“I was doing time in the universal mind,
I was feeling fine.
I was turning keys, I was setting people free,
I was doing all right.
Then you came along
With a suitcase and a song,
Turned my head around.
Now I’m so alone
Just looking for a home
In every place I see.
I’m the freedom man, I’m the freedom man.
I’m the freedom man, that’s how lucky I am.”
You may recognize these lyrics from Jim Morrison’s bluesy song, Universal Mind, but the music may be a bit harder to place. That’s because the atmospheric piano track and whispery vocals belong to Biirdy, a French student living in Paris. Biirdy says her influences are many, including Cat Powers, Emily Jane White, Kings of Leon, Beach Fossils, Yann Tiersen, and The XX—one of my personal favorites.
The title of Biirdy’s piece is Sapere Aude, which is Latin for “dare to know” The original use of this phrase seems to be in the poet Horace’s book of Epistles: dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude, incipe (“He who has begun is half done: dare to know!”). It can also be translated as “Dare to be wise”. The phrase forms the moral to a story where a fool waits for the stream to stop before crossing it. “He who begins is half done. Dare to be wise. Make a beginning.” is a loose translation. Horace’s words suggest the value of human endeavour, of persistence in reaching a goal and of the need for effort in overcoming obstacles.
This sounds like great writing advice, or . . . maybe someone’s horoscope. Either way, I’m going to let Sapere Aude wash over me while I write today and see what happens.
Epistles, or, Letters, by Horace were published in two books, in 20 BC and 14 BC, respectively—can you tell I’ve been to Wikipedia today? I’d only do that for a track I really love.