Natural World: Notes

The inception of Natural World was in a cycle of songs I wrote in 2005 or so. It was an abstract version of a science fiction-love story-adventure journey, but too formless, shapeless, and opaque to truly be a tangible story. I envisioned Exit, written as part of that cycle, as a description of some sort of rift of space through which travel over great distances of space and time is possible, and an important plot point or catalyst. So I hung onto it. About five years later, while writing Triumph & Symphony, I wrote Safe as Houses. It felt like a puzzle piece to something, but I didn't know how or where. I just knew it belonged elsewhere. Fragments of lyrics and melodies and imagery would slowly start cropping up here and there, and the idea of the heroine, a still nascent and disembodied version of Celeste, was born. Shoebox was the first song written after the Animal video. Obviously tied to the video's imagery, it helped me understand there was something there for me to uncork I did not yet comprehend. Still physically exhausted and recovering from the making of the video, I found refuge in soundless prose and unexpectedly wrote a novel. The simultaneous formulation of the Natural World narrative made it so Celeste found her way into the book, and the process of writing the book precipitated the insights I needed to unlock Celeste's story and complete the cycle of songs. The Girl Who Said Too Much was one of the final songs I figured out around late 2013. Once this fell into place, I understood the journey.

There are several lenses through which I see the name Celeste. Firstly, the definitions of celestial are relevant.

pertaining to the sky or visible heaven, or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere, as in celestial body.

positioned in or relating to the sky, or outer space as observed in astronomy.

of or relating to celestial navigation (navigation by means of observations made of the apparent position of heavenly bodies)

pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven; heavenly; divine.

It encompasses references to space, nautical voyages, oceans, the natural world, and the human spirit, all in one word. All of my favorite things. Secondly, as Russians use patronyms for middle names (i.e. your father's first name + feminine suffix), I didn't really have a middle name. So as I child, I privately chose Celeste. It was more than just a middle name; it felt more like a color-saturated alter ego, and so it became. If Celeste's story is mine, I wouldn't know. I still somewhat feel like an outsider to it. But yet, her world and universe, the Natural World, was the geography I'd been trying to build and inhabit for many years. And really, what is more vast and labyrinthine than the realm of the heart.

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