There’s a rare disease whose victims appear to turn into stone. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva is a condition where muscle tissue, tendons, and ligaments become replaced by bone.
The condition usually begins with the neck and shoulders and spreads to the rest of the body as it progresses. This results in a loss of mobility, sometimes even going so far as to prevent people from eating and breathing. It’s very rare, it occurs to only 1 in 2 million people worldwide.
The Wall is a rock opera that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolised by a metaphorical wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink, a character based on Waters, whose father was killed during the Second World War. Pink is oppressed by his overprotective mother, and tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers. Each of these traumas become metaphoric “bricks in the wall”. The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact.
Hidden behind his wall, Pink’s crisis escalates, culminating in an hallucinatory on-stage performance where he believes that he is a fascist dictator performing at concerts similar to Neo-Nazi rallies, at which he sets men on fans he considers unworthy. Tormented with guilt, he places himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to “tear down the wall”, opening Pink to the outside world. The album turns full circle with its closing words “Isn’t this where…”, the first words of the phrase that begins the album, “…we came in?”, with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters’ theme.