So I've read over this section and have decided to write what I thought of the video one day and see what others think about how I've interpreted it. That being said, here goes.
(NOTE: This thing is HUGE. I go in depth, so prepare to read a lot.)
(In this interpretation, I'm going to use words like "male" "he" "him"...etc...to commonly refer to the second figure in the video, the one who first appears upside down. The female terms "female" "her" and "she" are for the first figure...with the red...branches or roots on the back of her head.)
Okay. 'Mantra' opens with a disc-shaped object, similar to a sundial, or a metronome, however to me I think it's actually a scale for measuring one's weight [although the cover is absent].
(It's interesting to note in the first shot that the topmost symbol seen along the disc looks like a yin-yang.)
Other than that...I don't know quite what it means. The motion of the pointed shaft could just mean that the song is beginning (like a metronome counting rhythm), as 'Mantra' is the opening segue for 'Schism'.
THE WIRE ROOM
Something to note: If you visit www.happypencil.com
(Cam DeLeon's site - the designer of much of the videos set) and examine some of his work, you can scroll to a ? concerning this block room, and he mentions something about tightly strung wires in a block room, where the strings appear to touch but never actually do. When I think of blocks, and look at the room, I see a puzzle set, in a way ("I know the pieces fit"). The strings tightly strung could mean tension, and the fact that they aren't in contact even though they are in an environment of interlocking sections, well, that seems to go with the theme of broken communication, and broken connnection.
Schism begins with the shot of the room, and such...the wires...etc. Then we are introduced to the first character,
We then see that she is sinking. This might mean something in connection to the lyrics at the time "mildewed and smouldering"...making a reference to sinking in a hole (pain, pity...), effectively rotting.
In her sadness she sees that the second character, is upside down in comparison to her. Hence, a difference. The lyrics at the time ("fundamental differing" and "pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers souls in motion, disintegrating as it goes", if I'm not mistaken) give a hint to this too. She pulls him out of the hole that he is in (or perhaps just to her level). Kind of like a "lets sit down and talk" (once again, lyrics = "testing our communication".)
Unfortunately, he is upside down...and the rising up on his head displays this. (Lyrics = "The light the fuel the fire that has burned a hole between us" could mean that what they began with, has caused them to become strange to each other)
THE SPIRAL PUSH
The spiralling and the pushing is a little strange, but here's how I see it. She's pushing him and shoving him (a common theme related to both this song and some others, involving conflict represented physically in a relationship). It's not really working, and in a way, going in circles. BUT, this is where I think the spiral comes in; the fact that Tool is pretty interested in the Phi Ratio (Lateralus, perhaps?), not to mention in one interview of Maynard concerning Lateralus he mentions that life is cyclic, but time continues, and when you display that, you end up with a spiral. So, perhaps as time goes on, her efforts go in circles, yet end up as a spiral. The spiral could doubly represent that it is spiralling to a conclusion, or that it is winding down. In any case, I believe it relates to time and vain efforts.
("so we can not seem to reach an end, crippling our communication" seems to me to show that cyclical, going nowhere effect of making the effort in a detrimental way (in this case, not communicating, but pushing))
Next, she relocates him, and he is passively resisting (either for or against his will) by lying down, looking dead.
She then shakes and is desperately attempting to reach to him, looking at him and recoiling all the same, frustrated with the fact that they aren't communicating.
The lyrics "I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them tumble down, no fault; none to blame. That doesn't mean I don't desire to point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over" seem to help illustrate that though nothing can be done to correct what has happened, frustration still arises and blame is placed on the other because she needs to find comfort and reason. But in effect it is only fucking up the relationship, toppling over what has been built.
"To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication"...is almost like a separate thought from the other lyrics, or at least in this interpretation could be thought of that way...It's like a revalation.
But the male moves away and I suppose hides...forcing the female to search and find him. To make the effort of reconcile.
Lyrics "The poetry that comes from the squaring off between and the circling is worth it, finding beauty in the dissonance" could mean that the effort is something that is just as important as the reconnection, and in conflict there is beauty to the movement towards healing...I suppose it ties in with her searching...etc.
She then finds him, and shows him something (the contorted walking). He (with a veil of skin over his mouth, barring speech?) then partakes in the same movements, and in this way they begin to reconnect.
"There was a time that the pieces fit but I watched them fall away, mildew and smouldering, strangled by our coveting. I've done the math enough to know the dangers of our second guessing, doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication." Could mean that the attraction to what the other had lead to a desire that effectively made them jealous of one another, and as such they fell into conflict. And without teaching eachother, without learning new things, growing, (walking differently?), they will not reconnect or grow.
The ear thing really gets me, as I think it gets other people, but to me it could mean that the blockage of communication was still not complete (as he still has a veil over his mouth and turns from her), and so she pulls his ear out...this could refer to the more deeper sense of communicating, talking, to his ear, connecting with his ear by touching it...
(The lyrics "_______" seem to c-...just kidding)
THE LITTLE MAN INSIDE
I think this guy, as he is moving through the male figure, represents negativity. Like a little tiny devil. Finally, the male touches himself and realizes that something is strange...
The thorny black vein that comes from the males neck is probably from the little black devil's exploits, and his perforation has left this vein of negativity in the males neck (throat...larynx...voicebox...communication). The female assists by removing the veiny thing, and discards it.
"Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion" So, we find that the vein has caused this, from the little negative devil that, as it is humanoid in form, could represent a gnatlike, annoying facet of the figure. It could be self doubt, the fear of vulnerability, or second-guessing, anything that hinders a relationship. Since the little guys are scary in some way, I'd think it connects most with fear.
Notice that now, with the removal of the vein, as it turns to bloody liquid and the fear-devil things arise from it, gas now flows through the room. The male characters mouth is now open, and gas flows through. I don't think it matters about the fact that it is gaseous, just the fact that it flows should hint at the fact that communication is now working again. The screaming of the female is a supplement to this.
(The male also seems to be reaching up to embrace the gas, the communication, the reconnection...whatever the smokey stuff may be. Chances our in this intepretation that it is a positive thing.)
LITTLE BLACK DEVILS
So now the little men have run off, and the female now seems to relax. But the little men latch on to her, and cause nuisance to her. They have multiplied in numbers and she must discard them, but they keep coming back. This could represent something cyclic, how the little guys are always bothering us, and we must continually push them aside in order to continue with a relationship.
In doing so, she changes...her movement from difference to one nearly complete with the male. Her red roots cover and change her to the male, but more likely androgynous now, form, and the two now appear to be similar. The light, the fuel and the fire starts back up again (the flame and pulsing fire) and the two merge into one.
Once again, their relationship is complete.
I'd love to read people's responses and opinions to this post.