The Guide To Maynard's Story
I think the name Tool is supposed to suggest the story is a learning tool, this story takes alot of research, if you don't research you really have no chance in figuring out this story. It is designed to expand your sense of relevance, because there is a ton of cross referencing, tons of things to wrap your head around, get it?
As you begin, the first thing you should read into is "the 8 circuits of consciousness", a psychological model invented by Timothy Leary. I think this is the core concept to all the Tool albums, and without it you will have no frame of reference and no sense of progression. There are many other concepts to Tool and the rest of Maynard's story, but I think they all sort of intertwine with this concept. I think the concept of the 8 circuits of consciousness is the skeleton to story of tool, or at least it gives you a sense of direction. Each Tool album is based on 1 of the 8 "circuits". The albums are in order of the 8 circuits, "opiate" being the 1st and "Salival" being the 4th circuit, most people wouldn't consider those to be a full albums, because they're some what shorter EPs, but they are very much a part of the story.
I would recommend reading "Prometheus Rising" by Robert Anton Wilson, the whole book goes into great depth about the 8 circuits concept. I think either on Tool's website or a fan site, Tool had a suggested reading list many years ago, out of all the books on that list, the title of this book stuck out the most to me, so I read it having no idea the connections between this concept and Tool's story. Then one late night, the night of my very first LSD trip, I began to realize that how each album had the traits describe for those ascending "circuits". And from that my understanding of Maynard's story snow balled little by little, I saw all the pieces fall together. Anyways, if you're too lazy to read the book, you can just google the concept, there are alot of websites that describe the 8 circuits of consciousness, but i recommend reading more than one because some of them leave out details or some say things differently, the more of them you read the better idea you'll get. Stop here and go read about the 8 circuits of consciousness now.
Ok so now that you did that, i'll show you a little how it correlates. Each Tool album sort of represents a circuit of the 8 circuits of consciousness, Opiate represents the first circuit, Undertow is the 2nd circuit, AEnima is the 3rd, Salival is the 4th, Lateralus is the 5th, 10000 days is the 6th, which means there will probably only be 2 more Tool albums, though i'm predicting the 8th one will probably be a movie of some sort who knows. I think maynard uses this concept in two simultaneous ways, to describe the phases of a human's development over a lifetime, and to describe the phases of human evolution from the begining of the human race to our future. Or they can both be one in the same, but i think its important to consider them seperate also. For example of what i mean, if you compare a timeline of the evolution of the human race, lets estimate it spans about 100,000 years (just a quick guess) and compare that to the life span of a single human of about 80 years, the phases of development are similar and probably happen in a relative time ratio. Humans began low to the ground, walking on all fours, and gradually stood up straight and learned to talk, and eventually learned to write, and well you know thats basically what a single human experiences its first couple years of life. so yea, not sure which way maynard might be looking at it, but i guess just consider both through out.
Now this might make it more confusing but its important to explain, the sequence of the 8 circuits of consciousness is altered in different interpretations of it, particularly in robert anton wilson's interpretation. In Timothy Leary's original version the 6th circuit is "neuroelectric" and the 7th circuit is "neurogenetic", but in robert anton wilson's version the 6th and 7th are switched in order. so its difficult to say exactly how Tool is following this concept, but just as wilson altered the concept a bit, I sure Maynard might have done the same thing altering it to how he thought was best. 10,000 days might be the 6th circuit or it might be the 7th circuit, I'm also thinking perhaps APC's "13th step" is the 6th circuit and "mer de noms" is the 4th circuit (leaving out salival), which would mean Tool's next album could possibly be the last, its hard to say, APC albums might not represent any "circuits" but just compliment the concepts on another level or something, its just good to consider all options, they are definitely all connected though.