BOC: Imaginos, part 10 - Astronomy

Johnny Firic johnnybravo5858 at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 16 15:17:32 EDT 2000


The "four winds" have been bugging me ever since I first heard this song, on
"Live 1976". It is a metaphor taken directly from the Apocalypse, where it's
said somewhere (I don't have the text handy) that angels stood on the four
corners of the Earth and held back the Four (Earthly) Winds . . . and there
was a big party down on Earth. Therefore: "Reason tends to fly away / like
lesser birds on the Four Winds" means that Imaginos is losing his initial
goals (or even orders) to distractions in view of 'petty', private ends. I
am not certain about the exact meaning of this. It is a possibility that
it's used in the story as a "human factor" cliché - basically, he *almost*
fails in his big task because he stops along the way to run some private
errands. If so, it would be an untypical shortcoming of the story. It does
occur later in "Astronomy", as well as in later songs (just keep
reading...), so it probably does have some significance. As I said, the
"Astronomy" Susie is "experimental". This is what's meant by "And you'll
want to know where winds come from". The 'winds' are again a metaphor, here
used in a wider sense, of everything unconventional and basically unknown.
This is elaborated a little bit in the lines "... it's never said at all /
on the map that Carrie reads" - what's not on the map is 'uncharted', beyond
laws, customs, the known (mundane) world. A beach is also mentioned ("...
just out there upon THE BEACH"), which is a clue that this is happening in
Cornwall, a peninsula in the southwest of Great Britain. An additional clue
for this is the line now the sands become a crust".

As for "behind the clock", there is here something that I'm not sure about.

The clock itself is mentioned 3 times in "Astronomy", once in the line
"behind the clock". In "The One", there is a line "behind that clock", with
further mention of the clock's belfry.

The kind of clock that has a pendulum (a "belfry") is called (pause for
effect...) a GRANDFATHER clock. This is the unclear point. Which Susie are
we talking about, then: the original one, or his granddaughter? If it's the
first one, than the whole story of the clock serves as an additional link to
the later one, and "Magna". Again, they CAN NOT be one and the same, because
she (the single Susie) would have to travel through time as well. Or is
there a way around this time-travel obstacle - i.e. am I wrong somewhere? I
don't think so. I don't know.

As for the clock, it is a stereotype ingredient of a Gothic mansion, such as
the one shown on the album cover (disregarding the San Francisco hotel
thing), beside the ghost of poltergeist. It is easy to imagine that, much
like the rest of the mansion's ancient furniture, the clock is never moved
from the place it stands. Like a stone that can never be lifted, it cloaks
_behind it_ (remember?) untold mysteries - or so it would seem to Susie,
aged (I would say) between 7 and 15. The area behind the clock thus becomes
for her a metaphor of everything hidden, unknown, and unconventional: the
"secret doctrine". The same situation is with the local bar (pub, whatever),
which we must presume existed. In a rural, religious setting of a 19th
century Cornwall village, namely (not yet "lost") Christabel, the bar would
be subject to regular and extensive flames from the local preacher or priest
and similar authorities, possibly those within the family. Again, it is easy
to imagine that it would be to Susie a place equally appealing and
unreachable: all this contributes to the word "bar" becoming a symbol
(again, within Susie's mind) similar to the area "behind the clock".

"Four doors at the Four Winds Bar / two doors locked and windows barred /
one door's let to take you in / the other one just mirrors it":  she grows
up. She discovers the secrets both in the world around and inside her. The
single most important discovery (described here) is that it is a one-way
process. Once you discover something, it stops being a secret. The "nexus of
the crisis" may also come from the Bible, I don't know. Anyway, in comes
"he", like a savior, showing himself as he really is, which surprises Susie
(and Carrie, whoever she is; the surprise is shown in the lines "These
gravely digs of mine / will surely prove a sight"). He has the power to
predict events and so he makes the perfectly timed appearance to witness the
dramatic change that takes place inside Susie. This can also be interpreted
to mean that he was 'there for' Susie while she was experiencing all this
over a longer period of time, but such an interpretation sounds unlikely in
view of the Four Winds Bar verse.

However, he's in over his head. There is also a discovery of his own in it,
the discovery (inference) that he is "descended from the stars". This is
such an overwhelming notion for him that the next song ("In the
presence...") is completely about it, and its implications.
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