Here is part 1.
We hear sounds of a hospital similar to the opening song and this final song bursts into life abruptly.
“All alone now except for the memories
Of what we had and what we knew
Every time I try to leave it behind me
I see something that reminds me of you
Every night the dreams return to haunt me
Your rosary wrapped around your throat
I lie awake and sweat, afraid to fall asleep
I see your face looking back at me”
Now that Nikki cannot find a direction he replays the memories over and comes to live in them and sleep in them. It is a nightmare that he tries to escape by clinging on to reality. But his guilt manifests itself in the face of the one he most grieves having failed. Mary committed suicide with one of the sacred objects she had tried to use to enchant her existence with meaning.
“Is this all that’s left of my life before me
Straight jacket memories, sedative highs
No happy ending like they’ve always promised
There’s got to be something left for me”
Sedatives and straight-jackets are extreme measures suggesting that Nikki has descended into violent madness. The story of this album has not cheated by finding some happy ending but has followed to the inevitable end. Murder and the mental illness brought on by drugs are things that very few are ever able return from to find a meaningful life.
“How many times must I live this tragedy?
How many more lies will they tell me?
All I want is the same as everyone
Why am I here, and for how long”
Viktor Frankel in Man’s Search For Meaning suggested that the question of the meaning of life can be whittled down to its core in an extreme situation like the concentration camps that he had existed in. In the chorus Nikki looks into the eyes of the Other to see if there is anything left. Hegel’s philosophy tells us that we only form our identity in relation to others, and about a million modern philosophers have wondered if relations with others is even possible because since the only subject is oneself, others are seen as objects, and therefore there is a subject-object gap. Nikki tries to reach across that evanescent gap but finds that others turn away.
And I raise my head and stare
Into the eyes of a stranger
I’ve always known that the mirror never lies
People always turn away
From the eyes of a stranger
Afraid to know what lies behind the stare”
Is Nikki unable to relate with others because he cannot see them as subjects, bound up as he is in himself? Or is he unable to be a subject himself, seeing only his emptiness and not his humanity. I think, from second hand sources, that Hegel would say both were the same problem. Nikki looks in the mirror and likewise turns away. No more able to step outside himself and view himself in the third person than he is to engage with others in the first person I to I. What lies behind the stare is nothing and gazing into the void of a physically living but life-drained human being feels like staring into your own death.
The album ends with clips from the album racing round faster and faster before crashing into an inscrutable demon-like utterance. A menacing low murmur is heard before Nikki says “I remember now” to end the album. It has been suggested that this ending suggests that Nikki is re-experiencing the events of this album every 30 seconds before the cycle begins again. A terrifying idea, in any case the story is the old theme of the descent into hell and it is all too easy to imagine ourselves sliding the same jagged descent.