Bug and David Hume

Editor's Note: I'd like to welcome Kid Dynamite to the Coventry mix with his debut post.

Kid Dynamite here. Get ready to think deep - we're going to transition from a seemingly simple Phish song to 18th century Scottish AND German philosopher. Pour yourself a drink and climb aboard.

In response to a post titled "Most Meaningful Phish Song," I offered to write my thoughts on "Bug," a song which triggers a memory I have of a random philosophical ideology by Scottish philosopher David Hume. Now, I'm not a philosopher - I'm a former Wall Street trader turned retired bum, poker player, and perhaps soon to be pickle farmer or maple syrup harvester. Furthermore, I didn't go to a liberal arts school - far from it - I'm a math man through and through - with a math degree from MIT. Still, it was there at MIT, during my freshman year, that I took a very intriguing course on philosophy, which ingrained a concept from Hume in my head that echoes every time I hear "Bug."

First, the Bug lyrics:

There've been times when I wander
And times when I don't
Concepts I'll ponder
And concepts I won't ever see
God isn't one of these
Former or latter
Which did you think I meant
It doesn't matter to me

Gold in my hand
In a country pool
Standing and waving
The rain, wind on the runway
Spending or saving
Credit or debt
Which did you think I meant
Nothing I see can be taken from me

So, the line from Hume which resonates in my head is "Nothing is ever really present to the mind besides its own perceptions." What the fuck does this mean? Well, lets get metaphysical - 'cause I'm going to explain it by way of an example from German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant wrote of a pair of rose colored glasses - when he wore the glasses, everything he saw seemed red. Naturally, this didn't mean everything was actually red: he wasn't seeing a red table, or a red couch - he was seeing, to get back to Hume, his mind's perception of a red table and a red couch - and when he took off the rose colored glasses, the red table and red couch were gone.

Your eyes are glazing over - bear with me - and think about what happens when you see Phish live in concert: Kuroda's lights and the band's jams transport the ghetto of Camden to a fantasy spaceship, where fans happily jammy dance barefoot in puddles of sludge without a care in the world. We're all wearing rose colored glasses - but they're not really rose colored glasses - they're Phish-altered perceptions of reality: back to the Bug lyric:
"Nothing I see can be taken from me!"
I think that's the lyric that brings me back to 18th century philosophers I read about for a only few months nearly 15 years ago - but I can think of nothing else! Every time I hear "nothing I see can be taken from me" I think of Hume and Kant, and the conclusion that even if what we see isn't real, it's still real for the moment we're interpreting it. Very Phishy indeed, methinks.

So, this summer, as you enter the venue of your choice to jam out to Phish, perhaps under the influence of rose colored glasses, weed clouded fantasies, booze altered thoughts, or some more seriously effected hallucinations - think of David Hume, and how nothing you see can be taken from you.



Julius_Goat said…
Welcome, KD. I perceive this inaugrual post to be of high quality. Keep 'em coming!
BTreotch said…
Oh, wow.

::pours another beer::
IamwhatIam said…
Love the idea of discussing Kant and Hume and Phish.

It brings back memories of skipping all the classes for my B.A. in Philosophy...which I skipped...for PHISH.

Anyway...I have to say the idea that a single song reminds you of a trancendentalist (Kant) AND an empiricist (Hume) would be one of the first linkages of the two I've ever seen.

I mean...

Its like saying there's a poem that reminds you of both Beethoven and Britney Spears.

Also, this is the first time in a good 15 years it's been useful to have a degree in philosophy.

It wasn't handy with the whole job search thing.

Tom said…
Are not the words to Bug "Gold in my hand / In a country *poor*"?

That is, poor instead of pool? Maybe that's just a typo, but the 'l' and 'r' aren't exactly next to each other...
Daddy said…
Next up, Tweezer and Spinoza!
GMoney said…
That was really nice...getting into the Dead-Jerry rocking me to spin while he utters profound poetry that lifts my heart and my mind...thats the moments we look forward to....
Kid Dynamite said…
if you guys want more alternative interpretations of Phish lyrics, check out the post i penned on my blog, titled Phish meets Finance

welovethepage said…
Unknown said…
I think your perception about this song about perception is right on.

Great post.
kdee21 said…
I like your article, but I think you are failing to point out a very strong point about this song. The impression the song leaves you with is that all the money in the world will never amount to life's experiences. Its about appreciating life, not just the fruits of life. Its existence that matters, its not the money, ideology, or beliefs.

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