Video: Titus Andronicus – “An Anomaly”
Directed by Patrick Stickles. From The Will to Live, out September 30 on Merge.
Patrick Stickles can seem like a pretty serious fellow. Intellectually ambitious to the point of being heavy. But then when you’re least expecting it, he goes to Paris and throws down the funk bone! His moves — especially during the guitar solo — will assure you that Stickles doesn’t take himself that seriously after all. His groove is like your uncle at the wedding reception who’s been enjoying the open bar and is really getting into that one Lady Gaga song.
The lyrics, on the other hand, aren’t as silly as the video.
It was God that made our bodies but the devil made our brains
And we revel in our autonomy as we drive ourselves insane
They say God can make no error so it must have been his plan
To create a world of terror by the instruments of man.
Whoa. Heavy, right?
Stickles talked to Rolling Stone about the song:
The titular anomaly is that the natural world is quite a violent place. If these dogs didn’t have guardians providing them food, what would they do? They would go kill a rabbit or something. They don’t mean any harm, it’s not evil. That’s just the way it is. In the same way that, dare I say, the Covid-19 virus is not an evil thing. That’s not to say I’m a fan of it, we shouldn’t try to protect it. But it’s a living organism, it has the will to live, and it’s going to do whatever it takes to prosper.
Much of the time the will to live is translated into the physical world in some form of violence or brutality. This is true of humans, but at a certain point, humans stopped being part of the natural world — they weren’t in the food chain anymore. So this violence ceases to have utility. But it seems to me that those impulses haven’t gone away, even though we don’t need them anymore. That’s translated into more advanced, effective, and atrocious forms of violence, up to and including the atom bomb. That’s fairly anomalous, isn’t it? There’s nothing natural about the atom bomb, or a self replicating nanobot that will eat the Earth. That’s evil in a way that a dog eating a rabbit is not. If the Devil is real, that’s it.
While you’re reading that, feel free to open another browser window so you can see him dancing in your peripheral vision. It balances out nicely.
Stickles is clearly a complex guy: thoughtful but still goofy. I like that in a person. And in an artist. It’s also amusing that he’s totally embracing the Big Dumb Rock sound of Def Leppard and Boston. Still sounds like Titus Andronicus, of course, but passing through a Rockman X100.