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Heavy Metal Music, Culture and Philosophy FAQ (Metal as Concept 2/3 )


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      2.2 Culture

      Metal culture is what keeps the music from becoming like
      everything else that's in the consumer market - products.
      Products want to do something so visibly, it is entirely
      distinctive, while not doing anything beyond the norm so there
      are no objections to purchase.

      Culture keeps spirit alive by serving as an interpretive
      landmark of existential questions, delivering to the interpreter
      a sense of combining the metaphor of the art with the catalogue
      of past experiences in life that might be relevant.

      In metal, our culture is not to make music for people who want
      entertainment; our culture is to make epic and powerful things
      out of the forces and remnants of destruction. There's a reason
      for everything we do.

         2.2.1 Meaningful Post-Rebellion

            One function of metal culture is to provide some sense to
            post-rebellion use of consciousness as an interpretive
            guide to reality. To get into what we do, they must fall
            - from the Heaven of oblivious iconistic belief - and
            accept what will come next, which is the transition to
            nihilism.

            Crossing the void occurs not just in a philosophical
            sense, but in a proto-adulthood state also, where it is
            the question of what to do after the shaped existence of
            childhood is replaced with the patterned survival of an
            adult, all while the clock of mortality races through its
            orbit. In this sense, metal is a mirror of what the self
            faces and observes the self reacting to in a modern
            existence after the twilight of the kingpin of
            idols/ikons, "God."

            "That depends on how you see Utopia. In a sense, an ideal
            society would be a static society, and any such society is
            an evolutionary dead end. Happiness is a byproduct of
            function, purpose, and conflict; those who seek happiness
            for itself seek victory without war."   - William S
            Burroughs


            2.2.1.1 Culture has caught up with rebellion

               Mainstream culture long ago appropriated rebellion as
               its source of "cool", by replacing the values of the
               previous generation with a new lessening of
               restriction.

               From James Dean to Jeff Spicoli, our heroes went from
               being people of action to coalescing into ultimate
               introverts who issue a complaint and then reject it
               all, but with no idea, fluster and collapse into the
               same morass of pessimistic conservatism which hides the
               fears of the rest of the herd.

               Metal is about a rebellion which comes from a
               disagreement, less of a complaint than a challenge and
               a rebuke, as it was when the metaphorical Satan looked
               toward God and rejected Heaven's law for a freedom he
               could not explain, but felt a thirst toward - an escape
               from the fixed behavior of holiness to the random and
               dynamic possibilities of an unformed land - Hell!

                  "In his book-length essay The Conquest of Cool,
                  Thomas Frank explores the ways in which Madison
                  Avenue co-opted the language of youthful '60s
                  rebellion. It is "the story," Frank writes, "of the
                  bohemian cultural style's trajectory from
                  adversarial to hegemonic; the story of hip's
                  mutation from native language of the alienated to
                  that of advertising." This appropriation had
                  wide-ranging consequences that deeply transformed
                  our culture--consequences that linger in the form of
                  '90s "hip consumerism." (Think of Nike using the
                  song "Revolution" to sell sneakers, or Coca-Cola
                  using replicas of Ken Kesey's bus to peddle
                  Fruitopia.) "
                     - book review on amazon.com of Thomas Frank's
                     "The Conquest of Cool : Business Culture,
                     Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism"

               Metal does not wish to fall into the pit of becoming
               another "fad" which is hyped-up, sold out, and then
               worn into the ground as it is rehashed and overhyped.
               This is the way of the transient. Metal is about
               finding lasting value in nothingness and one's own
               creativity together - not in fads, meaningless
               indulgences, mindless "entertainment" or other forms of
               life-denial.

            2.2.1.2 Inversion of values in media hipness

               Media hippies are public-identity characters that are
               composed from statistical reasoning to reach the
               broadest band of people who could project their
               insecurities into an avatar of that character and in
               that identification, become loyal consumers following
               the instructions in the ads that came with that show.

               Marilyn Manson, Korn, Pantera, "new" Metallica, Motley
               Crue, Ani DiFranco, Rage Against the Machine, Cannibal
               Corpse, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Dark Funeral and
               Marduk provide this same function - these are "sold
               out" bands who move their music not with an internal
               drive to express but with a desire for the material
               reward they get in exchange for experience, including 
               the experience itself.

               Metal believes in an inversion of the inversion of
               values which constitutes the media hipness, meaning
               that values had to be taken to a greater complexity of
               abstraction, as they are in lyrics such as Slayer,
               Morbid Angel, Burzum, Gorguts or Death.

            2.2.1.3 Metal rebels against the reason why there are
            things to rebel against

               Many genres feature bands which find something to rebel
               against and fight it, hard. Metal rebels against the
               need to rebel by taking a metaphorical look at the
               process of power, in a method similar to William S
               Burroughs' "Naked Lunch."

               The metaphors of killing, death, destruction, sodomy,
               infection, possession, suicide, hate, violence, and
               necrophagia/coprophagia found in the songs and imagery
               of metal music are not meant as literal objects but
               implications that they are everyday objects - denied
               objects - which confronts the listener with a more
               morbid fate than nightmare, reality as a neutralized
               dream.

            2.2.1.4 And by understanding destruction, is aware of
            creation

               Destruction is the force that clears the way for
               creation, or opens opportunity, at least. A world that
               is cluttered, murmured the author, describes our world.

               There is too much: other people, requirements to
               society, debt to commerce (rent/health), excess
               information, marketing information, terrifying news.
               We wish to kill the waste and clear away the irrelevant
               - hence the enticing motifs of forest fire, battle,
               winter, genocide, and apocalypse.

      2.2.2 Meta-Rebellion

         The rebellion against the parameters of power doesn't stop
         at the next generation of rebellion. As this facet of metal
         ideology is assembled of the roots of romanticism, it is best
         to see it as a celebration of the uniqueness of the
         individual.

         2.2.2.1  objectless desire to be unconstrained

            Metal expresses a desire for mental clarity and a
            limitless power for self-motion. The impulse is to have
            nothing interfering in motion so that there is no
            constant obsession with material intrusion.

         2.2.2.2 to derive thought independently

            Individualism and its trademark, independent thought,
            are highly valued in metal culture and lyrics.

         2.2.2.3 to exist in organic harmony with death and life

            A recognition of death and the forces of decay in metal
            prompts a revelation of its philosophy of integration, an
            embrace of the impermanent in life by recognizing the time
            to life for all things in a larger, naturalistic
            development.

      2.2.3 Mythos

         Mythos is the science of placing together a sequence of
         metaphors in order to build a living structure, a story which
         is always in the process of evolution while maintaining its
         integral character. This mythos is the key of
         self-identification within a subculture, in that it allows
         one the space in which to create a character matching its own
         ideals.

         2.2.3.1 Introduction

            In a subculture, beliefs have to work alongside a
            sequence of tenets which run contrary to the subcultural
            beliefs. Hence most mythos from this area focus on the
            individual, and how to develop that to freedom.

            2.2.3.1.1 Mythos a method of expressing character

               A personality mythos carries with it the character
               of warrior or journeyman ethos: to be free, to work
               when that's needed and to play/pillage otherwise.

               The hedonistic modern Hessian descends from Vikings and
               Vandals of ages past.

            2.2.3.1.2 Personal decisions political choices

               In the modern age, we realize that personal
               decisions imply a political value system, or at
               least filtering system. The Hessian cultural
               movement reaches out to network personal choices by
               knowledge rather than force.

            2.2.3.1.3 Mythos defines a public personal ideal

               When one is able to speak the metaphorical language of
               a personal mythology, one is able to express a subtle
               but powerful reminder of who one is and why. There is
               not scorn in "We who are not as others" but a hope
               brought by enlightened choice.

            2.2.3.1.4 Ubermensch

               The idea of overcoming, or surpassing fear and
               transcending limitation, to become a personal god or
               omnipowerful human being is rooted deeply in metal, a
               genre of people who work hard under adverse
               circumstances to do very complex things.

         2.2.3.2 Metal Mythos

               The value of Hessian mythos can be seen in what it
               manifests: a gentle ideology based in a placement of
               self instead of a self image, a hopefulness for
               environment and humans alike. However, such a
               progressive view greatly clashes with contemporary
               social values.

            2.2.3.2.5 Mythos of Job

               Job is the patient servant who waits dully for a
               task that will free him from worrying about his
               choice for another few hours. That is why in the
               Bible, when Job is tortured in a battle between
               "God" and Satan for Job's soul, his faith is so firm to
               him - he wishes to know nothing but to what he can
               adapt, since he has ascribed all his choice to divine
               power. Hessians dislike Jobs and avoid them at all
               costs.

            2.3.2.1.2 Mythos of selling many albums

               Similarly selling many albums is recognized as
               mythically important, at best. Most people consume
               without ever thinking about even the contents that they
               are able to digest and repeat. So selling more albums
               could even mean reaching fewer people, if society is a
               sliding scale from awareness to oblivion.

            2.3.2.1.3 Mythos of sexual appeal

               Newer metals (speed and newer) do not use
               gender-related words, as they work toward the
               abstract. Once leather-clad metal warriors were
               sexual powerhouses. Now they are powerhouse
               warriors because they are almost asexual in their
               abstraction (yet earthy in their behavior).

            2.3.2.1.4 Anti-convention

               Conventions are the calcification of a working
               process. The independent yeoman information farmer of
               the new frontier steers away from the known once it
               becomes obvious how redundant it is.

            2.3.2.1.5 Anti-tonesome

               The self is envisioned as out of place, dissonant,
               by the nature of its recomposition and so nothing is
               whole, or perfect, ever; this is the essence of
               tonal degradation.

            2.3.2.1.6 Subculture

               Participation in a subculture frees the ego and
               subconscious from explanation, or justification, in the
               same way drug addiction frees a madman from his dark
               and morbid destiny.

            2.3.2.1.7 Lasting ethos of ideology

               Ideology is the essence of what is communicated as
               mythos: a series of abstractions based on character
               value which create a sense of uniqueness, or
               differentiation, for the Hessian population. As such,
               they hold to their ideology fiercely, as it is
               essential for both self-image and self-placement in a
               time where information filtering is the first line of
               defense.

      2.2.4 Living after Midnight

         Hessians are both abstract thinkers and Hedonists. The
         latter means a fair amount of partying, e.g. social behavior
         involving the forbidden fruits of intoxication and/or
         sexuality, even while thinking (and vice versa).

         2.2.2.1 Activities

            Hessians are known to smoke a lot of pot, drink beers,
            take ephedra, play loud music, form unlistenably
            distorted bands, destroy religious icons, play video
            games, watch horror movies, go to concerts and smoke a
            lot of pot as commonly accepted social interactions,
            while Hessians as individuals and more informal groups
            engage in wide varieties of probably weird and lurid
            behavior.

         2.2.2.2 Intoxicants

            Hessians favor a wide range of intoxicants for differing
            reasons.

            The most common Hessian intoxicant is THC
            (tetrahydrocannabinol, the major active ingredient in
            marijuana, hashish, bhang and kif) for the following
            reasons:

               - Ease of availability
               - Mild or no long term effects
               - Ease of consumption
               - Hallucinatory/Psychedelic properties
               - Non-capitalist distribution system
               - Social activity
               - Not an artificial "happy" reality

            Some Hessians drink, but recently more have been
            rejecting it in favor of a less corporate existence, as
            have many smokers. Many Hessians used to take speed, or
            methamphetamine, but more are taking the less-harmful
            ephedrine.

            Blood of illegitimate children of priests is also
            intoxicating and delicious.

         2.2.2.3 Events

            Major events in the Hessian community include: concerts,
            radio shows, drug parties, demolitions, fires.

         2.2.2.4 Dialogues

            One of the most important activities as a Hessian is
            communicating. Hessians as part of an intense
            structuralist desire articulate many different things, and
            are more than willing to share information, guaranteeing
            another at least temporary connection in the matrix of the
            subculture.

      2.2.5 Language

         Hessian language is an abstract but organic rendition of
         English (or other native language) into an abstract and
         psychedelic descriptive field of structural importance.
         Hessians are often highly technical, and their language
         follows this model.

         2.2.5.1 Relation to human animal

            One very postmodern trend in metal is to declare the
            dependence on a "human animal" and to speak of that
            duality, between abstract mind and human flesh, with
            familiarity. Its major function in the ideology of
            metal is to make individuals aware of their
            distinctiveness, or what they gave up when they let it
            go.

            2.2.5.1.1 Gender pronouns

               Metal uses few gender pronouns, at least in recent
               genres, as a way of distancing from the flesh and
               the entire question of physicality of avatar.

            2.2.5.1.2 Self-reference

               There is little self-reference in metal for the
               ostensible purposes of identification, but quite a
               bit in the description of personal experience (as
               in, of decay) or observations of physical occurrence
               to the self.

            2.2.5.1.3 Abstract

               The most important aspect of metal's language is its
               reliance upon abstract, Latinate and Germanic
               structures as a method of describing something for
               recognition as if by antigen. From the dooming
               blast of old Slayer with its mythological lyrics to
               bands like Morbid Angel with their philosophical guide
               to post-Babylonian religion, death metal integrated a
               fundamental change to the way we view language in
               metal.

   2.3 Ideology

      Although not a vital component of the music itself, the
      ideology that propels metal reflects the range of spirit
      which enables one to create music that is both free and
      structural. An evolving history of ideas is presented
      briefly here.

      2.3.1 Ideals

         As all of us are, metallions are children of history who
         look to the past to explain the thinking behind the
         present. Here is a brief sampling of the identifiable
         movements metal's got into.

         2.3.1.1 Romanticist

            As a philosophical movement romanticism predates
            existentialism in its desire to explain life to the
            individual, as if entertaining the theodicy of
            Milton as a Protestant necessity for personal
            self-actualization. It was about breaking free of
            social confinement and finding the transcendent self
            which could see the beauty in all things, an
            extension of the egalitarianism of the Deists who
            founded commercial America. Much of its focus
            included a dialogue with death, a morbidity, an
            insouciant desire to experience life as it occurs, a
            hedonism, a fascination with the ancient, a querying
            of self in vast universe, and a desire to achieve
            that which is unique for its precision expression of
            self. This movement empowered emotion to lead the
            human on wild adventures, while setting logic free
            in a world of its own to dream. Some say this is
            the last time people in Western society reported
            significant experience.

            A fragment from the OED defines romanticism as "tending
            towards or characterized by romance as a stylistic basis
            or principle of literature, art or music; designating to a
            movement or style during the late 18th and early 19th
            centuries in Europe marked by an emphasis on feeling,
            individuality and _passion_ rather than classical form and
            order, and preferring grandeur or picturesqueness to
            finish and proportion."  This snippet defines both the
            style and content of romanticist works, at least as
            commonly known; investigating metal reveals their
            inspiration.

            The distinguishing characteristic of metal throughout
            its history has been its youth-culture rejection of the
            established world (youth reject their world for they can
            afford to; once they are educated to lose hope they find
            themselves in an easier existence) and declarations of
            autonomy from the surrounding world and its disease of
            bourgeouis commercialism, sexual elitism, intellectual
            denial or spiritual cowardice, depending on what
            generation of metal is expounding. In this metal has
            affirmed the rejection of proportion/symmetry and the
            overthrow of external principles which would control \
            such as morals and aesthetics (finish); the root of this
            tendency is the dependence on passion that takes over when 
            one has accepted science (see Nihilism, 3.1).

            The romantic movement of literature in Europe
            (predominantly England and France) inspired poetry and
            existential literature such as Mary Shelley's
            _Frankenstein_, the story of a creature brought to life
            finding his essence unfolding as he grows, only to realize
            the conditions of his life doom him to obscurity and
            isolation. These works are the ancestors of the seminal 
            modernists James Joyce, William Faulkner, and W.S. Burroughs, 
            as well as the genesis of genres such as science fiction, 
            fantasy, and horror.

            The fascination with the eldritch and morbid, the
            biological and the destructive, as well as the unfolding
            question of humanity's place in a technological world, are
            hallmarks of this movement leading a clear trail through
            history to today's metal movements, especially black metal
            in which all logic is rejected in favor of total emotional
            hatred and nihilistic passion for the abstract.

            These lyrics explain best:

            Mayhem, 1993, "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas"
            Life Eternal

            A dream of another existence
            you wish to die
            a dream of another world
            you pray for death to release the soul.
            One must die to find peace inside, you must get eternal
            I am a mortal but am I human ?
            How beautiful life is now when my time has come
            A human destiny but nothing human inside
            What will be left of me when I'm dead, there was
            nothing when I lived

            "What you found was eternal death
            no one will ever miss you"

         2.3.1.2 Existentialist

            Existentialism is the science of the evolving
            individual, and how to understand human development
            from a psychological, sociological and metaphysical
            view. "Existence before essence," as it has been
            summed in the past, depicts existentialism as the
            concept that without any inherent purpose, we "wake
            up" when we are born here and then must find some
            way to explain value into our lives. As we grow we
            become more of what we are, or wander in a
            personalityless materialism.

         2.3.1.3 Postmodernist

            The inversion of value so that its inside might be
            seen, postmodernism is about mirrors. A mirror of
            the self, so that it can be seen as the subjective
            in a world of objectives that it is; a mirror of the
            world and a mirror of that mirror, to keep
            consistent projections (time).

            What makes postmodernism most distinctive is its
            absorption of intensely "chaotic" theories such as quantum
            physics or non-linear mathematics, by virtue of its
            foundation in technology and looking past
            superstition, but also peering beyond the intellectual
            process of illusion to see how the universe functions as
            organism, with universal principles of growth.

            Founders such as James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, William S
            Burroughs, and Emperor make this movement valuable for
            what it is: a violent fist against the aesthetic remainder
            of rationalism, where an illusion of public good and
            intent is manipulated to justify vast thefts.
            Afflicted with knowledge, postmodernism tends to
            emphasize the "subtext" of each situation, where
            there is an acknowledged reality and an underlying
            larger picture which often has nothing to do with
            the material props at hand. As such, dreams of
            death and great journeys past the land of the dead
            are complex and intriguing material.

            "The people in power will not disappear voluntarily,
            giving flowers to the cops just isn't going to work. This
            thinking is fostered by the establishment; they like
            nothing better than love and nonviolence. The only way I
            like to see cops given flowers is in a flower pot thrown
            from a a high window."
               -William S Burroughs

         2.3.1.4 Mysticism

            The basic belief of a mystic is that events and objects
            are interconnected in a structure that is larger than
            immediate material parameters and as such can be accessed
            if one is open to transcendence, or letting go of the
            visible for the abstract. The mystic finds significant
            experience in interpretation of everyday events.

         2.3.1.5 Shamanism

            A shaman is a tribe's seer sent forth into the
            wilderness of his own personality in order to dig
            forth the answer to the question everyone is blinded
            from asking. A master of finding the obvious behind
            a whole structure of reality designed to hide it.

         2.3.1.6 Nihilism

            Nihilism leaves a complex etymology in the Oxford English
            Dictionary: "Total rejection of current religious beliefs
            or moral principles, often involving a general sense of
            despair and the belief that life is devoid of meaning."
            This gives a historical sense of the word as something
            anti-religious, anti-moral, and  anti-meaing, but does not
            explain the root of that: a belief in the lack of
            arbitrary values except the immanent and contextlessness
            function-value. Nihilism rejects conventional valuations
            and replaces them with the pragmatic assessments of
            science and atheism, allowing freedom of movement before
            considering precedent and normativity.

            In modern times nihilism is a dual entity, composed of
            emotional nihilism or the breakdown of all values or
            caring (closer to apathy) as well as the nihilism
            described above, which is merely a removal of arbitrary
            illusion as imposed by social conditioning. Metal has
            always espoused some form of nihilism, from its roots in
            god-rejection and social cynicism to its over-glorious
            heavy metal days when no excess was enough. Death metal
            took nihilism to new extremes of rational description of
            human irrationality, fragility, and doom, but black metal
            takes nihilism a step further and assumes it as a weapon
            against conventional moral and spiritual restrictions.

            "My name is Varg Vikernes and I play in Burzum. Burzum
            means either darkness or light, depending on how you see
            it really. If you're a Christian it probably means
            darkness."
               - Varg Vikernes, http://www.burzum.com/

         2.3.1.7 Organicism

            The tendency of mathematical systems to go from the
            linear, or vector measurement, to chaotic multidirectional
            entities is a measure of its organicism, or the point at
            which it moves from chartable projections to the zone
            decided only by theory. Organicism is a philosophy of
            information science which holds that in order for
            something to articulate itself independently, it must be
            of an unmeasurable state of chaotic motion.

            It's as if in escaping Heisenberg one becomes integrated
            into a system in which all measurements are variable in
            chaotic patterns, e.g. without linearly predictable jumps
            (a pattern with linear jumps suggests the order is evident
            within that pattern, where a pattern with chaotic jumps
            suggests an order behind the evident pattern) and
            therefore a science of fuzzy logic and organic decisions
            is needed.

            The sheer relentlessness of the fact that the human mind
            still so far outperforms our computers a comparison is
            ludicrous indicates that a more powerful and efficient
            logic than our stacks of decimal calculations will be
            needed. Hence an emergent organicism in many things,
            including metal, which approach problems in which binary
            solutions (those composed of yes or no, off or on, right
            or "wrong") lead to illusion, since the binary nature is a
            projection of the intelligences observing the situation
            and not emergent from the properties and methods of the
            system itself.

         2.3.1.8 Naturalism

            A belief in or intense study of nature, Naturalism is a
            fundamental component of metal's fascination with the
            natural and the dual appearance of natural order. In
            order to appreciate the beauty of a system including its
            most brutal and predatory moments, one must understand it
            as a whole to see the function which this tendency plays,
            and for what conceptual development to reality. The
            inexorable but chaotic order is studied through musical
            emulation and lyrical hyperbole in a genre partially
            dedicated to transcendence of natural boundaries, with an
            appreciation for the strength and continuity of nature.

         2.3.1.9 Individualism

            Strongly in favor of the independent evolution of
            individuals so to allow them space to grow without the
            persistent damage of scar tissue formed to avoid
            intervention by the arbitrary appearances of demands by
            others, the individualist genre metal has developed a
            subculture with focus on the development of the individual
            as a force of chaos and change in the otherwise patterned
            material/causal world.

            The reasons for individualist thought usually center
            around the idea that those who know what they want for
            personal fulfillment will not project that on to others
            for purposes of control. Individualism is a property of
            art and any other discipline which demands independence
            and focus; systemic and/or chaos thinkers understand it as
            a form of parallelism.

================================================================

(c) Copyright 1994-2006 Hessian Studies Center @ www.hessian.or

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