On Useful Idiots and Subversion

This is simply a short post to recommend to you a video interview I found on YouTube. The interview is from sometime in the 1980’s if I am not mistaken and is with a Soviet KGB defector named Yuri Bezmenov.

Since WordPress will not allow me to link videos without shilling out cash I cannot provide you with a link to the video, apologies about that. However, the video is very easy to find, simply type in Yuri Bezmenov in the search field and you should find the video in question. It is called Deception Was My Job. The interview is absolutely fascinating and enlightening, and I sincerly hope you decide to watch it. I highly recommend it.

The Declining Value of Music in a Digital Age

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Music today has increasingly little value, not only because of online services which make it cheap or free for the listener, but also because of the sheer volume of music available at present. In a matter of seconds one has within reach enough music to last a lifetime, or even several.

In the distant past, in order to listen to music one had to attend a concert in a concert hall or listen to a singer in a tavern. More recently, inventions such as the radio and stereo has allowed music to become a more solitary things, and has also mainstreamed it in a manner not previously possible, and consequently has shaped the cultural zeitgeist to an increasing degree. With the arrival of the internet, I believe this is vaning. I hold that there are no musical artists today that shape the cultural landscape. Undoubtedly, there are popular artists, but none of them capture an entire generation like The Beatles did for the Baby Boomers, or Nirvana did for Gen X.

This development is of course not wholly negative, I certainly don’t want to give that impression. The internet age has given artists which would previously have been confined to a small underground following a chance for more widespread recognition. It also makes finding rare music much easier (and certainly cheaper). The internet has made things very convenient, but I fear that this convenience will lead to a devaluing of musicians and their creation.

 

The Language of Mythology

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When most people recount our myths and mythologies, they are taken at face value. Thor riding across the sky in a wagon pulled by goats, creating lightning by striking with his hammer, for instance. There doesn’t seem to be any consideration that there might be some deeper meaning, something esoteric and hidden and not immediately obvious.

As I see it, our mythologies are a sort of language, a way for our ancestors to explain and remember the world and the forces of nature to themselves, and their descendants in terms that were easy to pass down orally. Our fairy tales are like this to an extent. They take on a form and a language that is easy to remember and to pass down, and as we know our fairy tales were meant to give moral lessons to children, at least in some sense.

Does the story of Ragnarok really describe the end of the world? Is Jörmungandr, the world serpent, really a giant sea serpent coiled around Midgard or is there something more than meets the eye, something esoteric?

A reason for our current interpretation of the mythologies could be that we see them through a Christian lens, so to speak. Ragnarok describes a giant predetermined battle wherein the Æsir die, and the world is submerged in water, and so could line up fairly well with the Christian Apocalypse, to use an example.

This is of course merely speculation on my part, but I assume it to be the case. To me it just seems more likely. Archeological findings certainly suggests that the neolithic era man was far more advanced than we generally give him credit for.

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The Phoenix Dies, and Then is Born Again

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“Even thus by the great sages ’tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year” –Dante

The mythological creature, the Phoenix, rises gloriously from its ashes after its death. Throughout the ages it has often been associated with the sun, and symbolizes renewal and resurrection; and is a wonderful representation of the concept of reincarnation.

It is also an apt metaphor for civilization, or indeed a people. When a society is in decline it builds up its own funeral pyre, rests on top of it, is disintegrated in the fire and is reduced to a pile of ashes; but from these ashes rises another civilization in its place, more overwhelming in its splendor than anything seen before by man.

Out of the ashes of a decadent, corrupt and nihilistic age will rise a better, more resilliant and stronger age. Alas, the decline is inevitable, but only temporary.

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The Little Girl Found

The Little Girl Found

by William Blake

 

All the night in woe,
Lyca’s parents go:
Over vallies deep.
While the desarts weep.

Tired and woe-begone.
Hoarse with making moan:
Arm in arm seven days.
They trac’d the desert ways.

Seven nights they sleep.
Among shadows deep:
And dream they see their child
Starvdd in desart wild.

Pale thro’ pathless ways
The fancied image strays.
Famish’d, weeping, weak
With hollow piteous shriek

Rising from unrest,
The trembling woman prest,
With feet of weary woe;
She could no further go.

In his arms he bore.
Her arm’d with sorrow sore:
Till before their way
A couching lion lay.

Turning back was vain,
Soon his heavy mane.
Bore them to the ground;
Then he stalk’d around.

Smelling to his prey,
But their fears allay,
When he licks their hands:
And silent by them stands.

They look upon his eyes
Fill’d with deep surprise:
And wondering behold.
A spirit arm’d in gold.

On his head a crown
On his shoulders down,
Flow’d his golden hair.
Gone was all their care.

Follow me he said,
Weep not for the maid;
In my palace deep.
Lyca lies asleep.

Then they followed,
Where the vision led;
And saw their sleeping child,
Among tygers wild.

To this day they dwell
In a lonely dell
Nor fear the wolvish howl,
Nor the lion’s growl.

Collectivism, Individualism and Pride in One’s Heritage

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Whilst browsing the comment field of a YouTube video, I came across a comment I found interesting. The commenter insisted that collectivism and indentity politics were for people who had nothing else to be proud of. I have heard and read similar statements before, and they seem to be in vogue for the middle-of-the-road liberal types.

I have a fair bit to say on this subject. First and foremost: most people will never achieve greatness. Most people will never really have anything to be proud of beyond having a family, raising their children. And that’s completely fine. It’s all well and good. Most people will not have exhilarating careers that fulfil them, they will have jobs. Menial, boring jobs that pay the bills and little else. Most people will not be well known, most people will not have an impact on the world.

Most people will not be remembered  long after their death, save through their descendants. We should remember our parents, our grand-parents and great-grand-parents after their are dead, we should tell stories about them to our children and grand-children. My children will never meet my father, or my grand-father, but I will nevertheless tell them stories of them, so they can know that while they are dead, they have been important men in our family. So that they can know something of the past before their birth. Our ancestors are our link to the past, as our descendants are our link to the future. We all need to feel part of something, part of a group.

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Individualists seem to think that collectivism and individualism are diametrically opposed. Having once upon a time been a liberal individualist myself, I still have some recollection of this mindset. Being a collectivist doesn’t mean that the group is all there is, merely that groups are important and meaningful. We find ourselves in groups, get to know who we are through them. We are one part of a family, we are one part of a group of friends, we are one part of a workplace, we are one in a nation, we are one part of a people.

Which leads me to pride in one’s heritage, which is a big no-no nowadays (for certain peoples anyway). The common liberal argument is that well, you didn’t achieve any of these things. Perhaps not, but I am still of the group that achieved these things. My people, my family so to speak. Why shouldn’t I cheer for my country in the Olympics as opposed to some foreign country I know next to nothing about? We don’t feel closer to our country of birth just because we happened to be born within the borders which consitute it. We feel close to our country of birth because it birthed us, nurtured us and because it is our home, and the home of our people. It has a history we are familiar with, customs and traditions we know and a culture we identify with.

History is important to a people, a sense of a past. As is culture, and a culture is an extention of a people. Not all peoples are compatible with all cultures, as I see it.

In conclusion, groups are meaningful and valid. To be an individualist is often to alienate yourself from others, to feel superior to them. It is used a means to belittle other people, and to place oneself above them. “I am not so insecure about myself that I need others to tell me my identity.” and so on. I have read variations on the above statement on the Internet several times. I think the people writing things like that are deluding themselves, I think they are trying to convince themselves and not the world around them.

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One Pop Star, Two Bombs and Many Dead Children

What is there to say really? At this point it’s just tedious frankly, but since so many still fervantly refuse to get the point, here I am writing this, as I expect many others are; what will it take?

What will it take for you to wake up? What will it take for you to care about the lives of your daughters? What will it take for you to care for your country and for your people? If Rotherham, or Cologne, or the dozens of recent deadly terror attacks didn’t manage to convince you, what will it take?

I sincerely hope that you do manage, though. Now is the time. It’s not too late yet, although the situation is dire at the moment. Stop being a coward. We need you. And more importantly: your children need you.

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A Blaze in the Northern Sky (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Black Metal)

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“We are a Blaze in the Northern Sky
The next thousand years are OURS” -Darkthrone- A Blaze in the Northern Sky

The 6th of June 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the burning of Fantoft Stavkirke by members of the Norwegian Black Metal movement. So in anticipation of this, I intend to give my thoughts on this much maligned form of music, as well as my history with it. Bear in mind that this is not a review of the Darkthrone album that I have purposed my title from.

The arson sparked a string of church burnings in Norway, and was what initally gave the genre of Black Metal international attention, so I thought it fitting (if indeed in bad taste) to highlight this (for me upcoming) anniversary, and base my retrospective on my history with Black Metal music around it.

My introduction to Black Metal music came in 2005 or 2006 through the more watered down early 2000’s style, the usual suspects as it were (Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon). I can’t rightly remember what my initial reactions to the music were, but the ultimate effect was so that I sought out the early 1990’s Norwegian originators, such as Darkthrone, Mayhem, and of course, the infamous one-man band Burzum.

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While I can’t remember what my first reactions to Dimmu Borgir were, for instance, I can very clearly remember what my reaction to Burzum was. It was one of utter disgust and loathing (I made the mistake of listening to the track War as my introduction to Burzum). Still, something made me seek out more songs, and eventually I listened to one particular song, which not only changed the way I viewed Burzum, but changed my entire view on music as a whole. The song in question is Key to the Gate from the 1993 album Det som engang var. At first it sounded as silly as the previous songs I had heard by him, but then around the one minute mark, the character of the song changes completely. It went from being an abrasive and violent metal song, to being a melodic and very moody and atmospheric one flawlessly. More importantly perhaps, I felt something inside me awaken, something unexplainable. I had found something that truly represented me, as I were then at that time, as an insecure and troubled teenager. I had found something that expressed my emotions back to me; my anger and frustration and sorrow.

“When night falls
she cloaks the world
in impenetrable darkness.
A chill rises
from the soil
and contaminates the air
Suddenly…
life has new meaning” -Burzum-Burzum (Dunkelheit)

After that I was hooked completely. I bought every Black Metal record I could get my hands on, and downloaded everything I couldn’t get my hands on from the internet, and became obsessed by this music, and the surrounding controversy. I still remember vividly the day I found a second-hand copy of Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky in a local electronics store. When I played it on my stereo back home, I was astonished by the ferocity of it.

I imagine a huge factor in me falling so head over heels for this music was the fact that most of the prominent bands and musicians were Norwegian, and sung (I use that term very loosely) their lyrics in Norwegian. It gave the music an esoteric quality, and gave me a feeling of being one of very few who could understand and appreciate it. I was an insider to this music. It was clearly an elitist thing; I was one of the few who got it, who understood it.

Many bands (such as Enslaved, for instance) based their imagery and lyrics on Viking Age Scandinavia and Nordic mythology. It was probably something that made the music more relatable to me. As did the blasphemous, anti-Christian imagery. At the time I was an ardent, obnoxious atheist, influenced by Nietzsche.

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Of course, an equally significant factor was the criminal element. Back then it was still seen as a dangerous, corrupting force by the media and the general public. That view was in the process of changing, but the genre hadn’t quite reached an accepted position yet; as it does now more or less. It still held an aura of the forbidden.  Many of the musicians involved in this musical style were convicted criminals. There were church burnings, murders and suicides; endlessly exiting stuff for a teenaged boy. It was also, at this time, a music genre the Norwegian press tried its best to sweep under the rug, but failed to. Its worldwide appeal was undeniable.

I don’t condone church burnings, as anyone who has read my previous posts no doubt can imagine; nor do I necessarily agree with the viewpoints of most of the involved parties. However, I think that the arsons are an important part of  recent Norwegian history; and that Black Metal music is a worthwhile and unique part of our musical export. The music from that period (the early 1990’s) still hold an incredible amount of emotional value to me personally. It was something to identify with when I desperately needed it.

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For those interested in the genre and are curious as to where to start, I will give a short list of recommendations at the end of this post. Bear in mind, however, if you are new to this sort of music that it is extreme even by Heavy Metal standards and that landmark albums (such as those I am about to name) often contain low (or non-existant) production values. The music is a furious howl of pummeling, severely fast-paced drums, ice-cold guitars playing harsh and often mournful, tremolo-picked riffs, and screeching vocals. It is not for everyone. Nor does it try to be. Instead it seems to try to appeal to as few people as possible, at least at the genre’s inception. The bands focus heavily on creating a menacing, oppressive and haunting atmosphere that brings to mind an atomic winter. I think they succeeded well in this. Here follows a list of albums that I think are good for an introduction to the genre:

  • DarkthroneA Blaze in the Northern Sky
  • DarkthroneTransilvanian Hunger
  • EmperorIn the Nightside Eclipse
  • MayhemDe Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
  • UlverBergtatt
  • BurzumFilosofem

Note: these albums are ranked by release date, not by any preference on my part.

The Second Coming

The Second Coming

by William Butler Yeats

 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Need for Religion

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” -Voltaire

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In my teens I was fiercely opposed to religion, in all its forms. I was an ardent atheist, and thought religious people were stupid, close-minded sheep, following the instructions of some ridiculous ancient book, not having the brain capacity to judge right or wrong for themselves. God, in my mind, was such an obvious falsity, such an obvious lie; how could anyone believe in such utter nonsense?

As I matured, my vicious hostility towards religion waned, replaced instead by a growing fascination. At first it was the Eastern religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) that drew my attention; later I grew interested in the ancient European religion (Germanic paganism, heathenism or whatever else you might wish to call it), stemming perhaps from my love of nature. Then, much later, I gained an interest in, and fondness of, Christianity; although I personally am more attracted to paganism as a spiritual belief. I had realized the need for religion, in myself, as well as in humanity itself; and while I yet had no firm religious beliefs, I frequently visited religious sites in my spare time.

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The need for religion is, I think, prevalent in all of us; if denied, it will take prominence in other forms: politics, social causes, even hobbies – these will take on a religious fervor in some. Almost all cultures and peoples that have ever existed have had a religion of some kind. I think it is safe to say that this religious desire is inbuilt in us at this point. It has been passed down to us through the ages.

As for morality, as many today claim that you can have a perfectly fine moral basis without religion, a secular morality as it were; I agree up to a point. Of course, you can have a workable, honorable morality without being religious, but how many do? Many atheists seem to be under the impression that most people are capable of producing a moral framework from scratch. I don’t think this rings true at all. Some might be able to do this, but for the vast majority of people, I think it’s safe to say that they just want to be led, to use what has already been put in place for them by their predecessors. They might alter some of it, but they’ll use most of it. They just want to live their lives, they don’t have time to ponder greatly over moral issues. They take their cues from their societies, and act in accordance with what they have been told is right.

What happens when societies no longer believe in religion, when they throw them away? In many developed countries it has been replaced with a sort of shallow nihilism, a general widespread depression, a sense of purposelessness. This ties in with the belief in a secular morality somewhat, as many modern day behaviors known to be harmful to the spirit, can not be discouraged without religion. In earlier times they were called sins. You’d be laughed at today if you tried to tell someone they were commiting a sin, because our societies (and by extention, peoples) no longer believe in religious morality.

This has the effect that many people don’t realize that some behaviors degrade them. We seem to have this concept in place that if it’s not harmful to others, it’s completely fine to do. I think this is a shallow way of looking at human nature. Behaviors matter. And perhaps more than is immediately obvious to us.

Nowadays it seems to be a more or less agreed upon belief (in the West, at least) that we are beyond religion, that we are so enlightened and rational that it is beneath us. This comes across as self-aggrandizement to me. We are not more intelligent than our ancestors, although many of us like to think we are. Even though some scientists have made tremendous progress, does not mean that the average person is any cleverer than his predecessors. Quite the contrary, since modernity allows for almost everyone to survive and procreate, regardless of their skill or intelligence or resourcefulness.

I believe a society need some sort of religious foundation that it espouses to its inhabitants. Of course, not all religions are equally preferable, but it seems to me that without a guiding force, like religion certainly can be, a society quickly degrades. But the people still crave a religion, somewhere deep inside, and so they look for it in unlikely places, unknowingly. Or they adopt a foreign faith.

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