View Full Version : The Nobodies

07-27-2009, 04:16 PM
At first I was unsure whether I should start this thread or not, because I thought that its subject has already been discussed a lot. I am not fully aware to what extend The Nobodies has been interpreted either, hence my concern. But after a brief consultation with S.D., I realized that my idea is rather new. So here goes:

Several years ago, I found this (http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/gallery/0919pier.jpg) illustration (by Gustave Doré) to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, which immediately reminded me of the video for The Nobodies, particulary this part of it:


... Which is the obvious connection. The drawing illustrates the Middle Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell from Dante's literary work.

This section of Hell is inhabited by the suicides, who are transformed into gnarled thorny bushes and trees. Unique among the dead, the suicides will not be bodily resurrected after the final judgment, having given their bodies away through suicide. Instead they will maintain their bushy form, with their own corpses hanging from the limbs.

After a little thought, I realized that not only the video, but the lyrics to the song have also been partly inspired by Inferno...

"... We are the nobodies
Wanna be somebodies
We're dead, we know just who we are..."

The above quote is very similar to what those tree people (as I call them) suffer. They are dead, they know who they are and what they have done, which is why they're there in the first place- they've commited suicide, which according to Christianity is a sin. Now, we know that the subject of religion has a strong presence in Holy Wood, which is why I think Manson has chosen these particular metaphors from Inferno to express his own ideas and in this case perhaps, experiences that have influenced his work. The line "Some children died the other day" in my opinion may refer to the Columbine tragedy, the culprits of which have also commited suicide. Which leads me to think that The Nobodies in its essence is a description of the whole event, presented to the audience through brilliabt metaphores and aesthetics in an impartial way.

I have also spotted a few other connections between The Seventh Circle of Dante's Inferno and the video for The Nobodies:


^ The other residents of the Middle Ring are the profligates, who destroyed
their lives by destroying the means by which life is sustained (i.e. money and property)...


... They are perpetually chased by ferocious dogs through the thorny undergrowth. Now, in Manson's video it's quite the opposite- they use the dog to chase the escaped children, but as they try to get the money they have lost (so to speak), they are dragged into the "machines they feed", that in the end turn them into their victims' "food". A shut circle.

I hope my personal observations have been interesting to read and enough to give rise to further discussion. I am sure I'm missing a lot, so feel free to offer your own thoughts. There are more visual parallels between the video and Inferno, which are not as significant, so I'm going to add them later.

07-27-2009, 06:26 PM
I feel you've done a very good job. I couldn't say anymore. And I hope you or other users will contribute more to this.

07-28-2009, 01:34 AM
Right. There are a few other details from the video I've spotted that draw connections to The Seventh Circle of Hell. I apologize for not being able to take screenshots, as the version of the video I used for this purpose is missing the frames with the rest of band members... And, for fucks sake, I'm sure you all know every detail of the video, so here goes:

Inner Ring: The violent against God (blasphemers), the violent against nature
(sodomites), and the violent against order (usurers), all reside in a desert of flaming
sand with fiery flakes raining from the sky:-


(in the video it is again the opposite- snow). The blasphemers lie on the sand, the usurers sit (the rest of the band), and the sodomites wander about in groups.

Just little spottings... I don't have any thoughts to offer on these, so feel free to do so if these similarities speak anything to you.

Here is another illustration I found (Capaneus):


The above image reminded me of the part of the video where Manson rolls about in a puddle of dirt, so here's what the illustration is of:

Dante sees Capaneus in the seventh circle (third round) of Hell, which is in the fourteenth Canto. Along with the other blasphemers, or those "violent against God", Capaneus is condemned to lie supine on a plain of burning sand while fire rains down on him. He continues to curse the deity (whom, being a pagan, he addresses as "Jove" aka Jupiter) despite the ever harsher pains he thus inflicts upon himself, so that God "thereby should not have glad vengeance."I'll leave the interpretation to you...

07-28-2009, 02:05 AM

^ The other residents of the Middle Ring are the profligates, who destroyed
their lives by destroying the means by which life is sustained (i.e. money and property)

"WOW" is all I have to say to this post Procrastinator. When we discussed it previously I really had no idea your work would be so prolific, this is a beautiful post, thank you. It's no doubt coincidence, but in the image above, there are seven fully visible coins, perhaps as a reference to the seven rings of which you speak?

Anyway, The Nobodies has been discussed in numerous other contexts, but as mentioned, I hadn't seen this subject in relation to it anywhere, so I'm glad to learn of new material. The discussions I have seen in the past were relevant to art and literature, and perhaps some of the ideas you've written can be made relevant to this also. I will not word for word repeat the observations that were made at a prior location, as they were written by a source far more adept and eloquent than I, but I will mention their sources, should anyone want to investigate further.

Julie Taymor's* filmed version of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (entitled simply Titus), featured several visual motifs that were employed for The Nobodies video. Those parallels are for the reader to explore should they wish, but needless to say they relate the themes of The Nobodies (particularly as established in your post) to the later commentary found in We're From America, confirmed by the appearance of Francisco Goya's painting Saturn Devouring His Son (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_Devouring_His_Son) - ["We Eat Our Young"] - in The Nobodies video. There is also more that relates this to Titus, but once again, that was not my observation, so I won't take credit for it, others can explore further should they wish.

Thematically however, the general notion of Christianity calling suicide a sin suggests that much like the inhabitants of Dante's work, to be alive is to be "dead" in this context, and that the oppressed are living that death out on Earth, perhaps evoking "Armageddon". There is a feeling of Limbo in The Nobodies video, and I find it interesting, as Manson rarely takes the role of antagonist in his videos, the Mechanical Animals era portrayed him as The Mechanical Christ, or Omega, subjected to persecution by others. However, for the Holy Wood video cycle, he was in most cases, a negative figure (ironically, subject to interpretation); during Disposable Teens he was the Pope, who depending on your stance could be seen as a negative influence, and also the provocateur onstage, inciting riotous behaviour from his audience; in The Fight Song, he is the "band leader", a fascist icon who encourages a "Fight" against the establishment (the abandonment of the football game); during The Nobodies he is the capitalist patriarch, controlling the lives of children through force. I see all of those roles as a sly dig at the figures who tried to scapegoat Manson following Columbine. He's saying, if you tell me I'm something, then I guess I must be, if "I Am You", which in turn suggests that if people tell Manson he is responsible for the death of children, then they themselves must be answerable for it.

Thank you once more for this Procrastinator, it's brilliant.

* - As an aside, Taymor was also the director of Across The Universe, which featured Evan Rachel Wood, filmed during her relationship with Marilyn Manson.

01-30-2010, 08:14 PM
Thank you, S.D. for the Titus and Saturn reference. I will definitely look more into them in the near future, particularly Saturn, as the more I research, the more I find it in Manson's work not just in Holy Wood although its presence is most notable in said album.

Meanwhile, I would like to share an idea that occured to me as I was desperately rolling in bed and unsuccessfully trying to get some sleep (it's a full-Moon day where I live)...

The strong presence of the subject of political and religious institutions and their corruptness in Holy Wood and the children's role in the video made me consider the option that their escape is perhaps an (unrealized) escape from the falsehood of these institutions. As the video progresses, the two, with Manson's assistance witness their tyrans (or system) being ground, then eat it. From this point of view, I suggest that here Manson prevents the children from being devoured by the machines WE feed and figuratively serves them the dirt ( "Today I'm dirty, I want to to be pretty, Tomorrow I know, I'm just dirt" )that the system truly consists of by reversing its process of turning people into slaves. Which also confirms his position as Mercury (the Messenger deity).

And by viewing the children as a symbol of sincerety and innocence, it could be also assumed that the video shows how sincerety 'escapes' from institutions for those who have seeked and found that it has never been there in the first place. And thus, deception is revealed.

Hope that makes sense...

01-31-2010, 06:41 AM
I think your analysis is amazing. This video raised exactly the same ideas in me but I had not really considered it as a direct reference to Columbine which seems obvious now after reading this. I felt Manson was expressing his feelings about judgment, condemnation and the concept of sin as a means of dismissal. That is to say that by condemning, one does not have to look at the real issues which cause behaviours such as suicide to arise.

06-16-2010, 04:41 AM
I think using the word "Nobody" in the song may have been partly inspired by Charles Manson, who in the Tate/LaBianca trial gave the following testimony:-

"It's all your fear. You look for something to project it on, and you pick out a little old scroungy nobody that eats out of a garbage can, and that nobody wants." Charles Manson - 1970

Holy Wood in the year 2000 was in part a commentary on the events of 1999, as Charles Manson's trial and statements in 1970 were a commentary on the events of 1969. Charlie has also commented many times that The Family were a product of a system that didn't care about them. Whilst Hollywood was basking in its own glory the streets were buzzing with unrest and people like him were eating out of garbage cans to stay alive. I'm not saying he's necessarily correct, but as Manson the latter would state in Bowling For Columbine, the chief reason for societal violence on the scale of the Manson Murders or the Columbine Massacre is a structure that doesn't include or care about everyone, only those that "matter". In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death:-

"Sometimes I feel so worthless, sometimes I feel discarded
I wish that I was good enough, then I'd know that I am not alone"