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Opposing Angel: The Metaphysics of Averse Sefira

Averse Sefira exemplifies the paradoxical nature of black metal. The
meaninglessness inherent to modern society wars against the Romantic
desire to give wings to the soul, to restore once more the spirit and
vitality claimed by ancient humanity. These artists balance these
factions in an occult esotericism by sublimating themselves into an
Idea, bringing that Idea into action and then reality. They unify the
physical world with the aesthetic of the infinite and otherworldly
such that both threads of being, through this, become one.

According to vocalist/bassist Wrath, Nature "is a presence in all
things, one which we as humans have wronged egregiously. Nature is
that which we cannot deny, be it in ourselves or the world around us."
The natural world employs an evolutionary mechanism in its
construction and continuity of life through time; as each generation
turns, organisms spring forth and pass away, leaving those which were
better-adapted to the requirements of survival as the shapers of the
future development of the species.

"Nature creates things to serve purposes, to fill voids. Everything we
have ever seen that naturally occurs has some specific role to play,
however unwitting. By comparison art is part of justifying an
existence, not serving one." Within the human sphere, civilizations
throughout time have arisen, flourished and perished as the organisms
which comprised them ascended from birth into their inevitable deaths
as all things which live must; many cultural achievements are still
visible to us through the mists of time - the relics of those once
mighty empires, the accumulated wealth of knowledge, and the artistic
works which shaped and defined culture remain for us to contemplate
the boundless energy and creativity it took to create them.

Art is a different form of communication than that of direct speech or
experience. It is created through the willful abstraction or
metaphoric symbolization of what are otherwise concrete ideas,
presented through a certain aesthetic filter for consideration by
others who are capable of reassembling the conveyance locked within
the puzzle. When the message is found, it is judged by its perceiver
on the scale of its worthiness to their world, and the meme is adopted
into their outlook, oftentimes unconsciously.

"I think art is a human device in that art comes from intent, a
decision to communicate an idea," says Wrath. "Life is a situation
foisted upon each of us against our respective wills. The question
then becomes what is it worth and how is the time best spent?"
Although many people have attempted to find such an answer through
their work, thought, or art, even more have turned to God in
resolution of this problem.

Wisdom, and God by extension, were states of mind achievable through
hard diligence and deep thought turned toward comprehending the vast
esoteric depth of meaning rooted in this concept. As time passed, and
we arrive again in the modern day, the masses have thrived, a status
quo of mediocrity prevails, and God has been sublimated into a
marketable caricature of Its former meaning to placate those masses.
Not before the damage was done to our spirits and values, however; we
now understood God as outside of our world, unknowable, and thus we
have been left to our own materialism.

Certain individuals in ancient and modern times have stood against
this rising tide of spiritual nihilism. Black metal was an artform
which coalesced in opposition to the values which characterize mob
rule: "I stand for support of the vital and productive, I stand for
art over entertainment, I stand for acknowledging female contributions
to said art, I stand for quality over quantity, I stand for achievable
goals, I stand for consistency, I stand for directness, I stand for
lack of compromise in the face of mediocrity and enclavishness, I
stand for the eradication of YHWH, his flock, and the according status

Black metal stood for, in the eyes of its originators, ascendancy in
the face of stagnation, for warlike honour and integrity of artistic
vision, and a rejection of the plastic culture which had robbed the
world of vibrancy and meaning. Uncomprehending imitators and social
outcasts have since turned it into a gross parody of what it had
uncomprimisingly decried. "One element that sets us apart from many
bands in this genre is the amount of time and thought we invest in
every aspect of our work. Too many bands think that the way to create
Black Metal is to just pick up instruments and just bang it all out.
That to me is the recipe for hardcore/punk, old Discharge stuff. In
that case I don't think it is so much a preferred method as it is a
way to avoid learning how to effectively write music. Nobody can
accuse us of not investing any effort into Averse Sefira, whether or
not they like us."

"...Our message is paramount to our content, to the point where we
cannot write music without first finishing all the lyrics. We avoid
single-mindedness in that our mythos is in large part about tapping
into the infinite, and accordingly there are many story arcs we
address between the songs and albums. That said, everything is still
connected but it is a considerably large area to cover, and even then
it is but a microcosm, an overview of the ideas in question." The
conception Averse Sefira seeks to impart is the effort to reincarnate
God within Man, to reconcile the separation which has occurred via
religious and secular dualism. This is conveyed by their artistic
works, in which they represent themselves as the conduits of the
Sephiroth, a group of extracelestial beings who, having previously
served underneath its yoke, now find the concept and manifestation of
Jehovah to be a mirror image of the modern psychology of its creator -
bitter, resentful, materialistic, stagnated beings with no ability to
dream - and they correspondingly find this situation repugnant.

The Sephiroth see divinity as not outside the realm of Man, but a
fundamental structural facet of Man that can only be grasped when the
exterior mental dominance by a spiteful deity and its inherently
limiting values are removed from Man and destroyed utterly, to allow
that divinity opportunity to reveal itself, and guide us anew. The art
and music serve as the conduit for this storyline and idea; in terms
of artistic image-representation, Averse Sefira resurrects out of the
degraded farce of black metal's original usage of "corpse-painting" a
certain obligation or necessity to adorn themselves in their occult
armor and demonic facial visages, which have been altered to take on a
certain regal nature: it is a fundamental component of the
presentation of their art that they appear otherworldly - they are the
creators of the art, yet the art and message underlying it is what
impels them to act; a grand reciprocal synthesis of the two merges and
becomes a phenomenon greater than its individual parts.

"I would say my strongest area would be my imagination. It is the
touchstone of everything that motivates me. Second to that would be my
sense of determination. When I truly feel strongly about something I
tend to see it though unwaveringly. I don't know if I can say this
connects mind and body in that I am ultimately a cerebral person and
not a physical one." As "regular" beings of this physical world - "I
am no different than many Hessians in that I wear black army pants and
band shirts almost exclusively, but at this same time this was the
case well before I became embroiled in the Black Metal subculture"
they of course have thoughts on what occurs within it: "for the record
I strongly disagree with this war and I abhor our government,
particularly the current administration," says Wrath.

"In western nations it is christianity that tells us that it is
'right' to breed endlessly. In regards to other nations such as India
and Africa, it is christianity that says to intervene and implement
some kind of hard-line population control is 'wrong.' Maybe we should
go to war with more populist nations? None of these of course are
plausible solutions; it seems that when it comes to mankind the time
of plausible solutions in general has long past," he adds. "If I may
adopt the posture of Sun Tzu for a moment, I will say that [the USA
is] a threat to the world the way a clenched fist threatens a hornet's
net. The first strike causes great harm, but the survivors will still
be many and attack the fist from all sides. The outcome becomes fairly
obvious past a point."

Their art is what motivates their most visible actions: "I have a
difficult time speaking in direct terms about such topics, as Averse
Sefira is not a political entity nor do we wish to be one." Their art
is merely one manifestation of who they are, a selective process of
action to bring about the recognition of a better reality than the one
we are currently shackled into. The thoughts which have shaped them as
men find their reflection in the art which they have created and
sublimated themselves within upon its manifestation in the world.
"...Averse Sefira members regularly abandon reasonably paying desk
jobs in the interest of touring various parts of the world. At this
point, I seek the glory of our art. Past that, I am not terribly
worried about what will befall me. It will take care of itself..."

These men actively seek to make choices in their art and in their
personal lives which deliver a non-insane, assertively-defined
reality, extended from the art they create to a life that is not
compromised by the pervasive virus of modernity. "Anyone who meets me
finds that I am outgoing and generally sociable, assuming the person
in question is someone I am interested in meeting. I am self-assured,
I am jocular, though even in my best moments of levity I am told I am
intense. I tend to leave little doubt that I like who I am and what I
am about. With all this in mind, there tends to be the polarized
perception that I'm either interesting and agreeable or arrogant and

It is rare to see such self-conviction found in a world dominated by
self-image and standards of political correctness.There is thus a
duality to the outside observer: the onstage or artistic
representation of these men seems far removed on the surface from how
they conduct a "normal" life outside of their artistic realm of
choice, where they are addressing concepts not rooted in the everyday;
on a deeper level, there is however no duality, as the root value
system which drives them as individuals is also the progenitor of the
art manifested through them. In this, one can begin to see the
incarnate divinity believed in and invoked through the hymns of the
Sephiroth, in an effort to readdress the concepts of evolution,
artistry, and ascendancy in man. - blaphbee


"German Expressionistic Cinema (1919-1933)"
In these times the entertainment money making machine (Hollywood) has
helped to destroy the capabilities for high art in the cinematic
medium.  Too much time is spent trying to sell a story that will
appeal to the masses and too little time is given to those seminal
voices willing to guide the masses through an enchanted and artistic
wonderland.  Unfortunately due to the required man power and high
amount of money it takes to create a film, this does not appear to be
something that will change in the future, at least not in our society.
An unwavering dedication to thematic and artistic expression is a rare
trait in the movie business these days which is full of money making
morons, pseudo-artists and over-socialized brats from the suburbs.
Very few good filmmakers are left (and perhaps ever existed when
looking back on film as a whole) and the new generation looks stale.
But for those who enjoy the cinematic expressions like the Greeks
enjoyed plays, there exists optimism yet!  In these times there still
are seminal forces who have recognizable talent.  But these forces are
not necessarily new, in fact the forces I'm referring to in particular
are old; the past is where the breadth of the beauty lay in film.
Great art is great art, it has no time boundaries, it matters not
whether it was created four thousand years ago or yesterday, its
transcendent greatness is a testament to its endurance. German
Cinematic Expressionism should be noted as a movement that deserves
special recognition for being an influential and more artistic
movement in film making that pushed out great works.

German Expressionist cinema was born out of the desolation of post-WWI
Germany. The cinematic movement created atmospheric pieces of
cinematic art which helped promote cinema as a medium which truly
could have artistic merit all while being entertaining (much like a
play).  German Expressionism's greatest artistic value is perhaps in
its ability to create atmospheres that absorb the viewer and take them
into another world where the themes are made present in the actions
and environment of the characters; in essence Expressionism works like
fantasy in that it takes ones feet off the ground and places them in
another realm.  The fantasy of German Expressionistic Cinema is very
Kafkaesque in nature as the stories which Expressionism revolves
around are often planted in complex environments which are full of
impending dangers and psychological distress which is all wrapped up
in a dream-like distortion of reality.

Expressionism portrayed all the feelings and sentiments of Germany in
the post war state.  Germany in the post-WWI era was a land in turmoil
due to the loss of the war.  The loss caused economic turmoil and a
radical change in life for the German people.  This feeling of loss,
despair and uncertainty in Germany became evident in the expressionist
styled art forms that were popular during the 1920's.  The emotional
state of Germany blended with cinema to create one of the most
unforgettable movements in cinematic history, German Expressionistic

Time line of German Expressionistic Cinema:

Arising during the post-WWI years when Germany was at an economic low
point, German Cinematic Expressionism ascended to prominence as an
artistic representation of the times.  The film movement expressed the
feelings and sentiments of a war-torn Germany residing in a depressed
post war state. Feelings of loss, despair and uncertainty were high in
the German people and those emotional conditions were evident in the
expressionist style coming from Germany in the 1920's.

Expressionistic cinema also stands as a revolutionary force in
cinematic history.  Many great films that have come after
expressionism was over as a movement have directly or indirectly been
affected and influenced by the cinematic changes imposed by

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, released in 1919, is historically agreed
upon to be the start of the movement and the ending is usually agreed
upon to be sometime around the making of Vampyr or M, which was
approximately in 1932-1933.  Some debate does exist, however, as to
the official ending time of the movement.

Dynamics and themes of Expressionism:

Reflections on objects, actions or emotions coming from the
perspective of the artist or the object itself are dominant narrative
styles in Cinematic Expressionism.  An inward perspective on a moment
or theme is given though the expressions of characters and objects.
In this way it is an opposite of impressionism, which seeks to give an
outward impression of the object.  This subjective or introverted
approach to explaining emotions, objects and themes almost likens it
to the Romanticisms sense of passionate ideals and love for the
irrational and subjective.  The filming technique used to display the
scenes and objects are themselves supposed to represent ideals and
symbols of both broad thematic story elements and of the inner
emotions of the characters.

German Expressionism is a style of film that creates its atmosphere
using many influential dynamics such as high contrast lighting, sharp
camera angles and distorted set decoration.  The expressionist's
objective was to paint symbolic pictures and expressions in order to
convey the deeper meanings of the film. These themes involving loss
and despair were greatly influenced by a Germany greatly devastated
and affected by Allied ultimatums such as the Treaty of Versailles.
Expressionistic cinema sought to convey the emotions of the times
through odd characters and radical set decoration.  Every twisted
design, every ethereal shadow, and every dramatic character movement
was designed to express interior motivation and thematic symbols.
Some expressionistic films, such as the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, drew
on budding sets that cut into the background like the artwork of Dr.

In many ways German expressionism rests on similar themes as Franz
Kafka's novels.  There is a sense of loss and melancholy, need for
being and an eternal search for meaning.  The characters are lost
effigy's in most cases, whose expressions and sentiments are expressed
though their surroundings and bodily actions more than their words.
In this empty world they live in where nothing is certain they are
granted obtainment or release, although the obtainment of something
greater is not always satisfied through heroic means; Nosferatu is
destroyed and set free by being burned in the sun, in Metropolis the
workers are freed from doing menial labor in an industrial system and
in M a child murderer is brought down by the criminal underworld in

Feelings of displacement or not belonging are also very common themes
in German Expressionist cinema.  Films like Metropolis reflect the
growing concerns of a people left dehumanized in the Industrial
factory fumes.  An aspect of the films voice has an undeniable
relevance to today, a time in which we face the destruction of the
environment and culture in favor of a mass producing industrial system
where all that matters is that we are good consumers, feeding and
producing so that the system may roll on and continue focusing on the
lowest common denominator.


The influence of German Expressionism could be seen far and wide. Most
directly, Expressionism was an influence on most all atmospheric
horror films to be produced since.  The Gothic Romanticism undertones
of the plots and designs of the Expressionistic horror films such as
Nosferatu, Vampyr and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari served to influence
countless horror films, particularly the universal films of the
1930's.  Expressionism also was very influential in film noir, the
style of film that took fruition in post-WWII America.  Film noir made
stylistic use of many of the Expressionistic dynamics such as heavy
shadows, dark empty areas, alienation, and melancholic, distressed and
dishonest characters.  Quite often the lead would be an anti-hero
stuck in a situation he couldn't control, often holding a dark secret
that would be their eventual downfall.

"Imagine we are sitting in an ordinary room. Suddenly, we are told
that there is a corpse behind the door. In an instant, the room we are
sitting in is completely altered; everything in it has taken on
another look; the light, the atmosphere have changed, though they are
physically the same. This is because we have changed, and the objects
are as we conceive them. That is the effect I want to get in my film."
[1] - Carl Theodor Dreyer

This quote from director Carl Theodor Dreyer, director of Vampyr,
highlights some of the aims of expressionism and touches on the
dynamics of its influence. Looking deeper into Dreyer's quote we can
see that there is the very real possibility of expressionistic
influence on surrealistic cinema.  Both blended the fine lines between
fantasy and reality into a cohesive whole in which one does not know
whether they are awake or dreaming.  The environment and actions of
characters serve as symbols which convey deeper, more thematic
meanings. Other similarities include the common use of atmospheric
lighting for a dramatic dynamic which symbolizes the emotions of the
characters and helps to express the films theme(this is especially
apparent in the surrealist films of Jean Cocteau).

The film's of the Expressionistic era have even managed to poke their
influence into the present through film makers like Tim Burton whose
set designs and dark, brooding settings and tales of alienation are
straight from the Expressionists.

Common motifs of German Expressionism:


Displacement: A common theme in Expressionistic Cinema was feelings of
displacement.  Characters often would be out of place in a setting and
objects would not be as they appeared.  It was almost a direct
reflection of the psychology of the German people after World War I.

Characters are unsettled with society: Often the characters are
dissatisfied with the status of society.  The have an inner longing
for more and they are fed up with the status of modernity.

Seeking meaning and a sense of being:  The characters also have a
seeking spirit and wish to obtain meaning in a world that seems
meaningless.  There are a lot of existential undertones.

The form represents the inside:  The environments and the actions of
the characters represent their emotions.  This is a much more thematic
(as in play) way of conveying the emotions of the characters and the
themes of the play.  The characters exaggerate motions and actions in
order to convey what they were thinking (like a mime).  The set
designs all played an integral part in the conveying of emotions and
themes as well.  In Dr. Caligari the use of sharp, cutting sets was
used so as to convey the emotions and attitudes of the characters who
were lost and disjointed.


High contrasts in shadows are a common theme in German Expressionistic
Cinema. Often times a chiascuro style of lighting is employed (heavy
use of shadows and controlled lighting which highlights very specific

Sharp camera angles are used which adds a sense of distortion and
wackiness.  It is done very purposefully to give more insights into
the characters and overall themes.

Often bizarre, sharp angled set designs are imployed which, like the
camera angles, are done to convey the emotions and thoughts of the
characters and overall themes of the film.

German Expressionist Films of merit:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Dir. Robert Wiene

This is the film that started it all.  Regarded by many to be the
first true expressionist film.  This is the product of an era lost in
the despair of losing a war.  Caligari is the manifestation of the
dark and bleak days that post-WW1 Germany found itself entangled in.
There was no other movie to come sense that had such sharp set designs
that rivaled the imagination's greatest endeavors. Dr. Caligari is a
stunning piece of visual art and it conveys the internal expressions
of a dark and macabre tale.  It was films like this that influenced
some of the most influential horror films to come in the preceding
years.  The dark shadows, the music, the methodical zombie like
behavior of the characters all served to present an atmosphere adept
at conveying the thematic elements of loss, despair, endless wandering
and Kafkaesque soul-searching.

Dr. Caligari's plot circles around a murder.  Caligari gets sent to an
asylum, which happens to be the one he is the head of.  The emotions
of the characters are understood though the creepy and demented set
designs and haunting makeup. This is expressionism in full stride.
The crisp contrasting lighting helps created effective shadows that
cast the viewer into the mind and world of the mad man.  the film
teeters on the boarder of reality and fantasy as one knows not what

In terms of set design this film may have the most radical sets ever
created for a motion picture.  The sharp wacky sets pop out of the
ground and resemble a Dr. Seuss book.  The first modern filmmaker who
comes to mind who imposes a similar set design technique is Tim Burton
whose film making technique is extremely influenced by this era of

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors (1922) Dir. F.W. Murnau

F.W. Murneau's masterful horror film that remains an atmospheric
powerhouse to this day.  This is often regarded as the most chilling
and haunting of all films done on Dracula.  The shadows cast upon the
wall ravish the imagination and cast impressions inward that dwell and
claw themselves deeper and deeper with every passing second.  The long
dangling claws of Nosferatu almost appear to lift themselves from
beyond the silver screen and into your heart.  The film is chilling.
This is perhaps the most ethereal and haunting vampire film every

Murneau was never able to gather the rights to Dracula so this instead
was his retort.  Nosferatu is essentially the Dracula story retold
with the character of Count Orlok, the grim being who wanders his
cavernous castle deep in the woods of Romania.  Orlock is the
manifestation of a dismal existence, a lost soul wandering in an
abysmal time, an introvert who's only satisfaction is derived from the
workings of his own mind but whose only ability to live is from the
taking of blood.  This film goes beyond just horror and seems to
reflect the very real fears and alienation of the German people in a
time after war where their country was torn and economically battered
by the Treaty of Versailles. Beyond any subconscious sociological
reflections however, Nosferatu is at its heart a timeless, chilling
and atmospheric film; it's a piece of film making art.

Metropolis (1926) Dir. Fritz Lang

Often regarded as the highlight of German Expressionism and often
sited as the greatest picture of the silent film era.  Metropolis is a
feast for the eye and an impressive artistic accomplishment.  This
film is a look into the future where the world has become a
Metropolis.  No more is there vast green fields to walk or mountain's
and forests to roam in, there is now only the darkened city with it's
bellowing alleys and sharp cutting features.  The walls and buildings
are endless, representing the caged world of the Metropolis that lacks
any method of escape.  The story circles around an upper class son of
a rich and ruthless capitalist who owns the city.  The very situation
of Metropolis is at times hauntingly reminiscent of our present in
which we are consumed by capitalism and growing metropolises.

M (1931) Dir. Fritz Lang

Early Fritz Lang sound film about a psychotic child murder who wanders
the Berlin underground.  The police crack down looking for the killer
and interupt the criminal underground instead.  This prompts the
organized criminals to go on a hunt for the child murder themselves.
M is a chilling film that is one of the first sound films by Lang.
The common expressionist films of alienation and despair are present
against film noir backdrops.  In fact this can be looked at as an
early noir film in many ways as it has a lot of the same locations
(dark city streets) and involves similar character struggles.

Vampyr (1932) Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer

One of the last Expressionistic films.  Vampyr is a Gothic tale that
plays like a dream.  The set design is reminiscent of aspects of
Caligari as the two films share the same art director.  A young
occultist goes to castle inn in which case he is confronted with
strange happenings.  The film is an atmospheric piece of Gothic horror
that is remembered as another seminal moment of German Expressionistic
cinema.  Like Nosferatu, the atmospheric qualities in Vampyr would go
on to influence atmospheric horror and fantasy films that would
proceed it.  Some criticism comes in the area of sound as this was one
of the first sound films and thus lacks polish and is washed out in
places. - phantasm

Works Cited:

[1] http://silentmoviemonsters.tripod.com/germanexpressionism.html
[2] http://milgram.tripod.com/works/gefilm1.html


"Globalization and its Effects on the Ecosystem"

Before humanity invented means of traveling over oceans and to other
continents, animal life was isolated to  their respective continents
or islands, separated by bodies of water. In these virgin ecosystems
everyone has a certain place in the food chain, from tiny insects to
gargantuan mammals, so a certain balance is maintained between them.
Insects, among others, are trying to adjust themselves to this big
world and some are inevitably killed, some are not, leaving the rest
to be bird's prey. Some birds starve, their corpses feeding the earth
and it's crawling inhabitants, reducing the number of birds eating
insects, who may once again gain in numbers in this fluctuating cycle.
Creatures whose main prey birds are may have to stalk upon other
animals to feed themselves, and the same chain continues ever round
and round, leaving even "the highest one" vulnerable and dependent on
continuous harmony.

Now, as globalization reigns, and every place on Earth is linked to
every other, species can find their way to ecosystems alien to them
via human transport, and cause much disruption there because of a
possible lack of natural enemies.

A good example of this is water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), which
wreaked havoc at Uganda's Lake Victoria. Originally a South American
waterplant, it was transplanted to Uganda, presumably as a gift of
some sort, and it spread quickly. This plant thrived in Lake Victoria
because the lake lacked it's natural adversaries, which helped to keep
the plant at bay in South America. The plant clogged the shores,
effectively halting transport across the lake, and eventually killed
the fish due to lack of oxygen. In addition to ruining a means of
transport and a bountiful food source wasn't enough, the plant
provided an excellent habitat to bilharzia snails and other pests by
forming zones of stagnant water near the shorelines. A document by
National Geographic discussed this subject, and it explained how a
cure against the water hyacinth was invented by bringing in the
natural enemy of the plant. These small insects were transported from
South America, after carefully examining them and thus making sure
that they wouldn't bring any further harm to Lake Victoria's

The same document told of a mass extinction when two new, exotic
species of fish were introduced to Lake Victoria, Nile perch and Nile
tilapia. The results were devastating, as these two fishes ate most
species. The reason for this is that European sports fisherman liked
the idea of fishing there for Nile perch, which however had not
managed to swim into the lake due to various falls and cataracts along
the way. So, they were assisted to make that final jump. The same
document tells how the processing of the Nile perch's oily flesh
requires more firewood, and thus resulting in deforestation. "Before
the 1970s, Lake Victoria (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya) contained more than
350 species of fish from the cichlid family. Today over 50% of these
species are extinct or found only in small populations (92W1). This
was largely due to the introduction of two exotic species, the Nile
perch and Nile tilapia. By 1983 Nile perch made up almost 70% of the
catch, and the Nile tilapia and a native sardine made up most of the
balance (90A1)." [1]

Those were examples of what a simple human error or accident can
cause. It is a quite another thing with international ports, where
incoming ships introduce new species into the environment every day. A
prime example of this is the invasion of the San Francisco bay, which
has been dubbed as "the most invaded ecosystem". This is because
countless ships pass through the bay, possibly letting their ballast
waters to the bay, effectively transporting species to a foreign
ecosystem. Some stowaways prefer traveling within the cargo, packaging
materials and such. In the previously mentioned document, some
scientists examined the discs they had left in the water for two years
for accumulated sealife. Of all the species clung to the discs, 99%
were non-native. It has been estimated that over 234 nonnative plant
and animal species are now established at the San Francisco Bay. The
species attached to the discs are small forms of life, some not even
visible to the bare eye, but when thinking how the food chain is
built, for example, these seemingly small numbers are important as
well for sustaining a stable environment.

In the case of Hawaii, the trouble caused by an alien plant was quite
severe. Landslides would occur, when Miconia (Miconia calvescens),
later fittingly named "the green cancer", would overshadow other,
smaller native plants with it's large, up-to-80 cm long leaves and
take over. Miconia itself can grow even in dense shade needing as
little as 0.02% of full sunlight. It was originally from Central
America, and the man who found it was delighted by it's beautiful
purple-black leaves. He took a sample of it along, and researchers
were fascinated by it. In the 1960's, this plant was presented as a
gift to a research institute at Hawaii. It spread vigorously at the
islands, because the plant can bear up to 195 seeds per fruit, and 208
fruits per infrutescence, and it has at least three major flowering
peaks in one year. It grew over the smaller flora, as a fully mature
tree can have a height of fifteen meters, and as those original,
deeply-rooted plants died, landmasses became prone to slide, because
this new plant had quite shallow roots. It has become one of the most
invasive plants in Hawaii. Most of the alien species there are
introduced because of horticultural reasons, like ornamental purposes.
The plant is being uprooted now, though with slow success, because
people have realized the problems it causes, namely the landslides and
eradication of native flora, since they have been severe enough.

These examples show that ecosystems are far beyond our understanding,
and the simple thoughts of "repairing the world" and "human
superiority" appear very naive in the light of this. As with the case
of Lake Victoria, seemingly insignificant changes can have
unpredictable results. But "repairing" does sometimes work, as the
Yellowstone nature conservation area has shown us; humans hunted off
the wolves there, and because of this forests started to suffer,
because elks, deers and such were free to eat the growing trees.
Beavers lacked aspen, which is optimal for building dams, which then
in turn flood the land, helping more aspen to grow. But, in this case,
humans repaired what they had caused by replacing the missing block
they had decimated before to protect themselves.

However, there's much more to be "repaired", and it isn't practically
possible to undo what globalization has done to our world. The basic
"leftist green"- style of approach, which first and foremost values
human rights, doesn't work. While we trample around from one corner of
the world to another, we don't always see what it's doing to the
ecosystem. Totally unnecessary causes of alien invasion like
transplantation for ornamental purposes should be prevented
completely, that should be clear enough to understand, and while there
could be some trading, it should be reduced to only the necessary,
especially in the case of transcontinental trade, as ships and planes
can travel between very different ecosystems, and carry many of their
species along to all over the world. This is detrimental to human
development in the present sense of the word, but we must choose
between our desire for immediate welfare and a lasting way of life.
Simple pleasures aren't to be put first if we are to have a healthy
environment in which to live. - frostwood

This is a wonderful world we are of, truly.


1. Bruce Sundquist - The Earth's carrying capacity - Fishery
degradation chapter 5
http://home.alltel.net/bsundquist1/fi5.html (2003)


"Analysis of Claude Debussy's - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun"

Distinguished as the most daring and genuinely pioneering composer of
the 20th century, Frenchman Claude Debussy's music has also
undoubtedly composed the artistic peak and the triumph of the
Romanticist movement; not only has he revolutionized the technique of
piano playing, stretched the boundaries of tonal music with his highly
personal harmony and eloquent expression, but his attitude also gave
birth to the typical concept of the romantic musician; when he was
asked by one of his professors of what musical rules does he observe
in his music, he replied ''None, but my own pleasure''.

While most of his piano music, however subtle and graceful, in a sense
conformed to the libertarian-romanticist norm of a general lack of
structure and a rejection of the great achievement of German music,
the sonata form (exposition- development-recapitulation), it is his
symphonic music that should be considered his grand offering to the
tradition of great classical composers like Beethoven and Wagner.
Probably among equals, his ''Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun'' is
the work that stands above all, being one of the most recognizable
orchestral pieces of all time.

Debussy was considerably influenced by contemporary artistic movements
of his time, and has irrevocably connected his name with Impressionism
at the exact moment he came up with the idea to base this particular
composition to the same titled poem of Staphane Mallarme, a prominent
poet and leader of the Impressionist movement who, along with other
painters and poets of similar inclinations, Debussy enjoyed the
company of. Though Debussy never fancied the title, his music was
possibly the closest musical incarnation ever of the aesthetic and
principles of the movement: the naturalist and sentimental themes, the
abstract structure, the liberating (for the romanticist aesthetic)
view of the world not as an absolute truth but as canvas painted from
the objective impressions of each man must surely prove this point.

This 9 minute instrumental opus attempts to enter into and depict a
world of fantasy: the world of neraids, fauns, spirits, gods and
goddesses, the primordial anthropomorphic and poetic metaphors of
nature's beauty and valuable fruits, in other words, a theme that has
offered some of the greatest pieces of european art ever, from Weber's
'Oberon' to Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Consequently,
the harmony that is being used by Debussy in the Prelude is of a
diatonic and chromatic nature, meaning that while the music is based
on relatively simple scales of a melodic character (though not always
of the usual minor-major type, since Debussy had a preference for
'unconventional' harmonies like ancient Greek scales, pentatonic and
whole-tone harmonies) their development and contrapuntal layering (the
melodies that are being played at the same time by different
instruments of the orchestra) results into a colourful, ethereal
harmony that often reaches the borders of a multitonality that
interpolates in between the basic notes of the scales without
betraying the solid tonal structure of the work; indeed, and unlike
modern 'avant-garde' music, the listener is at all times able to
follow the course of the music, without being able to guess of course
the next step (of all classical composers, the most unexpected and
surprising would be Debussy). The composer's already established
trademarks are obviously to be found again; namely the 7th and 9th
intervals of the chords that are not solved according to the
tradition, the parallel intervals and generally the bold and often
defiant of 'rules' instrumentation that gave his music such a
personal, lyrical and Dionysian character and was later 'borrowed' to
provide the basis of mostly jazz and generally modern music, from pop
to Hollywood soundtracks (just listen to the Star Wars soundtrack
shortly thereafter this work...)

Theoretically, the piece can be divided into three movements, although
the standard organization of a concerto or symphony is not to be found
and the structure is reminiscent more to a loose form of the symphonic
poem, a style introduced in the romanticist era by Lizst. The first
theme of the work is the most characteristic that could have been; a
flute introduces the theme of the faun, a slow chromatic melody that
from the very start gives away a direct impression of a vivid image -
one cannot help to imagine our playful hero and the magical
environment that surrounds him. The response to that idyllic theme is
given shortly afterwards by the orchestra with the ethereal glissando
of the harps and the anxious entrance of the other wind instruments;
the theme of the faun is replayed but now with the full support of the
orchestra. The theme begins to develop as the flute part moves on to a
soloist performance; the other instruments not only support the basic
melody harmonically in the background but add other melodies that
appear in the context of the whole synthesis. Debussy is a mood
painter, his music serves for the main purpose of aesthetical
influence and not as a mathematical construction of an autonomous
nature. In that manner he is at the same time distant to tradition but
loyal to the primordial and essential function of music, its impact on
the human psyche.

The second part of the synthesis consists of the cradle of the
impressionistic approach to music and one of most eloquent and
majestic orchestrations of all time. After the initial theme comes to
a halt, an abrupt and movement-indicating passage enters and begins to
expand itself by transforming it's somewhat lyrical sub-theme into a
grandiose melody executed by the wind instruments and soon followed by
the strings into the piece's first upcoming crescendo, the intensity
tends to waver back and forth for some seconds in an ironic hesitation
but finally reaches a loud climax with the horns and the strings
crying in surprising agony; but while the last notes of that theme are
repeated as if in a echoing, continually slowing down, fading, the
final prevailing chord will be not the one previously hinted, but
Debussy's all time favourite; the major with seventh, the equivalent
of triumphant, strengthful joy. At this point the listener would be
able to understand several things about the artist and his
personality, the most evident should be the determinative influence of
Richard Wagner into the core of Debussy's music; indeed the Prelude
owes some of it's finest moments to the latest and most adventurous
works (not only harmonically or structurally but also in spirit) of
Herr Wagner, even though he would "disown" him later in the future
because of his modest aversion to any, supposedly, superfluous and
conceited art (that could be also due to the fact that he hated the
over-blown forms and harmonic style of Post-Wagnerian romanticists of
his time like Mahler and Strauss). In addition, it should be evident
that the composer has raised the talent of surprising (not to say
shocking) the listener up into new heights; while most expectations
for the tonal direction of the synthesis are being triumphantly
denied, this is accomplished in an ingenious and not abrupt way, as
the listener feels not betrayed by the development of music but
impressed and aroused.

To illustrate this, that particular passage at the 3.30 minute of the
piece could be as well perceived as a 'pseudo-climax' of some sort, an
attempt of the composer to mislead us regarding the real core of the
synthesis, because shortly afterwards the music does finally seem to
walk a sure step forward. On 4.20 this is almost certain; the theme
that preceded the crescendo previously is represented, apparently with
different orchestration, the music again is beginning to grow in
intensity and expressiveness, the ascending and descending layers of
the instruments find a common tonal center, the crescendo begins
again, a double forte pre-climax breaks up and immediately fades out
as the final and devastating ascent begins...  voila! The theme is
finally represented in all it's glory in a 'clean' and unembellished
form of the major chords; if Debussy himself once considered that
beauty lies in the simplest of chords imagine what message should be
passed over  today to contemporary seekers of novelty and progression
in art... The third section is for the most part a deconstruction of
the piece so far. Having already reached such a high level of
complexity and intensity the composer decides to re-establish a state
of harmony into the mind of his listeners, kind of like holding their
hand while coming back from the enchanted woods of fauns and neraids
into the real world; all important themes are recapitulated and in a
way stuck out of the multitonal mass of notes to stand out in their
lonesome glory; the closing of the book and a song for goodnight.

Debussy had initially intended for this orchestral work to be
separated into three parts, Prélude, Interlude and Paraphrase finale.
In fact, he never succeeded to get past the Prelude, as all his
attempts to successfully develop the other two parts have proved in
vain, with the most apparent reason probably being that they couldn't
match with the quality of the Prelude. Still, even on it's own, the
Prelude had managed to make an unprecedented breakthrough at the
musical circles of Europe. Debussy's American biographer Oscar
Thompson compared it with the Prelude to Lohengrin , in the manner
that "at the time it was written nothing like it existed in music."
Since then, evolution in music has taken place and brought new
theories, new instruments, even new musical systems; but hardly will
another musical piece have a larger impact than the "Prelude to the
Afternoon of a Faun" to the musical world. - lycaon
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