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Tool - the honest mystics

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Axiomatic
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I was given a link to the youtube video Vicarious by the band Tool. It is very interesting how the lyrics so honestly state the fundamental premise of the Mystics and Attilas.

The video begins in a barren landscape with a quasi-human being looking upon it at the beginning, the video then warps into a plasticated unreality of warping dimensions of the incomprehensible, all the while the lyrics ring out the Mystic and Atilla mentality and ethos 'Vicariously I, live while the whole world dies" and "why cant we just admit it, we wont give pause until the blood is flowing in the veins no more".

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Tool seem like an almost totally evil band. Or are they merely pointing out the evil, I can't be sure.

Edited by Axiomatic
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I was given a link to the youtube video Vicarious by the band Tool. It is very interesting how the lyrics so honestly state the fundamental premise of the Mystics and Attilas.

The video begins in a barren landscape with a quasi-human being looking upon it at the beginning, the video then warps into a plasticated unreality of warping dimensions of the incomprehensible, all the while the lyrics ring out the Mystic and Atilla mentality and ethos 'Vicariously I, live while the whole world dies" and "why cant we just admit it, we wont give pause until the blood is flowing in the veins no more".

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Tool seem like an almost totally evil band. Or are they merely pointing out the evil, I can't be sure.

I think you've missed the point, though. They're not saying they do these things or want these things, they're saying this is what most people are like. Basically it's a commentary on the state of the culture in their eyes. It's not that they're mystics, at least not from this song. I'd say it's more an expression of the malevolent universe premise, or at least the malevolent people premise. That's probably why they want a flood - because they see the depravity and nonsense that constitutes most people's lives and correctly react against it. But what they're not seeing is that lots of people aren't like that and it doesn't have to be this way, that we can be happy and good in this world just as it is.

I struggle with this type of feeling too - that most people are so stupid and irrational as to be unworthy of life, and it makes me want to see them all destroyed. I fight against it because I still believe that people can be good and heroic if they try, and I still have the chance to be that way if I try.

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but Tool seem like an almost totally evil band. Or are they merely pointing out the evil, I can't be sure.

They might be both. They did point out that most people live as if they agree with this song, but that doesn't tell us whether they think people have to, or should, live this way. The lyrics "The universe is hostile / So impersonal / Devour to survive / So it is, so it's always been" indicate that they think people have to be this way. No lyric and no reasonable interpretation of any lyric contradicts that conclusion. You could only draw a different conclusion if you knew ahead of time that Tool thinks otherwise. To know that, you would have to evaluate other songs or look for explicit statements of the band's philosophy in magazine interviews, on their website, or in another credible source.

There are some songs that have an uncompromisingly negative explicit message, yet are not actually negative in intent. As an example, take "The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab for Cutie: Our youth is fleeting / Old age is just around the bend / I can't wait to be gray. The author is a rich band member in the prime of life. He certainly doesn't want to grow old. He is mocking the many young people who live as if they do.

Edited by ctrl y
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If you ask me, this song is simply about repression and sublimation as inept strategies for coping with animal instincts in civilization. Nature doesn't care if we live or die. It is up to us to survive one way or another, and, let's face it, we're number one. Yet we also have to cooperate with one another to survive.

Still, alot of people aren't self-aware enough to notice their animal instincts playing out in the background of their personality. Those people think we should just stop fighting and get along with one another. They don't see their whole self though. It may seem like Tool is pushing for a more savage human animal in contrast to a mediocre and weak animal, but Tool is really reacting against groups that preach docility and cooperation as the highest.

I figure humans survive through both competition and cooperation. Violence is necessary for self defense sometimes; you can't deny the need for violence occasionally. At the same time people need the help of others to get by. I don't mean to say helping others is the highest goal of course. I figure there has to be a balance.

In sum Tool is simply trying to screw with the heads of peace-loving hippies and new age mystics with their wishful thinking about human nature. Tool emphasizes the hidden savage instincts of the human animal as a reaction against these groups, but they neglect to include that there is a little truth in the ideas of these groups; they just take it too far as Tool does. I don't blame Tool for this though.

In the lyrics, Tool tries to point out how people sublimate one of their most important instincts with violent movies and TV. It is an explanation for why people really enjoy hearing about death and violence.

Glad it didn't happen to me!

Aw you should feel sorry for those people.

No I am the strong Over Man who fights for my own life alone. I am the highest.

No society is the highest. Helping others is the highest.

I laugh when others die.

Oh you're so terrible.

I pound on you little hippie insect and take the world as my own.

Etc

No you're both wrong. It's somewhere in between being a total Nazi and a weak hippie, but society is so unaware, that you need Tool to help you get in touch with your inner monkey.

Or something like that.

Edited by spacemonkeytech
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How can you go so far as to call a band evil? Tyranny is evil. Murder is evil. Stealing is evil. Making music is not evil, no matter how incompatible you view it as.

The views of the members of Tool are almost definitely a spiritual one, but they do not want that to matter when people hear their music.

The singer, Maynard Keynes, has stated on numerous occasions, and written in his music, that he wishes his listeners to not blindly follow what he says, but to form their own views, and to views his music in the way that suits them.

So, in this sense, Tool preaches an aspect of individualism, think for yourself, no matter what others think.

And the singer had been thinking about many people's fascination with violence in entertainment when he wrote Vicarious. However, not even that matters, he writes his lyrics in a way so that you can interpret them to suit yourself.

The singer's moral standpoints may not be consistent with objective morality, but the band wants that to be irrelevant. They want you to interpret their music and use it as a "tool" (in a very light sense of the word) to your personal development. Hence the band's name.

Am I preaching subjectivism where I should not be? Or can matters like this be left to subjective interpretation?

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Well, after discussing this with NickS and Zip in chat, I think the band, song or lyrics can have an evil sense of life. A band would be evil if they did evil acts, but as it is, they just produced a work of art with an evil sense of life.

Or is producing art with an evil sense of life an evil act? :dough:

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Or is producing art with an evil sense of life an evil act? :dough:

I would think that it would more than likely be an error of knowledge on there part rather than a breach of morality.

He doesn't seem to be advocating explicitly evil ideas, and doesn't appear to be a conscously evil person (an evading personality). He seems to be mostly about the music, even if his message is ambiguous.

Edited by Hazmatac
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Well, after discussing this with NickS and Zip in chat, I think the band, song or lyrics can have an evil sense of life. A band would be evil if they did evil acts, but as it is, they just produced a work of art with an evil sense of life.

Or is producing art with an evil sense of life an evil act? :confused:

Yes, of course. Ayn Rand regarded Kant as one of most evil men in history because of his ideas. Ideas are the means to evil and to good. Ideas move man, man moves the world.

So, yes, a musician can be evil, if he professes evil ideas in his songs, but he can also be naive and express evil ideas. I don't think the Beatles were evil, but I do think they were very naive. "All We Need Is Love".

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The singer's moral standpoints may not be consistent with objective morality, but the band wants that to be irrelevant. They want you to interpret their music and use it as a "tool" (in a very light sense of the word) to your personal development. Hence the band's name.

Is that why they're called that?

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I should preface this post by saying I'm a huge fan of Tool. I own all their albums, seen them in concert, and read most interviews available. There is a definite progression in their music. Much of their older stuff is much more angry and cynical, but I still find value in it.

Vicarious deals with the desire to see suffering in other people, which the lyrics are against. Keenan is a mystic and a bit of a pacifist when it comes to violence, the song was dealing with his feelings of disgust. Aenima was written about what Keenan thought was the cesspool of LA. He's stated since then that he does not actually want to literally see a giant flood, but it was a metaphor to cleanse the filth away. Things he mentions in the song include ganstas, fake actresses, junkies, and L. Ron Hubbard. I see some positive parts in some other songs, such as the following in Parabola.

Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this

Chance to be alive and breathing

The band is very, very mystical. They are also very anti-organized religion. (See Eulogy , so good) Musically I find them absolutely amazing and the lyrics are intelligent, if not always right. The origin of their name is something they love to play games with, as they like to do with many things.

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  • 1 month later...

Posting in defense of a great band.

"A primary purpose of Keenan's lyrics for Tool involves a desire to connect with the listeners on a personal level; to encourage them to look within themselves for self-identity, understanding and reflection."

Popular themes throughout the music include...

Personal Growth, (46&2)

Personal Freedom as being Achieved through the an expansion in consciousness, (Third Eye)

Thinking for yourself (Opiate)

Useful Idiot, (track is the sound of a record at its end that keeps spinning)

Perseverance, (The Patient) (Parabola)

Rejection of the Mind/Body, Dichotomy (Lateralus)

Rejection of parasitic people / cleansing, (Ticks and Leeches)

Stand for your Principles (The Grudge)

And yes, 10k Days was a condemnation of American Consumerist Instant Gratification Culture.

Bands like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson etc... write from that perspective where they intentionally try to disgust you with a theme, and then reveal to you that you should be feeling this disgust for yourself (those who buy into the cultural poisons they criticize).

...not to mention the musicians in that band are some of the most talented in the industry.

I also want to point out that I don't believe their pseudo-spiritual slant is anything but a strategy for provoking the listener into abstract thinking. These guys are not philosophers, they are musicians. They do drugs, and write abstractly about their own life experiences.

Edited by Alone
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  • 9 months later...
I was given a link to the youtube video Vicarious by the band Tool. It is very interesting how the lyrics so honestly state the fundamental premise of the Mystics and Attilas.

Ah, another interesting OLD thread. Oh well...

This transcription of Vicarious seems mostly right:

http://www.elyrics.net/read/t/tool-lyrics/...ous-lyrics.html

It's not about "mystics and attilas". It includes them, yeah, but barely touches on them. It's about all of humanity allegedly needing the death of other people for some reason that's never mentioned, and about most of humanity being too dishonest to admit it. Maynard doesn't like those 'facts', but he accepts them, and explicitly justifies his acceptance with the malevolent universe premise. The words are clear on that much. And yeah, I'd guess he actually believes them.

His examples seem to be common news stories, not TV "entertainment" in general. I doubt he's including fiction becsuse 1) in fiction, actual people don't die, and 2) fiction gives a greater example pool to draw from, thus his examples would be less mundane and more rhymeable. I write lyrics that have been sung by others, and lately have been crudely demo'd by me, and I can tell you that it's sometimes hard to fit your intended meaning into the unavoidable constraints. (His line "ultimatum prison cell" in The Grudge REALLY strikes me as one of those. I feel his pain.) Maynard's examples seem like he was working with what he had available, rather than what he could invent.

Vicarious is nihilistic, but Maynard himself is a naturalist, which means he is the VICTIM of nihilists, but not necessarily a true soul mate. Nihilists like Marilyn Manson willfully create ugliness, and relish in the delight of doing so. Naturalists like Maynard just dutifully report it if they come across it. Yes, reporting on ugliness expands its reach, but reluctantly reporting it isn't the same as gleefully creating it.

BTW, like many naturalists, Maynard is factually incorrect: most people (and me and probably you) do NOT "feed on" or need or otherwise enjoy the death of innocent people, either vicariously or in person. And accusing us of being in denial about the 'fact' that we do is just an argument from intimidation, and conveys no evidence that the 'fact' is actually true.

Maynard may have been a psych student - or a patient - and certainly has a clear interest in the subject. (I once saw a psych major post an analysis of 46 & 2. Very mystical and pseudo-sciency. Only a setp or two up from Scientology.) Nearly all his lyrics include psychological issues, and are almost clinical in their reporting on them. He's always floating above, slightly detached from the action, trying to spell out a bigger picture than what he'd see if he were merely one of the combatants, although he often is one of them as well. Hmm. This may be a conscious technique. It almost seems like an exercise he was once taught... Could that be? I dunno.

Either way he's an occasionally brilliant lyricist, insofar as his premises allow.

John X Smith

www.myspace.com/voxliberorum

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That is pretty disturbing.

Aenima is an "enema" for the planet when "the big quake" flushes LA out to sea.

Which is neither tectonically realistic nor very nice to the people of LA. And I could do without the Gaeia-speak. But it's a brilliant lyric, nonetheless, and clearly meant to be more of a humourous spleen-venting than anything else. ("I have a suggestion to keep you all occupied: learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim...")

And as someone in this thread pointed out, Maynard does air quite the laundry list of people he thinks should be flushed down. I would've included many of them myself.

He gets away with stuff like that. I'm still trying to figure out how the hell he does.

John X Smith

www.myspace.com/voxliberorum

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How can you go so far as to call a band evil? Tyranny is evil. Murder is evil. Stealing is evil. Making music is not evil, no matter how incompatible you view it as.

The singer, Maynard Keynes, has stated on numerous occasions, and written in his music, that he wishes his listeners to not blindly follow what he says, but to form their own views, and to views his music in the way that suits them.

So, in this sense, Tool preaches an aspect of individualism, think for yourself, no matter what others think.

[snip]

They want you to interpret their music and use it as a "tool" (in a very light sense of the word) to your personal development. Hence the band's name.

Am I preaching subjectivism where I should not be? Or can matters like this be left to subjective interpretation?

A band is a group of people, and as such they can be as evil as any other group. Of course most aren't, and I'm sure Tool isn't either. I think Tool is a band of very bright people whose intelligence allows them to dig very deeply into the bad premises they never checked.

The name allegedly comes from the insult Maynard received (or hurled?) when in military school. It's become common as an insult. Maybe I should look it up some day and see what the hell people mean by it...

Anyhow. Maynard may SAY he wants people to interpret his lyrics (if they were what you were referring to) however it suits them, but he doesn't write that way.

Most lyricists who say that kind oif thing are intellectual cowards who deliberately write indecipherable crap because they are afraid to say anything. Maynard is no such coward, and usually makes crystal clear exactly what he is

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