What does "karmacoma" mean?
December 25, 2006 6:53 PM   Subscribe

What does "karmacoma" mean?

This word is mentioned in both the Massive Attack song Karmacoma and the Tricky song Overcome. Is this when your karma goes into a coma? Is it just some made-up word that Tricky likes? Previously asked on Kuro5hin but I figured after 3.5 years someone might have some more light to shed on the subject. Apparently the word appears in a Lost easter egg or something, but I'd prefer not to get any spoilers.
posted by grouse to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
There's a type of shampoo called Karma Komba from Lush. When it came out a few years ago, that was the first time I'd heard anything like it. But it may have been based on the Tricky song or something else.
posted by bink at 6:57 PM on December 25, 2006

Apparently the two songs are fairly intertwined and share a lot of the lyrics (Tricky worked with Massive Attack on Karmacoma), so it's probably just a shared made-up word.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:27 PM on December 25, 2006

tricky and massive attack are basically the same person, so them using the same word is nothing unusual- they actually occasionally use the same lyrics for entire songs.

the lush product is definitely named as a tricky/massive attack homage.

i'm not sure what the word actually means, though- i'll take a guess and say i bet it means "you deserve to be numb". plus it sounds cool, which i think is the main point.

i once read an interview with tricky where he said (paraphrase) "sometimes the partying gets too intense and i just have to chill out and do a cleanse. i'll eat nothing, drink nothing except mushroom tea for like three days, then i feel much more balanced."

if tricky's idea of a cleanse is anyone else's version of a suicidal hallucinogenic bender, i think we can probably forgive ourselves for finding his lyrics a bit obtuse sometimes, no?
posted by twistofrhyme at 8:04 PM on December 25, 2006

Here's the video.

The wiki has some unsourced insight on it: "The video comments on the nature of human individuality, by separating people into different rooms and have them act out these strange behaviours, totally unaware of the persons in the other rooms. It's a metaphor of how people seclude themselves into their own worlds without caring about other people."

I've always just thought of it as some offbeat poetic postmodernism.

(by the way, twistofrhyme, Tricky was a collaborator of Massive Attack [3d, Mushroom, & Daddy-G] on their first two albums. While he was influential in terms of lyrics and production, they are certainly not "the same person." You can trace their styles diverging ever since to the present day.)
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:52 PM on December 25, 2006

> by the way, twistofrhyme, Tricky was a collaborator of Massive Attack ...

you're right. i was being reductive to be cheeky, but this is the land of facts, not cheek. thanks for the well-deserved correction.
posted by twistofrhyme at 11:58 PM on December 25, 2006

it's possible this Tricky person was referring to Kombucha when he talks about mushroom tea.
posted by macinchik at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2006

I'd go with it being a made-up word, a portmanteau.

Tricky does this quite a lot, either as subtle attribution (Maxinquaye - Tricky's mother's name is Maxine Quaye), defining something unique ("Karmacoma") or just to be clever ("#1 Da Woman" from Blowback -- a track built around the classic "Wonder Woman" TV theme).
posted by grabbingsand at 10:01 AM on December 26, 2006

Response by poster: Okay, but as a made-up word, what is it supposed to invoke?
posted by grouse at 7:08 PM on December 26, 2006

Okay. I'm leaving the comfort of fact and entering theoretical presumption. The only person who knows would be Tricky. Me? I'm just some guy with a BA in English Lit ...

But to me, the meaning of the word is self-evident in the lyrics themselves.

You sure you want to be with me? I've nothing to give.

With that admittance, you've a protagonist -- if songs can have them, and I think they can -- that is unsure of his worth, uncertain if he has anything to offer emotionally. This is key.

A comatose patient makes no voluntary actions, exists totally unaware of his environs, does not respond to stimuli and neither sleeps nor wakes. That's our understanding of coma.

Now, if we accept that karma is "a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do," then someone in a "karmacoma" would proceed through life insensate to that particular sum, oblivious to the effects (positive or negative) that the actions (good or bad) of said person would have on their karmic sum.

A kind of blissful nihilism, really.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:40 PM on December 26, 2006

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