Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!
In today’s session, we gathered from across the globe to view Lady Gaga’s short film “911.” After spending about 5 minutes viewing the music video together, we took a few moments to silently review the song’s lyrics and collect our thoughts. THen, we began our close reading discussion with the question, “What is our entry point? How do we find our way in?”
One participant started our discussion by noting how the vivid scenes and colors of the video created a chaos that reflects the traffic accident revealed at the end of the video. We discussed the setting, colors, and costumes that created what some described as a dream, others a nightmare. As we looked closely at the lyrics, we found that perhaps another description of the experience would be one of hallucination or the visual experience of a psychotic breakdown, echoed in the lyrics “my mind takes me to manic places.” Moreover, we reflected on the lyrics continual reference to medication as an escape from the troubles of reality.
We we also struck by the symbolism of the images and objects in the dream state portion of the video, and how they represented parallel images and objects in the scene of the accident: the sand dunes of the LG advertisement create the desert scene of the dream, complete with a dark horseman; the EMS first responders use reflective mirrors in place of pen lights; Lady Gaga’s ankle bracelet serves as her tourniquet.
The piece was moving at both a visual and auditory level, and was a representation of Mental Health, its impact, and the non-linearity of experience, memory and trauma. The imprint of trauma on the brain and its impact to response and behavior. A great way to understand illness in context.
After a lively discussion, we moved on to our writing prompt: “Draw or describe (or sing!) the beautiful places you keep yourself.” After writing for 4 minutes, we began to share our reflections. One participant offered us a natural garden scene where she could “befriend butterflies” and “eat fragrance.” She held onto the blades, even as “the black suit of emotions” poured like a crushing waterfall. Another participant described a summer hike, a path where a tree “canopy shields me from the world.” She reflected on the energy in the air and the beauty of the flowers. Here, she wrote, is “a place I return to often. A place of respite. A place to rededicate myself to living.” Finally, another participant invited, “come walk with me on the beach.” We reflected on sharing a special place with others, and how we can leave ourselves there. “Pieces of us are still scattered on the shore, among the shells and the starfish.” In these beautiful places, we all found respite.
Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.
Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!