These are not facts, only interpretations.
I’ve always related to the music of TOOL and A Perfect Circle because Keenan always had a message, whether literal or hidden.
“Weak and Powerless”
“Tilling my own grave to keep me level
Jam another dragon down the hole
Diggin’ to rhythm and the echo of a solitary siren
One that pushes me along and leaves me so…
Desperate and ravenous
I’m so weak and powerless over you
Someone feed the monkey while I dig in search of China
White as Dracula as I approach the bottle
Little angel go away
Come again some other day
The devil has my ear today
I’ll never hear a word you say
He promised I would find a little solace and some peace of mind
Whatever just as long as I don’t feel so…
Desperate and ravenous
I’m so weak and powerless over you…”
“Dragon” is another term for snake or serpent, which is often associated with fear and death, but if you overcome this fear (“ride the snake”), wisdom ensues. Sirens are often considered creatures of beauty that are truly evil, meant to distract heroes away from their true path. By asking someone to “feed the monkey,” the narrator is asking for someone to fulfill his primal, human needs. Essentially, this song seems to be about unwillingly surrendering to a force, often seeking outward “fixes” to avoid this surrender.
Humble and helpless
Learning to pray
Praying for visions
To show me the way
Show me the way to forgive you
Allow me to let it go
Allow me to be forgiving…
Illuminate the way…”
Thomas was the disciple in the Bible who didn’t believe that Christ resurrected from the dead. This could then be sung from Thomas’s perspective (“Illuminate me”) as well as Jesus’ (“Show me the way to forgive you.”) Of course, Jesus supposedly forgave everyone of their sins, so most likely this is Thomas singing to Jesus, perhaps asking Jesus for forgiveness while at the same time, inquiring about why humans were not granted immortality as well. I do not think it was random that APC chose the word “illuminate” either.
Help me if you can.
It’s just that this..
Is not the way I’m wired
So could you please help me understand
Why you’re giving in to all these reckless dark desires?
Lying to yourself again.
Think about it, put it on a fault line.
What’ll it take to get it through to you precious?
I’m Over This. Why do you wanna throw it away like this?
Such a mess.
Why would I want to watch you
Disconnect and self-destruct one bullet at a time.
What’s your rush now?
Everyone will have his day to die…”
This song is about anyone whose ever contemplated suicide and leaving this world, and the person singing is telling them just how stupid it is to take one’s life, and how this attitude will only isolate them further. Specifically, this song seems to suggest the person is isolating themselves with drugs, “lying to” themselves about their addiction. Many have suicidal impulses, even if it means killing themselves slowly with a drug, and I feel our society often conditions individuals into this mindset.
“With heaven’s help
You cast your demons out
And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you off your cloud
But I’m more than just a little curious
How you’re planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
Recall the deeds as if
They’re all someone else’s
Now you stand reborn before us all
So glad to see you well
Your halo slipping down to choke you now…”
This song could be about anyone who’s claimed to be “reborn,” therefore erasing the history of their violent past. Many claim to have a “religious awakening,” choosing to devote their life to God when the deeds they committed in this life should equate to them going to hell. This could also be a shout out to political leaders who sell their souls, such as George Bush.
“Run, desire, run
A sexual being
Run him like a blade
To and through the heart, no conscience
One motive: cater to the hollow
Screaming feed me here
Fill me up again
Temporarily pacify this hunger that’s so cruel
Dominoes of indiscretions down
Falling all around in cycles, in circles
Constantly consuming, conquering, devour…”
I love this song because it accurately describes the human condition. We live according to our desires; moreover, we indulge in these desires without ever tempting to repress them. While repressing one’s desires is not exactly healthy, there’s a thin line between indulging and excess; “constantly consuming, conquering, devour…” Our only “motive” is to “cater to the hollow,” to “pacify this hunger.” The question than arises, why do humans always feel this emptiness? And what can cure it? Or are we meant to continue on this path of desire until our death? Is it only in the afterlife that we experience “fullness”?
To quote T.S. Eliot: “Those who have crossed With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom Remember us-if at all-not as lost Violent souls, but only As the hollow men- The stuffed men.”
“Don’t disturb the beast
the temperamental goat
the snail while he’s feeding on the rose
compromising my will i am…
no longer will i lay down play dead
play your doe in the headlights
shut down and terrified your deer in the headlights
locked down and horrified
when push comes to pull comes to shove
comes to step around this self destructive dance
that never would’ve ended till i rose i roared
aloud here i will i am…”
The Rose is a very influential symbol in Gnosis and for anyone who worships the sacred feminine. The “beast,” “goat” and “snail” could all be references to evil, Satan, the Demiurge, and all forces which serve to slow us down, destroy us, tempt us or turn us away from nature and good deeds. Materialism and greed are key facets in the world, causing the Earth, or what is natural, to be destroyed. The person in this song is saying that he’s going to disturb this “temperamental” being by not participating in its “self destructive dance” any longer. The phrases “I will” and “I am” also reflect tenets of Gnosis, which portrays that all humans are not just mindless followers; we have a brain, we have a soul and we have WILL.
“Lay your head down my child
I won’t let the boogeyman come
Counting bodies like sheep
To the rhythm of the war drums
Pay no mind to the rabble…
Pay no mind to what other voices say
They don’t care about you, like I do
Safe from pain, and truth, and choice
And other poison devils
Just stay with me, safe and ignorant
Go back to sleep…
I’ll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons
I’ll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason
I’ll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices son
They’re one in the same
I must isolate you
Isolate and save you from yourself
Swayin’ to the rhythm of the new world order
and count the bodies like sheep
To the rhythm of the war drums…”
Some say this song was written by Maynard about his son, and that’s understandable. He’s saying he wants to protect is son from the outside world and all its horrors by keeping him ignorant; moreover, “ignorance is bliss.” The narrator knows how horrible the world is, and unfortunately, the only way to raise a child in this world without them losing their innocence is to completely isolate them from the world forever. Of course, this is virtually impossible. So in another light, the term “Pet” could be inferior, referring to anyone who chooses to “stay safe and ignorant” an avoid “truth and choice” by simply “swayin” through life in a deep sleep, ignoring the chaos that’s right outside their window.
While my views on the New World Order and Old World Order differ, it’s clear that “new world order” and “counting bodies like sheep” is a reference to our government, suggesting that us humans are simply “pets” to those in power.
“Metaphor for the mystic moment
Pull me in to your perfect circle
Liberate this will
To release us all…
Snip away and sever this
Keeping me from killing you…
Don’t wanna feel this overwhelming
In mythology, Orestes’s fate was to kill his mother in order to avenge the death of his father. Although he was ordered to do so, he was still punished and driven to insanity. This song certainly reflects this ideas, of Orestes being connected to his mother and therefore not wanting to kill her, but also feeling “hostile” towards her for killing his father.
The “perfect circle” could also be symbolic of the cycles of life and death, similar to the idea of the Uroborus (a snake eating his own tail, in the shape of a circle.) The Uroborus is a key symbol in alchemy and Gnosticism, representing eternity and recreation. In this sense, this song could be about having to let go of someone close to you, whether it’s someone with a medical condition that’s in pain, or someone that is harming you mentally that you need to cut ties with. When he refers to “umbilical residue,” I feel he must be speaking of someone who is close to him by blood, although this may not be the case. Whoever this song is written for, it clearly depicts images of birth and ties to the mother, and moreover the idea of reproduction in the sense of giving birth and being “born again” by severing ties with loved ones in order to journey on your individual path.
Overcome by your moving temple
overcome by this holiest of altars
So pure so rare to witness such an earthly goddess
that I’ve lost my self control
beyond compelled to throw this dollar down
Before your holiest of altars
I’d sell my soul my self esteem
a dollar at a time for one chance
one kiss one taste of you my magdalena
I bear witness to this place this prayer
so long forgotten so pure so rare to witness such an earthly goddess
that i’d sell my soul my self esteem
a dollar at a time for one chance one kiss
one taste of you my black Madonna…”
Whether or not this song is about Mary Magdalene directly, the narrator is clearly speaking about someone he keeps in high regard (to even compare her with MM.) In the bible, Mary is considered the “black Madonna” for her depiction as a whore, when in reality, her and Jesus’ mother Mary were one in the same, and furthermore, Magdalene is believed by many to be Jesus’ lover, only denied in our culture because sex was supposed to be repressed in biblical times and the Bible was written by men. Gnostics believe in the divine union of male and female, which was reflected within Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. Despite her banishment from the Bible and popular culture, many Pagan sects continued to worship this “earthly goddess” over the years. She is also tied to the Gnostic concept of “Sophia.”
“Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your savior has abandoned you.
Thank(f*ck) your god.
Your lord, your christ
He did this,
Took all you had
And left you this way.
Still you pray, never stray,
Never taste of the fruit.
Never thought to question why.
It’s not like you killed someone.
It’s not like you drove a hateful spear into his side.
Praise the one who left you
Broken down and paralyzed.
He did it all for you…
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your dogma has abandoned you.
Pray to your christ, to your god…”
Supposedly “Judith” was the name of Maynard’s mother, and she lived for many years with a painful medical condition; she was also a devout believer in God, although I’m not sure of her exact religion. This song is Maynard questioning why his mother still prayed to this God without question, when she did nothing in the act of sin to betray him and to deserve the life she received. This song is about why and how good people cling to their faith when their God has done nothing to keep them out of harm’s way.
“Lost again, broken and weary
Unable to find my way
Tail in hand, dizzy and clearly
Unable to just let this go
I am surrendering to gravity and the unknown
Catch me, heal me,
Lift me back up to the sun
I choose to live…
Help me survive the bottom…
Calm these hands before they
Snare another pill and
Drive another nail down
Another needy hole
Please release me…”
This song could be a reference to Satan’s fall from heaven, or mankind’s fall from grace in general. “Tail in hand” is suggesting this being is a beast, or once was something divine but now has turned into something primitive. This being is “unable to just let this go,” perhaps referring to Satan’s egotism of being cast out of God’s world and therefore creating his own (Earth) so he could rule. The end of the song suggests this being wants to be divine again, with the true God; “lift me back up to the sun.” He wants to be released from our world so he can stop damning God and goodness, but he can’t help surrender to the gravity of Earth; an empty, “needy hole.”