Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Meads of Asphodel: Black Metal's Harry Stephen Keeler

If there was ever a literary equivalent to THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL, it would have to be the novels of Harry Stephen Keeler.. Having always been interested in extremes, and being, back in 2007, in the process of writing a novel (completed in 2008, and due to be published this year), I discovered this author after doing a Google search with the term "worst ever author" - knowing, of course, that "worst" often means, not "really bad" necessarily, but "misunderstood genius or non-conformist".

Like the abovementioned English Black Metal band, Keeler violated all the accepted rules for (in his case, not composing an album but) writing a novel: he crammed his often long and convoluted and intricately-plotted mystery novels with all manner of bizarre ethnic characters, improbable coincidences, and an tortuous and highly inventive prose - something we can find parallels of in the MEAD's eccentric songwriting and flouting of Black Metal orthodoxy. One of the most often cited examples of Keeler's style is the following segment, to be found in the first chapter of his 1934 novel, "The Riddle of the Travelling Skull":

For it must be remembered that at the time I knew quite nothing, naturally, concerning Milo Payne, the mysterious Cockney-talking Englishman with the checkered long-beaked Sherlockholmsian cap; nor of the latter's "Barr-Bag" which was as like my own bag as one Milwaukee wienerwurst is like another; nor of Legga, the Human Spider, with her four legs and her six arms; nor of Ichabod Chang, ex-convict, and son of Dong Chang; nor of the elusive poetess, Abigail Sprigge; nor of the Great Simon, with his 2163 pearl buttons; nor of--in short, I then knew quite nothing about anything or anybody involved in the affair of which I had now become a part, unless perchance it were my Nemesis, Sophie Kratzenschneiderw├╝mpel--or Suing Sophie!

Such a segment reveals also a type of humour which can be readily identified in Metatron's spawn, what with the absurdly long titles to some of the MEADS' songs, such as "Behold the Kindred Battle Carcasses Strewn Across the Bloodied Dunes of Gilgamesh Mute in the Frenzied Clamour of Death's Rolling Tongue and Ravenous Bursting Steel" (Damascus Steel); "On Graven Images I Glide Beyond the Monstrous Gates of Pandemonium to Face the Baptized Warriors of Yahweh in the Skull Littered Plain of Esdraelon" (Exhuming the Grave of Yeshua); and "Falling with Lightning Rays Beamed through the Blazing Firmament Towards the Untented Burial Ground of Kharsag" (The Excommunication of Christ); or, the lyrics of that latter song.

Unsurprisingly, and not unlike the MEADS, Keeler had a dedicated following (peaking in the mid-1920s and early-1930s); while otherwise remaining a fairly marginal within the genre, never reaching the mass appeal levels of more conventional counterparts. We know plenty of very good, but otherwise orthodox, Black Metal bands who have attained commercial success; Keeler's literary counterparts, at least during the 1920s and 30s, were the likes of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett - authors who, defined a genre and became successful, but who avoided the fervid, far-out eccentricities seen particularly in Keeler's later novels.

I mention Keeler a few times in Mister, and one of my birthday presents from my wife last year was a first paperback edition of Keeler's most popular novels (and, as far as I know, the only one that was ever made into a film), Sing Sing Nights.

The parallels between the MEADS and Keeler do not end there, but discussing them here would reveal more information than is appropriate.

I wonder whether Metatron would concurr with my appraisal.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Cliff Richard, Whitney Houston and Bing Crosby are most likely to be used for torture

Cliff Richard, Whitney Houston and Bing Crosby are most likely to be used for torture

Songs by Cliff Richard, Whitney Houston and Bing Crosby are most likely to be used for torture, Scots researchers have revealed.

Academics at Glasgow University have claimed expletive laden tracks by Marilyn Manson, Eminem and Scandinavian Black Metal bands are less malevolent than music by their squeaky clean pop counterparts.

Seemingly innocent tunes such as, White Christmas and I Will Always Love You are amongst the biggest offenders - despite their family-friendly lyrics...

Continued here:

Are we surprised, really?

While the article below only confirms what we already knew in relation to Black Metal (about the other two artists, I would not know, as I have never heard their music), it is amazing that the academics who have conducted this research at Glasgow University have missed the most obvious explanation for their predictable findings: Scandinavian Black Metal is less likely to be used for torture because it is, in fact, music of vastly superior merit. Aside from those who might belong to an entirely different generation, or come from an incompatible cultural background, those who fail to appreciate it at least at some level are only able to tolerate their condition because they are one, some, or all of the following: profoundly deaf, mentally defective, or self-hating conformists too terrified to differ from their peers to venture outside mainstream Pop; they are incapable, in other words, of appreciating art or being stirred by Nietzschean sentiments of force and glory. Of course, no repressive regime would ever need to torture any of these specimens: a totalitarian order requires and welcomes their type, and uses all available means to mass-produce it; the ones typically targetted by said regimes are, in fact, the contrarians who think critically and refuse to surrender, apologise, or conform.

It is good to know that everyday observation and experience are now officially reinforced by the rigor of science.

Now, if you know what is good for you, you will know to go here.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Dr. Tomislav Sunic's New Official Website

Dr. Tomislav Sunic, author of Homo Americanus and other monographs, has a new website online. You can visit it here. His new website includes a full bibliography, essays, photographic gallery, and a compilation of links to video and audio interviews.

Published in 2007, I read this book while away in Wales, on the week I proposed to my now wife.

In this book Dr. Tomislav Suni─ç describes the origins and dynamics of America's founding myths. Quoting and translating from many long-forgotten or suppressed sources from the fields of literature, history, anthropology and philosophy, the book represents an interdisciplinary compendium dealing with the topic of Americanism. The genealogy of early Calvinist Puritanism mixed with the techno-scientific religion of boundless economic progress and legally veiled in the obscure para-Biblical and Jewish-inspired sense of political self-chosenness, created a system that has little in common with its original design. Postmodern Americanism, with its abstract theories of multiculturalism and its global desire for world improvement, turned America into a menacing and self-destructive continent that puts not only the survival of America's European heritage at risk, but threatens the heritage of other peoples worldwide as well.

As some of the more politically-oriented Black Metal musicians, particularly in Eastern Europe, have expressed views critical of Americanism and 'the West', this text might be of interest to people interested in understanding the ideologically-inspired facets of this corner of our music scene. Although there are many artists out there who simply emulate the attitudes of their peers, and, out of a desire to conform to the norms of the scene and establish their credentials as despisers of the mainstream, limit themselves to thoughtlessly reproducing the most common statements that happen to be in circulation (in other words, they have most likely have not read this particular author), I am pleased to say that some of our own artists (e.g. DRUDKH, ELDRIG / FANISK) are familiar with Dr. Sunic's texts and ideas.