Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Legacy intervew

 A short interview that will appear in Legacy magazine.

1. Black Metal and theory - that seems to be an adventurous enterprise. How come this project all about?

The project began with a desire to experience and intensify the mutual blackening of metal and theory, an impossible and inevitable annihilative process that is already happening, not only in the obvious phenomenal sense that metal is thought and thought is metal, but in the ‘esoteric’ sense that music and philosophy have the same end: the psychic decapitation of the individual subject. Black Metal, being at once the most intellectual and most anti-intellectual of musical forms, the intensest mode of headbanging, is a natural path to this end. As to what this mutual blackening is I do not definitively know. And if I did, I do not think it would be worth desiring. So you are exactly right, an “adventurous enterprise” in the original sense of ad-venture: deliberately exposing oneself to the hazards of what happens.

2. What has the response to your first symposium in Brooklyn, New York City last December been like?

There have been many responses, positive and negative, from instant loving recognition to pure idiotic anger. But as everyone knows, the truth divides. Black Metal ist Krieg. Like the famous appearance of God in human form that it negatively loves and positively hates, Black Metal brings “not peace but a sword.” Likewise, if everyone liked or disliked Black Metal Theory, it would be a serious failure. However I would not be too disappointed if everyone ignored it.

3. Some followers of black metal would argue that theory should step off such an uncompromising musical style. What do you answer to such argumentation?

I answer that those persons, by the very fact of their argumentation, inhabit an important and profoundly traditional theoretical position vis-à-vis the limits of discourse. I also call attention to the distinction between the false silence of not-speaking and the deeper silence that is the sound of language’s death. Truly significant criticism of Black Metal Theory emerges from persons who do not speak against it. I hope the thoughts and words of Hideous Gnosis give them joy.

4. Your book "Hideous Gnosis" shows a first way in getting more engaged with the background topics of black metal. Although it seemingly appeals to a select few. Is that perception correct?

Possibly. The book is not written or planned with any kind of audience or market in mind. Nor is it designed to explain black metal or to translate it into the topical, though of course it does address many well-known black metal topics. Rather it is the collective product of persons who are “engaged in the background topics of black metal” from several different perspectives. If Hideous Gnosis appeals to a select few, that is probably because formally it is neither metal journalism nor academic scholarship as typically practiced. It would have been extremely difficult to find a press in either area that would publish it.

5. There is quite some movement in metal studies, so what do you think is the contribution black metal theory could bring in?

The primary contribution of Black Metal Theory to metal studies is to creatively disfigure the current relations or boundaries between metal and its study. As to whether this will really prove to be a contribution to the field of metal studies who knows. Thus far it seems that the project lives more in the company of philosophy and the theoretical humanities than in other disciplines where metal scholarship goes on, like musicology or sociology. But what is a ‘contribution’ anyway? The word always reminds of manorial dues, or tithes, as if there were some big beautiful castle or church off in the near distance that all our labor is building and beautifying. That is a kind of instrumentality that I listen to black metal refusing and would prefer its theoretic possession to do the same.