Heavy Metal Objectivism: Philosophy In Drop C

objectivism black sabbath heavy metal

Objectivism has wiggled it’s way into all human endeavors and even heavy metal music has not escaped the clutches of it’s dogma.

In a recent interview Brent Hinds of Mastodon made a statement in which he claimed that heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest are not, nor ever were, a heavy metal band. I would guess that a lot of people might agree with him, mostly younger metalheads. However I don’t think this generational gap is defined so much by style as how the definition of heavy metal began to change in the 1980’s.

Before I get to that, however, although I think Mastodon is a great band and admire Brent’s heavy metal hijinks, I would consider them to be a far less metal band than Priest. Mastodon are a very metal prog rock band. And that’s okay.

The essential question is – what makes music ‘heavy’ and what makes it ‘metal’? 

The ‘metal’ part is pretty easy and can be broken into two main categories.

Attitude

Defiance, rebelliousness, unusual curiosity, darkness of worldview and humor; and most of all irreverence. Whether snarky strikes of combativeness or stone cold shoulders of passive aggression, metal doesn’t want to hear your bullshit. It has plenty of its own, fuck you.

At the same time most metalheads are open-minded, fun-loving people with lots of love and humor, especially among their own where they are accepted non-judgmentally for their singular passion for the metal lifestyle.

The metal attitude is not aggression, even though it appears that way. It is a hyperbolistic defense mechanism. The metal spikes on the black leather jacket, like the spines of a porcupine, protect a tender, vulnerable human being from the surface-dwelling norms all around them.

This gives the safety to self-explore. To think more deeply and to feel more deeply. To dig beneath the exterior world of frivolous lightness into one of their own existential heaviness.

The Objective

Objective facts are the parts of a phenomena that can be observed and measured in some way, then reobserved and remeasured with consistent results.

In metal music of all types there are some elements that are often, but not always, present. Speed, distortion, volume, anti-authoritarianism, Satanism and the occult, themes of darkness and evil, bombastic performance and presentation, musical virtuosity…among others. These are objective qualities within metal music, of which there must always be at least a few present in order to be accepted as metal by the genres fans.

However there is one further attribute of metal that cannot be fully denied – it is fueled by raw masculine energies.

Somewhere between the new wave of British heavy metal and Metallica there began to be sort of competitive drive to become more metal than anyone else. It got louder, faster and far more ‘evil’.

Over the next decade the metal one-upping led to a division of metal into an ever-branching tree of sub-genres. From this came speed metal and death metal and black metal and a number of other genres who picked a few of those objective qualities and focused all their efforts on expanding on them.

A decade after that metal had been reduced to the objective qualities found within it. Every sub-genre was a _______-metal band and in all the musical measurements that divided them something had been lost.

Heavy

It is not quite so easy to define what heaviness is. It cannot be objectively observed or measured. It is not even an attribute of the music or performers, but of the relationship between them and the listener. It is an effect that cannot be perceived or predicted.

There is the famous Ozzy quote about how puzzling it was to consider San Francisco and people who were obliged to wear floral cranial ornamentation while visiting that enchanted land. For Black Sabbath the grey skies and industrial totality of their lives could not prepare them for such a sunny worldview. And in their music you can hear, nay feel, the very environment in which they had been formed.

It is not Ozzy singing about Satan’s love life that made Black Sabbath heavy in a way that had never been heard before. It was not the loudness, the distortion or occult that made first time listeners connect with their heaviness. It was their ability to musically express things about themselves and their lives which could drag you directly into their world. It was music that was, like Mozart and Wagner before them, transcendent beyond description.

Heaviness, therefore, could be considered a nexus where the emotional and spiritual meet to produce profound responses in the listener. But you cannot do that on purpose. You have to be that, genuinely, and then be lucky enough to translate it sonically and have it connect with the right people.

Metal is something you can try at. It is something that can be quantified and then imitated. Anybody can make metal music. Very few make heavy music. And not all of it, in fact most of it, is not even metal.

I am not a metal fan, I am a heavy metal fan. I am not interested in note per minute stats or which black metal artist has most appeased Lucifer. I am interested in transcendent experience and the creative works that can get me there.

Black Sabbath gets me there. Some Judas Priest even gets me there, or at least did at some point in my life. Mastodon fucking rock, but they have never made me feel transcendent. I don’t think that is their goal, either. They are fantasy prog metal. They are industrial bards with more connections to modern literature than shamanism. They look great with one foot on the monitor and the stage fans in their hair, washed out in an orgiastic carpet bombing of stage lights. And that may be metal as fuck, but there is nothing heavy about it.

There is a larger point here. Heavy metal is not the only area of modern life in which an obsessive-compulsive focus on objectivity has blinded us from the heaviness of our own existence. We have become lazy thinkers, content to dwell on the surface of a literal world we can observe and measure and feel righteous having the final answers for.

Objectivity has wounded our humanity with a delusional pride that we can enjoy exclusive access to a reality that lies outside of our own experience of it. It is a religiously dogmatic attachment to an ideal world that our subjective human experience cannot independently verify with something unquestionably objective.

The same kind of human tendency towards reductionism and oversimplification that turned a concept as complex as God into an angry sky patriarch has turned our modern view of the universe into a meaningless clockwork we are here to experience for no reason whatsoever.

And it also make people think Lamb of God are heavy, rather than what they really are, which is attached with adolescent zeal to the hyperbole of their clockwork, cookie-cutter noise. Jussayin’.

How Pokemon Go Will Help Change the Very Nature of Reality

pokemon go

Right up front, I have never played Pokemon Go and this is not an endorsement for the popular augmented reality game that has spread like wildfire the past week, causing speculations of conspiracy among even the most straightforward tinfoil hat accusers. And while it may indeed be a CIA plot to distract us from police killing and democratic shenanigans, or a tool of the Satanic Reptilian Shapeshifting Illuminati New World Order for some more esoteric outcome, its effects on human consciousness will transcend whatever normal or malignant purpose its current popularity is predicated on.

To be more specific it is the augmented reality itself that will have an unimaginable impact on humanity and reality. It will not do so directly, intentionally or obviously. We will not instantly be transformed, and most likely, we will not notice our transformation taking place. The lessons of augmented reality will not be explicit. They will not be a product of content or gameplay. Rather it will be the overall implicit context of navigating augmented reality that will bring about this evolution in consciousness.

As it is, most people tend to think about reality in the most literal terms. If we can measure it and define it, it is real. Despite the fact that most human experience happens outside of this mass hallucination of measurable objective reality, we still deny the existence or importance of that which remains intangible and beyond physical description. The reason for this has been quite simple. That reality is where everything seems to be happening at.

Augmented reality pastes another layer on top of that. It provides non-physical objects in real space/time that we can interact with through both physical and technological efforts. It provides rewards for doing so, even if intangible, that give that new layer of reality significance and import in our every day lives. It provides a new layer of reality in which things also seem to be happening at.

When we think about reality as a single layer of physicality, it appears to be incredibly rigid. Augmented reality will force us to think of reality on multiple levels. It will create new ideas about what is possible within reality by expanding our thoughts about what reality is. And as our consciousness absorbs this new fluidity then reality itself may take on less restrictive properties, since reality is not an external object but a manifestation of our deepest conscious ideas about what reality is.

This may seem like a pretty big leap for those conditioned to view existence through the narrow window of materialism. Materialist narratives make us subjects and victims of an external reality independent of our consciusness. Reality becomes an inescapable plot to contain and control everything within it. While there is a certain romance to admitting existential defeat, it is far from rational. The materialist narrative is just that. It is not a doctrine of absolute truth. But if it is wrong, we are potentially limitlessly powerful beings with only the limits set forth by our own imagination.

The materialist view of reality has been incredibly useful. It has allowed us to evolve from simple animals to complex technological/cultural beings. Technology and culture, and not just biology alone, are the partners of modern humans evolution. So it should be of no surprise that culture and technology will eventually do for us what we did for it, to guide us towards a complexity that seems almost magic when compared to our earliest ancestors and their tools.

This is exactly what augmented reality will do. It will remove the bumper lanes, or training wheels if you will, of human consciousness. The rigidity of physical reality is useful for learning to explore our existence, but it provides too many obstacles for consciousness to explore the almost infinite possible outcomes suggested for millennia by religion, philosophy and science alike. The fact that such limitless possibilities extend beyond our capabilities suggests that we may evolve in ways which allow us to experience those distant possibilities of reality.

Augmented reality, however, is not the beginning. The entire trajectory of human history has been to rise above any and all challenges, no matter the difficulty. We have done so through cleverness and invention. Our inventiveness began with sticks and stones, but has evolved to new layers of reality on our phones.

Soon the phones will be replaced by glasses. Then the glasses will be replaced by implants. Finally the implants will become unnecessary, as our own conscious will becomes the creative force that dictates what sort of experiences we will have.

In our waking states, we are asleep to the unlimited possibilities. In our sleeping states, we are awakened to them but have no will. The coming incarnations of reality, of universal experience itself, will be somewhere between. We will be awake to our own will and all possibilities. Choice, rather than some abstract learning device like physical nature, will guide our consciousness along its journey.

I know this seems fantastic and unthinkable. But our world would seem equally unthinkable to anyone we plucked out of prehistory to observe it. Perhaps, even, the world to come seems even more incomprehensible to us than ours would to those ancients. That incomprehensibility is often mistaken as impossibility, but that is because most of us have been conditioned to see the universe as a place of discovery rather than creativity.

I suggest that we are not worms in a universe experiencing its own corpse by consuming it, but that we are the body of divine creativity learning how to control itself one training course at a time. Augmented reality is one small step for Pokemon, and one giant leap for mankind.

Why Objectivity Does Not Objectively Exist

objectivity

 

In order to understand the issues with objectivity we should first look at how the concept and definition have changed over time.

What they used to mean…

Objective – The measurable qualities of an object.
Subjective – The qualities of relationship between object, observer and environment.

What they have come to mean…

Objective – Absolutely true beyond individual observation, perception and analysis.
Subjective – Just, like, your opinion, man.

As a method of empirical investigation, objectivity is the best possible attempt to create a reliable map of reality based on consensus. A map that gives us the best predictive power for future navigation of the territory. That map, however, is not the territory.

The modern thinking about objectivity is that it is an infallible method that produces absolutely True results. Those things which we say are objective have come to be endowed with an ideological faith in their eternal certainty. Even though we cannot measure anything all throughout spacetime, we have come to belief that our small snapshot of it from this perspective in place and time can be assumed to be true everywhere forever so long as it is ‘objective’.

There are many problems with this belief system, and make no mistake, it is just that.

Most obviously, in the dichotomy in which objective means absolutely and subjective means merely personally, we have a self-refuting axiom. If I am only able to recognize subjective truths through my individual powers of perception and analysis, then how could I ever verify something outside of the subjective realm? Objectivity, by the logic of objectivists, should be beyond my ability to observe, identify and verify. If there are objective truths, then what objective process outside of our own minds can we use to verify them?

The answer generally given is consensus. If many of us observe the same thing, the properties of the thing we agree upon must be true. Yet this is irrational for a number of reasons. If we start from the premise that our minds -the instrument of observation, measurement and conclusion- are unreliable due to their subjective nature, then we cannot fix the problem by overlapping unreliable constructs. This is like taking a hundred broken and randomly set clocks and attempting to determine the actual time throughout the day based on an average of their readings.

The assumption that something beyond individual experience can be determined through democratic means is rooted in our cultural bias that might makes right and that the majority view is always the truth. Nevermind that we already understand the psychology of mass hysteria, groupthink and crowd behavior. When it comes to covering up the existential dread of uncertainty we are willing to ignore our proclivity towards group ignorance. When it confirms our biases and validates our egos, we are willing to overlook all of the obvious issues with any version of Absolute Truth.

Often the reasoning given to validate objectivity is that it produces positive results. This is flawed as well. Star charts made by people who believed the earth was at the center of the universe produced positive navigation results. Long after Einsteins theory of general relativity unraveled Newtonian physics, those physics are still being used to produce positive results. The ability to produce positive results does not prove a central premise. That is reverse engineering Absolute Truth from the faulty premise of result-orientated pragmatism.

Our government and media have profited most from this mass delusion. By defining what constitutes truth they are able to control it and use it as a tool of manipulation. By assigning absolutes they narrow the field of possibilities to make their own agendas seem favorable or necessary. The myth of objectivity is the most powerful ideological tool today in preventing critical thinking, individual autonomy and competition. It is a tool of monopolizing information and knowledge.

And even more insidious is that we are conditioned to feel inordinate amounts of pride and satisfaction in thinking what we are told to think, by having those majority opinions rewarded and validated by experts, officials and authoritarians. When you continually reassure people that what they believe is true, there becomes no reason to question it, especially not when it is made to appear that everyone either believes the same thing as you or is a total nutjob.

Objectivism is just a form of consensus gathering. It is an ideological net that is used to ensnare people in the ideas and agendas of those who are able to control and manipulate them most effectively. It is far easier to get people to believe you if they have faith in your method of conclusions then it is to make them believe all of your conclusions independently based on their own merits.

You can sell lots of cereal if you tell your consumers it stays crunchy in milk, even if they all know in their hearts and mouths that it takes about eight bites for the remainder to turn to soggy mush. Objectivism is proving the claim by only considering those first eight bites as evidence.

Marijuana As Medicine: When Thinking Objectively Fails

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I once had to attend a drunk driving course that took place over the weekend at a community college. The instructor filled our naughty little minds with all sorts of information, in hopes that it might transform us from criminals into upright citizens or scholars. Knowing that an abstinence only education would likely do more harm than good, the sobriety sensai told us about the medical studies which showed that small amounts of alcohol daily had numerous health benefits. She explained that it was not known exactly why this was, whether there was a biological cause or if there was some other less tangible reason. Her opinion was that it was the latter, as she stated, ‘A few drinks make you happy, and happiness has many benefits, health and otherwise.’ This, she claimed, was also the opinion of many ‘experts’. While I was impressed with her logic and pleased with her honesty, I wondered why we didn’t apply the same logic to other drugs.

When we discuss medical marijuana, it is almost always approached from the angle of bio-chemistry. The empirical method, it is believed, will reveal whether or not we can justify or validate the benefits of this plant. It is reasoned that if science can show a beneficial interaction between marijuana’s chemistry and our own, then that will ‘prove’ that the plant is medicinal. In essence, we have sought to demonstrate the efficacy of marijuana use by insisting that the only meaningful medicine is that which directly and literally affects the symptoms or illness.

Now lets ask ourselves why health issues are ‘bad’ in the first place. I can come up with two of them.

1. They can kill you.

2. They can lower the quality of life.

Some researchers now believe that marijuana can literally save your life. Its efficacy in fighting seizures and cancer may one day lead to marijuana-based drugs that cure some of the most serious and debilitating ailments humans suffer. However, I am more interested in exploring the plants relationship to that second answer.

Why is pain bad? Why is nausea bad? Are they intrinsically bad, or do they just create conditions in which negative reactions arise? We tend to think of things like pain as objective phenomena. Yet we are not objective creatures. Our relation to pain is that it is a subjective phenomena. Pain cripples us and prevents us from doing those things which bring quality to our life. It is not just the pain itself which affects us, but the cascade of effects we experience due to it. When we are in pain the main problem becomes that our lives are not very enjoyable.

For many people, being high on marijuana is incredibly enjoyable. Pot intoxication is quite often a very pleasant experience that enhances our quality of life. And when you are enjoying life, pain has less power over you. Pain can be lived with, so long as it does not prevent us from happiness. There are many people suffering ailments that come with a lifetime of pain. Back injuries can be a life sentence to discomfort and hurt. Where there is no cure for pain, we must stop focusing on it and instead consider those experiencing it. Should we not take seriously their quality of life since it has no objective factors we can study? Is their happiness not important, if only because it cannot be deductively examined through empirical methods?

Every medical condition lowers the quality of life. Every physical ailment and psychological trauma does the most damage by robbing us of the ability to enjoy living. So why do we only measure the objective links between pot and pain, and not the subjective ones?Our culture has become unhealthily obsessed with objectivity. It is one of the pitfalls of the rampant scientism which has become the religion of our industrial culture. Objectivity has become the myth of our times. We are subjective beings. We cannot experience an objective reality or truth, because even if it existed, it would have to make its way through our own subjective perceptions and interpretations. The entire reason that the need to create empirical methods such as science came about was to overcome our hopeless subjectivity by using disciplines which sought to explore questions about nature in objective terms. Yet falsification, a primary tenet of empirical science, illustrates that when that objectivity we use to question nature shows up in the answers, we are no longer doing science. Final answers are not the domain of empiricism. Objectivity is the path, not the destination.Now consider how this has effected our ideas about medicine. Think further into how it has colored our ideas about ‘recreational’ drugs. We have come to see the concepts of ‘medicine’ and ‘recreation’ as being unrelated. This, I believe, is an enormous error in thinking on our behalf. It is time to decompartmentalize our lives. We have needlessly separated feeling good and having a good time. The barriers we have erected in our lives have become obstacles to our own happiness and well being. It is time to think of our lives as an organic whole, in which our subjective experiences are just as (or perhaps more) meaningful than those mythological objective truths we have come to use like a weapon against our own happiness.

“When once they stalked deer, or crouched shivering in the mud for the flight of ducks to alight, or risked their lives in the crags after goats, or closed in with shouts upon a wild boar at bay- that was not work, though often the breath came hard and the limbs were heavy. When the women bore and nursed children, or wandered in the woods for berries and mushrooms, or tended fire at the entrance of the rock shelter- That was not work either.
So also, when they sang and danced and made love, that was not play. By the singing and the dancing the spirits of forest and water might be placated- a serious matter, though still one might enjoy the song and the dance. And as for the making of love, by that- and by the favor of the gods- the tribe was maintained.
So in the first years work and play mingled always, and there were not even words for one against the other.
But centuries flowed by and then more of them, and many things changed. Man invented civilization and was inordinately proud of it. But in no way did civilization change life than to sharpen the line between work and play, and at last that division had came to be more important than the old one between sleeping and waking. Sleep came to be thought a kind of relaxation, and “sleeping on the job” a heinous sin. The turning out of the light and the ringing of the alarm were not so much the symbols of man’s dual life as were the punching of the time clock and the blowing of the whistle. Men marched on picket lines and threw bricks and exploded dynamite to shift an hour from one classification to the other, and other men fought equally hard to prevent them. And always work became more laborious and odious, and play grew more artificial and febrile.”

Excerpt of ‘Earth Abides’ by George R. Stewart (1949)

We Are Everything

we are everything

Objectivity is the illusion 
That has facilitated our evolution
Singular truth
Is no longer the solution
Subjectivities rapture
Destroys the delusion
Cleanses the spirit
Removes the pollution
A time is coming
A revolution
Of consciousness
And new illusions
You’ll need a key to pass
So remember this saying
I am not a thing
I am everything
I am not the eye that sees all else
But just an eye that sees itself
God is not a thing
We are everything