Black Metal Stupidity

I always enjoy the discovery of a scholarly approach to a silly or lowbrow subject. Remember when Camille Paglia used to write about Madonna?

I had no idea that Black Metal Theory is now a philosophy and field of study complete with international symposia and experts   who say things like this:

We have been told by the living that the idea of a vital world is that of comfort and warmth. [Writer] Dominic Fox assures us that this is not the case. With an unparalleled militant efficiency, Cold World [a book about Black Metal] blackens the lines between poetics and politics, music and negative resistance. It is a haunting sermon from the world of the dead exhorting the living to revolt in the name of a life whose vitality has been disenchanted by coldness and whose sacredness has been profaned by nigredo. Reza Negarestan -  Author of  Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

God. What the hell is “nigredo,” right? I looked it up and you can, too. But there’s no way that Black Metal Theory can be taken seriously, especially when it’s discussed in dense academic mumbo jumbo of the first oder.   Here is Scott Wilson, a professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Kingston University in London:

Black Metal is clearly a form of environmental writing, but one that could not easily be accommodated into current ecological discourse. Participants seriously considered the idea of melancology both as black ecology, exploring black metal as a geophilosophy of real and psychic spaces (the frozen desert is not so much ‘out there’ but inside you), and as an ethos, looking at black metal as the re-occultation of black blood and bile in rituals of mourning and celebration for the death of God and the extinction of his creation, particularly humanity, under the black sun of melancholy. As such, the symposium connected with a new strain in contemporary philosophy that regards extinction as a speculative opportunity for thought. Black metal resounds from the abyss and it is precisely only in relation to its sonic forces that the question of intervention in the environment arises in the articulation of melancology with ethics. That is, in deciding ‘which way out’ we should take, in deciding with what surpluses to dwell, with what waste, what detritus or decay in a process of unbinding with sonic forces that traverse an earth choking in wealth and death.

Ha! Blah blah blah. What a bunch of fucking wankers. All I know is that Varg Vikernes,   leader of the band Burzum, was released from jail after serving 16 years for killing a guy from Mayhem, a rival band, and burning down some churches.

Now he has a website, http://www.burzum.org, and two new albums. For some reason he hates Black people,    despite all the dark black negredo of his chosen musical genre. He probably needs to study the Theory.

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47 Responses to “Black Metal Stupidity”

  1. ellio100 Says:

    Barthes would have a field day discussing Black Metal Studies…

  2. Cricket9 Says:

    Paglia writing about Madonna made 10 times more sense than this. “Black sun of melancholy”, really? I’m just rolling on the floor laughing. Yep, I’m all for “extinction as speculative opportunity for thought”. They should start with their own extinction, preferably by sticking their heads up their asses even deeper.
    I did not look up “nigredo” yet – is it an opposition to “albedo”?

  3. annemarie Says:

    God, I think I’d like to go to that symposium. First of all, it’s a lot more interesting than talking about Madonna, and secondly, it sounds like they’re starting from the premise that Black Metal is a valid form of human expression, but they’re taking a critical approach to studying it, not a moralizing or valorizing one. It’s just botany. Botanists study stupid insects all the time! Grad school is all about squandering brain power on useless shit. It’s depressing, but at the same time, we’re clearly unfit for the real world.

  4. annemarie Says:

    “Black Sun” is a book by Julia Kristeva about melancholy and it’s really good. She’d probably die if she knew it was being applied to this shit. But that’s what happens when the ivory tower attempts to engage with the “real world.” They’re just geeky botanists, I swear.

  5. patni Says:

    hahahahahahhahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahhahha
    have you ever seen Metalocalypse? Metal is inherently hysterical.

  6. Regularstarfish Says:

    I’m confused by the dense writing involved in this whole “black metal philosophy”. I can’t make sense of it. But as a huge black metal fan (and metal in general), I think I can speak for a lot of fans when I say that Varg isn’t the poster child for the genre. I also wonder how many people who dismiss metal as misogynistic or evil or whatever have actually given it a chance. Or how many of these people enjoy rap or other modern radio music that has, wait…misogynistic lyrics, and also glorifies greed and accumulation. How is one better than the other?

  7. Cricket9 Says:

    Regularstarfish, I have no idea about artistic merits of black metal music, and I don’t think I really want to investigate. I’m more into Mozart these days. I’m just highly allergic to this kind of scholarly pursuits, that’s all. :-)

  8. Dru Says:

    This is like Buffy Studies IMO – I might love something and spend ages writing essays to post to livejournal or various fansites about various recurring themes and aspects of the story, but taking things to academia….it’s a bit of a buzzkill on the actual work (this is just my opinion of course: there obviously are other Buffy/fill-in-the-blank lovers who actually like getting academic about it).

  9. annemarie Says:

    Dru and Cricket9- It’s all bullshit, of course, but it’s better than working in advertising or law.

  10. Chip Smith Says:

    Reza Negarestan didn’t write Nihil Unbound. Ray Brassier did.

  11. Sister Wolf Says:

    Chip Smith – Correct, Reza is the author of “Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials.” http://www.o-books.com/obookssite/book/detail/349 Only someone with your level of militant dysphoria could have noticed this slip. Thanks! xo

  12. Cricket9 Says:

    annemarie, I have to admit that you may be right :-)
    I have a big ongoing beef with TV ads, especially ones about cereal, featuring people with (fake?) British accents, who would rather kill all their relatives than share a bowl of cereal – BECAUSE IT’S THAT GOOD! The passive-aggressive stupid woman named Mary who’s NOT trying to lose her weight and almost strangles her husband because he suggested that she may, gets at me every time.

  13. Andra Says:

    Pass.

  14. Suspended Says:

    Regularstarfish

    Rap music has fast cars, Champagne and booty in bikinis; all of which are commercially more attractive and aspirational to the masses than greasy hair and groin strain (caused by skinny jeans.)

    Just a general observation, not leaning either way, unless there’s a glass of Champagne, of course.

  15. suzi springsteen Says:

    Yes the over-intellectualising of black metal is fairly absurd (I say this even as a metal fan), but that seems to be the trend with everything these days. Haven’t you noticed there are academic discussions on all sorts of things that there really needn’t be – fashion, cooking, Lady Gaga, or Buffy like Dru said – even on blogging. People will wax rhapsodic about the things they’re into, especially if the subject is something that the majority of the rest of the world deems stupid or uninteresting. Black metal fans don’t want to be pegged as smelly, hairy, head-banging morons, so they over compensate by using words most people have never heard of. It gives them a feeling of superiority.

    Regarding Varg Vikernes, the sentence he received is the maximum possible sentence for murder in Norway. So, make of that what you will, but it’s nothing to do with Black Metal.

  16. Dru Says:

    annemarie – I won’t fight you on that (former lawyer here) but I’d rather go to a proper fan convention than this symposium bullshit.

    I’d bet money the former would have livelier discussions – and unlike the second bolded paragraph above, they wouldn’t be word salad. Also, they’d be more fun.

  17. annemarie Says:

    Before Chip Smith comes after me: botanists study plants, not insects. Ooops

  18. Cricket9 Says:

    Entomologists?

  19. annemarie Says:

    Cricket9, you’re such a smarty pants! And yet you’re not annoying at all… Never go to grad school- it does bad things to your personality.

    I also wanted to add that I hate the commercials for antidepressants, especially the ones aimed at women, and most especially the ones aimed at mothers. Have you seen the one about the sad-faced mommy who watches from afar her children playing? She takes a pill, and then she’s happy, and then she goes and plays with her kids (subtext: sad mommys = bad mommys). It’s horrible and somewhat evil, I think.

  20. Cricket9 Says:

    annemarie, thanks (blushing). Believe me, I can be annoying, my two ex-husbands would certainly confirm.
    I’m dealing with PhDs in my job, and it’s exactly like in “Big Bang Theory”: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, and Ms Cricket9 or Mr Joe Shmoe – that is, a Nobody. At meetings one has to use classroom techniques to make them stop talking over you and giggling over something – probably gossip about how another Doctor screwed up. “Doctor Insufferable, would you like to share the funny thing with everyone?” usually works. Younger ones are better, so maybe there is some hope.
    About ads – I hate ads directed at moms in general, not just ones about depression. “You’re a Mom now, woman, you have no life, no personality and no desires except the well-being of your little Kim-Il-Jong, so buy these diapers! They will make your Baby happy!” Arrgh.

  21. annemarie Says:

    Cricket9, that is dreadful behavior.
    The reason PhDs are so annoying is because they’re institutionalized and therefore suffer from many of the classic symptoms of arrested developments. Also, they’re just inherently immature because they’ve spent their whole lives working hard at grade-grubbing and kissing teacher-ass. I don’t know how I ended up doing this (Ok, I do: I couldn’t take anymore dead-end jobs and talked myself into the necessity of having a “career”).
    No doubt you know what a musical fugue is. But did you know that it’s also a name for an old medical condition? Yes, indeed. According to the medical dictionary, a fugue is “a dissociative disorder characterized by an episode of sudden, unexpected travel away from home or business, with amnesia for the past and partial to total confusion about identity or assumption of a new identity.” In other words, it’s a person who keeps forgetting who they are. I think I’ve had this condition for a really long time.

  22. dust Says:

    I love listening to metal…Black Metal Theory sounds more like Glorified Goth Theory, which for sure exist, as Goths have more urge to give themselves some meaning beyond their sad existence. The lack of sense of humor is identical to both, you know how they say – Gott ist tot.
    It’s still nothing compared to Extended Hipster Theory.

    On commercials – I don’t watch/own a TV anymore. Being still single, I’ve made it a (feminist!) criteria with guys; the ones that don’t put the volume down during the commercials are ignorant bastards and no good. Only one passed the test, but, as you can imagine, he has other issues, he’s different sort of a bastard.

  23. dust Says:

    annemarie – this was precious piece of information, the fugue. Do you mind if I use on dusturbance since it perfectly explains something?

  24. annemarie Says:

    Sure! Look it up in the medical dictionary online! There’s even more existentially pithy definitions there!

  25. dust Says:

    it’s up, thanks!!!

  26. Brittany Says:

    At first I accidentally Googled “negredo”, which is the last name of a Spanish soccer player, and I got really confused.

  27. Cricket9 Says:

    Well, I know what the”other” fugue is – I AM a smarty pants after all. I learned it from a SF book by Alfred Bester, “Golem 100″. The victim of the fugue condition in the book is Blaise Shima, a PhD in Chemistry (a coincidence?). Everything I need to know I learned from SF books!
    You’re so right about the ass-kissing in the academia! My professors were walking around with an entourage of (at least) three teaching assistants, carrying professor’s books, a box of slides, a pointer etc. Poor schmucks had to do it, or else.

  28. annemarie Says:

    Oh man, I bow down before you

  29. misfitina Says:

    Yikes.. people are running out of dissertation topics.

    A great documentary, though is an anthropological look at the metal and metalheads: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal:_A_Headbanger's_Journey

  30. Grethe Says:

    I read everything in a Nathan Explosion voice.

  31. Make Do Style Says:

    I live near Kingston University, in fact Mr MDS went there but he did something really dull like accountancy, therefore I can go and interview Scott Wilson for Bitter Intellectuals and if necessary award him CotW

  32. Linking Horn: Six Weeks till Germany! Says:

    [...] Wolf hates on Black Metal Theory. Do YOU know what nigredo means? Personally, I didn’t really get a sense of the meaning of [...]

  33. Cami Says:

    Haven’t visited blogs in ages, but coming back to yours after a few weeks makes me realize how much I have been missing.

    I FUCKING LOVE YOU and your hilarious, witty and unabashed opinions, SISTER WOLF :)

    XXX

  34. Emily Bleak Says:

    Funny, I always thought I was a black metal fangirl because the musicians tend to go all-out with their stage show, theatrics, wardrobe, etc. and it’s FUN. Paying $5 to see a guy dressed as a Siberian monk, with homemade roofing nail gauntlets strapped to his arms, blowing a human femur like a trumpet into a microphone while the bassist screams like they’re dying and pretty longhair boys in makeup feign seizures on the floor in front of him is my idea of a fun Saturday night. Like the circus, but with more beer selections. All this blah about “the icy fjords in my soul” sound like they were written by someone who spends way too much time perfecting their corpsepaint.

    PS the band with the femur is Boston’s Bone Ritual and they are worth a see if you ever get the chance.

    PPS Varg is a long-running joke in the Boston BM scene.

  35. Artful Lawyer Says:

    Oh damn, I’m still stuck on “groin strain.”

  36. Aja Says:

    Ugh, whhhhhhhy did I click that link?

  37. Hallie Says:

    oh sister, I have to send you this particular kaarme shirt i designed. I’ll get tons of threatening letters from these people for it for sure, but i just couldn’t help myself. email or twit PM me your address and i’ll send one out, they’re not for sale yet. xo

  38. psych Says:

    oh people need to relax…black metalists are fucking idiots not one takes that shit seriously. check out ‘METAL: a headbangers journey” it dealves into that topic quite a bit…even Alice Cooper thinks their a joke. But ummm wtf… how is Vargs out of jail!!!! and with 2 new albums…ugh its all about making money…fucked up. ps I dont go on blogs a lot (even though i just started one..errrr) but I have to say yours is awesome!! first time on, soooooo out of the loop haha

  39. Meow Mix Says:

    “PPS Varg is a long-running joke in the Boston BM scene.”

    Boston black metal? Is that a fucking joke? Yeah, I’m sure most people involved in black metal are dedicated to the brilliant musical output of Boston and shun the weak and failed Burzum, a band that oh, I don’t know, everyone and their grandmother has copied off of. Dipshit.

    I don’t understand your point. While some may laugh at the idea of a black metal symposium it betrays a certain naivete on the part of so-called black metal ‘fans’ to dismiss it as a postmodern circle-jerk for nerds. For one thing, black metal musicians (at least, 2nd wave) expressed philosophical ideas through their music (recall that Varg actually wrote an entire book, not a good book mind you, but a philosophical work nonetheless). Those who claim that nerds “take black metal too seriously bro, lets just rock out and smash beer cans over our head and be all necro and shit” are those who want to betray the spirit of black metal music- just make it into another commercial subculture for hipsters and virgins who think its fun to dress up in corpsepaint and worship Satan. The fact that you don’t understand postmodern language doesn’t invalidate it our make it any less serious, it just proves that you are philosophically-illiterate. Okay, so somebody wants to write something on ‘melancology’, -so what? At least it is interesting. I’m dying to hear what pressing matters and topics are actually important to clever people such as yourself- economy? sports? whatever it is I can just as easily mock it. So yeah, never take anything in life seriously bro, its all just a joke.

    BTW, Ray Brassier is the author of Nihil Unbound, retard.

    “check out ‘METAL: a headbangers journey” it dealves into that topic quite a bit…even Alice Cooper thinks their a joke”

    Why would anyone give a flying fuck what Alice Cooper has to say?

  40. Sister Wolf Says:

    Meow Mix – Who is the retard? I’m confused.

  41. maya Says:

    *sigh* its always depressing to see things like this pop up..black metal and related types of music/lifestyles can be just as ridiculous and immature as anything else…but it also is something very meaningful, very pure and intellectual in its intent to those who have a more developed conscious. i’ve been a metal fan for a long long time, and when it comes to black metal i don’t really care much for Mayhem or Burzum or church buring or satan or corpse paint and all that mumbo jumbo…but for a lot of simple black metal fans that’s what gets them all hot and bothered. the problem is that unless you are in with the scene and can see beyond the idiocy of (most of) the fans/musicians/whatever, you’ll never be able to truly appreciate how beautifully the lifestyle can connect with certain people. i dunno, i just know what i get out of it and frankly am glad that not everybody shares the same opinion because what fun would that be? its just a bit frustrating to see the whole concept be written off as lowbrow and ignorant, because if you dig a bit deeper you’ll see that its not all like that. take a peek at this girl Dani’s photography work, she’s a metal chick who takes lovely pictures of her metalhead friends/bands/etc…
    http://metalographerphotography.tumblr.com/

  42. Emily Says:

    Meow Mix – why so upset? I wrote about the Boston BM (and overall metal) scene because I live in Boston; it’s the only scene I’m involved with at all, unless you count all the Providence bands that tour here.

    In the end, it’s true, Varg is a joke and nobody I know takes him seriously beyond enjoying some of his music. (Dunkelheit is one of my favorite running pacers!) He calls himself “Count Grishnackh” and says things like, “Christianity is a diagnosis. It’s like Islam and the other Asian religions, a HIV/AIDS of the spirit and mind.” Can you maybe understand why a scene in an overall liberal area wouldn’t have much respect for him?

    Or are you one of those fans that claims that you’re not “trve grymme kvlt” enough unless you literally worship Satan and are a white supremacist? Because I hate to break it to you, but for the majority of BM bands, the stage show is just that – theatrics.

    Maya – I love Metalographer’s work.

  43. I Cynical Says:

    id rather read Black Metal Theory papers/journals with some actual decent information than shitty blog posts by corny, cynical turds. “Rawr, im the cliche western male on the internet. i see through everything and poop my cranky diapers with real force.”

    most of the things black metal theory talks about really doesnt need “black metal music” as a qualifier anyway. it just happens to coincide. its not like black metal players invented the content or perspectives they adore (romantic nature, black/dark, horror, cosmic pessimism, etc).

  44. Sister Wolf Says:

    I Cynical – Ahem, I’m a female and I do see through everything. Thank you for stopping by.

  45. Jay Gould Says:

    Isn’t it funny how you can stick “Studies” at the end of any phrase, and it’s suddenly a legitimate field of study? How about shit studies? Or blowjob studies? Black metal studies? Come on! I listen to metal to GET AWAY from my academic work. And no wonder people think the humanitiies are a waste of money: they ARE. Doctors are curing cancer, and the humanities are writing about black metal…. And the worst part is that my own and other people’s work on things that matter to people’s lives–how financiers ruined the economy and made it impossible for me and my friends to get jobs and how it keeps happening AGAIN AND AGAIN–is getting a bad rap by its affiliation this steaming bullshit. Go do some real fucking work. I’ve got an idea: how about Big Wheel studies? You can study the discourse on children riding Big Wheels, and you can even live out your childish fantasies by RIDING one for your own work!

  46. Jimmy Poose Says:

    Black metal sucks dick in most cases

  47. Fraclk Says:

    LAUGH MY ASS OFF,someone in the comments, a black metal fan, was comparing black metal with mainstream rap on the radio,claiming that rap and pop are more misogynistic than black metal.Really?Yes mainstream supports shitty things.But black metal,man,you must really be targeting THE WORST in your life to be able to find excuses about the deeeeep shit it really is.It’s not all so simple,it’s actually getting kinda serious.People become fanaticized with low things that blind them even more.Hate,so much hate brother.And it’s all so cunning,just like every ”heresy” out there,designed to trap you and root you there.Fuck that shit.

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