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© Ian Driscoll, 2011
Tool, to my knowledge, is the only (or at least the best) band of the last century to complete a concept album (albeit unrecognized as such) revolving entirely around Hermeticism generally and Alchemy specifically. On the album entitled “Lateralus”, the songs "The Grudge", "Parabola", "Schism", "Reflection", and of course "Lateralus" itself are all united by Hermetic themes and symbols. Briefly, let's take a look at the song "Lateralus". The lyrics: Black then white are all I see in my infancy. red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me. lets me see. As below, so above and beyond, I imagine drawn beyond the lines of reason. Push the envelope. Watch it bend. Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind. Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines. Black then white are all I see in my infancy. red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me. lets me see. There is so much more that beckons me to look through to these infinite possibilities. As below, so above and beyond, I imagine drawn outside the lines of reason. Push the envelope. Watch it bend. Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind. Withering my intuition leaving all these opportunities behind. Feed my will to feel this moment urging me to cross the line. Reaching out to embrace the random. Reaching out to embrace whatever may come. I embrace my desire to feel the rhythm, to feel connected enough to step aside and weep like a widow to feel inspired, to fathom the power, to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain,
is clearly in line with the ancient philosophy which prefers intuitive understanding (intelligence of the heart. in which Hermes Trismigestus states: “That which is above is like that which is below. Spiral out. The next bit. So let's examine the first stanza: Black then white are all I see. The second is known as the libido. discursive reasoning: Over thinking. I'm reaching up and reaching out. Red and yellow then came to be. . I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.. missing opportunities and I must feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines. Maynard then continues by saying: As below so above and beyond. though not overtly Hermetic.to swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human. With my feet upon the ground I lose myself between the sounds and open wide to suck it in. the black stage. in which the material is cleansed of all impurities. reaching out to me.. and the Stone is said to grow to maturity in the yellow and red stages. Alright. This may have some connection to the Hermetic concept of the body summoning the spirit.” I find it interesting that Maynard starts from below and works up. the white stage. in my infancy. the yellow stage. working the miracles of one thing. I feel it move across my skin. And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been. there are 4 generally recognized steps in creating the Philosopher’s Stone. and that which is below is from that which is above. We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been. Withering my intuition. the universally recognized primary text of Alchemy. let’s me see. Keep going. I imagine… This is a direct reference to the Emerald Tablet. in which the prima materia is calcified and dissolved. The first is known as the negrido. in the words of Schwaller de Lubicz) to ratiocinative. the red stage. The third and fourth stages are the cintrinitas. going. as much as the spirit creates the body. and the rubedo. in which the work is brought to fruition and the Stone is created. The infancy of the Stone is represented by the black and white stages. In the Alchemical Opus. over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
ascend to 8 syllables and descend to 3 syllables: Black (1) then (1) white are (2) all I see (3) in my in-fan-cy (5) red and yel-low then came to be (8) rea-ching out to me (5) let’s me see (3) We then jump to 13 syllables. for instance: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 … 0+1=1 1+1=2 2+1=3 3+2=5 5+3=8 And on. beginning with zero. and on… The first and third stanzas of Lateralus are arranged according to Fibonacci patterns. as well. for those who don’t know. is a string of numbers. in which the sum of one integer and the integer which preceded it becomes the next integer in the sequence. is clear. So. That the Fibonacci sequence is embedded in the song has been remarked upon before. rather than analysis. and descend to 3 syllables at the end of the stanza: As be-low. Before we move on. so a-bove and be-yond I’d ima-gine (13) . The Fibonacci sequence. we begin with 1 syllable.The preference for synthesis. let’s address the rythym of the song. In the first stanza.
this time all the way to 1 syllable before we begin our ascent once more to 13: Black (1) then (1) white are (2) all I see (3) in my in-fan-cy (5) red and yel-low then came to be (8) rea-ching out to me (5) let’s me see (3) There is (2) so (1) much (1) more that (2) beck-ons me (3) to look through to these (5) in-fin-ite poss-i-bil-i-ties (8) As be-low.Drawn out-side the lines of rea-son (8) Push the en-vel-ope (5) Watch it bend. so a-bove and be-yond I’d ima-gine (13) Drawn out-side the lines of rea-son (8) . before descending again. (3) In the third stanza (as in the first) we start at 1 syllable and ascend to 8.
This ratio of 1/1.618).618 is found throughout nature (most convincingly throughout the human body). in the final analysis. a merging of the human and the divine (also the underlying meaning of Alchemy). This is demonstrated most clearly in stanza 6. The underlying meaning of “Lateralus” is. in which Maynard states that he wants to: …swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human… The spiral that he speaks of is. specifically. the Golden Spiral. Here are a few examples of the Golden Ratio found in nature: Examples: . constructed via the Golden Ratio. But what I’ve never heard commented on before is the point behind the incorporation of the Fibonacci sequence into the rhythm of this song. or phi (1.Push the en-vel-ope (5) Watch it bend. (3) Okay. the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm. and represents. metaphysically. clear enough.
3. Here’s a sample construction of a Golden Rectangle from a simple square (pulled from World-Mysteries. The Golden Spiral is constructed via the Golden Rectangle.618. The side of the rectangle constructed from the square will then represent 1.618. Construct a simple square Draw a line from the midpoint of one side of the square to an opposite corner Use that line as the radius to draw an arc that defines the height of the rectangle Complete the golden rectangle Take one side of the original square as representing “1”. a rectangle formed using the ratio of 1/1. By creating successive Golden . Ta-da! Golden Rectangle.Let’s examine the Golden Spiral very quickly. 2.com): A golden rectangle can be constructed with only straightedge and compass by this technique: 1. 4.
the part thus separated will be identical in form and appearance to the original Spiral. To illustrate this: 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 1/0=0 1/1=1 2/1=2 3 / 2 = 1. so what does this have to do with the incorporation of the Fibonacci sequence into the rhythm of the song? Well. which concept underlies the philosophy of the macrocosm/microcosm. It geometrically demonstrates the Hermetic notion of the original division of (for lack of a better term) God. we can easily (with a little practice) create the Golden Spiral. as is demonstrated in the picture below (also stolen from World-Mysteries. and of God with His creation. in that. This means that each part is identical to the whole.5 . the resulting quotient comes closer and closer to the Golden Ratio itself: 1. in that wherever the Spiral is divided. the Fibonacci numbers are intimately related to the Golden Ratio. and the numbers in the top row are divided by the numbers in the bottom row. It speaks to the unity of all things.Rectangles. when one row of Fibonacci numbers is staggered on top of another row.com): Successive points dividing a golden rectangle into squares lie on a logarithmic spiral which is sometimes known as the golden spiral. The Golden Spiral is unique in geometry.618. Alright.
55 / 34 = 1. . purified and cleansed.666666666… 8 / 5 = 1. to witness the beauty. and the philosophy of the macrocosm/microcosm. 34 / 21 = 1. and so on. Prior to invoking the Spiral.5 / 3 = 1.61764705…. directly alluded to earlier with the lyrics “…as below. to bathe in the fountain… The fountain that he’s referring to is found strewn throughout numerous Alchemical texts (see. for instance. it could also be called the fountain of reincrudation.6 13 / 8 = 1. the Fibonacci numbers incorporated into the rhythm of “Lateralus” are meant to evoke the notion of the Golden Spiral. Sometimes called the fountain of youth.6190476…. in which he is dissolved.6153846….to feel inspired. and from which the Stone eventually emerges. And so on. to fathom the power. This is the bath of the Alchemical King. Thus. the “spiral of divinity” on which we swing. the Parabola of Madathanus or Treviso’s Allegory of the Fountain). Maynard states that he wants: . so above and beyond I’d imagine…” One last thing.625 21 / 13 = 1..
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