View Full Version : Hyphenation (part 4)

11-01-2019, 03:18 AM
Part 4 of this essay examines the hyphenation of Fear Inoculum.

The TL:DR crowd should skip this.



Now that we have arrived at Fear Inoculum, the hyphen line is still in play in myriad ways.

The first thing that is apparent is that the new logo extends the hyphen to the extreme, and splits the line into two equal parts from the center. Both are sharpened into needle points going in opposite directions.

This is not the first time that the Tool logo has been rendered as two lines of equal length, or as something sharp. The logo for Ænima was also made of lines, appearing as an equals sign (=) which is also an “11” lying on it’s side. These lines appear to be connected by "shadow" letters, and the rendering of the whole also has the subtle suggestion of a razor blade, which reflects back upon all of the instances of suicidal ideation contained in the lyrics.

Certainly the new logo can be folded upon itself to form a stylized syringe. But since this is apparent even without folding them together, the inference might be that the "inoculation" goes in two different directions at once.

This is mirrored by the fact that the melody of 'Litanie Contre La Peur' (essentially the "fear inoculation" from Frank Herbert’s Dune rendered as a spoken mantra) is a musical palindrome (meaning that you hear the same melody as normal when the track is played backwards), and so there are two primary entities being inoculated against fear (because it goes both ways), not just one.

Such a state of strength and courage hearkens back to the artwork for Lateralus, where we find not one, but two visvavajras: A red one on the last page of the inlay, and a blue one on the artwork behind the CD tray. You will remember that red and blue are utilized to indicate different aspects of the self in the dream-like phone message at the end of 'Disgustipated', that Keenan used the two colors on separate halves of his body in various live shows during the Lateralus era, and that these are the individual colors of the two anthropomorphic "eye-eels" that exit the eyes in the 'Vicarious' video.

Visvavajras are interesting for a number of reasons related to Tool, but for this essay it is important to point out that in Buddhism they are associated with Amoghasiddi, the "green northern buddha of action". Amoghasiddi is known for embodying fearlessness, and so the suggestion of being inoculated from fear should be attended by an understanding of what Amoghasiddi is about (side note: green is the third color identified with the individual on 'Disgustipated').

The strange thing to me, amid all of these metaphors, is that the track 'Litanie Contre La Peur' doesn't exactly sound like it is coming from a place of fearlessness, protection, or security. In fact, it has an ominous feeling to it.

So if it is a palindrome, inoculating both of the primary factions, then this may be an after-the-fact explanation of why there are two visvavajras in Lateralus: Two individuals, that are diametrically opposed, are laying hold on to this symbol to indicate that they are fearless, protected, as indestructible as a diamond, and as irresistible as a lightning bolt.

Curiously enough, this brings us to the new album title and it's implementation of the hyphen. I am familiar with the discussion of the word being in the accusative form, but following the path of Tool's utilization of hyphens leads to a completely different understanding of the title.

Fear Inoculum does indicate an inoculation from fear, but the 'r' of 'fear' and the 'i' of 'inoculum' are connected by an underscore. Since the 'i' is not hyphenated to the rest of the word 'inoculum', there is a possibility that a new term is created here:

Fear_I noculum.

"Noc" is Latin for "harm", and -ulum is a Latin suffix used to form a noun of instrument or means from a verb. With "harm" being the verb, together they equate to "harm instrument"... which is another way of saying "weapon". So this is what may be inferred by the title if the underscore is understood as a hyphen:

"fear-eye weapon" -or, in the accusative- "The fear-eye is your weapon"

...which would be the aggressive opposite conclusion of being inoculated from fear. To actually elevate and utilize your fear as a means of seeing, and then weaponize that vision when dealing with others, would be the most destructive way of addressing your own fears and anxieties.

Flexing this idea back upon the album as a whole, it begins with songs that tend to feel like they represent the more hopeful individual from Alex Grey's The Great Turn. By the time we pass the fulcrum of the song 'Descending', however, things take a turn towards seeming to represent the other, doomed individual in that painting.

Identifying a "fear-eye" is an interesting way of playing upon the notion of split irises on a single eyeball, and indicating the fragmenting of a soul into 2+ entities. By naming one eye the "fear-eye" there is a sense of hope because it is a move that indicates that the other eye (and therefore the other self) isn't subject to the same fears.

This notion of the "fearless one" takes us back to 10,000 Days' emphasis on the tarot. Each of the band members's photos are saturated in symbolism so as to essentially function as "keys" or "arcana" in relation to both that record and their art as the collective known as Tool. Danny is even pictured with a Thoth deck. But the more interesting element of that record that relates to this essay is the Tool logo that is stylized into a cartouche that resembles the word “fool”.

Some may consider this to be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek insult from the band to their fans. But when you take into account The Fool's value of zero with regard to the other major arcana of the tarot, you realize that the state of being a fool means both being at the beginning of the path and at the end of it. This esoteric understanding is not an insult at all, but an invitation to both transform and to understand the cycles of transformation you have already experienced.

Being thus a "free agent" that is somewhat separate from the other cards, The Fool is both the traveler of the path laid out by the rest of the twenty-one arcana, and the state of being that results from traversing that path. Twenty-one is a number that is divisible by seven, and both numbers manifest in various time signatures on the songs contained in new record (Fear Inoculum itself being the seventh record in Tool's catalog).

This fact has direct reference to '(-) Ions', for amid the storm of the sheet metal you can begin counting the arcs of plasma as they climb up the metal rods... eighty times. The same number of cards in the Thoth deck.