Stare like a junkie
Into the TV
Stare like a zombie
While the mother
Holds her child
Watches him die
Hands to the sky crying
Why, oh why?
’cause I need to watch things die
From a distance

I wasn’t able to get into Tool when I was younger. There were a few songs here and there that I liked, but albums full of strange song structures were too dense for my young mind. The songs were also very long. What 13 year old has time for that? Not me.

Recent years have been different. I have come to a new appreciation for Tool, at least their later albums. The lyrics posted above are from the song “Vicarious” off of their newest album 10,000 days (from way back in 2006!). The official music video looks like a bad acid trip, so I’ve posted an unofficial lyric video below:

The lyrics to this song have had a deep effect on me in recent days. Violence and death is news. The news is violence and death. Always has been and probably always will be. Today, however, we are able to experience death in real-time, from the safety of our smartphones. Terror and suffering are live-tweeted, sometimes even live-streamed. We eat it up. I eat it up.

Every time there is a terror attack I refresh the twitter feed and the news page to check the body count, to see if the killer fits my narrative, to get a glimpse of something real and horrible happening to people I don’t know. A violent break in the monotony of modern life. Something to talk to the echo-chamber about. My natural revulsion to violence has been dulled by its frequency and the ease with which I fit it into my normal routine.

Toward the end of the song the following lyrics are sung:

Credulous at best, your desire to believe in angels in the hearts of men.
Pull your head on out your hippy haze and give a listen.
Shouldn’t have to say it all again.
The universe is hostile. so Impersonal. devour to survive.
So it is. So it’s always been.

I can’t help but read the first line as a reference to Original Sin (I am Catholic, after all). I’m not sure Mr. Keenan would agree with me. He offers no answers, only that things are this way and always have been. We should just admit it. I admit it. I also hope for something better. Maybe in the next world.




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