If you knew that there were an omniscient eye that watched over you and your every deed and thought, would you behave any differently? For my whole life, I was raised with the belief that there was an all knowing deity that created everything in the world that was cognizant not only of what we did but what we thought as well.

I did not understand how there could be rampant crime in the world if
people generally held this belief but I soon found out as I grew up
that not everyone held this belief — some thought that there was no
deity and creation came about through scientific, not supernatural

One of my favorite songs lately has been by singer/songwriter John Vanderslice. I found out about Mr. Vanderslice through his collaborations with another artist I really like, The Mountain Goats. They have toured together and released a couple of split albums — one of which dealt with cannibalism on the moon.

The song has the lovely name of Kookaburra, a bird native to Australia. It opens right up with a great introduction about how things came into being in this world.

Lightning shot from the sky
It breathed life into every, every living thing
It made you, it made me
It gave us the Kookaburra, it gave us
Frangipane tree

From here the song takes a negative turn, opening with a line that tells us that perhaps not everything will be okay as John sings, “The sky will fill with vaporized dust, raining” and then goes on to describing something over and over again using the poetic but vague expression “white on white” — what is white on white? Why is it raining down from the sky? A little later in the song, John tells us exactly what is white on white.

White phosphor rain
And blackout bombs are falling out the sky tonight
We can’t be saved
Electricity is crossing out your family name

In the world of this song, there is no reigning deity to dole out punishment when people are acting up and so people can do as they please. The same electrical power that brought life into the world also creates that which enables a person to destroy life without any regard to what it is doing.

When I listen to this song I can’t help but think of how sad the world would be to me if I didn’t sincerely believe that there were some kind of ultimate giver of morality, so to speak. It seems to me that the more we have strayed away from that kind of belief system, the more we rely on the unblinking eye of Panopticonic Justice to keep us safe.


  1. This is precisely what Real Art should do, Gordon: Challenge us, scare us, and force us to think outside our comfort zone.

  2. Hi Gordon,
    I was never a “believer” in that way, but I dont remember I needed any watchdog to stay on line…I think it depends on the value system injected in you.
    But I agree with David, real art should make us think.

  3. That’s right, David. It can’t always be about not worrying and being happy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that song!) 🙂

  4. Katha,
    You must have been raised very well! 🙂 Real art hits us between the eyes and gets us to wonder the why and the how.

  5. I have to give David all the credit for the image. It not only captures the essence of the article but is also John’s eye!

Comments are closed.