The Burning Blade
Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 5.1
"But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there
will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing
and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment,
there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling
on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the
future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever"
- George Orwell, 1984
Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 5.1
"But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there
"But always - do not forget this, Winston - always there
In the wake of a tragedy the militants seize power. In defense of human life they kill. In defense of truth they lie. In defense of self determination they overthrow and impose. In defense of democracy they condemn dissention. In defense of the economy they take money from those who have little and give it to those who have much. In defense of the free press they censor. In defense of checks and balances they steal other's authority. And in defense of freedom they usurp the 'unalienable' rights of others. The frightened masses are exploited and surrender freedom for security despite the pronouncement of one of their country's founding fathers that they deserve neither when they do. The vicarious thrill of seeking revenge and destroying a helpless enemy is more desirable than the laborious task of actually defending one's ideals and beliefs and thus paves the way for the further evolution of the police state. Those who swore to protect our rights are taking them away and we are powerless to do anything about it. The constitution has become worth less than the paper that it is written on. The American dream is dead.
And speaking of the death of dreams, Fireaxe continues to poison the world with it's nihilistic message. The new recording of the Fireaxe anthem "Forgotten Son" has found it's way on to a compilation by Unsung Heroes Records. The "On the Origins of Violence" essay series reaches a startling conclusion. And the next rough cut from "Food for the Gods" is now available at IUMA.com.
A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the first time. This edition marks the beginning of the fifth year of the Fireaxe newsletter.
Fellow one man recording artist Mark Vignati has put a productive spin on his commiseration with others who aren't getting the attention they deserve by creating his own music label. While still being small, "Unsung Heroes Records" offers a large selection of recordings from metal acts who are struggling without support from any label. In years past, producing a quality LP or CD was a major undertaking that demanded considerable capital and effort. Today however, one man can do it easily out of his spare bedroom and break even while offering a full slate of CDs. The problem of advertising still remains with the internet providing only a modest outlet for contact, but perhaps this problem will be overcome in the future. Despite this, Mark and UHR have mode the most of what is available on the internet metal underground. Fireaxe will do its part by plugging UHR in return for its support.
The Fireaxe track can be found on Sampler Collection II. And while you're there, check out the other 50+ CDs that UHR has to offer.
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 VothIf 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.
1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
Chula Vista, CA, 91911 USA
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.
Recording on the next Fireaxe CD, "Food for the Gods" is currently underway. The digital studio is working out very well and the sound quality is another major step up from that previously attained in "Lovecraftian Nightmares". The second track preview of the next Fireaxe project is now available on mp3 for free.
The name of this second track is "Chariot" and once again "Food for the Gods" delves into Assyrian history for inspiration. After the turmoil of the period portrayed in "The Wrath of Silence" the kingdom of Assyria became an aggressive warring power bent on world conquest in the name of its gods. The chariot was the most powerful weapon of war in that period and Assyria used them to crush their enemies armies. The speed and power of the chariot and the damage that it can inflict are captured perfectly in the track's relentless full speed metal assault. The drums are pounding, the rhythms are driving, are the vocals are screaming battle cries. Let there be no doubt, there will be powerthrash on "Food for the Gods".
The story of "Chariot" is a reflection of the greater story of "Food for the Gods", that of the promulgation of dominating god beliefs. A chariot is at it's most effective against an army that will not stand its ground. If the opposition's front lines hold strong against a chariot charge, the chariots must turn away ineffectually or suffer major losses in hellish collisions with foot soldiers. If the opposition's lines break, the chariots can charge through the gaps, wreaking havoc on the routing soldiers and destroying their lines. The scattered enemy can then be attacked by the foot soldiers of the chariot's armies which have the advantage of being organized and at full strength.
Fear is the main weapon of a chariot and discipline is its foe. It's easy enough to tell your men to stand strong against a chariot charge, but making them do so when they see a column of massive steeds charging at them at a full run with the pounding of hooves shaking the very ground on which they stand is another thing entirely. To bring the necessary discipline to their armies, kings and generals put a greater fear than a column of charging chariots into their soldiers, they instilled in them the fear of divine wrath. But it takes more than strong words to put the fear of god into someone, it takes a great deal of suffering followed by salvation. This reinforces the notion that no pain is greater than that which god can inflict, and that if you remain faithful, god will relieve your pain. The cycle of suffering followed by relief at the hands of an all powerful leader directed by god became an important part of military training. With this religious conditioning a soldier will have the discipline to stand his ground against the enemy since he feels that if he runs he will suffer worse. This conditioning is spoken of in the "Poem of the Righteous Sufferer" written about the Babylonian god Marduk:
"Against Marduk's will, who could sin and escape?In the song (but not in the clip) the soldier who puts an end to the charioteer's run is quoting this poem. The end of the era of the chariot is brought by the power of god, or more accurately, the fear of god, and the victors made sure to spread that fear wherever they went.
I will proclaim his anger, which runs deep like a fish.
He punished me abruptly, then granted life.
I will teach the people, I will instruct the land to fear."
You can download and listen to the new track at the Fireaxe IUMA site
Worthy of note is how much the poem quoted above resembles the Old Testament in contrast to the religious writings of previous eras, specifically in it's emphasis on salvation and the fear of god. The poem marks a point in the evolution of god beliefs between those of more ancient times and those of more modern times. Whereas before the emphasis was placed upon worshipping gods because they were impressive and commanding, the emphasis shifts to worshipping gods because they were powerful and punishing. The shift from polytheism, where multiple gods share the power of the universe, to monotheism, where one god is all powerful, is a logical transition which makes a religion's god appear more powerful than any other in the universe. No god can inspire more fear than a single omnipotent being. And since fear of god is power in battle, a powerful punishing god is a victorious god.
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 final 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 the fifth part I assembled the pieces of the first four parts and discussed how they create a social environment that produces violence and conflict in increasingly greater degrees.
In this final part I will discuss the role of consciousness in modern society and make predictions about the future.
The centerpiece of this theory is the concept of a "permanent psychological deficit" that modern people suffer from which motivates them towards achieving goals that temporarily alleviate their suffering and bring pleasure. This deficit is brought about using a combination of the fear of punishment and the threat of the withholding of love. These two threats are represented in religion as divine wrath and divine abandonment. Not all people respond to both threats, but all people respond to at least one, and the one that works best is commonly used to forge the deficit. Of course, threats cannot be sustained forever and a single instance of a fearful event does not cause a permanent change unless it is very traumatic. However, repeated threats made during formative years can cause permanent psychological alterations. As child psychologists who study stress disorders have concluded, "states become traits". A child repeatedly exposed to fear will feel that fear for their entire life even when the threats have stopped long ago. This permanent change can happen in adults in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but it requires extremely intense bombardment to cause it. In children, whose minds are more impressionable and malleable, stress disorders can be caused by much milder events.
But what exactly is the permanent psychological deficit? If it is, as I have claimed, something that all people have it follows that everyone should be able to sense it at all times, perhaps either as some nagging fear or constant yearning for affection. I contend that these feelings only manifest when the mind is not actively pursuing goals and thus occur only when the mind becomes exhausted or when it is stymied in it's pursuit of satisfaction. During the times when the mind is making progress toward a goal it can suppress the negative feelings which stem from the permanent psychological deficit because it is anticipating positive reinforcement. Exhaustion or failure removes the suppression and exposes the mind to the underlying negative feelings. Since these feelings are at least uncomfortable and sometimes painful, they motivate the mind into action. So a permanent psychological deficit would be evident by the constant activity of the mind, and the greater the deficit, the greater the mental activity it provokes. When the deficit reaches a level of sufficient strength, a state of mental hyper-vigilance distinctly characteristic of humans will manifest. This state is what we call consciousness.
Consciousness is a state of awareness where humans can visualize a universe that includes themselves. You not only are aware of the world around you, but you are aware of yourself in that world. This visualization ability also applies to the perception of time. Without consciousness you live in the eternal present. With it you can "see yourself" years in the future or past. This state of awareness is necessary for advanced problem solving. Without the ability to visualize yourself moving through space and time, performing actions, and predicting the consequences, your ability to plan ahead is very limited and you must learn exclusively through trial and error. With consciousness, you can see potential mistakes in advance and avoid them. Modern society demands that everyone be conscious. Without it survival becomes difficult or impossible since you must rely on someone else making most of your decisions for you. Our society is so complicated that even the simplest roles within it require a high degree of self awareness. This is not true of more primitive societies. And societies that aren't as advanced as ours contain members that are not as self aware as we are. As a result, less developed societies are very dependent on their leaders and tradition to guide them.
Most people do not believe that consciousness is merely a naturally occurring phenomenon. Religions couple consciousness to the soul and hold that both are immortal. And many non-religious persons hold that consciousness is not a product of matter and find rationalizations for it that give it universal scope. Still others hold that consciousness is simply beyond all explanation. These theories generally have two things in common, one is that they are non-falsifiable and thus are myths, the other is that they are the product of the fears of death and abandonment. If consciousness exists only while the brain is alive, then it follows that a person's worst fears will inevitably be realized. Immortality is the only escape. These fears are a strong part of the permanent psychological deficit which gives rise to consciousness in the first place. Interestingly enough, these fears are only realized through the conscious perception of time. Consciousness allows a person to visualize their own death and eternal separation from all of the things that they holds dear. Imagining one's self to be immortal, another conscious ability is one way in which a person fights against these fears. In this way consciousness reinforces itself. It is the both cause of existential fear and the force that can suppress it. But little headway can be made about the nature of consciousness without first examining its connection with the brain, either to explain it as being purely a product of mental activity, or to rule it out as an explanation.
One way to examine the issue of consciousness is to analyze what its primary purpose is. Ancient history sheds some light on this since it is in the period of great social upheaval throughout the first millennium B.C. where middle eastern writing styles began to include terms related to conscious self awareness. That era also marked the point at which major changes in religious beliefs and social order came about. One very important change was that it became necessary for kings to enforce their laws upon the masses where before everyone was apparently readily obedient. Consciousness had a powerful affect on the world when it came into being since the visualization of the self enabled a great many new concepts. The realization that one will die fundamentally changed religion. The ability to deceive, say one thing and do another, changed how law and order had to be applied. And the ability to plan enabled military conquests that are epic in scope, going well beyond the skirmishes between neighboring powers of previous eras. Consciousness seems to have arisen in this period, but the reasons why aren't revealed by history alone.
Another source that sheds light on consciousness is the phenomenon of hypnosis. Hypnosis is a way of relaxing the parts of the brain responsible for consciousness (reducing their activity) while keeping the other parts of their brain functioning normally. This is done by focusing the attention of the inductee on the voice of the hypnotist and getting the inductee to slowly relinquish the conscious control of their bodies. The themes of hypnotic induction focus around relaxing the body, letting go of your perception of self, and most importantly, doing everything that the hypnotist says. These themes help to relax the parts of the brain where consciousness occurs and stimulate the parts of the brain that follows voice commands. Once under hypnosis, the inductee's consciousness is reduced to either having little power, being a passive observer, or being absent altogether. In this state the hypnotist has an amazing amount of control over the inductee, who follows the hypnotist's orders without question or delay. This is useful for stage hypnosis where the hypnotist can make the inductees act like fools for an hour to the delight of the audience, or in therapy sessions where the hypnotist can delve into areas that the inductee is reluctant to talk about or is dishonest about. It is interesting to note that a person's personality, creativity, and intelligence all remain intact while under hypnosis, none of them being dependent on consciousness. People do find it difficult to lie while under hypnosis, but this doesn't mean that what they say is the truth. Inductees can embellish and even make up stories while under hypnosis thus making its use as a tool for finding hidden truths in a person's mind rather unreliable. But the one thing that is dramatically absent in the hypnotized person is their ability to resist the commands of the hypnotist. They become totally obedient to the hypnotist. A state in which you would be extremely vulnerable in modern society.
Imagine living in today's world being unable to refuse doing what anyone told you to do. Given today's advertising assault you would be broke within days if not hours having bought everything that was being pitched to you. You would not be able to survive. If your power to resist applied to everyone except one person you would be able to survive, but you would be that person's slave, performing whatever they told you to do. If everyone had to obey that one person, but nobody else, that person would be king, and godlike. And if the king was merely following traditions and repeating commands handed down to him by his father, and his father before, the kingdom would resemble civilization before consciousness evolved. Egypt, Sumeria, and the civilizations of ancient Mexico are good examples of large scale pre-conscious kingdoms. As strange as it may seem, consciousness is not required to build such great kingdoms, but they are difficult to sustain without it.
Such societies were very productive, since the king could coordinate large numbers of people to plant and grow crops, irrigate fields, and build temples to his god, but they were also very brittle. The death of the king without an anointed successor or the onset of a natural disaster that the king or his advisors did not know how to deal with would often cause the complete collapse of the society back into smaller hunter gatherer groups. Other problems that befell pre-conscious kingdoms involved an erosion of sanity on the part of their kings, some of whom ordered massive numbers of sacrifices, the construction of absurdly huge religious edifices, and suicidal declarations of war. All of these were followed obediently by the king's servants no matter how little sense they make to us today. We often wonder how Aztecs could sacrifice thousands of their people or why Egyptians constructed such monstrous pyramids. The answer is simple, they couldn't say no. Their kings gave the commands, and they followed them. But perhaps the most dangerous problem of all was the threat of being conquered. With everyone in a society obedient to the highest ranking authority figure, killing him and taking his place was an easy way to conquer an entire kingdom. For all these reasons it became imperative for people to develop the psychological ability to resist the control of others. The ability that evolved was consciousness, which blocks verbal commands from being directly carried out by the body and instead attempts to determine if obeying them will result in something good or bad. No order is obeyed without first questioning how it will impact the self. To us this seems like common sense, but to the ancients it was a tremendous step forward in thinking. The advantage is that consciousness gives a person the ability to resist control and exploitation, but there are two serious disadvantages. The first is that it greatly stresses a person's mental faculties to figure out the consequences of their actions. Rejecting someone's commands is the easy part, trying to figure out a different way to do things is very difficult, especially for people who are used to blindly following orders. The second disadvantage of consciousness is that it drives a wedge between the person and the figure who the person was formerly dependent on for instruction, support, love, and other lifelines. Becoming conscious permanently distances a person from their parents, their king, and their gods, and thus consciousness is a source of feelings of divine abandonment.
There are many passages from the era of the dawn of consciousness that tell of how people suffer when they are separated from their god. Here are notable ones:
"One who has no god, as he walks along the street,
Headache envelopes him like a garment."
"My god has forsaken me and disappeared,
My goddess has failed me and keeps at a distance.
The good angel who walked beside me has departed."
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God,I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest."
When the wedge first gets driven between the self and "god" (the authority figure that previously dominated the person) it is an all or nothing proposition. The authority of the god figure is either absolute or it is non-existent. Once doubt creeps in and the concept of self is created, the person loses all direct contact with the god figure. The self intervenes automatically. The result can be crippling for not only does the intervention of the self block out the spoken commands of the authority figure, it blocks out the memories of those commands as well. When the conscious person encounters a situation where he normally remembers the voice of the authority figure telling him what to do, he remembers nothing at all. He stands confused, anxiously awaiting something that he knows not what. In the pre-conscious era it was common to pray at a statue, using it as a trigger for divine guidance. A conscious person doing so would hear nothing. It would seem to him that his god has forsaken him. But not only does consciousness block divine guidance, it blocks divine affection as well. The feelings of love and security formed within the parent/child bond which later becomes the god/believer bond are lost as well. The world becomes a very empty and unfriendly place.
The purpose of modern religion is to try to reestablish the god/believer bond. This is done through rituals that are very similar to the hypnotic induction process. The idea is to put the parts of the brain in charge of consciousness (the frontal lobes and other parts of the cortex) and the perception of self (parietal lobes) to sleep either through relaxation, exhaustion, or by emotional stimulation. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, rhythmic chanting, hypnosis, prayer and psychedelic drugs reduce brain activity in the cortex. Mental exhaustion techniques such as intense dancing, whirling in circles, listening to pounding rhythmic music, and triggering temporal lobe seizures (with narcotics or other methods) wear down those areas of the brain and prevent their further use until they recover. Emotional stimulation, such as a hellfire sermon, love bombing, or intense religious arguments cause high degrees of activity in the limbic system which tends to reduce activity in the cortex. All these techniques can cause people to feel the god/believer bond and lose their perception of the self resulting in feelings dubbed 'religious' or 'spiritual'. All modern religions utilize one or more of these methods. Both the religion and the believer benefit from practicing these methods. The believer is reacquainted with feelings of security and love while the church gains an amount of control over the believer. Depending on the amount of religious ritual conditioning, a church can exert a lot of power over an individual regardless of the presence of consciousness. A well conditioned person can be put into a hypnotic state rather easily and some can be made to do almost anything even though it is exactly this kind of control that consciousness evolved to prevent. Consciousness is not an impregnable defense.
The ancients had to learn the hard way. When their gods left them, when their leaders betrayed them, when their societies crumbled, they had no way of dealing with their situations. Some even became physically sick for years. At that time there was no science, no philosophy, no way of figuring out what to do in a reasoned way. People were disloyal and fickle, turning away from gods and kings and embracing others whenever hardships were encountered. Kings had to enforce order with threats of violence and death, and revolution and treachery entered into human civilization for the first time. Although consciousness had solved the problem of civilizations following their leaders blindly, and often towards disaster or doom, it created the problem of intentional exploitation. Consciousness enabled people to lie to each other in order to achieve their own ends, and in doing so it created more problems than it solved. In order to tell if someone is lying you need to be very good at thinking, but since the liar is also good at thinking you need to be better, or at least more knowledgeable. Also, you need to suspect that the person who is lying to you might not be telling the truth, and that can require quite a degree of paranoia depending on who the other person is and what they are talking about. Trying to avoid being exploited requires a heightened state of awareness. The more creative and intelligent the exploitative attempts are against a person, the more vigilant the person must be to avoid it. This vigilance against exploitation comes about in only one way, by being burned over and over again until the fear of getting burned is enough to drive enough mental activity to prevent it from happening again. This is how modern humans learn to be conscious.
Since it first evolved, the level of mental activity required to be a member of society has greatly increased. Thousands of years ago there were relatively few things to be vigilant against. Over time the number of things has increased exponentially. The ways that kings, priests, leaders, trusted figures, parents, spouses, children, and everyone else use to try to exploit others have increased in both number and complexity. In response, the demands on the psyche have increased to prevent exploitation. Furthermore, this increased mental activity enables people to think up more creative lies and ways to exploit others. Increased mental activity in one person forces increased activity in others and the cycle escalates. But there is a limit to a person's maximum mental activity, and this limit is determined by the permanent psychological deficit.
Children are not born conscious nor vigilant against exploitation. These things must be learned and the earlier they are learned the stronger they can be made. Two things must be done, the first is the creation of the self so that it interposes between the parent and the child, the second is the creation of a powerful permanent psychological deficit so that it can fuel the required level of mental activity for modern living. These two are closely related since the parent/child bond is the source of a person's strongest emotions, and thus a powerful deficit can be created by exploiting it. There is no single way in which this is done, but the basic idea is to create a powerful dependency between the parent and child and then to remove all support. The dependency can be strengthened either through love, attention, punishment, and neglect, or any combination of these depending on what works best on the child. When removed, either suddenly or gradually the child lives through the same stages of divine abandonment that the ancients went through along with all the pain, confusion, anxiety and suffering that goes with it. Their sense of self first forms, usually when very young, and becomes more deeply ingrained as the parent/child bond is broken. There is no kind way to do this since a permanent source of pain is the key element in the process. The goal is apply enough pressure to avoid producing a child that is dull and gullible while not applying too much and producing a child that is mentally unstable. But the closer that a parent comes to the latter, the more likely the child is to be exceptional, and thus progressive parenting strives to push children to maximum levels of mental activity while stopping short of insanity. But there is no solid boundary between the two and they often go hand in hand.
The pain that children feel becomes a permanent fixture of their sense of self. Throughout the process of removing support there is a tendency for the child to turn to other authority figures as surrogates. Some of this is generally accepted and directed towards a religion and a political system, but most of this is discouraged. This discouragement takes the form of exploitation of the child's trust. Children are lied to so that they will be less likely to trust others, insulted so that they respect other's opinions less, have their beliefs criticized so that they learn not to hold anything as truth so easily (unless it is the beliefs of the chosen religion or political system), and generally abused whenever they show too much willingness to trust someone else. Although a lot of these acts of discouragement appear to be attacks on the child's sense of self, the actual effect is to strengthen it. Attacks that cause children to withdraw from the world do indeed strengthen their reluctance to trust anyone other than themselves. In essence the world of the child is made to be like the last three millennia of human history with the wars, ideological clashes, conquests, defeats, oppression, submission, and all revolutions lived out in virtual form where the intensity of the emotions are the same but without the physically destructive results. The child must be prevented from thinking in any of the ways that failed in the past and to reject all authorities who would have them believe in things that have been disproved. Three thousand years of psychological exploitation must be applied to the child so that the child will be vigilant against every known trick and ploy. The requirements for the modern child are extreme, and get harder with every new generation. Of course, a child's life isn't all bad, and the lessons taught can be applied with varying levels of intensity with many taking the form of good natured jokes and tricks, but since the goal is to produce a permanent state of hyper-vigilance in the child, the lessons will get harsher until the desired effect is obtained.
The enduring question is "why must there be exploitation?". Most religions view it as sin and harshly discourage it. Secular systems of morality also find it repugnant. It would seem that if we could get rid of the propensity to exploit others then the result would be a utopia. However, despite the best efforts of every moral and ethical system, exploitation has proliferated. The reason for this is inherent in the permanent psychological deficit. Since the negative feelings flowing from the deficit can never be satisfied for long, there is always a need for more. Also, since the ability of an experience to bring pleasure tends to diminish over time, the intensity of pleasurable experiences needs to be increased in order to satisfy the permanent psychological deficit. And when those pleasures eventually run out, others are sought. Enough is never enough. Everyone wants more and in time there isn't enough to go around. Conflict is inevitable and exploitation is necessary to take things away from others who do not want to relinquish it. The dawning of consciousness resulted in the dawning of epic military campaigns. For those ancient kings, making war wasn't enough, the enemy had to be crushed, and every victory resulted in another call for conquest. Kings boasted of their achievements by etching the details of their victories in stone. Kingdoms were expanded obsessively until the inevitable point where they collapsed under their own weight. This lust for conquest continues today and embroils the world on an all too regular basis. With permanent psychological deficits growing more and more demanding, the magnitude and intensity of conflicts in all areas of life become more brutal and exploitation and atrocity become accepted as norms.
Consciousness is not a natural state for humans. Living in a continuous state of vigilance for fear of exploitation and in a constant search for pleasure is far from how our ancestors lived. We live in a state of constant stress, often at dangerous levels, but we view this as natural simply because it is the norm in our society. Certainly children are born with a natural curiosity. Their brains are essentially empty and they are biologically driven to fill them. This is similar to how an empty stomach motives a person to find food. However, the total of things that need to be learned to be a part of modern society far exceed what a child is motivated to learn from biology alone. When the child's natural curiosity wanes as their mind reaches a natural balance, there is still a great deal more that they must learn, and the motivation for this extended learning comes from the permanent psychological deficit. Nature is not sufficient and an unnatural state must be imposed. Compared to all other life forms on the planet, who do little more than fulfill their basic biological needs, we are radically abnormal. Animals kill only what they need to eat (or a little more and leave it to scavengers). Humans kill for food, pleasure, out of anger, and for ideologies and sometimes kill so many others that they have difficulties disposing of the bodies. Humans also indulge in other excesses in the pursuit of pleasure in the areas of food consumption, sexual stimulation, drugs, religious rituals, and almost anything else that relieves negative feelings. If not for the fact that our social order has evolved to incorporate these excesses, almost all humans would be seen as psychotic. Instead we are productive members of a society gone mad. We comfort ourselves in the fact that there as always someone else more psychotic, obsessed, or fanatical than we are, and excuse our own similar, milder acts. The brutalities of upbringing, the callousness of the adult world, and the inevitable rape of ideals that we once thought were sacred all become accepted as parts of life. We survive psychologically, although some only marginally, and then demand that others must match our suffering as a way of earning their keep. Helping the next generation is permitted, but lightening their load is not. We pass on our world of pain to the next generation, with a few additions of our own, and convince ourselves that they are inheriting a world better than one into which we were born. We see our successful campaigns to extract more pleasure from the world ( but only to offset our deep pain) as evidence that we have contributed to global improvements when instead we have only sunk deeper into the quagmire.
This is the point in the essay where one would normally expect a call to arms and the presentation of an alternative. Such is the common practice of a social order constantly seeking solutions. But despite all the solutions, the number of problems they create grows faster. It is a self defeating proposition. Thus I will attempt no such self deception. This search for truth is merely my own way of temporarily satisfying my own permanent psychological deficits as your reactions to it are attempts for you to do likewise. Even if my theory is true, it is irrelevant since it cannot alter the course of history. Although humans may use it or parts of it to satisfy themselves, they cannot avoid the inexorable slide towards an inevitable conclusion. However, like the music I record, it makes myself and others feel better for a little while, and that is its sole reason for existence. It claims legitimacy exclusively by right of being.
As to the inevitable conclusion of mankind I can only make predictions based on the theory I've given. Some have predicted an "end of history", where a utopian ideology will envelop the world and make conflict and struggle a thing of the past. I believe that such a state existed on earth for millions of years prior to the evolution of consciousness. Human culture existed in a state of near stagnation with cultural evolution progressing at a rate close to that of genetic evolution. Since the dawn of consciousness, cultural evolution has been progressing at an exponential rate, feeding on itself, and moving away from a stable state. Natural barriers to the procession of progress such as limits on the human mind and the number of people that can exist on earth are being felled by technological innovation (computers, space travel, and ideology - make no mistake about it, consciousness and ways of thinking are every bit as much technology as are software and hardware). So it appears that human culture can expand with no limits. However, I see two trends that will likely combine to spell a cataclysmic end. The first is the combination of technology with the need to make war. In the last 50 years this has produced weaponry that can easily destroy the entire world. Of course, it has always been possible to destroy all life on earth given enough time, but now the effort is minimal and the safeguards are few. The trend is toward making the power to obliterate so overwhelming that it could even be triggered by accident or through ignorance. And rest assured that there are people busy making weapons that are even more destructive than the ones we currently have. The second trend is the increase in the scope of murder-suicides. The recent examples of Columbine and the September 11 terrorist attacks stand apart from other murder- suicides due to the degree of planning and preparation involved and their sheer destructiveness. It would seem that the increasing damage that murder-suicides inflict is related to the increase in the depth of the permanent psychological deficit in the individuals that commit these acts. As these deficits are made stronger with each generation, the amount of destruction that a person bent on committing a murder-suicide will seek to inflict increases. I think that at some point in the future someone will reach a point where they have both the desire to destroy the entire world and the means with which to do it. One person will eradicate the entire human race. Perhaps you're the one.
The final question is whether or not we can truly be happy, or even satisfied, as long as we have a permanent psychological deficit. Can we ever get rid of it? The answer, unfortunately, is no. The permanent psychological deficit is what makes consciousness possible. Our sense of self arises from a need to find a way to deal with the pain of being dissociated from biological needs. Without that pain our consciousness will slowly fade away. Our very essence, who we are, is built upon a long series of painful experiences whose emotional effects will never go away. Our consciousness is like a doctor treating a wound that never stops bleeding. And worse, our conscious pursuit of a cure often brings us into conflict with others suffering the same fate, and we inflict and incur greater wounds on each other. It is only during rare altered states of consciousness that the burden of living lifts from our shoulders. During these times parts of our brains shut down for one reason or another and for a brief moment our consciousness is disconnected from the constant demands of the permanent psychological deficit. The parietal lobes shut down and we lose our sense of self, stepping outside of our bodies and moving beyond the boundary between ourselves and the universe. The feeling is not so much pleasure, although sometimes it is accompanied by endorphin release and great joy, but one of peace and serenity. It is a state so foreign to us that we describe it in other- worldly, spiritual terms, and indeed sometimes our mind takes the cue and produces a religious vision. But it is our natural state, a state that was torn away from us years ago when we were forced into the service of our society. The feeling is fleeting, and at the end comes the worst part of all, that of being dragged back into your body and being reacquainted with all the pain of being alive. As your defenses slowly kick back to subdue the pain and your complete sense of self returns you realize just how much pain it is that you're living with every moment of every day. You just can't feel it because your consciousness is able to suppress it. But lasting relief is not attainable, at least in the presence of that which is your self, for the self is only made possible by the mental activity forced by your permanent psychological deficit. That which you call yourself is dependent on a steady flow of suffering. You can never find peace. What often becomes most people's lifelong quest is sheer folly. This is perhaps the most disturbing thing ever written.
And so we have little control over our actions. We do what we must do in order to keep our tentative hold on our relief from the pain that we feel. Some variation on an ideology has a permanent grip on our minds and motivates us to do things that fill us with pride and shame. But most of all it makes us pass our own interpretation of that ideology on to others, such as I'm doing now. We fight, we love, we propagate our beliefs, and our ideologies claim new victims. 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.
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.
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:Brian Voth - Creator of Fireaxe
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.
- 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.
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