The album begins with a quiet, rhythmic djembe.
The speaker opens with the line "Immunity, Long Overdue"
Double reference to the fact that it's been 13 years since Tool's last album release.
Naive, I opened up to you/
Venom and mania/
Now, contagion, I exhale you/
The speaker has identified FEAR as a venom. This is one of many ways that fear is referenced. Words like "Contagion" "Poison" "Venom" permeate. But Fear is also a Deceiver.
"You belong to me
You don't wanna breathe the light of the others
Fear the light, fear the breath
Fear the others for eternity"
But I hear them now, inhale the clarity
Hear the venom, the venom in
What you say, inoculated
Bless this Immunity
The speaker has recognized fear's lies as venomous. And this recognition has allowed him to become inoculated to that disease.
Recast my tale/
Weave my allegorical elegy/
The process of breathing can expel FEAR. But on a more metaphorical level, this cleansing can re-orient the speaker's entire life. And will allow the speaker to write his own elegy - his post-death lament.
Calculating steps away from you
My own mitosis
Growing through division from mania
Note: the word "Mitosis" is sung at 5:10, which is the precise mid-point of the song.
Mitosis being the process of cellular division. Division from FEAR
Your veil now, lift away
I see you runnin'
Deceiver chased away
A long time comin'
The speaker sees the truth of fear and that alone pushes it out.
As established, the Album's design is to provide a pathway to inoculation from fear.
To that end, we start thematically from its origin point - the self. That's what Pneuma is about.
The song is a reminder of non-dualistic consciousness.
We are born of one breath, one word/
We are all one spark, sun becoming/
Our fundamental form does not include fear. Fear is instilled. Something that you pick up later.
We are consciousness breathed into physical form.
This guise, this mask, this dream
Not only does Pneuma refer metaphysically to what we are, but Pneuma is also a prescriptive command. "Breathe". Meditation focuses on the practice of breathing - it's an omnipresent sensations, running like a subroutine.
Understand your nature (and how it is marked by the ABSENCE of fear)
and prepare your mind by Breathing.
BECOME PNEUMA is a centerpiece lyric of this song.
Because that really *is* all we are. We've got curiosity and drive. That's fundamental to consciousness. Everything else is filtered post-facto through your constructed personality and neuroses.
Conquering Self-Fear can be done through Pneuma. But things get trickier outside.
Litany Against Fear
I like Genius's analysis of this song - being a reference to Dune. I'll just repost the litany below:
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path....
Thematically, it aligns with Pneuma.
When only YOU remain, you must remember that "YOU" is just a buildup of frameworks and structure around the baseline of Pneuma. Anyway...
Now, we are studying FEAR itself. Although this song is written in first-person-perspective, I believe this to be an examination of a different entity.
Longing for another win
Lurch into the fray
Weapon out and belly in
Invincible is getting inside the head of an old, battle-scarred warrior. One who has seen endless combat. We are looking at his true fear.
Tales told of battles won
Of things we've done
Caligula would grin
Tripping through remember when
Now the armor's wearing thin
Heavy shield down
He is too old. Where once before his shield was impenetrable, this time his muscles fail. His shield is down. And he realizes:
Where I end
This is it.
Chasing Ponce de Leon's phantoms
So filled with hope
I can taste mythical fountains
False hope, perhaps
But the truth never got in my way
Before now, feel the sting
Feeling time bearing down
This is all happening in a single instant.
Feeling time bearing down.
He tries to draw that last instant into an eternity but can't.
But even then, it's still just fear of the unknown, or fear of oblivion. Is it really that bad? Tough to say. But, it's TIME (and the limit thereof) that grounds our fears.
After 'Invincible', we have another instrumental called "Legion Inoculant"
We're past the self (micro). Now we are dealing with fear on a wider level - populations. But to begin with we are talking close interpersonal networks. Maybe within cities or nations.
Free fall through our midnight
This epilogue of our own fable
Heedless in our slumber
Floating nescient, we
Free fall through this boundlessness
This madness of our own making
Falling isn't flying
Floating isn't infinite
Collectively, humanity's locked in a descending stasis. Fear paralyzes the population at large. Many haven't even woken up to the fact that there's a problem. Some say it's great - we're flying! Untrue. We're falling. And time is limited.
All hail our lethargy
To the quickened dissolution
Pray we mitigate the ruin
Calling all to arms and order
We need to awaken. It may even be too late now to face the reckoning - but even if all we can do is mitigate the ruin, we must
Rouse all from our apathy
Cease to be
Through the primal body
Sound the reveille
To be or not to be
Stay the grand finale
Stay the reading of our swan song and epilogue
Just as "Fear Inoculum" was about recognizing the problem of internal fear, so to is "Descending" about societal fear
On a societal scale, the outcome of fear is pure destruction.
Mitigate our ruin
Call us all to arms and order
An individual can defeat fear through internal reflection, and achieve freedom
A society must be called to arms to defeat fear through connection, and achieve salvation
But more on that later, for now we come to the next song “Culling Voices”
Disembodied voices deepen my
Conversations we've never had
My immediate reaction is to connect this song to Social Media. But it's not limited to just that.
But our brains aren't good at that sort of interaction. Not only does Anonymity change the game, but Social Media doesn't have structure. It is much more like pure thought.
Somebody else's thought, injected into your mind. You feel like you have had a conversation or interaction, but in reality no such thing took place.
Don't you dare point that at me
There is a very thin line between what we're all experiencing day to day and actual physical psychopathy.
But you immediately recoil from and reject that notion - because you get a false chemical hit from the 'interactions'.
So I'm told, yet guided by them all
Every single one
Judge, condemn, and banish any and everyone
Only the whispers from within
Our incompatibility with this form of communication isolates and brings out the worst in us.
Most people aren't even careful about who they choose.
Point a claim of psychopathy. Point a spotlight, or a flashlight. Point a weapon. Point an argumentative tweet. Our brains *feel* the same way about all of those things.
It's all fake but we react like we're in the middle of a pitch black jungle. Enclosed.
To be honest, I'm at a loss with this one. No idea of its meaning yet.
The instrumentals are simultaneously tribal and mechanical. Digital and screeching. Extremely discordant but rhythmic and cyclical. This probably represents the field.
Chanting "Keep Calm, Keep it Calm"
Keep, keep, keep calm
Fuck, here we go again
Misleading, tranquility ruse
You're gonna happen again
That's what I think
Follow the evidence
Look it dead in the eye, you are darkness
This song is CHAOS. Massive scale.
In part it's about Media and Narrative control.
Fear at root
Into a dubious state of serenity
Acting all surprised when you're caught in the lie
We know better
It's not unlike you
It's not unlike you
We know your nature
Still using "We" voice.
The legion is awake now. And sees fear.
Shame on you, shame on you now
No amount of wind could begin to cover up
Your petulant stench and demeanor
Calm as cookies and cream, so it seems
We're not buying your dubious state of serenity
(Cookies? Chocolate Chip?)
Once the populace is awake, they can smell fearmongering like a stench.
They must know its nature.
A tempest must be true to its nature
A tempest must be just that
It's foolish for the society to bother arguing over the intentions of the forces that want to subjugate and control them. It doesn't matter - it's just a tempest. Chaos.
Insane and striking at random
Victim of your certainty
And therefore, your doubt's not an option
Blameless, the tempest will be just that
So try as you may, feeble, your attempt to atone
Your words to erase all the damage cannot
Speaks for itself.
Recognize it as a force of nature. One that isn't going to suddenly stop or change. RESIST the pull of fear-driven chaos. Fear is like warm air into a hurricane. It's a feedback loop creating a whirlwind of devastation.
It's tribal drums and the sounds of birds and beasts passed through insane digital filters. You can't tell if it's a jungle or a bunch of robotic machines in a factory simultaneously breaking down.
Regardless, it closes in silence.
We come close to transcending our animal natures, but our own perceived transcendence looks like a mockery of bestial behaviors and instinct just run through a digital soundboard.
To those of you who've heard it, please feel free to add any of your thoughts and interpretations as well. I'd love to read them.
Bless this immunity.