Artificial Life

All the boys are wearing their utility drag
The girls slip identikits from their utility bags

Some refugees from suburbia are laughing
Examining each other’s gags
Vibrate on sulphate when it gets late
And their velocity begins to sag

And it goes on all night, all night
And it goes on and on, the artificial life

Mary, Mary, got so confused
About the fusion game, what a game
Blunt on booze, she talks like a newsreel
She’ll take up any kind of bleak exchange
She turned to perfection once
But realized she’d only turned to pain
She ran through divine light, chemicals
Warhol, Scientology, her own sex
Before she turned away

And it goes on all night, all night
And it goes on and on, the artificial life

I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger

(Stranger still)

I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger
I’ve learned to be a stranger

I should have left here years ago
But my imagination won’t tell me how
This whirlpool’s got such seductive furniture
It’s so pleasant getting drowned
So we drink and sink and talk and stalk
With interchangeable enemies and friends
Trying on each other’s skins
While we’re dying to be born again

And it goes on all night, all night
And it goes on and on, the artificial life

Lyrics © John Foxx.

Thoughts on the text © Martin Smith and translated from birdsong.
Link to the post by all means, but please don’t reproduce the content without permission.

We are in some kind of club or bar… there’a band on… a tall figure in a dark shirt is standing just outside the reach, on a kind of shoreline of his own making. He is (at least) mostly humanoid, physically very convincing, but there’s something about him. Perhaps he is lost, or lonely? He exhales an air that many perceive as disdainful arrogance, but could just as easily be confused, shy and awkward. Watching the tide of people moving past him, taking notes in a small, battered notebook:

“No one here is quite what they seem. It seems to be a place at which they gather to be someone else, to stand apart from the actuality of their existence. As they descend the staircase and prepare to disappear into a sea of similar beings, each is given a mask at the door. These masks are curiously identical, like the plastic face of a mannequin…

“To my right, at the end of this long, dark room, there is a bar, and in the corners, partly in shadow are the friends that I left in the hallway. Wide boys, dealing. Chemicals, sulphates and small tablets. Everyone is getting faster, louder, more courageous. Associations are bing made and quickly broken. Fragile, splintered.

“And it goes on all night…”

To those that glance carelessly at him, sharing quizzical glances with those around them, the man could almost be from another planet. For some moments he appears to flicker, to fade slightly, as if he is trying to maintain a presence in multiple time frames. It is almost as if he is here against his will, on some kind of mission for a third party. Reporting. 

“I’ve seen him out with that Mary-Lou y’know? Don’t know what he sees in her. Common girl.”

She drinks too much and he can’t handle it. Can you imagine them, having sex??
Don’t look very happy, does he. Perhaps he can’t handle that either!”

“When they get drunk, they talk a lot more, but it’s all mostly nonsense. Empty promises and empty threats. Everything that lacks any substance takes on an exaggerated importance. There become several different realities in each person simultaneously, and many of them no longer seem to be able to tell one from another or which they prefer.”

Blunt on booze, her senses dulled, she’ll go with anyone. Talk, she can. At length, but with monotonous intonation and incessant repetition. All drama and no substance. Most of them are, in fact. Their craft powered by alcohol, sex and ambiguity – and yet they travel nowhere. Intoxicated. Asphyxiated. 

“I am so like them. Stranded and ultimately alone.”

“I long to be more like them. Trying things. ALL THE COOL THINGS. Seeking something that fulfils the mind and gives live intention and purpose.”

But which is real?
Are we more real and honest now, in this intoxicated state, talking as we do about these ‘other things’? But no-one listens, and our conversations lack any kind of substance. We constantly try, explore, experiment and seek. We seldom find.
It’s like some kind of rehearsed melodrama. A strategy of coping. Do not connect, do not engage.

“My family may be light years away, and theirs may be just outside this room. But we so alike. I find myself among them, yet without”

But it remains critically important that nothing is ever, quite, perfect.




2 thoughts on “Artificial Life

  1. Pingback: Frozen Ones | Translated from Birdsong

  2. Pingback: Someone Else’s Clothes | Translated from Birdsong

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