Deep in the shadows wings take to flight through clouds of chaos where stars die
– Inquisition, “Across the Abyss Ancient Horns Bray,” Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
That which neither creates nor is created . . . is classed among the impossibles, for its essence lies in that it cannot be [cuius differentia est non posse esse]
– John Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon
The love of black metal twists toward absolute cosmic exteriority along a mystical path of intensive inversion. Ordinate mysticism takes an inward and upward path to God as the source and goal of everything, withdrawing from the exterior phenomenal world in order to ascend beyond it to the One in a movement that is anabatic, apophatic, and anagogic (Plotinus, Enneads, 4.8.1; Augustine, Confessions, 7.10,16; Pseudo-Dionysius, Mystical Theology, 1.1). The love of black metal, reversely and contrarily, leads downwards and outwards into a paradoxically disordered and multiple cosmos that is no less divine, pursuing a musical path that is catabatic, cataphatic, and apogogic (a path, however, that necessarily twists these terms according to its own essential negativity). Where music traditionally aims to mimetically ascend to hyper-central divine truth through the harmony of the celestial spheres, black metal’s noisy anti-modern sonic drive coordinately plunges into the depths only to release and radically fly upon the infinite centrifugal power or negative cosmic wind of sound itself. Crucially, this distinction, between the ordered mystical love of God and the disordered mysticism that love of black metal inescapably is, is not a pure opposition. Like the Petrine Cross that at once marks the temporally separate twin foundations of the terrestrial ecclesia and the heavy acosmic kvlt, black metal love is a most intimate transposition of its spiritual precursor, a dissemblance that exacerbates and intensifies the still, unmoving point of identity with what it inverts. This point, the secret moment or punctum around which black metal assemblies anarchically gather, is perversely legible in moments of black metal complicity with essential ‘disordering’ counter-movements within medieval mystical discourse, for instance, Richard of St. Victor’s representation of the God-enflamed soul as spontaneously sinking into the divine will like liquefied black metal (On the Four Degrees of Violent Charity), Mechthild of Magdeburg’s exaltation of the soul’s descent into the night of separation: “O blissful distance from God, how lovingly am I connected with you!”, and Meister Eckhart’s prayer to be rid of God. Arguing that the modern love of black metal is, willy-nilly, a profound and fresh form of mysticism, a desperate contemplation of the divine manifesting the ‘desire to be everything’ (Bataille), this lecture will demonstrate, with special reference to the works of Inquisition and John Scotus Eriugena, how black metal and mysticism are lovingly united in the dark pestilential space of excessive and compound negativity, a new realm of the not not God.