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Episode 18 Dying for Love

October 3, 2011

Words and Music–Richard Allen
Produced by David Barratt at the Abattoir of Good Taste

Vocal and Guitar–William Thaumatrope
Ukulele and everything else–David Barratt.

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Self-deception is rife in human relationships and is one way of understanding the illusions that can inform them. Our capacity for self-deception is intimately entwined with amour-propre. Amour-propre is often translated by self-esteem, but the English term self-esteem does not quite capture it’s meaning, which is closer to self-love. However that term, in our post-Freudian world, is often a translation of narcissism, which is a kind of pathology of the ego. Amour-propre, by contrast, has a certain everyday prosaic quality.

When someone is captivated by another who does not act in their best interests, it may be due to an underlying lack of self-esteem. However, misplaced love is supported by amour-propre, for it tells such a person that it is she and only she who knows what is right for her and, furthermore, since it is she who made the choice it must be the right one. Amour-propre thus provides massive support for self-deception. Her majesty the ego insists on its rightness in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

The social setting plays an important role. Negative opinion will only fortify the ego in its self-deception. For self-love involves saving face. Criticism will only lead the subject to greater lengths of self-justification. In any case, as the fortress grows, friends will be less and less likely to voice criticism lest they puncture the web of self-illusion and hurt the other’s self-esteem. No-one wants to call into question another’s most cherished beliefs about themselves. Perhaps that is the role of a true friend, but true friends always step back from second-guessing the choice of love object.

This song is about a woman and women are most often cast as prone to self-deception in relationships. There is a wonderful story by Francis Iles, called Suspicion, where the heroine ends up literally dying for love. She willingly drinks poison rather than confront the thought that she, deep down, knows to be true; namely, that her husband is trying to kill her. Hitchcock, of course, made a famous film out of the book with Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant, but left the conclusion ambiguous. Could it be that Fontaine’s doubts about her husband stem from her low self-esteem and that he really intends her no harm?


She thought it was real, she thought it was true
That she would be free if she only had you
If she had been smart if she had been wise
She would have known the look in your eyes

Open your mind
Open your mind

But she was too blind, she couldn’t see
She wanted so much this idea to be
So she wore a mask, she used all her guile
She couldn’t be hurt ‘cause she wore a smile

Open your mind
Open your mind
Leave love behind
Open your mind

She swallowed her pride, she was discreet
She had to be perfect, she was perfectly neat
Until one fine day, she realized
Nothing was left beneath her disguise

Open your mind…
Suffocating she needs some air
Open your mind….
She cannot see it’s so dark in there
Leave love behind….
The room is locked. The key’s on the floor
Open your mind….
Is everything perfect? Why not go through the door?


From → Thaumatropemusic

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