It has been a long time since I heard this track, but I was reminded of it today and so I found a tool lyrics page and looked it up. I remember the first time I heard this... I was in high school, and I used to go to sleep with headphones on listening to a CD. The CD was Undertow by Tool, and as you may or may not know, track 69 is a "hidden" track on the disc. So the last song plays then silence for a while... then this song startles me back awake just as I began to drift off to sleep. As I listened it became one of my favorites.
Below is the first part of the track, copied from:
"And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber. And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself. And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own
Life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on........
This is necessary."
On the surface it is kind of amusing, "Let the rabbits wear glasses!" and the carrot harvest holocaust. But, on a deeper level it is a bit disturbing, what if it is true, that the unheard cries of the "carrots" reverberate all around us, along with the cries of the other life forms that we slaughter everyday. Should murder be defined as stopping the life process of any innocent life form that by design or conscious determination could continue its own existence, where it not for a destructive interruption of that life process.
Let's take for example a tree, its structural design does not include a system that can take its desires and transmit them through the movement patterns of any transmission medium, i.e. light, sound, etc. It cannot communicate to us in the typical manner that we are accustomed to, but does that matter? Can the will to live not be seen in its growth, year after year? It is not a lifeless hunk of matter, there are very deliberate and organized activities that show a pattern of consistent life sustaining activity. It lives, on its own and it has done nothing but try to sustain that life process, it is innocent. So what kind of being are we to take a sharp metal disc or chain and tear it through the trunk, destroying the ability for the tree to continue its life functions. Isn't that by definition, taking the life of an innocent and if so, is that also the definition of murder?
What if trees could run away from our saws, what if they screamed in terror as the weapon of violence approached. What if it could beg for its life, with cries of fear? Would it be different then? Would we let them live, would we feel guilt for our transgressions against this innocent entity that only wants to survive. I would like to think that it would matter to us, that if we heard the screams and saw the tears, we would stop the killings in an instant. But then this leads me to consider that since it cannot, it is at a disadvantage, it is a weakness in its abilities. So not only are we taking an innocent life, but we are preying on a weak and disadvantaged form of life that cannot fight or beg for its survival.
By design every cell in its body is trying to sustain life of the organism. It is obvious it is trying to live and would if we left it alone to do so, whether or not it can tell us this should not matter. Are the cries of the trees and carrots falling on deaf ears of humanity? The supplications that if heard, might stop the murderous intentions, of our callous hearts. Are we by design the great destroyers of life, is our need to propagate our own species more powerful than what we become when using such terrible methods of sustenance. According to Maynard, life feeds on life, which feeds on life, which feeds on... and this is necessary. Or is it?
It may be true that we have to rely on the transformation of matter into edible forms, through external life processes. But there are different ways to do this. One way is a path of life destruction, killing something by stopping its life process and then consuming it. This applies to all animal slaughter, along with any method of harvest were we dismember a plant that is in a sustainable form and consume it. There is another path of symbiosis, where we find our food in the plants that discard the ripe products of its development process when it is finished with them. An example of this would be the fruit of an apple tree. The apple fruit develops to a certain point at which time the stem to the fruit undergoes certain changes where it weakens to a point that the fruit is disconnected from the main plant body and is no longer receiving nutrients or water from the tree, at which point the fruit falls from the tree and begins to decompose. The life process is over for this ripe fruit, it is no longer in a sustainable form, it is dead/dying and can be consumed by any animal, including humans, without destroying a life process. We are then working in cooperation with the patterns of the life processes and not against them. If we don't eat the ripe apple, then it decomposes back into a form that can be reused by the tree to feed itself and develop more fruit in future fruiting cycles.
So far, I have been focused on plant life. I do not even want to begin with animal slaughter, where the look of panic or pain is apparent, and the sounds of the animals tell another similar and even more horrifying tale. Where the cries can even be heard sometimes, but since it is not in a language we understand, must be nonsense, right? You tell me, check out some of the videos on this site, http://www.petatv.com/ (WARNING: seriously disturbing images in the clips on this site.)
I say we need to look around more carefully and find our place in the patterns of life processes. A place where we can exist in harmony with the other lives that inhabit this planet. I think we all feel this on a fundamental level, but our cultures and life methods training do not reinforce this option for symbiotic existence with the earth. We can redefine our methods and desires, but not without a concerted effort to overcome the inertia of our current path.
Can I get an Amen?
In honor of Yom HaShoah 2005