23 September 2005

NIN’s Gnostic “Right Where It Belongs”



A while back I noticed definite Gnostic tones on Nine Inch Nails' album, With Teeth. Though all of Reznor's albums have consistent existential themes, the last track on this album, entitled "Right Where It Belongs," is really quite peaceful and explores the concept of illusion and looking within oneself. This is apparently after bouts with alcoholism and suicidal tendencies over the past decade, a possible consequence of his rise to super-stardom:—
"Right Where It Belongs"

See the animal in its cage that you built
Are you sure what side you're on?
Better not look him too closely in the eye
Are you sure what side of the glass you are on?

See the safety of the life you have built
Everything where it belongs
Feel the hollowness inside of your heart
And it's all
Right where it belongs

Chorus:
What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you wanted to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?

What if all the world's inside of your head
Just creations of your own?
Your devils and your gods
All the living and the dead
And you really are alone
You can live in this illusion
You can choose to believe
You keep looking but you can't find the woods
While you're hiding in the trees

Chorus:
What if everything around you
Isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you used to know
Is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection
Is it all you wanted to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks
Would you find yourself
Find yourself afraid to see?

I've also noticed that "Only" eschews a dialogue with his audience and/or those around him in favour of a conversation with himself. He's seeing through the veneer of the Demiurge's world and into himself. In fact, I find it humorous that he's created a piece that the rest of "us" can listen to when, in fact, we are all seperated in the end. It's like a weird paradoxical loop, cuz I could see myself saying the very same things he's stating in this track:—


"Only"

I'm becoming less defined as days go by
Fading away
Well you might say
I'm losing focus
Kind of drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself

Sometimes I think I can see right through myself

Less concerned about fitting into the world
Your world, that is
Because it doesn't really matter
(No it doesn't really matter anymore)
None of this really matters anymore

Yes I'm alone but then again I always was
As far back as I can tell
I think maybe it's because you never were really real to begin with
I just made you up to hurt myself
And it worked
Yes it did!

Chorus:
There is no you
There is only me
There is no you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me

The tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be a scab
And I had this funny feeling like I just knew it was something bad
I just couldn't leave it alone, picking at that scab
It was a doorway trying to seal itself shut
But I climbed through

Now I am somehwere I am not supposed to be,
And I can see things I knew I really shouldn't see
And now I know why (yeah now I know why)
Things aren't as pretty
On the inside

7 comments:

channel null said...

I'm not typically a NIN fan, but I'm amazed that "Only," which sounds like the dance mix mash-up of The Filth and Liber Astarte, made it as a single here in the States.

Fell said...

Funny enough, in a past post I totally criticised David Fincher's vision of "Only." I forgot it was a North American single, having repressed the memory and believing that Rob Sheridan's video for "The Hand That Feeds" was the sole single from With Teeth.

With a new perspective on it, after contemplating its lyrics over the past weeks, I see a new context to Fincher's video. I still think it's a boring piece, especially in light of some of the other music videos emerging out there and NIN's earlier videos.

On that note, however, I've disliked the majority of Reznor's choices for music video directors for the past couple albums… since the days of The Downward Spiral.

Mark Romanek's video for "The Perfect Drug" (1997) was the last one I adored.

I am not familiar with Liber Astarte; I shall have to look into it. And are you referring to Grant Morrison's The Filth?

michael said...

Man, I loved The Perfect Drug. That was a great song and video.

For the most part, I've been disappointed with With Teeth. I just don't think it lives up to his previous experiments. There are a few gems in there though.

I'm still waiting for that rumored Trent Reznor / Maynard James Keenan project.

channel null said...

Astarte is Crowley's version and deranged explicatation of the bornless ritual to get to KCHGA. I'm a little too little intellectual here; "What the Latest Nine Inch Nails album means to me..."

I watched that David Fincher video. I can't believe that he made Fight Club or Seven. I'd go so far as to say that shitty video it might represent the limit point between combining video and audio. I mean, office toys? Laptop? Why not the teletubbies set? What exactly office toys have to do with "There is no you there is only me" I have no idea.

To Fincher's credit, he did violate a lot of basic film school rules with the video, like the 180-plus pan, which is so original after the Matrix.

...paging Jared Leto. Panic Room! PANIC ROOM!

InfoSocialist said...

Another good source of gnostic sounding lyrics (maybe even intentional) is VNV Nation. Saviour (the vocal version) is an excellent example of this. There's been quite a few of their songs that hit me as gnostic.

Fell the Don said...

Yes, they've always been in the periphery of the music I've listened to. I saw them live a few years back.

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