From the YouTube Lose Your Soul Archives: Sober

The Cubeland Mystic stopped by and added a few words to Rufus’ post on Tobias Wolff’s response to a question about Flannery O’Connor. And then asked, “The bigger question is can one read Korrektiv while listening to Tool without losing their soul?”

Until this morning I’d known only one song by Tool: Sober, which you can watch by clicking on the title, as usual. Hard to believe it’s about 15 years old. I liked it, a lot, when it first came out, and the video is just brilliant – a kind of Quay Brothers’ stop motion photography thing about a little guy with a skull for a head, and the secret box he keeps under the floorboards. He wanders from one dark room to another trying to figure something out, and it all looks even more decrepit than those last Beckett novels.

But what about this losing the soul business? I’ll turn to the lyrics of Sober first, since that’s where I started:

Theres a shadow just behind me, shrouding every step I take / Making every promise empty. pointing every finger at me / Waiting like a stalking butler, who upon the finger rests / Murder now the path of must we, just because the son has come. / Jesus, wont you fucking whistle something but the past and done / Why cant we not be sober? I just want to start this over / Why cant we drink forever? I just want to start this over / I am just a worthless liar I am just an imbecile / I will only complicate you. trust in me and fall as well / I will find a center in you. I will chew it up and leave / I will work to elevate you, just enough to bring you down / Mother Mary, wont you whisper something but the past is done / Why cant we not be sober? I just want to start this over / Why cant we sleep forever? I just want to start this over

Ominous. Theres a shadow just behind me, shrouding every step I take is just a great image for evil, and I think it’s possible to see in Jesus, wont you fucking whistle a kind of prayer, however desperate. Lots of us have said worse, maybe in the middle of night after waking up somewhere we shouldn’t have been. But that’s another story. Why can’t we sleep forever? I just want to start this over: not sure what to make of that. Good, because it seems an acknowledgment of our fallen state? Bad, because sleeping forever hardly seems the eternal happiness that has been promised to us after a life of devotion, right conduct, and doing God’s will?

And if sleeping forever includes an everlasting dream that looks like a Tool video … I hope not.

But let’s face it: almost anything that goes so far as even acknowledging a center that is able to be chewed up and left can’t be all bad. Sure, it probably leads to a kind of nutty gnosticism that obscures rather than reveals the truth about the state of one’s soul and the life being led, but nutty gnosticisms can be outgrown eventually. Imprecations to the Blessed Mother for whispers of guidance seem like an okay place to start.

Trolling the YouTube sidebar, I found many other fine Tool videos, though none in my opinion were as fine as Sober. Parabola is pretty good, Vicarious is a little better, I think, although all the sadomasochism portrayed therein might impede progress on one’s pilgrimage. Stinkfist? I’ve had mornings like that. Best not to make too much of them. Open up the blinds, get on with the day, however painful it is at first. Schism at times resembles a trapeze act in an ancient Etruscan tomb, or Fantastic Vogage without the submarine. Prison Sex is my favorite after Sober. In Ænema they drop the F bomb quite a bit, so I’d be careful with that one. But it’s a pretty good song. Well, there’s plenty more Tool on the sidebar, check them out if you so desire.

So … thank you, Mr. Mystic, for the recommendation. I’d suggest maybe not reading Korrektiv and listening to Tool at the same time. No need to fight a war on two fronts if you don’t have to. Look what happened to Hitler.

I’m going to prescribe a little of this, just in case you feel you might be in some trouble. If it’s really bad, a little BWV 645 almost always does the trick. And always remember, mein freund ist mein.

Have a great day!


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    The crisis of Tool is that they have not broken past the material world. Their lyrics are about frustration with modern society. It is mostly about social isolation. One listens to tool while getting high and talking to college buddies about childish subjects like “why does an all powerful God allow a bus full of pre-schoolers to fall into a burning river of lava?” The immature soul wants God the magician, and when it does not realize that manifestation it rebels. It childishly talks itself out of God, because he didn’t stop the NAZIs, and then the soul finds itself with a longing for God and godly things but no mechanism to express that longing. The result is a band like Tool.

    Although I think their subject matter is legit, and my Catholic faith heightens my interest in their work I see it as deficient. In Prison Sex I can identify a bit with the lyrics, and the video expresses the frustration with modern life. As a marginally devout Catholic, I can relate to the feelings of manipulation by a powerful evil entity, and feelings of extreme isolation. It’s lonely in cubeland. “Does anyone within 200 cubes of me really believe in God?” A cube-rat cannot suggest “Let’s pray the Angelus at noon.” It is not a suggestion that increases shareholder value. So you put on a mask and pretend like everyone else.

    I am attracted to mysticism because for me the path to hell is theology. Too much reason crushes the soul. However, Tool gave into the darkside. They’ve allowed their reason to overtake faith. The logical conclusion is a type of nihilism, and an inability to grasp the mystery. Without God to inform their vision, they can only reflect the pit. There is great talent but no beauty. It’s the same for bands like Rage Against the Machine. They can only express the anger they feel at the injustice they see. But all their art is, is only a projection of their internal anger and frustration. The solution isn’t frustration and rage, but love and mercy. How about Love Against the Machine? Actually the beauty in Tool’s music is their inability to recognize their deep longing for God, and one can see it expressed as frustration and social isolation. All they have to do is realize it themselves.

    It would not surprise me that someday you hear that some or all members of the band convert to something. It would surprise me even less to discover a few years from now that they convert to Catholicism. You can tell in their subject matter that they want it. They are leaving the door unlocked to God. Remember God knocks, he does not open the door. They have to do that, and their music demonstrates that they fail to grasp that understanding.

    There is a lot of reason, as well as joking and cynicism around Korrektiv. I suppose that some immature readers (perhaps Lickona) who fail to see it for what it is could lose their soul. Likewise with Tool, if they see the angst as the solution rather than a misunderstood longing they too could be in danger. Tool and Korrektiv at the same time? A spiritual threesome of despair.

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