While enjoying the Fear Inoculum I have consciously tried to avoid the boundless speculations, interpretations and grains of information that surround the album and the band itself. When immersing myself to Litanie contre la Peur it felt I had to make an exception. After listening to the piece a few times I felt I needed to know what the name of the song means at the least (yeah, that’s how good my French is). When browsing through online sources there is a major downside though, the search engines do not mind swarming the seeker by spoilers and there it opened up in front of me: the bottomless chest of speculation and (pseudo)knowledge. I restrained myself, barely, though the undertow to explore more was powerful.
Still there are few things I think could be mentioned about the Litanie contre la Peur. There are some spoilers ahead for the purists to avoid and I’m not an engine but a considerate human being, so I’m warning you.
Litany Against Fear is originally a kind of mantra used by a spiritual and religious sisterhood, Bene Geserit in a science fiction epic Dune written by Frank Herbert. Especially during their training, Bene Geserit used the Litany to face and overcome many obstacles they faced: pain,suffering and Fear. Without a doubt this subject fits the thematic of Fear Inoculum perfectly. Some other online sources reached an interpretation that the whole album is focused on Frank Herbert’s Dune and the philosophy within it. While this is a valid point of view I’m scrabbling to free myself from it so that my individual experience with the album wouldn’t be limited nor guided by the readily prepared mould.
Another maybe pointless bit of information that was too interesting to pass by was a rumor about an asserted leak of an unfinished piece of music by TOOL. This interlude was uploaded to youtube in August 2019 and was taken off quite hastily. It never ended up on the album as it was but as always speculation keeps blossoming around by fans who desperately try to find an answer of where it fits and how. Maybe the secret will reveal itself one day, maybe it already has, but for now it has only a few things I can think of related to Litanie contre la Peur: they are practically the exact same length 2:15 vs. 2:14. Also one can not miss the acidic atmosphere when keyboards shin on the lines of the litany with liberating but controlled joy. In the uploaded unfinished interlude the presence of psychedelics are not that subtle with a lecture by Alan Watts of LSD and hypnotic fractal roses dancing on the background. In any case, fake or not, one more piece of music that sounds like TOOL ain’t making this world any worse. Maybe it even makes it a little bit better for those two minutes and fifteen seconds.
Against this background I can think of at least one connection from Litanie contre la Peur to the preceding Fear Inoculum & Pneuma and my deliberation of what they mean to me: inner peace, complacency, re-awakening and beginning your journey again to meet “The Great Unknown”, whatever that might be; Fear as an enemy.
You have had time to settle down and you’ve convinced yourself that you are prepared to face anything. You are not arrogant but self confident until something grabs you paternally by the shoulders and looks into your eyes shining with peaceful content, and sees beyond. It pierces your sleepy vision and wakes you up. The Awakening is more terrifying than the struggle of youth you once experienced: you have created an image of completion of yourself and you believed you are ready to accept everything; love, anger, grudge, abandonment and even Fear. In your adolescence you were disappointed in Others but this time you feel disappointed in yourself. Not the hopeless fuckin hole you call L.A. Not the junkies, the gun-totting hip gangster wannabes and not L. Ron Hubbard. Yourself. You are disappointed in the delusional dream you built for you and others to see and waking up from it is horrifying. Yet you know you need to face that fear and conquer it or all the growth and understanding you’ve achieved will be in vain. It will be obliterated definitively.
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has passed through there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
(Litany Against Fear, Frank Herbert)
Thanks go to:
Becky Smith for help with the grammar
Laura Collins for inspiration (IG: @ljcshutter)