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[Meddle CD]

Man in the womb learns everything before birth,
and man forgets everything as soon as after delivery.

(from Jewish proverb -- translated by Sohnosuke Imai)

In The Beginning

Meddle front cover
[Meddle cover]

Pink Floyd's excellent piece of music Echoes is too abstract and slippery. It is indescribable and refuses hackneyed expressions - there is, as it were, something transcendent beyond all description. That's why people probably are hard to talk about Echoes' content and scene.

Here is the ultimate description no one wrote.

Deja Vu through Echoes - Part 1

It seems some people lose their memory when they have a profound mental shock. Conversely, it seems some people recall their memory (trauma) when they have a profound mental shock. Also, it is said that birth is so traumatic that the child forgets everything, and besides birth means forgetfulness.

When I listened to Echoes in 1971, I noticed that if my memory doesn't deceive me I have ever heard Echoes. Somehow, I fancied I have heard it somewhere. It is quite natural that you say "Stuff and nonsense! I wasn't born yesterday!"

I felt strange nostalgia for something while listening to Echoes. At first I could hardly recognize it, but it was growing stronger and stronger. It was like a nostalgia for going back home, a sweet old home. I racked my brains for the nostalgic feeling by Echoes.
That had some resemblance to Echoes rather than Echoes-in-itself. I thought it is maybe my imagination too. First and foremost, I thought I had ever listened to this melody. It's just a "deja vu". I felt it is like in my childhood, but it is like before more. It is like a long time ago more. I next felt it is like in my babyhood.

It needed to take me about one month to recall it. One day it flashed into my mind - just when had I heard Echoes...?

Deja Vu through Echoes - Part 2

I tried to recall my memories desperately. SUDDENLY its memory burst on my mind. It sent a chill down my spine.... "Oh, I recalled things before my birth! At prenatal time I had ever listened to this melody undoubtedly!!"

It was my embryo-hood. That feeling is things of my embryo-hood, I firmly believed so. I could recall clearly. I got an embraced feeling, felt a glutinous amniotic fluid and felt a shaking beat in my whole body. In those days I didn't yet know a song Embryo, so the moment I noticed first its song, I trembled....

This story is my reminiscences in 1970's. I have clean forgotten its things. But in 1994 I read a book written by Dr. Stanislav Grof. He is a transpersonal psychologist, and is a psychoanalyst of the memory for the embryo period too. His book tallied to my surprise with both my personal experience and Echoes everywhere.

A letter to Stanislav Grof

At the present time I can hardly recognize its "feeling". But even now I understand its "consciousness" rising above the space-time. There was never any space's distance, any time's distance. In there, we can't distinguish the past from the future. I definitely felt one moment is filled with infinity. It's just comfortably numb, and this color sensed by the ear was just pink. I suppose Pink Floyd fan can understand them. It seems that Dr. Grof says it's a "transpersonal" consciousness.

I'm sure I'm earliest one who proposed Pink Floyd is transpersonal music. Nobody of the persons concerned of transpersonal psychology in Japan agreed with my idea that Pink Floyd's music is transpersonal psychology music. Nobody of the persons of Pink Floyd's fan in Japan agreed with my idea. To begin with, a scholar has no interest in Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd's fan has no interest in psychology; with the exception of Stanislav Grof.

I wrote the letter to transpersonal psychologist Dr. Grof, and I told him that Pink Floyd's music is the very transpersonal psychology music. He is an expert of the embryo's consciousness. I spoke that I found some agreement between Echoes' development and his theory Basic Perinatal Matrices. I spoke that:
"I have returned into the womb when I listened to Pink Floyd's Echoes 30 years ago; in other words I recalled the embryo's memory as a result of listening to Echoes. I felt nostalgia for something indescribable while listening to Echoes. And, I suddenly noticed it is prenatal memory. In 1990s, I discovered Echoes to tally marvelously with your Basic Perinatal Matrices theory."

To my surprise, he replied like this; "I have been aware of some connections between Pink Floyd's work and my research."

Well, I believe that in any case the following interpretation holds good whether every one feel an embryo's memory in Echoes or not. How do you feel about that?

Lots of strange coinciding with BPM - Part 1

To sum up Basic Perinatal Matrices theory (BPM):

  • BPM I : the amniotic universe (primal union with mother)
  • BPM II : cosmic engulfment and no exit (antagonism with mother)
  • BPM III : the death-rebirth struggle (synergism with mother)
  • BPM IV : the death-rebirth experience (separation from mother)

Here I'll omit the poor explanation by myself of Grof's BPM, but the following website may be a good guide to Grof theory and BPM:

BPM I-II-III-IV of Echoes

Grof's BPM is nothing else but it is Echoes summed up, though this is my own arbitrary theory. Echoes also can be partitioned into four parts.

BPM I in Echoes :
At the beginning 00'01", you'll wake up by holy "ping" like a sonar. It is like a warm, lazy spring day and sounds damp. The waving and rolling sounds are ocean-like or space-like. The song with chorus is sweet like talking.

BPM II in Echoes :
At 07'01"-10'41" you'll be engulfed powerfully by thrilling earth-shaking sound and rhythm suddenly.

BPM III in Echoes :
At 10'41"-19'12" you'll go into a tunnel and creep about darkness in a hell. This part is too lengthy. Don't you think that this length is exceptional for music? I think this length is suitable for BPM III.

BPM IV in Echoes :
But, at 19'12"-23'28" you'll take a shower of light suddenly. At a climax, you'll experience rebirth in an ecstasy softly just like being in the seventh heaven.

By the way, the synchronicity between Echoes and movie "2001: A Space Odussey" - when you play the movie (24 minutes of the latter half) and Echoes at the same time, both synchronize atmosphere, uplift, the timing and ending completely - is a famous anecdote. Though the embryo is reincarnated in movie finally, nobody becomes aware that it also is the synchronicity.

Lots of strange coinciding with BPM - Part 2

According to Grof, first memory of embryo is floating in calm and warm sea/air/space. Is there an embryo in the sea? - or in the air? - or upon the space? It is never really ocean and space, is ocean-like or space-like, because the embryo doesn't know either ocean or space. He or she (an embryo) doesn't know where or why is oneself. And that fellow doesn't know what is own name and identity. That fellow keeps it in mind as drifting about at the mercy of something infinite. It is just an undifferentiated state. That fellow doesn't even know which of planet, albatross or coral is own self.

Pink Floyd sings at the beginning like this:

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine

A quotation on BPM I (from "The Holistic Path" website):

Here belong deep experiental identification with the ocean or various aquatic life forms (algae, kelp, anemone, jellyfish, fish, dolphin, or whale) or with the cosmos, interstellar space, galaxy, or with an astronaut floating in weightless condition in cosmic space or in an orbiting spaceship.

Pink Floyd started producing Echoes at beginning of year of 1971. The album Meddle including the song Echoes was released in November, but they tried performing it on stage since May in the same year already though incomplete. And, early Echoes in progress was called as "Return Of The Son Of Nothing" and was performed, and it had very different lyrics in the opening.
It is said that early Echoes is a space song and regular Echoes is a sea and sky song. As for this change, you might say Echoes changed an imagery from space to the ocean depths. But I think nothing was changed.
BPM I is a paradise uniting and harmonizing with the mother's body/womb. Though an early lyrics is a song about planet as "Planets meeting face to face", it follows personified as "We might embrace perfect union deep in space". I feel that this suggests uniting the embryo with the mother's womb.
Grof says that you are attacked by a monster-like octopus or spider in BPM II. As other relation, Floyd made the balloon of huge octopus appear onstage while playing Echoes. Also, Floyd had played the song (unpublished) Beset by Creatures of the Deep in 1969.

You can see the view from the stage complete with inflatable octopus (Crystal Palace Garden Party on May 15th 1971) here:

A quotation on BPM II (from "The Holistic Path" website):

Characteristic of this situation is the experience of a three- dimensional spiral, funnel, or whirlpool sucking the subject relentlessly toward its center. A closely related equivalent to this annihilating maelstrom is the experience of being swallowed by a terrifying monster, such as a giant dragon, leviathan, python, crocodile, or whale. Equally frequent in this context are experiences of attack by a monstrous octopus or tarantula. A less dramatic version of the same experience is the theme of descent into a dangerous underworld, realm of the dead, system of dark grottoes, or mystifying labyrinth. Corresponding mythological themes are the beginning of the hero's journey, the fall of the angels, and paradise lost.

In this BPM II the feeling swallowed by maelstrom compares completely with Echoes' funky jam (7'01-11'28").

I feel that the above has, if anything, some resemblance to The Journey (in The Man & The Journey). A suite The Man & The Journey is project stopped without reaching the release in 1969.

The Journey
1. The Beginning
2. Beset by Creatures of the Deep
3. The Narrow Way
4. The Pink Jungle
5. The Labyrinth of Auximines
6. Behold the Temple of Light
7. The End of the Beginning

In The Journey - #2 is BPM II, #5 is BPM III and #6-7 is BPM IV. The child is born and faces for the first time the bright light, like "beholding the temple of light". The Labyrinth of Auximines is a interesting song, it sounds just like stagnant water is fermenting or bubbling up. Just amniotic fluid's stickiness.

The Man is a suite of the petty daily trivialities, and The Journey is a fantastic non-ordinary story. I have a foreboding that The Man developed to Dark Side of the Moon and The Journey developed to Echoes. The Journey is awful and chaotic world, and is filled with many strange sounds. The Journey doesn't allow so much me to arouse the embryo's memory, but it sounds to me just as if Grof describes BPM.

Oh, it seems I wandered a bit in my talk.

I accounted for coincidence with BPM I-II as contrasting, but most what coincides with Echoes is BPM III-IV. BPM III-IV needs no explanation. Listening is believing. You'll go through a suffocative tunnel and see "ambassador of morning" which exists in lyrics. It must sound as if music stepped out of BPM.

... Like this, Pink Floyd's Echoes coincides marvelously with BPM theory. It sounds to me as if Pink Floyd played BPM's scenario. Though, it is unthinkable, judging from a period, that Pink Floyd took a hint from Grof's writings.
Well, what meaning do those coincidences have? We may be able to reach for the secret of spirit or the root of humanity from other angles. Music may be able to take on a new meaning for us. I think that way.

What Is A Conclusion?

Is Echoes an embryo's memory by Floyd's members? I'm not convinced about it that it is fact. But it is an obvious fact that I felt strange nostalgia of embryo from listening to Echoes. There is no gainsaying my experience. Thus Echoes became my identity strongly. I wrote it in my book (PINK FLOYD: The Labyrinth Through The Fancyscope) minutely and it is the core for all my writing.

Pink Floyd has told little a sense of purpose for Echoes. According to recent DVD, Pink Floyd has had so much clear sense of purpose for setting to work of Dark Side of the Moon. So, it is hard to think that they made Echoes whimsically haphazardly one year ago. But, I have never heard from them a sense of purpose for Echoes.

The Labyrinth Through
The Fancyscope
book cover

So, I am sure the "ping" is a condensation of basic and primitive landscape in all people's spirit. Now, about Echoes I advocate a new doctrine here as "the origin of lives". The moment Echoes pings, we are dragged into something that underlies us all and permeates everything. The moment, we are dragged into an origin of lives. To me that "ping" is dripping sound of an extract of the universe condensed. And its echo comes from across a distant time while thawing.

Takumi Manai (Novelist) still able to recall embryo's memory writes like this:
"It was a drop dropping from somewhere which made my consciousness as an embryo awake first. I think that this phenomenon will happen with all of the embryo born as a human being, though it is unconscious of." (From "Memory of Birth", edited by Shunjyusha, this passage translated by Imai)
That is, the first memory as his embryo began since that moment. What is its drop? I thought it is possibly "ping" (prologue of Echoes), but he was a little negative to my supposition. Limpid prologue in particular is fantastic, just transcendent, simple and sacred. I feel it is a kind of an awakening. It reminds people of a drop dripping, willy-nilly.

Grof argue that the embryo is seeing the evolution and the starting point of a religion, in his dream. Nevertheless I'm afraid you cannot agree Echoes is a prenatal world, the universe in the womb. But I guess you can agree Echoes is a primitive landscape of a spirit or a fount of mind. Both, a spirit's primitive landscape and prenatal world, are synonym. I had told to many Pink Floyd fans this personal experience. But there was no fan who have done alike experience. A few fan said "somehow I felt strange nostalgia to something", though. Also, I'm sure the "ping" is a metaphor for spirit's primitive landscape when Floyd uses it in The Wall and others.

In passing, recently I invented an evidence that a human ear (the cover of album Meddle including Echoes) is a metaphor of an embryo. Please read: An Inverted Projection Of An Embryo (English).

About other songs connected with the transpersonal in addition to Echoes

Pink Floyd had played a song The Embryo earlier than Echoes quite often. The Embryo has a phrase of the same guitar as Echoes. However, somehow the song was not officially released. It was just "aborted".

This twisted thread of an obstinate mystery, why Floyd changed from Echoes to Dark Side of the Moon as if it were nothing, came loose for me. I make a brave try at a tentative assumption:
Echoes is the world before birth and is a prenatal life. On the other hand Dark Side of the Moon is the world after birth and is postnatal life. An intro's sound of Dark Side of the Moon is mother's heartbeat, and Speak To Me is sounds rushing in embryo's ears when he/she is crawling out of the womb's tunnel to this world.

Dark Side of the Moon
front cover
[Dark Side of the Moon]

Also The Wall started from a natal moment. Clare Torry (vocalist) said "They (Pink Floyd) didn't know what they wanted - just said it was a birth and a death concept." Concept for Dark Side of the Moon is not a birth + death, and to be exact, its "birth" should be permuted to "perinatal time".

Pink Floyd's The Wall is a "border", and it is, in a sense, also transpersonal-term. Refrain in The Wall ("all in all you're just another brick in the wall") contrasts with the transpersonal. In other words, individual brick is nothing but a part of whole wall. However, The transpersonal regards individual brick in the same light as whole wall.

The Wall
front cover
[The Wall]

BPM II is the state of "no exit". Pink Floyd's album The Wall is a theme of withdrawing into oneself. Pink Floyd released a live album called The Wall - Is there anybody out there?, and I wrote the review called "No-exit (Japanese)" publicly.

That book of Dr. Grof which tallied everywhere with Echoes (with the proviso of my personal experience) is named "The Holotropic Mind". "Holotropic" is related to "holography", and is related to "Holophonics" also. I made a discovery that the holography is related to "a nested box", a cover of Ummagumma.

Some philosophy which Roger Waters told in 2003 in Classic Albums Dark Side of the Moon DVD agrees with the transpersonal consciousness. In the DVD, Waters said that a theme of the album was a criticism of so-called Newton-Descartes world view as symbolism of modern materialistic science, and the base of his feeling identifying (or oneness) with other people comes from Echoes. Now at this point, we can say it is just the transpersonal consciousness. My review of Classic Albums Dark Side of the Moon DVD and Newton science is here (Japanese).

As an explanatory note
Grof's research has a close connection with LSD. Also, Pink Floyd is often called a drug music. But Pink Floyd has denied the influence of a drug upon music. As for me, I have no at all experience of the drug, except for alcohol. It seems the recurrence to the interior of the womb is possible by LSD. But I was only music. So, I think that this is a problem in connection with human potential.

Those explanations are repeated to my book. I am sorry for my poor English, but this is the best I can do.
Thank you for your kind attention.

Sohnosuke Imai

Note: I wrote a word of the prenatal baby as not "fetus" but "embryo" on this page. But "fetus" is correct in case of my writing and then "The Embryo" is incorrect in case of Pink Floyd's song, I think. Here I made it a rule to write as "embryo" in imitation of Pink Floyd.

EXTRA: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali
Oeufs sur le Plat

I have been charmed by Salvador Dali from my childhood. I heard that he described in his autobiography like this; "I recall himself in the womb, as though it was yesterday - though this description was not on a literary history of the world before." Dali is famous as being full of eccentricities and a strange joke. Consequently, people say its description has no credibility.
An unrealistic world in his picture like a hallucination is his real mental image, which is just the reality for himself. And a state of weightlessness, stillness of time and timelessness in his painting is valid in explanation of an intra-uterine memory, I think. Also, Dali say that the yolk of an egg suspended on string in a picture titled "Oeufs sur le Plat" (Eggs On A Plate Without A Plate, 1932) is an intra-uterine himself. So, I don't feel that the story of intra-uterine memory by him is made-up and unfounded. To say nothing of it, he used to love an egg's motif, and so I believe that even an intra-uterine memory is his fountain of surrealistic creativity.