Saturday, August 24, 2013

In The Dust Of This Planet - On Black Metal

From In The Dust Of This Planet:

"So far, we have two possible meanings that the word 'black' can have in black metal culture. These are black = Satanism and black = paganism. One has the structure of opposition and inversion, and other the structure of exclusion and alterity. Both are united, however, in what amounts to a human-oriented relation to nature and natural forces - with Satanism we see a dark technics of dark vs. light forces, and with paganism we see a dark magic of being-on-the-side of nature itself. Despite their differences, both meanings of the term 'black' point to one thing they have in common, and that is an anthropocentric view towards the world. The world is either there for us to use as a tool, or it is there inside us as a force for our benefit. Even as the various forms of paganism adopt an animistic or pantheistic view of the world, they also assert a means of knowing and utilizing the forces of that world; the self is at once united with the world and yet split from it. The human point of view seems to be a limit for thought in both of these meanings of 'black' (Satanism and paganism).

Is there yet another meaning of 'black' beyond this? There is, but it is a difficult thought to think, and nearly impossible to know, though it does exist (actually it doesn't exist, though the thoughts of its not-existing does). As we noted, both the Satanic and pagan variants of the word 'black' remain minimally committed to the perspective of the human, even as they posit forces in the world beyond all comprehension. The result is that these dark forces are in some way always 'for us' as human beings (either as wielding darkness or 'being on the side of' darkness'). Whereas both the Satanic and pagan variants retain an anthropocentric thread, a third position, which we can call 'cosmic,' attempts to relinquish even this. There is only the anonymous, impersonal 'in itself' of the world, indifferent to us as human beings, despite all we do to change, shape, to improve and even to save the world. We could be even more specific and refer to this perspective not just as cosmic, but as a form of 'Cosmic Pessimism.' The view of Cosmic Pessimism is a strange mysticism of the world-without-us, a hermeticism of the abyss, a noumenal occultism. It is the difficult thought of the world as absolutely unhuman, and indifferent to the hopes, desires, and struggles of human individuals and groups. It's limit-thought is the idea of absolute nothingness, unconsciously represented in the many popular media images of nuclear war, natural disasters, global pandemics, and the cataclysmic effects of climate change. Certainly these are the images, or the specters, of Cosmic Pessimism, and different from the scientific, economic, and political realities that underlie them; but they are images deeply embedded in our psyche nontheless. Beyond these specters there is the impossible thought of extinction, with not even a single human being to think the absence of all human beings, with no thought to think the negation of all thought. Hence another possible meaning of the term 'black': Black = Cosmic. Or better, Black = Cosmic Pessimism."

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