Thursday, August 30, 2007

Going to Queens

In the Bible, the traditional description of sexual encounters goes as follows:
And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain their son...

The Hebrew word 'knew', ידע, used in this context, is the same word used to describe intellectual knowledge, which is why 'knew' is such an apt translation. And while Going to Queens is far from a Biblical text it is certainly concerned with the same dichotomy.

In short: Going to Queens is a song about sex. It is also a song about the impossibility of knowing one's lover.

The song's speaker wants to know his love in all senses of the word: not only is he concerned with her body, dripping hair, clean skin and all, he is also seeking a more desperate and futile knowledge. Going to Queens is situated at the perfect and terrible moment when everything surrounding you and your lover disappears, when the recognition of their body and its closeness seems to swallow the world, and when the only desire left in you is to consume them entirely, body, soul, brain, whole--it isn't coincidence that violent terms, eating terms, often are used to describe the act of coitus. Sexual love can be gentle but more often it is fierce, and Going to Queens shows us its most intimate brutality: sex brings us as close, physically, to another person as it is possible to be, but it cannot merge spirits. Sexual love can assuage our loneliness more totally than any other act but ultimately every man and woman is still alone. But despite the fullness of their act, its consummation, the disappearance of the urban landscape into it, the protagonist of Going to Queens is still seeking that final merge, the intersection of 'to know' and 'to know':

The air was heavy your body was heavy on mine
I will know who you are yet
I will know who you are yet

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