The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.3

April 5, 2009

"The things that will destroy us are, politics without principle,
pleasure without conscience, wealth without work, knowledge
without character, business without morality, science without
humanity, and worship without sacrifice."

- Mahatma Gandhi

"There was nothing inevitable, unavoidable or unforeseeable
about the current crisis. At every step, critics warned of the
dangers of further deregulation. But with the financial sector
showering campaign contributions on politicians from both
parties, investing heavily in a legion of lobbyists, paying
academics and think tanks to justify their preferred policy
positions, and cultivating a pliant media -- especially a
cheerleading business media complex -- the sounds of
clinging cash registers drowned out the evidence-based
warnings from public interest advocates and independent-
minded government officials."

- Robert Weissman

Didn't we know it all along? Didn't we sense it coming? Didn't we feel it somewhere in the back of our minds that we were doing something immoral, unethical, illegal, or just plain stupid? Of course not. We were all caught by surprise weren't we? And to think that we are to blame? Nonsense. It was all the fault of someone else wasn't it? You know, someone in that other political party or someone whom we already have a grudge against. Yes, that's it, it was the greedy rich, or the crafty, communist Chinese manipulating their currency, or decades of misguided Republican deregulation, or the irresponsible Federal Reserve whose chairman was following a flawed ideology, or those corrupt Democrats who got massive kickbacks from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in return for favorable legislation, or it was those dirty illegal aliens, or those shady people who hire illegal aliens, or it was those activist judges who are always legislating from the bench, or those corrupt judges who are on the take from big business, or the predatory lenders who sold credit as if it were crack, or the people who took out loans that they knew that they couldn't pay back, or it was the fault of one or more of any number of at least partly responsible parties, or should we say irresponsible parties, that have brought us to where we are today, with the exception of course being that we had nothing to do with it. And let's not forget our mantra. Let us all open up our windows and scream it out to the world: "If everyone had listened to me (or whatever pundit, idol, deity, or other bastion of authority you happen to follow) then none of this would have ever happened!"

STFU! For the love of Ishtar, STFU everyone!

But alas, there will be no S'ing the FU. And as we continue to slide into oblivion the chorus of the self-righteous will only grow louder. Let us not forget that magical side effect of blaming someone else in that it makes us feel more secure and less guilty about our own failings. Yes, even yours truly succumbed to this annoying practice. When I received feedback on my advice/rant titled "The Hill" in the last newsletter and received a lot of warm congratulations I knew that I had screwed up. Sure, the essay started out as an innocent exploration of my own beliefs and practices, the kind of self examination which is necessary for one to truly understand themselves and the world, but while I tried to stick to my usual themes of ideologies and the Fireaxe theory it seems that along the way I got sidetracked into blasting away at the all too numerous hypocrites of the world. I don't think that that in itself is a bad thing, there are people who deserve the blame and who need to change their ways, but it seems that no matter how balanced I make my rants and how evenly I try to spread out the vitriol, it always seems as though everyone thinks that I am on their side and that I am talking about someone else. If that's what you are thinking then you are seriously mistaken. When I spread around the criticisms I am most definitely talking about me and about you.

I know that I came off sounding too self-righteous in that essay. I didn't mean to imply that Brian Voth is the almighty hill-climbing wonder who stands atop a mountain of amazing accomplishments and pisses down on all the lazy wastes of flesh below. And when I ended it by telling everyone to stay modest my own hypocrisy was prominently on display. I should have tempered my words and thus I will do so now. To be honest, I know all about "the hill" and how steep and difficult it is because I've put forth half-assed efforts or outright given up while climbing it more times than I care to admit, and I know all the excuses for falling short because I've heard plenty of them uttered from my own lips. Part of my reason for writing it was to give myself the kind of motivation that I need to meet the obstacles that I'm going to be facing for the rest of my life, and life is going to get a lot harder for almost everyone in the world for some time to come. I know that I've slacked off in a lot of areas, coasting along on my talents without taking the time to really develop them, and I've taken too many things for granted. I guess that what I'm trying to say is that I am not talking down to you from the top of the hill. Nor are we both standing at the top patting each other on the back and sneering at those pathetic creatures below. No, I am at the bottom of the hill, just like you, trying to summon up the motivation to face the hard road ahead and end up at the top, or at least end up somewhere high enough to satisfy my needs and desires. Understand that you don't climb the hill once in your life and that's where you end up. No, you have to climb it over and over again so get used to the idea of starting over. Now, let's plot our course and find out what we're made of.

To help in plotting that course, I'll get back to what I like to think is some clear-headed, sober analysis about the state of the world today. And rather than give my less than qualified opinion about what needs to be done to fix everything, like everyone else seems to be doing, I'll instead focus on what is likely to happen so that you and I can make better decisions about how to navigate the rough seas ahead.

If there are any questions about how ideology has polluted the world and made rational analysis nearly impossible then they are being answered by the constant game of shirk and blame that passes for discourse in political and financial matters today. Everyone is railing against someone else and making their case from a purely ideological perspective based on half-truths and misconceptions. At a time in which it is of the utmost most importance to be clear-headed, open- minded, and analytical about what is happening we have instead surrendered to the false tenets of our belief systems, clinging to solutions which worked in another time for a different set of conditions, and unwavering in our support of them. This is a sure recipe for failure. But failure in what sense? It seems inevitable that we will not choose the best path out of the mess that we are in and that we will probably end up switching courses many times, sometimes getting stymied by entrenched opposition and at others applying truly draconian measures which will end up doing more harm than good. Democracy is supposed to save us from such turmoil, idealistically dealing with crises by having a group of people who represent a diversity of interests get together and agree on a solution that works well for everyone. But if what we've seen so far is any indication of what is to come, our vaunted method of governance is going to prove woefully lacking. As a conscious, self-aware, thinking people, there is no other way to describe such an outcome other than failure.

But failure for one ideology, especially one so powerful and with so many followers as the one which is currently falling, means opportunities for all the others to acquire new adherents and gain ground. And if the turmoil grows bad enough we are sure to see a number of new ideologies or modernized versions of older ones appear. Make no mistake about it, if the old system crashes completely to the ground then almost everyone's understanding of how the universe works will be fundamentally changed forever. As unthinkable is it was only a few years ago, free-market Capitalism may be on its death bed, with only the fanatics, and others who did well under the current system, clinging to the idea that it is the best way to run an economy. The vast majority of us may entertain various alternatives, including those which are seen as utterly repulsive today. Of course, it's not going to happen overnight, if it happens at all, but as the misery drags on, minds will change.

And as the bickering, blaming, inaction, and poorly constructed legislation continues to handicap our attempts at finding solutions a lot of people are going to start thinking about dictatorship in a new light, as a necessary evil rather than a corrosive and destructive force, since a dictator would have the power to challenge and uproot our many deeply corrupted and obstinate bureaucracies and impose his solutions the way they were meant to be enacted, not some makeshift compromised versions. The old tale about how Mussolini got the trains to run on time and other myths about how efficiently Fascist governments can do things will be unearthed and spread far and wide regardless of any truth in them or the lack thereof. Of course anything is going to be better than a democracy paralyzed by partisan feuding and a financial system paralyzed by debt, but without well regulated free markets and a stable currency no economy is going to run at full speed, dictator or not. However, with free markets and laissez-faire capitalism associated with the numerous bankruptcies, foreclosures, unemployment, and who knows what all else that are in store that are going to bring widespread suffering and misery among the masses it seems likely that a fascist ideology, by another name most likely, will be presented as a middle way between Capitalism and Communism and will gain wide acceptance in many nations. The first signs of this trend have already begun as governments worldwide have increased spending and kicked off large public works projects, which is essentially the government seizing greater control over the economy and displacing private enterprise and free markets. As the economic fallout spreads, nationalizing privately owned companies, instituting price and wage controls, protecting national industries, and other measures will likely be instituted, appearing to be necessary and in many cases being things that must be done in order to stave off the obliteration of important national industries. Fascism will be in vogue to one extent or another, but what flavor of Fascism will each nation choose?

As the neo-liberal Objectivist style ideology which has dictated global economic policy for the last few decades lays dying, the F.D.R. style Keynesian model has been dusted off and put in its place, thus avoiding a full scale ideological conflict about how governments should conduct themselves in a crushing fiscal crisis. It appears that we already have a solution when faced with a depression, simply follow the recipe that the United States followed through the great depression and you too will emerge as a superpower. If only it were so simple.

As the credit bubble implodes and the massive debts that have built up are becoming unserviceable, we are seeing a wave of insolvency sweeping across the world. Individuals, corporations, governments, and almost everything in between are becoming terrible credit risks, and who can blame the banks for not lending the money that they have? Would you lend money in this economy? But the credit bubble needs more debt to feed on or else it will undergo explosive decompression, and so the governments of the world, with the U.S. leading the way in grand fashion, have jumped into the role of "borrower of last resort" to take up the slack and prop up a dysfunctional global economy. The question on everyone's mind is "will it work?", but already it seems as if there is not enough savings in the world, or enough willing lenders, to loan the U.S. and other governments the money they need. If the recent G-20 meeting is any indication, U.S. plans to spend our way out of the mess we are in have been nixed by the rest of the world. But while they can pull back in buying our debt, they can't stop us from simply printing more dollars, and not long ago the Federal Reserve announced that it will step in and buy at least some of that debt, a paltry three-hundred billion dollars worth. This is very noteworthy since it is the first step on the road to hyperinflation. We do not want to take another. While a deflationary spiral is very bad it is survivable. Hyperinflation destroys nations.

The pillar which cannot be allowed to fall is the solvency of the United States government. If the dollar goes down it will probably take the global economy with it since so many things hinge on the rating of U.S. bonds and everything is so interrelated. It will put an end to the idea that we can borrow and spend our way out of the next great depression. At that point the new Keynesians may lose their grip on the reigns of power and the battle for ideological supremacy will begin in earnest.

So, what will this battle be like? I think that a lot of us believe in the idea that at some point things will get so bad that everyone will simply wake up and see the truth, or at least see things in the same way, and come together to fix all of our problems. But as things have moved forward through this crisis I see things moving in the opposite direction and do not believe that we will ever end up any more united in purpose or belief than we are now or were at any other time. Using the Fireaxe theory I predict that there will be a further ideological balkanization, both within and between our nations only with deeper divisions than today, with those numerous ideologies all clamoring for power and using any methods at their disposal to gain acceptance. Truth will be a victim, not a champion, and fallen rivals won't so much agree with the wisdom of the victorious ideology, they will simply grudgingly go along with it, and that will be what passes for consent and unity. How long it takes and how ugly it gets between now and when we reach that "consensus" is anyone's guess but our history books can give us a good idea of what is in store.

Speaking of what's in store I believe that I am almost ready to go back into the studio and lay down the new vocal tracks for "Food for the Gods". Well, not new, but re-recorded vocals using much better equipment than I had back when I first recorded it. Even better news is that I may be even better and stronger than before, but more on that below.

A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

Back and Better than Ever?

For years I did not dare even to think that I could be fully healthy again. It's what chronic fatigue syndrome does to you, or at least my version of it in which I was dragged down by a collection of festering infections and kept there for years. Over that time I've tried a number of approaches to treat my illness, and many of them made me feel better, but only for a little while, and each time the hope that I would recover faded I ended up a worse off than before. When that happens month after month, and year after year, it slowly grinds you down on both a physical and psychological level. It's not hard to give in and give up.

Even now as I am getting better, and occasionally feeling like I am close to end of this nightmare, I still take a very pragmatic view of where I am. I've been disappointed too many times before, so that is why I am not jumping up and down and telling everyone that I'm on the verge of being cured. It might not happen this time either. It might not happen ever. But I can say for sure that in the latest stage of my program that I've had days where I feel better than I've ever felt in at least eight years, and to think that I might feel like that again, and every day rather than just now and then, well, it's enough to get me pretty excited regardless of my guarded optimism.

On my good days I almost always take a few moments to sing, usually something from "Food for the Gods", but I've also taken to belting out some of my favorites from the band Manowar. Manowar is a band that knows how to write battle hymns and on those days when I am strong I feel that I too am rising above my enemies and crushing them once and for all. In fact, should I reach a point where I am convinced that I have achieved victory over Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Cancer too but I didn't feel like celebrating becoming cancer free for five years at that time due to my other health issues dragging me down, I may record the first official non-satirical Fireaxe cover song to commemorate my return to health. I'm thinking that doing "Blood of My Enemies" or "Heart of Steel" would both be very appropriate. But for now I will wait and keep the pressure on my illness. It has a way of coming back just when you are starting to feel great.

Even better news is that I've found that my voice is stronger than ever. I can really let it rip. You'll have to wait a little while before you can judge for yourselves but my range, my resonance, and my control are better than I've ever heard them before, and that's without regular practice. So I've decided that it is time to get my voice back into shape. For the first time in a long time my muscles are much better able to recover from intense efforts, which is what the style of singing that I do truly is, and if my voice holds up, and improves, I'll be able to get back in the studio and make "Food for the Gods" sound like it was meant to sound. Barring, of course, a relapse or something like the global economy going completely to hell.

Also, after a couple of months of practicing my guitar every day and learning tons of tricks and tips from YouTube, which is a surprisingly good source for free guitar lessons, I'm getting a lot better in that area too. I can do sweep picking and pick muting and a number of different arpeggios and play faster and cleaner than ever before. But what is more is that I'm truly learning the instrument and it feels much more like an extension of my body rather than a heavy wooden object in my lap. I'd like to get to the point where I just will the music to happen, where it is just a flow from the parts of my brain that create the music, through my fingers, into the guitar, and then back into my ear, without me having to stare down at the fingerboard and think about what I have to play next. That would be sweet.

And yeah, after spending so much time working on all the tricks of the trade it's hard not to get seduced into thinking about playing in those terms. For instance, you start thinking that since sweep picking sounds so neat that you should build a solo, or even a whole song, around it, or that you should put an arpeggio so hard or so fast that no one will be able to copy it into one of your solos, or that you should come up with a new guitar playing trick that no one has ever done before and make it your trademark move. But I feel that doing so takes you away from the music and the reason why one learns to play in the first place, so I need to consciously fight the urge to be too cute for my own good and tell myself that the things that I'm learning are just tools to let me build the music that I feel in my heart.

Lastly, I regret just talking about music in another newsletter rather than being able to link you all to a new recording, but know that I'm still here and making music is still what I love to do. No matter how bad things get, Fireaxe will live on in one form or another.

Did I Speak too Soon?

And now some bad news. I didn't but just finish writing about the good news and of all my optimistic projections when I suffered yet another setback in my recovery program. My infections fought back a few nights ago and fought back harder than they'd ever had before. Like any other living thing they do not like the prospect of dying and after I turned up the heat on them they counterattacked. I spent the last couple of days suffering through chills, weakness, and dehydration that required spending a few hours in the emergency room getting IV fluids at one point. It was not fun. I'm feeling better now, but it's been a rough couple of days. I blame myself mostly, for trying to get too aggressive when dealing with my health problems. These "low grade" infections need to be put to death slowly, at a rate that your body can flush out of its system, and I pushed myself a little too hard over the last week, which is something that I tend to do. It's a failing of mine. In any event, I promise to give a full accounting of what I've been going through at some point in the future when I am healthy and thus confident that my understanding of my illness and treatment is correct. I don't want to hand out bad advice. There's enough of that out there already.

So what can I say? The hill is long and steep and riddled with setbacks. But as long as I breathe, I will fight.

The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

  • 1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the interactions of simple things
  • 2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete, with the "losers" becoming extinct
  • 3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function according to the rules of conditioning
  • 4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases, which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

  • 1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
  • 2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
  • 3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological interactions of conscious humans
  • 4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much the same way that organisms do
  • 5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

  • 1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
  • 2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
  • 3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an ideology's survival
  • 4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
  • 5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person is motivated - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

  • 1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including, but not limited to, war and enslavement
  • 2. That aggression is a survival advantage
  • 3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal strategies
  • 4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive, thus creating a vicious circle
  • 5. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy their needs
  • 6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

  • 1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply that continuous growth is not sustainable
  • 2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
  • 3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it easier to effect
  • 4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt to save it

How to order Fireaxe CDs

Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which contains the following:

  • 1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
  • 2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
  • 3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to 1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.

Here is a price list. The first number is the cost for U.S. based customers, the second is for outside the U.S. The prices include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess: $6 / $9
Food for the Gods: $12 / $14 (SOLD OUT)
Victory or Death: $5 / $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares: $5 / $7 (SOLD OUT)
A Dream of Death: $3 / $5 (SOLD OUT)

Send everything to:

Brian Voth
1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
Chula Vista, CA, 91911 USA

If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in exchange for the review. In this case all I need is a request by e-mail. Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your magazine with the review in it when it is done. If you want to exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.

The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a letter about the project, and some information about the CD which can also be found on the Fireaxe site.

Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project. The tiff disk is free so just say the word.

The Future

In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of projects from the past. First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made. Also, it may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time constraints. Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released. Everything will be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than ever. Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute limit instead of the current eighty, I will add six more minutes of music to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make the CD that much better. So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe. I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or "I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".

My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in whatever way is necessary. Whatever the market demands, I will supply, but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel. Exposure is fine, but in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to match the demands of the marketplace. This would totally defeat the purpose of why I write music in the first place. I write music because it is a way to express my emotions. What I both think and feel goes into the songs. That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion diminishes the emotive effect. Thus I try to avoid such diversions. That is how art should be.

Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

Currently Fireaxe is not for profit. I sell the single CDs for $5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers the production and mailing costs. For CDs sent out of the country, I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a CD for free. Since I am not making any money with the current recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as long as you obey the following guidelines:

  • 1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or less, plus any delivery cost. You are not allowed to make any profit with the music.
  • 2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so I can keep track. Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
  • 3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious link back to my website. This includes putting Fireaxe song samples on your site as well.
  • 4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided you are an unsigned band without a marketting tie-in. You are not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
  • 5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess. I mean, seriously. She's the goddess of death after all. It's not a good idea. Furthermore, do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess. She does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that particular organ. Also, attempting to use other entrances will likely result in castration. Again, it's not a good idea.
  • 6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating, raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your side." Please, think before you act.
  • 7. You are food for the gods.
  • 8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud as you can as often as you can. It's your only defense against THEM. Be warned, they come through angles. Note that the CD is round. Are your speaker cabinets square?
  • 9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and other fiction authors. None of it is real, at least that's what I'm going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening to the "Lovecraftian Nightmares" CD too much.
  • 10. You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world. Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
  • 11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe song. I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute. On a serious note, if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me if you have no one else to talk to. When I was in my teens the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me. Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You" would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal. I'm just trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that effect on you, please get in touch. You aren't alone.

The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of credit for having written it. I'm open to any methods of distributing my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording label distribution. However, you will need my direct permission to do so or some kind of legal agreement.
Brian Voth - Creator of Fireaxe

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