Interpretations:9 Secret Steps

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Self-Hindrance Manual[edit | edit source]

The title and lyrics are reminiscent of the inundation of self-help books that are published year after year-- particularly, say, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "The Secret."

In this context, the chorus, "Nine secret steps to the... key to the door that you'll... throw in the well and let go of all your thwarted dreams and visions of success!" seems like a direct parody of the vague and nebulous promises that these books make about reaching your potential. Likewise, the advice the song gives is generally contrary to the sort one mind find in these insipid tomes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:18, 11 March 2013

It's Fun to Steal?[edit | edit source]

Linnell poking fun (non too subtly) the world of self help. The song remains fascinating as it much be the most obvious case of "homage" of any Giants recording. The harpsichord keyboard part is a speeded up version of the Stephanie Says from Velvet underground. However the main thrust of the song (given away by the drums) is Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly. The new vocal melody line is pretty but can't disguise the original source material. The only totally original bit is the slip into third gear bridge, which Linnell, presumably embarrassed by the lyric "I can't tell you what's in secret step five, you will know when you're no longer alive", gets over with ASAP. (Mr Tuck)

Newborn futures and stillborn pasts must be never gestated.[edit | edit source]

I think I'm the only person who thinks Linnell's finally giving honest advice for once. I suppose that's sappy of me, though, because quite often Linnell's words never intend to match an upbeat melody.

Even moreso, I feel my idea is challenged by above interpretations, too. "You will know when you're no longer alive", is that true? If you were literally dead, wouldn't you be incapable of knowing? "Let go of all your thwarted dreams", is it worth it to give up hope and drive? "You'll be overwrought until you amputate the thought" Is it cowardly or dishonest to feel justified in not-thinking about things?

However, I feel like this song is about challenging your own perception and logic itself. Often in our life, we act to prepare for future circumstance. We act to defend against past grievances' lingering effects. We "want" to be _A_, so we are disappointed by all times that we never reached _A_, and failed to make progress in it. We "want" _A_, so we look to see if others are acting in a way to let _A_ be born. Keep in mind that this is intentionally sounding like the "chicken or the egg".

People simply can't understand that their perception of the world is not "THE" world until they see something that baffles. People refuse to upsell that their understanding of the world is finite, due to being limited by time. (See Weep Day)

My thought is that we were so busy wanting things, that we stopped simply doing what we would do.

So, throw the key in the well about all the dreams you want/wanted and are thwarted. Who cares how unrealized achievements would've played out? Who remembers your old mistakes but you? What good are thoughts that make you sad versus happy?

And maybe you had nothing that caused what others did to you in the past. :)

(V1 --SoreThumb (talk) 17:50, 24 April 2013 (EDT) )

Oh, the futility of it all..[edit | edit source]

As opined by earlier Interperati, it's the antithesis of works by self-help snake oil salesmen--Linnell is giving us permission to just say 'fuck it.' Expectations, stress, failure -- forgo all that nonsense, since Step Five (death) renders it all moot anyway. Don't try, and you won't fail--and since you won't fail, you won't miss trying. A bubbly defeatist anthem with a sprinkling of paranoia. (Just how I like'em!) CallMeMommyMarshmello (talk) 20:30, 24 April 2013 (EDT)

An academic approach[edit | edit source]

As an admittedly pleonastic writer and proud composer of a roughly 2000 word grammatically correct sentence written whilst on a tangential rant one day, I can say with the utmost certainty that this song is about writing undergraduate academic papers. The thing about undergraduate academic papers is that they have a word limit, unlike this post which allows me to go on tangents like this one which does make the thought more complete, but fails to add any information that the reader would not have known if it were not written.

"Throw away the thing that tells you not to throw the thing away." This is a plain request for the writer not to write in the style in which I am currently writing. There are too many words and we are all aware that there are too many words, but each of them appears to be essential for the completion of the thought; however, there are very many ways in which to express this thought thoroughly without using as many words as I am using now and if I did use one of those other ways it would be very likely that a larger number of readers would finish it to its completion.

"You'll forget to rue the day you went ahead and threw the thing away." While appearing to mean you won't regret it, this line clearly denotes that ruing the day is something that you should do, but will fail to. This acknowledges all of the tiny meanings a longer sentence could have provided which are unnecessary for the overall thesis of the paper. It is true that constraining yourself will leave you feeling like you didn't get your entire point across, but that is easily forgotten when the paper is read and it turns out that your entire point was not just unnecessary but prohibitive to proving your primary point.

The next line displays a clear depiction of what lengthy tangential sentences actually do to one's paper (in the form of a lengthy tangential sentence). While it appears to be a tedious sequence of events that will lead somewhere important, many readers will lose interest when they find that it leads somewhere they weren't expecting and doesn't seem to relate directly to the thesis, and of course one's vision of success when writing a paper is that the people who read it will continue reading it until the end, thus making the reader's disinterest a thwarted dream for the writer.

"Amputate the thought that says you shouldn't ever amputate a thought." This line refers to the second draft of an undergraduate academic essay, where all the words are actually essential, but the word count is still too high. This is where the constraints of the word limit actually encourage the imagination to find more efficient ways with which one could connect the dots. Obviously the writer at this point is overwrought with the stress of completing a paper and having to edit it down to a limit.

The next line starts as a reiteration of the third but importantly says, "forgo the knowledge of what can be attained as long as nothing's ever gained." Which, at last, is our thesis statement for this song. Constricting one's self to the word limit is not about hindering the argument, it's about helping the argument by focusing only on the words and ideas that are necessary without worrying about the thoughts that may remain incomplete, but which have no need for completion.

Secret step five, of course, refers to whether or not the paper will live on longer than its author. Even papers that are not widely read during the author's lifetime can become very important later in history, so we must accept that none of us will know the extent of our influence within our own lifetime.

"Inhume your gloom within a tomb." Refers to the pain that writers go through during the editing process. The way you wrote it was the way you wanted it, and even if the new way is better, it's still not the idea you had originally started with.

"Confine your mind behind a line." This line finally explains what good could come from amputating our thoughts. We've already gotten rid of the words that were unnecessary to explain our ideas. Now we need to get rid of the ideas that are unnecessary to explain our thesis. Any idea that isn't essential must be put outside the room of this paper because it would otherwise mean its doom. Scan for unnecessary explanations of things which do not need to be explained. Find places where you can reference back to something that's already written somewhere else.

The last line again starts as a reiteration of the third, but unlike the other two choruses this one is not a single sentence. "Let go of all your thwarted dreams." This sentence is repeated to emphasize the fact that those ideas which you've found to be unworthy of the paper do not deserve to be there, and you must let go of them as they have been rightly thwarted.

In conclusion, "9 Secret Steps" = "tl;dr".

the steps[edit | edit source]

as best as i can figure, the nine secret steps are:

  1. Throw away the thing...
  2. Forget to rue the day you went ahead and did step 1
  3. Amputate the thought...
  4. Unlock the potential to forgo the knowledge
  6. Inhume your gloom within a tomb
  7. Confine your mind behind a line
  8. Throw the key in the well
  9. Let go of all your thwarted dreams and visions of success

despite being mentioned earlier, 8 and 9 seem to be last, sequentially. some of these are rather contrived and it seems like the song may not actually offer all 9 steps, which is strange to me. instead, i think "unlocking the potential" and "letting go of all your thwarted dreams" are not steps so much as the end result (or both step nine). however, this makes it essentially impossible for four steps to precede step five, unless being overwrought prior to amputating the thought is a step. i suppose that makes sense if forgetting to rue the day is also a step. so, perhaps the progression is as follows:

  1. Throw away the thing...
  2. Forget to rue the day you went ahead and did step 1
  3. Be overwrought
  4. Amputate the thought
  6. Inhume your gloom within a tomb
  7. Confine your mind behind a line
  8. Throw the key in the well
  9. Let go of all your thwarted dreams and visions of success; unlock the potential to forgo the knowledge of what can be attained as long as nothing else is gained

i like this a little bit more but i'm still not sure if steps 2 and 4 are right. it could also be that all the steps are secret, much like 5, and the song does not actually mention any of them directly. Apollo (colloquia!) 14:59, 30 January 2015 (EST)