Poignancy And Pink Floyd – Essay

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Poignancy, and Melancholy too. 

The feeling I always have when I listen to Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” from the album Wish You Were Here. I was so obsessed with this album in my late teen years, living in the dormitory where the wild things are, when there was no internet, WhatsApp, no distractions, no Facebook, and no interest in having girlfriends or being attached to something except to the precious things you love, mainly football/soccer, reading novels and encyclopedias, playing my China-made Kapok guitar, listening to Classic Rock, Blues, and Jazz albums. 

That was back in the mid- 70s, a time when I was “being experimented on, as the government said, in an American education setting in post-Independent Malaysia.) Yes, bright children from poor families of fishermen, padi farmers, rubber tappers, shopkeepers, and those of the “people of the land” of the lowest income group were given a better place to study.”

I was turning thirteen then. My father was an unlicensed taxi driver and my mother sewed clothes for a living. I was put in the boarding school for the gifted and talented, and taught by novice teachers, half of them were American Peace Corps who had a choice whether to be drafted to the Vietnam War or serve in development projects for the Third World countries in Asia as well as in Africa. 

At thirteen I was already separated from my mother.  

Life was simple yet meaningful in at times the most absurd ways. I had no ambitions except a clear answer to what I wanted to be, only three things: a rocket scientist building bombs, a psychiatrist like Sigmund Freud so that I could read peoples’ minds and best of all, a “rock star”! None of these things happened! (And yes, I read about J. Robert Oppenheimer back in the day) 

But still, my love for reading since young, a voracious reader that I was, led me to a love for writing, and next, to my second love of my life: Philosophy. 

And so, years of questioning led me to continue to question anything that could be questioned, leaving me with not answer for anything, except the tentativeness of certitudes and the reliance of intuition and the “inner voice” within, that began to appear as that “imaginary friend” when I was about five. 

(Now Pink Floyd’s new song is playing in the background, “Us and Them” from the classic Dark Side of the Moon,”). 

And truly, one could get stoned just by listening to Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. How exciting. 

And so, the poignancy and the melancholy upon listening to these songs on a British weather in this New York city area, a horrible rainy day, yet a delightful gift for my plant and roses and lavender, and tens of species of flowering plants in my garden. 

Floyd too taught me how to not trust politicians and to contemplate lies told by this species of human beings who beg for votes and then turn people into things and playthings to be oppressed, until the next elections. 

Floyd taught me how to turn Philosophy into psychedelic rock and get high on words and music and David Gilmour’s signature phrases on his Fender Stratocatser and all. 

And Floyd may have saved me from the Talibans and Talibanesque-Kafkaesque species we have in our midst. 

“I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon … ” 

(And now, Floyd “Us and Them” is playing. A beautiful psycho-rock classic, on the meaninglessness of war) 

The power of music and memory. Of Pink Floyd and life’s poignancy.

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an academician, educator, international columnist, and author of nine books He holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in international education development and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies, communication, fiction, and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here. His latest book, a memoir, is published by Penguin Books is available here.

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