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Absence Number 4: Less Is More

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." This quote from George Orwell's great and prophetic book 1984 embodies the principle and practice of creating confusion and undermining reason and honesty by changing the meaning of words into their opposite.


In contrast to this is the useful and apparent contradiction of a paradox which is formulated to express a truth. One example of a paradox is "Less Is More" which is the title of the fourth song on The Presence of That Absence. (It's also the shortest song on the album further underscoring the fact that less can truly be more.)


It's a whimsical song, using fanciful imagery from children's fairy tales including the man in the moon, the lady who lived in a shoe, and the line "Lasso the moon" from the great Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart as the beleaguered George Bailey.


Another favorite Orwell quote from the same book is "You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves." This quote embodies our culture's practice of working to fill us with external needs instead of fostering contentment, satisfaction and travelling light through life by being focused on the invisible qualities that build character, self determination and happiness.


As Steinbeck put it so well in Cannery Row, ‘It has always seemed strange to me,’ said Doc. ‘The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding, and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.’


As the song goes:


More is less. Less is more.

Tell me what we're fighting for.

Open eyes finally seeing through.

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