Thursday, February 24, 2005

How to Dismantle Chaiastic Structure

so I was talking to my dad about the new U2 album, since I'm gonna give a bit of an introduction to the song "Vertigo" in church on Sunday. Dad recalled that Bono has remarked that the trajectory of the album is from fear to hope. We were looking at the particular tracks, and I posited that the whole album has chaiastic structure. I think the idea works, although at some points its a bit of a stretch. also, those who are literary scholars can verify this for me, but one of the functions of chaistic structure is to focus attention on the thing that's in the center (in this case "all because of you".)
Perhaps I should delineate why I think this works. Here's the track list, with obviously simplified summaries of the songs (I pasted this off a page that links to lyrics, and I left the links, in case you want to see):

Vertigo (3:13) - about the temptations of fame?
Miracle Drug (3:54) - about a friend who has an unusual story
Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own (5:05) - about Bono's father dying
Love and Peace or Else (4:48) - about social justice
City of Blinding Lights (5:46) - about being in love with New York, and interpersonal love
All Because of You (3:34) - "all because of you, I am"
A Man and A Woman (4:27) - about interpersonal love
Crumbs from Your Table (4:59) - about social justice
One Step Closer (3:47) - about Bono's father dying
Original of the Species (4:34) - about human uniqueness
Yahweh (4:22) - about giving up ones own ego to God.

I should explain what chaistic structure is. It means there is content that somehow goes together first and last. The pairing can be by similar meaning or form or word choice, usually in meaning though. and then the second and second-to-last portions also go together, and the third and third-from-last and on and on until you get to the middle thing, which is the focus.
This is pretty common in the bible. The book of Jonah, for example, or the Tower of Babel. No big surprise, then, that U2 might use it as a way to compose a united album.

so there's my latest U2-related brilliance.

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