Life Lines, Nursery Rhymes, and Lucid Usurpation … Halsey’s “Nightmare”

An American Girl dives into her memory’s museum, dreaming a scheme within a scene … gaze into the gallery, and open your lens wide; when we recognize our body as the battlefield, so too we realize the weapon of our mind …

A nation’s mythology remastered as a people’s history for record, and her story prevails because they could not wreck her …

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Our anthem opens on the bellowing chords of a requiem dirge, as tonal solemnity echoes …

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I shall die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

… and so, we bathe in baptismal blessing before the beat drops into our anatomy of bombastic awakening … embarking on this battleground body, to liberate miraculous from the indentured servitude of said battlefield curse:

I, I keep a record of the wreckage in my life

Halsey: coming of age in the Bush Era of Post-9/11 America… where within, without, above, below, beneath, and beyond each moment of triumph, trauma, trial, tribulation, and experienced existence remained the overarching mantra, the prescription to a nation on the edge — between the wake of era-defining crisis and the dawn of intersocial psychological warfare: “Never forget.” And then, the shown world collapsed into itself, reality devolved into spectacle, human lives relegated to disposable entertainment, morality plays wrapped in endless media cycles, crystal balls and cautionary tales as two sides of the same coin, intellectual property replacing independent thought and personal privacy …


To come of age in this world, to develop one’s sense of self — form, function, purpose, pursuit of happiness — in and of this manipulated society, required submission to the senseless destruction of self-worth in pursuit of a patriarch’s profit margin and political pole position… to forget nothing, except your own higher calling in the face of an ever-descending bottom line.


That very prescription is predicated upon acquired amnesia, to consume and contain the sensory barrage of hyperreality … to never forget each instance of sensory overload, is to erode into erasure any semblance of functional cognition — and that’s … kind of the point: the lobotomy by proxy, to opiate the masses into oblivion by way of hypermediated osmosis — after all, a sedated nation can’t put up a fight, and history won’t remember if the marginalized have-nots can’t record the fall.

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But what happens when the kids outlive the conquerors’ ultimatum… when damsels eschew distress in the wake of a new dawn, when they remember the wreckage, and each fingerprint on the digits of their transgressors … Each little Miss American Dream manifests said chimera into the incumbent master’s living nightmare: lucid dreaming into waking life, curtains up: here, Halsey pivots the limelight.

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I gotta recognize the weapon in my mind …

Each lyric lives as a scene in modern mythology, a page from the script of America the drifted. Effectually, this self-described, socially-appointed nightmare is the surgically-precise undoing of an Establishment’s false flag, from the enacted perspective of an Anti-Pop princess … a guerrilla kid serving obiter dicta from within industry chambers: literacy locked and loaded, let’s read.


Corporate media, America’s very own myth-maker within a makeshift monarchy, drops their mic into the hands of a leather-bound living citizen journal; as Hebdige’s subculture returns in style, recoding meaning in glitter-bombed graffiti-licked guise …

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I’ve tasted blood and it is sweet / I’ve had the rug pulled beneath my feet

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That red carpet massacre … black tears, white tissues, and hard-pressed red dead eviction from celebratory grace should you exercise agency outside the given agenda … such is the manufactured reality of modern celebrity, and central to said schema is the defining duality: between private investment and public service. This crux resides at that amplified axis of publicity, contingent upon the enacted crucible of fame itself. That razor-thin line between puppetry and agency is so very tense and palpable, and so is its eternal narrative-driving inquiry: how will these vessels of commercial artistry maneuver between their dual-residency, between the sweets and the streets: on one hand, as corporate sales representatives — brand ambassadors of global industry — and on the other, as cultural icons — de facto elected officials of the audience constituency … will they give in, or show out:


That public figuration, voice amplification and undivided attention, wields power — cultural capital, socio-political primacy, beyond conventional currency — and should you step out of line, should you drop the curtain on the wizard, should you flip the written script for the sake of forward paid agency to your audience constituency … should you speak truth to power at the expense of your own public image: that soapbox will become a sarcophagus, those field reporters will transform into a firing squad, and that carpet will bleed red with the martyred corpse of your past celebrity … that rug, though, when they pull that piece, pilot the phoenix #bitedownandtakethecrown

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A signed music artist is an independent contractor by law, and hired help by practice of high society … your paycheck isn’t your purpose. If you’re an artist worth your weight in canvas, you work your way to cultural saturation, and then you reveal in order to release — you serve your fellow public servant, and flip the incumbent hierarchy. Usurp the C-Suite: make yourself indispensable to a transactional industry of human currency, in order to become the means of production, and reclaim your time when you reclaim said self… and when you bite the producer’s hand that once did feed, how sweet the taste of sangre on the palate, the aroma of breaking free, in a standing reminder to the supervisor that registers oh so civilly:


* * *

… and now, for some just funnin’ with the fundamentals: riffs on linguistic rhythms and footnotes on lyrical free verse

Continue Reading …

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