Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd - 1975)

(I'm not really sure if any of the members of the band would be in accord with this interpretation. This is what I see in the album, however retarded ^_^)

(0") The first track starts in a world of peace beyond the stars, beyond any horizon. The beginning of being - like the beginning of a fractal, starting from an infinitesimal small, but promising the infinite even its furthest shore. (7") The world is already complex, having Yin and Yang, time and space and tension. (14") An Ocean of Pure Beautifulness gradually materializes. (24") Consciousness, another Ocean, an eye/I, slowly emerges from the surroundings of pure blue beautifulness, of Ocean, Sky and Ice. Surrounded by mystery, by awe, magical twilight of the unknown, the consciousness simply is: all absorbing, all perceiving, although not understanding. It is separate, and its separateness grows clear and clearer as the quest to understand, to Connect, is deemed astray by herself. Attempt and disillusion gather an image of a wall separating the Consciousness, the I, from the 'outside'. Loneliness emerges. (45") As its awareness of itself, of contrasts and distinctions grows more acute, so the attempts to get higher and higher into ecstasy. (1'15") But these higher feelings are more and more disconnected with the environment, instead, they are fed by the perceived "inner beauty". This sense of beauty grows and grows, but creating an "Image of Itself" a representation. (1'47") The ecstasy is now derived, not so much from a sense of communion with the all, but with seeing its own reflection, its own beauty. In a sense, it is narcissistic, but ever increasing, for the beauty it sees in itself makes it grow and be (or reveal itself as) more beautiful. Which leads to a cycle of more and more perceived beauty, of, in a sense, growth. But this also leads to loneliness. For, in the measure that this beauty augments, so does the wall get stronger and stronger. A separation, like a mirror, that shows only the I wherever we look. The I seems beautiful, quite magical, almost infinite, but deprived of the contact with everything else.

That is why the perfect image is of a Diamond in the Sky. The Beautiful, infinite Sky, with all the translucent stars pointing to infinity, and then a Diamond, closed, with a so powerful skin that seems no one could penetrate or break, but Beautiful, and, as we will see, Shinning!

(2'12") Now the loneliness explodes into feeling, a feeling of being loss, some sort of self-contempt. "I" feels alone, and this feeling of loneliness seems so unfair, but so beautiful at the same time, a mark, a symbol, of the beautifulness in the I compared with the ugliness of the wall, of the separation. Suffering becomes a mark of prestige, it becomes a mark of the superiority of the I above all else, hence the Diamond is form, in its shell. A most beautiful shell, by the way. It travels on (3'04") to undreamed of lands, to mystery junctions and intersections, through infinity it travels but, never finding a cure for loneliness (3'15) it starts (3'24) the breaking through.

Now, we can see this as the paradigm for the all album: first beautifulness, then an I that sees it, the I cannot understand it totally, so it searches, it attempts to understand, but in each failed attempt, it rebounds to look into itself, and discovers an inner beauty, that reflected in its own vision, grows and grows exponentially. As it grows, the inner sound of beauty obscures, and eventually covers up completely, the outer sound, the vision, the magnificent vision, of the Universe Beyond. So the I sees beautifulness, it hears beautifulness, and feeds on beautifulness, but it is just a partial beautifulness. The rest is so much more, and so much away. A wall has been erected, and the I feels lonely. This lonely seems also beautiful, a mark of the I's grandeur, compared with the wall. And so it strikes down the wall. It attempts to strike it down, never considering that the wall does not exist, that the Diamond, in fact, is just frozen water. The only thing necessary to strike the ice of from the water would be to let go, to let it warm up in the Ocean, to be open to all the currents, to all things. So that the Light of the Universe could fill more and more this little grain of ice and melt it down, so that it would be fluid, like water in an Ocean. The problem is that the drop of ice does not want to melt away. He sees so much beautifulness in itself, it does not want to loose it. He does not want to consider itself just a it. Just another it in a world of infinite its. He wants to be apart. And so the wall is stroked upon, but never, ever destroyed. The Shinning ice is visualized as a Shinning Diamond. Get a hold on its individuality, its purity, its unicity, and never destroy it. And so, a large part of this album (until the final track) express this duality in attempting to break the wall, while at the same time, preserving the other side of it, with the utmost strength - hence the word Diamond.

(3'55") The breaking starts. Hating towards the wall. (4'25") Heavy axes are put upon the heavy side of the shell, the Diamond shivers but is very far from breaking... (4'50") The wall is seen as something insurmountable. (5'11") The wall gets a new status: it is your fault, the sign of decay of men, the depravation of the world. And "I" am going to fight it through, I am going to try to put an end to it, to show its injustice, how it makes us suffer, etc. The album begins its Journey!

(7'37") Screaming creams of anguish engulfed in the pleasure of doing something worthy of a God! And then (8'43") the lyrics came:

"Remember when you were young
You shone like the Sun
Shine on you Crazy Diamond

Now there's a look in your eyes
Like black holes in the Sky
Shine on you Crazy Diamond"


I like this part of the lyrics particularly:

"Threaten by shadows at night and exposed in the Light"

What does this "exposed" mean? Surely it should mean "revealed", for Light is what reveals us, inside out. But the word "exposed" has a sense of shame in it, and involuntary exposure. Somehow, it seems that the I conceived as a Diamond is somewhere in between total exposure and resisting the shadows of the night. The same cover that protects her in the night hides her in daylight!! If she had no shame, she wouldn't be able to distinguish between angels and demons!! ^_^

There is more to be said, but let's leave it to a later occasion. Passing on to "Whish you were Here", track 4.

To me, this is the most beautiful part of the Album, because it speaks about duality and imprisonment. Here, it would seem, the Icy Diamond could crack, for, after all, we're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, and what's the point of that?

Better, it seems, to partake with this world, and all its illusion, and Just Live, Live, Free as a Bird, fluid as the Ocean, each moment unique and unpredictably leading to the next, and Eternity all around. Why not? What do we have to loose? Everything fixed dies, there is nothing here anymore of value, let's give it up to gain the universe in each moment, let's abandon ourselves to life, let the stars shine through us, indeed we are the sons and daughters of the universe, an uninterrupted story binds us to the first moment of the Universe, and it will probably bind each of our actions, to the last.

This Wish you were Here, means for me, not just the other person, the other "Shinning Diamond", but, most of all, Reality, for our wall separates us from existence, whish you were here is the cry for Existence, it is a sign of the Loneliness that as invaded us since we were mesmerized with our own image!

The last track: it starts with wind, as if something being blown away, something breaking in the distance... (58') A scratch is drawn in the sky, absolute, fluid, no I present. This scratch separates, indicates, represents: highness / elevation (58"), journey (1'03"), adventure (1'19"), decay (141), hope (1'53"), fascination (2'04"), attempting (2'10"), vigorous adventure (2'15"), orgasm (2'26"), plateau (2'37"), attempting again (2'47"), fascination (2'56"), vigorous debate (3'04"), moment of pause / retreat (3'08"), coming back (3'19"), vigorous adventure (3'29"), near orgasm(3'40"), orgasm or near orgasm (3'50" - 4'23"), plateau (4'23"). Waking up (4'33").

Waking up from the orgasm, back to reality, bringing this from the "other world" , lyrics that express a half-forgotten truth from the dreamworld (4'55")

"Nobody knows who you are,
How near or how far"

This, for me, is the supreme truth I've ever achieved, or, as Osho Rajneesh would say: "The moment you know who you are you are limited, you are finite." We cannot be defined by concepts, we are something more akin to a vibration, words like Freedom are closer to what we are. We are neither fixed I's, nor completely dispersed. There is something magical about the inner eye which no one has ever revealed. We cannot comprehend it, but we can have joy in it, we can have an orgasm, not just the regular kind, that give babies, a new life, but also of companionship with the all universe, an Orgasm of Understanding...

The music continues in a world of wonderment (6'00"), grasped between our dense arms (6'23") and manipulated to our will. (there's a part here I cannot quite understand 7'01-8'50 Revelation (9'00"), the infinite showing how its symbols (all the Universe) can be a door to ... X ... what we are looking for...

Embracing us in love (9'20"), the Light searches for Us, it calls our name, constantly. But (9'38") the Universe divides itself up again, now its only a mirror of stars, reflecting the wish, our face, loneliness, the door is closed. And ever and ever apart, we long for what has made us born... Missing the One we most long for, whose face is unrecognized, mysteriously absent, in all Creation...

(11'23") Freedom... Contact... immersion, encounter...

That's it.


Update June 2008 - This comment was written almost one year ago, but today (June 1st 2008) I've seen for the first time a documentary on Roger (Syd) Barrett (I knew he existed but not much else). In that documentary Roger Waters says that both Whish You Were Here and The Dark Side of the Moon were deeply inspired by their experience with Syd that was "gone" with eyes "like black holes in the sky". Now people say that art speaks for itself, but I doubt that the buildings Hitler designed (he wanted to be an architect) would be seen with good eyes today, although Churchill's paintings are probably worth a lot. The artist and the story behind a work of art weighs like an anathema or "seal of quality" on it, although, in this particular case, they do illuminate the most paradoxical (to me) aspect of this album: it seemed to speak of the Cosmos and then hailed this "diamond", the ego, the separation. It was as if someone was in a vast, beautiful, place, all around stars, animals, plants, a part of Infinity showing its allure, and then, on this verge of Infinity, praise only the particle in front of her (even if it is a diamond!!) in spite of everything else. living in a whole and creating a wall. Now Pink Floyd's music has this ambiguity, it criticizes the wall, but it praises the ego. It's like one who praises reclusion and then complains about loneliness.

Now, having seen the documentary on Roger Syd Barrett, and having no authority on the matter, I still have an opinion, which is: Pink Floyd abandoned Barrett and not the other way around. Syd abandoned his personality, his desires, he let the flow of things live in him, and that demanded a new band; he awoke, and, to participate in his new life, he needed a new awoken band. But that never happened, Syd went on, with no grudges, just being, Roger, Barrett, Syd, whatever, and they were left to wander and blame. Blame it on drugs, wander what happened, sad with disappointment, happy they at least had the band, and a motive to be inspired with! They got success, he got the sky. He dissolved. Not a useful thing to do, but, I wonder, if the Universe, as a whole, is useful at all... When they said: «whish you were here», well, he was there, they just couldn't see him or accept him in his uttermost simplicity and absurdity with which everything is, ultimately, impregnated to the very bottom.

Obviously, there was also a dark side to Syd, obvious in everything he was and did, for instance, his inability to pursue a solo career just by himself. Drugs did destroy a large part of his cognitive abilities and, probably, of his emotional stability. Perhaps even more importantly, he was afraid. Whereas the old Syd had nothing to loose and everything to learn, he couldn't be stopped, the new Syd was attached to his "spirituality". He didn't quite grasp that freedom has no form, except absence of fear and illusion. The absolute dropping of the I is not to live in a fantasy world, it is to understand that, ultimately, the only difference between fantasy and reality is scope, articulation and the beyond. When one lives in fear, even if it is of loosing spirituality, as if it could be found in a particular way of being, one looses spirituality to fear, in fact to identification. So Syd's problem was not that he was high up in the sky, that he dissolved. The problem was that he didn't dissolve enough, there was still a part of him that thought there was something to fear. He didn't expose himself, he didn't abandon the safety of his premises, he didn't question everything and build everything anew in his mind and heart. He was reborn, but hanged on to the umbilical cord and to the pictures of his past and deer present.

In a nutshell, he didn't let the joy of living, the incredible joy of being, to engulf his life in a world of permanent ecstasy and freedom beyond fear. He was scared of loosing what he obtained (through drugs and psychedelic states of mind) and, that fear would be enough to stop him from being free. In one sense his friends were right, Syd was gone, he was obsessed with his own beauty; but in the other hand they cannot escape the truth: they did abandon him. And all that crap of "whish you were here" is just a cover up. He IS here. You just can't see it...

A more profound remark is that most (if not all) of our loneliness is a kind of illusion. We are near of everything we love, ignorance is the only distance.

Syd Barrett 1966


More pictures at http://www.sydbarrett.net/welcome.htm.