, extinguish all the fire, both passionate and enraged, that I felt for this person, and start again. The final moment in “Already There”, a barely committed blowing out of a candle, captures that liminal space of acceptance, the closing of a chapter, which was once seen as a sanctuary and has become a bottoming out. It takes consummate willpower to resist being pulled into the never ending cycle of temptation and abuse, but there is a dark tranquility in extinguishing a flame.