We know a place where no planes go
We know a place where no ships go
(Hey!) No cars go
(Hey!) No cars go
At this point I’m sitting here listening to it, trying to maintain some sort of critical distance from the track so I can get around to making my point, but I simply can’t hold back. The feeling this song gives me is one of the most breathtaking (and I use that word seriously) and exhilarating a song has ever give me. I get swept up in its urgency every time I hear it, and I’m floating. It’s so powerful. And I think that’s the whole point of the song, for with No Cars Go, the Arcade Fire are offering us a release, a way of leaving behind the nightmare that tracks one through nine waded through.
They are taking us to where “no cars go” - what could be more of a paradise, what could be further from modern worries?
But think about it; this song is less a solution than an escape - because there really isn’t a place where no cars, ships, planes, or submarines go - these machines colonise the earth, air and water. On Tiny Cities Made of Ashes, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse screams “does anybody know a way that a body could get away?" - in a time of pervasive global surveilliance, where are the pure, unbroken spaces? "If you’re looking for an unmarked place, there is no such place" Augie March might reply.
So where does No Cars Go take us? Well there is one place that remains sacrosanct, and that place belongs much more to the temporal ambient of Funeral than Neon Bible - that place is childhood, dreams, memory. Or as Win and Reginne sing towards the climax, “between the click of the light and the start of the dream" is the only place where no cars go.
It’s no coincidence that it is “us kids know" - that the protagonists showing the way out are children. Another layer of significance seems to develop too when you find out that this song was originally recorded for their debut EP, before the dark days of Neon Bible, before even the realisation of adulthood that can be found at the end of Funeral.
“Now that Zimmerman has a legitimate reason to fear for his life, the threshold for what constitutes a personal threat has got to feel awfully low. What about an unarmed person wearing a t-shirt with George Zimmerman’s face in crosshairs who sees him on the street and swears at him? Could Zimmerman shoot him? Trayvon Martin was unarmed and was wearing a plain sweatshirt. What about a group of protesters shouting hostile messages about him as Zimmerman happens to walk by? Based on the jury’s handling of the Trayvon Martin case, it seems Florida law would allow Zimmerman to pull out his gun and, if he continued to feel threatened by these people for whatever reason, shoot them all in good standing under the law.”—Zimmerman, now fearing for his life, could legally just start shooting everyone (via azspot)
“The problem in American public education is largely one of poverty. The data show it. Indeed, PISA scores (the scores usually cited by public education critics) are quite sensitive to income level. If one disaggregates U.S. scores the problem becomes clearer: the more poverty a school has, the lower its scores. The presumed do-gooders seem to think that more “competition” and ambitiousness will cause the schools to fix the effects of poverty. Those effects are pernicious.”—More on the Purpose of Education in a Democracy (via azspot)
I want to suggest that while the presenting issue is gay marriage, this is really about competition and conflict between people who, for all intents and purposes, have 99 percent of things in common. It is what Freud so perfectly expressed as the “narcissism of small differences.” But it really goes beyond that. The same problem existed between Jesus and the Pharisees. They too were very similar. The Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus, to get him to fess up that his ability with the law was weak at best, and the Pharisees, being the keepers of righteousness, were duty bound to protect every jot and tittle. And so we see Wilson going at Bell with everything he has, “Is it sin?” “Are you saying the church for 2,000 years has got it wrong?” Bell refuses to bite, more on this later.
Up pops Rene Girard, the scholar on violence and the sacred (check out Girard’s lectures on scapegoating here). Girard argues that social conflict (or mimetic crisis) is solved, ordinarily, through sacrifice, the death of a victim. Humans have used religion as the way to justify this killing, by sacralizing the violence and then, after the sacrifice, divinizing the victim. It works, for a while, then you need a new one and the process continues. They did this to Jesus, but he was innocent and, as Girard argues, Jesus reveals the whole system as a bankrupt and tragic way to live. Jesus argues that we should solve our conflicts nonviolently and be reconciled to one another. Clearly, humans, including Christians have not figured this out.
I would argue, in a polite and righteous way, Wilson was sacrificing, using Girardian terms–scapegoating Bell to resolve what has become a social crisis for the evangelical community. We can’t have a gay marriage lover in the family, Bell fails in his biblical exegesis; he needs to be expunged.
Bell, with a phlegmatic demeanor, neither takes Wilson’s bait, nor accepts his expulsion. He turns to Wilson and says, “Andrew’s my brother, if we got out the bread and wine, we’d both take it…. Is there something that trumps the differences we have? I think that’s the question.” Bell brilliantly shifts the conversation back to whole point of the Christian message, “Be reconciled to one another.”
“We are the generation of nostalgia. We grew up in the age of transition. From hand-written letters to electronic mails. From film to digital. We were fascinated by new things, neglecting the way we spend our afternoons. Cupcakes and tea. Play-Doh and Polly Pockets. Young and naive. Technology completely changed the way we waited and we grew up too fast. The simple things in life seems more meaningful now. We grew up in the age of transition and have become the generation of nostalgia.”—