The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 4.5

July 27, 2001

"They are just cogs in the wheel,
And you are the wrench in the works,
And together we will build a stronger machine."
- Fireaxe "A Wrench in the Works"

The myth of the free society is becoming more and more painfully clear by the month, but one wonders how long it will be before the majority see it. Even then, will it matter? Voices of opposition are being shut out with impunity. Wealth feeds politics and vice-versa with growing numbers being disenfranchised. Votes are not counted and matter little when they are. Speech is not heard or is distorted and reduced to sound bites. And human rights are trampled in the name of "national security". The G-8 summit in Genoa is only the latest example of how "free societies" become totalitarian when the interests of its leaders are contested. The lesson is clear. Side with the winners and you will prosper. Side with the losers and you will suffer. The violence proliferates and victimizes us all.

In other Italian news, Michele Tetro's "H.P. Lovecraft: Sculptus in Tenebris" is hot off the presses and contains a couple of sections on Fireaxe and "Lovecraftian Nightmares". Also, work on the newest Fireaxe CD "Food for the Gods" continues.

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

"H.P. Lovecraft: Sculptus in Tenebris" features Fireaxe

Michele Tetro has put a great deal of time and effort into a compilation of H.P. Lovecraft related articles covering a good many facets of the author, his works, the works of those he inspired, and the various Lovecraftian legends. His time and effort were well spent as "Sculptus in Tenebris" is both well composed and well presented. Unfortunately I can't give a full review of the book since it is written in Italian. In fact, I'm not even sure what the review of "Lovecraftian Nightmares" says, but Michele assures me that it's a good one. Of the things I can understand I like including a detailed list of Lovecraft based movies with reviews and an assemblage of photos of "Cthulhu Mythos" sculptures and relics. It makes me wish that I could read Italian.

If you're interested in Michele's book, you can e-mail him.

Or also:

Michele Tetro
via Monte San Gabriele 44
28100, Novara, Italy

How to order "Lovecraftian Nightmares"

Order your copy of the second Fireaxe CD "Lovecraftian Nightmares" by doing the following:

  • 1. Send me e-mail requesting the new CD and giving your address (if you prefer, you can send your address via snail mail)
  • 2. Mail $5 ($7 if overseas) and a note requesting the Fireaxe CD "Lovecraftian Nightmares" to the following address. Make sure to include your return address.

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

If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, the CD is free of charge in exchange for the review. In this case all I need is the e-mail request. Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your magazine with the review in it when it is ready. 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 CD comes with a booklet filled with awesome art, a picture of yours truly in his studio, and some information about the CD which can also be found on this website.

On the Origins of Violence, part 5

To help clarify a few things about the upcoming CD "Food for the Gods", I'd like to run a series of columns about my views on violence. This is the fifth installment.

In the first part I discussed how an unwillingness to give in is both an important survival characteristic as well as a cause of violence and conflict.

In the second part I discussed how ideologies based around non-falsifiable beliefs can possess the mind of the believer and make them willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the ideology.

In the third part I discussed how ideologies propagate by creating and exploiting psychological weaknesses.

In the fourth part I discussed the weakness termed "Divine abandonment" and how it's exploitation generates two major hallmarks of modern society, the motivation of the individual and the psychological isolation of the individual from the rest of society.

In this part I will assemble the pieces of the first four parts and discuss how they create a social environment that produces violence and conflict in increasingly greater degrees.

In the first part I discussed the increased survival potential of a society that was based around an ideology which featured a strong unwillingness to give in. This survival advantage is important given that social orders expand, experience disasters, and come into contact and conflict with other social orders. This is in many ways similar to the Darwinian struggle of different species in nature. A given society survives because of the strength of devotion of its members. They are unwilling to give in to problems of overpopulation, drought, famine, war, and foreign influence among others. These problems are solved with territorial expansion, technological innovation, migration, conquest, and self defense. It also improves a social order's survival chances if these activities are done preemptively or at the slightest provocation rather than delayed until it may be too late to prevent problems. Thus it benefits a society to be predatory, to be paranoid, to prepare for the worst, to preemptively strike and provoke other societies, and to be constantly improving it's mastery over nature. Although cooperation with other societies is another important survival characteristic it is not as benevolent as it seems. The end purpose is to improve both societies' survival chances against a common foe. Removal of that common foe inexorably leads to conflict between different social orders.

In the Darwinian struggle, nature tends toward a balance. Climate changes, natural disasters, and other anomalies disrupt and alter that balance and lead to periods of upheaval where some species evolve, some become extinct, and others remain the same. But these events are rare and balance between all species is the norm. However, for modern humans this is not the case. The last few thousand years of human history have been ones of continuous upheaval and contain increasingly more dramatic cultural shifts as opposed to settling upon a balance. On the surface there appears to be no reason for this. Humans have developed technology that makes them safe from all conceivable threats to their existence. Predators can be scared off or hunted and killed, food can be grown in abundance at will, medicine is available to reign in deadly diseases, and shelter from all natural disasters can be provided or rebuilt if necessary. There are no threats to humanity. Well, save for one, humanity itself. And, disconcertingly enough, the threat from other humans is so great that it drives us into a continuous frenzied state of panic, preparedness, and paranoia. We are constantly evolving our social order in response to perceived threats from other social orders that are evolving in response to perceived threats from us. It is a vicious cycle that is gaining speed and intensity.

The question becomes, "Why do humans prey on each other?". The answer is that modern humans have been raised with a permanent psychological deficit which makes them continually dissatisfied with what they have. This deficit motivates them to seek out things in an attempt to satisfy their need. Taking things from others is an unavoidable consequence of an insatiable need. This desire for more is a survival advantage since it tends to make those who have it more aggressive, resourceful, possessive, and devious, among other social survival skills. Once the unsatisfied desire for more has taken hold in enough individuals in a society it spreads to the others and eventually the whole. Everyone else must motivated enough to be at least constantly vigilant against the desires of others, and if they are to prosper in such a society they must be motivated enough to be aggressive as well. The less motivated gradually get stripped of all they have and become inconsequential or extinct. Social orders, such as governments and religions have arisen that have institutionalized the creation and propagation of the permanent psychological deficit. They inflict it upon others and force it upon their young during child rearing. These social orders have long since overrun the globe with few exceptions, bringing everyone into the realm of unsatisfied needs. The result is a world full of ideological factions in conflict and competition with each other. With no one satisfied with what they have, a balance can never be found.

The permanent psychological deficit is created by exploiting basic instincts towards survival and child/parent bonding. These instincts are sensitized and conditioned in such a way that the person will always feel unsatisfied unless they perform a complicated set of behaviors. These behaviors are generally those which are seen as socially productive, but that is not always the case. In most people the permanent psychological deficit causes a deep need which is satisfied by doing things for the good of the social order. The depth of their need determines their degree of motivation, and the frequency at which it is satisfied determines how much of the need is felt. It is much like drug addiction only that the drugs involved are those produced in the brain and which are regulated by neural activity. However, there are other people whose permanent psychological deficits are too deep to be easily satisfied or that can only be satisfied by anti-social behaviors. These are people that tend to cause social disruption since the social order cannot control them by providing a way for them to satisfy their needs. These people endeavor to change things so that they can find satisfaction and this puts them at odds with others and often with the entire social order.

Due to the strong psychological forces involved the conflict between a person and another person, or with the social order itself will often escalate. Violence, physical or otherwise, is often exercised during the conflict. In almost all situations and cultures, violence is unacceptable and one side must be punished for it. The common choice is to punish the side that displays the most anti-social behaviors. The intent of the punishment is to make it more difficult for the anti-social person to find satisfaction in anti-social behaviors, however it can have the opposite effect. Some people are slowly driven toward greater and greater ways to cause social disruption since their need becomes more and more difficult to satisfy. Additionally, people who can be satisfied from socially encouraged behaviors can be driven to socially disruptive behaviors if they have a strong psychological deficit and their ways of satisfying it are made more difficult or are removed altogether. It is this latter example that is becoming more and more common in modern society: the slightly obsessed and eccentric but otherwise well mannered individual who one day snaps and goes on a murderous rampage. The reason for this is that as social competition escalates, a social order requires people to be far more motivated than in the past to drive the wheels of social progress. This motivation is accomplished by instilling deeper psychological deficits in the young and exploiting them to a greater degree. Competition between people for limited prizes provides a path to satisfaction, but also makes it more difficult on those less fit to satisfy their needs. The result is a psychological pressure cooker. Most can endure the stress and make steam, but some simply explode.

Most people look at the situation from the point of view that anti-social people are the source of the problem. They are simply people with psychological problems or are unfit to survive in the world and removing them will cure all social ills. This is incorrect, but the attitude serves to bring most deviants in line as well as intensify the anti-social needs of the few. Getting rid of all the anti-social people in a society would be a mistake since those anti-social few play a valuable role in a social order, they cause it to evolve.

Societies that do not evolve are doomed to extinction. Even a society whose members are highly motivated, completely loyal, and unwilling to compromise on anything will eventually fall behind others that can change and accommodate new methods to build a stronger society. Thus, it benefits a social order to generate a number of individuals who are anti-social and who will struggle to change the way things are. The struggle to rise above the constant administration of normative behavior forces many anti-social individuals to succumb to a life of unsatisfied desires. Some are simply discarded as waste products, sacrificial lambs in the pursuit of a stronger social order, but there are a few who manage to press on and alter the social order for better or for worse. The new order may rise above others, fall into ruin, or founder and require more changes to survive, but the end result is the same. The fittest social order is the one that survives, and survival is based on the exploitation of the individual for the good of the social order. The ideals and intentions of the individual seeking change are irrelevant. The effect that the change brings will serve the inevitable purpose. Changes which allow an increase in the exploitation of the human race for the benefit of the social system are the ones that are adopted and make the social order more powerful. This was the theme of "A Dream of Death".

Violence as a tool for stability or change is an unavoidable social force. Social evolution often requires revolution with those that cannot give in forcing the new order to silence them. Today the western democracies decry China when it uses violence to silence its critics, but no western democracy can claim moral superiority in this matter. The Chinese government is a relatively young institution compared with western democracies. Younger nations have more opposition than older ones since older ones have crushed rebellion years before and have their violent births behind them. But all nations contain strong opposition and all governments use violence as a means of social control. Governments work towards solidifying their control over the population by reducing their people's ability to effect change. Although these actions squelch rebellion in the present, they sow the seeds for more dramatic uprisings in the future. As social orders grow stronger, the acts of violence and rebellion grow more extreme. The atrocities of the past are pale in comparison to those that will come in the future. Each rebellion or war, successful or not, becomes a lesson for all to learn about how not to be. The failed ideologies of the past must be destroyed and forgotten and the youth must be taught to never behave in those ways. Each time an ideology falls a new layer is added to the ideological teachings passed down to the next generation. Another list of don'ts is forced upon the world. Motivational forces via the permanent psychological deficit must be increased to enable people to find new directions through the vast array of unacceptable behaviors enforced by the social order. To use the previous analogy, the psychological pressure cooker that is the human psyche is made stronger and tighter and the heat (stress) is turned up higher. Explosions become more spectacular, but social orders need these explosions to evolve. The propensity for spectacular violence is a survival advantage for the society. Violence is very much a necessary part of modern society.

Our particular roles in society matter not. We are all party to violent acts and we are all victims of it. Ideologies clash and we are the pawns in the game. We are Food for the Gods.

I invite all comments. If there is a desire for this to become an open discussion, I'll send out responses and replies to all on the Fireaxe mailing list. Names and e-mail addresses will be withheld upon request.

More to come.

The Future

Over the years, I've been thinking of some new song ideas revolving around a theme of religious warfare, fundamentalism, and ideological conflict. Although we feel safe in our modern world that open warfare and chaos cannot happen in our "sane" and "stable" society, nothing could be further from the truth. Volatility seems to be at an all time high for the latter half of this century. Throughout the world people are embracing extremism in greater and greater numbers. These people's beliefs are far outside the mainstream and they are willing to commit all manner of atrocity to support those beliefs. It appears that this situation will only escalate. The next Fireaxe CD will explore this theme. It will examine why people embrace radical ideologies, explore the emotions which typify extremism, and study the seeds of violence which are prevalent in our society. The CD will be titled "Food for the Gods" meaning that WE are the food for the gods. Any extremist ideology is effectively "God" and people are slaughtered or enslaved in that God's name (i.e. the ideology feeds on the bodies of the slain and beaten down). The CD will fit loosely around the themes in "A Dream of Death" but will explore the more violent aspects of belief in depth. If you ever wondered what drives a person to kill and commit horrible acts, "Food for the Gods" will try to answer that question. It will be an extremely intense CD.

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 CDs for $5 each which covers the production and mailing costs. For CDs sent out of the country, I'll have to charge $7 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. 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?
  • 6. 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.
  • 7. Fireaxe will not be held responsible for the destruction of hopes and dreams that may come while listening to this CD. Also, any subsequent social revolution which follows from this CD is simply not my fault. It's all part of the big picture. Just listen to the disk and you'll understand what I mean.
  • 8. 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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