View Full Version : 'NO REFLECTION': Narcissus, Absinthe, The Living Bible, & Manson

04-05-2012, 03:55 PM
In the newly-released video for "No Reflection," we see what appears to be Marilyn Manson and his family seated at their dinner table in their home. Examining the out-of-continuity elements in their proper order, the general narrative thrust of the video seems to be that he's leading the family in an evening of Bible study, group prayer, and worshipful hymnals.

Just another quiet night in a nice, pious household...but with a distinctly Marilyn Manson spin on the proceedings, of course!

In HIS variation on the theme, naturally, the family indulges in an absinthe toast to help get into the spirit of things, if you will:


And lest anyone doubt it IS absinthe, just take a look at Manson's own glass! He's clearly drinking his own favorite variety, Serpis Red, while everyone else consumes the traditional green variety:



And then, of course, things begin to get a little strange. The girls start reeling from the delirious effects of the drink and exhibiting signs of intoxication and hallucinatory apprehension as the wormwood works its magic and their father barricades the door with a nailed-up board in preparation for the next step of the evening's festivities.


After securing the room so no one and no thing can get it in or out, he begins to lead the family in prayer, with some interesting results. The dinner table levitates. The stove bursts into flame. The liquid that's been seeping in from the storm outside begins to gush in at their feet. And the girls go crazy and smash the place to bits. Wait...what?!?

We'll get there.

But first, backing up for a moment...


I found it quite intriguing that Manson chose to specifically highlight his use of The Living Bible for this narrative, as opposed to any of the many, many other permutations of the material available. As many of you may already know, this variation was a highly popular effort to modernize and paraphrase the language of the Bible so as to render its densely archaic language more readily accessible to the youths of contemporary times.

By the same token, in many ways the work of Marilyn Manson himself can easily be seen as a similar albeit decidedly nontraditional modernization and retelling of the Bible for contemporary youth as well. His body of work is fairly solidly FILLED with recontextualizations of its messages customized with shifting perspectives for his own purposes and his own "sermons" to his own "congregations," if you will.

To that end, I see the feathered shoulders he wears during the band's performance footage of "No Reflection" to be a rather obvious and definite allusion to and echo of his own role as a dark, fallen angel as visualized with his previous self-stylings from the Triptych, with his role as the Antichrist on Antichrist Superstar, the angel of "Coma Black" from Holy Wood..., and -- most directly -- the black-feathered shoulders of his wardrobe from the tours supporting Mechanical Animals.

And which song did he wear that black-feathered shoulder-piece during?

Oh, yeah..."The Reflecting God."



So I see this video as a furtherance of those same ideas in a rather more family-oriented and domestic setting, perhaps symbolically returning this career-spanning motif to its very foundations within his own childhood and his earliest exposures to the ideas which would come to dominate his self-expression as an adult. Also, interestingly, The Living Bible is almost the exact same age as Manson himself, first having been published in 1971, shortly after his birth in 1969. Oddly, the author of The Living Bible was even born on May 8th, exactly one week apart from the day Born Villain will soon be released. Curious! But anyway...

While looking deeper into the life of its author, Kenneth Taylor, something else jumped RIGHT out at me:

The Living Bible was born out of Taylor’s deep desire for his children to understand God’s Word. Taylor and his wife, Margaret, raised ten children in their Wheaton home. Each night, as a part of their evening routine, the family spent time reading the Bible, singing hymns, and praying together. But Ken found the King James Version of the Bible—the most commonly used translation at the time—especially difficult for his young children to understand.

Now, yes, that DOES indeed correspond STRONGLY to the family bible study, prayer, and strangely family-oriented musical debauchery depicted within the video for "No Reflection," but it also corresponds directly to the home lives of a great many other religious families.

Wouldn't want anyone to think I'm going too far out on a limb here or anything!

But what if one simply looks at the most commonly available resource available on the subject of The Living Bible, the man who wrote it, and his life? Someplace readily accessible to anyone curious about all that? Like Wikipedia, say?

Well, quoted right there in his own words while explaining the process of conceiving The Living Bible, the author clarifies:

"The children were one of the chief inspirations for producing The Living Bible. Our family devotions were tough going because of the difficulty we had understanding the
King James Version, which we were then using, or the Revised Standard Edition which we used later. All too often I would ask questions to be sure the children understood, and they would shrug their shoulders—they didn't know what the passage was talking about. So I would explain it. I would paraphrase it for them and give them the thought. It suddenly occurred to me one afternoon that I should write out the reading for that evening thought by thought, rather than doing it on the spot during our devotional time. So I did, and read the chapter to the family that evening with exciting results—they knew the answers to all the questions I asked!"

Hmmm. Now go watch the beginning of "No Reflection" again...at, oh, about the FIFTEEN second mark:


Now that is DEFINITELY a shrug of her shoulder, accompanied by an expression of complete bafflement as if to say, "Sorry, father, I just don't know..." This is, of course, while seated at the same table which her father is using for their evening, family Bible study group. Hmm.

Out on a limb, indeed!

So there are definitely some interesting things to think out there. Obviously a bit more research is needed to continue with this line of thinking -- the video's barely been out a day, ffs! -- but goddamnit The Living Bible is right there. It's a contemporary of Manson's age and he's certainly knowledgeable enough on the general subject to be aware of it, I'd say. And how knowledgeable does one need to be to find the most EASILY located information on the subject anyway? Sure, it's a bit thin right now and some large questions linger...but it certainly seems like a promising enough start, at least. Personally, I'm very curious to see what deeper revelations dawn on this subject further down the line and just how much Manson and the video crew may have investigated the history and backstory of the specific book they show off so blatantly and for the first time in this particular narrative. Seems like a tantalizingly promising lead to me.

But that's for later. In the meantime, ON WE PLOW!!!

Yet another fascinating aspect of this video's narrative is the overwhelming presence of absinthe and its attendant symbolism. It's been well-established that Manson's well-aware of the various spiritual properties and history of the drink. Considering he seems to be conducting an exorcism or seance or otherwise some variety of mystical ritual within the video for "No Reflection," it's certainly a deliciously appropriate choice of liquid to use in the course of a storyline accompanying such a clear-cut reference to the Myth of Narcissus, which in some tellings even ends with him drowning in the water reflecting his own beauty, and which has likewise been a part of another, earlier song title from the album Holy Wood..., "Target Audience (Narcissus Narcosis)."


Assuming the home we see supplies a visual representation of Manson's own mind's interior, and that the various characters seen inhabiting it merely represent multiple manifestations of his many personae, one could likewise also conclude he is in some ways drowning HIMSELF at the end of the video. Which furthermore supplies a neat and tidy resolution to the question of how exactly he left the building with the door still barred from the inside behind him. Perhaps with all these many manifestations eliminated he himself simply ceased to exist as well?

It certainly seems to echo key themes within the lyrics of the song itself.

04-05-2012, 03:55 PM
But back to Holy Wood..., absinthe, and the ritual working depicted in the video.

One of the multiple references cited by Manson in the course of explaining the many-layered metaphors incorporated in that album was the symbolism of the "holy wood" of the cross upon which Christ attained his martyrdom and the carved wood stock of the rifle(s) which rewarded Kennedy with a similar fate in his own time. As a physical example of this, Manson displayed and discussed the likely similarity of the rifle(s) responsible for Kennedy's martyrdom with Manson's father's own rifle from his time in Vietnam.


Fittingly, this same rifle appears to have found its way into the video for "No Reflection" during the absinthe-feuled rampage of Manson's own offspring:


And speaking of the Holy Wood rifle and absinthe, let's not forget yet another interesting element of the spiritual history of the drink's primary ingredient, wormwood. Cast down from heaven as punishment from god during the end times, it was said to have poisoned the a third of the waters of the Earth, making them bitter and undrinkable...hence traditionally diluting the alcoholic beverage with sugar and water, perhaps tellingly not seen to occur in the video for this song. And similarly, in further variations of the myth of Narcissus, he is said to have perished from thirst rather than having drowned, in avoidance of disturbing the water so as to preserve his so loved reflection.

Likewise, it cannot be stressed enough that all these bizarre happenings in the video take place in tandem with Manson's LITERALLY absinthe-drenched ritual working of the video's narrative. As soon as they've imbibed and joined hands, the dinner table levitates and crashes to the floor and the stove bursts into flame...seemingly officially confirming this ritual's success in outside contact -- or at the least a hallucination thereof, possibly both? -- at which point the trickle of seepage from outside the home rushes forth in a flood of swift and divine death-dealing wetness. Very, very interesting.

Furthermore, the performance footage of the band in the video, if studied closely, is seen to take place within this same "house," within which the "family" meets their final judgement and fate. At the hands of a black-adorned musician appearing in the form of a winged angel, no less.

Perhaps, then, it is of no surprise that the "family's" homestyled, peculiar, lewd and lascivious family hymnals are led by the "father" on guitar, with his absinthe at his side on the floor, while wearing the same outfit only seen otherwise as he metes his final punishment upon the last of his victims by drowning them in their own reflection while casting a heavenward glance before vanishing completely.





Is the smeared lipstick worn by this black-clad angel a symbolic manifestation of the final kiss he returns to his feminine counterpart's bloodstained lips as she dies in his arms from the poison he both summoned forth as her husband and delivered as her angel of death in their absinthe-induced mystical ritualism?

Did Manson the father summon forth and channel this heaven sent musical embodiment of all he's feared and revered only to fall victim to its very judgment in the course of channeling its righteous wrath?

Does that same dynamic effectively summarize his entire history of spiritual ritualism in the narrative course of his entire musical career?

Honestly, I think each question answers the other perfectly and little else needs be said.





04-05-2012, 04:18 PM
I agree entirely that the particular and specific use of The Living Bible carries much weight when attributing an interpretation to this video.

It is key.

04-05-2012, 04:35 PM
Great read Haz, love ur work. I can go with all of that

04-05-2012, 05:00 PM
Agree with some parts, disagree with others. Nonetheless, a great read.

04-05-2012, 05:02 PM
Sooo.. Manzin wasn't in this video?

Sans Agendum
04-05-2012, 05:30 PM
Nicely done. I like this. Killing off different faulted version of one's self in order to escape Mortal Bondage. You may as well kill yourself, you are already dead. You'll understand when I'm dead. Making room for a higher consciousness. This is definitely my favorite explanation so far.

Also, about the Living Bible references. Manson has always drawn from the Bible for inspiration and whether or not its been in a derogatory light or not will always be up for debate. As Manson has always expressly denounced the hypocritical ways that church establishments abuse and use the Bible to manipulate and scare people, he has never said "Fuck the Bible" or anything negative against it's characters. He's simply been objective in the ways he views it and states it simply as it is. A very dark and mysterious book.

So really, has Manson ever been against the Bible and what is in it or has he simply been presenting it in a way that will be more palatable to those who are disenfranchised to it because of a backwards and hypocritical church establishment that anybody of intelligence will disregard? Manson's career is perhaps his own "The Living Bible" only instead of being for children, it is for rock and roll types, goths and the disenfranchised youth of today.

Since the term "Born Again" is already taken, perhaps 'Born Villain' is more applicable to those who read the same message, but get a very different moral than those who sit in chapels and wear purple gowns.

04-06-2012, 10:06 AM
Great thread Haz!

I hadn't had chance to look into The Living Bible yet, so I really enjoyed reading all the information on that and how the video connects with it.

04-06-2012, 01:38 PM
Holy shit, Hazekiah. I don't have much to contribute, but just wanted to take a moment out to tip my dick in your direction for such a brilliant interpretation. There were some parts I thought were a bit of a stretch, but felt that your mention of the "The Living Bible" was quite appropriate as I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else.

Awesome post.

04-07-2012, 10:34 AM
Hello. Nice article, good read. I think an element missing is Victorian/early 20th century fascination with spiritualism (their clothes and table levitating) but also, a visual reference which I thought would be helpful; the photography of Gregory Crewdson.

http://s14.postimage.org/bd8m7dzv5/Screen_Shot_2012_04_07_at_1_30_09_PM.png (http://postimage.org/) adult upload image (http://postimage.org/)

http://s14.postimage.org/8lyj89g41/Screen_Shot_2012_04_07_at_1_29_34_PM.png (http://postimage.org/)
free image hosting (http://postimage.org/)

04-08-2012, 01:28 PM
^Excellent. Also, fantastic reading Haz. I will second Fav's thought that a few items seems to be quite a bit stretched, but overall I think you've best justified the presence of The Living Bible (as opposed to any other version). My favorite observation you've made regards "Narcissus Narcosis." In many ways that simple title is a perfect comment on the work under discussion.

I have also wondered about the element of liquid in this video. Initially I had thought the people at the table are drinking absinthe. However, the color of the liquid coming down around the house, filling up the floor, etc. seems to be pretty similar. But I wasn't sure if it was actually absinthe. If it is, what do you think it says about Manson- or what Manson is saying about himself that he shot a video in which he plays a figure in a house filled with dead women being flooded with liquor?

04-09-2012, 05:05 AM
'I was drowning in a sea of liquor .... '


Following the thinking that the women in the video are representatives of himself would certainly compliment the lyrics 'I don't know which me that I love, I got no reflection' as well as the other references of split personalities (show myself how to make a noose ..).

05-28-2012, 11:07 AM
Haha, sorry, got a little busy there all of a sudden!

So...where were again?

Actually, I just want to bump this really quickly 'cause I'm STILL pretty busy, but it's been bugging me in the back of my mind that I had to pretty much ditch it immediately and hit the road and that I haven't really gotten back to it yet. Out of sight out of mind, and all that.

So I'll go through a full-on post-by-post reply later but in the meantime I just wanted to say THANKS to everyone for reading and enjoying it so much and for all the nice and thoughtful comments. Much appreciated!

And it's ALSO been bugging me that I neglected to thank MixMastahTee and especially NorseFire for all their on-the-spot help in whipping up screencaps and even that animated .gif for me! It was really a big help since I'm pretty hopeless with that stuff.

Thanks a million, guys!


07-16-2012, 06:31 PM
Watching No Reflection one more time and reading the comments here, I found something.

The video is to some extend a biography of MM.
The girls are actually different personalities of MM. At first they were all sitting there quitely, which reflects the suppressed childhood. Then people got kind of crazy, starting being destructive-the dangerously-performing MM. However, even during this period, there is still a calm MM (the last girl protected by Manson). Unfortunately, even the last girl (the calm part of MM) went wild, which may reflect divorce and the hardship he had gone through. Finally, after all the twists and turns, MM turned mature, and became who he is now.

Above are just my personal views. What do you think?

07-16-2012, 06:42 PM
It's a good one and I wrote a huge wall of text about it, but it's in another thread, there's a specific thread for this music video, buddy. :)
I think it will soon be moved up, then you can check it.

Whisky And Speed
07-16-2012, 07:02 PM
What a great thread, you are a great addition to our forums, I enjoyed reading this.

Thanks a million.

Sans Agendum
07-16-2012, 10:02 PM
Manson's explanation was that it represents an earlier relationship poisoning other relationships. How being attached to the wrong girl ruins your perception of all the relationships that come afterwards, so in the end he kills the girl who poisons the others. As it attaches to the song and title, I think it's his way of saying he's moved on and having no reflection based on whatever poisonous relationship with the wrong woman he's referring to.

07-17-2012, 03:26 AM
There are at least a couple of layers of meaning in the video. Using the "Living" Bible, alludes to Jesus being the "Word made flesh" or "Living Word," the Logos. The pages being reflective further confirms that he's referring to himself with the bible. Since reflections show the opposite of what's being viewed, being a reflection of the Living Word, or Christ, would make Manson the Antichrist. Which he just so happens to be.

07-19-2012, 09:10 AM
It's a good one and I wrote a huge wall of text about it, but it's in another thread, there's a specific thread for this music video, buddy. :)
I think it will soon be moved up, then you can check it.

Wow that's awesome!