The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 13.2

January 30, 2010

"One thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy
just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises
that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that
sense of speaking directly to the American people about what
their core values are and why we have to make sure those
institutions are matching up with those values. And that I
do think is a mistake of mine. I think the assumption was,
if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on this provision
or that law or are we making a good, rational decision here
... people will get it."

- Barack Obama, making an assumption typical
of narcissists, that people would agree with them and support
their positions if only they explained themselves a little better.

Insulated. One of the more serious problems with narcissists is that they insulate themselves from the rest of the world, preferring to believe their own self-aggrandizing inner perspective of the way things are and what events mean rather than accept a potentially humbling truth which suggests that they aren't quite the person that they imagine themselves to be. When such people gain access to the halls of power and make decisions which affect the lives of millions if not billions of people then what began as a simple character flaw which merely annoys and offends the people close to the narcissist morphs into a massive blind spot behind which great suffering and even mass death can disappear. And when one of those narcissistic leaders is the populist president of a seemingly vibrant democracy one wonders just how democratic that nation truly is when the people’s voices can be misinterpreted and cast aside so easily.

The evolution of ideology reveals a pronounced movement towards holding one’s leaders accountable for their actions, in essence combating the tendency of narcissistic leaders to completely insulate themselves from the people whom they are charged with leading. Even though ideologies require false promises and the devotion of fanatics to thrive, a healthy dose of realism keeps them from pursuing a narcissistic leader’s extremist notions and rapidly self-destructing, and thus successful ideologies make sure that those at the top don’t become detached from those at the bottom. Whether it be primitive forms of democracy in ancient Greece and Rome, the many humbling and anti-narcissistic passages in the New Testament, the writing of the Magna Carta and the foundation of the rule of law in England, the rise of Democratic Republics in the West after the enlightenment, or the rise of Communism and Socialism in the East in more recent times, the trend towards using a variety of methods to keep a nation’s leaders from ignoring their people is quite clear, and yet narcissists always try to thwart those methods, believing that they know what is best for their subjects and seeing no problem with acting outside of the agreed upon ideological contract. Indeed, the power of the people has been transgressed upon by our leaders in many forms in recent years: labor unions have been disempowered as the laws protecting them have been dismantled and the amount of unfair trade permitted with third world countries has grown, corporations’ power over their employees in such forms as mandatory arbitration, intellectual property rights, and non-competition clauses in contracts has been greatly increased and numerous mergers have been allowed which have created monolithic corporations the likes of which have not been seen since the age of robber barons, civil liberties and human rights which have formed the basis of the civil society going back more than a millennium have been degraded and disregarded altogether in a growing number of cases, and the wealthy have been steadily given more and more access to the political process as well as being awarded political speech rights equal to the size of their bank accounts to name a few. Now we see the voice of the people being drowned out by the person whom it is most assuredly directed against, a person whom many of us believed truly listened and did care. It’s enough to make one lose one’s faith not only in one’s president but in one’s entire ideology.

This is not to say that the opposition is correct in its assessment of what has transpired in the voting booths of Massachusetts during their special senatorial election in which one of the most beloved members of the Democratic party was replaced with a newcomer from the other side of the political divide. The right-wing punditry’s narcissistic self-delusions of a popular revolt against the sitting president are every bit as much of shoving words into the mouths of the voters as those of the president’s apologists. Indeed, once again we see the ideological war between opposing political and social forces explode in our faces with each side presenting their own “narrative”, that being the current trendy word describing an ideological repackaging of real world events to fit a narrow political perspective, in order to increase the standing of their side in the eyes of others. In essence this is like watching two narcissists doing battle with each other, each so desperate to win the support and admiration of the populace that they attack each other using the fiercest language possible to tear the other down while painting a picture of their side being ever and always the one true way. And the more that We The People tell our leaders that we want an end to it, the more our leaders blame the other party for inciting hatred, disillusionment, and cynicism. It’s a vicious circle. The less that they get along the angrier we get about their lack of progress and the more they blame each other for their problems. If you like you can log on to the internet to get a more vulgar and nonsensical version of what can be seen in the mainstream media although that which is broadcast is getting more and more insufferable as time goes forwards. And on the internet you too can be a participant in the lunacy if you desire to and test your own personal philosophy against the all too numerous self-important individuals haunting chat rooms, forums, and video games looking to boost their fragile egos by winning some sort of “victory”, usually against a straw man of their own making. Personally I’d recommend becoming well versed in logical fallacies beforehand and seeing if you can spot the many examples of them being used as you watch the vehemently argued ideological disputes from the sidelines. Doing so is good practice and it will help you spot the logical fallacies which our most visible pundits and leaders use when presenting their cases, something which is flat out embarrassing.

But as much as the ideological ground troops seem to be connected to the goings-on of our political system they too are quite insulated from reality, choosing to view the world either through their own personal perspective or through a commonly professed one which generally fits what they already believe. “The customer is always right” or so the popular saying goes in the highly competitive retail industry and that concept has become the new recipe for catering news-based programming to an audience of narcissists. The media: newspapers, books, television, radio, and the internet; has learned that challenging their consumers with unfiltered reporting is the fastest way to lose ratings, advertisers, and become a has been in a world of ideological rivalries, and so it has sought to do with its news content the same thing that any content provider does with its broadcasting services: find a lucrative demographic and tell them exactly what they want to hear. News content consumers respond with lavish loyalty to their chosen sources of information, and since they have many different perspectives to choose from in the marketplace of biased ideas they can pick their favorite and remain insulated from the perspectives that contradict their worldview. Furthermore, they don’t believe that they are being led down an ideological cattle chute as their media sources are careful to appear fair and balanced, exposing their customers to carefully controlled doses of the opposition’s view so that the opposition’s leaders look like brainwashed extremist clowns. It’s debatable as to whether it means that the media outlets take the same political position as the content that they present, certainly some are “liars who believe their own lies” and others are just doing whatever they have to in order to make a buck in a highly competitive industry, but the effects that they have on the public are the same either way. The public is becoming more radicalized and intolerant of other perspectives as well as becoming more insistent upon convincing others that what they believe is correct. In essence people are becoming more ideologically narcissistic.

Of course, this is part of the narratives being woven by either side: whenever the other side has some sort of popular victory it is claimed to be due to the propaganda being spread by the opposition’s loyal media outlets. And as the president mentioned in his quote above the proper response to suffering a loss due to such propaganda is to go to the public and tell them the “truth”, which will of course turn the misinformed voters towards the “correct” side. There is at least some truth to this, that the propaganda broadcast by either side is affecting popular sentiment as well as influencing polls and elections, but for a rather large segment of the population the implication that casting a vote or holding a certain belief is proof that one has bought into the propaganda that one side or the other is peddling is not only wrong but terribly demeaning. In effect it trivializes the decision-making process of the masses, reducing it to being a mere byproduct of the influence of biased media sources and making democracy look impossible in the age of mass media. “If only we could present our side of the story to the public,” the ideologues lament. “Then they would see things our way.” Lost of course is the most powerful of all influential techniques: actually delivering the promised goods.

To be sure, Massachusetts was a perfect place for a referendum on health care reform as the state imposed its own version of mandatory coverage in 2006. It was also a perfect place to judge how popular the president was with his own party given how the state has a strong majority of Democrats. Polls show that a significant number of Obama voters sided with the Republican candidate not because they supported his agenda or were turning center-right as the conservative party’s pundits would have you believe, but that they felt betrayed by Obama’s concessions on important issues, such as helping out Wall Street more than Main Street in economic matters and abandoning the public option in the Health Care Reform bill, things which Obama continues to strongly defend as he did in his State of the Union speech. Simply put the people of Massachusetts were sending a message to Obama that he wasn’t doing the job that they elected him to do and that he should push the type of legislation that he promised to get passed when he won by a landslide. The people know a sellout when they see one and it doesn’t take a genius to understand that mandatory insurance with no cost controls is just going to end up being another fleecing of the taxpayers for the benefit of big business. Again and again we are being sold up the river to the Corporatocracy and people left, right, and center are desperately trying to find a way express their collective displeasure to those in power. But such is the truth that neither the left wing nor the right wing wants to hear and thus it’s getting lost in all the noise. Our leaders talk and talk and talk, trying to convince us that they know what we want and promising us that they can deliver it if they can get just a little more support from us. To be sure, as long as one is talking one can’t hear the things which are contrary to one’s point of view and thus speaking loud, long, and often is a perfect way to insulate yourself from a world which is very much not what you want it to be.

Speaking of things not being the way neither you nor I want them to be my health situation is still in a state of flux. December was a pretty rough month with lots of ups and lots of downs. January was much improved though with my health becoming more balanced. I was even able to start doing some singing workouts and the good news continues to be that my voice is getting stronger and my control is improving. The bad news is that I am only capable of singing that way every now and then and for only a few minutes at a time. But should I be able to put all this chronic fatigue garbage behind me I think that I will be better than ever. Of course, merely ending up as good as I used to be would be perfectly acceptable to me now. The battle wages on.

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

New Fireaxe Interview up on the Santa Fe Metal Music Examiner

A few months ago Octavio Ramos, the author of the lyrics to a number of Fireaxe songs such as “Hounds of Tindalos” and “Masters of the Universe”, contacted me about doing an interview for an online music site based in Santa Fe. I enjoy doing interviews and quickly accepted, knowing that it would be a good opportunity to spread word of Fireaxe throughout New Mexico and beyond. It turned out to be more than just a simple Q&A, many of which tend to run over the usual subjects, for Octavio had me revealing many things that I’d never before talked about with other interviewers. He also allowed me to write as much as I wanted and I certainly took advantage, penning about five pages worth of though provoking material. I feel that it turned out rather well. The interview can be found here .

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 / $15 (SOLD OUT)
Victory or Death: $5 / $8 (free with any purchase)
Lovecraftian Nightmares: $5 / $8 (SOLD OUT)
A Dream of Death: $3 / $6 (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

Unfortunately 2009 was a total bust for Fireaxe as far as recording is concerned. Health issues sidelined projects scheduled for completion during the year and other than the guitarist taking the opportunity to get a whole lot better with his axe, nothing was accomplished. With any luck 2009 will be the only year that went for naught.

In 2010, Fireaxe will once again focus on remaking 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 will be re-mixed with the vocal rerecorded for much better sound quality. When all is said and done it should sound as good as "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess. Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released. Everything will be rerecorded 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 80, I will add six more minutes of music to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes as well as add a killer new song written by Octavio Ramos. So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe. I'll probably leave the names of the CDs the same but I've been kicking around a ideas for alternate titles, 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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