"Orestes" as written by and Maynard James/howerdel Keenan....
Metaphor for a missing moment
Pull me into your perfect circle

One womb
One shape
One resolve

Liberate this will
To release us all

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that's
Keeping me from killing you

And from pulling you down with me in here
I can almost hear you scream

Give me
One more medicated peaceful moment
One more medicated peaceful moment

And I don't wanna feel this overwhelming
Hostility
Because I don't wanna feel this overwhelming
Hostility

Gotta cut away Clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue
Gotta cut away Clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that's
Keeping me from killing you
Keeping me from killing you


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"Orestes" as written by Maynard James/howerdel Keenan

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Orestes song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentActually, I think the name of the song actually does say it all. In Greek mythology, Orestes mother killed his father...but that's only the beginning of the story, which parallels the entire song.

    the first line says as much: "Metaphor for a missing moment, pull me into your perfect circle"...

    Anyway, Orestes was bound to avenge his father's death, and to do so, he had to kill his mother. And that's the kicker, and the perfect circle, because the Furies (Greek minor goddesses) were involved. Had he not avenged his father's death, they would judge him guilty...but for killing his mother, they also judged him guilty, and as a punishment, they drove him insane. There was no real out for him...he had to kill his mother, but the fact that he was of her flesh damned him.

    I think the song is about that...relationships that seem to be circular: when things are going wrong, and you feel the need to lash out, to hurt the other person...when you hate them enough to want to chip and peel and scrape away the ties binding them to you, your love for them, so that you can strike at them, kill them the way they're destroying you. It's about those times when we don't want to love someone, we're trying to stop, so that we can destroy the "us" that is causing the pain.
    Faithon February 18, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentThis song runs right along with the Maynards lyrics in H. Your close to someone, and you can't seem to let go of them, but keeping them close is killing you. the umbilical cord is a metaphor, not necissarily symbolizing the mother, but rather the nurturing connection between you and a loved one, and as with birth, after seperation this must be severed if life is to progress.
    hedonbasson January 19, 2002   Link
  • +4
    My Opinion(to me)
    this is about going insane. when you first start to realize your perceptions are unlike others, and you are completely different from the "norm" of the civilization your living in, you start cutting your ties (aka life line). then because the trend for "shrinks" to prescribe strong perception altering medications, when you go to get help your only getting drugs. this only gives you small amounts of time of peaceful ( altered perceptions) moments. by the end you have cut all your social ties and become socially dead ( cutting the cord to keep you from dragging people with you ). so this becomes and obsession while you have enough to realize that your not really crazy or insane, its just your perceptions are different. in America and other "westernized" civilizations if you do not look act perform even think like the other members of your civilization, you are deemed (by people with out the proper schooling to make these judgments of value) as mentally ill, or crazy. then it is a downward spiral of social segregation. they perceive the victim as a monster, and so to the other this person is capable of anything. in short the mythos of the victim shadows the fact.

    (personal)
    i have a avg 150ish ( depending on the test ) I.Q. i have fun calculating moles and time differentials (T=To/(sqrt 1- (v^2/c^2)) i don't watch tv i read books and journals from the web. when i got out of high school i was forced by my family to go to the "funny farm." for saying things like time is not an non-spatial continuum (exc. min sec days) time is an location. my family thought i was insane when i was just talking about physics. only problem when i tried to explain it to them they could not understand, so it was me i was crazy to them. for years i was striped of my rights by the courts and heavily medicated. never once was i violent, but because they perceived me as a threat i was.
    finally i was released and allowed to continue my life. but damage done. now i go to college so i can get my phd in physics and nuc. chem.. but i don't socialize because no one understands what im talking about except for my Dr. in my field of study. now i see it all starting again. they are now forcing me to take a lot of psyc. these teachers are giving me the same test that was given to me before i was striped of my rights.
    so i cut all my ties with friends and love ones simply to not drag them though this process. some times people project on to you what they fear the most.
    that is how i got this meaning from this song.
    because this process is social murder,
    and being the victim of it makes you very angry,
    but you cant show it or they use it to label you,
    and the only peace you will find is when they medicate you and lock you up,

    "...keeping me from killing you, and dragging you down with me, i can almost hear you scream..."
    "... give me one more medicated peaceful moment..."

    and all psychiatry is...
    is philosophy with pills..
    maybe one day they will get there heads out of there collective (beeps).
    but until then head thumpers for the most part just project there own problems on to the victim.

    hate on this if you want i don't care
    because at the end of the day
    its all about how you relate to it and feel about it
    that dictates weather or not you like or dislike it.
    that is if you think for your self. but alas most people don't......
    []11[]
    mentem0nostra0liberoon January 27, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIts pretty obvious. The main dillema Orestes has in the myth is wether it okay for someone to kill his mother to avenge his father. Hence "Snip away this umbilical residue/Keeping me from killing you."
    therymzon December 05, 2001   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me this song is about the special bond between a mother and her son. The umbillical residue is a metaphor for the connection between the two. In order for him to be free and for her to be in peace he must cut and sewer this bond. Both people are in pain but only the narrator can do something about it and this song is about his struggle.

    It is a very powerful and emotional song and when the lyrics are read along with the song it makes for an emotional cocktail. I know how Maynard feels since I had to cut that bond and let my mother go peacefully last winter

    AlexmanDKon October 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOrestes is the son of Agamemnon in Greek Mythology... i'm currently looking for the pertinence to the song, if anyone else has it i'd love to see it... here's what i found on orestes:

    "in Greek mythology, son of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae (or Argos), and his wife, Clytemnestra. According to Homer, Orestes was away when his father returned from Troy to meet his death at the hands of Aegisthus, his wife's lover. On reaching manhood, Orestes avenged his father by killing Aegisthus and Clytemnestra."
    - Brittanica.com
    Jondude11on December 04, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General Commentohh i see, thanks therymz, i know some about greek mythology, but i didnt know much about Orestes..
    Jondude11on January 05, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoes anyone know anything about Judith Keenen's cerebral aneurysm? I know that it killed her and that it was a long and painful way to go. The reason I ask is this:

    I got the impression reading these lyrics that she might have been on a feeding tube or something similar her last days. Perhaps Maynard needed to give the go ahead to have it pulled, and end her suffering. If this is the case, I think he's relating the feeding tube to the umbilical cord that brought him life, and the connection to his mother. He had to snip them both away, one literally and one metaphorically ("to release us all") This would be consistent with the mythology of Orestes who was driven into madness, after killing his mother. Maybe, "keeping me from killing you," was a more literal statement.

    This is probably my favorite song on this record, just FYI. :)
    ahumphr1on January 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomeone mentioned Maynard James Keenan had been a victim of childhood abuse at the hands of his father (which is a known piece of info around the web in various articles hinging on his personal bio).

    And someone here mentioned that Maynard has talked (somewhere, not sure where, maybe other song lyrics) about his hostile urges, inherited or learned from his experiences as a childhood victim of that abuse.

    After considering that information, I went back to read the lyrics and it all made so much sense to me. This song, like H, is about those hostile urges and how he wants to save he and his wife/child from the pain of that hostility, liberate them from the will he has to take out his anger/frustration on them.

    "Metaphor for a missing moment
    Pull me into your perfect circle
    One womb, one chain, one resolve
    Liberate this will to release us all"

    Not sure what he means by a missing moment, per se, but pull me into your perfect circle, I think he is referring to his family as his perfect circle (his wife/child). They are united by the act of conception and birth hence the references to one womb, one chain, one resolve.

    Liberate this will to release us all. If only he could be free of those urges they'd all be free of his overwhelming urge for hostility, obviously learned at the hands of his father.

    "Gotta
    Cut away, clear away
    Slip away and sever this
    Umbilical residue
    Keeping me from killing you"

    He wants to remove himself of the residue of his abusive childhood, to keep him from "killing" his family. I'm sure he wouldn't anyway, but it's metaphor remember and songwriting is an outlet for many... I feel he's talking about keeping his anger/frustrations/resentments under wraps - if he could remove the umbilical residue - not necessarily - or even likely - pointing to his ties to his mother Judith but umbilical being a reference to "from birth" or childhood experiences.

    "And from pulling you down with me here
    I can almost hear you scream"

    Quite sure he's referring to sucking them into his negative mindset when he's in those moods where he wants to take them down with him, "I can almost hear you scream" being a reference to the pain he knows he causes them if he lets that hostility get out of control.

    "One more medicated peaceful moment
    Give me one more medicated peaceful moment

    "And I don't wanna feel this overwhelming hostility
    I don't wanna feel this overwhelming hostility"

    Pretty much speaks for itself. He wants relief, he wants escape from the abuse he learned as a child, he doesn't want to repeat the cycle with his own family. He wants to save himself to save them.

    Orestes is a name that is clearly a metaphor for his son in this case. Maybe he fears his son hating him to avenge his mother aka MJK's wife, once he gets old enough. Seems reasonable.


    soulwisheson January 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI watched the film Agora last night. Hypatia's friend and prefect of Alexandria in Roman Egypt was Orestes. I couldn't stop thinking about the song because one of Hypatia's biggest concerns was figuring out the movements of the planets. At the time, both the Ptolemaic System and that of Aristarchus assumed perfectly circular orbits. But that did not explain the movement of the sun in the sky in different seasons. Eventually, Hypatia figured out that the Earth's orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle after all, but an elipse.

    While I know this is not really what the song is about, it amused me and I still can't get the song out of my head.
    sisterdebmacon March 07, 2011   Link

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