An Amplification of Radiohead’s Daydreaming Myth / by Sam Abelow

"Half of My Life, Half of My Love" | Original painting, inspired by Radiohead's Daydream

Gouache paint and charcoal, on paper | Fans, inquire roskogreen@gmail.com to obtain this painting!


I’d like to draw your attention to this video-essay, interpreting the immense depth behind Radiohead’s new master work.

The music video for “Daydreaming,” is directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. It seems that even if half of what this video-essay assails is true, then these artists have distilled layers of meticulous and gorgeous clues throughout the work.

The Importance of This Work

The reason why I chose to put this on my blog is because I find it an inspiring, rectifying counter-balance to the simplistic, superficial, vacuous and meaningless cultural products that are being pushed today.

I don’t believe that all diversions, with an aesthetic medium, must have an existential or erudite flavor. But, a society’s artistic outputs that are increasingly more hedonistic and self-centered is indicative of the apathy and repressed malaise of the masses.

“Daydreaming,” and Radiohead’s new album “A Moon Shaped Pool,” is a masterwork which compels the listening to relax, to meditate and open up their awareness to something more subtle. Lead singer, Thom Yorke, opens up his inner world, the images and emotions beneath the surface of any persona, to his audiences; this raw introspection is what more individual must pursue, as the antidote to a cultural fixated on the external.

The Inner Bedrock

At the core of each person is a transcendent source of wisdom; I do not say this in any sort of shallow trope, passed onto me by a New Zealander with dreadlocks and an organic vegetable garden.

I found a comment in the video-essay poignant:

In the writings of a hermit we always hear something of the echo of desolation, something of the whispers and the timid gazing around of isolation; from his strongest words, even from his screaming, still resounds a new and dangerous kind of silence, of concealment. Whoever has sat down, year in and year out, day and night, alone in an intimate dispute and conversation with his soul, whoever has become a cave bear, or digger for treasure, or guardian of treasure, and dragon in his own cavern - it can be a labyrinth but also a gold mine - such a man's very ideas finally take on a distinct twilight coloring and smell as much of mold as they do of profundity, something incommunicable and reluctant, which blows cold wind over everyone passing by.

The hermit does not believe that a philosopher - assuming that a philosopher has always first been a hermit - has ever expressed his real and final opinion in his books. Don't people write books expressly to hide what they have stored inside them? - In fact, he will have doubts whether a philosopher could generally have "real and final" opinions, whether in his case behind every cave there does not still lie, and must lie, an even deeper cavern - a more comprehensive, stranger, richer world beyond the surface, an abyss behind every reason, under every "foundation." Every philosophy is a foreground-philosophy - that is the judgment of a hermit: "There is something arbitrary about the fact that he remained here, looked back, looked around, that at this point he set his shovel aside and did not dig more deeply - there is also something suspicious about it." Every philosophy also hides a philosophy; every opinion is also a hiding place, every word is also a mask.
Friedrich Nietzsche, 'Beyond Good and Evil' (188*6*), aphorism #28*9*.

A Bit of Further Interoperation

Here I will only amplify what the video-essay has put forth. Let me draw your attention to the ending, where the “Daydreaming” sequence is put in reverse: Yorke exists the cave-womb, descends elevators, goes back through doors, away from the exists, and finally returns to the light, joining the 9 studio albums — his life work.

In the works of Erik Neumann, The Great Mother and The History and Origins of Consciousness, caves and mountains are shown to be related to the archetype of the Mother. Primitive peoples, religious and mythological materials, associated the cave and mountains with Her domain; it is from Her womb that we are each born into life.

So the video-essay is coherent in speaking of a descent — although it is not into a “death, at the end of the tunnel” — but into life, into existence. Yorke is being incarnated into this world. And being a person, means being separate, it means facing hardship and struggle, as much as joy and serenity.

As we know Yorke is dealing with the de-facto divorce of his wife. The video-essay puts forth that she was only “half of [his] love,” as if to intimate that the band, his devotion to art, was the wedge.

It seems that Yorke has chosen his art, or at least is inspired to continue his work, despite losing the other half of his love in the process. He shares this with us. And this honesty helps to prompt further questions:

What is most valuable in my life? What would I sacrifice for my most highly valued passion or relationship?

What does it mean to love? What is the purpose of art? What is the purpose of my life?

In the face of hardships both globally, nationally, socially and personally, how can we reconcile our roles? How can we find a sense of meaning and purpose in this life?

These lectures by Toronto University psychology professor Jordan Peterson are extremely relevant.