the birth of harry
alternate title: the key to harry’s universe is water
There are many recurring themes and images Harry likes to use in his music and art in general. Communication with a lover/the self, rooms of the house, or even fruit names. One of the most persistent constants he's used, though, is water. For the visuals to accompany his art as well as in the lyrics themselves and one might argue the music sometimes even tries to sound like water.
What first sent me into the deep end about this subject matter is unknown to me - the mermaid tattoo, the adore you or falling mv, the snl harriel pics etc etc etc - I just currently find myself entirely submerged and will never get out this is where I belong I'm part of this world and you can hear me rant about it here !
Something definitely triggered me when the lovely lovely master of putting beautifully painful emotions into words @laurelier posted her two ghosts/falling piece of glory. I highly recommend you read that + the little rant on the side we had about what it could mean in relation to She.
I thought I made a fucking moodboard based on my own heart’s desires when I connected Harry as a pin-up doll on stage in philly to a mermaid thus to Ariel having to sing a concert from a shell for me to then land on Boticelli’s Venus floating on a shell over the ocean and imagining Harry as that. Simple. But THEN discourse escalated when @dyingstars-x caused me to remember that Harry literally already used open shells like that during a performance of Falling (screams) AND SEVEN THEN UPPED THE ANTE AND SLAMMED HARRY’S NUDE IN MY FACE CLAIMING IT AS THE BIRTH OF VENUS AND——
just a reminder that this was caused by the philly look. and then he fucking went and did this yesterday
so here’s the order of business:
water in harry's art: an (attempt of an) entire overview bc why not
the fine line nude as a birth of venus ft more mindmaps
water, mermaids and the birth of venus: an explosion of meaning
just a quick disclaimer: this is all shit from my brain! 1) it is nothing harry has confirmed. 2) what’s especially important is that your own interpretations of his art is what you should hold dear, and read this for what it is: some internet voice letting their opinion echo around the harrysphere. what all of it means to you might be very different than what it means to me, and that never ever means it’s wrong. <3 okay let’s go
Since HS1 water has been everywhere. The cover of the album is Harry in pink water, drenched, and seen from above like you’re bathing him like a baby, washing his hair by scooping water up and pouring it over him.
The water for hs1 is dirty, like bathwater that contains everything that has been washed off. There’s trash, old forgotten items, flower petals. We can assume Harry is naked but we can’t tell bc the water isn’t transparent enough.
I always feel like HS1 is an album near and dear to Harry, but a work of art that represents his puberty, almost. His coming of age, figuring shit out, especially deep-rooted sadness that he did not have the tools for to properly understand yet. There are subjects that are clearly echoed in Fine Line, even flipped on their head, but if HS1 tried to convey the sadness trapped in Harry’s heart, Fine Line ripped it out and laid it bare. During HS1 Harry was still in a dark hallway finding his way through the maze of his self, while for Fine Line the lights have been turned on. He knows the maze a little better by now. during hs1 harry was still in the water while now he has emerged
The clearest water-related images in HS1 are in the lyrics of Two Ghosts, Ever Since New York and the music video for Sign of the Times.
In terms of two ghosts/esny I will first and foremost quote miss @bluewinnerangel :
my own interpretation of this line also still holds imo (although my analysis of the rest of the song is a bit too superficial to my liking and will most probably be rewritten by me at some point)
The music video for Sign of the Times has so much to unpack (i think??) that I (or anyone) should dedicate a separate post for it, but: water. Soaring over the sea, really fucking high. Is it a metaphor for passing away? For Harry being a ghost? For wanting to escape? To fly away? bc i always interpret this song as. trying to get away in the most extreme form yk.
The sea, to me, is there as an image of a vast sense of calm. An endless horizon, the unknown, possibilities, escape. The edge of the world.
The mv for Two Ghosts that was never released which is a good thing bc i don’t know if we could’ve survived that. It features Harry walking through rivers and lakes of what does seem to be water, but is rainbow-colored and almost oily (oil paint?). Harry floating on water then brings us closer to Fine Line and his relation to water now.
(stills and gif made from this video)
It’s since Fine Line, though, that water has started to represent so much more. Now he’s also generally doused in it, soaking wet, or submerged entirely.
The Lights Up music video was the debut of his sophomore album and a clear statement of intent with what the album was to achieve. The clip has such heavy imagery of sadness and desperation in water, a haunting but exhilarating juxtaposition with the ecstasy and freedom of the scenes where there is dancing or speeding off on the back of a motorcycle. i guess that really is what life is isn’t it
Needless to say that in Adore You water also plays a big role. It’s a force that brings people together, like the neighbors who get married thanks to a message in a bottle. The ocean dictates life on the island. For the peculiar boy, it was going to be his (final) escape. The waves then threw the rainbow fish at him and reset his life entirely. In the end, the ocean is his door to happiness. The very same waves that he wanted to take him under eventually aid him in his pursuit of love.
harry you can’t just show me this virginia wolf-ass imagery and expect me to be okay
Falling…. falling. Mermaid shirt. Submerged. Drowning. Giving in to the rising water. Survives, panting.
Golden: happiness, escape in the water.
escape - solace - sadness - confrontation with/erasure of self - happiness
THE LONE NUDE
pink flowers in the right bottom corner (i have close to no knowledge about flowers so pls don't shoot me if i get it wrong and by all means get back to me if you have additions/corrections)
first off: pink flowers are a "symbol of femininity, love, adoration and admiration"
symbolic of a confidence boost for people struggling with self-esteem issues
connected to more feminine, caring characteristics
black calla lily:
symbolises elegance, beauty and mystery
associated with lust and jealousy
purity, faithfulness and holiness. "The flower is often depicted in images of the Virgin Mary. For millions of Christians all over the world, calla lilies are a symbol of rebirth and resurrection"
"Traditional Medicinal Uses: used in minute doses for mental and emotional disorders. The ancient Greeks used it as a cure for insanity. It has been used as a purgative for mental illness"
"Chinese and Japanese flower experts recommend the Poppy for couples because it means a deep and passionate love between two people"
Red – death, remembrance, consolation (West) <-> success and love (East)
Purple, Pink, Blue – imagination, luxury, success
pink and blue ! 🏳️⚧️
hollow like an empty shell *coughcoughcoughchokesanddies*
EARLY DRAFT/ORIGINAL IDEA by set designer: WOMB. I REPEAT: WOMB!!!!!!! THEY WERE LITERALLY ABOUT TO PUT ACTUAL HARRY IN A WOMB IN THE FUCKING FINE LINE BOOKLET I AM NOT SC R EAM I N G
other images of fl shoot: growth, regrowth - will be discussed further below
half-in, half-out, as if he crawled or fell out of it
naked, like at birth
legs crossed casually, one arm covering his groin, the other spread out wide: hand covering parallel with paintings/sculptures of Venus !!
looking straight at the camera: parallel with paintings of Venus !!!
paintings of Venus, esp. Manet’s: depiction of woman who is proud of her body and looks, no shame (interesting: Olympia as a prostitute Venus)
on the floor, lying down vs standing up (- Jesus (h’s upper body reminds me of imagery of jesus at the cross and yk that kid also did a lil resurrection thingy))
self-esteem - femininity - love - pride - confrontation - success - rebirth
TIE IT ALL TOGETHER
“I’m so attached to the idea that there’s a connection between H being in the water and existing as a fuller, queerer self, a more loving self. Being connected to the best of himself, all of that human goodness, even if it’s painful, even if he feels like he’s drowning, even if he sometimes feels like he literally can’t do it; almost like the water represents him learning to live and breathe in a different way, turn into a creature who can survive” underwater @laurelier
There is a reason for all of this, for this mess of a post with arrows and more question marks than periods. There is a reason why I, among others, get emotional thinking about Harry as a mermaid.
First of all, there’s the importance of Harry’s mermaid tattoo. A symbol for trans identities, especially with the link to a desire to shape-shift, change bodies, or even have no (obvious) genitals. (see mermaidsgender on instagram) Freedom in the water. Harry’s had it for a long time now, so these thoughts may have been with him since the 1d days, despite him not being able to clearly express it all back then.
“In 2014, Harry revealed his mermaid tattoo was a reference to himself. This was when he first got the tattoo and everyone found it bizarre and couldn’t understand why. Which is a tattoo of a mermaid whose vagina is pointedly visible, making her more woman than fish! But she’s still both!” @bottomharrykingdom
He uses water in almost all of his imagery, because in water is where his emotions, his buried personal struggles are. The water is where, especially, he has his dialogue with gender. He wants to bathe in it, swim deep in order to figure it out. Sometimes that brings him joy, pleasure, relief, and other times he gets suffocated.
The water in all of his FL music videos represents a part of this dialogue. In Lights Up, he is mostly searching. In Adore You, he’s ready to end the dialogue entirely, but finds hope and new ways to engage with it. In Golden, he’s at ease, at peace, because he knows he is loved and is in love. In Falling, he finally dives deep, voicing his struggles so loudly that he nearly drowns.
And this isn’t just in his music videos and art, it’s simply how he functions:
“when he and the band finished recording in Jamaica, he ended up drunk and wet from the ocean, toasting everybody, wearing a dress he’d traded with someone’s girlfriend. “I don’t remember the toast,” he says, “but I remember the feeling.” - Rolling Stone (2017) watch out or i’ll cry about this quote every single fucking time
he seeks relief and comfort in the water, a symbol for everything he’s trying to figure out, a symbol for being closer to the answers.
He can’t keep going under, though. He can’t live under the sea among the fish, no matter how badly he wants that. He has to live on land.
He had to emerge from the water. He had to become his own version of Venus, born from the water, emerged onto the sand. (vs for hs1 where he’s still in the water, soaking. wallowing)
Harry has shown us the imagery of mermaids, Venus, rebirth since Fine Line started. In the booklet we see him growing along with enormous plants that were originally sketched to be roots among which he’d be half-buried. The lone nude was originally designed to be a womb. A womb. That cradled Harry. Instead they chose for a hollow heart that Harry seems to have fallen out of. Because it makes the meaning of the rebirth less obvious? Because he’s been reborn thanks to a broken heart? Because he’s had to carve his heart out to get where he is now? Because he doesn’t have a womb and all that’s born from him comes from his heart? like this whole entire bit is so huge to me i hope it is to you, reading this, too
Harry’s pose echoes that of images made of Venus all throughout history. He’s aligning himself with the goddess of “love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory.” The bold eye contact with the viewer. Look at me. Really, take a good look, I dare you. Or perhaps just: this is me. Nothing more, nothing less, and I will never be ashamed (again).
I think the most important part to remember about Harry using this imagery is Venus’s birth from the sea linked to his use of water to process emotions, especially linked to his gender. He chose the image of a rebirth from the water because he is a mermaid ready to live on land as Venus. He chose for these symbols of femininity (the pink flowers), these echoes of women, goddesses (or even mermaids) in art, because they represent this new person he’s become. Or the person he’s always been, but has finally been peeled bare.
Like Venus, his birth is as a grown person, never perfect (thank the romans for imagining their gods as flawed beings), but whole. And this album represents that process, tells that story.
If we look at the story the music videos tell, alongside the album, we can assume Harry’s found a way to feel good in his skin by diving so deep into his self that he could emerge from it as a new person, someone who has shed issues or has embraced them, turned them into something positive.
intermezzo of harry looking beautifully queer
Look. I’m going to give you (even more of) an (unasked for) insight in my mind on this to drive my point home just a little more.
Fine Line, the song. The final track. The sounds of it. Listen.
We’re submerged, we’re dreaming, we’re floating. The opening notes of voices singing sounds like something you could hear underwater. The instruments sound distant. Harry’s voice echoes, ethereal. I’m thinking of the mermaid song in harry potter and the goblet of fire here as well as sound effects in the little mermaid stay with me on this pls. The piano (yk from 2:15) must be the one they used for falling bc it sounds submerged. Every note sounds like a drop of water in an echoing cave.
We’ll be a fine line. The song starts to pick up. Harry’s voice starts to sound closer, clearer. The guitars are livelier. We’re rising up from the water. Strings play bc it really is fucking emotional.
But then. Drums. Our pace picks up, we’re leaving the sadness, the struggles, the doubts, the comfort zone behind. The trumpets start to blow because it’s a fucking victory of ours, getting out of that water. Harry sighs: we’ll be alright. We’ll be alright.
And then he lets it out. WE’LL BE ALRIGHT.
We’re running. Dancing. Maybe just panting. Dazed. Smiling, laughing. Exclaiming in relief. Cymbals clash. A choir of muses sings our story.
Some last drops of water fall from us onto the sand.
There is a lot of pain in this journey, in Harry’s art. A lot of shit he’s dealt and is still dealing with. Who knows what his future work might even bring upon us. Fine Line, however, has told us the story of someone who has learned to accept, come to terms with who they are. Who stands victorious and proud. Who has redefined himself for himself. Who celebrates himself.
His focus, clearly, lies where his freedom is. It’s been his focus all throughout FL promo, his latest speeches during hslot underlining it even more. Even in the most recent press statement he gave, to New Yorker in an article about Harris Reed, he stated:
“To wear Harris’s clothes is to be having fun,” Styles told me, in an e-mail. “Every frill is there to be played with, and an overwhelming sense of freedom shall rain down upon you.”
For Harry, to experiment with gender, wear androgynous clothing, be androgynous/gender-non-conforming/genderfluid/to not be put in a box is to be free. And he had/has to struggle hard to work that out, but he made it. He killed off an old version of himself to emerge sparkly new, gleaming with pride. He knows who he is, now.
and if he sometimes needs to go back to the water, for solace, comfort, or to simply escape, then that’s part of the journey. and i know we’ll always be proud.
i had to
now i’m gonna go cry a bit and hopefully sleep a lot and especially listen to this playlist i’ve had for a while now, adequately called mermaid comfort. you’re welcome to join me if you’d like. thank you so much for reading, for coming on this bender with me............ by all means, dump your thoughts onto me (please) and this gif by @kiwikiwiandkiwi of harry last night pretty much sums it all up for me rn
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