“ALL I WANT IS BOUNDLESS LOVE” — Lingua Ignota’s ‘Caligula’ and the Theme of Abuse
From the perspective of someone who has experienced both emotional and physical abuse in a past relationship, I’ve always felt that discussion surrounding abuse is reductive and neglects crucial parts of the experience. Learning to forgive and forget is often considered to be the main priority. Whilst these are necessary steps to take, something that anyone who has experienced a trauma will tell you is that it’s rarely easy to do. The full spectrum of emotions that accompany this process are typically regarded as taboo and rarely garner recognition- namely the grief, the sadness, the anger. It is for this reason that Caligula is such an important piece of artwork. Lingua Ignota acknowledges all the aspects of being an abuse survivor in a manner that is raw, angry and unapologetic. It’s refreshing to hear a take on abuse that breaks away from the narrative.
Upon discovering the album, I worried that it might be too intense for me given its themes. Strangely, it had the opposite effect- despite the upfront lyrics and brutal nature of the vocals, I found Caligula to be comforting. Even though time has passed and I’ve been fortunate enough to work through my trauma with a professional, it’s still something I’m hesitant to talk about- for Lingua Ignota to share her experience in the public sphere is incredibly important for people like me. To see someone publicly and candidly discuss the things I went through, especially in this manner, has significantly helped me come to terms with what happened.
Adding to my love of this album is the unbashful rage Lingua Ignota expresses towards her abusers. Although many people would probably argue that holding onto negative emotions isn’t a good thing, it’s fundamental to remind abuser survivors that it’s okay to be angry about their experiences. It took me years of living with my trauma to realise that what happened to me wasn’t fair, that I could feel remorseful about it, and that I didn’t have to forgive my abuser for the things they put me through. Allowing myself to feel all these emotions for the first time was incredibly cathartic for me and a significant part of my journey to recovery. There’s a verse from the song ‘BUTCHER OF THE WORLD’ which resonated with me in particular: “may your own shame hang you, may dishonour drown you, may there be no kindness.” Again, to have someone depart from the usual narrative and openly wish ill upon their abuser is very powerful.
“Life is cruel and time heals nothing” is another standout line from ‘IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL’. For me personally, it took four years before I was ready to come to terms with what had happened to me- for others it can take a lifetime. It’s important that we be honest about how difficult the process of both leaving and living with the effects of an abusive relationship is, rather than playing into the frankly unrealistic depiction we see in the media.
Even if you’re someone who has never experienced abuse, there’s still so much to be taken from the record. It’s a holistic exploration of trauma, as well as an insightful comment on misogyny and violence. Whilst musically it might not be for everyone, as a work of art Caligula is undeniably beautiful- and vital to the narrative of abuse.