Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back to Holywood Part 2: The Tarot Songs

Going further into this rabbit hole I find that there are other coincidences in the cards laid out in the Holywood booklet.

As an experiment I assigned a song to the order of the cards to help us tell a story. As it unravels we find our main character who longs for inmortality; Adam. When he was placed on Earth he lost his power so his mission will be to return to God or even to destroy him for his doing.

This is my interpretation of Holywood using the Tarot Card sequence. Manson always said that this is the first part of the Triptych and is a story told backwards.

Let’s take the first card that was shown as in the previous spread; the Hanged Man, compare it to this lyric, “ dear God can you climb off that tree you made into the shape of a T…” The Hanged Man is tied not to a cross, but into a T shaped tree. This card is all about sacrifice and it is the current self that is described in the Celtic Cross Spread described earlier. Apparently this isn’t a personal experience, the songs includes several references to JFK and how he was elevated into the status of a martyr.

Now if you pay closer attention, the last song of the Mechanical Animals album, “Coma White” has a video where there is a recreation of JFK’s murder scene and how he dies in Jackie Kennedy’s lap. This may have been a hidden reference to how Jesus Christ died in Mary’s arms, but what’s more shocking is that Manson plays in the video a character like JFK/Jesus as if they where all tied and went through the same situation. Thus, history repeats itself. But it’s also an introduction of what’s about to come.

Now, the next card should be Death, number 13. This is a bit harder to figure out. The card speaks about changes, sometimes groundbreaking. If we go back to the spread this would be assigned to the second position; Challenges.

In Kabbalah, the Adam Kadmon loses its eternity after reaching Earth and becomes human, someone ordinary. Death is also about rebirth. A loose interpretation of the song would be that, “ a series of changes and challenges await as soon as we step into the Valley of Death, the future is uncertain.” This makes sense since most of the album was written in California, and it also makes sense to the comparison to the strong references to Hollywood and all its decadence described in Mechanical Animals. This is only the beginning of a perilous journey.

Confused about his mission on Earth, Adam finds a beautiful being in the shape of a woman;the High Priestess, a sort of fortuneteller, since he has lost all faith in God, and is now tempted by her ways, as in, “the Love Song.” In fact, he speaks about his creator in a highly sarcastic manner, “Do you love your God, your Guns, your Government? Fuck yeah!”

The next card would be assigned to the High Priestess. She has profound knowledge and mysteries waiting to be revealed, however her facade changes to that of a man, very similar to Adam, but more sinister. Which song fits into the picture? After careful analysis I chose “Diamonds and Pollen”, observe this lyric, “die like flowers too”. This might as well be Death because it washes away and brings change, the first flower is the beginning of a new day. But this can also be speaking of a prophecy, as in,The High Priestess advises Adam that Holywood is full of temptation and he must go there no questions asked if he wants his dreams to come true.

Now, the track was unofficially part of the album, in the single of Disposable Teens which is tied to these lyrics in “I saw that pregnant girl today…” It is, “America bled to death, electric and pregnant.” I assigned this card to the Empress who would count as the product that is being created in her womb; horrible visions, but full of bright lights and glitter. The song can also be considered the second part of the High Priestess’s revelation, as in this lyric, “a million scars, a million promises,” or “and all your sad endings are planting in the gardens, and they’re waiting to grow, and to die like flowers too.”

Let’s continue the story, so far our adventurer is about to face the atrocities of Holywood. It’s no secret that there are several references to the actual Hollywood scene, and it is where Manson went to live years ago. So you can imagine that his perspective of the industry was more shocking than his own music.

The next card would be the Justice. Because it is placed on the Major Arcana it has a higher rank than the authority of Man. It is a force that makes decisions that are highly questioned sometimes. In my spread the card was intentionally reversed to mean false accusations or huge misunderstandings. Which song fits here? Probably “Target Audience” The High Priestess revealed to Adam his fate; he would be revered as a king but also would become a martyr. The promise of inmortality is strong but there is a huge price to pay; the beginning of a personal discovery.

So the once powerful Adam is about to enter Holywood as this is a journey where forces are about to collide. The next card is the Fool and it makes sense since our character has been reduced to a being that must find himself and defy the prophecy. Right after “Target Audience” comes “President Dead”. This would be considered a chapter between Justice and Fool. Adam. He’s seen the actual demons of Holywood and will surely not end as the previous president. In real life, probably Manson was trying to find a close example to his experience in order to feel some sort of empathy or connection that in the story could probably mean Adam’s actual mission. Again the parallels are evident. A song that could be subsequent would be “The Fight Song”, since other things have been revealed to Adam; Holywood is a society that is obsessed with the media and worships violence.

The next card is the Hermit; the being who must withdraw from society or close friends and family to seek wisdom and higher knowledge in other to return to God, as most of the time is done in the Tree of Life. Adam has witnessed an eerie example of a martyr and meditates. He has a plan and learns from the past. This is also similar to the creative process, since in order to design or redesign we search for known examples and try to point out its weak and strong points. Which song fits here? The next song in the album of course! “In The Shadow of the Valley of Death”.Adam meditates about who he wants to be, “I wish that I could be a king, then I’d know that I am not alone.” The song echoes the word ‘alone’, which is one of the qualities of this last Tarot Card.

The next songs that still follow the path of the Hermit are “Cruci-fiction In Space”, “A Place In the Dirt” and “The Nobodies”. As the story unravels Adam still cannot avoid his fate as he saw in the High Priestess’s vision. However, in his case things will probably have a darker outcome, as these lyrics describe, “dress me up and make me your dying god.” This last term ‘dying god’ has no definition, but it could also mean that there will be a man considered as high as god but at the end is mortal with no chance of resurrection. Adam is still optimist and knows for sure he will be born again, against all odds and prophecies.

The next card is the Emperor, and of course the previous song does mention openly the word “king”. What song fits in here? Hard to tell, however the Emperor is a strong masculine force, but also the Devil interferes in this picture; the human passion. The song that comes to mind is “Disposable Teens”, why? Well, Adam has come out of his retreat and has revealed to all that he is, “the black rainbow, the Ape of God.”

Now he is ready to conquer Holywood using the force and wisdom of the Emperor. In the original video made for this song Manson emerges from a lake, like a monster, but also as a pope and a character bearing similarities. With this identity he will face the inhabitants of Holywood, like an exterminating angel. However, Adam lacks divinity, he will only use what he can work with, and that leads to the next card in the spread; the Magician.

What song fits into this card? Probably “The Death Song”, since it’s a follow-up to what the irate Adam said. However, his identity has changed. Instead of being a figure from which all will grow they will wither and die. He will just magnify their decadent lifestyle with the truth; a weapon that manifests in the form of music, highly corrosive. “We sing the Death Song kids!” We got no future.

The story gets exciting; the new Adam gathers his young followers into his concerts for more songs that seem like anthems, “Born Again”. The Magician card is also about mutation, transformation, being reborn. The next song is “Burning Flag” and though it doesn’t have a card assigned we could compare it with the Chariot, which comes right after the Lovers. From a deep and introspective communion comes a new breed of young people who will revolt to the Holywood lifestyle; they are fed up with it.

Sadly, as the story continues Holywood is still a place of excesses and somehow the human side of Adam has been tarnished. Even in a city full of despair he stumbles upon Coma Black and has a dilemma. He is free to be the Emperor and have it all, except for the one thing money can’t buy; love. It seems to be the High Priestess in disguise. She is now a woman, the most pure woman on Earth and she has been mistreated.

The song Coma Black, in its first division, The Apple of Discord, the lyrics mention, “this was never my world...” A false sense of victory arises. Notice that ‘flower’ is mentioned again as in “Valentine’s Day”? So this can tell us that there is a possible connection between the High Priestess and the Empress. They meet again and she says, “you abused what you had, but I will give you a second chance, carry on this journey diseased from what you already spread amongst the population.”

The inhabitants of Holywood will become his slayers...

The next songs, “the Fall of Adam”, “King Kill 33” and “Count to Six and Die” are the climax of the story. Adam refuses help and is ready to move on and be born again; Holywood was just the beginning and is ready to enter a new destination. His fate was just the same as JFK’s; he is shot, but he asks to be killed. The digits in King 33 are also a direct reference to the dead president…was history repeating itself in Holywood? But one day, he would meet the High Priestess in a different form. This paves the way for the next album; Mechanical Animals. And it makes sense because the song Coma White mentions a girl “from a perfect world, a world that threw me away today.” Adam has become more in touch with his emotions and is wants to feel to redeem what he did in Holywood. But what he didn’t know is that this new place, Hollywood was about to change his life completely…

There is one last card that would count as a prelude, but also could have been a requiem for Adam, “Lamb Of God”. He is cast out of Holywood. But they find that they did wrong as well.

Once again the order of the tracks goes like this:

2.The Love Song
3.Diamonds and Pollen
4.Target Audience
5.President Dead
6.The Fight Song
7.In The Shadow of the Valley of Death
8.Cruci-fiction In Space
9.A Place In the Dirt
10.The Nobodies
11.Disposable Teens
12.The Death Song
13.Born Again
14.Burning Flag
15.Coma Black
16.Valentine’s Day
17.The Fall of Adam
18.King Kill 33
19.Count to Six and Die
20.Lamb of God

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