Monday, July 4, 2011

You'll live

Tired of these introspective posts yet? I know the Crowbar one was the first one, really (apart from the suicide post) but here's the truth about Trial By Ordeal: we lied to you when we said it was just about metal. It is about metal, but more importantly, it's about Metal, which goes beyond music, fashion, and style: to live Metal is to live the sort of life that is the antithesis of popular standards of apathy, irony, and disengagement. I imagine most of the people who read this will understand what I'm saying, because we all listen to metal; it reflects on similar feelings across the spectrum of human existence. You listen to metal for a reason- probably because you are Metal. And that absolutely means something.

Am I a person to tell you things about life? Probably not- I'm not saying I'm qualified in any way, shape, or form. But I'm human. Even though I'm just text on a screen to most of you, I still hope you can take something from what I say. And the reason why you might be able to take something away is because I'm Metal like you. Metal isn't really about what bands you like, how long your hair is, or what you think about Jesus or Hitler- it's a state of mind, and as cringe-inducing as the phrase is, it's a lifestyle. Metal is about existence against the tide; metal is about passion. At its root, metal is about life, from black metal's celebration of the romantic and inescapable to death metal's refocusing of life through an obsession with its opposite, death. At its core, metal music is about transcending limitations and existing in a very defined form of the self- very aware, very intense, and unafraid to express itself.

I'll level with you completely: over the past few days, I've been dealing with heavy shit. My father, already chronically (and to some degree, terminally) ill recently learned that cancer is a distinct possibility, and it will take bloodwork next week to determine whether the possibility is a reality or not. I'm not embarrassed to talk about it- at its root, it's a real thing, and Metal is about nothing if not the real. I love my father, and despite the occasionally bitter and acrimonious relationship we've had in the past, the possibility of this illness is something that affects me now and will affect me in the future. Alongside this lurking possibility are a whole host of personal issues which I'm not willing to talk about; this may be hypocritical, but even bloggers can expect some level of privacy in their day-to-day lives.

So what does this mean to you? Well, it comes down to what Metal is and how it affects you. Because you are Metal (I'm hoping) you have a distinct sense of the self. The dirty secret of the self is that with knowledge of it comes an intrinsic sense of right and wrong. And it's not a right and wrong based on silly aesthetic issues- I write just as many songs about rape, torture, and serial murder as the next goregrind fanatic- but a deep and intrinsic understanding of the right and wrong thing to do at any moment. Metal is the understanding that the right and correct, and more specifically, the cosmic right and correct, is not an easy thing.

Enacting the right is routinely an incredibly difficult thing to do in real life, because regardless of popularly regarded morals and ethics, doing the right thing is routinely discouraged by society. Occasionally they correlate, more accidentally than intentionally, but for the most part they are intrinsically at odds with each other. Because civilization in general is based on commerce and barter of some form or another, altruism is intrinsically discouraged by society at large. They will likely pretend to respect altruism, but the fact is that altruism is rarely backed by societal entities. People will be altruistic, stick their hand in the fire, and get burned. And society at large will tell that person that they were stupid to stick their hand in the fire to begin with.

What many fail to realize, though, is that altruism is one of the most Metal things in existence. Altruism signifies a full understanding of a situation and the immortal Self. Altruism means that you will stick your hand in the fire fully expecting to be burnt. And you will be burnt, and it will hurt, and the next time the necessary fire comes around, you will stick your hand in it again. Why? Because it is the immortal Right and Correct, and personal discomfort and suffering pales in comparison to these multifaceted and crucial elements of being. Your suffering is meaningless; your job, as a human, is to uphold the immortal values which are truly crucial to the human condition, which ultimately make life worth living.

Who are you? I'll tell you who you are: you're white male from a middle class family, somewhere between the mid teens and college age. You've done well in school- not because of particular effort, but because school is easy and you're intelligent enough to glide through it. But with that comes a distinct sense of dissatisfaction because you realize you could be doing more, but the system you're provided doesn't suggest that to you. You will probably go to college even though you are likely uninterested in your major and will regularly think about dropping out or what life would have been like had you not entered, or had gone into a trade school. You're most likely tolerable to be around and not a complete social wallflower, but you feel weirdly out of place at the parties you're invited to- everyone else seems to be in on some secret of human interaction that you're not. And while you see other mingle and talk about Jersey Shore and interact in a way that seems natural to them, you're unable to do that; not because you're pretentious, but because a life lived in that manner is totally alien to you.

Was I correct? I have a feeling that I probably am. Not because I'm cold reading, but because metal tends to attract the like-minded. And, if you fall within that general paradigm, you've likely put your hand in the fire and been burnt. And even more likely if you have, you've done it repeatedly, suffering the burn over and over again, but the very act of placing your hand within the fire is an intrinsic and natural impulse- it's completely alien to imagine NOT doing so. This is because you understand true morality- not morality for aesthetics or comfort, but the true face of morality: that you may suffer many times, and you will certainly suffer without vindication, and you will suffer again and again. This is not because you don't learn, but because you understand the Right and Correct on a level that many will never attain.

So what's the point of this elaborate writeup? To tell you that you'll live. As pretentious and obnoxious as many people will find this post (and me in general) there's some element of truth to it. I've placed my hand in the fire many times and every time I've been burnt. That's the truth of fire: it hurts those who deal with it. But the reality of being Metal is that no matter how badly it hurts and no matter how often you're burnt, you'll continue to place your hand where others won't. And you should be saluted for that. If you weren't Metal, and did not understand the ultimate Right and Correct of the world, those fires would go unchecked.

You may never be thanked. Others may think you stupid for burning yourself again and again. But I want to let you know that what you're doing is right. You're the last line of defense against complete selfishness and chaos. And on your deathbed, you'll know that you've done the right thing. Even if you don't see tomorrow, you'll die with the satisfaction that you lived the right way. And in the end, that's all that matters.


  1. to live well is to will your own death.

  2. Yes. I'm with this.

    Though I'd be surprised if your readers are as young as you think, but then I'm probably too old to gauge these these thing.

    Also, all the imagery in this post reminds me of one of my 4am drunken go tos... Get Into: New Model Army

  3. I want to tell you that this post really resonated with me. When I started reading the part about sense of self and morality, I had a feeling I knew where this post was going. Not because your writing is predictable (far from it!) but because we're probably very similar at a fundamental level.

    Sorry to hear about your father.

  4. Definitely got me right on the parties and social shit. I kinda just find a spot to lurk in, grab a beer and take it all in. HAHAHA


  5. This hit the nail right on the head, so thanks

  6. @steve57: new model army is the shit. i'm going to do a post on them at some point in the not so distant future.

  7. Rasmus from DenmarkJuly 5, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    You're so right about so much here, but I also think that many readers of this blog are probably somewhat older. I'm 40 myself, I have four children, and I've been Metal for about 25 years. Otherwise spot-on, and great writing as usual.

  8. Aside from my race and class, this is dead on. I must also say... that defence of altruism is quite ballsy in a scene that post 2000s has been infested with skinny kids who think they're Ragnar Redbeard. Although I don't know if I fully agree with you on that part, I think that you do touch on the romantic element of metal. This blog is excellent btw

  9. I'm glad to see that writing about stuff like this has resonated with so many of you. I was hesitant at first- figured you'd want us to shut the fuck up and go back to beatdown hardcore posts- but it's heartening to think that TBO is a place where complicated questions and ideas can be addressed and flourish. And it's all of you reading and commenting that make it possible. Thanks a lot.

  10. That seventh paragraph is very accurate in its introspection, and it relates to me so well, I nearly want to weep tears of consolation. Do you have AIM or anything Nok? It might sound silly, but there's a certain quality to you that makes me want to have a deep and lengthy conversation with you about general life and related matters. If you have the time and/or patience, I would really enjoy it.

  11. Yeah, sure. Noktorn01 on AIM. I'm down to talk tonight probably.