The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 8.1

Dec 4, 2004

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and
human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
- Albert Einstein

There's no such thing as a free lunch, unless you have a credit card. How many of us were filled with a sense of power when we first swiped our magic plastic and paid for something without a dollar leaving our pockets? But as we learned in one way or another, credit is merely deferred payment, and we found that we could never truly escape having to pay for what we purchased - our creditors being stiff with their repayment policy and quick with fines for lateness. Of course if someone else is paying the bills, it is a different story. You can have a free lunch if you can get someone else to pay for it.

Perhaps you've ended up on the other end of that scam before. If you have then you've probably heard all the excuses that chronic borrowers give: that the loans are short term and will be paid back promptly, that times are hard and a little more time is required before payments can be made, and that once their oft-delayed "increased income" starts rolling in, all will be made good in the end. We're all in the frustrated lender's boat, only this time it isn't our deadbeat brother- in-law, or ne'er do well friend handing us these lines, it is our own governments. These so-called public servants are piling on the bullshit and spending our money away as if there were no tomorrow, with many of the recipients of these seemingly limitless funds being members of the politicians' own families and life long friends. In recent days we've heard such statements as "deficits don't matter", that borrowing is needed to "stimulate the economy", and even that indebtedness can be sustained indefinitely because others will always let us borrow more. Of course, investment is needed to jumpstart any enterprise, but our leaders appear to have forgotten the fundamental principle that you can't borrow your way out of debt. And yes, there are economists in prominent positions who cling to the belief that the global economy is so strong, and its caretakers so wise, that it could never collapse. It is truly incredible stupidity.

In the spirit of black history month, I feel that we should also have a "hubris history" month, where school children are taught the endless follies of those world leaders who thought that they were invincible and found out the hard way that they weren't. Now, I realize that a single month isn't quite enough time to go through every one of mankind's self-inflicted catastrophes, but after twelve years of exposure to the history of arrogance and the doom that always follows perhaps enough people might get the message and what is about to befall us will never happen again. Wishful thinking, I know, but we have to at least try.

I could bore you all to death with economic figures, charts, quotes, and examples that show our modern economy is on the verge of an epic collapse, but those can all be found elsewhere on the internet and in current publications and are generally not very entertaining. Instead, I think that the best way to describe the current situation is with the free lunch analogy. Imagine all the countries of the world sitting around a table having a long lunch and ordering plate after plate of expensive food. At some point during the meal everyone at the table realizes that they don't have enough money to cover their share of the bill. However, they've discovered that as long as they keep eating and ordering more food, the bill never comes. So that is what they do, hour after hour after hour, charging up a tremendous account that no one has the capacity nor the intention of paying. But eventually, as the plates pile up and up, the manager of the restaurant runs out of food and so he comes out and demands payment on the bill so that he can buy more. All of the sudden the free lunch is over, and now what happens next is what is waiting in the wings for us on a global scale: a massive power struggle, perhaps ending in violence, over who has to pay. No matter how it all plays out, there will be a lot of people in the back of the restaurant washing dishes for a very long time.

It's not just the U.S. that is completely irresponsible with its finances, although at $7.4 trillion in the hole it is the worst offender, all the major economic nations in the world are in debt up to their eyeballs. But what do our leaders care? It isn't their money that they are spending, it's ours, and they will not suffer nearly as bad in the aftermath. The upper classes enjoyed the desserts and now the lower classes will be forced to clean up the mess. Nothing new with that.

Exploitation in economic terms is all about inflating the worth of something, selling it off, and leaving someone else holding the bag. There are many ways to do this with the dotcom boom of the last decade being the most notable in recent memory. When the price of something starts to rise, people begin to expect it to keep going higher regardless of how ridiculous the price gets. This works for all commodities from houses to beanie babies. The trick is to buy in early, convince someone that buying your commodity is a good investment, and then laugh all the way to the bank. There are many kinds of over-inflated commodities in the world today: real estate, seemingly unlimited credit, the stock market, and the dollar. The latter of these is the most disturbing. How could currency be a commodity? Well, it is only paper, and like all other currencies it is no longer backed by gold. Keep in mind that our governments can print their way out of their horrific debts and leave the rest of us holding bags full of worthless money. It's happened before, many times, but then you may not remember them because hubris history month is still just an idea. But the most likely aftermath of an economic meltdown is not inflation, but deflation, where prices fall and wages fall even faster, and the great many of us who own little or are buried in debt will end up enslaved to those who were wise enough to hold on to things of real worth. In such a blighted landscape things can quickly go from bad to worse as we saw in the last century.

Regrettably, 2004 was a terrible year for Fireaxe, mainly in terms of my health or rather the lack thereof. Recording for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" has not yet begun owing to my need of a second surgery to fix the problems caused by the first surgery where one of my kidneys was removed. Things do look positive for the first time all year long, so as long as the dark goddess stays her hand, recording will soon begin.

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

All recording grinds to a halt as medical issues get resolved

It's happened to me before, and I wasn't happy about the previous time either. A few years back I had my wisdom teeth removed. I'd waited too long, into my thirties, to have it done, but they'd never caused a problem. In any event, that's no excuse for the oral surgeon to leave dozens of shards from my shattered wisdom teeth enclosed within the cavities where those teeth had once been. I didn't notice anything wrong until weeks later when the holes ruptured and started hurting and bleeding. After that I got the warm experience of watching, fully conscious, as a different oral surgeon scooped shard after shard out of my mouth until everything was the way that it should have been in the first place. But in the end there was no harm done, and it was all paid for by my insurance, so I decided not to sue anyone.

Things may be different this time. In March of 2003 I was diagnosed with renal cancer and my left kidney had been almost completely devoured by a malignant tumor. Fortunately it was caught in time (and might not have been caught at all, more on that later), and the tumor was encapsulated. That meant that surgery was all that was required to make me well again. No chemo, just a big honking scar to remind me that I am no longer young and invincible.

Then I went home to begin recovering from the surgery. At first things moved along as expected, but after about five months my recovery took a turn for the worse. The incision began hurting after some rehab exercises and kept getting worse. My energy levels sunk and I was convinced that the cancer had returned. A follow-up CAT scan showed no cancer and no hernia, but my health was still dragging. I complained to the surgeon who assured me that the healing would take time. Months went by, and I got no better. I kept complaining to the surgeon, my other doctors, and anyone who would listen, but everyone told me the same thing: "Be patient. It takes time to heal". But it was taking too long, and I had stopped improving. I knew that something was wrong inside but I couldn't convince anyone.

There's nothing that feels quite as bad as being betrayed, but when you get betrayed by the health care profession that feeling gets mixed together with a primal sense of desperation. You feel that your life is in danger and you want to do something but you're powerless to take any action at all. So you end up dealing with a lot of rage, depression, and a sick feeling that your doctors, like so many people today, are being overworked to the point of incompetence. It's not a good feeling at all. I knew that if the cancer was going to return that it was very likely to be fatal, and that I needed to be at optimal health to fight off the tumors and survive chemo. But the attitude of my doctors was that since my blood tests showed almost normal results, (with out of range results being explained away in ways that did nothing to ease my concerns) they concluded that there was nothing wrong with me and decided to ignore all of my complaints. This is one of the large problems with the medical profession, and many professions in general. Experts are very good at dealing with cases which have obvious signs and proven cures, but if your case doesn't fit one of the many models that they have been taught, you're only hope is to find that rare doctor who takes the time to try to understand all your symptoms and searches for the root cause. Another option, far harder, is to become your own doctor, and that is what I did. I knew little about medicine, but I felt that I didn't have a choice. A lifetime of suffering was simply not acceptable to me.

Over the course of the last year I made a number of diagnoses and concocted many theories regarding my condition. I tried to relate these to my doctors when I would see them but they were annoyingly at ease with brushing aside my ideas without following them up. My only option was to hit the supplement aisle of the health food store, which is the only place that a non-doctor can get anything resembling medicine. Surprisingly enough, to me at least, I found a number of supplements that worked. Soon after taking them my energy levels rebounded to a reasonable strength, I was able to sleep better, and I bolstered my weakened immune system. I had to take a lot of supplements, which I was reluctant to do because I hate to take pills of any kind, but I experienced such improvement that the benefits outweighed the costs, plus I felt that I would be back to normal soon. But that didn't happen. The supplements were just compensating for a more serious problem.

Since the cancer surgery my incision area had always hurt when I used my abdominal muscles. Sneezing was very painful, and I could never lie on my side for more than a short while without great discomfort. One night I had a breakthrough, while coughing I felt something snapping in the incision area. The next day it was tender and painful, but oddly enough I had gained flexibility, and in the following days I was able to use my abs with a lot less pain. I concluded that what had happened was that one of the sutures had broken. The surgeon had used thick, permanent sutures to hold my muscles together, and I had always felt that they had been sewn together incorrectly or too tightly, thus causing the problems that I'd had since the surgery, but everyone who I talked to told me that it had to have been scar tissue giving way and that all of my symptoms were typical of people with excess scar tissue following surgery. The trouble was that none of their explanations made any sense to me, despite coming from many decades of experience. Thus, I wanted the sutures out. I knew that they were causing problems, not just pain when I moved, but also chronic inflammation, which causes your blood cortisol levels to rise, and which in turn causes your energy levels to drop and your mood to darken. When I explained that theory to my doctors they just attributes all those things to stress and advised me to take it easy. Well, I was taking it easy, but I couldn't deny that I was getting stressed out. Stressed out, that is, by incompetent doctors who were ignoring my condition.

Once again my theories of how the sutures were causing problems didn't fit with established medical knowledge and thus were brushed aside or ignored. In the end I got a second and a third opinion from surgeons who all agreed that my problem was scar tissue and that more surgery would lead to more scar tissue and thus make things worse. More months went by and after a long series of rehabilitation as part of physical therapy my condition started to get a lot worse. The exercises had caused a flare-up in the incision area and everything started to go downhill. I had to take far more supplements than I was comfortable with just to maintain my energy and I got very demanding of my doctors. When I couldn't convince them I took matters into my own hands.

No, I didn't do the surgery myself. He he he. But I laid out a fair chunk of change for a surgeon with a very good reputation to cut me back open and to remove all the sutures. After cautioning me about making things worse he agreed to do the job and a few weeks ago I went under the knife once again. I am very pleased to announce that the operation has resulted in a great deal of relief for me. The surgeon did indeed find a broken suture, and noticed that the other sutures were still tight and the areas around them were inflamed. At last I was vindicated. Time will tell if the surgery has completely fixed the problem, but already I am feeling far less pain, far more flexibility, and much higher energy levels than I have all year long. I no longer need to take any supplements and for the first time all year I have good reason to be optimistic. However, it may take a few months for me to recover from all of the bullshit that I have been put through physically and mentally for the last year and a half. My faith in the medical profession will never recover, but then, losing one's faith is not necessarily a bad thing. You need to ask questions, otherwise you're bound to get stuck holding the short end of the stick. It's a nice feeling to be able to trust someone, but that is a risk that you can ill afford to take in many cases. A good rule is: the more valuable something is to you, the more questions you should ask.

As I remember back to two years ago when I first went to the doctor, complaining about a complete loss of energy, I continue to be thankful that I didn't trust her judgment. I'd gone from being able to ride my bike 200 miles a week to less than 10 in just over a year's time. Resting didn't seem to give me back my energy, and I continued to get worse. So my doctor ordered a blood test which came out completely normal. She concluded that I just needed rest. I demanded another test and she grudgingly agreed. Fortunately that test came back out of whack, but not because there was something wrong with me, it was because I had been eating a low-carb diet for a month, so it looked as if I had diabetes. That was enough to make the doctor refer me to a specialist who quickly confirmed that I was not diabetic. But he didn't kick me out of his office with a clean bill of health, which he could have easily done since if I was suffering from anything that it was outside his specialty. Instead he was genuinely concerned with my condition and actually believed that there was something wrong with me, unlike my doctor. The specialist ordered a number of tests including an ultrasound which revealed the tumor that had eaten my left kidney. After that everything moved quickly since the doctors all knew what to do when cancer is diagnosed. But the thought still plagues me that had I trusted my doctor's advice, and believed that the blood test showed that I was fine, that I would be dead today.

In my opinion the message is clear: faith is completely misguided bullshit. You need to keep asking questions until all the facts are in agreement. Don't trust anyone or anything blindly and don't defer to any expert, instead make the experts explain everything to your satisfaction. If they can't, don't believe them. But most importantly, don't trust in yourself. That is a trap too. You need to keep improving your ability to figure things out because one day your life will depend on you and you alone. Don't let your mental skills languish.

Short newsletter

I got clobbered by the flu this week which was made worse by the fact that I am still recovering from surgery and a year and a half of bullshit. I'd have liked to have written on the oppositional nature of consciousness, to go along with the essay on the oppositional nature of ideologies that I wrote last time. But alas, it will have to wait.

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 aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive, thus creating a vicious circle
  • 4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy their needs
  • 5. 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 ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by destroying 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.

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.

Food for the Gods: $12 / $14
Victory or Death: $5 / $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares: $5 / $7
A Dream of Death: $5 / $7

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

Iíve been focusing so hard on "Food for the Gods" that Iíve had little time to think about what Iíd like to record next. Over the past few months Iíve tossed around some ideas and have come up with a working title and theme. The next Fireaxe work will dig even deeper into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth the myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what they are. While "A Dream of Death" explored the madness of dreams, and "Food for the Gods" described the chaos wrought upon the earth by ideologies, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" will depict the psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times. It will be the darkest Fireaxe work ever. But donít put your order in just yet. After wrapping up "Food for the Gods" Iíll need a while to rest and upgrade my studio. Iím spent.

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 food for the gods.
  • 6. 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?
  • 7. 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.
  • 8. 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.
  • 9. 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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