Reply To: Tool's Lateralus: an Exegesis

  • Jeff Verge

    October 16, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing Matt. Very thoughtful. I’m not familiar with Tool specifically, but I am aware they enjoy legendary status and a sizeable devoted fan base. In considering your question about the name “Lateralus”, and noting the time frame, could it be that the songwriter does have hemispheres in mind – but that it’s closer to the conventional version of hemisphere differences that Iain made obsolete?

    A snatch of song lyric from 1995 – Monster Magnet: Dopes to Infinity (A recurring theme it seems…) Up until this morning I thought the lyric was:

    You can break the world and be creative now

    You can kiss the right side of your brain

    (Today I learned that it’s not “break”, it’s “rape”, but this is the way I always heard it and as is sometimes the case I like my version better.)

    Lateralus made me think of someone trapped in their left hemisphere cage, but being painfully aware that they’re trapped and desiring to break free.

    I’ll put this song from 2015 up in case you might like it. As you thought to do, I’ll put my take on it below so you can listen first with no preconceptions.


    If Lateralus is the view from the LH, then this I think is the view from the other side. It has no words except what I hear as “Holy holy holy…” and then something unintelligible. To me it sounds like a conjuring. The music conjures a portal for the LH to escape itself into the larger world of imagination and spirit.

    Another song that comes to mind is Dream of Waking Up from 2020. It makes me think of similar themes.

    Half the city was still asleep

    as you slipped inside.

    Every border we’d break down

    Every night get lost

    And they’re jealous of our dreams