Wednesday, 27 August 2014

scrutiny and long acquaintance

death has more details
to take in
more to say
more to remember
for me life is a series of banal
snapshots
a film school dropout’s montage
of cookie-cutter
characterisation and context
for me life is like wallpaper
i disagree with and
will lose the argument
death is so much more
compelling. consider:
none who ever lived resisted its
compulsion ignored its
call
or evaded its coming
i have seen enough of death to
know
it is never just death
it is never just a number
never just another
death is always fraught
always rife with detail
always unique
death stands out
even in a pack
even in a massacre or epidemic
and the only ones to whom death
can be held at a remove
can be anaesthetised
and dismissed
are neither dead nor alive
but far worse

Friday, 22 August 2014

people send me pictures

Copies of my books are being spotted in the wild. Here are some pictures I have seen:






Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Metal culture has a serious 'good German' problem. Virtually every metalhead I know has posted something in the last few months about how some group of elitists or n00bs or old schoolers or core kids or backbiters or backscratchers is fucking up the scene, but hardly anyone ever thinks they might be part of the problem. The people I can relate to most are the chronic malcontents, the ones who have always critiqued the 'culture' while remaining true to their own personal journeys as listeners.

And really, the problem isn't that different people have different tastes or that they're not accepting of other people's tastes. The problems are: that we're content to be a bunch of marketing-driven consumers, no matter how niche a market we constitute, but we think we're some sort of gritty, independent underground subculture. That we settle too often for bands that make all the right noises and punch all the generic buttons, but have little to offer beyond that. That we think most metal radio and magazines are not as much a marketing tool as their mainstream counterparts.

A lot of these people forget that dissent is not aggression; disagreeing with you is not the same attacking you (although one can shade into the other) and not liking your favourite band doesn't really add up to being narrow minded and hate-filled (except when it does). The beer and buddies and 'bangers vibe, which is valid as far as it goes, is not the be-all of the genre. It's more important to form your own tastes. And remember what Peter Steele said: don't mistake lack of talent for genius. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

What we can learn from Richard Dawkins

One odd explanation offered for Dawkins' latest faux pas, claiming that date rape is bad and rape by a stranger is worse, is that he was busy making a logical point (x can be bad, y can be worse, and both are still bad) and forgetting a rhetorical technique that undermines his point (when we say x is bad, y is worse we are often implying that x is not really that bad after all). This doesn't wash - the effectiveness of applied logic is only as good as its underlying assumptions and Dawkins' assumption here is flawed. Add to that the fact that a large majority of reported rapes are perpetrated by people known to the victim.

Dawkins is knowledgeable within his field. He is also widely read and has a degree of awareness of the cultural heritage of the West. What he does not have is a clear awareness of the nuances of gender issues or the realities of sexual abuse. Added to this, he is unwilling to learn, generalising the attacks he sees on Twitter and comments threads to claim that all opposition to his magisterial pronouncements is offered by weak-brained, combative people who do not have valid points. Dawkins, someone whom I once respected (and I still think his books on evolution, like Unweaving The Rainbow, are marvellous), has fallen into the trap of turning an unexamined and poorly-informed opinion into dogma. He is so committed to upholding his own image of infallibility that he has shut down the possibility of productive dialogue and learning. He is a useful object lesson to us of how people can claim to follow a certain philosophy but in reality apply it when it suits them and are actually driven by more emotional compulsions and obsessions.

Perhaps what we should learn from Dawkins' poor performance on issues of gender and race is to always examine our own opinions and be aware of their basis, and ready to discuss them with others and try to learn from differing opinions. We should also learn that our backgrounds shape us more than we like to admit - my online friend Derick has pointed out that Dawkins is at heart a British Protestant philistine for instance - and understand the values and limitations imposed by that background.

Most of all, we should always be prepared to change our minds and admit we were wrong. Growing as a human being is more important than preserving some image of ideological commitment or personal infallibility

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Some deep god

Some deep god
That we've buried underground
That we've buried underground
That we've buried underground
Some deep god from ancestral minds
From ancestors in the ground
From ancestors in the ground
From ancestors in the ground
Some deep god
In the glades of a green world
In the glades of a green world
In the glades of a green world
Some deep time
Some ancestor deep in the mind
Some ancestor deep in the mind
Some ancestor deep in the mind
Some god, deep in the mind
Buried. Sleeps. Dreams
Us

It seems, looking over this blog, one of my recurring sources of frustration is the niche nature of my creative work, more so of its audience. Does this mean a bigger audience would make me happy? I think so, yes. Probably, especially if it meant good money and a regular ego massage. But looking for that is kind of soul destroying. I I have been happier making music now that I don't consider being part of the scene or winning an audience beyond ourselves in a room, making music. I will write more, and better, now that I am rejecting the pursuit of publication and finding readers. This is hermetic, but not altogether. There will still be stories people can read, still be songs they can hear.

Siege Mentality

These trenches stretch out
Frown lines to the horizon
They make it easier
To go to ground
Easier to glower
Coal black eyes rejection
Subterranean fortress
These things make
It easier to go to ground
To be besieged
They have nothing to do
With the memory
That sits on a shelf in a
Museum
Smothered under glass
As a form of kindness
For those of us who did not
Have to die and did not
Want to wait
And who still remain
Entrenched, governed by the buried god
The one believers reject
Often considered dead
But horribly alive.