‘Stranger Things Graffiti’ – Paul Sableman (Jher Seno & the Arty Deeds) – Wikimedia
“A myth is a mask of God, a metaphor
for what lies behind the visible world.”
~ Joseph Campbell (‘The Power of Myth’)
There is an astounding profundity in popular culture. It is just for us to see when it pops up, when it arises above the sea of confusion that our life is for the most part. What is designed to be just light entertainment, what appears to have no depth or consistence other than being an easy escape out of ourself, can hide the brightest of gems if we can elevate ourself to its hidden meaning. I stumbled across one such meaningful gem recently.
‘Running Up That Hill’ is a song created by pop singer Kate Bush in the eighties. It recently got a second life and triumph by appearing in one scene of the famous sci-fi thriller series ‘Stranger Things’. In this particular show, there is a hideous monster that roams in an imaginary city, and feeds on the minds of teens deeply affected and traumatised by their past, luring them into its parallel and ultimately illusory reality. In that particular scene, the girl is trapped in some dark chamber of her mind. The ugly beast keeps her prisoner there — a cave like place where she is about to be engulfed in the monster’s hideous mind. She manages to escape the grip and run towards an opening in the distance where is her true self and salvation. Pieces of rocks are falling all around her to stop her course, but she keeps running one-pointedly ahead while hearing Kate Bush’s song ‘Running Up That Hill’. The reason for her escape is to be found with her friends playing this song she deeply loves, and creating in her that powerful call and incentive.
Why does a particular blend of a scene and a song suddenly hit a target, move people beyond what could be possibly expected? Just one glance in the comments of that particular scene on YouTube makes it clear: “Best scene of the series”, “This scene made me want to live”, “Cathartic”, “A metaphor for what’s battling your mind”. Why does anything hit us and move us to feel in ourself a feeling of being alive? Tears may come, a feeling of thankfulness, maybe even some sense of profound happiness. What is tilting in our minds in these ineffable moments is the recalling of our life’s most essential meaning and purpose, and the remembering of a place in ourself that we have neglected. This place is the forgotten but obvious target for all our thirsty mind-arrows. It is the open space of our deepest being that we keep missing at every moment of our lives, precisely because of its total intimacy and openness. How do we manage to miss it? Because we focus on the periphery of objective experience. We are enclosed in a dark chamber of our own making that lures us into itself, and makes us fragile, hopeful dreamers with fearful minds, forever caught in the prospect of impending death.