Friday, June 27, 2014

The problem with Transcendental Black Metal; or 'How seriously can I possibly take myself?' (The answer is: ALL THE WAY)

I don't know what I'm doing. I stole from far more than the citations I -do- give, and I'll steal again if I'm not stopped. I will bathe you in unnecessary punctuation. I'm a monster! Don't listen to anything I say!

Is the "Haptic Void" really an endpoint, even a fabled and unattainable one? I think not....this thought is partially due to an idea that I can't seem to shake: that, as Hunter Hunt-Hendrix states, black metal in and of itself could NEVER reach such a space, even as it constantly pines for and crawls toward it. I wonder if this doesn't imply that the HV is not necessarily or even primarily a Black Metal ideal? Or is it less a sonic or emotional/physical space we move toward or away from, and more something akin to Zen for the nihilist? An incursion into that network of selflessness and Stoicism, a radical acceptance of suffering and Nothingness so commonly associated with Zen Buddhism? A Piercing (of the Veil of Maya? of reincarnation and the Bardos, or universal recursivity? Now I may be stoned, but….) from Below?


Truly unholy amounts of words have been written on the history of Black Metal. Unfortunately most of those seem to discount anything that happened after 1997, as if the entire genre had simply packed its bags and went home. Utilising such a set of histories one could be forgiven for believing that the genre had reached the peak and "lied down to die at the summit" but hopefully I can show that not only is that not the case, but also that the common idea of transcendence as the method of "leaving" is still inherently tied to the framework upon which it came to be considered necessary. That from a larger view, nothing has been transcended: you are still climbing the same ladder made from the same material. Only your position on it, and your name for the top rung has changed. The new doctrine(how arrogant -ed.) of Black Noise does two things: deconstructs black metal into its component parts in order to quantify and qualify them against all other sounds; and demonstrates an infinite recombinability with any or all types of sound(and, possibly, therefore philosophies? Maybe?), regardless of origin or stylistic parameters. A (hopefully) more "true" (should that be spelled trve?) transcendence of the transcendent. Stepping off the ladder, burning it, and scattering the ashes of Black Metal across all of music, all of theory, all culture. To create a unity that annihilates and supersedes the ladder.

One man's view of post-Scandinavian Black Metal expressed as quasi-intellectual hobknobbery uhhupthuhtuhptu (that's a sound you make with your mouth, go on, do it out loud. Just like it spells.)

Soon after black metal's punishing ascent toward this Void supposedly culminated in sacrifice to transcendence, the quest for transcendence was itself swallowed by the concerns of the transcended. Black metal had evolved and new concerns filled the holes left by solving the "puzzle" of Christianity and its inversion through atheism, agnosticism, irreligiousity (is that even a word?), modern paganism, simple modernism et al.

The attack vectors formerly used upon the cross easily and quickly became sublimated into attacks upon our dominant capitalist/conservative ruling class, whose primary mode of engagement with the black metaller (or anyone, for that matter) is through the anti-environmental and anti-human(though decidedly NOT anti-humanIST) power structure of industrial progress within capitalism that had itself in many ways evolved out from the same over-reliance on the grim, bureaucratic, post-Enlightenment Christianity for ethical and physical support that sparked the first two waves of BM.

(Absurdly long run-on sentence/train of thought: I think politics and religion become conflated in an American society because, thanks to proclaimed (but entirely fake) separation of church and state, the two patently refuse the necessary honest dialogue (on grounds of keeping the separation) between each other that would prologue an actual philosophical or technical separation (not to mention that politics seems to be accepted as the "science" that legitimizes religious participation in rule). Which makes this so-called "transcendence" still feel like the same old same old to me. Fighting the same battles in a new burning church of capitalism (insert Slavoj Zizek quote out of context). The source eludes me at the moment, but I believe it was Nick Land that attempted to reclassify the post-modern as simply hypermodern, as he claimed it had only pushed the modern further, NOT actually broken free of the same set of systems. I feel a connection here, and unfortunately can't sustain it. Must re-read some things. End.)

"It was the church more than any other agency, writes historian Randall Collins, that put in place what Weber called the preconditions of capitalism: the rule of law and a bureaucracy for resolving disputes rationally; a specialized and mobile labor force; the institutional permanence that allows for transgenerational investment and sustained intellectual and physical efforts, together with the accumulation of long-term capital; and a zest for discovery, enterprise, wealth creation, and new undertakings." - Michael Novak, 'How Christianity Created Capitalism'

And so, the aforementioned ladder was built. (Another needlessly obscure post-modernist aside: Will a post-capitalist society propose optimal conditions for the post-transcendant like those silly anarchos believe?)
Anyway. Back to history lesson nutshell.
The Cascadian scene is born of and flourishes within this new man and/vs. nature and control environmental meltdown dialectic, fashioning themselves as modern warriors of the soil or at the least heralds of doom, Melancology is born. Melting down the human and ultimately selfish desire for transcendence into selflessness by repurposing it as a selfishness for the world.

Steven Shakespeare in his Blackened Notes (Helvete 2013) analyses 'Rain' by the band Fauna pretty thoroughly, finally finding a climax in an echo of ash after a brutal (un)natural (un)birth. The lyrics and his words scream to me of coming -just- short of holding a darkened mirror up to the 'Starbucks, yoga, and secular Buddhism' set, with its attempted appropriation of an immaterial philosophy into a very material culture, -almost- cracking through into a spiral-ish return to the "positive zero" espoused in most Zen philosophy that ignore the original calls to not be deceived by thinking you're correct about your path; perhaps at the end proposing the next step be a sort of zen ex nihilo. The problem is of the singularity or individuality of the message. That despite all of this Other acting against Us, Black Metal still doggedly and slavishly attempts to follow the individualistic "heroic path"(Michalewicz 2007) set forth by its own mythology, just this time it is individualism disguised as….communitarian? Is that right? Am I using that properly?

Should I care?

----------Black Noise takes this "upward" trajectory and reimagines it outward in all directions. Finding it impossible to crack the ceiling to reach the sky, it burns the building down. Sifting through the pieces at leisure it is able to pressure each individual fissure, probing for places from which to rupture into experimentation, and posthumously granting "true kvlt" status on a entirely different plane of judgement  than utilized up to this point in a far grander show of inclusivity than purists could ever be bothered with. The individual is subsumed to or into the sound, even among one-man bands. Black Noise must necessarily perform this radical deconstruction in order to expose how universal the feelings evoked by black metal are, by showing that all of the individual parts of the assemblage, on their own, are interrelated and connectable to every -or any- other style. To show, as Zappa, Varese, Glenn Branca, Wreck and Reference, Merzbow and hundreds of others before and after, that there are no rules, and to explicitly challenge preconceptions about exactly what art or music (or Black Metal, or Theory, or Black Metal Theory, blablabla ad nauseaum) is. (It is but a trick of the light and perception that separates black from white or any other color after all.)

To paraphrase Burroughs, if nothing is true (trve!), everything is permitted.  When we stop considering the aim for an end AS THE END, but rather acknowledge that an aspect of "ending-ness" exists in all things, maybe we get a rebirth of the ability to create from a "cultural scratch", from absolute Zero in the OM of Nothingness. A plane of immanence referencing an equality of thought and the possibilities of theorizing about anything from within the Void. A deterritorialization of black metal (which frightens the diehards ever so much…) that easily strips superficial aspects of that common black metal synthesis of ultimate(real or feigned) sincerity with the aesthetic beauty of pageantry into a raw, howling, and distinctly smooth expression OUTWARD from a very-Zen Void that understands suffering, negativity, and pain in profoundly more depth than most practitioners of more positive Zen techniques or styles.

With no consideration whatsoever given to an enemy, an object or mode to be transcended, or even a potential audience or commentary, the authenticity of this Black Noise obtains an awesome and infinite mass to (at least) this scholar, dragging me inward and crushing all of my philosophies into singularity. Providing a larger unity through the inherent formlessness of its noise and finds its correlate, not in reversal toward the beginning, but in acceleration past the 'end' into the original dissonance of where the end of entropy becomes creation.

So…your point is…?

In summation, I propose the end of historical-linear genre debate, and a replacement with the idea of the rhizome, resembling a filling of a container until it bursts in ANY and EVERY direction, rather than the strict and terse genealogy of reversals and additions we've been taught. How about a transcendence of the ability to define a thing exclusively as Black Metal or to think that such a thing can ever exist without its environment? I think Black Noise illuminates a blueprint for applying the Haptic Void as a metaphor for acceleration, and allows for an exposition of black metal's similarities with a great multiplicity of other expressions across disciplines.

Apologies to Deleuze and Guattari for holding a knife to their thoughts' throats. In my defense, they never seem to come quietly. The Chicago Manual of Style can take a fucking hike into the Void.

Don't EVER take me seriously.


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