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Another Song In the Key Of Strife - The Misanthrope / 22 May 2012

I have no idea what the word misanthrope means - not what it actually means. It sounds like a combination of misery and strop. I think it describes someone who looks at humanity through a prism of misery, is unhappy with their world view, to the point that they go away and strop about it.

Driving through Somerset the other day, the car cd played 'Regeneration' (surely a positive word) by The Divine Comedy (does not sound misanthropic at all). Led by songwriter Neil Hannon who (my memory might be playing tricks on me) I most commonly associate with the word Misanthrope having read reviews of his work. If my memory is deceiving me I must be thinking of Luke Haines of the Auteurs and Black Box Recording. In which case my musings on misanthrope are way off beam and i'm sorry to be wasting everyones time.

I try to listen to music but sometimes my mind wanders and i must admit the Divine Comedy were not receiving my full attention when track 9, 'Mastermind', ushered in these words:

"Well, we all need reassurance as we play life's game of endurance
Like a nice cup of tea or a cigarette
But don't lean too long on your crutches, or you'll fall straight into the clutches
Of those who see free expression as a threat
You don't need a law degree to set your mind and spirit free
So tell me what the hell is normal and who the hell is sane?
And why the hell care anyway?
All the dreams that we have had are gonna prove that we're all mad and that's OK"

Now if i'm right about the meaning of misanthrope then some of those words might fit with misery strop (depending on your world view): 'need reassurance', 'endurance', 'clutches', 'threat', 'hell', 'why.... care', 'we're all mad'.

But there are also fine consolations, simple pleasures, 'a nice cup of tea or a cigarette'. These things might be able to help you hold on, survive a little longer. There's the idea that we should freely express our bodily actions, thoughts and feelings and to feel right to take the opportunity to let others see and hear them. Importantly the notion that as bad or as good as it gets, unlike in the Cameronic version, we are really all in this together; 'we're all mad' to live in this society with its oppressive ways 'and that's ok'. It seems that impairment whether mental or physical is positively represented in the words of Neil Hannon depending on how your read it.

So what is a misanthrope? An online dictionary defines it as: the general hatred, mistrust or dislike of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such view or feeling. The word's origin is from Greek words μῖσος (misos, "hatred") and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, "man, human")

Having reread some reviews on allmusic.com I think I have unfairly maligned Neil and that the word more commonly finds residence with Luke Haines. Sorry about that. But I did tell you that my mind wanders and memory plays its tricks

Keywords: black box recording,divine comedy,luke haines,misantrope,neil hannon,the auteurs