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The Void and You - A Technical Reference

Discussion in 'Dark Tranquillity' started by stizzleomnibus, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    I. Concept and Theme

    A. Fatalism

    We Are the Void is about death, but it is more accurately (and seemingly paradoxically) about life. While it is common for explorations of death to focus on the thing itself, this album concerns itself primarily with man’s living relationship to the inevitability of his own death. The story centers on a protagonist who is forced to confront his own mortality by witnessing it externally. A large portion of the album is spent dealing the philosophical implications of mortality, rather than the moment itself. This series of monologues ultimately resolves with another, more definite question that serves as a prompt for the protagonist to live by.

    The element of death is embodied through the philosophy of fatalism. Fatalism is the belief that man’s ultimate fate (death) is decided, and cannot be altered. This idea is related to determinism, the belief that all events are predetermined, but distinguished by its limitation to matters of ultimate fate. A fatalist believes that, while the past and distant future are immutable, the present is subject to will. The decisions made by the protagonist according to his will become central subjects in the album.

    Fatalism has ancient Scandinavian roots, as anyone who has read Beowulf (or watched The 13th Warrior) could tell you. In some cultures, the belief is liberating as it absolves individuals of control of one of the scariest aspects of life, its end. Shadow in Our Blood, which serves a thematic overture of the album, introduces the concept in a different light.

    These lyrics describe the paradox of humanity: we follow our animal survival instinct despite the conscious recognition that life is temporary. At the same time, the lyrics also describe the species as “delusional” for living in the face of death. This is presented in the overture as a critical piece of the puzzle that the protagonist must solve. Here, he has judged our continued living in the face of death negatively, assuming that it is based on falsehood. This position will alter as the album progresses.

    The Fatalist begins to introduce the plot of the character’s progression:

    The character’s fatalism is inspired by a forced confrontation of mortality. Having witnessed death in another, he is forced to confront the value and nature of his own life in the face of this new input that he had previously hidden from himself. The degree of this revelation is realized in contrast to the protagonist’s previous state:

    The “ruin” that befalls the infinite realm is believed to be caused by death itself. The words of the chorus are directed at the fatalist, not spoken by him. He is described externally as a fatalist, as though it were an objective matter and not one of philosophy. The inevitability of his fatalism is echoed in reality, in which he “walk on soil that dreams of blood.”

    The “day [that] has come” in the above lyric could be viewed as the moment of death, described with a definite article (“the”), as it is the only predetermined day to the fatalist. What is significant, however, is that this day of death is not the day in which the protagonist dies, but the one in which his infinite reality is slaughtered by the arrival of his fatalistic revelation. His remaining reality, the portion of eternity which he is afforded, is simultaneously made meaningless by its limited nature and anti-climactic ending.

    While the protagonist reaches this conclusion early on, he has not yet fully considered the implications of his fatalist beliefs, believing his fatalism to be inevitable. This flirts with the concept of determinism, and serves to absolve him of responsibility for his own life. The doubt is introduced in the final verses of The Fatalist:

    “That fatalistic smile” is the façade of indifference to fate. The protagonist seemingly embraces fatalism, a philosophy with some physical truth to it, and uses it to justify his resignation to determinism. His smile is false, as the philosophy that he claims to have embraced is based on flawed logic and serves only to absolve him of responsibility for his remaining life.

    This philosophical conundrum is partially resolved in The Grandest Accusation. This song, like The Fatalist, is most likely sung from an external perspective as it addresses itself to the protagonist of the story. In the opening lines, parallel structure is used to describe death in several analogies:

    The persona speaking these lines is likely the character’s sorrow, an embodiment of the negative aspects of his fatalism. This sorrow is personified, as the protagonist needs this agent of fate to give his will over and surrender. However, he is instead treated to the Grandest Accusation:

    There are several possible interpretations for what the Grandest Accusation may be. It is my belief that it is best interpreted as this: Man is his own murderer. While his mortality may have severed him from the eternity that he naively thought he would live, it was his own inability to manage the resultant sorrow that killed his remaining potential. Paralyzed by the fear of death and given over to determinism to avoid the battle against that fear, he fails to realize his remaining time, and thus becomes “the cemetery for unlived life.”

    Note also the ruin described in The Fatalist: “now laid to waste and ruin/now laid to waste again/you wash your hands in blood.” Not only is our eternity slain by mortality, but we ruin it a second time by surrendering to sorrow. In that surrender, we “wash our hands” of responsibility, justified by our impending deaths.

    Fueled by this revelation, the protagonist is finally able to realize his will and challenge his fate. It is said that great literature raises questions, but does not give answers. Here, that maxim is fulfilled by a conclusion in the form of a question. In At the Point of Ignition, the protagonist faces off against his fatalistic sorrow:

    Here the resolution is first voiced: rather than banish the sorrow of mortality, confront it. The flame metaphor is introduced here, but not fully elucidated until the chorus:

    The fuel/flame dichotomy, when fit into the revelations of fatalism, is the choice between being consumed by sorrow or using that sorrow to inspire life. Despite being about death, and dwelling so thoroughly on the implications and sorrow associated with it, the album actually peaks with a message of hope. One’s impending death should be a motivation to do greater things now, rather than an excuse to simply give up. At the Point of Ignition also reconciles this enlightened view of sorrow as a motivator, rather than a destroyer, in a later verse:

    Here, fatalism is termed “the answer in our system,” a default human reaction to mortality. It is a self-defeating philosophy which “kill the spark” and leaves us unable to burn onwards in life. Questioning this view and recognizing the defeat inspired by fatalistic thinking leads to a simple realization: without questioning our fate and our dying instinct, everything is meaningless. Here, the protagonist does not expose the meaning that he has found to inspire life, but he does draw out the conflict and the decision he must make to continue: In a world of self and sorrow, which will consume the other?

    Bonus point: Between the album’s original arrangement and the release, At the Point of Ignition and Shadow in Our Blood switched places on the album. In the current arrangement, this cycle of songs at the beginning of the album leads from resignation to hope; in the original arrangement, it moved from hope to resignation. This leads to an interesting issue of objective truth:

    The persona in At the Point of Ignition thinks that surrendering to sorrow without searching for meaning is cowardly and meaningless.

    The persona in Shadow in Our Blood thinks that fighting the inevitability of oblivion is delusional and meaningless.

    Which one is correct? Different arrangements of songs lead to different metaphysical paths by the protagonist. As this is not truly a concept album, there’s really no reason to assume that the songs should be read in one direction or another; it is up to the listener to decide which end of that journey, the fight or the surrender, is a greater truth.
     
  2. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    B. Loss

    Loss is also a major part of We Are the Void. While many songs deal with an individual’s relationship to his own mortality, it also deals with the effects of mortality on relationships. Logic allows us to redefine our beliefs and responses to stimuli; in the above example, one moves from paralysis over death to a supreme inspiration from it. Logic, however, cannot overcome the chemical and metaphysical pain of loss. In its darker moments, We Are the Void dwells on this pain.

    One of the most compelling lyrics on the album is found in To Where Fires Cannot Feed: “The burden of love alive.” This could mean many different things. In context, there is “no way to hold” this burden. Its uncontainable nature is suggestive of the massive scale of the burden. Several interpretations exist, and provide the key to understanding the fear of loss embodied in the album.

    The simplest explanation is that it is the pain of love separated by death. Her Silent Language strongly evinces these feelings:

    Our narrator is haunted by the memory of a lost loved one. He is burdened by the feeling that something was left unsaid, but powerless to communicate across the boundary of death. Death is represented here by the darkness in which she is cloaked, as well the oblivion of nighttime which brings him closest to her memory. The woman to whom he is speaking “do[es] not have the words” because she does not exist. Words that were not spoken before the separation cannot ever be spoken, leaving him tormented by the curiosity of what has been left unsaid.

    The pain of loss, like all pain in Dark Tranquillity songs, manifests in passionate defiance. Out of Gravity concerns this defiance of mortality, inspired by loss:

    The protagonists cloaks his emotions, represented by his heart, in an armor of resolve. He charges into the night, the oblivion which brings him closest to death, to exact his revenge on the thing which took his loved one. It is nebulous in this instance, but his target may be death itself, or it could be fatalist thinking manifested as suicide (willful acceptance of death). Recognizing the thing which took his loved one in himself, his resolve breaks. He abandons his quest until the “call” returns. The chorus presents an interesting series of images: “below the timeline” may suggest that his quest takes place in memory, skipping around in the narrative of his life. “Far from the stars” could suggest that there is no space image intended. It could also reinforce his solitude, as he elsewhere refers to humans as “sun gods.” “Out of Gravity” could mean that he is breaking from logic, or breaking from earthly mortality. Defying the physical force of gravity might parallel the concept of breaking out of time. Time and gravity are certainly connected by general relativity (which will not be explored here).

    The Bow and the Arrow is also about loss, and heavily suggestive of suicide:

    To “be the bow and the arrow” suggests that one becomes not only an impelled object (the arrow), but also the mode of impulse (the bow). As humans are carried by time and gravity towards death, becoming the bow suggests taking charge of fate. Consider the fatalist's dilemma: to surrender to inevitability, or to live a life of value in spite of it. Suicide is ultimately a way to be free of the fear of death by embracing it. The “temporary hold” of the physical body, itself held by the gravity, time and death, is broken with a “force push...out from this world.” At the same time, a “print” of memory is left behind. Time slowly wears away at this print:

    The passage of time wears down the memory of the lost. The “indifferent winds” may represent time, passing into an unknown future. “To hold what can be held against the coming dark” refers to the survivors, who maintain their lives into an unknown future which certainly contains death. The character that embraces death is forgotten in the passage of time. However, the pain of that loss is born by the survivors: “Grief is the razor within these walls of skin.” Similarly, The Grandest Accusation is particularly harsh to those who choose to embrace death:

    The Burden of Love Alive may alternatively represent the compulsion to continue living in fear of death because of our obligations to others. Death is a less daunting concept to solitary characters. A “lone wolf” has nothing to fear from death other than the loss of individuality: “The ultimate rebellion/be nothing to no one.” However, as we grow older and develop ties to family and friends, death becomes more meaningful, as our survival is necessary to save those closest to us from the pain described above. In My Absence is an interesting track, as it appears to be spoken from beyond death. Whether or not the speaker is supernatural, the subject is one that is meaningful to the living: the fear of leaving dependent survivors behind.

    At the same time, the song could simply be about one who cannot connect deeply enough with a person considering suicide. That person “can never be there” because they cannot see the true misery and thought processes fueling the fatalist, and is thus unable to prevent the inevitable:

    In this instance, the first interpretation of The Burden of Love Alive is true: the protagonist is mourning the loss of a loved one. Another interpretation of The Burden of Love Alive is discussed in section D.
     
  3. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    C. Global Extinction

    Iridium presents an interesting challenge in interpretation. The lyrics from the chorus suggest that it may have something to do with the recycling of matter. Because the earth is a (generally) closed system, we are all composed of matter that was once a part of something else. When we die and return our elements to the earth, and we will eventually be re-incorporated into new life.

    While We Are the Void generally takes an atheistic view of death, the thought that our matter, “a million brighter stars,” is at least recycled into the chain of life is a pleasant one. The shift in the chorus, from ominous to semi-comforting suggests that, while death is a large and ominous thing, it is a very natural process; our fear is to be expected, but there’s really nothing bad about it.

    However, this reading completely ignores the title of the song. Iridium is an element (atomic number 77). It is in the platinum family of metals, and extremely difficult to work with due to its hardness and melting point. It is approximately 1/4th as abundant as gold, making it one of the rarest elements on the planet. It has a number of industrial uses, though worldwide consumption is fairly low. While Industrial Uses of Transition Metals is almost certainly the title and subject of the next Devin Townsend album, it is an unlikely subject for Dark Tranquillity. So, what is Iridium about?

    In geology, layers of soil are compressed beneath other layers, hardening to become rock. Digging through rock, we can see rock strata, lines representing different soil compositions at different times in history. Strata, much like the lines in a tree, is a timeline of the planet’s life. This allows us to study historic climates and date interesting things found in rocks (such as fossils). At times, sharp shifts in the strata suggest that something major has happened.

    One interesting transition is the one between the late Cretaceous period (the last age of the dinosaurs) and the Tertiary period (now). This boundary is know as the K-T boundary, and represents a turning point for life on earth. Simultaneously, many species from below the barrier became extinct, and a number of new species came into existence afterwards. The K-T boundary also contains massive amounts of iridium relative to the rock above and below it. This suggests that iridium, very rare on the earth, was somehow introduced to the planet in large quantity at the same time that everything living on it became extinct.

    Iridium is only rare because it bonds with iron and sinks into the Earth’s core; it is more common in extra-terrestrial bodies which contain even distributions of elements. For this reason, it is hypothesized that most of the iridium in the K-T boundary was introduced to the earth from a meteor impact.

    This was largely confirmed by the discovery of the impact crater. The Chicxulub crater, off the Yucatan peninsula, dates to the time of the K-T extinction event. It is believed to have been caused by an asteroid, ten kilometers in diameter, which impacted Earth, forever altering its topography and creating massive climate disruptions that destroyed most of its species. The asteroid is believed to have originated from an impact in the asteroid belt that sent a number of high-energy fragments blasting out into the solar system.

    Here, the shattering could reflect the collision in the asteroid belt or the tendency of meteors, while burning through the Earth’s atmosphere, to break into smaller particles. After these “unique and rare” flares smashed into the planet, vaporized iridium particles settled in significant concentrations all across the planet. The “end beyond compare” could refer to the epic destruction of the asteroid. It could also refer to the scale of death planet-wide, greater than any other natural disaster.

    The intense, ominous, and unexpected chorus of Iridium makes sense if you assume that it’s about an inconceivably large object striking the earth and ending all life.

    Iridium was named after the Greek goddess Iris, goddess of rainbows, because the initial salts created from the element were brightly colored. This was some time in the early 19th century. The irony did not become apparent until the formulation of the K-T extinction theory over 160 years later. Iris is a winged goddess, and the messenger of the gods. This is much like the archangels of Judeo-Christian tradition. One notable Archangel is Michael, the strategist of the armies of heaven. The Archangel Michael Monastery on the bank of the Dvina River became the namesake of the city which grew there, Arkhangelsk. Arkhangelsk is about some cataclysmic event, and makes reference to a “morning star”:

    Perhaps the “morning star” is a chunk of iridium. The Chicxulub crater where it landed is an undersea crater, undiscovered until 1976. Perhaps that morning star and its impact are what “the land forgot.” Arkhangelsk also makes reference to “soaring through Van Allen belts.” The Van Allen radiation belts are layers of charged particles that surround the Earth, trapped by its magnetic field. Anything traveling through the Van Allen Belts is either coming or going from the planet.

    (It should also be mentioned that Vikings once invaded Arkhangelsk, and it was later the base of operations for attacks against Sweden. There was also a huge cache of buried silver discovered near the city, so it’s possible the lyrics have nothing to do with the connection drawn above.)

    Further, this picture suggests an archangel/meteor connection. Both songs share co-writing credits in the lyrics.

    The image of the planet becoming inhospitable also has interesting implications when considered with some of the other songs on the album. Specifically, To Where Fire Cannot Feed uses a lot of imagery (and music) suggestive of launching into space, while Out of Gravity could also be about leaving the earth. These songs likely have their own meaning, but leaving this planet would grant the species a greater degree of immortality by allowing it to escape an earthly cataclysm.
     
  4. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    D.Transcendentalism

    The Fatalist: “You squander time/We borrow from eternity”
    Henry Thoreau: “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity”

    Transcendentalism is an existentialist philosophy. One of its beliefs is the concept of an “over-soul,” a supreme soul shared by all men. In theory, humans share each others' suffering during times of war or great unrest, and share in triumph during better times. Thoreau's witticism suggests that killing time, just to pass it, injures eternity. The lyric from The Fatalist has an interesting structure: You squander time, we borrow from eternity. Time wasted by the fatalist during his mortality-inspired paralysis affects humanity as a whole.

    These quotes play on the grand accusation: our wasted time is a crime against our own potential. The injury to eternity is perhaps even a reference to the resultant non-contribution to the potential of the species, which is relatively undying compared to its members.

    This may be part of the subject of To Where Fires Cannot Feed; “nod[ding] at each other from across the open plain grave” may refer to acknowledging our ancestors, much like Newton’s “standing on the shoulders of giants.” The Burden of Love Alive may be the obligation of each generation to continue on the works of the previous, growing the undying species even if each contributer will be lost along the way. To Where Fires Cannot Feed suggests that grand human endeavors, which extend from the work of our forebears, are our living purpose:

    “We throw ourselves like rocks” towards space, an accomplishment to which our biology is ill suited. In doing so, we achieve the end goal of thousands of years of technology and research. We assume a sort of immortality for our accomplishment, and simultaneously contribute to the success of our immortal over-soul. Note the line “where fires cannot feed.” On one hand, this could simply represent space; the lack of oxygen means that most conventional combustion cannot occur. However, placing this lyric in the context of the fuel/flame concept from At the Point of Ignition suggests that we become immortal, unconsumed by death, through our contributions to great endeavors. We contribute to these goals because there is “no way to hold the burden of love alive,” the embodiment of duty to society. It is the task of the living, in acknowledgment of the “greater beings” that precede us, to continue these quests: “we nod at each other from across the open plain grave.“

    Admittedly, the lyrics of the album never come close to making transcendental statements. However, certain hints are given:

    What is “the meaning of it all?” While the loss of the individual spark is meaningful to the individual, what is the greater consequence? The relative insignificance of a single life is what inspires the persona in Shadow in Our Blood to describe the entire species as “delusional.” What inspires the protagonist of At the Point of Ignition to continue? How can we prove ourselves innocent of The Grandest Accusation?

    Further, consider the significance of global extinction: man is mortal, mankind is not. At the same time, the entire species is vulnerable should anything happen to the planet. The choice to move beyond it by leaving it could represent the choice of the species to continue living, despite the impending destruction of the “greater being” in whose body we hide.
     
  5. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    II. Motifs

    Fatalist images

    “We are the void,” “shadow in our blood,” “fragments of self-destructing code,” “the answer in our system,” “I carry my nothing/every single day,” “Dance to the bloodsong.”

    All of these are examples of fatalist images. They represent the fact that man carries his inevitable mortality (fate) from birth. This predetermination is a critical concept in fatalism: even if individuals exercise free will, they were born to die. “Bloodsong” in Dream Oblivion likely refers to a heartbeat; blood is claimed in the opening lines of The Fatalist. In Greek mythology, blood is the source of mortality; the immortal gods have none (ichor takes its place). In that way, the bloodsong is beat of human mortality, a finite rhythm.

    The Void

    The void is, obviously, a critical object in the album. It loosely represents death. Specifically, it is an atheistic view of death, not characterized by eternal reward or torment, but by non-existence. It's neither good or bad, but the concept of non-existence is obviously threatening to the living. A series of references to the void draws a picture of it and the living relationship to it.

    Shadow in Our Blood:
    Surface the Infinite:
    Calls

    I Am the Void: “I am the call/I speak inside of you” “I am the howl that calls you out” “These waters know you/It calls you by your one true name.”

    In My Absence: “Wish that I could listen to what only speaks inside”

    The Fatalist: “Your name has been called out for aeons” “You walk on ground that screams for murder”

    Dream Oblivion: “Dance to the bloodsong”

    Arkhangelsk: “They gather, drowning in the sounds/Of the grinding wheels of Arkhangelsk”

    Out of Gravity: “Until I hear the call again”

    The Grandest Accusation: “What cries here, cries inside”

    Each of these represents an instance in which the void is calling out to the protagonist. They represent the ominous call of death. Interesting, death does not call the protagonist until he becomes acutely aware of his mortality. The call does not represent the character of death so much as the unshakable awareness exhibited in the fatalist. Note specifically the lyric from The Grandest Accusation: what cries here, cries inside.

    Certain examples above may simply refer to a character's thoughts, not necessarily fatalistic (In My Absence).

    Body/Building

    The Fatalist:
    The windows represent the eyes. The closing walls represent the body, ever collapsing around its occupant.

    At the Point of Ignition:
    This is not the best example, as frame describes both bodies and buildings equally in normal language. The frame may represent the collapsing body, or a loss of an epistemological frame (a window through which we view the world).

    Her Silent Language:
    The room referenced here could represent the mind. The dejected individual in the room contains neither thought nor speech as she is merely a memory. The language and room (mind) are both silent.

    I Am the Void:
    Here we have another series of walls, as in Her Silent Language, inside of which there is silence. The lyric “another set of walls” is interesting. If the body was already one set of walls, what is this other one? Maybe there's only one, and I'm just reading it wrong.

    Surface the Infinite:
    The building of the body already contains the “fire of the soul.” Hence, the normal barriers, the walls, have become a trap.

    Individuality [in-duh-vij-oo-al-i-tee]

    On We Are the Void, mortality and individuality are tied together. Some images of individuality are described, often extending from the Body/Building comparison described above. They center around several items that specifically define identity: face, name, and heart.

    Further, the void threatens to embrace all objects of individuality. It is the sameness of death and the loss of person-hood which is most bothersome to the protagonist. It is also interesting to note that individuality is specifically tied to mortality. The connection will be drawn in the allusions.

    Shadow in Our Blood:
    The “world within a world” is the sum of one's individuality, as deep and complex to itself as the world that surrounds it. The “book of strangers” is society; the strangers are not necessarily entirely unfamiliar with each other, but each is unique. Similarly, they fear to refer to themselves as individuals (say “I”) because their unique individuality is the source of their mortality.

    Dream Oblivion:
    Here, our protagonist fears the loss of his individuality in death. He challenges his non-existence, resolving to end his reality on his own terms.

    The Fatalist:
    In My Absence:
    The eyes that meet represent a deep connection, in which individuals are able to see through the “windows to the soul,” past their shields. Separated by death, they are unable to connect in this fashion and remain searching for each other fruitlessly.

    The Grandest Accusation:
    This lyric connects the individuality motif to the body/building motif. The name, the mark of individuality, is upon the building like a diagnosis would be posted to a body: it is itself the source of death. Individuality = Mortality.

    This equates the physical images of individuality, namely the face, with the conceptual, in this case the name. Note in The Fatalist the use of the face as a shield (“The fatalistic smile”). The “word and shield” are “sharp as a curse,” paralleling the disease metaphor from the previous quotation.

    Her Silent Language:
    The head and heart are both marks of individuality, here within a room (a building).

    Arkhangelsk:
    Again, heads hang down in a dejected stance. The cause of this is the burning of the world, much like the flame imagery from At the Point of Ignition. If the shield represents the face, as above, it is here broken by the aggressor in the song.

    I Am the Void:
    The “waters” probably represent the oblivion of the void. In these waters, the individual's “name is lost.” These waters know the individual, and call him by his “one true name” the name again represents the individuality which is consumed by death.

    Out of Gravity:
    This verse is loaded with images. The protagonist armors his heart (wrapping resolution around his emotions). He sets himself against mortality to retrieve a loved one, and ends up making eye contact with death and seeing his own reflection. The eye contact represents the connection, but the thing with which he would connect (mortality) is himself. This breaks his resolve, and he waits to hear the call again.

    The Bow and the Arrow:
    The subject of The Bow and The Arrow leaves a print (memory) upon their exit from reality, which involves thrusting their “own very being” out from this world. The subject's name, glyphs signifying that memory, remains as a scar on the survivors.

    Gravity

    Gravity is the binding force of reality. It is an essential law, as well as the force that binds objects. To “walk out of gravity,” one must either cease corporeal being (die), or abandon reality. This could reference delusion, such as a despair-fueled break from the realm of possibility.

    In a non-delusional context, leaving the planet for space would similarly provide a break from gravity. To Where Fires Cannot Feed may reference this as well, as escaping the gravity of the earth could represent a break from the reality of mortality (the immortality component of To Where Fires Cannot Feed is explained in I - D).

    Days

    At the Point of Ignition: “In our day that holds no other”

    “Days” are referenced several times on the album. Infinity is often defined recursively. For example, numerical infinity is defined by the concept that any given number is always followed by another number, which is in turn followed by another, and so on. In the case of infinite time, eternity is defined by every day having a tomorrow. A “day that holds no other” is likely the end of one span of time (such as an individual life), as there is no tomorrow.

    More simply, the lyric could refer to time having only one thread: today is the only day that could have followed from yesterday, and there are no other paths through time. If our naively-immortal protagonist still possessed his “endless realm of possibility and dream,” there would be a chance for branching possibilities in the scope of eternity. As is, he has only this moment in which to make his decision.

    Later in the song, the image may recur indirectly: “I see you in my shadow”

    If a man’s life is represented by a single day, he dies when night falls. As the sun moves westward, his shadow lengthens, representing his impending fate “waiting inside.” It is tempting to think that a shadow in the late afternoon resembles the traditional robed figure of death, but this is likely not intended given the refusal to personify death.

    Shadow in Our Blood: “Every sun god’s heart”, “Who says "I" when all voices fear their own sound/and who remembers the hours”

    The void, which is reasonably assumed to represent oblivion and death, is an “arrow laced with liquid darkness for every sun god’s heart.” The sun god targeted is probably man himself. As a sun god, his power wanes with nightfall. In the second quote, “who remembers the hours” might refer to spans of time forgotten under looming death. While the word is hours, it could refer to now-inconsequential decades.
     
  6. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    III. Miscellaneous

    A. In My Absence

    "Thrust with nails of conflict, anxiety and pain
    Through spells of anger, confusion and defeat"

    This is another instance of parallel structure. Matching the respective words in the two lines, we get:

    Conflict : Anger
    Anxiety : Confusion
    Pain : Defeat

    B. Am I 1?

    There is a special place in my brain in which Mikael Stanne's words get stuck, only to resurface at appropriate and awesome times. The following lyric is one which I had thought was from We Are the Void, but turns out to be from Character. While it is not a piece of this work and I'm interpreting it out of context, it lead to an interesting realization.

    Am I 1?: “I grant to you no privilege of person”

    Were this line about death, it would accomplish in a single line what John Donne spent fourteen famous lines doing: reducing death from a malevolent being to a mere physical reality. By granting it “no privilege of person,” he's using beautiful, incisive lyrics to say, “I will not personify you.”

    Interesting, the lyrics to We Are the Void satisfy this statement. While the album is about death, in fifteen tracks it never once actually uses the word. Death is not a character on this album, but merely a thing. By never giving it a name, it is never granted the individuality that makes life meaningful nor is it afforded respect or deference. At the same time, the lack of individuality frees death from the bounds of time; it is therefore an eternal truth.

    C. The Mind’s I

    Much of the individuality imagery concerns eyes, and at least once the pronoun “I” is used as a mark of individuality. The two are likely related, and have been before: The Mind’s I/Eye.

    D.“Soaring through Van Allen belts”

    Geek!

    E. “The machinery of chaos/Comes alive in you”

    This lyric is awesome because of the paradox. Chaos, through heat, friction, and dirt, is the enemy of machinery. But, here we have machinery of chaos. Furthermore, the machinery comes alive; to be technical, it could merely activate. Instead it comes alive. This is a pretty neat image.
     
  7. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    That is all I have.

    I would like to thank Tad, Kate, and Mom for the editing and support.
    rahvin, for his moderatorial support, as well as the most stunningly accurate (and sometimes unpublished) lyrics.
    Everyone reading, because you are all special.
    The band, for putting out another amazing album.

    If anyone wants to handle the lyrics in the fashion that I handled the music, going song by song, you're welcome to it. I have spent a shitton of time and all of my energy on this project, and it is now time for me to pack for an impending move. You all speak English, so it shouldn't be too difficult!

    I have a feeling we'll all be doing this again real soon...

    This is the last post
    I am now done with this
     
  8. Villain

    Villain Doctor BenQuillity

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    First of all: Thank you! Words aren't enough to describe your awesomeness.

    I hope your excellent analysis leads to an equally interesting discussion - I know there are people on this forum who, at least on occasion, can dig through myriad layers of metaphors and find the exact meaning Stanne or Sundin had in their mind when writing the lyrics. I've seen it happen.

    If indeed this discussion gains volume, it might be smart to separate the lyrics-part and the music-part into their own threads for the sake of simplicity (this thread is already massive for so few posts, and new readers might get lost on their way to the lyrics-portion). I'm sure our moderator will follow the developments closely. ;)

    I'll throw my two wooden pennies on the overall picture here at some point, too, but before that here's a bit I disagree with stizzle's interpretation, so I'll get it out now before I forget it.

    I think an even simpler explanation for the lyrics of Her Silent Language is that they are about confronting someone who is still alive, but is soon to face death, and has accepted it. She is not necessarily even a loved one (although she could be), just someone whom the protagonist knows to some degree, perhaps a distant relative. She is no longer fighting against the inevitable, and her unwillingness (or inability) to communicate about the subject disturbs and confuses the protagonist.

    While in the other songs this acceptance of eventual death is indeed touched from various viewpoints, here it is simply a mystery. She has resigned, and the protagonist does not know how to relate to her anymore. Her silent language lacks "last words of wisdom"; there's nothing to guide or comfort those who will soon be left behind.

    Her life no longer connects with the rest of us, her thoughts are somewhere else. She has become meaningless, yet the protagonist wishes to find some meaning, or at least an explanation.

    I'll get to the other songs later.

    -Villain
     
  9. Defiance

    Defiance I vårens ljusa kvällar

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    I haven't read the entire analysis, but huge kudos to you Mr Stizzle :) *claps*.
     
  10. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    @Villain: Interesting! I hadn't even though of Her Silent Language that way. As you say, it lacks conclusive words of wisdom. That makes it difficult to use deductive reasoning. If you're using inductive reasoning, you get to cherry pick the lines that support your position. That's how people draw out an Oedipal interpretation of Hamlet, for example. I kind of read it so that it fit what I was already thinking about, so fresh eyes and perspectives are definitely helpful.

    Perhaps a woman dying of old age? "Eyes far into the distance" suggests eyes that are further along the time line of life, perhaps. At least, they are far enough ahead to see the coming darkness.
     
  11. Magrathean

    Magrathean worldbuilder

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    I've been away from this thread for forever, first due to the horrible lack of spare time that studying any science entails and later due to being out of the country (and consequently away from my computer) for a few weeks. Regrettably, with classes starting again this monday it'll be impossible for me to end this away-ness anytime soon. However, there will likely come some beautiful day in which I'll be able to resume my reading of (and commenting on) the impressive analyses and interpretations posted here. Until that day comes, however, I just wanted to make sure the thread (which I read a little of today and which keeps getting better and better) did not die a premature death.
     
  12. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    Thank you for your kind words! It turns out that DT forum members don't particularly want to discuss DT's music. Or they can't read. :p Whatevs, I probably just wrote too much.

    Anyway, I'm at work 40 hours a week, in class 16, and driving/doing homework the rest of it, so I understand your predicament. The upshot is that I've nearly completed 17 credit hours over the summer, all A's (depending on how these last two turn out). Good luck, and I'd love to hear your thoughts when you're available.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, there was also this TL;DR of a post. It's basically a spin-off of my lyrical analysis above; little more than a few curious points of observation.
     
  13. Defiance

    Defiance I vårens ljusa kvällar

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    The band doesn;t really visit the forum IMO, Niklas is the only one who does that in a kind-of-constant way. But remember that the band tours a lot, they've been on tour for I-don't-know how many months now (five?). So I guess that influences a lot, since I recall Caotico saying that he liked your analysis and looking forward to more of it.

    I haven't been able to completely read the lyrical analysis, sorry.

    Holy crap how do you manage? I take 4 M.A. courses (12 hours of classes + plenty more of studying) and teach (that's Professor Josephy to you ;) hahaha) hmmm 12 hours per week? The working schedule isn't exactly beautiful, and the payment is horrible. Yet I'm glad I got 2 courses, I thought I was only gonna get one. Still, your schedule, you have my admiration for coping with that.
     
  14. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    I happen to know that several band members checked it out. I spoke to each of them personally in May. If you'll notice, I wasn't referring to DT members, but forum members. I was calling you pigs illiterate. Or taking the blame for writing way more than anyone actually wanted to read. Or maybe none of you actually like DT.:cry:

    As for the schedule, yes, it is a great deal of work. It was necessary to reorient my priorities. I'm pretty lazy by default, but I've started thinking of life like an RPG. I'm basically farming for experience right now. Always remember that the work matters; recreation, while important, rarely leaves you with anything lasting.

    Now I get to write a mega-essay on post (American) Civil War Reconstruction!
     
  15. Villain

    Villain Doctor BenQuillity

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    As I explained in the other thread, I've recently been occupied with vastly different (and unfortunately more pressing) matters - but I haven't forgotten this thread! I even read the other one on the lyrics, and actually have some contradicting viewpoints at least on the Evangelion-part (being a closet NGE-fan for nearly a decade) - I just haven't got the time to write my response.

    I recall getting through all my studies by thinking like that. Not that it's necessarily a good thing, mind you.

    -Villain
     
  16. ishkur

    ishkur Bloody android from Hell

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    WOW, you have a lot of time right? hahah Don't get me wrong, I find your interpretations true, intense and technical...deep shit! (in a superb way) But I think you spent a lot of time typing all this!

    Loved the way you broke the songs in pieces to evaluate every aspect of music :) I will surely try to listen to the album with this critic eyes (ears?) next time!
     
  17. La Rocque

    La Rocque I am that I am

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    over 2 years, no new posts on this thread -

    :danceboy:
     
  18. stizzleomnibus

    stizzleomnibus Decisively Human

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    There's really not a whole lot to say about an album that came out three years ago.
     
  19. Magrathean

    Magrathean worldbuilder

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    But there is.

    I have always interpreted Iridium in a slightly different way than you. To me, it is not restricted to the end of all life on Earth, but rather deals with the end of everything.

    Many lines may be interpreted in the exact same way in either version (end of life on Earth vs end of everything):

    The "ether of the night" is the hollow death of which the rest of the album speaks according to your brilliant analysis. This is true regardless of the scale of the end of things described in Iridium.

    The "edge of the world" could mean the edge of creation in the sense that all that was is about to disappear: the edge of time, so to speak. Again, this interpretation of the line is valid for either interpretation of the song.

    The title is, as you said, the name of an element commonly found in celestial bodies, in particular meteors, which always cause all sorts of devastation when they impact other bodies. It likely refers to the mass-extinction episode on Earth which you mentioned, but, in my interpretation, this is only a tool for invoking the image of the end of all things, not a specific reference which limits the song's scope. It might also refer simply to a cosmic element, one only scarcely found on "mortal" planets, one found almost only in space -- specifically, in the uninhabited things that drift across it. This reference to space, to the perspective movement from mortal species inhabiting a single planet to member of the population of the universe, helps in establishing the setting for the following interpretation.

    The chorus refers more literally to something much bigger (and therefore more "definite"/"fateful" and scarier) than something restricted to a single planet:

    Life ends, yes, but planets also do, and even stars: most fade away, while those massive enough "shatter" into supernovae and "scatter across forever" -- the remains of which, in time, form "a million brighter stars". Each star is itself unique and rare, especially if we consider the living things that may have lived and evolved and died under them; surely life throughout the universe, though all carbon-based (I once wrote a short essay on why no life in the universe can possibly be based on another element), is completely different from star to star. If living things on a planet become intelligent enough to form civilisations, their achievements, philosophies and societies will all be different; no two planets can be identical to each other, and therefore all stars (which produced said planets and "watch over them") are "unique and rare".

    Now, this is surely "an end beyond compare": it is the ultimate end of all things, and what can possibly be grander and more magnificent than to end in a supernova, a massive explosion of star-material that spans light-years and can be seen across galaxies?

    No matter what happens to one star and the planets that orbit it, space is littered with other stars in all directions: the "myriad of lights". When a star dies, all remains (as seen from where that star once existed) is the "mantle of the stars".

    Even with this larger scale, the lyrical theme of this song fits in perfectly with that of the rest of the album: as the protagonist's view of death evolves, it finally expands so as to encompass the ultimate death: that of entire solar systems (which itself spawns the birth of new star systems, as I mentioned, thus establishing a cycle of death and life which is oddly comforting: the album, in a way, ends in hope).

    Iridium's musical style, that minimalistic, monotonous droning-on of the guitars interrupted by immensely powerful choruses, is utterly apocalyptic. The style itself speaks of the end of all things, and thus there couldn't be a better lyrics-music combination to convey the message of the end of things.

    Bonus points: Before all five bonus tracks were released in various versions of We are the void and then as an ep called Zero distance, the first bonus track which was released was Star of nothingness. This song, both in title and in style (and aided by its lack of lyrics), suggests the rebirth that inevitably results from this gargantuan, otherwise-ultimate death: the "star [born from] nothingness" is the star born from the material remaining after the supernova. The song's musical style continues in the minimalistic, ambiental, repetitive tradition of Iridium, making it a perfect follower to it (and only as a bonus track, for it would have taken away from Iridium had it been on the regular release). It is as the final chapter to A clockwork orange (chapter seven of part three), absent in the first edition of the book: it completely turns the meaning of the phrase "I was cured all right" around, creating an ending which is opposite (and, in a way, richer) than the one originally written by the author at the end of the previously-final chapter. Star of nothingness couldn't have been on the regular album, but as a bonus track it works wonderfully (and, incidentally, is the first time in my life in which I am in favour of having a song as a bonus track instead of a regular song on the album or a song on the following ep).

    Side note: Iridium has become my favourite song of all time due in great part to the efectiveness with which it conveys its utterly apocalyptic message. It is, to me, a perfect song which couldn't possibly be better in any way. The incredibly aggressive (even for DT) way in which Mikael screams the chorus lines, the beautiful lyrics and the atmospheric music coexist in a way that is much more powerful than the sheer sum of parts.
     
  20. Liquid Crystal Sunshine

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    I disagree with you here. "Star of Nothingness" is rather an intro to the song "To Where Fires Cannot Feed" than a follower to anything, and that song is not related in theme at all to Iridium, in fact I think the title "Star of Nothingness" has a more metaphoric meaning, more about love and deception: like something that shines and attracts you, that perhaps even guides you, but is empty in reality...

    And I think Iridium is the perfect ending. There shouldn't be a follower as bonustrack (I dislike the additional chapter on A Clockwork Orange). To my ears... No bonustracks allowed.

    However, I like the idea of rebirthing after that ending that is Iridium, but that should be done in following albums, something like a "We Are The Void part II" or just a single song called like "A New Creation (Iridium part II)" or "Rebirth (after the Iridium event)"
     

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