Message 197: 2+2=what?

I posted this on the atease msg board this evening:

a challenge: in 150 words or less, how would you describe the song “2+2=5”? I’m writing an essay on the song for a book. if your description wins, what do you get? nothing, really, other than a citation in the essay (your name immortalized in an academic article that a handful of people will access once every fourteen to sixteen years using the modern language association’s international bibliographic database—that’s about 7 seconds of your fifteen minutes of fame).

BUT seriously. I’m no musician: how would you describe the song? how it moves from the opening chit-chat (from “we’re on” to “that’s a nice way to start jonny”) to the drum machine (i’m guessing that’s what that is) then to a Smiths-like guitar? then to another section? And then? Et cetera. The song isn’t my favorite, but the more I listen to it the more it baffles me sonically, aurally. Soundwise.

And did I mention I hear f-fifteens overhead once a week or so?

This is a double dare, a double dog dare. I dare you. I can’t get these headphones loud enouff.

Readers of this site (both of you, plus the random visitor) can post a description in comments. Thank you.

6 replies on “Message 197: 2+2=what?”

I have a many ideas to what 2+2=5 is about. But the first idea that comes to mind is “capitalism”. Perhaps the capitalism of the ‘west’, to be more specific. To be even more specific I might say the capitalism of The United States of America.

One could argue that getting five out of two plus two is a perfect representation of the American economic system. So if you look at a business in America and you see that they put two dollars in, they don’t get 4 out of it like the rest of the world, instead they get 5. They are greedy and they make sure they get the most. Everyone else only gets 4, but America gets 5.

This kind of ‘greed’ can lead to other nations starving to death and to being kept poor by things such as ‘sweat shops’ and poor labor programs.

Thom may also have been referring to the ‘unfair’ trade that seems to be going on between the Global 8 Nations and the rest of the world. The loan sharking and what not.

Perhaps the notion of 2+2=5 could simply symbolize stupidity. As when a person who is mentally incapacitated or ‘stupid’, has a difficult time adding 2 simple numbers together. (U.S. government officials? Or perhaps ‘Texas’ government officials?)

This whole analyzation is just off the top of my head. If you want me to go more in depth as in closely analyzing the lines and citing examples and sources of conclusions, etc. etc. etc., then feel free to ask me to do so. I’d be more than happy to take on such an endeavor. As a matter of fact, this used to be one of my favourite hobbies. To try to figure out the deeper meanings behind poems, songs, and other art. I am not very educated and I’ve only had a couple of semesters worth of college, but I still think that I’ve got somewhat of a talent. So if there is any help you need, I’d be happy to aid you.

I believe that in art, the subconcious tells many things and most of which is not even intended,(in a concious state of mind), to be communicated through the art. The endeavor of trying to translate these subconcious messages is very worthwhile indeed, for it is unknown what type of insight could be gained.


THANKS! So much for the helpful commentary. We appreciate all your input here at Pulk-Pull*. I’ll pass your words on to the management. Remember: “because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.”

Come again.

Seems no one other than ‘Keith’ has attempted the so-called ‘challenge’–and even Keith’s was 342 words. I’m still casting about for ways to describe the song’s music. No success. Coming up a cropper.

The music in the beginning of 2+2=5 seems to indicate impending doom.. somewhere in the distance.. approaching.

“Are you such a dreamer
to put the world to rights?
I’ll stay home forever
where 2 and 2 always makes five”

These lyrics represent a sense of apathy that people have about socio-political/environmental issues. Thom has said in interviews that people don’t have time to think about issues such as global warming etc. They’re so engrossed in their own routines that they fail to see the big picture. Some people deliberately block out negative news because “ignorance is bliss.” What they don’t realise is that if ignorance is bliss, it’s only temporary bliss. Somewhere down the line, we will have to face the consequences and repercussions of our actions/ignorance.

“It’s the devil’s way now.. It is too late now.. There is no way out.. because.. you have not been paying attention..”

A shift in music. It reminds me of marching, of armies, of shock and chaos. We have to pay the price now. It’s too late to retread, to erase, to go back. The damage has been done. Our actions, the actions of corportations, the actions of governments etc.. They’ve all led to this. We didn’t pay attention. And now this. Paying attention is repeated like a mantra. We didn’t pay attention. This is the result of our apathy.

The end seems to represent a sense of chaos and confusion, pointing fingers, a blame game, exploiting the situation, deception.. dealing with the situation in all the wrong ways.

I have a theory about HTTT. Well, about the first half of the album at least. I briefly described it on atease and I’ll paste it here –

2+2=5 – Apathy. Impending doom. It’s too late now.

Sit Down, Stand Up – the raindrops, the raindrops.. Washed away. Destroyed. A new beginning.

Sail to the Moon – Hope. Aspirations for the future. Rebirth. Hope.

Backdrifts – Resorting to old ways again. Things are going back to the way they were. It’s a vicious cycle.

Go to Sleep – Things are going back to the way they were. We’re backdrifting. But we’re in denial. We choose to go to sleep. Apathy.

Where I end and you begin – This has to do with the cycle as well, I suppose.
Birth, death, rebirth. The end and then the beginning, the end and then the beginning.

Hello, I just dropped by to tell what I think of 2+2=5… and in 150 words while I was at it.

“2+2=5 tells of two entities: a deluded assembly and their lying advocate. The speaker (Thom Yorke) assumes the advocate, claiming he’ll stay where 2+2=5, or where he can state anything to be fact when it doesn’t add up. He then continues, saying, ‘it’s too late’ for the people he was brainwashed, with his only excuse being that they have not been paying attention to the world around them. However, the speaker of the song is then shown to be unable to tell between truth and his own lies (
‘I try to sing along, but the music’s all wrong’), and satirically contradicting himself with usage of the word ‘not.’ His lies come back at him ‘like buggers,’ leaving no other alternative than to ‘hail to the thief,’ or be put in control of evil, and put ‘in the dock,’ where he’ll drown- conveying overall how lying is mutually damaging.”

That’s as much as I wanted to explain about the song in 150 words. I find it somewhat suitable, as 2+2=5 could very well mean being told things that don’t add up, and would then connect with “The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time.”

I didn’t have as much space to talk about “The Lukewarm,” but basically it would be from you’ve said yourself, Mr. Tate. It could probably be linking to living in a world of lies as the lukewarm itself, but that is up to much interpretation.

sorry this is late…probably useless by now.

2+2=5 has academic connotations. confusion. used by
authority to keep the ignorant in their places?

2+2=5 has religious and political connotations.
power. control. manipulated. power is in the prolls.

2+2=5 is a symbol that represents confusion, the
equationthat you just cannot figure out.

in 9th grade, my english teacher screamed at me for
the entire period because i could not figure out a
grammar rule. as he kept yelling, i become more and
more confused. when i thought i had something right,
he told me that it was wrong. 2+2=5.

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