Tool: Bottom Meaning
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This song, in general, is about how hate keeps people going. It also says how, even with a lack of compassion, and desire, we, as humans with souls continue to breed, and live off of hate, and as 'dead' as we are inside, we don't think of it as a problem, or we just ignore it. All the people who breed that hate, who feel that anger also feel guilt, and weakness:
"Hatred keeps me alive
Angriness keeps me alive
Weakness keeps me alive
Guilt keeps me alive"
and that those people who do so, are "at the bottom".
The "shit" adds up at the bottom and keeps you dead on the inside. Shit is hatred I think, the hatred adds up, and if you let it get to you, it will leave you dead inside.
"My piss and moans are the fuel that sets my head on fire"
You fuel your own hatred, with your complaining, and thus fueling your suffering.
"And I have swallowed the poison you feed me
But I survive on the poison you feed me"
I swallow the "shit" you give me, but it helps me survive, just like the "living" off of hate.
"If I let you, you would make me destroy myself
In order to survive you, I must first survive myself"
If I were to let you continue to cause this hate within me, instead of brushing it off, I will destroy myself. Therefore, I must survive the hatred you cause me to have.
"I can sink no further, and I cannot forgive you
There's no choice but to confront you, to engage you, to erase you
Ive gone to great lengths to expand my threshold of pain"
I can't sink past the "bottom". There is no choice but to get rid of you, and the hate, to "live" again. I've expanded my hate further, by hating even more.
"I will use my mistakes against you, there's no other choice
Im shameless now, I'm nameless now, I'm nothing now, I'm no one now"
Yet again, referring to using the hate against you, to get rid of the hate. I am basically nothing because of my hate, it has caused be to be "dead" inside.
That's just what I think.
anonymous Oct 3rd, 2014 10:04am report
It is abouts Maynard's ego. It was more emphasized throughout the Laturalus album
anonymous Sep 18th, 2013 9:48pm report
If you ever have a significant other or ex truly put you through the wringer, then you may understand that this song has a very literal meaning. Of course there are metaphors, but they are not exactly much of a stretch. While "my piss and moans are the fuel that sets my head on fire" is somewhat metaphorical, the piss and moans themselves are essentially not. They likely actually happened and constantly (usually against one's will) reappear in one's mind after the fact. He can't shake it and it *literally* burns his soul. The only metaphor in our example is the fire. The piss and moans are clearly fuel in the metaphysical and physical sense. A burn is just a type of injury and people may be burned without ever touching a flame. A brain may be *physically damaged* by purely psychological phenomena. The neural circuitry becomes established and the only alternative is to rewire (as far as that is possible).
This song is about Maynard's maddening desire to obtain mastery over every element of his own self which, if left unmastered, could act as a threat to the state of his 'total self-mastery' which acts as the source of all of his generated power. It is said that the samurai used to worship power, as it is power which makes all things possible. This is the case with Maynard as well, as he places incredible value on the strengths of his own abilities. As we will see in these lyrics however, this struggle has seemed to have become too much for whatever reason, or that the progress which he has been able to make towards the gaining of new power has reached its maximum limit, and at this point he can simply not take it any further. As we can observe, Maynard's abilities and his creative forces are some of the most intriguing relative to what we have yet known. Obviously he has been involved in some very extreme practices, and this path which he has forced himself to take has been of an extremely difficult nature. This has resulted in a case of "the brightest flame burns quickest" as he has been taxed to the maximum by the intensity his inner journey so far.
"My compassion is broken now, my will is eroded now.
My desire is stolen now, and it makes me feel ugly."
It is at this point in which the struggle for self-mastery has become too tiring and over-burdensome, or that he has reached the limit in what he is actually able to achieve, and from this point it’s become a bit of an act of 'kicking a dead horse', and a painful one at that. The compassion (favorable view) which he once felt towards his desire to accept the difficult tasks, has dried up as the rewards which came favorably at one time have come to a state in which they are no longer worth the trouble of pursuing. His refusal to continue to undertake the painful struggle is seen by his subconscious mind as a retreat in the face of battle, and the vital energy which once fueled this battle has been forcibly abandoned alongside the laying down of arms. This has resulted in an erosion of the 'will' as this continual battling had been acting as the wood-on-the-fire of his energetic spiritual machine (in the way that he has chosen to construct it). He has given so much emphasis to this idol of 'self-mastery' and since he can no longer find the will or desire to repetitively prove himself, he is in a sense surrendering this idol and is left with what he feels is the absence of it, which results in a life that he can only view as insignificant or unimportant. Since he has tied so much worth to the act of continually feeding his own ego, by no longer doing this, it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth due the lack of self-affirmation, which of course makes him feel ugly in his own view.
"I'm on my knees and burning.
My piss and moans are the fuel that sets my head on fire, so smell my soul burning."
"I'm on my knees and burning." – By no longer having the ability to find it within himself to continue along this journey which he has tied so much importance to, this has created an inner chasm which he now finds himself in. He is unable to escape this chasm and is miserable within it, in this sense he is on his knees (or helpless against it) and burning with mental anguish within it.
"My piss and moans are the fuel that set my head on fire," - The constant complaint within himself regarding the now unfavorable nature of the task at hand, is what drives him mad with negative thoughts, and which also continually saps his vital energy.
"so smell my soul burning." – He is very much suffering internally and is distressed to the center of his being.
“I'm broken, looking up to see the enemy...
And i have swallowed the poison you feed me, but i survive on the poison you feed me and it leaves me:
Guilt fed, hatred fed, weakness fed... and I'm dead inside."
As he states he is now broken towards the inner struggle and looks up from below to see the enemy (the need for success) which is now above him. He cannot continue to maintain the constant upwards struggle which has caused him to sink beneath the level which would keep him 'above water', in the sense that he can now no longer continue to claim victory, as a result of refusing to continue to fight.
He has swallowed the poison of defeat, but he continues to survive nevertheless.
However he now feels guilt in the act of abandoning this tool which has since brought him so far and has given him so much. He now feels hatred because his world has been made bitter now that the love which he once felt for the force which used to affirm him, has been turned into hate because the same force now opposes and denies him. He feels weakness due to the resulting loss of the precious vital energy which has intensely fueled all of his desire and his creative force up to this point.
All this leaves him feeling sapped of his passion towards life, due to the fact that it is now so disagreeable. The fire that he once had in his spirit has been greatly diminished to the point where he now feels 'dead inside'.
"Shit adds up at the bottom."
Here he is stating that a person's compassion for a difficult matter can only be extended so far and that at some point, it will eventually become overstretched and overburdened, causing it to collapse as it can no longer sustain itself under its own weight. He may also be using this phrase as a prelude to the portion of the song to come next in saying that as this negative mental energy is adding up, he is beginning to realize that he must make a drastic internal change or eventually he will end up facing an inner destruction. It is this same thought which lead to the actual beginning of this internal process, ironically it is the same thought which is calling for the end of it.
"If i let you, you would make me destroy myself.
In order to survive you, i must first survive myself."
If he continues to let the importance that he has tied to this struggle be his 'God' in a sense, then now that this God has turned against him and has become vengeful, it would now, since he is no longer bowing down before it, choose to destroy him instead of affirm him and will indeed do so, if it is allowed to do so. Maynard knows that in order to have any chance at surviving his own destruction at the hands of this God, he must be able to survive within his own mind first, independent of this God.
"I can sink no further, and I cannot forgive you."
Here he is saying that he cannot take any more of the situation created by the relationship between himself and his God, as it will destroy him if it continues. He cannot forgive either, as he has been made unable to accept the continuation along the path (the inner struggle) which leads to his God due to the reasons which we have already thoroughly discussed.
"There's no choice but to confront you, to engage you, to erase you."
There is no option left but to make war with what he has worshipped for so long now, but which is now threatening his survival. He must now uproot this which has grown within him, and make rid of it. He must go back inside of himself and rebuild what’s been broken, in doing so he must create an inner environment which is purely his and which is undivided amongst anything else.
"I've gone to great lengths to expand my threshold of pain."
He has gone to great lengths to expand his threshold of pain, pain being one of the most formidable obstacles along his path of self-mastery. He has worked very hard in order to arm himself in this area, he must be able to endure within difficult circumstances. In expanding this capability as much as possible, he will in turn then form as many weapons as possible which he will use in order to defend himself in areas which could otherwise suffer as a venerability, as a 'chink in the armor'.
"I will use my mistakes against you, there's no other choice."
There's no choice at this point other than to destroy everything which opposes him internally, or by relieving its internal significance by ceasing to oppose its opposition to begin with. He must now make weapons of his imperfections by releasing the importance which had previously been so severely tied to them. By no longer honoring their supremacy and refusing to believe that he must be perfect, he at least takes that burden off of himself; which at this point, is assailing him from multiple angles.
"I'm shameless now, I'm nameless now, I'm nothing now, I'm no one now..."
By abandoning the worship of his ego and its burdening identity, at the same time he abandons all possibility of any shame which could result from the affliction of the ego. By abandoning the ego, he is like nothing now, to afflict him at this point is like trying to burn the air with a torch. There is no longer anything there to afflict.
“But my soul must be iron because my fear is naked.
I'm naked and fearless, and my fear is naked."
But he must be strong enough inside himself at this point in order to safely make this transition because he is abandoning the desire to gain any further defenses, or to create any further strength within himself. He has taken himself to the absolute limit of his being (mentally and emotionally), and it is only at this point that he can cast off this war burden safely.
"Hatred keeps me alive.
Ugliness keeps me alive.
Weakness keeps me alive.
Guilt keeps me alive…
At the bottom."
Although he has taken on these traits now as a result of the inner transition, he will at least use them to his full advantage in any way that he can.
He will use hatred as a tool to fuel him, he will also form it into rage which will drive him in the face of opposition. He will use ugliness as freedom from the slavery of beauty, which can be damaged and must be continually maintained. He will use weakness to his advantage, in the way which he must no longer worship strength, which has made him into a slave of himself. The guilt will be converted into more hatred, which will then be used advantageously in the same manner.
He will use his own fear as the rod of discipline upon himself… this will be his only guide, which he will follow only in order to SURVIVE. If you are a guide only unto yourself, then you pledge allegiance to no doctrine which could threaten treason against you, however, in doing so you risk possibly missing that which could save your very skin. This is what he is doing right here, he is swearing allegiance only unto himself…. Subconsciously, he is doing this for the pure reason of SURVIVAL and to create the greatest chance of SURVIVAL without considering any other matter. Whether or not it is the right choice is completely unknown, but the decision of what to believe must be made either way.
This is unavoidable as our animal instincts are ingrained within us deeper than any other thing, and it is SURVIVAL which is the most powerful instinct of them all.
By sinking to the bottom and refusing to fight any longer against this enemy within, this is at least a place of rest and a place where he may be able to find some peace from all of this. The bottom ultimately represents a place of rest where gravity cannot cause anything to sink any lower. This is known as the ‘Asylum of Rest’. Once we can arrive here−we will arrive at the doorstep of enlightenment.
By the time we gain the tools to lead us to the Asylum of rest, we will have every tool that we could ask for. Every vital tool and not one less. Well, maybe a few.
This is bullshit.
I’d rape the soul of the world in order to survive, that’s all I can promise.
But if you know at least that much about me then at that point you’ll know everything about me.
Just like you’ll know everything about yourself because we are one and the same.
No different from one another in any form.
I don’t care if your name is Hitler or Mother Theresa…
I’m no different from you and you’re no different from me.
That’s the advantage that I have over anyone who believes otherwise
Anyone who truly desires to believe… will be allowed to do so within a short matter of time thereafter. But unless it is understood 100%--then at anytime before this point, truth can appear as lies, no matter its whereabouts… nor its beloved origins--this is all which can be guaranteed.
10kdayslover Nov 24th, 2010 11:53pm report
This is a hard one to fully conclude that is communicates a singular meaning. It seems to refer to psychological imbalance resulting in damaged emotions, relations, behaviors. It also may reference bottoming out in an addiction or obsession and that event is the turning point for self recognition and reparations.
This song is just straight up about not taking anymore shit from anyone. You can only fuck with someone so long before they feel nothing, and how, let's say fuckers at school make you feel like your at the bottom. This song is how that hatred, that feeling of emptiness, loneliness, nakedness, will just make you stop caring about anything except for making urself the strongest person you can so you can so "fuck you to those people, or if they ever fuck with you again to fuck them up, i.e. "I've gone through great lengths to expand my threshold of pain". I've gone through so much shit in my life nothing those abusive fuckers can do now can ever make me feel like I'm at the bottom again. I just think Maynard went through so much shit in his life he became numb to anything, and in fact his hatred to those that abused him kept him not just alive, but determined to never let anyone walk all over him or abuse him again.
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