Frameshift - An Absence Of Empathy
The premise of this story is that a man, bombarded by the glorification of violence in the media, experiences what it is like to commit acts of violence or fall victim to them.
The man becomes increasingly intrigued with this aspect of human nature and the psyche thereof, and tries to explore and figure out why only some of us show our violent side. Violence is engrained in us all, but what releases it? What is the trigger? Through research in books and newspapers his studies come to a climax when he experiences a series of dreams that show him two sides of several different kinds of human violence.
Wanting to know what catalyst sparks the surfacing of human violence, he is launched immediately into one of two songs dealing with murder. "Just One More" explores the mind of the serial killer who hears voices in his head always demanding another victim. In his mind he is satisfying their needs instead of his. "I Killed You" also deals with murder, but tells the story of an otherwise stable person who gets pushed over the edge for one moment by a traumatic event.
The second pairing of songs explores the theme of violence in schools. An overzealous, haughty teacher is the culprit in "Miseducation" - a song dealing with students rebelling against their teacher who makes them feel as if they are insignificant and not worth teaching. "Outcast" once again hones in on the fact that there is a violent side in all of us, but if we try, we can control it. A kid, an outcast of society, gets fed up with life and the way he is treated for being different and contemplates the idea to bringing a gun to school. Will he go through with it or can he control his desire for revenge?
"This is Gonna Hurt" and "When I Look into My Eyes" are probably the hardest situations for our protagonist to cope with because they deal with deliberate act of inflicting pain on another human, and the reciprocal effect of being the man tortured. In "When I Look into My Eyes" our hero knows exactly the pain he is going to endure because he was the guy who is now torturing him. When looking into his own eyes, he remembers what he did to the man in the chair and asks himself how he could have committed these horrible acts without feeling for his victim.
Of course the issue of war needs to be addressed when talking about violence, but it is still kept on a personal level when the dreamer explores what is going on in the mind of a single man in the midst of battle. "Push the Button" is about one man sitting in a tank, and the battle in his mind whether or not to push the button and potentially end the lives of innocent people. "Blade," on the other hand, deals with someone involved in an epic battle hundreds of years ago when it was still clear what you were fighting for. He is defending his village and the honor and pride of his clan. These two songs illustrate how fighting wars has shifted from taking life with your own hands to blindly following orders and sending destruction over long distances without knowing your victims.
"In an Empty Room" is a song from the point of view of a mother who, because her daughter was raped, must now watch her through a little window in the door of an asylum. The shame and embarrassment the daughter feels as a result of her violation caused her to shut herself off from the world. "How Long can I Resist" is from the perspective of a man trying to stem the urge to go after a woman. He has trouble relating to the other sex and thinks that taking a woman violently is his only way to be close to them. He observes and studies them while the fighting inside him continues. Can he keep his demon inside or will he release it in the end?
Shaken up by all the disturbing images he endured in his dreams, the protagonist struggles to find a reason why or how anyone could live with themselves knowing that any one of us has the potential to act on the violent tendencies engrained in humankind. He then realizes that the answer is simple-- our children. Standing over his newborn baby's cradle he understands that if we take the time to raise our children to be responsible, compassionate members of society, there may be hope that we can live with, and perhaps control, the violence of man.
Inside, a child is hiding behind the grain.
1. Human Grain
2. Just One More
4. I Killed You
5. This Is Gonna Hurt
6. Push The Button
7. In An Empty Room
10. How Long Can I Resist
11. When I Look Into My Eyes
12. What Kind Of Animal