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“Empty escapement” - The escapement of a mechanical clock controls the ticking and the tocking and is adjustable for accurate time–keeping. The empty escapement has no teeth or other mechanical elements by which it meters and controls time. Without teeth the escapement will fly out of control and all control of time will be lost. Escape (also poetically here called the act of “escapement”) is a coping mechanism for depression. Futility vs emptiness. This leads to the observation that the that lust for control of time, or anything else for that matter, is lost. Furthermore the “face” of a clock has no oral orifice and no teeth.

“Mouthless shadow” - Wherever a shadow falls there is still the detail under the shadow of the surface it is is cast onto. So the clock hands cast a shadow onto the mouthless face and so there is no mouth in the shadow that falls upon the face. Mouthlessness and muteness also refers to the inability to have one's protestations heard in the external fight for social change. One can also be a shadow of one’s former self.

So the second hand spins the fastest of all hands, dangerously so, at its centrepetal limit. But herein lies the paradox.

There is also the use of the term “second hand” as disposable, temporary, worthless and so on throughout the lyric. The song comes back to this thread every time.

“Another revolution” - So we have clock face revolutions where nothing really changes and social revolutions where nothing really changes. So the hands go round out of control. When they spin the shadow cast is diluted and becomes the penumbra obscuring nothing. They cannot hide the real facial expression yet they keep coming back to the same place. Over and over and over again. The moans are the same each day. The solutions of voting, government, war, birth, death or spousal discontent go round and round in circles and keep coming back to the same impasse.

“Highly strung” by anxiety. Highly sprung as the clock spring. So the spring unwinds out of control and the fumbling fingers struggle to coordinate. The second hand is a blur and its fingers would be more so if it had any. Eventually the spring fatigues.

“Wind me up/Ready to go” -  both definitions relevant. The clock chime is sweet and comforting and predictable and now boring. Yet another unconvincing attempt to placate ones concerns. It gets to the stage where the key no longer does anything. The act of winding neither tightens nor relaxes the spring. Broken promises. Misplaced trust. A stab in the back.

So although the second hand spins out of control does it avoid centrepetal failure by realising its core strength? One's adversaries complacently focus on the obvious stereotypical indicators of one's failure. One answer to the paradox is that it gets to such a speed that a terminal rpm is reached like the vanes of a music box damper/governor. It persists and triumphs despite possessing none of the regular attributes deemed necessary for survival.

The conclusion is that their strengths are their weakness and your weakness is your strength. You are the second hand citizen.

 Second Hand has a new definition.

There is no perfect opportunity. There is no unique opportunity. Wake up tomorrow and the hands will be in the same place. We cannot control time. When we get motivated, if we do, then we use the time to the best of our ability. Be aware that there will be someone next to you who has ground to a halt.


Another night of nocturnal torment

By noon I’m nothing new

Lost the lust of that empty escapement

And a mouthless shadow so mute

And I’m just your second hand

And I’ve seen

Yes I’ve seen the second hand

And I felt yes I felt so second-hand

I'm your second hand

I’m finding your way

Yet I fail to understand why we're

Fighting this way

Just another revolution

My hands can hide no more

Sick and tired of that simple solution

And a face I found before

Why do you discard the second hand ?

Yet you say

You say you love that second hand

So why do you scorn that second hand ?

And it seems like the second hand

Could wear you away

Scars on the second hand could

Last for a day

And they say you're so highly strung

You store the strength of that stale

Clueless coil that tires of the toil

Fight the fingers that fumble and fail

And you are your own second hand

And you've seen

Yes you've seen the second hand

And you've felt

Yes you've felt the second hand

You are your second hand

You're finding no way

So you fail to understand

Why you're fighting this way

Wind me up and I’m ready to go

I choke on that charming chime

Clasp the key like a sabre in my spine

And the seconds slip sublime

And it's not that simple to understand

And it's not unusual I fail to understand

I wonder why I ain't got a clue

Why I’m so second hand

It seems like the second hand could

Lead you astray

Minutes are so meaningless

To the length of your day

You're closer to your clockwork kingdom

You tick on my timeless tears

So forsake subvert the system

No nouth no eyes and no ears

I’m just your second hand citizen

You are your own second hand citizen

We are on our own second hand citizen

And it’s strange how the citizenis

Is starting to say

What of the citizen whose

Rights fade away

They fade away

© MOTH 1993

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