18 08 08 - 09:55When I write about metal, I often distinguish works -- which I consider to, at their best, be art -- by how honest they are. It's fairly easy to tell, although most people find that unnerving. An honest work tries to communicate with you; a dishonest work tries to game you by convincing you it's something it's not, so that you do x, or y or z that benefits those who made it. It's a virus, in other words.
Dishonest works are generally the product of The Hipster, which is any person who tries to be hip for the sake of their own ego, instead of having a useful function of any kind. Hipsters are parasites on the social scene in that they want attention for being unexceptional, and since they can't succeed at life by being exceptional -- including making good music, being people we'd like to know, etc -- they become dramatic and draw attention to themselves with increasingly radical styles of dress and behavior. If you ever find someone doing something humiliating, stupid, freakish, or pointless while slyly watching you out of the corner of their eye, you've found the same psychology.
It's not much different from parasitic religions that convince people to fail at life so they can succeed at the board game called "What God Likes." I'm not saying life is about success, or material success, just that if you want to have a good life, you need to have some function and challenge yourself to do it well. Hipsters don't do that. They want the reward without the work.
We have a hipster core here in Texas. It's called Austin. Hipsters are fond of one of many modern illusions, a socialized liberalism -- a well-intentioned emotion channeled into a fashion that pretends to be an ideology, but never achieves its goals, despite making a hash of things on its path -- that like drugs makes us feel better, but doesn't solve any problems, and strengthens rather than weakens its ostensible enemy, the total state. Hipsters are useful because they beat liberalism out of people who are still able to think.
When I went to Austin, I was all about tolerance. I was still clueless as to the problems of the world, mainly because I spent most of my time working.
When I saw the liberal paradise that is Austin, I realized that liberalism is basically parasitism. "If someone has x, and I don't, I deserve it, and I'll force them to share with social guilt"; after seeing that, and the complete social havoc -- where good people were not only ignored but socially persecuted, and vapid whores predominated and suffocated art and culture with their lies -- I left Austin and liberalism behind.
(There may be an honest liberalism. To me, when I was a liberal, it meant not allowing big pointless entities to rule over people in destructive ways. I'm thinking about all the people who got dicked over by their stupid jobs, all the toxic waste dumped into rivers, all the junk products that just ended up in landfills, all the overdeveloped areas where forests were sacrificed, etc. For me, liberalism meant restraining humanity's appetite with common sense. I soon learned that if you oppose power, however, you soon get people who oppose power for power's sake because they're powerless. They have no power in life and no control over their own appetites, so they hate anything that resembles power, but since they're weak, they don't attack directly but through whining. I was a classical liberal, which meant treat people fairly. That philosophy however decays un-gracefully into revenge for the underdog, hatred of excellence, and desire to turn the world into one uniform Safe(tm) place. I realized quickly how this plays into the hands of our leaders. It distracts our best people and sends them off to defend those who have failed at life, and then the activists in turn fail at life, so they spent their time fighting for the right to fail. It's a sick cycle but easily avoidable if you think it through: the problem isn't power, but people in power without a clue, and they're in power because all the failed people want pleasant illusions instead of reality. So if you're an honest liberal, don't take this column as a personal attack, or a political statement. I'm pointing out how liberalism commonly decays into self-importance, hipsterism and other problems, not trying to assault the emotional or psychological impetus behind liberal thinking.)
Austin is the hipster capital of the world, in many ways. I've been to Seattle and to San Francisco, to L.A. (Silver Lake) and to Mizzoula, MT, all of which are hipster-havens. But Austin hipsters have the city locked down. Under the guise of fighting the man, you're supposed to be weird and freaky and do whatever the man doesn't expect. But you go back to work the next day, having learned nothing. It's a good town to work food service until you're 42 and then become a regular, bitter writer on Alternet.org.
Austin suffocates every quality band who tries to set up shop there. Metal bands in particular suffer because, unless you infiltrate the social network and start behaving like a hipster, no one will attend your shows. People are too afraid of being un-hip to go see an unknown, unless that "unknown" is secretly an underground favorite. As a result, the best Austin bands are the ones that have nothing to do with the "seen" (Scene) there.
Emos, hipsters, modern primitives, trend whores, carnies, defiant minorities and lesbians, drug use theorists, mantra-chanting New Agers, feminists, body modification fetishists, coprophages, "witches," faux artists of all variety, embittered defiant hippies, foreskin collectors, and other failures of all sorts cluster in Austin. They have failed at making something of their lives, so they are using cognitive dissonance, and making themselves a Big Deal in social/moral/hip circles.
When I seize power, it will be very unwise for anyone to spend time in Austin. The B-52 carries 27 tons of high explosive and, if unleashed on a city block, literally landscapes it into a moon surface of ceramicized dirt covered in the dust of charred, vaporized plants, animals, and buildings -- this is a consequence of the TNT/HE mix used in modern bombs. The explosions are so loud that people up to a mile away will lose hearing for the next two days. Some of the fireballs approximate a quarter mile in size, and can be seen from nearby cities. A flight of B-52s, properly targetted, can erase a city so thoroughly that from space it resembles a desert, and this is without use of nuclear weapons.
That form of horror, visited upon Austin, will not cost the human race any geniuses. Nor will it diminish its artistic or social potential. Instead, it will increase our potential by removing the false and giving space to something new, like weeding a garden and dropping in seeds for non-parasitic plants. Don't cry for Austin, because that entire town is one giant emo hipster cognitive dissonance passive aggression parasite. Its death in flaming vapor will be a great step forward for taste and beauty.
Metal music, like nature, is not about fashion. It's not about being nice to everyone so they can feel good for being exceptional. It's about results. About making civilizations that make people inhale sharply whenever they see their ruins for the next 10,000 years. About getting art, science, culture, etc. right. About doing things that matter because they're not the same humdrum. Forging new spaces, destroying emptiness, making life interesting and giving us something to live for. Like nature, in metal life is struggle, but struggle for beauty and not the bloated, ugly, self-importance of an ego. Metal is anti-hipster, and anti-Austin.