Okay, so I totally tied the most apparent themes throughout Born Villain last night...and then I fell asleep and forgot most of it. I'm going to try to piece it back together for you all here, and this may end up being more of a collective discussion than an analysis.
The most perplexing thing that Manson has mentioned time and time again leading up to the album's release has been that of zombies. After listening to Born Villain I really couldn't relate it to zombies at all, but I think that it ties in with the concept of the "flowers of evil" (if taken in the context of Born Villain, rather than the context of Baudelaire's poetry). The imagery of zombies crawling (or literally bursting) out of their graves was largely popularized by the film Return Of The Living Dead (considered by many to be an indirect sequel to Romero's classic Night Of The Living Dead) in an iconic scene showing the zombies bursting out of their graves to "eat brains" (another cliche originated from the film). This image can almost be likened to that of a flower rising from the soil, flowers of evil. I think that the lyrics to "The Gardener" tie in with this theory the most. In its tribal roots, however, zombie mythology was largely about brain-washing, a process which involved removing all traces of life from a living person. The "corpse" would be buried alive, and many villagers would wake up inside a coffin and escape their untimely graves, walking around the village in a state of disillusion and considered by their neighbors to be "the walking dead." Manson alludes to Jim Jones in his video for "No Reflection" by using The Living Bible, who is infamous for brainwashing his disciples into committing suicide. The witch doctors who would perform the rituals on the victims could be likened to the chorus of "The Flowers Of Evil."
"I've been running from the bloodless
In fear of exile
For all of my sorceries."
And holy crap! Check out the lyrics to the rest of the song, because it totally relates to the zombie mythologies:
"The day they covered us in the dirt
like stars in the ground
that will grow into dead flowers"
"Your touch is so empty"
The intro to the song is filled with monstrous noises, almost groaning, or the yawning of a great beast. The "sleepless spiders" line reminds me of something that Rob Zombie would have used to describe the eponymous character in his song "Living Dead Girl," the video of which was inspired by the films La Morte Vivante (alternate title: Living Dead Girl) and The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. The lyrics to "The Gardener" refer specifically to a female who is being raised as this flower of evil, and the brainwashed disciples in the video for "No Reflection" are all women. This is most likely a satire of Manson's relationships with women. As a cinemaphile, it is very likely that Manson has seen at least The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, and Horror films have always been a major influence on his work, which would not make the possibility of La Morte Vivante unlikely to have been seen by him. It is at the very least an artistic parallel worth comparing the lyrics of "The Gardener" to in order to demonstrate how the album could include zombies in its esoteric.
The lyrics to "Children Of Cain" also can be applied to that of the tribal zombie, a man who is not fully conscious and has achieved another state of awareness (in Manson's case, through Art and intellect rather than drugging and brainwashing):
"Don't assume that I'm always with you
It's just where my mortal body happens to be"
In another popular zombie film, Dawn of the Dead, civilization is portrayed as a failing system where anarchy is taking the reigns. The climax of the film occurs when a group of rebel bikers arrive at the Monroeville Mall (the film's setting) and raid the stores. The rebel bikers/anarchists ties in with Mad Max, another film that Manson has referenced, as well as anarchy as a concept. In many recent interviews he has referred to those who do wrong against him or those that he loves to be dealt with in manners which one may expect to see such anarchists do in the movies. And what is the purpose of anarchy? Chaos, of course. And why? "No Reason," which Manson has gotten tattooed on his own wrist. These bikers are always accompanied by their reliable weapons, and what does a modern insurgence need but guns? Guns give a lot of power to very weak people, and when you get enough of them together (ala a riot,) they begin acting upon knee-jerk reactions, almost instinctive, and can get a leader to speak before them, it is historically known to be easy to brianwash and encourage them. (Hitler recognized this and capitalizing upon it greatly in order to achieve his position.) This goes back to the zombie theme (brainwashing) and that of Fascism, which has characterized Manson's work practically since it began. Guns demonstrate power, and if Manson is the one controlling the guns, then he is in control. I often wondered why Manson was always so pro-gun control until he began shooting people in his videos ("Born Villain") and photoshoots (Golden Age-Era), but perhaps that can explain it...or at least open the way for the right questions. And if Manson is "The Gun," then he is what he lends to the people in order to give them power.
In the case of "Pistol Whipped," it is obviously a pun on the reproductive organ of a flower, but it is very possible to imply that Manson is literally in love with the power that holding a pistol implies. The aggressive, dominating lyrics come off self-empowering, as if abusing his love gives him pleasure by making his lover (a "Coma White," if you will) submit to him.
Christ has been compared to a zombie in pop culture quite often lately, which is something that I know members of the Manson camp must surely be aware of, considering the fact that they have mentioned Memes in the past and used such images on the official Marilyn Manson web page (such as the man whose face is punched in, which has been commonly posted on 4Chan, for instance). I'm not saying that Manson is referring to Memes in his work, but he must be aware of them, especially this one challenging the concept of Christ. A man who dies, is risen again, and becomes a bloodthirsty, heartless monster? That sounds a bit like the rise of the Disintegrator on the Antichrist Superstar album. This particular comparison is not one with much warrant, I suppose, but I do think it is worth considering the parallel, be it as rudimentary and unintentional as it may (have) be(en).
This is all I've got for now. I know that I've been rambling more than a drunken college professor, but I think that many of these things are worth considering regardless of how I stated them or what examples I used. Hope this helps, guiz.