Lisa Hannigan’s Venn Diagram

Today’s song is a soft and hazy vignette from Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan (seen here with her harmonium). Venn Diagram places us in the apartment of a women letting her lover sleep as she awakes and quietly starts the day. The lyrics are careful and evocative, making the song feel like the start of a literary short story.

A note,
Penned clumsily in this century’s type-ruined hand
Saying gone down the shops for a walk I’ll bring back some sandwiches

But the lines that struck me the most are the openers:

I have lost you to sleep again.
Sleeping as we do on opposite sides of a venn diagram

It’s a thought often lost as we go through life with those we love, that there is a whole part of ourselves that we will never share. Our sleeping and dreaming hours are always solely our own. To put it another way:

If we define A = {all the narrator’s experiences} and B = {all of her lover’s experiences}
a = {all of the narrator’s waking experiences}, where a ⊂ A
b = {all of her lover’s waking experiences}, where b ⊂ B

Then A ∩ B or more precisely a ∩ b = {their shared experiences}. Sunset walks, cooking dinner, quiet rainy afternoons reading.

But the intersection of their dreaming experiences will always be the empty set:
A \ a ∩ B \ b = {}

Blitzen Trapper mine the same idea with the imaginative Not Your Lover (In my sleep I’m not your lover anymore), with bonus lyric reference to a moon-walking cowboy.


Author: mcshanahan

Science education researcher and writer

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