November 07, 2009

Re: That

In response to Mr. Stove’s call for research into the overlap of metal-heads and Takimag-addicts, I think he would be quite surprised to find at least three such instances right under his nose. Indeed, Takimag’s own editor, Richard Spencer, and contributor Kevin DeAnna are such types, and I include myself in this category as well. As a matter of fact, Kevin and I are president and vice president, respectively, of the nation’s only (to my knowledge) Alternative Right collegiate movement, and a majority of the more intellectually-oriented Alternative Right youth of my acquaintance are similar metal aficionados.

Admittedly, in the 70’s and 80’s, heavy metal music was, to a large extent, mind-numbingly proletarian and simple. As Mr. Kurtagic aptly pointed out, the themes of this era and the likes of Ozzy Osbourne were primarily “related to youth and demonstrated an almost single-minded preoccupation with sex, crapulent excess, and low-brow posturing, with its frontmen displaying few commitments beyond contempt for authority.” To an extent, these themes still abound in certain realms of the broad genre “metal”, but they bare sharp contrast to the often surreal, mythical, and intellectually rigorous genres of metal which Mr. Kurtagic was referencing.

To my knowledge, no other genre of music in production lyrically encompasses classical themes like The Odyssey or Greek Gods, much less any aspect of IndoEuropean heritage.

Aside from generally healthy, intellectually serious themes, some aspects of the genre are overtly political on issues dear to us. I first got into metal when my friend dragged me to a show in Atlanta.  Being the fraternity gentleman that I am, I initially didn’t quite fit in with the mostly long-haired, tattooed audience at the show. I couldn’t help join in, though, when one of the opening bands announced that they were going to perform a piece conveying their feelings about illegal immigration. It wasn’t a great song, but without exception, every member of the audience began shouting with the singer “Illegals 1, Citizens 0!” and I knew I was amidst persons of a like-minded political persuasion.

Much of the genre is a rebellion against the overly-consumerist, spiritually bankrupt, and egalitarian nature of our social and political culture in favor of a return to a more folkish society that values the spiritual and heroic in man. 

As a college student who is the only attendee under 60 at productions of my local opera company or at live screenings of the Metropolitan Opera at the local movie theatre (I just saw Puccini’s Turandot today), I like to think my tastes of music aren’t quite as mind-numbingly simple as Mr. Stove suggests.

I could go on describing the merits of certain sects of heavy metal, but the true value can only be perceived by attending a show, which I would describe as a higher Dionysian experience, in the Nietzschean sense.  In fact, reading Mr. Stove’s post, I was reminded of Nietzsche’s comment in the Birth of Tragedy about Dionysian phenomena (my apologies in advance for the inflamed rhetoric):

“There are some who, from obtuseness or lack of experience, turn away from such phenomena [Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, et cetera] as from ‘folk-diseases,’ with contempt or pity born of the consciousness of their own ‘healthy mindedness.’ But of course such poor wretches have no idea how corpselike and ghostly their so-called ‘healthy-mindedness’ looks when the glowing life of the Dionysian revelers roars past them.”

Metal concerts in my experience achieve the higher Dionysian state in a way that the primal grind dancing and rap music so prevalent at clubs and fraternity parties could never hope to reach.

Given, metal is not everyone’s cup of mead, and what Mr. Stove references might be true: that something strange happens to the eardrums after 30; but for those of us still durable enough to get knocked around is a mosh pit, or simply looking for artists and songs that relate life-affirming myths and values, no music in production today could be more fitting.

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