Ideograph is a concept that emerges from the work of Michael Calvin McGee. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ideograph is a combination of ideo- + -graph and is defined as a “character or figure in a writing system that represents something conceptually without depending on a particular name for it, as in Chinese characters and most Egyptian hieroglyphics or in numerals.”
Ideographs live in language and are found in both discourse and the everyday talk of a community. Therefore, in order for ideographs to function, there has to public rhetoric that is agreed upon and shared by the community. (McGee, 1980, p. 7)
Throughout the album, the theme of the human condition and the impact of the media have remained constant; and in “Way Beyond”, these themes swirl to create an angry cry for help. The concept of is apparent in the lyrics of this song in particular. Wild World as a whole, by Dan Smith, has been described as a mixed tape discussing current issues with our world. “Way Beyond” in particular projects the idea that we all have become desensitized to what is happening around us.
When panic rises like the oceans
We just keep on flicking through the stations
‘Cause if we don’t post it does it happen?
Oh I wanna be free of this
Dan mentions wanting to “be free” of the status quo. And really, who can blame him? The constant need to post everything that we do on social media has consumed our brains. We hear or see one headline, but then it is sort of like, “Yeah, okay but what’s next? What is the next story?” When we watch the news or read up on current events it is easy to become numb and have the ability to shrug off headlines because we are used to them. This line in particular opened my eyes to the callousness of society.
“Television viewers have the choice of watching the tragedy play out from the seating and comfort of their living rooms. But victims have to respond to the pressure of the media while still in shock”
We, the viewers, expect a play by play of everything that is happening in the world. Microphones are shoved in the faces of people who have just lost their homes or whose family members have just died. Similar to how Dan would describe it: it’s fucked up. Nevertheless it is what the world, our world has become.
Movies and news on television
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the differences oh
When real life’s more fucked up than fiction
Do you wanna be free of this?
There is also a desire for change in these lyrics. Throughout the song Dan mentions that we must change our way of thinking in order to create progress. He admits that he too has been a part of the problem. The message that Bastille sends to its audience with the track “Way Beyond” is that there is still opportunity for change in all of the chaos around us – but it is up to us to take advantage of those opportunities.
It only matters if we care now,
If you’re way beyond that
Then I’m gonna dust you off of my shoulders
And I remember when we cared now,
If you’re way beyond that
Then I’m gonna dust you off of my shoulders, my shoulders
– – – – –
I don’t wanna play dumb, anymore
I just wanna feel something, like before
I don’t wanna feel numb, anymore
I just wanna something, like before
The idea of is something that we all can relate to. Sometimes we feel it within ourselves, or those around us. The that Dan feels is ingrained in the lyrics of this track. The awareness and need of positive change that emerges from not being satisfied with something can create hope. “Way Beyond,” which also happens to be my personal favorite track on the album, calls upon us to shift our way of thinking, to care.
“What the fuck are y’all doing is the question? This is the question.”
McGee, M.C. (1980). The ideograph: A link between rhetoric and ideology. Quarterly Journal of Speech 66, 1-16.