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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Soundtrack to "The Temple"


One could easily argue against my interpretation, given how adroitly Joyce Carol Oates has entrusted the audience to reach their own conclusions. As for me, I inferred from "The Temple" that - the protagonist in the story murdered her baby and buried him (or her) in her own garden, and is now haunted and remorseful. 

Although very contestable and vaguely suggested, my interpretation of the short story was based on numerous ambiguous events. I found it odd that only she could hear the scratching and that she was aware of what she was digging up, as while digging she eerily whispers, "I'm here now". [Temple] Secondly, the way she reverently arranges the 'child-size' skull and bones 'into the shape of a human being' and basically adorns her bedroom akin to a 'sacred temple' suggested to me that the bones were the remains of her offspring. [Temple]

This interpretation inspired me to come up with the following songs to comprise the soundtrack to the "The Temple"

1. As a tribute (or more aptly a ballad) to the protagonist's story, I chose Fleetwood Mac's Landslide. 

Being an optimist, I like to assure myself that the woman in "The Temple" also went through similar emotions like Stevie Nicks. She may have lost her compassion after a betrayal that led her to see herself as alone, unloved and under-appreciated. Hence, in frustration, she decided to end the symbol of her love, her baby, that she had spent her life building (climbing the mountain), and symbolically bury it along with her sorrows (I take my love, and I take it down).

Although this may seem like unsupported speculation, I think it is justified judging on how it appears that the woman is living alone with a murky past and 
since there is no preluding history attributed to the woman.

2. The second song, I chose is "Bheegi Bheegi" from the movie "Gangster". The song is in Hindi but the I feel like the haunting melody and lyrics would blend perfectly with the atmosphere that the story begins in. The song laments about an unfinished ending to a rainy night and the unfairness of life.

(An unfinished story/Storms when awake, storms when asleep)

I believe these thoughts would be grating against the woman's mind too when she hears 'the scratching, which come in spasmodic, desperate flurries'. It also reflects the woman's struggle while she's digging up the corpse, uttering with what I thought was knowing remorse, "Yes. Yes. I'm here". [Temple]

(The riff beginning at 3:30 would properly surround the digging scene if "The Temple" were to be made into a scene)

3. I think Radiohead's "High and Dry" would nicely (or much excruciatingly) reflect the outcry and pleas of the baby to the mother/woman, while s/he was getting buried. The lyrics are morbidly fitting which I think is a fitting nod to the morbid nature of the story itself, at least in my interpretation. 

(Don't leave me high/Don't leave me dry/It's the best thing you've ever had)

4. The fourth song I chose is "The Pot" by Tool. The song is about the hypocrisy of someone trying to atone for one's sins with less remorse than the gravity of his sin itself; akin to shedding the proverbial crocodile tears. I thought the lyrics would resound with what anyone's reaction if the woman were to try to defend herself if the skull and bones were to be discovered.

(Eyehole deep in muddy water/Soapbox, house of cards, and glass,
So don't go tossin' your stones around/Now you're weeping shades of cozened indigo,
Got lemon juice up in your eye).

Some of the lines in the song are also fittingly referencing the murder of an offspring (Rob the grave, to snow the cradle. Then burn the evidence down) which I thought was one of the more convincing reasons I included this song.

5. The last song I chose is Miguel's Adorn. I think it would be better to end this rather grim soundtrack on an ironically happy ending. Despite the different tone to the video and the start of the song, the lyrics to Adorn would very literally fit in with the scene where the woman is adorning her bedroom into a 'temple' with the bones, thus making the bones more than they could be with her love.

(Let my love adorn you).

Oates, Joyce C. "The Temple." American Gothic Tales. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 348. Print.

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