I beat my machine
it's a part of me
it's inside of me
I'm stuck in this dream
it's changing me
I am becoming

The Becoming first appeared on Trent Reznor’s Halo 8 album The Downward Spiral in 1994. Track seven of the cd, the song was produced by Mark Ellis, better known as Flood, and TR himself. Alan Moulder was the mixing engineer for the original piece. Eight years later in 2002 the song would make another official label appearance on Still, a 9 song companion cd to the greater NIN collection. All tracks, of which The Becoming is filed fourth, are recorded in a “deconstructed fashion.” The Downward Spiral was produced by TVT/Interscope Records while by 2002 the company had evolved into Nothing/Interscope Records. The piece, from a lyrical perspective, is one of Reznor's most fascninating.

the me that you know
he had some second thoughts
he's covered with scabs
he is broken and sore
the me that you know
he doesn't come around much
that part of me isn't here anymore

In I didn't always have this cool job our esteemed iceowl relates one particular view of invention in a conversation between Edward Teller and a poolman named Aubrey.

"Inventions come into the world of their own accord. We're just--well--we're like midwives. The baby is going to be born whether we're there or not. We just help it along."
True to this midwife theme Reznor has set the scene for his listeners in the very beginning of his song. Unlike the typical self-examination of dealing with writers' block, a conventional piece that many artists eventually find themselves penning, TR is investigating the pain of creation. The pain of giving birth to a new idea. While final production of such efforts may often become a beautiful landscape painting, or an architechturally cutting edge building, the birthing process is often the most painful part of creation. Simply ask any mother and you'll most likely receive affirmation of this certain principle.

all pain disappears
it's the nature of
of my circuitry
drowns out all I hear
no escape from this
my new consciousness

Staying with his defined creation theme, TR goes on to explain just what exactly he means by his "becoming." His becoming, directly intertwined to the invention of a new piece by himself, is a process which in his own mind is changing him for the worse. Scarring him emotionally, and leaving him cornered inside himself away from people he once cared about. Furthermore, he is resigned to the fact that not only is there "...no escape from..." what he is experiencing, but also to being aware of that fact which leads to a greater sense of dread as the piece builds.

the me that you know
he used to have feelings
but the blood has stopped
pumping and he is left to decay
the me that you know
is now made up of wires
and even when I'm right with you
I'm so far away

While the song itself is a new perspective on the issue of creation, the underlying theme has been visited in the past. Akin to the aforementioned midwife metaphor in iceowl's piece Socrates refers to himself as a midwife in Plato's dialogue The Theaetetus. In the dialogue Socrates is discussing knowledge with the young Greek man Theaetetus in a marketplace. Theaetetus confesses that all the thinking with such unyielding ideas has given him quite a headache and asks Socrates for aid in parsing the statement he wishes to make. Socrates replies that such are the "labors of birth" and that Theaetetus will be better off delivering his idea by himself, with Socrates there only to oversee the process and not interfere with his own philosophies.

Another theory of creation was suggested by Plotinus. In his work Enneads he suggests that there are three levels of reality, the very top being "The One," a source of creation which many religions would associate with being their god. Plotinus said that "The One" was forced by necessity to create through a process of emanation. It released things into being because it could not resist such actions. All that exists comes from this source, no matter what its apparent source was. A newborn child, an oak tree, a short story; all may appear to come from different sources but Plotinus argues that they all actually come from a greater source which connects all that exists.

I can try to get away
but I've strapped myself in
I can try to scratch away
the sound in my ears
I can see it killing away
all of my bad parts
I don't want to listen
but it's all too clear

                       G  F    C            Bb         F C    F
                       hi-ding backwards in-side of me I feel so unafraid
                       G  F    C            Bb         F C     F
                       an-nie, hold a little tighter I might just slip away  

                          G          F             C           Bb

                         F           C             F

hiding backwards inside of me
I feel so unafraid
annie, hold a little tighter
I might just slip away

Musically, the song begins with an upbeat indrustrial tempo. The words are virtually spoken, with each line started slow, and then falling out to catch up. By the second verse, the tempo of the music has stayed relatively similar to the first, but the words are coming out a bit faster. Via similar antics, the pace of the words doesn't change for the next two verses but the music accelerates beautifully leading to an exciting Crescendo with the line "I can try to get away..."

The verse above, beginning with "hiding backwards inside of me" is a pleasant reversal from a song which has been accelerating since the first bar. Reverting to an acoustic sound the lightly picked chords provide an excellent contrast to the otherwise loudly played song and grant an effect similar to listening to someone speak to you while you're floating with your ears underwater. This peaceful interlude does not last however, as the song fades out with a desperate screaming chorus of "It won't stop it wants me dead / goddamn this noise inside my head." The very last chords of the song are a repeat of acoustic stanza without any spoken lyrics.

it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head
it wont give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head

Forrest E. Baird and Walter Kaufmann. "Ancient Philosophy." Fourth Edition. Prentice Hall. 2003.
Small type is The Becoming by Trent Reznor

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