Jane Doe



by ImpOfThePerverse USER (2 Reviews)
March 31st, 2010 | 1248 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "A tale told by the idiot Jacob Bannon, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Converge’s 2001 record Jane Doe is, more than anything else, a symptom. A symptom, of course, is a surface phenomenon that points to its derivation out of something deeper – something that lies at its root, concealed from view. It is the manifestation of that which remains latent. As such, it is the expression of another thing, distinct from itself, of which it is an unwitting reflex, purely epiphenomenal.

But in its very superficiality, Jane Doe simulates profundity. The illusion that results is, in fact, so perfect as to disguise its origin even from itself, lost in the night of its own paramnesia. Jacob Bannon might be the one singing on the record, but make no mistake: the words are not his own. In truth, they are words written by no one. Words that are the product a thoroughly impersonal dynamic, generated by a mindless web of relations that inscribes itself into the consciousness of a human vessel – a human vessel which for it is nothing more than a mouthpiece, a means for expression.

In other words, Bannon is the puppet of forces beyond his comprehension. He dances to a tune that was not of his own making. Nor was this tune the making of any other member of Converge. His frenetic flailing during their songs is the enactment of a total powerlessness, the involuntary spasm of a marionette.

Very well, a symptom – but if so, a symptom of what?

Put simply, Jane Doe is a symptom of the fetishization of the personal itself, or to be more precise, of the unmistakable personalism that characterizes so much of the art and music of the last few decades. That is to say, it emerges out of the general cult of the “personal” that has arisen in recent years. Converge’s most celebrated project thrives on the same elements that all personalist art and music does: self-referentiality, a heavy reliance on personal symbolism, the exact meaning of which is available to no one outside of the author – indeed, an entire mythology belonging only to a single individual, the likes of which William Blake could have only dreamed.

To be sure, Jane Doe’s most obscure symbolism is that which attempts to transfigure the mythologies that once were common property to all, “imbuing” them with personal meaning. The two-part sequence of “Phoenix in Flight” and “Phoenix in Flames” invokes that old Coptic legend about the mythic creature that is reborn out of the very flames that consume it. Certainly, the symbol has been used often enough by lyric poets through the ages. But Bannon adds a twist. “Set your phoenix to flight,” he commands. “Your” phoenix? What could this possibly mean? Surely its meaning is privy only to the author himself, or perhaps also to the “person” to whom the phoenix belonged. The must allude to some private experience Bannon had that carried such personal significance as to “move” him to reference it in a song released to the public.

This is hardly an isolated instance in the album. In a song called, appropriately enough, “Distance and Meaning,” the following lyrics appear: “Like the years we burned down/I heard that phone call/The hesitation, the awkward silence/I felt everything in those seconds.” Bannon makes no attempt to elucidate the contents of this conversation, either by lyrical hints or other poetic devices. It recalls a phone conversation between two people, wrapped in all the vagueness that comes with a memory exalted by an author as particularly significant. Again, however, the meaning is Bannon’s sole property; he presents it to his audience as an empty cipher.

Herein lies the key to the personalism underpinning every moment of Converge’s Jane Doe. By signifying nothing, its authors seem to signify everything. Bannon presents concrete symbols torn from their context. Lyrics describing particular events are removed from the personal experiences for which they possess significance and displayed as raw artifacts, unsullied by explanation. The irreducibly personal quality this produces far from alienates its listeners, however. On the contrary, listeners delight in speculating about the “deep” personal meaning all these events must have.

At this point, though, the album’s effect undergoes a strange mutation. For it is by the seemingly individual nature of these experiences that they are transmuted into something that appears as a universal experience – something that is “shared by everyone.” These feelings he describes as embodied in particular objects and moments are surely things that “we’ve all felt before.” The specificity of its meaning is generalized by virtue of its detachment from a greater public realm of meaning. All the concrete cases he describes are abstracted from his experiences and thereby become something in which we can all abstractly participate. Bannon’s lyrics become something to which we can all “relate.”

This abstractness is reflected in the abstract layers of fuzz and noise into which everything determinate is dissolved. Individual notes are either lost in the drone of an open D or are absurdly accentuated. The time signature changes throughout “Concubine” and “Fault and Fracture” are cynically calculated to convey desperation or anger. To this, Bannon’s empty screams parody themselves, the ghosts of their own auto-affection. They simultaneously mask and lay bare “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Shakespeare).

It is therefore no coincidence that Bannon gave the name “Jane Doe” to his ex-lover, after whom the album is eponymously titled. Jane Doe expresses the utter generality of this woman. She could be anyone. And this is the central paradox of the album: though she is certainly the one to whom so many personal, particular meanings are attached, she is no one in particular. Her ultimate facelessness is illustrated on the album cover by the half-silhouette of her face disintegrating into locusts at the bottom. This more broadly signifies the disintegration of meaning that underlies the personalism of the album. Its significance is precisely the loss of significance.

Another implication of this (a point that has hitherto eluded reviewers of this album) is that as much as Jane Doe is meant to be the story of one person, of Jacob Bannon, it becomes anyone’s story. Bannon himself is a sort of John Doe. In the final analysis, he is a stand-in, a catchall, a placeholder. His individual persona is elevated into the hypostasis of a social type.

And this is why the album must be rated a 1. Converge cannot even be credited with its creation. Jane Doe is, essentially, an album that was written by no one.

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Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2010


good luck

Digging: Caspian - Dust and Disquiet

March 31st 2010



fuckin' pos'd

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March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

hey it looks like im not the only one who doesn't like converge here

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

Well written review. While I don't think this is that bad, it sure kicks the ass of the dumbass staff members who thought it was a good idea to not let you rate Converge a 1.

Best of luck

March 31st 2010


hey look a reviewer to match Waior's dictionary vocabulary (although Waior's reviews are actually good, assuming I'm understanding them right)

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

why do you people seem to think that using big words instantly means it's well written? this is awfully written

March 31st 2010


Pos'd because it resembles a review, albeit a stupidly shortsighted one that focuses only on one aspect of the album, but still, that's much better than your previous work.

Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

Lol, how is this rated a 0.5?

Digging: Cryptopsy - Whisper Supremacy

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

oh wow he changed the rating

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

Not going according to saturated review template =/= Bad review, Transient

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

Hey, isn't this the third time you've submitted this review? Yeah, let's see how well that works out for you...

March 31st 2010


"full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

Like this review?

March 31st 2010


Also review is as boring as the first and second time I read it.

March 31st 2010


hey bro next time you should review the album

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

1 small paragraph on the music. sums up the review really.

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

I dont understand your approach. this is a simple hardcore disc that is very heavily appreciated around these parts of the web. you dont need to do something like this to prove a point. i mean, what, did this take like almost two hours to put together?

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

It's funny how a review like this makes the author seem much dumber than would a much more colloquial review. Whoever it was that cited Ernest Hemingway speaks the truth. In addition to employing a simple and straightforward style, he said every writer needs an absolutely earthquake-proof bullshit detector. Every real writer has one.

This review is steeped in bullshit.

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Nonsync, the musical aspect of this album guarantees at least a 3.5, you are down-rating it to a ridiculous extent only because the lyrics/vocals.

March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

"And this is why the album must be rated a 1. Converge cannot even be credited with its creation. Jane Doe is, essentially, an album that was written by no one."

...what trash

Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah this review makes little actual sense beneath all the big words. but i lol'd at the thought of how bent out of shape so many people will get from seeing this get a 1

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