sunlight

WHINGE

SOURCES OF ANNOYANCE AT MUSIC FESTIVALS

Rain. You get wet.

Sunshine. You get burned.

People who sing along to classic songs, out of tune.

People who won’t sing along when the band asks them to.

Picking the wrong stage and missing a great act on the other stage.

Picking the right stage, discovering a great act and wondering why it took you so long.

Hats.

Queues.

Middle-aged people dancing and looking stupid.

Young people dancing and looking stupidly gorgeous.

Having a kid with you who whinges and always wants to leave.

Not bringing your kid, and wishing you had so they could hear this great music.

Having to buy the overpriced and not great stall food.

Bringing a picnic and realising it would have been much easier to just buy food.

Bands not finishing on time, preventing you from catching the start of the next act.

Bands that have to stop on time, even though they are ON FIRE.

People taking photos, making calls and tweeting during shows.

Your phone battery dying so you can’t tweet/contact your friends.

People who stand in front of you.

People behind you who ask you to sit down.

Drunk people.

Alcohol-free areas.

Mud.

Dust.

The carpark.

And the toilets. Every single thing about the toilets.

JENNY SINCLAIR, MELBOURNE

Urinoir en ardoise à 3 stalles, Chaussée du Maine No. 29, Charles Marville, c. 1865. Albumen silver print. Source: State Library of Victoria (H2011.126/29). Really very nice, if a bit public, when compared to music festival portaloos.

Urinoir en ardoise à 3 stalles, Chaussée du Maine No. 29, Charles Marville, c. 1865. Albumen silver print. Source: State Library of Victoria (H2011.126/29). Really very nice, if a bit public, when compared to music festival portaloos.

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PEDANTRY

FASCIST SUN-CULTISTS ARE HARSHING MY MELLOW

Sunshine on a rainy day/makes my soul trip, trip, trip, trip away 

The lyrics I’ve quoted above form the chorus to Sunshine on A Rainy Day, a song popularised in Australia by singer Christine Anu just over a decade ago. In the chorus, an ecstatically arranged melody meets with the central metaphorical image that returns throughout, comparing the addressee, perhaps the narrator’s lover or even a spiritual being, to light itself. The moment is joyous, uplifting and, were it not for the hint of eastern transcendentalism and the possible drug reference of the ‘trip’, might even be read as a little bit Christian happy-clappy.

It should come as no surprise to hear sunlight being used so positively in a metaphor. The sun is good. Aside from its indispensability to the photosynthetic processes that underpin the planet’s biosphere, it is also a deep cultural signifier: Ancient Egypt’s Ra, Pagan solstice rituals, the Abrahamic tradition that begins with the creator’s fiat lux, and in a deft bit of PR work, its appropriation by the Enlightenment. The idea sits familiarly in popular culture, particularly in song: Keep on the Sunny SideYou are my SunshineSunshine of your Love. And yes, Spiderbait’s Janet English, sunshine on my window makes me happy too. Psychological research has consistently shown that sunny days are indeed more likely to induce feelings of wellbeing.

Yet the metaphor, as it is used in the Anu song—the precipitous day that gives way to culturally loaded ‘sunshine’ to produce a transcendent, happy feeling—is not just a little deceptive.

Rather than spiritual ecstasy, the interruption could produce any number of psycho-sensory responses.

The sunshine in the song appears as an interruption to what we have been encouraged to imagine as a persistent state of dim, wet weather that encourages commitment to a particular set of activities, a certain state of mind. Indoorsy, dressed for some protection from the elements. A raincoat, an umbrella. Introspection. A nine-year old in my household described her feelings about sunshine on a rainy days as “weird, because there’s not supposed to be sun”.

So the emotion intended to be produced by the lyric, by way of the objective correlative image of the interruptive sunshine, has little phenomenological validity. Rather than encouraging the speaker’s soul to ‘trip away’ pleasurably, it hooks it into an impasse, unable to decide either for hedonistic sunlight, or hibernative rain. In extremis the appearance of light in the relative darkness produces a retinal response that, even for the non-photosensitive, can be painful.

The actual overall effect of the scenario described in the song then is one of cognitive dissonance, both physical and practical, that would dissuade spiritual transcendence. The song unreasonably perpetuates the cultural hegemony of the sun-cult with an unsupportable poetic image, and I’m calling it for what it is.

DAVID SORNIG, MELBOURNE

Cloud studies, William Henry Thacker, 1905. Gelatin silver print. Source: The State Library of Victoria, Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (H96.160/1294). Note absence of rain, despite presence of sun and clouds.

Cloud studies, William Henry Thacker, 1905. Gelatin silver print. Source: The State Library of Victoria, Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection (H96.160/1294). Note absence of rain, despite presence of sun and clouds.

You’re bound to hit a signal blackspot soon—why not buy an old issue of CRANK as an epub? Then in can be yours to enjoy in perpetuity! (As long as your battery holds out). Just $1.99—head over to the pinknantucket press shop now!