Purity and Mayhem

“I’m breaking through, I’m bending spoons, I’m keeping flowers in full bloom- I’m looking for answers from the great beyond.”

She said she wanted a fairy tale. Not something fairy tale-like, or fairy tale-adjacent; not the kind they sell at Target, or the Magic Kingdom version with the anxious college girl sweating to death in her ballroom gown while telling you about all the books she read before the gnarly beast swept her away. Something where you’d never dream of compromising things with the words good enough to control expectations while still acknowledging the positive. She wanted the real deal.

Where it wasn’t good enough to spend your nights together laughing at jokes that only you’d both understand, between bouts of incredible sex, and looking into her eyes and telling her that she was beautiful and really meaning it. This wasn’t a fairy tale- this was something else- and if it wasn’t good enough to be a fairy tale, what was it?

Too much of this and you’re burning churches. Nothing is real until you’re willing to destroy everything and sift through the ashes. Cut the throat of your father because he couldn’t be what you needed. Never let the lie settle; walk away from the inauthentic.

Tony Iommi didn’t understand why Rob Zombie never changed out of his stage clothes- stage clothes, a foreign concept for Zombie who knew you either lived your act as performance art or that it doesn’t mean shit. Venom didn’t understand why every Black Sabbath song wasn’t about the devil- what kind of black sabbath was that? Mayhem didn’t think you could write dark music without making it a lifestyle and burnt churches along the Norwegian countryside- there was a purity to this.

You aren’t a real writer if you consider what the reception of your writing might look like; a writer must disregard the idea of writing for an audience; there is no audience, there is only art. If you write for an audience, you may be writing words, but you aren’t making art. Art can only manifest from the artist’s subconscious, in a flow-state, containing subtle and unintended nuances which even the artist may be ignorant of. This is why those who create art consider themselves conduits for God, or vessels for fairies and muses- art can only come out of the unconscious mind as a performance of self-expression. It may be cleaned up and stitched together later, but the foundation must be subconscious. If any space is surrendered to enhance the experience for an audience, you’ve already lost.

Black metal originated as a response to heavy metal gaining mainstream attention with artists suddenly wanting to write songs for radio airplay. Grit was lost and turned to gloss in million dollar recording studios with smooth repeating choruses and non-threatening lyrics. Norwegian black metal artists rejected this as inauthentic. Heavy metal shouldn’t be polished- it should conjure primal images of being alone in the woods, in late November, after midnight, with only a battery powered cassette deck, naked and covered in animal blood… or is it your own? It should sound cold and dark.

The barrier to entry is high- Norwegian black metal is purposely abrasive. Songs cut in and out with drums loudly blasting in the foreground– there is often no discernible song structure. Vocals are sometimes used as an additional layer of sound- not its driving force- and are typically buried in the mix. Guitar riffs repeat hypnotically. They don’t care if you get it or if you like it; artistic integrity devoid of concern for the audience. Kurt Cobain wishes he had their balls.

The best writing should be complex. Complicated and unrelenting. No easy reads; no bits of light fiction, nor should there be books meant to be read on the beach. Writing should challenge the reader to meet the author on his terms only. Meaning for entire pieces- entire novels- contingent on obscure references woven so seamlessly into the larger narrative that only a small percentage of readers will notice and understand. Thomas Pynchon includes a scene in Inherent Vice (2009) where stoner protagonist Doc Sportello charts the novel’s 130 characters, and their complex relationships, on the wall of his apartment with a marker- Pynchon’s way of mocking the reader. What, you can’t keep up?

***

Alice lived in a house on the beach, where she hid herself away from the nasty virus. So close you could see the water from her window, in a town that seemed perpetually alive, chatter in every corner, all hours of the night. Beach houses built on the corpses of hippies, with signage proclaiming an eternal summertime and promises of living easy hanging in manicured, million dollar love shacks. A never-ending Halloween party with ghouls coming from their humble abodes, costumed as beach bums, looking for jolts from electrodes. Symbols disconnected from meaning. Only the wealthy can afford the fairy tale of pretending to be poor.

***

Her fairy tale followed a trail of breadcrumbs into the witch’s oven. You only get one Weiland- everyone else is a hired gun; a studio musician; a cheap imitation. Effort can’t change the immutable. When Selina Kyle tells Batman that he doesn’t owe the people anything, that he’s already given them everything- he replies, “not everything; not yet,” which is more rousing a moment for men than even the hottest pornography. Men want an excuse to give away every last bit of themselves; desperately seeking a hill to die on; a destructive purity; pure mayhem. Kill yourself finding the right castle just to save the damn princess- something Catwoman could never understand.

It wasn’t the sadness in her eyes, that maybe only you could see, but the way she spoke of the past- how when she said “it was a long time ago,” the inflection in her voice betrayed her.

You thought you could storm in and start tearing down statues. Inexplicable confidence. Recreate the world in your own image, even if no one ever wins fighting the idealized dead. You can’t save her, heckles Catwoman- no matter how willing you are to go down with the ship. The past has been decided- fairy tales written. Welcome to hell- there’s a purity to this.

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WELCOME TO HELL