Staring at the Sun

  1. To me, Staring at the Sun is a song about spiritual introspection. The Sun is the shining part of the holy spirit that each human carries. It relates to Emerson's Oversoul, or Carl Jung's Collective Unconsciousness. That's why we're stuck together with God's glue. Bono is saying he, and everyone, should look deeper inside themselves and search for that divine truth. That's the bright light, the sun; although Son could just as well be inserted here. Society today would rather depend on materialism and extrinsic pleasure for its happiness, so Bono is saying I'm not the only one staring at the sun, afraid of what you'd find if you took a look inside. If people searched deep down, they'd probably see what nasty, non-spiritual people they are. But it doesn't have to be that way. People are capeable of divinity, of higher purpose. As humans, we're not invalids or helpless babies. not just deaf and dumb...not sucking on my thumb. Our biggest problem is our desire for pleasure and material things, which we can forever try to fulfill, but never succeed. There's an insect in your ear, if you scratch it won't disappear. It's gonna itch and burn and sting, but ya wanna see what the scratching brings. Desire is almost like a persistant calling saying IwantIwantIwant. So Bono is saying he's happy to and would rather go blind by staring at the sun, because he would be blind to the materialistic, pleasure-seeking world, just like mystics and enlightened people who forsake all wealth to wander and preach and help humanity. The rest of the lyrics also fall in synch with this idea. I won't go into every line extensively. But this song is Bono serman. It's his message to tell us how to be. The spiritual overtones in the video also reinforce this theme.

    Chad Loren 00180219@bigred.unl.edu (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)

  2. I think that this song is about isolationism in modern society, and how no one cares about things other than what affects them directly. This is shown in the songs chorus. The sun is television. People are happy to go blind, because then they don't have to see what's around them. Other parts of the song talk about similar things The line about armor-plated suits and ties is trying to talk about all the defences that people build up in and around themselves. The insect in the ear is the desire to get more things, and to be the way society has decided you should be. Scratching it, or trying to throw it off, brings contempt and ridicule. Don't try to hard to think, don't think at all is quite similar to many of the lyrics from Numb , saying that the media only wants you to see what they want they want you to see. That's what I Think, at least.

    Ajrobert ajrobert@pangea.ca (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)

  3. This is an edited version of a letter Chris W. O'Brien (cobrien@olivet.edu) sent to wire on the 3:rd of October 1997. He promised me to rewrite so I could add it but now one year and one day later I'm tired of waiting (the reorganization of U2MoL came in between too).

    For those that have read Plato's The Republic the analogy of the cave is familiar. ( Allegory of the cave) In the text Plato uses this cave as an analogy of the way human nature is enlightened. Plato tells of how humans are held captive in a very dark cave, chained so they can only see one of the walls and behind them there is a fire, between the fire and the people objects and puppets pass, casting shadows on wall where people can see.

    People are deceived into thinking the shadows are reality, until one of the humans is suddenly set free and brought to see how the "reality" of the shadows were actually created light cast on different objects. Then he is forced outside into the bright sunlight and is at first blinded by the intensity and the pain from the brightness. But soon he realizes that the the reality of the sun and its light is much more real than the darkness and shadows of the cave. He has pity on the people in the cave and decides to show them how they are misled. The people in the cave think he is crazy and eventually kill him.

    Plato then relates truth and the search for enlightenment to the analogy of the cave and how humans are easily deceived and persuaded to believe in what the perceive and are not open to new ideas if they are offered outright. But knowledge can be taught in degrees to gradually allow the soul to become accustomed to the "light" of truth from the Sun. Staring at the Sun captures this idea of Plato's teaching.

    Don't try to hard to think dont think at all
    Humans is not willing to think to reach their conclusions, they beLIEve only what they see.
    There's an insect in your ear/if you scratch it won't disappear
    In the cave analogy there are voices that the people hear that they can't understand where they come from. They don't go away.
    I'm not the only one Staring at the sun
    There are actually other people that are teaching this person about the truth of the Sun.
    Afraid of what you'll find, if you step back inside
    The thought of going back in the cave to teach the people about the light of truth is frightening and afraid that they will be killed if they go back inside.
    Not just deaf and dumb, staring at the sun, Not the only one who's happy to go blind
    This is happiness due to the discovery of what real truth is. The brightness of the sun is blinding at first but soon they see the good of the light (truth) and are happy to go blind, staring at the truth.

    Jonas Steverud (Maintainer of U2MoL) ( 4:th of October 1998)

  4. From U2.com: Bono used the album title from Something Happens' "Stuck Together with God's Glue" as a lyric.

    From Salvation in the Blues, compiled by Chris Taguchi chris@taguchi.ca (3rd of April 2007)

  5. " 'Staring At The Sun' talks of being "afraid of what you'd find if you took a look inside", with a real sense of despair, now the old simple answers have been proved wrong. There's even a hint of apology for previous false messiahs, " 'cos those who can't do often have to... preach". " -NME

    From Salvation in the Blues, compiled by Chris Taguchi chris@taguchi.ca (3rd of April 2007)