An Autistic Reading Of The Rifle’s Spiral

My take on a few lines of The Rifle’s Spiral by The Shins.

This music video came into my orbit before I knew that I was autistic. However, there are a few lines in there that have always captured my imagination. I’ve had other neurodivergent people listen to this piece, and they also latched onto the very same lines.

Why? I think it is because it speaks to our experience of being a kid with intolerant parents.

Give the video clip a listen, and see if you latch onto the same lines.

The lines I have in mind are these:

You’re not invisible now
You just don’t exist
Your mother must be so proud
You sublimate yourself, granting us a wish

(Some people hear drowning us of rich for the granting us a wish line. I was not able to find the official lyrics to confirm either reading, but I find the first reading ungrammatical. It wouldn’t change my analysis anyway.)

What is this saying? I think the singer is talking to a child whose parents are trying to ignore. You’re not invisible to your parents. You actually don’t even exist for them. This is the reason why your mother must be so proud. She’s also proud because you make yourself so tiny trying to not annoy them that you sublimate yourself. You evaporate into thin air. Thus, you grant your parents (and everyone else who cannot stand you) a wish.

I think quite a few autistic, neurodivergent, and queer folks can identify with my analysis here.


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