The monkey sat on a pile of stones
And stared at the broken bone in his hand
And the strains of a Viennese quartet
Rang out across the land
The monkey looked up at the stars
And thought to himself
Memory is a stranger
History is for fools
And he cleaned his hands
In a pool of holy writing
Turned his back on the garden
And set out for the nearest town
Hold on hold on soldier
When you add it all up
The tears and the marrowbone
There's an ounce of gold
And an ounce of pride in each ledger
And the Germans killed the Jews
And the Jews killed the Arabs
And the Arabs killed the hostages
And that is the news
And is it any wonder
That the monkey's confused
He said Mama Mama
The President's a fool
Why do I have to keep reading
These technical manuals
And the joint chiefs of staff
And the brokers on Wall Street said
Don't make us laugh
You're a smart kid
Time is linear
Memory is a stranger
History is for fools
Man is a tool in the hands
Of the great God Almighty
And they gave him command
Of a nuclear submarine
And sent him back in search of
The Garden of Eden

Lyrics submitted by H-bomb

Perfect Sense, Part I song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThere are two very powerful metaphors in this song. First is the monkey on the pile of stones. Monkey indicates man and the scene of this song is definitely drawn from Arthur C Clarke's 2001. The Viennese Quartet is the orchestra that plays The Blue Danube from the movie.

    What many people have missed however is the similarity of the black monolith of the book to the black slab of the TV that influences the monkey's (man's) development.

    What is interesting is the line "memory is a stranger". a recurring theme throughout ATD. In the novel 2001, the ape's mind became "switched on" from the influence of the monolith. Everything up until that point - memory, self-awareness, etc. was alien to the monkey. Therefore, history and past deeds perhaps is for fools because it is irrelevant.

    This idea is extended in the line "and he cleaned his hands in the pool of holy writing". This line, I think, is derived from Lady Macbeth, who after helping kill the king felt an unimaginable quilt; a guilt that could not be washed away. The blood on her hands was permanent and could not be removed.

    Here however, the monkey (man) can absolve himself simply by washing his blood-stained hands in the words of religious dogma, the pool of Holy Writing. This idea of absolution though is confused because of the various interpretations of God. Each religion's God tells his followers to do different things, to kill the infidels: those that do not share the same ideas. Ultimately, the monkey is confused because isn't there only one God? One Creator?

    Amused to Death is perhaps one of the most intelligent, most insightful works I have ever heard and confirms my opinion that Roger Waters' is one of the greatest lyricists that ever lived and this song for pure imagery is perhaps one of my favourites. I'd be interested to hear anyone else's take on this?
    Ghostlighton December 27, 2005   Link

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