It's all really simple, man

28 06 10 - 16:21

A liberal reader writes:

If anyone is truly the oppressor in modern politics, it's Conservatives.

* They want to tell you with whom, when and why you can have sex.
* They want to keep all the fun drugs illegal.
* They want to ignore or continue the inequality of the races.
* They won't let two people in love marry if they're gay.
* They won't make recycling mandatory and save our planet.
* They want to perpetuate the giant killing machine that is our military and arms sales worldwide.
* They want us to take Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck seriously.

Conservatives bring nothing but death and suffering. Let's split up America and send the Conservatives to Bible-belt Heaven, a.k.a. Alaska, where they can be ruled by Sarah Palin until the end of their days.

Yep, it's really that simple. You know what our problem is?


You got it. That's right, oppression. Since the dawn of time, some group of idiots somewhere has been oppressing us. It's not our fault things are going badly (under the surface, because on the surface they're going great -- check out the Xbox and the Ford Excursion).

You probably don't know this. But let me enlighten you: All that pollution, political corruption, lack of exploring the stars, miserable boring jobs and ugly cities, angry bitter people who scam you and then blame you for ripping them off, the endless power games where someone has to feel smarter and better than others for trivial game... that's all a result of oppression.

It's not that we are disorganized, and therefore easy to oppress, or that because we are mostly personally disorganized our lowest common denominator is a low standard. Nope. We're the good guys -- the problem is the oppressors! And they're stupid and evil, but somehow they're winning, even though we're enlightened and good.

Oppressors bust us by pretending to have standards. They think one way of doing things is better than others. But man, if you think about it and deconstruct it, they're all just choices! What does it matter? If you make one or the other, you'll just be fine today and tonight. Don't worry about tomorrow, it's not cool. There is no right way of doing anything and history is not a lesson.

There's lots of ignorant people out there who will deny that the problem is oppression. They say that most people are personally disorganized and morally deficient, therefore plunging society into constant stupidity, crime, incompetence and bitterness. Even more, they say that groups of the incompetent band together to tear down any who might rise above. But that doesn't make any sense to me, so I've gotta say that we'd be better off without the oppressors.

It's really simple, man.

Ambiguity and Conflict in Art

27 06 10 - 15:48

I know not to expect much from this time; when you cut the masses loose and tell them their opinions are important, you're going to get a lowest common denominator which favors the sentimental, the it's-not-my-fault-I-was-oppressed, the materialistic and the convenient.

In fact, it all boils down to convenience: what attitudes or ideas are convenient for the individual to use to explain the world away and stay in this comforting self! Even the sentimental is convenient, because you can cry alone and then feel like you've enhanced your humanity, when all you've really done is emotionally saturate yourself.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal takes down a sacred cow by a peg or two -- but that's not the story. What's important here is this assessment of art:

There is no ambiguity in "To Kill a Mockingbird"; at the end of the book, we know exactly what we knew at the beginning: that Atticus Finch is a good man, that Tom Robinson was an innocent victim of racism, and that lynching is bad. - WSJ

That right there is the difference between art and propaganda/product. Art is morally ambiguous and yet finds a resolution to a complex situation; propaganda and consumerist products present a single view of reality, and may introduce some false doubt, but basically nothing changes. They're binary. You're either in with the dogma or outside of it.

And this can be summarized as such: in art, the precepts do not equal the conclusions; in propaganda, they do. Art is "I went into the world with this attitude, then had the following experiences and reacted to them in a way that reflected my attitude, but as I saw the end results, I changed." Propaganda/product is "Here is the attitude you need and it will bring a tangible reward."

Good death metal starts off with possibly the same riff it will end with, but much changes between those two times, such that the end riff is occurring in a new context, both melodic/scale-dynamic and artistic-symbolic. Good books lead you into a space where you must in the space of your soul decide where you would stand, and then they show you ambiguous results that, if you've learned anything from the book, reflect the difference between intelligence and idiocy.

Take Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The good people end up together; the bad people end up together, with a source of income. No one gets spanked down by life or an absent God in a definitive writing-on-the-wall moment that tells us what's good and bad; still, however, it's clear from how people behave and how events play out who are the idiots, and who are the people we'd like to see more of.

While To Kill a Mockingbird is a sentimental wreck that we could skewer, the point here is well-taken in regard to any art: did it grow internally, or was it a repeated symbol trying to take over your brain? Was it convenience, or did it push you past the comfort zone of convenience? It's worthy to explore real art, as it's a real experience, where propaganda is just comforting delusion, in layers.

False subset

24 06 10 - 11:55

I've spotted this in the wild -- it's a hybrid of the False Dilemma and Appeal to Authority fallacies:

Person 1: Our belief in consumerism is what has doomed us as a society.

Person 2: When did the Consumerist Party ever do such a thing?


Person 1: Our belief in consumerism has doomed us to endless repetition.

Person 2: The international Consumerism Association specifically says we shouldn't be endlessly repetitive.

In both cases the person arguing against the point is trying to confuse the cause (an idea) with one of its effects (a formalized authority wielding its name and claiming to speak for it).

Fits right in with Nietzsche's crusade against "knowing": we live in a society of idiots who think they "know" things because somewhere on an official looking paper, or in an official-looking office, someone took some subset of the idea and declared it Official.

Code words

24 06 10 - 11:37

I'm learning that this society has crazy code words for everything. Often euphemism, sometimes just pure marketing ("but it sounds better"), these are terms that you have to memorize or you get screwed.

For example, when buying coffee -- if you spot anything that says "blend" on it, don't show fear. Walk away quietly and don't make eye contact. Blend means "hotel coffee." It means generic coffee. It means inoffensive, watery coffee. It means 90% of people will agree the coffee wasn't bad, but won't come back for it either.

I think "war metal" and "AOR" are similar terms, but I'm awaiting the full proof.

Get friendly with North Korea

18 06 10 - 11:21

You -- yes, you, average citizen of the world -- can join the Korean Friendship Association, which is a North Korean public relations exercise. If every corporation in the world has a PR department, and every politician has flacks, it's probably good for one of our few current alternatives to democracy to have its own.

Join the KFA

You can also experience an actual alternative view to what's taught in US campuses:

Only few people in the world know that Korea is divided by a big concrete wall in the Parallel 38 that was built by the United States of America when the Korean War finished.This wall is hundreds of times bigger than the one that existed in Germany and is separating the Korean families, brothers, parents... the nation is divided because the U.S.A. is dominating the southern part and keeps an army of more than 40.000 soldiers to avoid the union of the Korean people.

Korea is an independent and sovereign state, but the South is still controlled by the imperialist interests and the U.S. troops .If any South Korean citizen tries to visit North Korea crossing the big concrete wall, he'll be killed by the american soldiers. The 'Security Law' in South Korea forbides to any South Korean citizen to talk or read about the North or else he'll be punished with jail or even death penalty. - Reunification

You won't hear that taught in US campuses because US campuses are almost entirely leftist, and so they're going to portray the situation as the global uprising of The People against oppressive Kings, governments and corporations. The idea of Korea wanting to be Korea... that's just not on the menu.

Our lazy and fat right-wing on the other hand have lost the ability to discern historical events, and so it was the commies versus us, and Korea -- well, that South Part is OK and they're our trading buddies.

People on the American left and right BOTH make fun of North Korea. Why? Because both sides are consumerist -- they're all for the Global People's Revolutionary Purges as long as it doesn't interrupt their Starbucks, SUVs, 500 channel cable, and the ability to go onto the internet and bloviate about whatever crap they want.

Personally, I'm rootin' for the DPRK on this one. The South is more prosperous, so they should consider a hybrid system, especially if they can find some way to hold off the social decay brought on by consumerism (sorry, "freedom").


Open arms for tragedy in Guatemala

09 06 10 - 12:04

The United States North American Aerospace Defense Command released a statement regarding the tragedy in Guatemala, citing a misfiring of the newly launched Global Orbital Amplified Tactical Satellite Emitter system over Colonia Ciudad Nueva Guatemala City last month.

The statement indicates a focused targeting array suffered a power surge during a routine maintenance exercise which created the gaping hole to open up in the middle of the city. The opening stretches a gaping, perfectly circular aperture, 60 feet wide and 30 stories deep. The gargantuan cavity devoured a three-story building and killing at least one man in the process.

On Friday the White House issued held a press conference acknowledging the tragedy and announce a plan to donate $16 million to assist in creating a pair of concrete memorial hands to be constructed on either side of the opening to help remember the lives lost.

Artist's Conception

Fourth International Day of Slayer -- June 6, 2010

06 06 10 - 08:58

The fourth International Day of Slayer (June 6, 2010) is here. This means you have a bona fide excuse to take the day off, blast Slayer at your pesky fellow citizens, and generally be a metalhead with no regrets! Slayer kicked off the countdown last night to the literal 6/6/6 (June 6, 6 am, HAIL SATAN). Send us your carnage photos and war stories when you're done. In the meantime, we've prepared a collection of Slayer videos to make it even easier to blast Slayer today.

International Day of Slayer

Fallen Heroes and New Stepping Stones

03 06 10 - 11:46

From Vincent Gamma, a new contributor:

If ever you could inject a lisp into "Death Metal," last night would have been the night to do it. I saw thebandformerlyknownas...andapparentlystillknownas... Pestilence last night and I have to say it's been a loooooong time since CONSVMING IMPVLSE came out.

I'll throw out some phrases to give the night context:



All-girl pit.

Extremity lite.

Watching the entire oneish hour set, I am again faced with a giant "WHY?" Why are they still together/trying to perform? Why are people tolerating/accepting this output?

I can't blame the crowd last night.

The crowd was by-and-lard in their 20's with a few of us that were in high school when Mallaeus Malleficarum and CI came out. They weren't there to see the Famous Tour (1990 - Death/Pestilence/Carcass). They weren't there to see Martin Van Drunen (MVD) belt out the unreleased, unrecorded Testimony of the Ancients, only to feel confused and disappointed when the self-same album came out the following year WITHOUT MVD at the helm. They didn't try to tell themselves that Patrick Mamelli was... alright... at the vocal duties...

I can't blame MVD.

Martin is no longer in the band, yet he's doing extremely well with Asphyx, Hail of Bullets, whatever. He still has his CHARISMA and PRESENCE. When I've seen him play, it still feels amazing to watch; it feels true.

I have to blame the Patricks.

They decided to continue on, thinking that they were greater than the sum of the original parts. They decided to not bring amps and play through pedal boards routed through the PA (made the guitars soft and safe sounding). They decided to modify songs from CI into dumbed-down versions. They decided to tell the crowd last night, "we're gonna fucking do you motherfuckers a favor and play something off fucking consuming impluse..."

I'm sorry, what? You're doing US a FAVOR by playing material off CI?

In retrospect, don't do us the "favor" of fucking up your own songs. Just don't play them.

I know firsthand what that's like. I don't enjoy it when it doesn't feel right and you're not into it. So don't do it.

The real favor would be to hang it all the fuck up and stop. You don't have the ability to continue doing it for the sake of doing it.

In this I CAN blame the veteran members of the crowd last night - they were happy that Pestilence was playing purely for the sake of "a band that's still around" coming to the States and grinding it out. Someone should have said no. I stayed to see the whole thing, but I said no throughout. I stood in front of PM and yelled Martin's name. I looked at him and walked to the back after the retarding of Dehydrated.

It was not ok last night: no band should give the impression that they are covering their own songs. Which is what happened last night. I can nitpick about the stage banter. I can nitpick about PM trying to sound like MVD. I can nitpick about how old they looked. I can nitpick further about the sound of the triggered drums dominating the audio and the HD cameras filming everything, likely for a DVD of the tour - another moneymaking scheme...Those details aren't so much the point as is again the fact that we have this "legendary band" playing their material old and new as an afterthought. Not for the SAKE of doing it, but just because...

And that's not good enough anymore.

(oh yeah - the guitars were run through the PA w/o amps which made them soft and diffuse. The drums dominated everything and all the songs had been "quantized" rhythmically to sound alike. There were times when they started a new song that I thought they were attempting an old song because their own conventions are so samey. It was all very girl-friendly... repeat - all girl pit.)

And from CONservationist:

I re-read The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon last night, having remembered it as insightful and moody.

Instead what I got was a disaster. It struck me as obvious; I wanted to like it, but the "mystery" was clearly a pasted-together series of experts who provided mysterious hints, then on the second visit, became allies. It was like all bad novels where a character hooks up with a series of advisers who, as if paid by the CIA, help them through each step.

Even more, at the core of the novel was a sad excuse for logic. There are some people who realize everything is connected, and some who realize it's not. The latter group naturally are the horrible oppressor capitalists and they want to engage in a brutal mechanical subjugation of all life. If they could just see that we're all one... yet they insist on these divisions.

All of this launches from a promising plot about the equivalence of information and matter and how the exchange of matter results in a conversion to information, and that this must persist somewhere, or pre-exist as part of a divine plan. That's the interesting concept. But like The Matrix, this book -- and in fact all postmodern literature except White Noise -- takes it to a doofus level where we just need to understand love and then we'll all be one. Hello screwdriver of neotenic illogicality in the ass.

The one place this book shines is the character of Oedipa Maas. It's hard to dislike her because we understand her predicament: marooned in a time when all authority figures are insane, the people around you are even more insane, your society rewards the meaningless pursuit of wealth, and the only option appears to be to become a social drop-out -- which in turn requires accepting dogma so reality-denying that it will finish off the rest of your soul. Unfortunately, this book endorses that second dogma.

I ended up disappointed. If I wanted a surface-level treatment, I could read the Huffington Post. In the meantime, the bigger questions are unanswered, namely the role of natural selection as helping produce that information, and the refinement of information as a bulwark against entropy.

Heroes often fall. They were stepping stones, and now have a place backward in time, like the first stubbed toe or Slayer riff we pulled off on guitar. They were learning for us and may have no context outside of that. What we need is a new stepping stone to shoot for, one just outside the leap we know for sure that we can safely make.

Consuming Impulse will always be a great death metal album, but it outlasted its creators. In turn, literature will be great, but I'm reading the Conrads, Delillos, Celines, Houellebecqs, Hemingways and Burroughses of this world instead of the Pynchons.