Friday, October 31, 2008

Blackened Marginalia

The journal 'Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary' has issued a call for proposals. Or rather, it has spewed forth anguished wails and tortured howls for proposals: the proposals are for contributions to a themed issue on Black Metal, to be published in the fall of 2012. The volume's editors are Nicola Masciandaro and Cyclonopedia author Reza Negarestani. Do read the call, as the call itself is already an extremely interesting gloss on the genre. Deadline: March 1st, 2009.

I must say I am sorely tempted to answer the call with some ghostly gurgling of my own.

However, Valter is a persona, a mask:

"Masks, always fabricated secretly and destroyed or hidden after use, transform the officiants into gods, spirits, animal ancestors, and all types of terrifying and creative supernatural powers. (...) The eruption of phantoms and strange powers terrifies and captivates the individual. He temporarily reincarnates, mimics, and identifies with these frightening powers and soon, maddened and delirious, really believes that he is the god as which he disguised himself, cleverly or crudely, in the beginning." (Roger Caillois, "Man, Play And Games").

The mask speaks, whispers, mumbles and moans only through the blog. The blog is its "arena, card-table, magic circle, temple, stage, screen, tennis court, court of justice", its "playground, forbidden spot, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain." (Huizinga, Homo Ludens). Publishing in another medium, even in such a wonderful journal as Glossator, would mean a recontextualization of the mask's utterances which is sure to affect its message, even if its occult nature would be respected.

But then again: "No-one knows what may not burst forth from behind the mask." (Elias Canetti, "Crowds And Power")

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Torture of a Hundred Pieces

In 1905, psychiatrists Adrien Borel and Georges Dumas - still young men - visited China. During the visit, Borel - and perhaps Dumas - witnessed an act of execution by torture, the Torture of a Hundred Pieces. Borel took photographs of this terrible act, and published them in his 1923 book Traité de Psychologie. Borel, a heterodox Freudian, would become a founder member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris and a consultant at Sainte-Anne and Bichat hospitals; furthermore, Borel took a special interest in drug addicts and "aesthetes".

One if these "aesthetes" was Surrealist dissident Georges Bataille, who was 28 years old at the time. For reasons that are hard to reconstruct, Bataille underwent psychoanalysis with Borel. In his final book, Les Larmes D'Eros, Bataille writes that is was Borel who showed him one of the horrifying photographs. Bataille: "This photograph had a decisive role in my life." Employing yoga techniques, meditative contemplation of the photograph provoked ecstasy in Bataille, an ecstasy which he believed to mimic the state of mind of the victim.

In his biography of Bataille, Michel Surya writes that for Bataille the photograph was a substitute for representations of deicide:

"The victim at the stake, the hanged man in the garden of torture, the crucified man, the terror inspired by this appalling representation in churches, the terror of kneeling and trembling: Bataille retained all these images from his days as a believer as memories and perhaps even as a predilection. In doing its worst - the undignified and nauseating death of a God - Christianity no doubt rightly perceived the key that opens up its mystery, ambiguous and obscure as well as hallucinatory. Like Nietzsche, Bataille retained his love for this pitiful, naked God."

Recently, my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter performed a spontaneous act of bibliomancy, which suggested a different genealogy of Bataille's relation with Borel's photograph than Surya's emimently respectable descent from Christianity. Aurélie - she is named after De Nerval's Aurelia - pulled Mario Praz's 1930 book The Romantic Agony out of the book cupboard. It fell open on the first page of the final chapter, "Swinburne and 'Le vice Anglais'".

The chapter, which delves into British sadomasochist literature from the Romantic era, opens with an account of George Selwyn (1719-1791), a Member of Parliament, gambler and member of the notorious 'Hellfire Club' which held Satanic orgies at Medmenham Abbey. Selwyn had an obsession for witnessing criminal executions. Praz quotes Walpole's letters on Selwyn: "On the occasion of the ghastly execution of Damiens, who had made an attempt upon the life of Louis VX, Selwyn went specially to Paris, on January 5th, 1757, 'mingled with the crowd in a plain undress and a bob-wig', and 'when a French nobleman, observing the deep interest which he took in the scene, asked him: "Vous êtes bourreau?" he replied: "Non, non, monsieur, je n'ai pas cette honneur; je ne suis qu'un amateur."' Like the victim of the Torture of a Hundred Pieces, Damiens was convicted to death by dismemberment for an attempt upon the life of a member of the ruling aristocratic family.

The legend of Selwyn's obsession with executions had a powerful impact on French Black Romanticism. Many French novels of the 19th century featured sadistic Englishmen whose greatest pleasure was to attend executions. Praz mentions Edmond de Goncourt's 1882 Le Faustin and Pétrus Borel's 1833 Contes Immoraux, amongst others. In the first of the Contes Immoraux, an Englishman pays 500 francs to watch an execution from a window. Borel, who called himself Le Lycanthrope, was regarded as a forerunner by the Surrealist, and excerpts from his work would feature in André Breton's 1937 Anthologie de l'Humour Noir. (I've not been able to ascertain whether Borel the writer and Borel the psychiatrist were in any way related.) Another obvious example would be Octave Mirbeau's 1899 novel Le Jardin De Supplices, in which the protagonist delights in witnessing flayings, crucifixions and numerous tortures, all done in beautifully laid out and groomed gardens in China.

Thus, another genealogy of Bataille's contemplation of Borel's photographs suggests itself. This genealogy does not relate Bataille's practice to Christian mythology, but to the literary tradition of Black Romanticism.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shock Xpress - Stephen Gallagher (pt. 3)

Inspired by an article in the first Shock Xpress Book, in which horror writer Stephen Gallagher lists his 10 favorite horror films.

Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922)

Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pyha - The Haunted House

Ostensibly, Pyha's fascinating Black Metal album 'The Haunted House' was conceived, composed and recorded by a 14-year old living in Korea.

Remarkably for music made by an adolescent, one of the tracks on the album is called 'Song of the Elderly'. Indeed, the youthful age of the musician contrasts strikingly with the music, which suggests images of the geriatric body rather than images of the vigorous, juvenile body. The music suggests a body slowly sliding into death: greying, wrinkling, weakening, becoming bald, crippled and senile, sagging, expiring, decaying, decomposing, crumbling, pulverizing ...

In its musical portrayal of the aging process, the music reminds me somewhat of Tony Scott's much-maligned 1983 film The Hunger, in which David Bowie plays the role of a vampire who at a certain point starts to age very quickly, spending the main part of the movie desparately searching for a cure for his progeria-like condition.

How does The Haunted House manage to mimic aging and age?

The way Pyha employs elements of the typical, lo-fi Black Metal production style somehow gives the impression of oldness: that style is frequently described as having a ‘necro’ sound, the "in the red" recording making the music sound blurred, making it sound as if it is wrapped in bandages of tape hiss, making it sound as if the recording itself has aged and slid into death. But the Black Metal production style in itself is not enough to 'explain' how Pyha manages to mimic age and aging. After all, on 1995 albums like Immortal's 'Battles In The North' and Emperor's 'In The Nightside Eclipse' that very same production style managed to convey a sense of youthful 'Sturm und Drang' vitality.

Other than with Immortal's and Emperor's 1995 albums, the tempos on 'The Haunted House' are not fast but a wobbly mid-tempo at best, the shakiness suggesting geriatric infirmity. Furthermore, it is the sense of fragmentation which pervades the album with age: in a way reminiscent of early Skinny Puppy or Download's 1995 'Charlie's Family' album, Xasthur-inspired Black Metal drones are broken up by "shimmering synths, and the sounds of war, speeches, soldiers, sirens, weeping mothers, crying children ... crackling campfires, crickets, warm whirring synths way off in the distance, ghostly gurgled disembodied voices, whipping wind, all interwoven with tape hiss and buzzing synths, creepy noises, and all manner of sonic detritus." (Aquarius). These fragments can be heard as drifting memories, as the mnemo-sonic flotsam of twentieth century Korean history - in fact, the album's at artwork features many grisly photographs of that wartorn nation's recent past. Thus, the fragmented music point towards the retrospective contemplation that many elderly persons delight in, but also towards the decline in the ability of aging people to bind information together in memory. Newton wrote that "absolute, true Mathematical Time, of itself and from its own nature flows equally without regard to anything external"; Pyha warps this rational, uniform time like age warps memory and the human body.

One might regard it as odd that Pyha would create a Black Metal album centered on age and aging. However, as Jean Baudrillard notes in his 1976 book 'Symbolic Exchange and Death', the so-called 'Third Age' has become abjected: "Old age has become a marginal and ultimately asocial slice of life - a ghetto, a reprieve and a slide into death." Seen from this perspective, it comes as no surprise that Black Metal, as a musical cult of the abject, appropriates old age and uses it for its own purposes.

Nevertheless the infirm, geriatric character of Pyha's music is at odds with some cultural strands of Black Metal: it effectively questions the hysterical aggressivity, overstimulated belligerence and pompous heroism so prevalent in some Black Metal subgenres. According to Tumult's website, the musician behind Pyha is "staunchly anti-government, anti-war, anti-military, he's a pacifist and an anarchist" - unusual political positions for a Black Metal musician. Politically too the music is reminiscent of Skinny Puppy.

In fact, Pyha's 'The Haunted House' is what Skinny Puppy's disappointing 1992 album 'Last Rights' should have been - a beautiful and horrific, kaleidoscopic meditation on body politics and the political body.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Service Announcement

My MacBook is experiencing some technical difficulties. This blog will resume ASAP.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shock Xpress - Stephen Gallagher (pt. 2)

Inspired by an article in the first Shock Xpress Book, in which horror writer Stephen Gallagher lists his 10 favorite horror films.

Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)

The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Skullflower - Desire for a Holy War


What appeared as monolithic and impenetrable at first, gradually revealed itself to be layers and layers of sheer curtain, billowing in the wind. On contact, these curtains ignited the nerves, burning like blood-and-semen-soaked shirt of Nessus, the shirt that poisoned and killed Hercules. Because of this venom, it was impossible to touch the curtains, impossible to draw them away, impossible to see what shone so blindingly bright from behind them.


"Desire for a Holy War" - is it a desire to wage a holy war or is it a self-destructive desire to be invaded, pillaged and burned by hordes of religious fanatics? Or is it a desire to contemplate from a distance the whole of the blood-soaked battlefield, like Georges Bataille meditated upon a photograph of Fou Tchou-Li suffering execution by Leng T'che (“death by a thousand cuts”) on April 10th 1905. “I never stopped being obsessed by this image of pain, at the same time ecstatic and intolerable.


"Desire for a Holy War" is one of the most inaccessible releases of Matthew Bower's long-running band Skullflower: the music consists of so many superimposed strata of noise that musical structure is no longer audible. Every riff is churned up again and again; tones are uprooted from their harmonies, smashed, and ground to mere sound particles, notes blown to bits and turned to dust; musical forms are leveled and the sound field turned into a desert. "Desire for a Holy War" seethes like a gigantic cauldron. The music is sheer pandemonium.

Nonetheless, after repeated exposures it becomes somewhat possible to distinguish one layer of noise from another. Then, one vaguely discerns shapes in the clouds of smoke and dust that hang over the Metalfield. One hears hypertrophied ostinati, riffs of bloated triumph, hysterical heroism, over-stimulated, over-blown muscularity, chords like bloodthirsty gymnasts overdosed on anabolic steroids and amphetamines, bleeding violently from their rectums.


"For, at Shangri-La as in other pro gyms, the use of anabolic steroids and assorted human growth hormones is both commonplace and massive, as are their resultant physical ailments, from premature baldness (...), bouts of diarrhoea and increased body hair, to spells of dizziness and chronic rectal bleeding (...)."

From: Loïc J.D. Wacquant, "Why Men Desire Muscles", in 'Body & Society', volume 1, number 1, March 1995, Sage Publications.


"The terrestrial globe is covered with volcanoes, which serve as its anus."

From: Georges Bataille, 'The Solar Anus'.


"Hört Ihr nicht, wie er aus tausend Städten brüllt, wie rings Gewitter uns umtürmen wie damals, als der Ring der Schlachten uns umschloß? Seht Ihr nicht, wie seine Flamme aus den Augen eines jedes einzelnen glüht? Manchmal wohl schläft er, doch wenn die Erde bebt, entspritzt er kochend allen Vulkanen."

"Do you not hear, how War roars out of a thousand cities, how thunderstorms tower around us, like once the circle of battlefields surrounded us? Do you not see, how its flames glow from the eyes of every single one? Sometimes War may sleep, but when the earth shakes, it erupts all volcanoes."

Ernst Jünger, "Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis" (1922)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shock Xpress - Stephen Gallagher (pt. 1)

Inspired by an article in the first Shock Xpress Book, in which horror writer Stephen Gallagher lists his 10 favorite horror films.

The Trollenberg Terror (Quentin Lawrence, 1958)

Martin (George Romero, 1977)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk

Swedish Black Metal band Marduk released the classic album 'Panzer Division Marduk' in 1999. It is a concept album dealing with themes of war and warfare.

Panzer Division Marduk presents us with a nostalgic view of warfare - the unlikely nostalgia of those living in the age of the information war, for the era of the industrial war. The album was released about eight years after the Gulf War, that turning point in military history in which a war of tanks, projectiles and missiles was enveloped and swallowed up by a war of electronic media. But even though Panzer Division Marduk came out after the Gulf War, the album's artwork and lyrics refer to the tanks, bunkers, bombardments and small-arms fire of the Second World War. On Marduk's battlefield, satellites play no role.

The nostalgic nature of Marduk's presentation of war becomes evident when it is compared to the presentation of war in Electronic Body Music (EBM), a musical genre which emerged roughly half a decade before Black Metal and which also thematized warfare. EBM bands like Front 242 and Front Line Assembly used sparse electronic rhythms to simulate a futuristic war, looking forward, extolling the beauty of cybernetic organisms, orbital tele-surveillance, satellite warfare, virtual reality, tele-piloted aerial reconnaisance and so on. Marduk on the other hand looks backward and adorns the album with the photograph of a Swedish tank used in World War II, while the internal sleeve pictures a Red Army tank column driving through a ruined Berlin in 1945.

Appropriately, the Black Metal on Panzer Division Marduk is one of breakneck speed, with rushing blast beats and hysterical riffing. This celebration of musical speed can be connected to the speed that was the dominant characteristic of the warfare in the Second World War: Blitzkrieg! This era of the Fast War ended with the Gulf War, in which speed became absolute and was thereby transformed into instantaneousness. The absolute immediacy of transmission of electronic data surpassed the relative (fast, but not immediate) speed of the driving and flying fortresses of industrial warfare. I understand the headlong rush of Marduk's Black Metal as a sign of nostalgia for a war of movement, felt in the age of the ubiquitous, instantaneous, omniscient and omnipresent war machine.

The lyrics to Panzer Division Marduk may present images of industrial warfare, but it frames these images in an archaic, pre-industrial context. There are two aspects to this archaic context: one religious, one erotic. The religious aspect is evident in the lyrics which portray an inverted Crusade, an Unholy War: "Panzer division Marduk continues its triumphant crusade / Against christianity and your worthless humanity" and "Baptism by fire / Feel the wrath of Satan's relentless flames / Ungodly desires / When god is lost and on his planet hellfire reigns". The second aspect is evident in a glorification of cruelty, which veers towards eroticism; this aspect is particularly evident in those songs which juxtapose (homo-erotic) sadism with the suffering of Christ. The religious and erotic character of Marduk's warfare point towards the wasteful, cruel, frenzied, transgressive character of archaic war, an aspect that was already almost lost in industrial warfare:

"Organized war with its efficient military operations based on discipline, which when all is said and done excludes the mass of combatants from the pleasure of transgressing the limits, has been caught up in a mechanism foreign to the impulses which set [archaic war] off in the first place; war today has only the remotest connections to [archaic, ritualized] war as I have described it; it is a dismal aberration geared to political ends" (Bataille, L'Erotisme).

Already weakened by the utilitarianism of industrial and fascist war, the transgressive character of archaic war is eclipsed definitively in the cool-headed, programmed, screened, techno-scientific Gulf War. Created in the age of the cool war, Marduk is nostalgic for war as a hot experience.

Listening to Panzer Division Marduk can be compared to watching a war movie. To paraphrase Bataille, these films "... are usually about the misfortunes of the hero and the violence which besieges him. Without his difficulties and his fears there would be nothing in his life to hold and excite the [moviegoer] and make him identify with the hero as he peruses his adventures. The gratuitous nature of the [movies] and the fact that the [moviegoer] is anyway safe from danger prevents him from seeing this very clearly, but we live vicariously in a way that our lack of energy forbids us in real life. Without too much personal discomfort we experience the feeling of losing or being in danger that somebody else's adventures supply." Like war movies, Panzer Division Marduk allows the listener to transgress his scruples and vicariously experience the warfare of the past. But it is not a realistic experience: on the contrary, Panzer Division Marduk aims for an artificial intensification of that experience through the Baroque repetition of childish clichés of warfare. Panzer Division Marduk promotes an aesthetic of the unbalanced and irregular, of the ostentatious and exaggerated, of the affected and theatrical.

This vicarious experience of intensified warfare resists simplistic reduction to the political in the limited sense of the word: Marduk band members have publicly said that Marduk has no political goal in their lyrics, and that the band has nothing to do with Nazi ideology. Marduk's warfare is, to quote Susan Sontag's essay on Jack Smith's film Flaming Creatures, "strictly a treat for the senses".

As his friend Theodor Adorno noted, Walter Benjamin was "drawn to the petrified, frozen or obsolete elements of civilization . . . Small glass balls containing a landscape upon which snow fell when shook were among his favorite things." Panzer Division Marduk is like a snow globe of war: the album is a trinket that allows us to contemplate a miniature version of industrialized archaic warfare. The nostalgic, almost kitsch relation of the album to contemporary information warfare gives it a souvenir-like quality. Sentimental in its bloodlust, the warfare Panzer Division Marduk presents is outdated, obsolete; it is a petrified, frozen exhibit, already covered with a ‘grey coating of dust’ at the time it came out. It is this ‘grey coating of dust’ which distances the album from pristine fascist aestheticizations of violence; the music's harshness on the other hand prevents assimilation to an frivolous, 'lite' Camp aesthetic.

Panzer Division Marduk is a bauble with para-oneiric powers, like the mysterious-looking World War I helmet André Breton found in 1934 in the flea markets of Paris. The album is both clichéd and profound, trivial, but also strangely marvelous.

Shake up Panzer Division Marduk's snow globe, and watch fire rain down from Heaven.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Shock Xpress - Clive Barker

From an interview with Clive Barker by Stephen Jones in the first Shock Xpress book:

"There are areas of the theological and metaphysical underpinning of the fantastique which manifest themselves in very different ways. Yet I very strongly believe that the underlying necessity to address metaphysics in fictional form is the thing that brings people to this area as opposed to other areas of fiction."

Clive Barker's remarks echo Georges Bataille, who wrote in L'Erotisme: "Following upon religion, literature is in fact religion's heir. A sacrifice is a novel, illustrated in a bloody fashion."

Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987)

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Tony Randel, 1988)

Nightbreed (Clive Barker, 1990)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Moss - Sub Templum

'Masonic Doom': this intriguing concept is the title of a recent interview with UK Doom Metal band Moss, published on the Musique Machine website.

In the interview, the band's frontman Olly Pearson explains the concept behind Moss' recent album Sub Templum: "'Lux E Tenebris' [sic] is the theme of the album...light from darkness. Which is a Masonic quote, but something, like the cover, we have re-adapted to ourselves and our concepts. The idea that the darkness is our light, our source of power. The cover to us represents what is the "Sub Templum", an arcane underground church where this worship and ritualisation of darkness would take place."

I find it intriguing that a Doom Metal band would use Masonic symbolism, which is characterized by the use of architectural metaphors. Masons call God 'the Great Architect of the Universe'. King Solomon's Temple, a monument of majesty and authority, for the Masons is an architectural construction which is a descriptive model of the metaphysical universe and the human body, as well as a prescriptive model for the initiate's psyche. It is in the form of the Temple that supernatural authority speaks to initiates, and imposes on them obedience to Freemasonry's rules and designs, precepts and commands. Men are seen as rough, unformed stones which have to smoothed, polished and squared, until it is fit for its appropriate place in the metaphysical building. In Freemasonry, the human spirit must be constrained within an official, homogenizing ideal.

Masonic metaphysics call to mind Georges Bataille's critique of architecture: "Architecture is the expression of the true nature of societies, as physiognomy is the expression of the nature of individuals. However, this comparison is applicable, above all, to the physiognomy of officials (prelates, magistrates, admirals). In fact, only society's ideal nature – that of authoritative command and prohibition – expresses itself in actual architectural constructions. Thus great monuments rise up like dams, opposing a logic of majesty and authority to all unquiet elements; it is in the form of cathedrals and palaces that Church and State speak to and impose silence upon the crowds. Indeed, monuments obviously inspire good social behaviour and often even genuine fear. (...) For that matter, whenever we find architectural construction elsewhere than in monuments, whether it be in physiognomy, dress, music or painting, we can infer a prevailing taste for human or divine authority. The large-scale compositions of certain painters express the will to constrain the spirit within an official ideal."

If we accept that Metal can be regarded as an "unquiet element", the use of Masonic architectural symbols in Metal is surprising, to say the least.

Interestingly, where Freemasonry accentuates the metaphysical importance of correct scales and proportions, the Lovecraftian inspiration of Moss' debut album Cthonic Rites points in another direction. After all, the buildings that the Providence recluse described are notable for their disproportionality: "...instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on the broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces - surfaces to great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He had said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathesomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours." (From The Call of Cthulhu).

The development from Lovecraft's delirious, disproportionate, destructured buildings to Freemasonry's well-proportioned metaphysical monuments, is paralleled by Moss' evolution from improvisation to discipline, control and self-abnegation:

"m[m]How did the writing & recording of Sub Templum vary from the writing & recording of your first album Cthonic Rites? Olly Cthonic Rites was kind of improvised. We had the riffs and arrangements and everything, but no idea how long any of it should last. There's a whole punk vibe to that album of just going for it, but Sub Templum we completely planned and rehearsed to every single detail. It was stressful making the album, if there's a fuck up the whole track could fall apart and you’d have to start over again. not really desirable when you're working with 35 minute tracks! We suffered for Sub Templum, and I think it's turned out a lot better than we could've imagined. Feels much more like a proper album."

Nevertheless, the Metal presented by Moss on Sub Templum is far from regimented, strait-jacketed, and constrained.

Unlike the authoritarian monuments Bataille loathed, the "Sub Templum" does not rise up: it is described by Pearson as " arcane underground church...". Sub Templum is not at the hierarchical summit, it is low, it is in deep within the earth with its burrowing insects and rotting corpses.

Pearson: "The track 'Subterranean' for instance deals with someone who crawls down into the Sub Templum to perform this worship and to speak rites that will grant a state of becoming undead." If one interprets undeath as a destabilization of the symbolic boundaries between life and death, this prayer for undeath points to the desire for such a destabilization. Pearson's "idea that the darkness is our light" points to a similar decategorization. Anthropologist Mary Douglas points out that such disruptions of categoric boundaries produce symbolic filthiness. In fact, the amalgam of Doom Metal and Crust Punk and Drone which Moss produce is also known as Sludge Metal, and sludge is viscous, dirty, formless - the very antithesis of monumental morphology. Moss' destructuration of symbolic boundaries is at odds with Freemasonry's architectural stasis and immobile harmony.

For Bataille, taboos were only instituted in order to violate them. Perhaps Moss only erected a monumental Masonic Temple in order to make it crumble, to collapse it into the filth of downtuned crush and dense distortion, into the dirt of layers of harsh, black rumble, shrieking feedback and fuzz. I cannot be sure: the character of Moss' Sub Templum is patently undecidable. Anyway, the tension between monumental structure and thick low end droning destructuration is a very creative one: Sub Templum is a mesmerizing album. Recommended!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Shock Xpress - David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch

From an interview by Damon Wise with David Cronenberg on his 1991 film "Naked Lunch" in the first Shock Xpress book:

"DC: Well, [insects] are fascinating. Interestingly enough, the two writers that always, I felt, were my major influences were Nabokov and Burroughs, and insects play a major part in both their writings. No, I hadn't thought of that connection before, but it's true. But I was always, as a child, sort of an amateur entomologist and enthusiast.
It's just such a potent life force on this planet - and it is a life form - and yet it seems so alien to us. And also, I think, I'm fascinated by it because of the element of transformation that is, really, a major part of almost any insect's life. They don't start small and grow bigger. Some of them do. Incomplete metamorphosis - you know, they start, like, small crickets and then they get to be bigger crickets. But there are other insects that really transform from one kind of life to another - the caterpillar to butterfly, I suppose, is the common example.
And that kind of metamorphosis is really quite fascinating to me and it seems to have a great potency. And the personality of an insect does not seem to be an individual thing, it seems to be a sort of species thing. (...)
Anyway, it all seems to have resonances and seems to illuminate human life, somehow. That's part of my fascination. I mean, in the same way that some people are totally obsessed with the possibility of life on other planets, in outer space and so on. We have life forms more alien than you can ever imagine, right here on Earth, it's just that some people tend not to notice them."

Naked Lunch
(David Cronenberg, 1991)

Post scriptum

Please allow me to draw your attention to Tim Lucas' soon-to-be-published book on David Cronenberg's Videodrome.