Sunday, May 16, 2010

Endgame, reviewing metal, sarcasm

I use the word "endgame" only to be provocative, hinting at a final separation or some kind of ultimate realization…when of course there hasn't been anything of that sort at all. So the title is just a lie, but…what else is new? Endgame, then, as some kind of realization…mainly the fact that we, together, are at such a late stage of the game of reviewing, criticizing, analyzing, discussing (whatever you want to call it) death and black metal (all of us here together, gentle readers and not so gentle, writers and critics, musicians and enthusiasts, those who have gone into the abyss, you, potential suicides all - blah) that I, when I write these reviews these days have to struggle through 400 pounds of weighty self-history in order to type out anything at all, knowing that every description I reach for on the dusty shelf of memory or lying sharp, too well-used, in the autoclave, its burnished steel bright with bone-on-bone friction, has been offered to the invisible god of the autonomous, anonymous Reader In The Sky too many times to escape futility, nullity, that bugbear repetition or its headier corruption, redundancy (the thief in the night). Of course I sicken of saying the same things over and over again, as would you - or anyone - any person unlucky enough to have, as an addiction or flaw in their character, the demon that drives one to express one's self without hope of being understood (7th circle of hell, what?) or without the hope of ever reaching anything remotely resembling aesthetic satisfaction (death of desire).

Self-conscious and self-referential, ironic and introverted...

But as a caveat, I feel I must warn readers or potential musicians or whoever it is who paces through these texts and scratches their heads and wonders about disease types, frequency of irruptions, symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, etc. There is that level of cynicism to deal with, of course, and that must be handled...just brace the body, place one's arms and legs out of harm's way, set your stance in stone, absorb the rude shock like a flash flood wave of cold water, and then ride the tide...but the avatar of the jaded of course only descends upon one with too much experience. I have come up with entire regimented plans for avoiding cynicism (as I believe it only blunts the critical faculty, and it of course destroys enthusiasm and the joy of life, apathy is the mindkiller) and if I am feeling kind or more bored than usual I might bestow this boon/gift of ludicrous introversion upon my absent/nonexistent readers one day (this is where you laugh)...I don't want to end up as one of those who can only be titillated by the grotesque, the bizarre, the outrageous, or the self-consciously "eccentric" (I hate self-willed, self-centered eccentricity - although you of course might see it in me, but then again you're blind), one of those faded, flopping, flaccid tarts resting on a bed of absurdist critical opinion, Roman-style, begging with fattened lips for the latest fad - what's new? says the sophisticate, looking all the while in a thousand mirrors. "Have you noticed how jaded and profound my reserve of critical opinion is? Am I not an end, a goal?"

But it is still so difficult to find new words and new ways to describe what is, essentially, just another variation on a dead, stifling, malodorous, oppressive theme...

So the struggle then is to become a better writer, I believe. A better writer would not have these limitations, these frustrations, these ideas of being held back and confined within the tradition of what has come before, what has already been said. A better writer would not fear redundancy...perhaps because he would be able to embrace classic values (I'm smiling with cynicism, actually, as I write this - who believes in "classic values" anymore? Are we even allowed to believe in such things - are they absurdities?) and write the same thing over and over again, content in ritual exclamations of some divine order, rehearsals of the spirit...practices that seek their stability in repetition, ultimately in redundancy. This, however, is too Eastern for me at this point...no, I will be the good Westerner and seek originality and novelty at the ends of the Earth, or at least I will die trying...what else is there to do? Who fears death when the only other option is boredom?

U. Amtey

8/17/04