View Full Version : 4 Degrees & the Hero myth

02-12-2003, 08:02 PM
Although it is important to take into account the metaphor of anal sex present in "4 Degrees," I don't believe it is the main focus of the song.

The term "4 degrees" refers to first year cadets in the military (FAQ - C10). So it can be though of as refering to someone who is fresh, new, innocent. This is where I see the hero myth coming in.

At the beginning of the hero myth, the hero believes he/she know his/her place in the world and where his/her life will ultimately live. (ex. - get a job, get married, have kids, live in the suburbs, and die) But the hero learns of something that changes his/her perception of what his/her life means, often from a place of darkness representative of the unconscious:

Locked up inside you,
like the calm beneath castles,
is a cavern of treasures that
no one has been to.

A 'herald' or guide tries to convince the hero to delve into this dark place to reach his/her true potential, which is quite different from what the hero expected in life:

Let's go digging.
Bring it out to take you back in.
You won't do what you'd like to do.
Lay back and let me show you another way.

This is only the beginning of the hero myth, though. But that is all the song means to address, the "call to action." It says to delve deep into the dark places within yourself, where (at least in the hero myth) you will "die," and go to the depths of "hell," to be ressurected a new more complete person.

This could also work with the theme of change that is present in the rest of the album, which seems to be: cast off your false perceptions on life because only then will you be free.

02-16-2003, 01:47 PM
The remark about first year cadets is very interesting, as we all know how influenced Maynard was by his experience in the military, but the hero myth...

I would tend to agree with you and there's definitely some of that in the song, however your analysis doesn't take the end of the song into account : "If you knock me down I'll come back running,/knock you down,/it won't be long now/All the way in./All the way./Take it,"etc. All that part really shows constraint and doesn't seem to evoke the hero myth anymore.

My point is that it may indeed refer to the hero myth, but in order to prove it wrong. It starts out as the mythical hero being hailed by his guide, but the said hero ends up getting assraped by that guide, indicating that things aren't like myths, there isn't such a thing as heroes, and so-called heralds and guides are only in it to abuse you.

02-20-2003, 04:58 PM
That's a good point, LeoDV. And it goes along with the idea that one shouldn't allow themselves to be led; a message strung throughout Tool songs (as well as this message board).

Although the line you've quoted could also be taken as the rejection to the "call to action," in which the hero refuses to start his journey and is somehow pushed into it. Like "The Matrix" where Neo at first refuses to believe that the Matrix is real and that he is the one who must help destroy it.

Maynard has been quoted to say (rough replication) that the song is not about anal sex, but opening up completely. Could it be about opening yourself up to something new and scary like anal sex (which is not the main focus of the song, but a metaphor that cannot be completely dismissed.)? Or could it be as you've stated that it is a warning to not allow yourself to be "raped" by those who seem to be trying to lead you to a higher place?

I think that maybe both are important to the song (at this point I may be overanalyzing, but run with me for a second). On one hand, you cannot allow yourself to be mislead by false prophets, heralds, or guides. On the other, one cannot close him or herself off from every guide in life. Some are not out there to hurt you (whether unconsciously or consciously).

In real life, there may not be some guide in the form of a person. It may be an event or happening that causes one to exlpore oneself and find out who he/she really is, going down into the unconscious, and emerging a new person. Or it could be an unconscious force.

It is also important to note that anything, whether a philosophy, a religion, a person, a band, a piece of art, an idea or concept (like the hero myth), should be taken with a grain of salt. One should be able to question everything.

03-05-2003, 09:53 AM
To me this song is about finding someone who is pretty closed off and reserved, and attempting to open them up(for whatever purpose.) "locked up inside you, like the calm beneath castles, is a cavern or treasures that no one has been to" I can definitely see how sexual interpretations can come into play, but to each their own. " Lay bakc and let me show you another way" Like I mentioned I feel that it is just trying to get into someones head(in the good way) and see what they are all about. ALong the same lines in can be viewed as taking a third person look at ones self. Which I fell that more people need to do, but that is just me. "get up and free yourself from yourself" Couldn't be anymore clear cut than that, in my opinion.