“In Circles” Lyrics analyses of a Transistor song


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Oops, I… I based this reading off of an incorrect transcript of the song….

Here is the song, and underneath I posted the transcript I used for my reading.

I hear you buzzing, a fly on the wall

In through the window and up through the hall

Flying in circles just trying to land

I see you hurting, I do what I can
But I won’t save you

I won’t save you
Maybe you’re looking for someone to blame

Fighting for air while you circle the drain

Never be sorry for your little time

It’s not when you get there, it’s always the climb
But I won’t save you

I won’t save you
I won’t save you

I won’t save you

I think I’ll still go ahead and post my reading, based on this false transcript, anyway. I think it was quite interesting. However, at some point, I’m pretty sure I’ll replay this game from a new save, and at that point, I think I’ll do a more proper analysis of all or at least some of the songs.

At that point, I think it will also be interesting to see if I still get the same interpretation of this song when the rest of the game is fresher in my mind. At least it will be for me. I’ll try to write some stuff and/or do some actual video recording when I replay the game, but I’m not going to promise anything, since I think I’m a bit too much in a state of flux, to accurately predict if I will actually keep those promises.

It will also be interesting to see where the error in the wiki came from and if it really is an error.  I’m not sure if it was a mistake by the wiki writers because the song might be different in the game, or the game might change the song on subsequent playthroughs. I’ve heard that the game changes a few lines of dialogue in new game plus mode so it might also change a few lines in the Lyrics of certain songs, perhaps to make finding a connection to real-world ideas/events easier. The changes between the wiki and real song version certainly made the foreign policy interpretation either more obvious to me, or more “correct” if you believe that’s a thing with interpretations. This makes me think that a deliberate change in the transcript is also possible, to advance a foreign policy interpretation of the game perhaps.

Anyway underneath you’ll find my interpretation of the song. It’s a bit messy because I read the second half of the transcript before I read the first half, and I think I’ve definitely made some errors in doing so, but I still think it’s still pretty interesting.

To me, the first half is clearly about US foreign policy.

I hear you buzzing, a fly on the wall

In through the window and up through the hall

Flying in circles just trying to land

I see you hurting, I do what I can

But in my first impressions, I didn’t really identify which parts of Foreign policy it was about, and some of the latter parts of this reading will, because of this, be based on false assumptions. But let’s start with the first sentence.

I hear you buzzing, a fly on the wall

The reason I think this sentence is about US foreign policy is that sometimes, some other nations seem like flies compared to the US’s military/economic power, to some people (see for example this).

In through the window and up through the hall

Flying in circles just trying to land

I think this is specifically about development aid or humanitarian interventions. Because to me the image of a fly going through a room just looking for a place to land looks fairly similar to the way developing nations try to find their way in this world, trying to get to a place where they can have an economy on which they can sustain themselves.

I think it could also be about the unstable political climate in developing nations, and the difficulties in finding a political system that works in developing nations, this is how I read the phrase at first, and actually also throughout the entire second half of this reading (about the second verse of the song). But specifically, these two phrases, seem to be pointing more at developing aid, because there’s no real expectation of the US (or the rest of the western world), helping other nations select a working political system, although at this point in the song, no expectation of help has been introduced, so maybe it could still be this interpretation.

I see you hurting, I do what I can

This sentence I think clearly mirrors the way in which people and politicians in the west seem to see and understand the suffering in the rest of the world, and do something, but far from what they could do, if they really wanted to, but they rationalize the current regime, of only having 0.7% of developed nations’ GDP towards developing aid as a norm… they rationalize that norm by saying that’s all they can do.

In the other interpretation of, developing nations looking for a political system that works for them, by the time this sentence has been uttered, the political situation for the developing nation (the fly) has worsened, the people are in revolt against the dictator, or the military is about to execute a coup. There are pleas for international intervention, but no help is ever granted.

During this reading of the song, I initially felt the first verse was so obviously about US foreign policy. So, I began my more in-depth reading of the song with the second verse, under the assumption that the first verse was obviously about foreign policy. Here is the second verse of the song (that was less obviously about US foreign policy to me at first glance):

Maybe you’re looking for someone to blame

Fighting for air while you circle the drain

Never be sorry for your little time

It’s not when you get there, it’s always the climb

 

I think the first sentence of the second half:

Maybe you’re looking for someone to blame

Is talking about the victims of US foreign policy, not the ones the US actively hurts, like the people in Iraq and Syria, but the ones it ignores, like the Palestinians, the people in Rwanda, or the countless other conflicts where the US hasn’t intervened. In a way, this is then also about the people in Syria, because by posturing in a way that gave the resistance hope of a potential military intervention, US officials might have prolonged the conflict, by making people less likely to come to the table.

Fighting for air while you circle the drain

To me, this sentence is also about the people hurt by US inaction.

Never be sorry for your little time

It’s not when you get there, it’s always the climb

This to me seems like, a really bad rationalization for said non-interventionist policy. If I add some words and remove some metaphor, it to me reads as: Don’t be sorry that you’re about to die, because everyone dies in the end. It’s not just when you get to the end of life that that’s true. Your time is always ticking down, whether it is the few seconds before a bullet hits you, the years before you die of cancer, or another disease or just old age.

2 thoughts on ““In Circles” Lyrics analyses of a Transistor song

  1. I am kind of sad, that you didnt got any replies yet (but maybe you just didnt get them here) – anyway. While your Interpretation is clearly a good one and in detail, i think it would Interpret the song good, if the song would stand alone. But its in the Game, with much more context. Everything in this game circles around the transistor, the Process, and the World. So it may be connected with a more… fitting Theme, instead the “Realworld”-One. An Interpretation i liked was, that the song is about Sybil, who was in love with Red, but Red couldnt return her feelings. So if someone looks for a interpretation, he may look for the other Interpretation too. Because the Song IS connected with Sybil in the Game, and even sung by her.

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comment. You are (unfortunately) the first comment on this post. My blog doesn’t get many readers, so comments are few and far between.

      When I wrote this post I hadn’t played the game for quite a while, so the context wasn’t that fresh in my mind, I did recall it was connected with Sybil, but didn’t remember any of the details. The interpretation I laid out here just sort of hit me while listening to the song.

      I think I’ll revisit the game itself at some point, with the intention of delving a bit deeper into it than I did when I first played it.

      Like

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