Sunday, August 9, 2009

"She's coming down fast"

So it's the 40th anniversary of the Tate- LaBianca slayings, Lynette Fromme is about to be paroled and Bobby Beausoleil’s incredible soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising has finally been given a worthy reissue.

I don’t think Charles Manson is ‘cool’, but nor do I have a particularly adverse reaction to him either. I think the “Charlie is awesome” brigade (maybe they’re slightly less visible than they once were though?) and the “Manson is the most evil serial killer ever” people in the other corner basically display the same inability to process the information available and both sets turn to reactionary knee jerk responses.

Manson related iconography can be found to some degree in most Blockade releases, several of our songs and a number of our shirt images (and Susan Atkins in the Survivalist banner at the top of this page). I’ve brought up Manson in a two band interviews in the last few years and rather than repeat myself I’ll just republish my answers again:

What's this obsession you have with Ulrike Meinhof? You have herpicture on your webspace and one of your songs' is named after herbrain. How do you feel about RAF and militant struggle in general?

The song "Ulrike Meinhof's Brain" is about how after her death in 1976 herbrain went missing after her body was unofficially exhumed. In 2002Magdeburg University admitted they had been studying her brain to see if theremoval of a tumour in childhood had caused abnormal brain development andleft to the development of her terrorist activities.

One of the more interesting things about the RAF is when you compare theGerman government's treatment of Nazi war criminal's post WWII with thetreatment of RAF members.

Most Nazis tried in Germany by German courts weregranted amnesty during the 1950s whereas surviving RAF members received muchlonger sentences and many of them are still behind bars to this day. Now, I wouldn't be ascrass as to suggest that the German government is favourable to the Naziparty but it is telling that crimes committed in the name of the State(though a State since overturned) are dealt with less harshly than crimescommitted against the State.

Militant struggles in general are of broad interest to me, just as militantposturing in general is of broad interest to me. My interest is in the pointwhen militancy leaves the realm of ideas and manifests into action, whether I can agree on a moral level or not. Some examples would be SozialistischesPatientenkollektiv, Shining Path, Khmer Rouge, various Volkish groups,Black September, The Angry Brigade, Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph and many many more.

I guess a classic demonstration of my interest would be The Manson Family; from a heavily institutionalised ex-convict picking up the dregs of thehippy movement (already long in decline when Manson arrived on the scene) tobutchering families and hiding out in Death Valley trying to find a hole inthe Earth that would lead them to an underground kingdom.

My interest is not in death and murder per se but in the process that people go through to makethat decision that terror and violence are the only options for them to engage in.

I'd also like to make it clear that I only have a passing prurient interest in most serial killers. It's the ideological aspect of violence that I’minterested in, not random slaughter.

-It’s More Than Music, 2007

Should radical groupations such as "the family", "aum shinrikyo", and others who strive for their goal even though they are swimming against the current be considered heroes of our time? I'm not emphasizing the shock effect of their actions, but the driving force and the extreme willpower. Defying the modern society in a very explicit way is something that is worthy of respect in my book.

These people aren’t heroes. Bombing a subway with nerve gas, I’m sorry but I’m just not really into that. It stems back to my yes/ no on the death penalty; who the hell has the right to decide that complete strangers need to be put to death for a cause?

Personally I’m not into idolising transgressive actions simply because they’re transgressive. If you get into that game you might as well put up shrines to all the paedophiles, shit eaters and dog fuckers that are out there because they’re also following their desires and goals to the extreme.

If someone wants to nail their dick to a plank of wood because they think they’re bringing back some ancient shamanistic practice that mankind lost a long time ago, go for it, just don’t expect me to care. I hate self proclaimed transgressive cultural terrorist idiots.

So that’s where I stand on supporting people who undertake these activities because of their inner force.

However, this is not simply an open and shut thought in my mind. Sure, I don’t consider these people heroes by any stretch of the imagination but they do fulfil a massively valuable function over and above merely being viewed as society’s pariahs.

I’m an unapologetic misanthropist; people generally make my skin crawl. In groups they’re stupid and obnoxious and many people deserve all the misery they get. Conversely however I’m still an idealist; I want to live in a better world, mostly for me, but sure, might as well make everyone else happy whilst you’re at it. I’m also not really into blatant injustices and people fucking other people over. I shouldn’t care, but for some reason I do. My politics can be boiled down to the radical notion (sarcasm fully intended) that people should basically leave each other the hell alone.

So, when you combine idealism, ideology and violence my interest is piqued. And it’s piqued because it’s symbolism I can put into my daily life. I’m not some retarded Manson worshipping fan boy, but give me an image of Leslie Van Houten or Lynette Fromme and I’ll turn them into my own personal avatars of revenge, my own guardian angels of fucking shit up.

We all need to pray to things and for things, whether it’s to Discharge, Jesus or whatever. Fuck, give me Abraxas; I’ll pray to Him when I need to. I’ll make Ulrike Meinhof my Saint of Justice. I’ll make Jim Jones a facet of my alter ego when I feel utter alienation from everyone around me: “If we can't live in peace then let’s die in peace. We are not committing suicide-it’s a revolutionary act”.

Lets give ourselves new rallying crys, new credos, new avatars because the old standards are almost completely irrelevant. “Throw out Christ, bring back Thor” as Boyd Rice said.

Fetishising (in the truest meaning of the word) death and pain and in my case people like Baader Meinhof, Aum Shinrikyo and the Symbioses Liberation Army is exactly the same as other people reading romantic novels, listening to love songs and buying kitten calendars. A million tired songs about death and violence has the same root as a million tired songs about love. The world is often a cold and unforgiving place; we make our peace with loneliness through idealised romance. We make our peace with death and our acceptance of the complete and utter entropy of the human race through idealised gore and violence. Barbara Cartland and Peter Sotos are the exact same things. Barry White and XXX Maniak are the exact same things.

On a different note, the violence of The Manson Family and of Baader Meinhof and their ilk is committed in the way it’s committed because of the belief that spectacular violence will bring about real change. This is a totally modern concept, one of the few we really have in this world. Guy DeBord was really on to something. The Spectacle is everything. Even in destroying The Spectacle we participate in defining The Spectacle.

And finally, let’s not forget that other than Charles Manson, most of The Family were actually children. Fucked up street kids on the whole and you know, if you’re going to be a weird drop out that hates your life you may as well kill movie starlets and low rent Hollywood drug dealers, point loaded guns at U.S. presidents and make some kind of a statement bar “spare some change” even if it is slightly garbled.

- Freak Power, interview conducted 2007, currently unpublished

Originally I had the idea to release a ten song Blockade 12” on the anniversary of the Tate, Frykowski, Folger etc killings. Each song would reference an aspect of the events and each song would also in turn reframe those situations into potentially new meanings and metaphors.

Obviously this didn’t happen. The ongoing destruction of my sanity caused by the Bastard Noise/ Blockade split (perhaps more on that at some future point) is probably largely to blame.

And big deal anyway, I don’t know that we need to do a whole record about it anyway. Pig Life on Primitive was essentially a clichéd ‘fuck society’ punk song written into a hex using the Manson Family and the SLA as servitors.

And besides, Death in June beat us to it by ten years with All Pigs Must Die.

As for Manson himself, well, he’s never getting out of jail and it’s probably for the best. We’re talking about a man who’s spent around 10% of his entire life outside the confines of institutions.

Watching Manson talk is mildly interesting to me. For the last seventeen years I’ve earned a living working with the severely mentally ill and I got my start working with people who were severely institutionalised. Manson pretty much hits most of the negative points you’d expect to see; flight of ideas, grandiose ideation, manipulative behavior, extreme narcissism, his audience defining his role and occasional flashes of humility and modesty. Whatever, I can walk out of my apartment and find these same character traits in any number of rummies at the dive bar at the top of the street or the helpless bastards shouting at pigeons at the bus stop.

The reason people still pay attention to Manson is because despite his delivery his content is often bang on and he’s clearly not stupid. It’ll give you a headache if you try and keep up with him but you’ll find some interesting stuff if you listen for a minute and can make the connections.

Of course it depends on your own perceptions of the world and if anything he quickly says before moving on to the next point hits your own reality models.

Anyway, if you’ve only ever read Ed Sanders hysterically bad book (oo-ee-oo) or Vincent Bugliosi’s cash grab of a book there’s a lot more to it (and sometimes a lot less) than either of those two tomes convey.

All The Way Alive.


ahura fucking mazda said...

nice post...i've been intrigued by e.b's 'ideology' since i first heard you (unable to look at lyrics because, well, i stole your music...sorry about that) and now i've had some of my suspicions confirmed

you're a bunch of dangerously subversive deviants who MUST BE STOPPED

but before that happens could you please play somewhere in the u.k?

Christian said...

Indeed, an interesting read. Both this train; as well as the track of posts up to this point.

So, there is both a lot more & a lot less huh? I've read Bugliosi’s book ... uhhh, it was ... the only thing I ever read or really checked out on any level ... so ... it was what it was. What I never really got was how? How it happened? As you say from idea to action.

Sure Charlie was a guru or whatever ... pied piping disaffected acid head youth. Harldy a one in a million thing in the late 60's ... disaffected youth were tripping over fucked up gurus on every corner, in every pad ... saying fuck the man blah, blah, blah ... but usually accomplishing nothin' more than gettin' outta their heads & passin 'round crabs.

What made this one different? Bugliosi talks of Manson's evil brilliance an' power and alludes to indoctrination 'life in Death Valley' vibe thing ... aside from being vauge; it just ends up sounding goofy ... even by "Wow that was deep man ..." acid head standards. With the tale spun in this book it seems almost laughable anyone was lost enough, high enough, or stopped balling long enough to buy his shit.

So, whether for a lot more (or a lot less) where should I be looking? Any recomendations or suggestions ...

Survivalist said...

in my current working life i'm dealing with a guy who lives on a beach and has a lot of Manson like qualities in the way he speaks. He's clearly crazy and can't give a straight answer to anything (doubtless "there are no straight answers man") but there are some words of genuine wisdom buried under the madness, bullshit and fixation on training bees to serve humans.

I guess what i'm driving at is that Manson was not unusual per se with his crazy talk having some elements of a primordial truth to them (if i can go all Traditionalist for a minute)

However my crazy guy on the beach isn't going to amass a small army of cute teenage girls anytime soon. More's the shame really.

If you spend enough time with crazy people you'll notice that some of them aren't really that crazy when you view them from different angles and i think a lot of people who think Manson is somehow special haven't really heard much crazy talk in their lives and think he's somehow unique.

Yes, the circumstances that allowed events to build were unusual, but the guy himself is no different from any other intelligent yet hopelessly institutionalised drug burn out.

Book wise i'm partial to The Garbage People by John Gilmore, it was re-titled Manson a few years ago. You can probably pick it up on e bay fo cheap if it's no longer in print.

The DVD Charles Manson Superstar is worth several watches, though you'll have to filter out Nikolas Schreck's hideous bullshit (which he was famous for at the time, thankfully his recent books have been relatively readable).

And John Aes Nihil's Manson Family MOvies is interesting, but ONLY if you watch the DVD version with the commentary track on.

Christian said...

Hey man, thanks for the suggestion and direction. I'll have to dig into that stuff.

The Garbage People? Are you kidding me? Damn. Good read or not, Manson oriented or no, that title is utterly fantastic. Changed to 'Manson'? Wow, that's generic huh?

Yeah, I stumbled 'cross Aes Nihil's cornucopia of the fucked up a few years back ... never really checked much out beyond his webpage ... but just the volume of stuff Manson and way beyond is nuts ... it's been like where the hell to start? Outside of Manson oriented have you dug into anything else from Aes Nihil's libraries? Any pointers?

Yeah, I get what your saying 'bout crazy being kinda relative and Manson not really being all that 'different' or 'special' from lots of other 'crazies', so to speak.

Just my point, the phenom of a guru attracting moths to the flame is nothing new ... like you said originally how then the jump ... idea to action?

Not just with Manson (just the most salaciosly interesting) Heavens' Gate, Jonestown, on and on ... the little I've delved into "cults" I've never understood the motivation pushing that jump, ya know?

I mean its' obviously not all on the guru ... the devoted, time, place, etc. are all equally important ingredients I suppose.

But in anything I've read, seen, or investigated those motivators from all sides just come off as ... well, crazy. I guess a want to find something with an empathy? Perhaps that isn't the right word; but something where "crazy" or the road to "crazy" seems a plausible and accessable reaction.

Hmmm?? Mabey an understanding only privy to cultists?

Anyhow, thanks again ... by the way, where did you come across those 'Family Dolls' ... very creppy ...

Survivalist said...

the dolls were made by my girlfriend, i've been promised a Bugliosi and a Sharon Tate doll at some point in the future too.

Regarding Aes Nihil, i think the internet era has kind of devalued a lot of that information, but it was priceless in days before.

The Process stuff is great, but now that Feral House has a book out about them you'd probably be best reading that first. Some of the Archangel Uriel stuff is mind bogglingly weird too. And on a personal note i'm interested in some of the Israel Regardie OTO recordings, but have yet to look into them.

Regarding cults it was the great G K Chesterton who famously said "When people cease to believe in God, they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything."

Taking it out of a religious context which many will disagree with it still contains an enduring truth; when people reject certain mass values they'll often pick up on any old crap that will fill the space left by that rejection if they haven't thought it through properly.

It's (on an entriely simplistic level) how all religious and political groups; from Krsna's to punks to communists work. They identify you as a person who has rejected certain popular truths and tell you they agree and that whatever they have to offer is the answer.

If you haven't already i'd highly recommend Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare at Goats (apparently they've based a film on it which comes out in november). The section that mentions the Heaven's Gate cult and how a deliberate piece of misinformation came to cause a mass suicide is, if true, a perfect proof of Chesterton's quote.

His book Them is also well worth a read.

Jean said...

Actually, thats Leslie Van Houten, not Susan Atkins on your banner.

Survivalist said...

Yeah, you're right, it's Van Houten/ Sankston. My mistake, It's Susan Atkins hair in the bottom left of the banner.