"Rational Gaze" as written by and Fredrik/haake Thordendal....
Squint your eyes to see clearly. Blur reality to make it real
Let focus go from your deceiving eyes to know what's been concealed
We've all been blinded - Subjects to visual misinformation
A systematic denial of the crystalline

Our light-induced image of truth - Filtered blank of its substance
As our eyes won't adhere to intuitive lines
Everything examined. Separated, one thing at a time
The harder we stare the more complete the disintegration

To see the fine grain, to read the hidden words
The context of parallel truth - Devoid of fragmentation
Eyes re-opened, susceptible
Reasoning focalized. Receptors activated

Perspectives distorted
The ladder beyond our grasp
The twin-headed serpent forever hidden
Where's the true knowledge
Where engines of the sane & insanity merge
the clarity, the unity

Reality untouchable, transparent, invisible
to our fixed, restricted fields of vision
Existence taken for granted, absolute
Uncomprehended by our content minds

Possessed, owned, run, controlled
by the common sense-infected rational gaze
Onward forever we walk among the ignorant
Never stray from the common lines


Lyrics submitted by adamizer

"Rational Gaze" as written by Tomas Haake Fredrik Thordendal

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Rational Gaze song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment*I first commented on this song in 2008, four years ago. I'm commenting again because in those four years I've changed and so my interpretation of the song has changed.*

    I no longer believe that the "rational gaze" of the song title refers to the world as experienced by the bare sense organs precisely because the sense organs often deceive us, prompting the philosophers to declare that we need rationality to know what's truly real.

    In an ironic reversal of my original interpretation, I now think that what is being criticized is precisely this rational outlook of the philosophers and of our current empirical scientific paradigm. Indeed, Meshuggah implores us to let go of this rational gaze, this lens which we place over the naked eye to break the world into small pieces so that we may know all of it. My earlier interpretation equated the rational gaze with the workings of the naked eye, but it seems clear to me now that the rationalistic outlook is just a tool, one that has been overused to devastating consequences on the human spirit and the biosphere.

    I used to be threatened and befuddled by the message of this song, being a strict materialist at the time. It seemed to me to be a gateway to all sorts of unverifiable nonsense, and perhaps it still is. But I have come to appreciate the meaning of the saying, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." And so perhaps we should learn to live with the truth of uncertainty, embracing that we cannot know everything under the sun by reduction or representation--that something just as real (though not amenable to measurement) is lost when "everything is examined, separated one thing at a time."
    readmedotexeon May 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song. I was surprised to hear this on a net radio station out of Las Vegas (knac.com... good stuff). In any case, I think this song is about cutting away from the images and words of "truth" known as the news. Everything we see, whether on TV, newsprint, the Internet, or heard on radio... it has to be taken with a grain of salt. The ones who realize this "complete the disintegration" and dissemination of the truth from lies. In the end though, "the ladder beyond our grasp" and there is nothing we can do to change the huge political machine in place. So, "we walk among the ignorant", knowing that there is not much we can do. In being dissidents, we only run into trouble with no solution, and so we "never stray from the common lies." Great song.
    moshmongrelon October 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI would agree man, well said.

    This is my favorite Meshuggah song, some good lyrics here.
    Muzzyon June 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyep that's what i thought too but like most songs it was the music that gave me aural pleasure
    aphex_Twin2002on April 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me this song takes a leaf out of Tool's tree of thought... don't let people tell you what you're seeing or hearing, make up your own mind about things.
    Wernyon July 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the lyrics are a bit muddled up here. This is how they should be...

    Squint your eyes to see clearly. Blur reality to make it real
    Let focus go from your deceiving eyes to know whats been conceved
    we've all been blinded-subjects to visual misinformation
    a systematic denial of the crystalline

    To see the fine grain-to read the hidden words
    the context of parallel truth-devoid of fragmentation

    Our light induced image of truth-filtered blank of it's substance
    as our eyes won't adhere to intuitive lines
    Everything examined. Separating one thing at a time.
    The harder we stare the more complete the disintegration - dissolution

    Eyes reopened. Reasoning focalized. Receptors activated.

    perspectives distorted
    the ladder beyond our grasp
    the twinheaded serpent forever hidden
    where's the true knowledge
    where engines of the sane and insanity merge
    the clarity - the unity

    reality untouchable, transparent, invisible
    to our fixed, restricted fields of vision
    Existence taken for granted absolute

    Possessed, owned, controlled
    by the common self infected rational gaze
    Onward forever we walk among the ignorant
    never stray from the common lines


    This is a snappy tune, and I often find myself whistling it down the street. It's a shame they cancelled the show i was due to see them at..
    LVHon April 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMeshuggah seems to use psychological observations. Where these are derived from is your interpretation. Psychology, kabbalah, mysticism, come up with your own interpretation.

    Many cultures believe strange things, like in kabbalah it speaks as if this world is an illusion. It doesn't even exist. It's "nothing". Now who is to say that the majority of humans have it right? A disturbing number of college students still believes that our eyeballs emit light causing them to see. Of course this is wrong, but the reality is that is counter-intuitive and that's what I think this song is about. Personally most meshuggah songs remind me of kabbalah.
    PopeyeDoyleon October 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHahaha, This song rocks.
    It's about how many humans are blinded by being told what they should be.
    m333333on April 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about relativism and how we humans will never be able to 'reach' absolute knowledge, as we are confined to our human way of thinking. In fact, the term 'absolute knowledge' is a human term, and we will never be able to sanely cross our 'thinking borders' to somehow understand what's beyond them. This I believe is what the lines "perspectives distorted, the ladder beyond our grasp, the twinheaded serpent forever hidden" point to.

    I believe the lines "reality untouchable, transparent, invisible to our fixed, restricted fields of vision, Existence taken for granted absolute" definitely point towards relativism.

    Did anyone read the book 'Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance'? In it, the main character discovers a different way of understanding the world, a way of thinking which leads out of the 'human realm' of thinking. The more he tries to perceive this understanding, the more he slips away, eventually turning insane, at least in our eyes. I think this what concerns the lines "where's the true knowledge, where engines of the sane and insanity merge".

    For those wondering what the hell I'm babbling about: try looking up the terms 'relativism', 'absolute knowledge', and 'sophism' in Wikipedia and things will hopefully become clearer. :)
    HCNon April 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHCN is one the right track. This song is about a lot more than just media manipulation. Basically it's restating the old saying "The map is not the territory." What we perceive is only what we believe to be real. That doesn't make it real. Meshuggah seems influenced by the work of Philip K. Dick in this regard.
    BlackManta_77on April 18, 2007   Link

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