Cryptomnesia

There is a line in the Artifex Pereo song ‘No Stranger to Worry’ that reads, “Infatuated with a dark, looming end,” which is not particularly eventful by itself. It’s essentially a typical prog-rock lyric on what I consider to be a particularly excellent prog-rock album. I bring this up, though, because the phrasing and melody of that particular line always brings to mind an entirely different song: ‘Kids of the K-Hole’ from NOFX’s classic So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes which contains the line, “Infatuation with your dark side I obey.” Hmm.

The syllable count, the melodic emphasis on ‘dark’ in both phrases, the use of ‘infatuation’ (a word that, unsurprisingly, does not appear in punk or prog-rock lyrics with any kind of regularity)…I’m just honestly surprised by how similar these lines are.

That said, I am not insinuating that Artifex Pereo is engaging in any intellectual property theft or anything of the sort. In truth, they may have never heard ‘Kids of the K-Hole’ before. I played in a prog-rock band in college and while I listened to NOFX, I’m fairly confident that no one else in the band did and so I don’t think that you can assume with any confidence that anyone in Artifex Pereo is familiar with a 17-year old NOFX album.

Assuming that I’m correct and that no intentional theft is taking place here, what’s intriguing to me is the possibility that this is an incidence of cryptomnesia. I’ll wait a moment for you to recover from the awesomeness of that word. [Waiting, waiting, waiting…okay, let’s go.] In case you didn’t follow that link, cryptomnesia is basically the act of having a new idea, only your new idea is actually someone else’s old idea that you heard about in the past and promptly forgot only to have your brain dredge it up in the present and tell you that it’s yours.

Cryptomnesia is not something that only happens to the elderly or, oh I don’t know, thieving nobodies that are trying to use a mental health term to cover up their theft. One of the more famous examples of cryptomnesia (yes, I am trying to use that word as often as possible in this post) is actually George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ which was not only a number one hit but also maybe-kinda-sorta a total ripoff of an older song called ‘He’s So Fine.’ (To those who are curious, Harrison seemingly did his best to set things right, although the whole ordeal was about as messy as it could have been.)

So, do I think Artifex Pereo intentionally ripped off a NOFX lyric? Definitely not. Do I think that they had a little bout of cryptomnesia? It might not be probable, but it’s definitely possible.

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