Now compare and contrast with the official winner of the essay contest (the essay Billy selected), and ask yourself why he would pick a diametric opposite to his own meaning (posted around 12/07/00), meanings in such diametric opposition to each other as to render both meaningless:
1st place winner
I think that the story behind the creation of the album "MACHINA \ the machines of God" is based on some main ideas, those ideas being Love ("the energy behind which all is created") as something divine, sacred and universal; evolution and self-improvement; unity and individuality; syntony with a Higher force; and a battle against a world that doesn't understand and rejects the truth, the enlightenment that these ideas may bring to those willing to hear them·in short, a superficial world. The story is about two main characters, Glass and June, yet it is universal, for their tale is representative of everymen's search for the truth, for meaning to their life, for guidance from a superior being and for a love that justifies their existence.
June and Glass are eternal, destined lovers (what many call "soul mates"). They complete each other, and represent the feminine and masculine forces within all things. They are one ("you're a part of me, eternal one") and even before they were cast into this world, they were together, in a perfect union, in a place above space and time as we can see in Plate I and read in "Glass and the Machines of God "their fates had intertwined long before they were lovers, their moment extending back before their eyes first met, and that bond was eternal".
The lovers' immortal souls incarnate and are cast into this world. Plate II, "The soul as living proof", is representative of the immortality of the soul. In nature, nothing disappears, nothing is lost, and everything changes. So why would the human soul be any different? The two lovers now live in this world, but separately, and they dream of finding each other. Love is what allows them to be wise, to perceive a deeper meaning in the Universe, to be closer to that superior intelligence that some call God, others Shiva, other Jehovah· Without June, Glass is Zero. He is lost, he is in pain, and he aches and longs for her. June also feels lost in agony and incomplete without her other half. She is faithless, she is hopeless; "she had no faith but that which destroys and she had only known herself in coarse mirror". Bur even before they met, they were spiritually connected. In plate III, "The chemist brings spark", we can see Zero living in a world that's torn apart, a world full of hate, emptiness, despair, frustration. However, he is above that world because he has faith, he hopes to find the ideal on perfect, absolute and unifying Love that he longs for. The idea of June is always in his thoughts (the girl above his head). He hopes to be saved from his pain ("because it is with faith and faith only that one justifies the reach") Without that faith, it would have never been possible for him to hold on, to keep going. That is why we can see the sentence "Nil sin Deo" (nothing without God) in Plate III. Without God, the faith in a higher force, in a divine Love, something beyond life, a purpose to his existence, Zero wouldn't have been able to hold on. Faith was all he had (could you believe in heaven, if heaven was all you head") As I said, Zero lived in agony. He had been unhappy since his childhood. But somehow that pain was making him stronger and preparing him to be unified with June in the future, even though be didn't realized it and the time.
Zero decides to make the best he can with his pain, so he shares it with those who like him suffer and are lost ("to curse one's very existence is a kind of powers, especially if you can decide to make the best of that hate, to fuel that anger with the necessity of resignation and purpose· to cloak your pain and fear in the language of sound, in the poetry of devotion·"). He sings out his despair, aching for June ("she's the one for me, she's all I really need out"), begging her to come and save him ("pick your pockets full of sorrow and runaway with me tomorrow, June"), asking her not to take too long to appear in his life (" Bye June, I'm going to the moon, hope you'll be there soon"); but also, he is seeking his identity, his true self. Zero is lost not only because he hasn't found June yet, but also because he hasn't found himself. So he sings: "I just want to be me". Zero goes on, sharing his troubled soul with the world, being "loved" by many who see their own pain in him, but he is bitter and full of rage. He cannot see or accept the beauty of pain (for both shadow and light can be beautiful), he is not in syntony with the superior force (he sings: "God is empty just like me").
But one day, it finally happens. June and her lover are finally reunited (as we can see in Plate V, "desire holds the moment still"). He finally found her, the "one for him", everything he "wanted and asked for", his angel, his savior, a love so true and pure· June, the purifying element that releases him from all the rage the world made him feel ("away with everything you've grown to hate").
And their divine love "catches the gaze of a supreme intelligence, watching them and nodding a silent approval". Now that they are together, a new path begins, a path that will lead them to enlightenment and fulfillment. Their love opens their eyes to a knowledge that they couldn't see before, they become able to see a deeper meaning to all things, and they become closer to God ("In you I taste God"). However, the path is still long and tough. What most people seek in others is nothing but a reflection of themselves, and to truly love another being, one must be entirely aware of ones identity so that the other being can be loved for what he/she truly is, and not for reflecting oneself. So the path that the two lovers had to follow was also the path of self-discovery. Before they discovered and fully loved one another, they had to discover and accept themselves. Only then would they be ready for a supreme Love, who would transform Zero, the lost one, the disenchanted, into Glass, the enlightened one. But changing is never easy, especially in a world that does not care for changes.
Zero was "loved" by a crowd of disenchanted souls who shared his former pain, who could relate to this anger. Now he wasn't Zero anymore, that he wasn't aching, but he felt a certain obligation to keep on singing for them, not to disappoint those who supported him. In plate VIII, "So empowered, the lovers negate the blinding brilliance of love", we see Glass holding the knife with which he used to "cut open his heart" and "bleed his soul". It his hard for him to evolve, to stop being Zero after a lifetime of pain, but he can't do it anymore, he can't fake it and he can't live to please a world that cannot be pleased for "the world is a vampire" insatiable.
He realizes that his followers didn't truly love him. What they loved wasn't real, for Zero was not real it was only a shadow of his true self. What they loved was their own reflection in him ("They saw him surreal but he was as real as they needed him to be"). Zero was just "humming someone else's favourite song". Glass also realizes that though he can't please them, he can try to lead them into the light and make them hear his new message a message of pure and universal love. Meanwhile, June is also having troubles in the path of self-discovery. She doesn't know just how powerful she is, and how her love is meaningful to Glass. She has lived all her life in pain, so she became addicted to it. She was addicted to her misery, addicted to the darkness she had lived in and she had to be released from it. Glass was the one supposed to save her ("first time that I ever saw you, cracking hard thru days of pain, you were one of Gods children, left to cry out in the rain, waiting to be saved again") But at first Glass was still connected to a past where he used to sing for the disenchanted so he couldn't devote himself to their love - not yet· June felt lonely and wounded by the world. In Plate IX we can see her lost in her agony. Her pain was like spiders "crawling up inside her", while she waited to be healed by Glass's love ("and every little spider that crawled up inside her was waiting for my phone call"). She had only known the dark side of life, but finally she found light and learned to accept herself.
Both Glass and June had been "fueled with anger", inspired by their pain. In Plate XIII, "Torn inside Machines of light", we see that though the two lovers are together; they haven't reached the light yet. They are still connected to the pain from their past. But finally they realize that the light, the wisdom they were achieving, can be just as inspiring as the pain the felt, only in a different way. After discovering themselves, Glass and June can surrender to their absolute and holly love, a love that heals the soul. Glass is "reborn as child" (pure) and "mystic sage".
However, the wisdom he achieved was only the beginning - The beginning of a new path. Glass became able to see life and the universe as a whole, to see the beauty of its unity and its diversity. And he felt that he must share his wisdom with those willing to hear his message, to those able to understand. He's a messenger from God (mercury), for his words can lead those who understand them towards the light even though one most walk such a path on his own, Glass can bring faith to those who listen. So he and his band (The machines of God) keep on singing for those who are able to understand them - the ghost children ("these words were intended for them and their only"). Their art is now very different once Glass was changed by Love and self-discovery, his art also changed. The message is sent out in an encrypted way so that it was only visible for those who really seek it, those willing to understand ("we spoke in rhyme and riddle· not for fear of detection (·) but rather that those who had secretly wished to be spoken to were"). Alchemical symbols are used as a metaphor in this story because the alchemists' main goal was to reach spiritual evolution, this evolution being achieved through the union of the feminine element (mercury) and the masculine element (sulphur). Also, the ancient alchemists would encrypt their work to hide them from those who couldn't possibly understand it.
So spreading this message becomes Glass's purpose. He believes to be guided by that superior force previously mentioned ("·everything I operate on is based upon what I believe God is telling me to do·"), a force that once perceived makes us realize that beauty resides on everything, that one must achieve balance between grief and bliss, shadow and light. Glass learned to accept life and he wants to show others that they too can learn it. He is "never alone" and finally "the sun is shinning on him".
But what is exactly this force? What is what so many call God? One cannot know for sure. Glass cannot define who this force/being is ("who are you, this time, are you one of us, flying blind·"), but he knows he is following the right path ("and if there is a God, I know she's watching me, she says she likes what she sees·"). But whatever it is, we are all a part of it. Maybe God is just as blind as us, maybe he cannot explain where life came from, or maybe he knows it all· But either way, his manifestation is within us. God is referred as both "He" and "She", what suggests that he/she is unity, is totality, contains both masculine and feminine forces, as well as all the opposite forces that rule the universe. Plate XI, "The I of the radio", is a reference to God. The radio is used as a metaphor to represent this supreme intelligence because its "waves" cannot be seen but can be received by each and every one of us. And it "always plays your favourite song" because you can decode that force, you can access that force in many many ways love is the supreme way, but even love presents itself in so many forms, has so many faces and most likely you will decode it in the way that means more to you, the one you feel closer to your favorite song. The radio is communication with a higher power that we all share. As for the dichotomy I/Eye of the radio· I think it contains one of the most important ideas of this play. The I of the radio· as I said, we are all a part of a higher power that unites us, but still, we are ourselves· we are unique. Even though we are a part of a whole the universe, mankind, God our true beauty resides on our individuality. That higher force resides on life itself, on nature, on every living being, and of course, within us. And the only way we can fully understand it, feel it, taste it is by finding how it manifests in us. Getting in touch with our own soul is getting in touch with God, and getting ready for Love, the holiest of all things. As we can see in chapter 6, "the I of the radio celebrates your individuality"; "you are important". As for the "Eye" of the radio, it means that we a part of that superior being ("I am the radio, you are the radio, we are the radio"). So it sees and feels the world through us, it looks at us as we look at ourselves and at each other's. God sees everything because His eyes are the eyes of each and every living creature, so when we see something, the supreme intelligence is seeing it too. We are all very different (individuality) but we also have something in common (unity). This idea is represented by the structure of the play. Just like we are all different but a part of something higher, also the several parts of the play (the chapters, the songs, the lyrics, the plates) have their own meaning and focus on their own ideas, but are a part of a higher idea that comes together as they all unite. But the I of the radio isn't the only "I" referred. There is also the "I of the mourning".
In my opinion, this means that pain (mourning, crying, aching) makes one get deeply in touch with oneself. Pain makes one feel more alive than ever. Whatever hurts becomes the center of the reality, the thing we focus on. When he was in pain, Glass got in touch with himself, and his mourning helped him to discover himself. Now he "makes a toast to life" because "he has survived", for his mourning is over and he learned through it.
Glass and the machines of God spread a message through music, according to what Glass believes to be what God is telling him to do the right thing to do ("I always assumed that the voice I hear is the voice of God"). They have a mission, a very hard one. Most people do not accept the new form that Glass's art has assumed, or care to hear his message. Those who used to listen to him are still wrapped in their pain, still lost, still unable to understand. Our world is a material and superficial one, who does not care for ideals. And the music industry that once seemed to support him is also rotten. Music, which was supposed to be a form of light, is becoming a shallow and meaningless thing. It is becoming a business, only. The industry only cares about profits, music must sell more and more and more and all they seam to be interested on now is boys bands with nothing to say or angry, lost, noisy and aggressive bands with nothing to say as well bands that seam to stand for destruction instead of creation, anger instead of love. Music is becoming an ordinary thing ("Everyone's gonna be a big star"). Glass realizes that the music business only wants to use him and his pain for their own profits, they do not care about him and want him to whore his ideals (""cause when you're hypnotized they'll spin gold and paint you black with the blood of your surprise").
Glass seams to be fighting against the whole world, for no one seams to understand ("yeah, nobody understands, yeah, that we've made our planes") or even care ("no one could or ever would hear the full secrets of glass"). And it is hard for him to keep his fait·has the whole world become plastic and shallow? ("Can anyone be true?"). Sometimes he doubts himself ("bracing against the inevitable doubt"). Does he really have a mission? "What if I'm insane?" It seams like the only thing he stands for is "a broken ideal for which no rewards are given but grudging respect". He fears the possibility of giving up in a moment of frustration and despair. But he must go on, he "kept swimming upstream", even knowing that he'll only be understood by few, that he won't be as adored as before. But that doesn't matter, that cannot matter, for he stands for something higher than that. "Vanity must die". He is afraid to lose control ("get on, get on, you've lost control", he is afraid of being used by the music industry. They wanted him to stay forever in Zero's shoes, because more people could relate to Zero· to being lost. Our society tries to use pain, disenchantment, hopelessness to make profits ("a culture and civilization that makes money on our differences to exploit what we want most To belong"). So society doesn't want the truth, society doesn't want enlightenment. The truth does not make money. Society pushes those who seek the truth deep down because they don't want the lie upon which its structure is build to be proven wrong. We are supposed to be lost and angry. They use our own agony as a drug to control us. They make us become addicted to it, and they make the discovery of the path of light even harder than it already is. But Glass fought against this lie, and he "betrayed" music industry ("all alone in my soul I betrayed rock and roll").
Fortunately, there are still those who listen, those who believe. The ghost children believe, care and seek the truth. They want to hear the message. And we give Glass faith, just like he gives us. Glass feels that since there are a few whose souls can be touched by his words, then the fight is worth it. The ghost children made him realize that this war is worth fighting, so they became "a part of him", even "if he falls", they already realizes how important the message is.
The ghost children haven't found the light yet· Glass can lead them towards it, but they most follow their own path. They are named "ghost children" for they are pure, they are receptive, they aren't adulterated, but they are still pale as ghosts, they still follow Glass instead of their own ways ("I am a stranger to you as you are to yourself they haven't fully discovered themselves yet). But once they achieve the full meaning of his message they will learn that they must follow their way and fight their own revolution.
And what is Glass but a reflection of what others see in him? He is once again a mirror that the ghost children used to reflect their own soul. But now glass is shattering ("shattering fast I'm glass I'm glass"). As the mirror breaks, the illusion is broken. Once the true meaning of glass's message is known, the ghost children will distinct his message from the reflection of their own soul. They will not only listen to the message but also perceive their own souls more clearly. They will no longer be "ghost" children.
Glass is not only a mirror, but also a vessel. He contains divine wisdom and must try to spread the message. Glass realizes that he is not the first one to have such mission and will certainly not be the last one ("the voice says you are one of many more to come"). He has done his work, he sung to those willing to hear, and it is now time for him to find peace. He carried the cross, he fought in this war, and now it is time for someone else to carry it on, for his mission has been fulfilled. It is time for him to walk away with his other half and "stand inside her lover" forever for their love is eternal ("I am one of many more to come, love is everything I want"). The love from those who listen to him may not be eternal· Glass knows that one day he may be forgotten. However, his words will last forever. "The echo rings forever on". His words symbolize some universal concepts that all should know, and maybe throughout time more and more will understand the message. The symbols he used are eternal.
In plate XII, "In all things the symbols reign supreme", we can see a symbol that is related to purification and contact with a higher force. We can also read the sentence "It is finished when seven are one". The number seven symbolizes a cycle that ends and another one that begins, and something that is concluded in perfection. The 7th album, Machina II, Friends and enemies of modern music (enemies being the rotten industry that is perverting music's true essence), is the closing of the cycle but also the coronation of a work. The message is sent; the cycle ends in perfection, but will repeat itself endlessly, for someone else will stand for the same ideals. We also have 7 chapters in this play· together they form one main idea. Once again, we see unification. Something that united is eternal. The symbol we see in plate XII is an universal one. Therefore, others can use it to transmit the same message or an identical one. All the concepts in this play can be seen from many angles, approached in many different ways. Perhaps some will see the symbol upside down, transmit the message in another way, but it is still the same. The symbols reign supreme, last forever and remain the same no matter how the idea they represent is approached. As I previously mentioned, Glass's work is done and his mission is fulfilled. Though he knows that many will never understand it, he also knows that some were deeply moved by his words. Some will carry on the revolution and though "he was a general leading them into war that him and they knew they could never win", because it is hard to fight against the masses, they still tried, because trying is making a difference ("still they fought to love·").
In plate VI, "As the machines resume", Glass and the machines of God are waving goodbye to the ghost children ("as the curtain falls we bid you all goodnight"). They are walking away but the machines of God will resume, will restart, for someone else will be the messenger from that higher power.
In plate XVI, Glass is walking away, into the light. He has come to the end of the path he had been walking, and now he will live in peace and love unified with June, knowing that "This echo rings forever on", knowing that his mission was accomplished. And maybe one day he will live again in a place above space and time, united with his other half, and near all those he loved ("that night he dreamed of his mother young and beautiful and she told him many secrets, mostly about love·"). This tale is an eternal one, for its story repeats itself over and over and over again. There is always someone who knows the truth, there are always those who won't listen, and there are always a few who want to find the light. And there is always Love. Love is eternal and universal for it is what everyone is meant to find. And in the end "only love will win". Hopefully, more people will find real love, and through it, be purified and find a profound knowledge. In the end only love can win"
It's worthwhile to note how the selected winning entry and Billy's posited written meaning are so diametrically opposed as to be "never the twain shall meet".
The second thing to consider is that the verb definition of "fable" is "to fabricate".