Balance.
Repetition.
Composition.
Mirrors.

Most of all, the world is a place where parts of wholes are described
within an overarching paradigm of clarity and accuracy.
The context in which makes possible an underlying
sense of the way it all fits together,
despite our collective tendency not to conceive of it as such.

But then again, the world without end is a place where souls are combined,
but with an overbearing feeling of disparity, disorderliness.
To ignore it is impossible without getting oneself into all of kinds of trouble,
despite one’s best intentions to not get entangled with it so much.

And meanwhile,
the statues are bleeding green.
And others are saying things much better than we ever could;
as the quiet become suddenly verbose.

And the hail is heralding the size of nickels.
And the street corners are gnashing together like the gears
inside the head of some omniscient engineer.
And downward flows the garnered wisdom that has never died.

When finally,
we opened the box, we couldn’t find any rules.
Our heads were reeling with the glut of possibilities, contingencies...
but with ever increasing faith we decided to go ahead and just ignore them,
despite tremendous pressure to capitulate and fade.

So instead, we went ahead to fabricate a catalog
of unstable elements and modicums and particles.
With not zero total strangeness for brief moments which amount
to nothing more than tiny fragments of a finger snap.

Meanwhile,
we’re furiously sleeping green.
And the map has started tearing along its creases due to overuse...
when in reality it’s never needed folds.

And the air’s withholding the sound of its wellspring.
And our heads approach a density reminiscent of the infinite connectivity of the center of the sun.

And therein lies the garnered wisdom that has never died.

Expectation -
leads to disappointment. If you don’t expect something big huge and exciting...
usually...
I dunno,
just, uh yea..."


Lyrics submitted by starvingeyes33, edited by Augustinian

Smells Like Content song meanings
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34 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThere are a few things that I can point out in this song:

    "when finally we opened the box
    we couldn't find any rules
    our heads were reeling with a glut of possibilities,
    contingencies
    but with ever increasing faith
    we decided to go ahead and just ingnore them
    despite tremendous pressure to capitulate and fade"

    This is a fairly straightforward presentation of a combination of Sartre's and Camus's existentialist position. From Sartre, that man finds himself all at once in the world, lacking direction, meaning, or rules (Existentialism is a Humanism). The metaphor in the song is opening the box of a board game and not finding the rule sheet that tells you how to play. The word "contingencies" is a dead give away, as the radical contingency of human experience is a central theme of existentialism. The following 3 lines are probably inspired by Camus's essay, "The Myth of Sisyphus," which suggests that one disregard the very real absurdity ("absurdity" being a synonym for radical contingency) of existence and live in spite of it.

    The phrase "furiously sleeping green" is an obvious reference to Noam Chomsky's famous nonsense sentence, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." Chomsky composed the sentence so that each pair of words defied reason (colorless-green, green-ideas, etc.). Nonetheless, English speakers unanimously accept the sentence as grammatical, unlike "Furiously sleep ideas green colorless." I can think of a few ways of relating that to the rest of the song, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone else.
    comradeon January 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI'm surprised no one has mentioned:

    "So instead, we went ahead to fabricate a catalog
    of unstable elements and modicums and particles.
    With not zero total strangeness for brief moments which amount
    to nothing more than tiny fragments of a finger snap."

    That's my favorite piece of the song, and seems like a pretty clear reference to subatomic physics, the idea of strangelets (basically particles with nonzero total strangeness, seriously) which exist for tiny tiny fractions of a second.

    I think the song itself is definitely about the idea of human progress, "the world is a place where parts of wholes are described within an overarching paradigm of clarity and accuracy" --> Highly educated people work in very very specific fields describing small bits of the whole which we collectively assemble into an understanding.

    And the bit about the strangelets and particle physics would lend itself to that interpretation too.

    And the repetition of things bleeding green and seeing green would seem, to me, to be the monetization of ideas. Statues selling for huge money coupled with the idea of people "saying things much better than we ever could", i.e. writers monetizing their ideas. And finally the scientists, the particle physiscists here, seeing green: Finding ways to make money from their discoveries.

    It's a song about what it is to be human and live in society.
    beavertankon September 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI doubt that they had this in mind, but I'm writing a paper for a short story class, and this song is in my head because balance, repetition, composition, and mirrors are definitely all motifs in John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse.
    andthesoilxon November 15, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song, I believe, is about our tendency to not only complicate a simple world with things like laws and religions, but also about how we must always look for the big picture in things; the way everything fits together.

    Also, it remarks about the irony between what the world is, and the way it feels to it's inhabitants.

    Looks like someone in The Books bought a thesaurus.
    Thief-on August 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe most beautiful of all the books' songs.
    jett007on October 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is truly the best attempt at defining existence that I have ever heard.
    pc_michaelon January 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that the lyric is "a twelve-string", as in a guitar, not "its wellspring".
    dgreeneon November 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti also believe it's twelve string
    blame_monsteron February 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactaully i take that back
    i just saw a video and its definitely wellspring

    noolmusic.com/blogs/…
    blame_monsteron February 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsorry that link cut off: here it is:
    noolmusic.com/blogs/…
    ::continued::
    _80s_90s_Rock_Pop_-_The_Books_-_Smells_Like_Content.shtml
    blame_monsteron February 27, 2007   Link

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