"Schism" as written by and Maynard James/jones Keenan....
I know the pieces fit 'cause I watched them fall away
Mildewed and smoldering. Fundamental differing.
Pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers souls in motion
Disintegrating as it goes testing our communication
The light that fueled our fire then has burned a hole between us so
We cannot see to reach an end crippling our communication.
I know the pieces fit 'cause I watched them tumble down
No fault, none to blame it doesn't mean I don't desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over.
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication
The poetry that comes from the squaring off between,
And the circling is worth it.
Finding beauty in the dissonance.
There was a time that the pieces fit, but I watched them fall away.
Mildewed and smoldering, strangled by our coveting
I've done the math enough to know the dangers of our second guessing
Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication.
Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any
Sense of compassion
Between supposed lovers
I know the pieces fit


Lyrics submitted by Everlong, edited by LightBringer25

"Schism" as written by Maynard James/jones Keenan

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Schism song meanings
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  • +18
    General CommentThis song represents the unitarian viewpoint. That at one point all religions were the right one, than, they fell apart. The pieces are now corrupt, molded shadows of the once great temple. This song says if the pieces don't communicate with each other than we are doomed. At least, that is what I hear.
    PhilosopherKing78on December 04, 2001   Link
  • +13
    General CommentI have to agree with a lot of what everyone has said... the main fact I HAVE to agree with is that Maynard incorporates so many different meanings into his songs that almost anyone who makes an interpretation is correct, because he makes the music, and expects people to make their own interpretation and apply it to their own personal life... however i'll just tell it the way I see it, which is probably far from the truth, but it's my own personal truth.

    For a long time I considered this song from the relationship stand point. I still see the strong arguements made to the relationship testament in this song... it very well could deal with 2 depleted lovers... and how although once the pieces were all there, yet after losing everything they had and breaking into those "pieces", he wishes to re-find them... bring them back together... I mean that can even be seen in the video (but I'll make a different point on the video later) where in the end they come together, reforming the one... which is what i believe a relationship does. It takes 2 people and forms them into 1 body...

    But that's not even what this interpretation is about... after a long time of pondering over it, I've come to realize I think the song is about the religious aspect of it all... there are a lot of Tool songs that deal with religion... so... here goes nothin.

    Okay, the hardest area for me to cover is who the song seems to be coming from... I don't feel that Maynard meant for this to seem as if it's coming from his mouth... maybe these words are meant to be from Christ? but my best feeling is that the words are simply from any believer who can realize what has happened to "faith" because of the blunder known as "religion"...

    At one time, the "church" was one body. It was a singular unit, set on one system of beliefs that everyone who had faith followed... there was none of this "denomination" shit...
    "I know the pieces fit, cuz i watched them fall away" (saying that he knows religion should be one body, even though it's not. he's seen the separations)
    "Mildewed and smoldering. Fundamental differing" (rotten and burned up, to put it into different terms... when he says fundamental differing, i think he's showing the basis for the break... that from the very FUNDAMENTALS of the belief structure, there started to be DIFFERING feelings among people, and how they wanted to express them)
    "Pure Intention juxtaposed will set 2 lovers souls in motion" (meaning that although the intentions every time were pure, they were juxtaposed, or twised, and because of that, it sat 2 lovers [of Christ] into almost a square off to see who could be MORE correct)
    "Distentigrating as it goes, testing our communication" (simply saying the square off was what orignially caused the separation into pieces, and it caused a lack of discussion)
    "The light that fueled the fire then has burned a hole between us so we cannot see to reach an end, crippling our communication" (the light of passion that originally fueled our fire [love] for Christ is what, in the end, tore us apart and burned a hole between us... it's caused the end of the communication as well)
    "I know the pieces fit cuz i watched them tumble down. No fault, none to blame, that doesn't mean I don't desire to point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over bring the pieces back together, rediscover communcation" (I think here the meaning is that although no one is directly to blame for this break, because every "piece" that was broken was done in the name of righteousness. Still, he thinks he's right, so he wants to be able to point the finger, say the OTHER was wrong. Yet still he wants to see the separate temples topple over, and the pieces brought back together, so they can reunite under one belief system."

    I know the end of that last interpretation was a bit shaky, because i say that the meaning of the "temple toppling over" was the separate temples, so they could be reunited... but i think my theory is backed up in the next paragraph.

    "The poetry that comes from the squaring off between, and the circling is worth it, finding beauty in the dissonance" (although the separation needs to end, the writer is saying that the separation NEEDED to happen... because the church split, and each went it's own direction, the poetry [writings, findings, ideals] that came from the separation, and the fighting was worth it. It brings new truths back to the faith, thus strengthening it.)

    The next paragraph just restates the others... that the whole was broken into the "pieces" due to the fighting and coveting. The writer knows that they MUST return together. otherwise the separate pieces will fall. They must grow, and strengthen, and reunite.

    At the end, Maynard says "Cold silence had a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion between supposed lovers".... I think what he's saying is that the breaks have cause us to lose true LOVE for our counterparts (the other pieces)... and we're SUPPOSED to be lovers of Christ, or the one true god (whatever your belief states that that is)... but how can we be if we can't even get along with our fellow believers?

    Okay, to wrap this all up... I'll refer to the video one more time... although it can be seen as 2 separate people becoming one, i believe it's the "church" reforming into one unit... I mean notice what happens to the 2 separated people [who represent "denominations"]... they almost seem to be trying to outdo the other. I mean one even stands on his head during the song. It seems they're trying to show that they're the BETTER group (which you can't deny happens today). Yet in the end, the 2 come together, reforming the one true body...

    Thanks for reading my entirely too long interpretation... I know a lot of what I've said isn't right, but I like to believe that my belief is pretty close. However, once again, Tool's music is meant for you to make your OWN interpretation, so you can apply it to your own life... Once again, sorry this is so long (as are all of my other interpretations). Continue to keep posting, and keep open that third eye...
    madson4562on January 23, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI dont think this really has anything to do with religion at all, but its all in your take of it. Personally i look more at the relationship meaning. The pieces he is talking about, are pieces of the relationship, that he watched fall apart in front of his eyes. The strongest evidence is "cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion" He is saying that leaving things broken, and with hard feelings, will destroy any bond that was between two people.
    Toolkidon January 21, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTool is amazing and so is this song. I don't look so much at the religion aspect, but more at the relationship part. Either way you look at it, it's great.
    JulieMarleneon January 08, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWithin any relationship there is a breakdown. I don't focus on the literal meaning of this song, but rather the meaning it has in myself. My breakdown of religious beliefs started with a tragedy in my life and has continued to grow as a deep void in my life. I resort to this song for entertainment and to let me know that there is nothing wrong with the fact that I am anti-religious. Tool incorporates several meanings into one song, but that is my personal view of his many talents.
    Listen and Feel.
    mo0stahon January 14, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSchism- a split in an organization because of difference in opinion, of doctrine, etc.; esp., a split in the Christian church.

    Thats the dictionaries definition of the word...

    I liked alot of what madson was saying, many of his meanings i thought were pretty dam close...

    In my opinion (and several of my friends), maynard is saying that he is tired of everyone changing God to fit them instead of changing themselves to fit God, and when they do that, it has a negative effect on everyone and it turns them away from what was supposed to be there to save them in the first place...

    or something like that... this little thing might belong on the page about Eulogy but i just felt like i wanted to put it here, it does still go with this song too... but anyway...

    Interpretation is a Gateway into the soul, when you hear anothers interpretation it gives you just a little glimpse at who they truly are....

    unScathedon February 05, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIf you have ever heard one of Tool's songs or seen one of their music videos then more than likely you find yourself wondering "What in the hell is the meaning behind this?" Tool's songs can often be described as deep and mellow although i would not recommend their songs and especially their music videos to certain people for fear that they may have a heart attack, but those that can truly enjoy the music need nothing more than that. Maynard, the singer and song writer of Tool, incorporates so many different meanings into his songs that almost anyone who makes an interpretation is correct, because he makes the music and expects people to make their own interpretation and apply it to their own personal life; however i'll just tell it the way I see it, which is probably far from the true meaning, but it's my own personal opinion about the meaning of the song "Schism".
    For awhile I considered this song from the relationship stand point. It very well could deal with 2 depleted lovers and how, although the pieces were once all there, yet after losing everything they had and breaking into those "pieces", he wishes to re-find them and bring them back together. That can even be seen in the video where in the end they come together, reforming into one which is what i believe a relationship does. It takes two people and forms them into one.
    But after a little research, i've come to realize I think the song is about the religious aspect of it all. There are a lot of Tool songs that deal with religion and i guess "Schism" is one of them.
    At one time, the church was one body. It was a single unit set on one system of beliefs that everyone who had faith followed, there was no denomination.
    "I know the pieces fit, cuz i watched them fall away" (saying that he knows religion should be one body, even though it's not. he's seen them break apart)
    "Mildewed and smoldering. Fundamental differing" (rotten and burned up and when he says fundamental differing i think he's showing the reason for the break. that from the very fundamentals of the belief structure, there started to be differing feelings among people, and how they wanted to express them.
    "Pure Intention juxtaposed will set two lovers souls in motion" (meaning that although the intentions every time were pure, they were "juxtaposed", or twisted, and because of that, it sat two lovers of Christ against each other to see who could be more correct)
    "Distentigrating as it goes, testing our communication" (saying the arguement was what orignially caused the separation into pieces, and it caused a lack of discussion)
    "The light that fueled the fire then has burned a hole between us so we cannot see to reach an end, crippling our communication" (the light that fueled the fire, or love, for Christ is what tore us apart and burned a hole between us. It's caused the end of the "communication")
    "I know the pieces fit cuz i watched them tumble down. No fault, none to blame, that doesn't mean I don't desire to point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over bring the pieces back together, rediscover communcation" (I think here the meaning is that although no one is directly to blame for this break, because every "piece" that was broken was done in the name of Christ. He thinks he's right so he wants to be able to point the finger, say the other was wrong. Yet still he wants to see the separate temples topple over, and the pieces brought back together, so they can reunite under one belief system again.)
    "The poetry that comes from the squaring off between, and the circling is worth it, finding beauty in the dissonance" (although the separation needs to end, the writer is saying that the separation needed to happen so it can circle around and something better in the end. because the church split and each went it's own direction, the meaning that came from the fighting was worth it. It brings new truths back to the faith to make it stronger.)
    At the end, Maynard says "Cold silence had a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion between supposed lovers". I think what he's saying is that the breaks have caused us to lose TRUE love for the other "pieces", or denominations, and we're SUPPOSED to be lovers of Christ, but how can we be if we can't even get along with other believers?
    Even in the video you can see during the beginning and middle of the video they are sizing each other up, trying to establish who is better, but in the end they decide it is better to stop the nonsense and form into one. However, Tool's music is meant for you to make your own interpretation, so you can apply it to your own life.
    PhillipDuncanon April 06, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti really think the references to religion and churches splitting up is a METAPHOR for a broken relationship
    shinnyuuon December 06, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis is a pretty strait forward piece If you have ever been in the situation before. When you can't seem to come to any sort of agreement with a loved one and it tears you apart. You can see the series of events that lead up to the situation at hand, but you can't change them. You watch yourself fit into the puzzle and start pointing the finger and blaming the other. You watch your communication start to "mildew and smolder" as you have lost touch with how to be open and honest with each other. You resent each other as well as yourslefs because you see you are doing the same.

    Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy sense of compassion

    Growing cold and bitter. This is when you begin to establish a rot in the foundation of your relationship. From here on out we are "Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication"
    psillypsymunon March 24, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis is a pretty strait forward piece If you have ever been in the situation before. When you can't seem to come to any sort of agreement with a loved one and it tears you apart. You can see the series of events that lead up to the situation at hand, but you can't change them. You watch yourself fit into the puzzle and start pointing the finger and blaming the other. You watch your communication start to "mildew and smolder" as you have lost touch with how to be open and honest with each other. You resent each other as well as yourslefs because you see you are doing the same.

    Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy sense of compassion

    Growing cold and bitter. This is when you begin to establish a rot in the foundation of your relationship. From here on out we are "Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication"
    psillypsymunon March 24, 2012   Link

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