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Nothingness, Clarity and Nude Suits

December 8th, 2007

Canada has produced a string of outstanding female singers that include Joni Mitchell, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Sarah McLachlan, K.D.Lang, Loreena McKennit and Alanis Morisette, who endeared herself to me when I heard how she appeared for hosting the Juno Awards in Canada wearing a nude suit. I was trying to find an image for my book to go with Annie Liebowicz’s magnificent photo of Demi Moore naked but painted so well in body paint that she appears to be wearing a suit, when I came across the photo of Alanis Morisette.

Although her stunt was humorous, there was a serious intent behind it. From the BBC:

“Morissette, who was hosting the Juno Awards in Edmonton on Sunday, wore the cartoon-style bodysuit in protest at TV and radio censorship in the US. “We can’t show nipples on national TV,” she said in relation to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl incident. “I am proud to be able to stand here and do this,” she told the audience. “We live in a land where we still think the human body is beautiful and we’re not afraid of the female breast,” the singer said, after stepping out of a dressing gown to reveal her “nudity”. Morissette then criticised a radio station in the US for forcing her to change strong language in one of her recent songs. “They’re in an era when they’re scared, when there’s lots of fear,” she said.”

As I researched this minor event I found I had stumbled into an interesting little meme that connects Indian philosophy, the psychological and spiritual value of addressing and honouring our brokenness, French and Saunders and invisible carrots.

Rather than tie all these themes together I’ll just present them as two quotes from Google and Alanis’ lyrics from her song ‘Thank U’.

I particularly like her references to nothingness and clarity and consequence too. I’m not sure about the invisible carrots, but maybe someone can explain? Something to do with the baseless incentives of the consumer society?

“Thank U”

how bout getting off these antibiotics
how bout stopping eating when I’m full up
how bout them transparent dangling carrots
how bout that ever elusive kudo

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence

the moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
the moment I jumped off of it
was the moment I touched down

how bout no longer being masochistic
how bout remembering your divinity
how bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
how bout not equating death with stopping

thank you india
thank you providence
thank you disillusionment
thank you nothingness
thank you clarity
thank you thank you silence

Google says:

‘Morissette wrote “Thank U” after returning from a trip to India in 1997. The song expresses the heartfelt gratitude which she felt at the time.[1] The lyrics, such as “thank you terror” and “thank you frailty”, lend the song a mingled sense of cynicism, hope, and worldliness.

“Thank U” is a pop rock song composed in the key of C major. It is written in common time and moves at a moderate tempo of 80 beats per minute. The song uses a simple chord progression alternating between a tonic C major chord and dominant G major chord.[2]

The excitement generated sent the single to number two on the U.S. charts.

‘The music video featured a nude Morissette, with long hair shrouding her breasts, walking and being embraced by strangers in a variety of public locations, such as in the street, at a supermarket, and on a subway car. The video for “Thank U” was not well-received. Jennifer Saunders parodied Morissette and “Thank U” with a song called “Bless U”, a tribute to thesaurus, dictionaries, spell check and other word referencing methods. The clip showed Saunders as a singer called Aimless Morris Minor, dressed in a flesh-coloured body-suit to make it appear as if she were naked. At the end of the sketch Saunders’s comedic partner Dawn French stuck the pubic hair of the suit onto Saunders’s face.’ Google

This last reference refers to the moment when the singer was told they could not film nipples on Canadian television. Her response was to simply peel them off the body suit and throw them aside. She was then told pubic hair could also not be filmed. She peeled that off too.

The Google entry author thinks the song shows cynicism and worldliness – I think it reveals quite the opposite.

In Ken Wilbur’s interview with her, he starts to explore the depth of her work.

I-tunes offers a nice version of the song done by Alanis specially for them, with acoustic guitar. Here is the normal version:

6 Responses to “Nothingness, Clarity and Nude Suits”

  1. I love this song and all of Alanis’s work since her second album (I liked her first album too)
    I interpret ‘transparent dangling carrots’ to mean the temptations she faces from day to day that aren’t real; a product of her ego. Does she see herself as a donkey at this point in the song? Quite possibly,
    here is the video in all its naked glory:

    inspirational, and a great song too.

  2. Thank you Tawny Hare I hadn’t seen that. I find it rather touching. She is radiating love in an urban environment and every so often someone is moved by it in the film. At the risk of boring everyone with this thread I’ll paste it in a new post soon!!

    PS I think you’re right about the carrots!

  3. Hi, Phillip, i saw you had Alanis tagged on the right hand column, so curiosity led me here, and i’m glad it did! Wow! What an amazing song! I loved the video, too – well, at least the one i found on Youtube, since the one you have embedded and the one posted by a previous commenter say the content has been removed. I wonder what’s up with that? :/

    So to me, the song just shows this amazing lovingness toward life and people, and a kind of dawning awareness of presence in life, in a most moving way. I liked how she exemplified such vulnerability, yet with a simple dignity in her bearing – the dignity of a person who is comfortable in their own skin. (I actually also just stumbled across a pic of her in a bikini with her little boy at a beach, and I thought “good for you”, for her baring her not perfect post-baby body, with the same dignity she shows here. She’s awesome!)
    All of this also made me think of a TED talk interview i just saw which a friend of mine posted, which concerns vulnerability. This is great synchronicity for me, to see that video yesterday, and then stumble on this today!
    Anyway, heres the vid:

  4. Thanks Rylin – yes her openness is really admirable isn’t it? And thank you for the TED talk – important and really speaks to me. Solstice Blessings! Philip

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