Jared’s Blog: Nine Inch Nails Essay

I’m sorry. I understand that these assignments are supposed to help us prepare for the SAT, but man… I’m sorry. I like Shakespeare and everything, but this? This is just ridiculous: “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars….”

I mean… I don’t even know where to start. But I appreciate that I need to turn in an essay in order to fulfill the assignment, so instead of this week’s prompt, I would like to discuss this quote: “Everyone I know goes away / in the end,” from the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt.”

I know Nine Inch Nails is not considered at the same level as Shakespeare, but I think this quote is actually pretty perceptive about life. On the one hand, if you don’t know the song, it seems to be about a guy who’s using drugs, and in that context, when he says this, we don’t know if, in fact, everyone he knows goes away, or if he’s driving them away because of the way he’s acting.

(Also, let me just say right here, yes, drugs are uncool and he should not be doing them, and I would never do drugs because I know they’re bad. So please don’t call my mom and make her come in for a conference because I’m writing about using drugs, okay? I’m only mentioning it because it’s pretty obviously a theme in this song.)

Where was I? Oh, right, this guy is one of those “unreliable narrator” people, like that guy in Heart of Darkness. So we don’t know whether to take what he says on face value or not.

But on the other hand, what he says is actually pretty perceptive. Isn’t that kind of exactly what life is like? People do go away. They move to another city, or they go to college or whatever. And eventually, everybody dies, one way or another, and then they’re really gone, forever.

I also think that the way it’s a little confusing about what’s going on with this guy is an accurate description of the way life works. In the song, like I say, we don’t know for sure if he’s driving people away or they’re bailing on him, or maybe even he just doesn’t realize there’s no one there because he’s so whacked out of his head on drugs that he doesn’t know he’s been locked in his room for a couple days.

Similarly, I don’t think we always know 100% why something’s happening. Is someone not talking to you because they’re mad at you? Or because they’re having a bad day? Or they’re just thinking of something else and don’t realize you were talking to them? There’s no way to really know what’s going on in someone else’s head. But of course, we all make up little stories to explain what’s happening—like this guy, saying that everyone goes away. And who knows what the reality is?

Well, this is embarrassing, because I just realized that I’m talking about the exact same thing as this week’s prompt. I didn’t get it at first, but I do now: Shakespeare’s saying that when we screw up, we don’t want to accept that it’s our fault, so we make up a whole thing about how it must be the fates messing with us. And that’s the same thing I’m saying, that people make up their own explanations for stuff they don’t understand or don’t want to accept.

I did not start this essay thinking that I would end up proving that Trent Reznor and William Shakespeare had anything in common, but I’m pretty sure I just did, which is awesome, and also hopefully means that my C grade on these assignments is also gonna go away and be replaced with… B -? B? Maybe?

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