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 Music, Aggression and Racial behavior

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PostSubject: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:19 pm

It's interesting that things like heavy metal and grunge (some of the most miserable & filthy music there is) is attributed to celts and vikings, or white heritage, and is the most rebellious and angry of all genres.


Whites have a tendency for self-hatred and angst based on their own power; they feel guilty for what they are.

There is a sweet bitterness to their wild side because they are indeed very wild and beast-like, yet they must battle with burdens of intellect, and responsibility for their (naughty) behavior.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:25 pm

Interesting prognosis.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:52 pm

Only one who has reached a certain level of self-awareness can find himself faced with a desire to change what he is.

Nihilism is always the higher faculties seeking salvation from itself.
The next step is self-acceptance.

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:59 pm

Poison IV wrote:
Whites have a tendency for self-hatred and angst based on their own power; they feel guilty for what they are.
Not sure I see this.

Whites give their children more freedom than other ethnicities, they also tend to care less about them, resulting in higher levels of rebellion and self-loathing. White youths have the highest rates of suicide in the world. Sometimes the self-loathing explodes in an orgy of self-destructive violence, school shootings and general mayhem. Generally, though, it builds character and independence, when combined with a genetic predisposition towards a curious intelligence and a more dispassionate outlook it's the making of many of our greatest minds.

Compare it to the hordes of castrated Asian robots in their cubicles or mindless African savages physically unable to overcome their instinctual drives.


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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:17 am

Lilith wrote:
Whites give their children more freedom than other ethnicities, they also tend to care less about them, resulting in higher levels of rebellion and self-loathing.


scratch

Dumbest, most off assessment I've probably heard in quite a while.



Whites (namely those of British descent) carry a genetic variation that makes them the most 'individual' type (in the entire world) compared to, as you mentioned, races of a collective type.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:04 am

I tend to hate myself for not being able to love all people equally.

But then I remember a Confucian proverb about how loving everyone is the same as not loving anyone at all (usually why I can only handle one close friend at a time). Love and hate are passions that inevitably become one.

If you can't hate, then you also can't love. There are no exceptions.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:03 pm

Poison IV wrote:
I tend to hate myself for not being able to love all people equally.

Too bad. This makes your "love" worthless.

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:51 pm

Σατυρ wrote:
Too bad. This makes your "love" worthless.

Damn.

This makes me feel worthless. More than I already did for being a racist bigot.


What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:59 pm

Poison IV wrote:
Σατυρ wrote:
Too bad. This makes your "love" worthless.

Damn.

This makes me feel worthless. More than I already did for being a racist bigot.


What a Face

I really have no problem with people who have their own racial or cultural preferences.

Fuck political correctness. If people want to hate other people that's their business.

It works for the Chinese. Just look how they're going to take over the world someday.

Try dating a Asian. Good luck. They won't date anybody else that isn't Asian.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:04 pm

Haha.

Asians love more than their own race, but most asian men have a hard time finding women that will date them cuz of height and stereotypes etc

The women usually can find white men that have a fetish for them, but they tend to be gold diggers :]]
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:08 pm

Poison IV wrote:


Damn.

This makes me feel worthless. More than I already did for being a racist bigot.


What a Face
Hiding behind sarcasm and social myths might help.
Still...what is your "love" worth, dear?
All receive it from you, theoretically.

What would telling someone "I Love you" matter when it is presumed that you love everyone you've ever met or will ever meet?

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:09 pm

Huh?

Where did I say that? I recall the opposite.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:18 pm

My bad.

I presumed that you hating yourself for not being a slut was an indication of a goal.


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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:19 pm

Σατυρ wrote:
My bad.

I presumed you hating yourself for not being a slut was an indication of a goal.


I meant it as in the Bob Marley sense of 'One Love'...


Christ...

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:23 pm

Same shit, dear.

Without hate I'll be eating shit and calling it gravy by the end of the weak.
Hate is how I keep away from things that soil me and degrade me and from which I wish to distance myself.

Hate keeps me distinct.
I hate Coke, making me a distinct Pepsi drinker.

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:24 pm

That's what I said...

You copied it, twisted it around, and used it as your own to use against me...

Classic Satyr.
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:38 pm

Quote :
"Earthly thought embraces perishability (i.e. cosmic contingency) as its immanent core …. such perishability … grasps the openness of Earth towards the cosmic exteriority not in terms of concomitantly vitalistic / necrocratic correlations (as the Earth’s relationship with the Sun) but alternative ways of dying and loosening into the cosmic abyss … The only true terrestrial ecology is the one founded on the unilateral nature of cosmic contingency against which there is no chance of resistance – there are only opportunities for drawing schemes of complicity ... Hence, the Cartesian dilemma, “What course in life shall I follow?” should be bastardized as “Which way out shall I take?"" [Reza Negarestani, ‘Solar Infernal and the earthbound Abyss’]

Quote :
"Unlike the good times and party hearty vibe of most music, metal, like dissident apocalyptic rockers the Doors before it, was "heavy" in that it took on weighty existential topics and its partying was self-destructive, an expression of impending doom. It was not happy fun include everyone music; it was for darker souls, those more likely to strike out in anger at the world, and those who felt a need to reject more than embrace recent social changes. Consequently, it embraced dark imagery..."
Heavy Metal

Quote :
"The American Nihilist Underground Society (ANUS) once published a piece sketching the apparent affinity between death metal and Buddhism. The article recounts the story of a man who, focusing all of his attention on death, learns the Buddha’s open secret. “Only death is real.” Total awareness of death brings death metal into a space where it may begin to realize the Buddhist path to enlightenment; it is, after all, what set young Siddhartha on his path to become the Buddha. Simply recognizing death is only the beginning, however. Without a liberatory practice, death metal stalls and binds itself more deeply to illusion. Looking is not enough. One must “taste and see.” Where its forbears have only gazed, black metal insists on going. It relies on active dissolution, as evidenced in common lyrical themes, production values, and even on-stage mutilation. In Tibetan Buddhism, as well, many practices—for instance, the phowa, or transference of consciousness—involve enacting a dissolution of the body, a grinding down into is constituent elements, as well as a dissolution of the mind. These overlapping methods demonstrate that black metal is a practice of death, just as Buddhism essentially consists of the practice of death in meditation. Thus, it is also a meditative practice. Practicing death, like all meditative practices, is a liberatory process. It frees its practitioners from the illusion of life—which is to say, it unearths and makes present the truth that we are always already dying and rotting away. Therefore, black metal is akin to the yanas of Buddhist practice, a vehicle for the realization of enlightenment. It is necroyana, the vehicle of death itself, a body of practices against the body. A “massive conspiracy against all life.” Not a diamond, but a femur pestle.  A rope portal to the actualization of the empty essence of mind." [References: “Destroy Your Life For Satan,” Mütiilation, 2001; Buddhism and Death Metal,” ; Psalm 34:8; “Massive Conspiracy Against All Life,” Leviathan, 2008]
[Zachary Price, "Destroy Your Life For Satan": A Buddhist Exploration of Black Metal Toward the Establishment of Necroyana]

Quote :
“Take thou some new infection to thy eye / And the rank poison of the old will die” (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, 1.2.49-50).
The Norwegian/Swedish word ‘gift’ connotes both married bliss and poison. It also shares a common root with the English ‘gift’. The OED tells us that a gift is something bestowed without the expectance of anything in return. Giving, in its ideal form, is thus a pure expenditure or expression, but as George Bataille reminds us gift exchange often harbours more complex structures. Whether passionate or poisonous, most gifts are imbued with a vein of sacrifice – and the lacerations following its sacral thrusts contract the giver to his gift. Black Metal lore is full of sacrifices and ‘sacred’ gifts." [Karin Sellberg, Dead Gifts]
Black Metal Theory

H.P. Lovecraft wrote:
"What coherent representation could express or portray so gibbous and infamous a nebulosity as the specter of a malign, chaotic perversion, itself a morbid blasphemy against nature? Molded by the dead brain of a hybrid nightmare, would not such a vaporous terror constitute in all loathsome truth the exquisitely, the shriekingly unnamable?" [The Unnamable]

Georges Bataille wrote:
"He is not a return to the past; he has undergone the corruption of the “present-day man” and nothing has more place within him than the devastation which it leaves . . . the memory of Plato, of Christianity and above all—the most hideous—the memory of modern ideas, extend behind him like fields of ashes. But between the unknown and him has been silenced the chirping of ideas, and it is through this that he is similar to “ancient man”: of the universe he is no longer the rational (alleged) master, but the dream." [Inner Experience]

Tolkein wrote:
"But suddenly the Mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness." [The Fellowship of the Ring]

Quote :
"Black metal is undeniably saturnine---it is dark, morose, and, most importantly, contemplative. Saturn, that great mystic, is the sphere wherein Dante finds the great contemplative masters, and it is here that black metal is seated in our perverse cosmology. Although for Dante Saturn is the embodiment of temperance, black metal is ravenously and self-destructively contemplative. It reaches away from the mean in either direction, past speculative excess and unknowing privation---at once scholasticism- and mysticism-gone-mad. Black metal theory harnesses and rides along with these opposite impulses, guiding them onward like the horse-drawn chariots of Phaedrus." [
Zareen
]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:16 pm

This is an old story. White businesses forced to back down by black pressure groups who have caught a subconscious whiff of their own nature... and are horrified by it.

Even though the voice on the card clearly says 'black holes' (the card is using a theme of the solar system) the NAACP claims the words spoken sound more like 'black whores'.

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"You hear the 'r' in there. 'Whores,' not, 'holes.' The 'r' is in there," said Minnie Hatley of the Los Angeles NAACP.

Hallmark sent Eyewitness News a transcript of what the card says, but Hatley says that the actual audio raises questions.

"It sounds like a group of children laughing and joking about blackness, again," said another NAACP member.

Hallmark is now notifying all of its stores to pull the card. Walgreens and CVS are doing the same.

"In any situation where there is a circumstance that we need to be sensitive to, we try to learn from that experience," said Doyal.

However, NAACP members say they do not want to see the card on store shelves ever again.

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:15 am

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Do you see?
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:27 am

These earlier race researchers go into detail explaining the characteristic behavioral traits of the races. Also they have distinct racial categories. The guy in the vid is slim, but that is the only sign of him being of the hamitic race (african black "master" race). His facial features are negroid.

Hans F. K. Günther

Fritz Lenz
Eugen Fischer
Erwin Baur

Race Channel german
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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:25 pm

Laconian wrote:
The guy in the vid is slim, but that is the only sign of him being of the hamitic race (african black "master" race). His facial features are negroid.
Look at the back of the head, there is a crest on the top of the skull, its shape is triangular. This is not the skull of a homo-sapien, but closer to homo-erectus. A breed which is supposedly extinct.

Examine the gait, the body lent forwards, the arms swinging down by the sides. Consider below the large jaw and shortened nose.

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Homo-erectus.

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:29 am

Another great piece from "fringeelements":

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:10 am

Lyssa wrote:
Poison IV wrote:
It's interesting that things like heavy metal and grunge (some of the most miserable & filthy music there is) is attributed to celts and vikings, or white heritage, and is the most rebellious and angry of all genres.

Whites have a tendency for self-hatred and angst based on their own power; they feel guilty for what they are.

There is a sweet bitterness to their wild side because they are indeed very wild and beast-like, yet they must battle with burdens of intellect, and responsibility for their (naughty) behavior.
"Black metal is undeniably saturnine---it is dark, morose, and, most importantly, contemplative. Saturn, that great mystic, is the sphere wherein Dante finds the great contemplative masters, and it is here that black metal is seated in our perverse cosmology. Although for Dante Saturn is the embodiment of temperance, black metal is ravenously and self-destructively contemplative. It reaches away from the mean in either direction, past speculative excess and unknowing privation---at once scholasticism- and mysticism-gone-mad. Black metal theory harnesses and rides along with these opposite impulses, guiding them onward like the horse-drawn chariots of Phaedrus." [Zareen]



Quote :

""Black Metal is the musical memory of our bloodthirsty ancestors of blood, it is the marriage of Tradition, of old racial patrimony with fanaticism, with the rage and the rashness of a youth now lost. It is a CHTONIAN religion: a cult of the EARTH and a return to it, therefore a nationalism; a cult of what is BELOW the earth: Hell — the adjective “chthonian” applies to the Infernal gods as well. BM is a fundamentalism, a music with integrity (from Latin integer, complete) which helps me to remain complete in a dying world, amidst a people in decay, unworthy of its blood. It is the apology of the dark European past. It is a psychosis which helps us to flee a reality we cannot tolerate anymore."

Therefore, an authentic, real, or true BM, can only, for Famine, be a BM that is essentially territorial, selective, and hierarchical about the privileging of a singular and integral territory. The implication is that BM can never exist in the abstract but only as a particular national, regional, ethnic, or racial, form.

"As far as the traditional/non-traditional contrast is concerned, I would say Beauty, Grandeur, Nobleness emanate when PN evoke the European PAST (which explains that melancholy, which is nostalgia) with a Black Metal in accordance with our forefathers’s tradition (BURZUM, MÜTIILATION, VLAD TEPES). Hatred, terror, DISORDER, madness break out when we conjure up the CURRENT democratic world. Naturally that disorder is expressed in forms which are less conventional."

Evan Calder Williams notes that Peste Noire’s album Ballade cuntre lo anemi francor (2009) plays between the ‘impossible return’ to a lost past and ‘the bare noise and pulse of a modern world’. ..."

Remain True to the Earth: The Politics of Black Metal

Quote :

"I decide to focus on the political aesthetics of Black Metal in this first essay to steer the wary reader into the basic foundations upon which this music seems to base its strange dissonance and abject terror. There is another aspect of this music, its mythologies which harp back to the dark forest of ancient Europe, with the tribal howls, screeches, and yells of the Berserkers, those warrior-wolves and assassins full of baying songs of bloodlust and murder. In Aspasia Stephanou's essay PLAYING WOLVES AND RED RIDING HOODS IN BLACK METAL he describes this, quoting Angela Carter, as the "congregation of nightmare",  "gothic monsters multiplying and infecting with their contagious proliferations the dark of night." (ibid. p. 159) He goes on to say:

"Black metal glorifies the becoming-werewolf and werewolf nomadism characterised by aggression, speed and violence. The lycanthropic entities that are conjured up in black metal’s lyrics along with the becoming-animal of the voice, demand from the listener a certain kind of response. Between a state of orgasmic pleasure and jouissance emanating from the performative space of radical otherness, and the horrors of hollowing up the body and transgressing its boundaries through the speed of sound, black metal is a monstrous desiring machine. ... It enjoins a  bestial annihilation of being and loss of humanity in order to expand the self into a creative multiplicity of wolves. Black metal is becoming wolf, embracing carnal desires, animal transformations and violent instincts." (ibid. p. 159 - 160)

Stephanou even quotes from the "Furturist Manifesto" of Marinetti where he once stated "Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man."

Hideous Gnosis: BM and the Dark Angel of the Abyss

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Fri May 30, 2014 7:35 am

Quote :
"Heavy Metal as Techno-Standardization and Barbaric Ritual


A. "Tricks, Formulas, and Clichés": Metal as Standardization

What enthusiastically stunted innocence sees as the jungle is actually factory-made through and through. . . ."   (Adorno, "PFJ" 202)


    Adorno's critiques of popular music in general have, no doubt, much validity when applied to the genre of Heavy Metal, especially in terms of standardization and mythologization. Metal, indeed, might be viewed as the epitome of popular music's two most extreme dangers: a dehumanizing, de-individualizing techno-mechanization; and a mystifying, irrationalist "retreat" (however illusory) back to humankind's primordial "rhythmic" origins--to speak diachronically about a tension between myth and reason that Horkheimer and Adorno often deal with in a more synchronic fashion. And yet, with the hegemonic ascendancy of industrial capitalism, the twentieth century seems to represent a new "culture-shock" turn-for-the-worse in Adorno's exposition of his ongoing rational/mythic dialectic. When the rationalist in Adorno must speak of a century cursed by Hitler and Auschwitz, it is only understandable that The Dialectic of Enlightenment has, at these points, a very "dystopian" feel to it (Hohendahl 126), and that Adorno's intellectual angst and pessimism are readily transferred from the jackboot to the jitterbugger, from the martial frenzy of the Fascist collective to the fanaticism of the pop-music audience.

    And so popular music, its creators, and its audience have all been "marching" to the same "drummer," as it were, a drum-corps regiment of "standardization, commercialization, and rigidification" ("PFJ" 200).{13} Adorno's critique of pop music and culture, one must immediately note, has profound psycho-social ramifications: the conformist works of such a "culture industry" appeal to, and reflect, the absence or opposite of truly enlightened "consciousness" ("The Culture Industry Reconsidered" 133 ["CIR"]); instead, they are in part the products a botched "enlightenment" whose "progressive domination of nature" has gone awry through industrial technology. This ironically blind technological turn of enlightenment, moreover, ultimately creates "mass deception and is turned into a means of fettering consciousness" (135): thus popular culture is a crucial symptom, and also partial determinant, of a "coercive . . . society"--and subject--at last "alienated from itself" (DE 121).

    Oddly--if Heavy Metal is indeed another symptom of such technological standardization--the theme of alienation by technology happens to be a common theme in the lyrics of Black Sabbath and the Blue Öyster Cult. Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" (Prnd), for instance, an ostensibly stock remake of many a Sci-Fi-horror monster of pop culture, can be read as a protesting emblem for the individual automatized and dehumanized by a technological civilization. Indeed, the title character is presented much like Adorno's typical pop-music audience-victim: "Has he lost his mind? / Can he see or is he blind?"

And again: "Is he alive or dead? Has he thoughts within his head?" In the tune's Frankenstein/Godzilla-like plot, "Iron Man" has been "turned to steel / In the great magnetic field," and by song's end, he has returned "from the grave" to seek "his revenge" on an uncaring society. One might read the "great magnetic field" as the forces of social coercion (including the techno-"machine" thereof, above all), and Iron Man's turn towards vengeance as the individual's rebellion against that systematic coercion. A fine metaphorical corroboration of Adorno's thought, perhaps, if one allows for the possibility of "individual" rebellion in such "standardized" lyrical fare. But such possibilities, including a reading that the lyric is (at least polysemically speaking) a meta-lyric self-critically representing the plight of the rock-era individual makes Adorno's own critique problematic, or at least susceptible to a further "dialectical" interpretation. (But I anticipate the second half of my essay.)

    At last--to return to the strengths of Adorno's critique--such positive readings may be illusory. Yes, one is inevitably tempted towards the common critical "opinion that rock music has been for several decades a viable expression of dissent for an array of discontented groups" and "an important outlet for working class unhappiness at least since the 1950s" (Koval 2). But at last such "dissent" may actual be "pseudo-individual" gestures that really only serve to keep the masses in step. Moreover, even if such dissent is momentarily disruptive, it "can be negated by . . . constant repetition" (2), and diffused by the repetition of the "same ideas and themes" (3). In other words, the effect of, say, Black Sabbath's dire images of techno-chaos and apocalypse was perhaps only a momentary subversive blip on the pop-aesthetic radar, if even a blip at all. Like Adorno's beloved serialism--now just a now "period 'effect'" that has been "made so familiar" that it "no longer shocks" (Baugh 72, 71)--the early Metal anthems have now become the pablum of TV commercials and other mass medial "revisionism": the fact that The Rush Limbaugh Show can casually play Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" as "bumper" music attests to pop culture's ability to continually make the "new" . . . "old."{14}

    More likely, in Adorno's view, is that such wanna-be-disruptive "blips" in rock music to this day are merely further spasms of a continued standardization of "ossified" musical forms (DE 134). Koval's survey of the Billboard charts from 1958 to 1982, indeed, seems to support an argument for an even increasing standardization, as fewer hit songs (which thus stayed on the charts longer) and fewer new artists breaking into the chart resulted in a "narrower range of music" and a subsequent lessening of pop music's "impact" for dissent, "diluted" as it has become "through constant repetition" (14).

The standardization of the "culture industry" has created in recent years, then, even "less variety in popular music, thus confirming the prediction" of The Dialectics of Enlightenment (16).{15} Gendron's Adorno-esque conclusion regarding recent rock styles is no more optimistic: "The rock 'n' roll revolution may have mercifully put Tin Pan Alley out of its misery [!], but it did not bring to an end the industrial standardization of music"; instead, what held "true for doo-wop also holds true for . . . rockabilly, heavy metal, funk, etc.," and even "the Sex Pistols" (24, 25).


    Aside from this harmonic formulaicism, the songs of the early Metal era usually adopted the 60's psychedelic-rock convention of (at least one!) extended lead guitar solo--in part, one might presume, to make up for a lyric that was often no more than two or three verses, with or without a chorus. And, to break up the monotony of nothing-but-power-chords-poundin'-in-yer-head, all four of these bands soon saw fit to put one or two of what might be called "metal-ballads" on each of their albums--often somewhere towards the end of side two! (Talk about your standardization.) Black Sabbath, especially, made a habit of placing one "soft," often acoustic, sometimes even instrumental, number by their guitarist Tony Iommi on each of their albums, e.g., "Planet Caravan" on Paranoid, "Solitude" on Master of Reality, "Laguna Sunrise" on Volume 4, "Fluff"(!) on Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath (SBS) . . . you get the idea. However, the "metal-ballad" received its full development by Led Zep and BÖC, who made such "ballads" truly Metal by adding to a relatively mellow and melodic verse (often supported by acoustic-guitar arpeggios) a very hard, driving "Metal" section as chorus, coda, or interlude, complete with fuzz guitars, screaming vocals, and virtuosic lead guitar solos. Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" (LZ4) is the most famous example of this; Zep's "Over the Hills and Far Away" (Houses of the Holy) and BÖC's "Astronomy" (T&M) and "Don't Fear the Reaper" (AoF) are other notable instances.

    The standardization of the culture industry also produces, according to Adorno, a false- or "pseudo-individualization" ("PFJ" 203; see also "OPM" 24-26): "In the culture industry the individual is an illusion" (DE 154), an illusion that "itself serves to reinforce ideology," not only via the pseudo-creative-artist "star system" on the production side ("CIR" 130), but through a mystification of the pop-music masses who, the more they succumb to such illusory appeals, the more they lose themselves in the collective. At last, neither performers nor audience are any longer individuals, but "merely centers where . . . general tendencies meet" (DE 155). (Even the genre "labelling" applied by record companies--e.g., "Heavy Metal"--creates "trade-marks of identification" ["OPM" 26], another "center" where producer and consumer can meet in commercialized comfort.) The audience component in this standardization will be more completely addressed below, but one might note here Adorno's observation, for instance, regarding the inanity of pseudo-individualist lyrics like "'Especially for you'" (Quasi 44-45)--for me, the lovelorn slob sittin' in the third row?!--and the subsequent irony of the copyright notice attached to such lyrics ("OPM" 36)!

    On the performance side, the well-known "rock star" persona was astutely anticipated by Adorno in important ways, in his various comments on movie idols and jazz crooners, members of that "cult of celebrities," each of whom is merely "a pattern round which the world-embracing garment is cut" (DE 236). In one sense, this star-system "industry" performs an inauthentic psychotherapy, its "committees and stars" serving "as the ego and super-ego" for the libido of "the masses," who thus "have lost the last semblance of personality" (203). But on the other hand, the star system itself reveals a regressive immaturity, as "glamor leads to child-behavior," and the music itself is really "a musical children's language" ("OPM" 30). The unsympathetic observer of a Heavy Metal band's "antics" on stage might be easily moved to agree with Adorno's general portrayal here, and perhaps wonder less why those on "center stage" of such a system might be drawn to substance abuse and suicide.

    These "star performers," too, pathetically continue to repeat the "illusory" jargon of creativity and aesthetics that has survived from Romanticism (DE 128): witness any interview of a contemporary recording artist as corroboration of this! Metal bands, in particular, have prided themselves on writing their own material, to "maintain" an "ideology of the autonomous and authentic artist" (Weinstein 62)--to which use of the words "autonomous" and "artist" Adorno would surely cringe. Adorno would have scorned, too, these bands' tendency to list the band in toto as composer (especially Black Sabbath and Deep Purple), a collaboration that tended to "blur individual authorship" (Weinstein 80). And the fact that these bands had the gall to both write and perform their own songs "runs against the division of labor" (81) that Adorno's elitism assumed to be crucial between composer-genius and orchestral musician.

    Next to the power chord, the second main characteristic of Metal is the loud, often long, often high-pitched, lead guitar solo (see Weinstein 23-24, 216). The resulting "cult of the lead guitarist" (Straw 369; see also Weinstein 122, 220) might be viewed as a culture-industry bastardization of Adorno's conception of the "artist-hero."  {Graphic: .gif of me thinkin' I'm BÖC's lead guitarist} In terms of sheer technology, just as Adorno saw the progression from telephone to the radio as a debit for human individualism (DE 121-22), so, too, the replacement of the acoustic with the electric guitar, the Adorno-ite might argue, may have resulted in a similar loss for individual expression.

(That the foremost Metal guitarists often relied on a limited choice of guitars, Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters, also tended to standardize this music's timbre.){18} Furthermore, while Adorno's whole spiel on earlier jazz improvisations as "mere frills" that were "planned out in advance" ("PFJ" 201; see also "OPM" 25, "OJ" 53) is a very questionable tack, Heavy metal solos almost always did reflect such planning. I would attribute this to a dominance by the technological commecialization of the recording itself unheard of in Adorno's day: the 70's Metal audience "knew" the lead solo, above all, via its recorded version; club bands duplicated said solo, further familiarizing it in the audience's aural memory; finally, the original guitarists themselves thus felt incredible pressure to try to reproduce the same licks from a solo that may have originally been fairly impromptu. (Thus Weinstein estimates that perhaps "70 percent of the time rock bands attempt to re-create their records on stage" [82].) A recent interview of the Doors' guitarist, Robbie Krieger, exemplifies this drive towards a standardization between recorded and live versions in an almost laughable fashion: speaking of his recorded solo on "When the Music's Over," he laments, "Of course, it was a little frustrating trying to duplicate that solo onstage. . . . Up until a couple of years ago, I really wasn't a good enough musician to copy that solo. . . . It took me years of practicing to be able to play my own solo." Apparently the original was so alien to his later musical acumen because it had been recorded under the influence of "some good cannabis" (Epstein 60, 62)!

    A final aspect of Adorno's general notion of standardization might be termed the "illusory new," in which "new effects" in popular music "must conform to the old pattern" (DE 128).{19} A "system" that is "constantly sanctioning the demand for rubbish"[!], a rubbish of "constant sameness" that is really the "exclusion of the new" (165), must disguise this sameness before the masses. Adorno points here to the sheer ephemerality of "hit" pop songs--similar to "'fads'"--whose so-called creative "deviations" from a pop-genric standards are really "just as standardized as the standards" ("PFJ" 204). Adorno's favorite example from the jazz era (along with "fake" improvisation) is syncopation, a false-new "stumbling" that still invokes the "rule" (DE 153).{20} For Metal, the predominant sameness (along with the various stylistic clichés mentioned above) has to be the power chord itself--including its harmonic formulae, its sheer volume, and the very fuzz-box technology used to achieve its characteristic sonic timbre. It is thus the "effect [as in "effect box"!], the obvious touch, and the technical detail" that, in pop music, lords above the formal concerns of "the work itself" (DE 125).

    Apparently sickened by the stylistic excesses of late Romantic classical music, Adorno identifies this "weakening of . . . totality in favor of vivid details" as a typically Romantic gesture ("MLC" 407), a difficult pill to swallow whole unless one denies Romanticism's expressionism aesthetic the ability to create an intuitive organic form of its own. (This ability, by the way, Adorno apparently grants to Shönberg's Expressionist school: but Adorno's general anti-Romantic tendencies will become clearer when we get to Metal vis-à-vis "myth.") But to consider Romanticism and contemporary popular music from a more sociological angle for now, one might look at Metal's immediate roots, the '60's hippie "revolution"--both in music and general lifestyle--and wonder, Adorno-like, whether this, too, was actually a false-new regurgitation of the "old"? In other words, rather than view it as a positive revolt or rebirth of some neo-Romanticism impulse, with protest poetry and "flower power," et al., one might consider it instead as yet another "pop-mass" gesture of false generational insurrection, in which the masses were still actually kept in line by neo-Romantic drivel, by an eternal, irrational "cult of feeling" (DE 91) that keeps the "natives" dancing around the "campfire" of the State. Is Metal itself, then, just another, more-of-the-same, testosterone-release for young males repeating the endless cycle of illusory rebellion against their elders?

But I jump ahead of myself. To return to the illusory-new emphasis on "technique" over "content," we have seen already that Adorno blames this, in part, on technology itself (136). Critiquing the twentieth-century avant-garde "electronic music" of Stockhauser and his ilk, Adorno complains that, since "electronics . . . developed as a technology . . . external to music," it really "has no internal relationship with the immanent laws of music" (Quasi 266; see also ATh 33), and so such "machine music" is at last a "renunciation of one's own human feelings and . . . a fetishism of the machine" ("OPM" 41). By implication, then, even if a Heavy Metal lyric rebels against the "mechanical soullessness" of the age ("OJ" 45), its accompanying music still transmits that very "mechanical soullessness," creating (or at least reflecting) a mass audience of "Iron Men" neither "alive or dead," but rather mindless-zombie victims of the "machine." For those tempted to see something positive in the irony and contradictions inherent in such an art, one should note that Adorno, too, briefly considers the possible merit of a music that consciously evokes--through mechanization--"the evils of mechanization, the destruction of personality and dehumanization" (Quasi 266). However, these vapours quickly pass, and finally, conflating electronic with aleatory or "chance" music, Adorno has no room for a music whose "material laws . . . seem to preclude the subjective intervention of the composer" (268). To pass now from standardization to mythologization, if such "material laws" rendered Metal a mechanized Panzer of a genre, Metal's allegiance to the mechanisms of the "spirit" may have also made it a fit tool towards a mystifying coercion of the masses."

Adorno and Heavy Metal

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PostSubject: Re: Music, Aggression and Racial behavior Fri May 30, 2014 7:36 am

"And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter."
(Led Zep., "Stairway to Heaven")





Quote :
"Stairways to Heaven": Metal as Mythologization

Gounod's Ave Maria: an Englishman has proposed this formula for music hall: Put three half-naked girls on a revolving stage. Then play the organ. . . . Thus saccharined religion becomes the bourgeois cloak for a tolerated pornography.   (Adorno, Quasi 37)
    However, this last critique regarding a lack of composer intervention certainly doesn't apply to the "home-spun" efforts of Metal bands (who probably couldn't even spell "aleatory"). But then, nor does Adorno's relief that, at least "there is no call to fall into ecstasy over the products of [avant-garde] electronic music like jazz fans" (267). In fact, the "ecstatic" element of Heavy Metal is perhaps the element that Adorno would most condemn--and immediately relate to both technology and to myth. For it is the "radical industrialization of art" that at last "instills into art an archaic element that compromises it" (ATh 217): and this is no "progress" (218)! There seems to be no middle ground in Adorno for a balanced appreciation of archaicism or "myth," as there is no middle ground for his views on jazz: the mass-based irrationalism of both were too easily implicated with Adorno's immediate concerns regarding fascism. Thus he had little respect for Stravinsky's "consciously induced primitivism" ("MLC" 408) or jazz's "archaic stance," which, in his view, was actually "as modern as the 'primitives' who fabricate it" ("OJ" 53). Even jazz's "mythic mystification of the black man" (58) is the product of a pseudo-archaicism that is at last "not a longed-for freedom, but rather a regression" (54).

    Adorno's various statements on "myth" in general reveal a rationalism steeped in the values of the (historical) Enlightenment. He has no time for "those who prate about the New Mythos and the irrational powers of community" ("OPM" 48; see also Quasi 51), or for contemporary non-Christian "obscurantist systems"--including many "sects" now associated with the New Age movement--that "do just what the satanic myth of official religion did for men in the Middle Ages" (DE 196). What religion and myth have always done, obviously, is deceive, a "trickery" that "elevates the frail individual to the status of a vehicle of divine substance" (51); and contemporary appeals or attempts to do the same through art are but "afterimage[s] of magic as consolation for disenchantment" (ATh 18).

    Adorno's "Theses Against Occultism" ("TAO") is especially revealing of the theoretical underpinnings of his revulsion. His particular targets here are the worst "crystal-ball" sorts of charlatan occultism, and yet his arguments intimate his views, I think, on human irrational impulses in general. Occultism is, of course, "a symptom of the regression in consciousness" (128) and the "metaphysic of dunces[!]" (130); au fond, like all spirituality (one would presume), it entails a fundamental confusion--a false merger--of subject and object, performing as it does a blithely blind subjectivization of objective reality (129, 132). (To accept Adorno's critique, however, one must accept that there is a dualistic distinction between "subject" and "object," and that there is an "objective," presumably material, reality independent of the "subject." But I wander perhaps towards some mystical monism for which Adorno would, no doubt, beat me with a stick.)

    My recent digressions into Romanticism, religion, and the "occult" have a direct relation to Adorno's conception of the culture industry, which itself includes the false "individualistic residues" and "sentimentality" of "an already rationalized and adapted romanticism" ("CIR" 131). Sympathetic discussions of its artifacts, too, are inevitably couched in "depraved magical formulations taken from the vocabulary of" Romantic "art," with all its "mysterious forces," all its "irrational justifications" ("OJ" 51).{21} "[H]it songs" themselves "unceasingly celebrate 'reverie' & 'rhapsody,'" and their popularity is based at last on "the magic of the unintelligible" (DE 166). From magic and irrationalism, it's not too far down a slippery slope to an out-and-out barbaric ritual, and to hear in the loud, repetitive, power-chord impulses of Heavy Metal the very "beat of cudgel and whip which resounds in every barbaric drum and every monotonous ritual" (21; see also 185).{22} The "barbaric" rhythm per se of Metal will be discussed below, in relation to fascism; but first, Heavy Metal's close association with the "occult" is a matter of no small interest.

    If "religious terminology is replete in heavy metal" (Weinstein 39)--in lyrics, logos, album cover art, even in concert behavior{23}--the Metal "religion" is certainly an eclectic one, encompassing supernatural, gothic, Satanic, and other mythic, even "obscurantist," images and themes that would make the most ambitiously syncretistic California sect run crying for their Mother Ship. As initial support for Metals' religiosity, one need only note, for starters, some of these bands' very names--Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult--their album titles--Master of Reality, Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, Houses of the Holy, On Your Feet or On Your Knees (this last complete with "haunted church" and mock-Bible album art)--and a few indicative song titles: "The Wizard" (BlkS), "After Forever" and "Lord of this World" (MstR), "Sabbra Cadabra" (SBS), "Redeemed" (BÖC), and "Stairway to Heaven" (LZ4).

    This last recording, Led Zeppelin IV, is noteworthy not only for the Tarot symbolism and esoteric "ZOSO" symbols on its album art, but for the fact that, by this time, Led Zeppelin was mixing its blues-lyric double-entendres with lyrics filled with references to Norse mythology (e.g., "Immigrant Song"; "The Battle of Evermore" [LZ4]; "No Quarter" [Houses of the Holy]),{24} and with lyrics so blatantly mystical and messianistic{25} that one might read them as bad parodies of P.B. Shelley:

And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune,
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forests will echo with laughter.
 ("Stairway to Heaven")

The piper's "reason" is apparently something quite different than the reason of Western Enlightenment. (As the lyric states earlier, "you know sometimes words have two meanings"!) The piper's "tune" points rather to some Parmenidean future "When all are one and one is all," when individuality itself will presumably be done away with. Walser wants to read "Stairway to Heaven" as a "very open text," the "enigmatic" words of which "invite endless interpretation" (158-159). Uh . . . well--lacking the time, space, and Foucaultian dedication for such a task, I'll finish with Led Zep for now by merely noting guitarist Jimmy Page's longtime fascination with the occultist Aleister Crowley--and the rumor that Led Zep "'sold their souls' to Satan in exchange for power, fame, wealth, etc." (De Feo). Laughable as such a rumor is, its very existence is significant, revealing a desire on the part of the band's fans to be mystified. (And oh, yes, I have tried playing "Stairway to Heaven" backwards, in search of Satanic messages: but all I did was ruin my turntable's drive belt and stylus.)
    More thoroughly associated with the occult, the "gothic,"{26} and, especially, Satanism is Black Sabbath, whose first song ("Black Sabbath") on its first album (Black Sabbath!) immediately speaks of that King of Darkness:

Big black shape with eyes of fire,
Telling people their desire.
Satan's sitting there--he's smiling--
Watches those flames get higher and higher.
Oh, no, no, please, God help me!

But the song is obviously a warning to beware of this figure, not some "evil" embracing of the type of Satanism Tipper Gore has in mind. Indeed, Sabbath's (usual) lyricist, Ozzy Osbourne, rather wanders from one cult/sect/myth to another in his lyrical output, occasionally scaring the hell out of himself (and liking it) on his way. {Correction [5/03]: A reader, Tom Recchia, has reminded me that the bassist, Geezer Butler, was the "main lyricist" of Black Sabbath, not Ozzy.} Thus, while "N.I.B." (BlkS) can end with the provocative line, "My name is Lucifer, please take my hand," most of the lyrics of Master of Reality, on the other hand, might best be deemed "Jesus-Freak" lyrics, warning against Satan as "Lord of this World," and didactically brow-beating non-believers as follows:

When you think about death, do you lose your breathe or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope, do you think he's a fool?[!]
Well, I have seen the truth, well, I have seen the light and I've changed
     my ways--
I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of my days.
 ("After Forever")
And while some of Ozzy's lyrics invoke a pagan magic, as in "The Wizard" (BlkS) or a more undifferentiated "cosmic" mythos, as in "Supernaut" (Vol4) ("I wanna reach out and touch the sky-- / I wanna touch the sun but I don't need to die)," Black Sabbath's lyrics in general, despite the band's reputation, are seldom anything to boil a goat over. On the contrary, "Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics tend to be quite moralistic" (Walser 147).{27} My Adorno-esque point (which I've ignored too long, obviously) is that all of Metal's religious gestures, be they pagan or Christian, are yet implicated in a "mythologization": that some of the genre's characteristic images and symbols at least seem to rebel against the "Father" of the elder generation's religion simply makes them all the more appealing to a mass youth looking "to be carried away by anything at all," by anything that "compensates for their impoverished and barren existence" (Adorno, "PFJ" 206).
    One reference source characterizes the region inhabited by Black Sabbath's "first two albums" as a "quasi-black-magic, occult zone" (Jasper et al. 39); another claims for the band an "obsession with occult, sword-and-sorcery imagery later adopted by BLUE OYSTER CULT" (Clarke 532). One wonders whether these writers are speaking from simple hearsay or expressing their own peremptory judgment based upon a limited exposure to the music. Ozzy's continued love-hate relationship with Christianity is certainly more characteristic than the few Sabbath tunes of this period that might be considered "sword-and-sorcery" in theme. And the epithet fits BÖC hardly at all, unless their eventual status as chief architects of "Sci-Fi" Metal places them in some general "fantasy" category for which "sword-and-sorcery" is a code word.

    But the Blue Öyster Cult is perhaps the most "mythic" of any of these four bands, beginning with their logo-symbol that graces all of their albums (see my title page).{28} The pedant in me now recognizes it as the ancient Greek symbol of Chronos, but my 70's "headbanger" friends and I saw the "hook" at the bottom as the Death-Reaper's scythe (quite appropriately, actually, given Chronos's associations with time and decay)--and as a wonderfully sacrilegious Roman cross corrupted by a devil's tail. Soon we all felt that we were members of this particular, peculiar "Cult": we yearned to know more about those Secret Treaties that had been arranged between the band, our own "dark" souls, and whatever occult "powers" there were:

By silverfish imperetrix, whose incorrupted eye
Sees through the charms of doctors and their wives--
By salamander, drake, and the power that was undine
Rise to claim Saturn, ring and sky--
By those who see with their eyes closed,
They know me by my black telescope. . . .
 ("Workshop of the Telescope," BÖC)

No, we hadn't the slightest clue what these obfuscatory words meant, but we "believed." Well-read enough between head-banging sessions to be appreciative of the contemporary interest in Oriental religions, we were all the more satisfied that the lead guitarist had adopted the stage name of Buck Dharma, a strange synthesis of Occidental cockiness and Eastern obeisance to "duty." We did, however, have the sneaking suspicion (having dabbled in Jung) that the song "Mistress of the Salmon Salt"--who is, at last, a prostitute whose "fertility" is somehow tied to crop growth--was a rather one-eye-winking retelling of the "rebirth" archetype, and yet our faith could not be waylaid. When their fourth (and first live) album was released (On Your Feet or On Your Knees), we were both "on our feet" in head-banger hurrahs--and "on our knees": we had indeed found something that compensated for our "impoverished and barren existence."
    Ahem. Little did we divine at the time that BÖC's main theme was indeed "out of this world," that many of their songs revolved around a sci-fi story concocted by the rock critic, Sandy Pearlman, who also happened to be the band's producer, manager, and collaborative lyricist. The mysterious "Desdenova" obliquely referred to in "Astronomy" (SecT) turns out to be one of the aliens who were put on earth centuries ago, initially coming from the sea (ergo, the "oyster" connection), and who then intervened at various important points of human history, until at last, in this century, he/they regain consciousness of his/their extraterrestrial origins. (Or at least this is my meager understanding of the story.) But the various allusive "pieces" to this plot-puzzle are so Joycean, if you will, that they have only been put together by devotees with even less of a life than me (Swartz). But to the average BÖC fan of the day, such scattered allusions remained the "holy mystery" that all good religions should have, forever opaque to the main flock of worshippers, "revealed" only to an "inner sanctum" of priestly initiates.{29}

    It might be obvious by now that I consider the great contemporary infatuation with extraterrestrials as a displacement or surrogate object for humankind's continued need for myth (and "meaning"), and I feel confident that Adorno would pan it as such, as a new brand of "occultism," as a continuing "retreat" from, or corruption of, the project of true, rational enlightenment. The other three bands of this tetrad also made occasional ventures into the "sci-fi" realm, as evidenced by Sabbath's "Planet Caravan" (Prnd) and Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" (Machine Head--an album title that Adorno might have done much with!) But BÖC would specialize in this particular brand of mythologization--in part, I would guess, because they were, as Jews, less interested in (or "mystified" by) the Christian-Satanist battle (Sabbath) or the "pagan" alternatives offered by Norse and Celtic mythology (Led Zep). Now, with the popularity of the X-Files, it appears that BÖC may have been (by pop culture standards) twenty years ahead of their time:

I hear the music, daylight disc--
Three men in black said, "Don't report this"--
"Ascension," and that's all they said--
Sickness now, the hour's dread--
All praise--he's found the awful truth--
Balthazar--he's found the saucer news.
 ("E.T.I." ["Extraterrestrial Intelligence"],
   AoF; italics mine)

    That the three men are in black is no coincidence, I think (to segue back to my general "occult" theme), just as Sabbath's Satan is a "figure in black" and BÖC's mystic optics involves a "black telescope." Early Metal's emphasis on the anti-hegemonic, "dark" side of myth leads to one of the most identifiable iconic features of the genre: "black" becomes a dominant motif, with its correlative ethical association, "evil." Metal album covers of this period are characteristically dark and sombre, and names of bands, albums, and songs are "painted," it seems, in the color of night{30} and darkness (e.g., Black Sabbath, "Black Night" [Deep Purple], "Black Dog" [LZ4], "Black Country Woman" and "Night Flight" (Zep, [Physical Graffiti]).{31} Noting that the "master word of the 1960s, LOVE, was negated by its binary opposite, EVIL" in 70's Metal, Weinstein notes a corresponding color shift from the "earth tones and rainbow hues" of hippie psychedelia to Metal's "black" trademark (Weinstein 18; see also 151). Black is thus the "dominant color" of Metal album-cover art, with red second (Weinstein 29). BÖC overdoes both colors on Tyranny & Mutation [pictured here], with its black, white, and red album cover, and with one album side called the "Red" (with a red record label), the other side, the "Black" (with a black label); moreover, the first song is called--"The Red and the Black." The red and the black visually and lyrically invoked are not only Stendhal's military ("The Red and the Black") and priesthood, but also the archetypal associations of sex and death, passion and inertia ("OD'd on Life Itself"), hell and--uh, hell ("Hot Rails to Hell").

    "The Red and the Black" includes the rather strange lines, "[I] Got a whip [crack of whip in background] in my hand, baby, / And a girl or a husky at leather's end." Whether one feels more sorry for the girl or the dog, it's clear that the lyric's persona is a downright mean one: indeed, BÖC presented the most consistently "evil" pose of these four bands, with many lyrics definitely sado-masochistic in tone, as in "Dominance and Submission" (SecT), the biker-and-leather paean "Transmaniacon MC" (BÖC), and the controversial "Career of Evil" (SecT).{32} Couple such a musical sadism with Sabbath's apocalyptic gothicism, and one recognizes the ideational source for the plethora of later metal bands whose very names often "evoke ominous images" and/or "Themes of mayhem and cosmic evil" (Weinstein 33). Weinstein wants very much to interpret Metal's fixation on the "dark" side of myth as a "Thematic rebellion" against the forces of repression (43), as reflective of a sub-culture in the "dark," as it were, which therefore employs images of darkness and Satanism to express its status of being "underground," or in "hell." This is a fascinating notion that deserves fuller treatment, especially in terms of its relationship to Romanticism's typical use of images associated with the night, the underground, even the Satanic--a strain that runs unallayed through Baudelaire to "serious" literature of the present day. I will return to the positive ramifications of this point in the second half of this essay; Adorno would more likely say that this is the "old" dressed up once again as a "false new," as yet another eruption of the Romantic mythos.

    Walser offers a more materialist-economic motive for Metal's dark gothicism: noting that Metal's rise "coincides exactly with the period of the greatest popularity" of "horror films and books," he suggests as the cause for all these phenomena the fact that the "heavy metal audience is part of the first American generation that will be worse off economically than its parents" (161). At last, then, this "dark side of heavy metal is intimately related to the dark side of the modern capitalist security state: war, greed, patriarchy, surveillance, and control" (163). Weinstein's and Walser's readings may really be two sides of the same coin: Weinstein reads Metal's "darkness" as a more positive, active response to social oppression; Walser sees it more as a necessary, almost coerced and complicitous, reaction to a disciplinary system that requires a dark "underbelly" to feed on for its own raison-d'être.

    But as I move on to a discussion of the Metal audience per se, I must first remind myself that the Metal concert experience is hardly one of doom and gloom. This fact may be related to Weinstein's positing of two major "themes" in Heavy Metal, the "binary opposition" of "Dionysian and Chaotic": the latter is epitomized by the nay-saying infatuations with "death" and "rebellion," the former, by the affirmation of "life" & "ecstasy" that is in ample evidence at Metal festivities (Weinstein 35). (I use the term "festivities" purposely, since the polar opposition at hand is ultimately, I would contend, that of "Carnival," with its ambivalent joining of "blessing and curse . . . praise and abuse, face and backside, stupidity and wisdom" [Bakhtin 126].)

    Weinstein traces the "ecstatic" side of Metal back to its roots in 60's acid-pyschedelia, but claims for Metal a new "Dionysian key" in Metal's revision of rock as a music that "revels in the powers of life" (Weinstein 17).{33} This Dionysian aspect coalesces, moreover, in the "heightened level of excitement" or "ecstasy" of the Metal concert itself (217): "at the centre" of the Metal experience is the "rock-concert-as-ritual" (Clarke 533). Adorno would put a damper on such enthusiasm, of course: if "Life in the late capitalist era is a constant initiation rite" (DE 153), the Metal concert is one of the main sites of such a ritual, one that entails all the "religious" accoutrements discussed above: thus the Sabbath concert became a latter-day "black mass," the Zeppelin concert, a Reichian orgiastic mass experience, the BÖC concert, an initiation into a "master-slave" bonding or bondage that the audience members may have both resented{34} and yet submitted to--in the proper Adorno-esque spirit. (Deep Purple's relatively "secular"{35} lyrics have excused this band from much of the present discussion: but Jon Lord's[!] long medieval-modal and baroque organ passages might well have evoked a feeling of being beneath the huge naves of an old church.) Read as either positive ritual or negative mythologization, the Metal concert experience--whatever its particular "religious trappings"--can be seen as (yet one more) mythic return to the "One," a merging of the "masses" ("black" or not) into one enthusiastic Body.

    To Adorno, the false-archaic and mystifying origin of such enthusiasm is clear. The Bakhtinian carnivalesque has no positive value for Adorno, who finds the seeds of humankind's very "pleasure" and "enjoyment" in--oh!--"primitive orgies," rituals in which "men disavow thought and escape civilization" (DE 105). (Of course, Adorno's critique depends upon a positive valuation of "thought" and "civilization.") One easily imagines Adorno describing a Metal concert (and pointing out its ties to religion) in the following description of a jazz "event": "All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralization of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects" (166). And despite Adorno's lifelong devotion to avant-garde music and various "dialectical" classical composers, his discussions of primitive (or even folk) music inevitably reveal mixed feelings towards "raw" music's primitive, emotional power. Noting its "origin . . . in myth" (Quasi 65), Adorno seems almost loathe to admit that music always has a "theological aspect": in some ways, in fact, it is a "demythologized[?!] prayer" ("MLC" 402). at last, its very alingual nature--its freedom from thought--makes it almost suspect as an art: music "reaches the absolute immediately," but ultimately fails "to bring home the impossible" (404). All music, then, may be the "false promise" that Adorno usually lays at the feet of popular music in particular. Finally, Adorno especially seems to fear the song (that is, music sung, with lyrics): the "archaic superior power of song"--in specific reference to the Sirens--hardly invests, in context, the word "superior" with any positive value for civilization; indeed, since Odysseus and the Sirens, "all songs have been affected, and Western music as a whole suffers from the contradiction of song in civilization--song which nevertheless proclaims the emotional power of all art music" (DE 59-60).{36}

    Whether Ozzy's vocal efforts even qualify as "song" might be a moot point, but they certainly represent the "explicit display of emotionality" that Weinstein claims as the Metal vocalist's "code" (26; see also 216). However, although these vocalists' high screams may bear scant resemblance to a diva's arias, the Metal concert's appeals to "mythology, violence, madness, [and] the iconography of horror" are indeed reminiscent of opera (Walser 109),{37} especially the late-Romantic Wagnerian variety that Adorno lambasted for reasons now obvious. While the religion of Wagner was dressed in Norse garb and sung to the harmonies of late-Romantic chromaticism, the "religion" of Metal is dressed in a more motley attire (though much of it, it would be easy to argue, is still a submerged Christianity) and sung to sounds less lush, played--to stress the technological element--on a slab of wood with metal strings, which is plugged into a box of wires, which is plugged into a wall.

    The Metal "event," in sum, exposes its audience to the dangers of a "machine" music driving its beat somewhere beyond the bounds of reason, with lyrics and iconography bedecked in a mystifying irrationality. Metal bands' common use of smoke and light shows in concert may thus be symptomatic of a shallow, obfuscatory "smoke-and-mirrors" mysticism. Adorno was right, then: present Western civilization is awash in ""primitive religious feelings[,] and new forms of religion . . . are sold on the open market" (DE 173)--and some of this stuff is even offered for the price of a concert ticket. Metal would probably not qualify as a valid mythopoeic art, in Adorno's mind: such music ""cannot simply be willed"; it depends upon "the society which it addresses." And after all, "is cultic music possible in the absence of a cult" (Quasi 228, 229)? If Adorno's question implies that the current turn of the rationalist/mythic dialectic due to the dehumanization of industrial capitalism allows for nothing more than various, surrogate, "watered-down" versions of religion, I couldn't disagree. But Adorno's rationalistic assumptions about the "mystifying" origins of the cultic, about "primitive religious feelings" themselves, make it impossible to consider him an unbiased observer.

    I will still attempt to give Adorno his due, however, by turning now to the Metal audience's behavior and the very lifestyle that it reflects. Here Adorno's phrase "licentious decadence" immediately comes to mind, as does Nietzsche's suggestion regarding "Theatre and music as the hashish-smoking and betel-chewing of the European! Who will ever relate the whole history of narcotica?" (§86).Though it would be too facile to read Adorno's thoughts on the relationship of pop artist and audience as one of "the blind leading the blind," Metal artists have indeed been blamed for modelling a lifestyle of drug abuse, sexual perversion (including sado-masochism), Satanism (of course), and just plain hatred (Weinstein 1-3). Weinstein later asserts that this "rockers-as-corrupter-of-youths" attribution of blame is not simply the false analysis of cause and effect, for indeed, via "sex,{38} drugs, and raising hell"--all values of the "metal subculture"--the Metal "band romanticizes and idealizes that lifestyle" (142).{39} There does exist the tempting Dionysian reading of headbanger drug usage as yet one more "source of release through ecstasy" (Weinstein 134; see also 213-14; 217-18), but this audience's supposed drugs of choice ("pot and downers" [133]) would seem to have led to a more passive "lotus-eater" attitude rather than to that of the Dionysian reveler. Thus Metal's mystified concert-goers might be prime exempla of Adorno's own take on the lotus-eater myth, in which drug use--like religion--is a but a way to "endure the unendurable," an effort by the "self to endure the self" (DE 62-3, 33)--especially given the context of a coercive industrial capitalism offering up the narcotic products, if you will, of the culture industry. Drug use, then, is hardly rebellion, at least in any authentic sense, in Adorno's view--rather, it's but another means to be further adapted into the system, and to make that self-and-society-enforced adaptation less painful--and less conscious.{40}

    As true as I believe this last statement to be true, I must interrupt this pro-Adorno section with some immediate rebuttals to Metal's ostensibly negative influence on its audience. To be brief, Tipper Gore and other critics of Metal haven't been "able to connect heavy metal directly with suicide{41}, Satanism, or crime" (Walser 143); furthermore, a survey of 88 Metal tunes from the Hit Parader "reveals relatively little concern with violence, drug use, or suicide" (139). Weinstein, while freely admitting other transgressive behaviors within the Metal sub-culture, surprisingly asserts that Metal has pretty much "avoided the theme" of drug abuse" (36-37), although one is here tempted to quote from the Metal-marijuana anthem, "Sweet Leaf":

When I first met you, didn't realize--
I can't forget you or your surprise--
You introduced me to my mind
And left me wanting you and your kind.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I love you. Oh, you know it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Straight people don't know what you're about--
They put you down and shut you out--
You gave to me a new belief,
And soon the world will love you, Sweet Leaf.
 (Black Sabbath, MstR)
Weinstein claims that "Sweet Leaf" isn't "consistent with heavy metal's sensibility," but stems rather from that of "psychedelic music" (37). But at last, the point is moot.{42}
    For all this speculation about the Metal audience's overt behaviors has no real bearing on Adorno's ultimate argument: the effects of the individual's interaction with the culture industry are much more insidious than having premarital sex or smoking a bong. These specific behavioral responses are probably just epiphenomena, so to speak, of an archetypal generational rebellion. Adorno's seminal perception is that the "beat goes on," that each new version of the "beat" is a kowtow to the system. (What follows is my version of Adorno's "best case.") And each new version--maybe each new musical genre, even--becomes more and more complicitous with an expanding technology that renders the individual an "appendix" to some Atman-industrial "Iron Man," and renders the individual more and more incapable of discerning the rational and humanistic from some irrational urge to merge with a mythical "One"--incapable, at last, of even asserting one's own independent "self." This leads us to Adorno's equation of popular music and fascism.


C. Castrati in Jackboots: Metal as Fascism

One leaves oneself at home when one goes to the theatre, one renounces the right to one's own tongue and choice. . .  . There one is common people, audience, herd, female, pharisee, voting cattle, democrat, neighbor, fellow man . . . even the most personal conscience is vanquished by the leveling magic of the great number. . . .   (Nietzsche §368)
    Nietzsche's words could have easily been uttered by Adorno in any of his various treatments of the culture industry and its audience, perceiving as he does the latter's surrender of individuality and conscience in the face of the former's onslaughts of techno-technique and mytho-irrationality. Since the "culture industry intentionally integrates its consumers from above," the popular audience is thereby rendered "an object of calculation, an appendage of the machinery" ("CIR" 128, 129), and the audience-"subject" becomes a "human sacrifice" to the collective ("OJ" 64). (The industry's "intentionality" is a problem here; one prefers nowadays the "disinterested" [and disjunctive] array of networked disciplines posited by Foucault.) Adorno's best "musicological" support for the audience's inculcation into the collective is a stroke of genius: in the popular song, the "verse" (each one different, therefore individualized) represents the "individual" or "hero"; the chorus (or "refrain"), in contrast, signifies the "collective." But at last, it is the chorus that really matters in pop music, and through its workings, the subject feels "transformed" by his/her union with "the collective of the refrain" and "merges with it in the dance" ("OJ" 63).

    One of Adorno's more disconcerting moves regarding this collectivization is to read this audience "sacrifice" as a symbolic, Freudian, castration. Thus the "eunuch-like sound of the jazz band" (e.g., the whining horns and vocals) is really an "initiation rite" towards "impotence" ("PFJ" 207), and its characteristic timbre of a "whimpering vibrato" is really an admission of (and seduction towards) "helplessness" before the process of collectivization ("OJ" 58; see also 67). (Question: has jazz's whimpering clarinet now become a whining Stratocaster?! ) And so, too, does Adorno immediately gender the jazz audience as "girls" ("Perennial Fashion--Jazz" 206), effeminizing the collective in one swell swoop. I call this "castrating" move a disconcerting one because--aside from its blatant sexism--it questions the very "manhood" of me, as a pop music (and jazz) fan: indeed, his whole notion of this "castration symbolism" in jazz ("PFJ" 207; see also "OJ" 66) is enough to make "even the mildest (male) jazz fan pause" (Cooper 106)!--and perhaps search for a more "manly" form of music.

    Such a search, moreover, might have led me directly to Heavy Metal, with its "macho ideology" (Weinstein 67; see also Walser 119) and its status as "cock rock" (Straw 377). Clarke explains its "90% male" audience as the result of its "phallic imagery of guitars and rampant sexism, especially in [its] macho lyrics" (532). (Hmmm. Why women wouldn't be just as, or even more, drawn to "phallic imagery" is beyond my ken.) So does all of this phallic iconography and sexist/sexual preoccupation excuse Metal from Adorno's general charge of "castration"? Adorno (and Freud) would reply, certainly not: the more one (unconsciously) feels "castrated," the more likely it is that one will overtly embrace a macho phallicism, as both denial and reaction formation.{43}

[. . . . . . . . to be continued]

    This concludes my endeavors to give Adorno his due. Despite my inability to resist the urge towards parenthetical insertions that already question his case, I hope to have shown that Adorno's critique of popular music fits Heavy Metal quite well, especially in terms of standardization, mythologization, and collectivization. In the second half of this essay, I will attempt to redeem Metal from this criticism--if, indeed, such a redemption is at all possible. [. . .]"


Adorno and Heavy Metal]

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