Tool and the Descanting of Galileo’s Mathematical Language of God



Galileo said that mathematics is the true language of God. Editions of the Koran, decorated with fields of geometric lines that can be seen in museums all over the Middle East – and the way those designs find their way into the ceilings of Mosques throughout that region – bear Galileo’s dictum out. Similar tropes emerged in these experimental films, made even more potent by way of animation.

Oddly, the experience threw me back into my Fine Arts education. While at university, I wrote an essay on Tool’s film clips that was eventually published in one of the journals of the University of Melbourne’s Fine Arts Department.

The band’s lead guitarist, Adam Jones, trained in sculpture and began working in cinema special effects after university, at roughly the same time he began to play guitar in Tool.

Their first film clips made during the nineties, Prison Sex and Sober, featured stop-motion animation figures that were built and filmed by Jones himself.

Some of the tracks from Aenima, like ‘46 and 2’ are built around the thematic preoccupation with psychedelic enlightenment, while songs with titles like ‘Prison Sex’, ‘Stinkfist’ and ‘Hooker With a Penis’ tell their own very limited story.

Sure, some of the surreal little films that accompanied those songs are quite remarkable, but those little monsters and their sordid, morbid ugliness just don’t compare to the brilliance of some of their later material, like ‘Fear Inoculum’.

In the context of live performance especially, the instrument Tool actually play is technology. The confluence of music and image as it is presented live is less something that appeals to the intellect and seems to jack directly into the psyche.

That confluence effectively bypasses narrative and, in the way experimental cinema aims to instil and evoke pure psychological and emotional sensation, along with its physical corollaries.

As if fear, wonder and awe are colours or flavours that can be experienced directly – as pure meanings that bypass words and signs.

At the end of the show, I thought about the way religious ritual has developed over time to reach towards something that, for ease of discussion, we’ll refer to as ‘transcendent’.

The realm of what we consider religious; the territory of the Gods. I thought about the modes of language that have been generated to express and comprehend it.

The notion that consciousness is something of the present, and that the perpetual reality of that present is a phenomenon that is almost impossible to experience outside the realms of psychedelics or meditation.

These religious experiences become more intense and more rigorous, courtesy of technological advancement, but the designs they rely on are ancient and primal.

An experience of that kind should not be diluted by partial, piecemeal dissemination in shoddy quality over the internet. The experience is magical and to that end, must be experienced purely, in its entirety.

It is not hyperbolae to describe what I experienced that night as a legitimate rapture. Tool have a right to protect its integrity, and it is worth paying for.


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