The first time I listened to Black Swan, I was sitting in a crowded cafe, cake half-eaten, coffee half empty. Going out was inevitable so I'd chosen to sit by myself alone, just as Black Swan was released. I did not know what to expect, to hear, to understand. But then again with BTS' releases — you never do.
I remember putting my earphones in and waited. Twelve seconds in and I already wanted to cry. Thirty seconds in and I already felt something stir inside of me. There was not much I understood but I felt as if I was yearning for something, for someone but for what? I wasn’t quite sure. I felt as I was finally understood but for what? I wasn’t quite sure either.
All I remember is listening to Black Swan and then silence. Just the simple tinkle of cutlery against plates and the chatter of people I’ve never seen before. If someone had seen me, they would have thought I saw a ghost. Or discovered something terrible. But it wasn’t sadness I felt or fear or anger or pain — but relief.
I wanted to play her again, wanted to read her lyrics and try to understand her but I stopped myself. I’d go home and listen to it, I told myself, fully immerse myself in her again. But the truth was that I was afraid.
Later when I went home and sat down, I brought up the lyrics. I sat down, pressed play, and listened.
And then I understood.
When RM admitted that he cried writing Black Swan, I understood. When a fan who couldn’t dance anymore found solace through Jimin’s performance, I understood. When Yoongi and Namjoon said their first deaths would be when the music stops feeling what it does to them, I understood. When Jimin broke mid-performance to do his solo where he showed all his love, his pain, his anguish, his relief, reaching out to something the audience could not see before falling down— I understood.
As a writer, I’ve never imagined a world without words. I have loved writing and reading and music and art long before I discovered what they meant. And somehow, Black Swan, being an ode to creatives and artists by artists themselves meant more than it should have.
Black Swan resonated deeply across people all over the world — especially through artists and it isn’t surprising. It is an ode to every single person who is two parts in love and three parts in hate with the art that they create.
It is an ode to every single person who looks down at their hand and struggles to discern where they begin and where their love for art intersects. It is an ode to every single person who struggles to imagine a world without art, without music, without words.
It is an ode to every single person who has found purpose within their art but questions themselves — if art does not exist, where would I be? If art does not exist, who would I be?
Black Swan makes you question why we perform, why we sing, why we dance, why we sit down and write. It makes you imagine a world where art does not exist and you understand why it does.
It is all about the fear of what art does to us, the fear of art not existing, the fear of art not having the same reign it has on us forever, the fear of existing without purpose.
When BTS talk of sinking into the deep ocean, only to discover your own self, you understand. When they talk of your feet being pulled in and desperately trying to crawl out to see the light, you understand. When they talk of never giving up, of what art does to them, of what it reminds them, you understand.
Black Swan is all about the fear of what art does to us. It is all about not being able to create or perform. But it is all about what art does to us now, as well.
It is about how we have the capacity to be moved by art, to create, to perform, to dance, and sing our hearts out. It is about immortalizing our existence through art forever. It is all about how art lives through us, how art has given us purpose and saved our lives.
Imagining a world without art or music makes the future look bleak. If we do not create, why do we exist? If paintings don't still time and hold it forever, how will we be able to reminisce and yearn and remember? If we do not dance, how do we say what words fail us to say?
Black Swan is all about the fear of losing what art does to us and what it means. But it is also a reminder of our ability to create, to see, to imagine, to dance, to exist. It is a reminder that we are human and so we create.