Turning a blind ear (NSNSBM)
A comment discussion from an older post is worth posting in full here, as it's a gesture toward explaining a bit about - and raising perhaps more fully the deep problems of - what it means to listen to and really love a cultural mode (black metal, i.e. BM) with a frequently fascistic politics, ranging from implicit to very, very explicit. Any thoughts on any this are seriously welcome, as any explanation I might give doesn't take away my persistent uneasiness. I know some of you also have my same combination of far left politics with a cultural taste that includes some seriously fascistic (with the caveat that we again need a better conception of the gap between fascist aesthetics per se and culture that espouses fascist politics) culture, some misconstrued as such (I think here of certain attacks on Brutalism), some rightfully designated as so.
The anonymous commenter asked:
This is indeed a great album [the album in question is Peste Noire's Ballade Cuntre lo Anemi Francor, about which I've written a bit - S a/o B], and I am also having a difficult time wrapping my head around it. It is especially perplexing to be faced with such a masterpiece when one considers the imbecile (I commented on the interview with Famine elsewhere) who created it. I'm having a harder time enjoying the likes of Akista, Peste Noire, Malveillance, Kult Ofenzivy, Drudkh etc. as of late in light of the increasingly absurd blending of racialism and nationalism with what at first glance seemed to be a clumsy albeit genuine reaction to neoliberal integration. I can imagine someone like Zizek having something Lacanian to say which would help me rationalize listening to Dolentia and Goatmoon while reading Deleuze and Guattari, although I can't help but wonder if there may never be a method for "cheating" my way out of this one. Anyway, I'm very interested in more of your thoughts on the matter.
My very short answer is four-fold, aside from saying that the Goatmoon/Deleuze combo sounds awful for more than a few reasons. (What I say below also leaves out my real interest in the politics of misanthropy itself, and the ways in which certain misanthropic aesthetics have tended to marshal the signifiers of the 20th century's nastiest modes and moments.)
First, the vast majority of the culture we consume is ideologically contemptible, although rarely does it bare its colors so visibly as black metal. To go the Zizek route you invoked, isn't this analogous to that much cited Brecht line ("what is breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank")? The idiotic posturing - and genuinely disturbing politics - of some BM is a quiet fart against the not-so-hidden din of the dangerous ideological constructions of our era and the way in which they prop up systemic and structural violence against massive portions of the global population. Yet we rarely tend to agonize if we listen to a bit of pop fluff, now and then, however ironically. This isn't to excuse the stated politics of BM whatsoever, simply to question the investment of our anxiety. (And I write this as someone who has a great deal of love for some pop music genres, particularly certain hip hop and old Memphis soul, and who has little interest in attacking pop for being pop. That said, almost none of it can "move" me like BM can.)
Two, the gap between the sonic qualities of black metal and its avowed politics. Even if you don't go as far as I do (of seeing within the music itself a anarchistic, dialectically self-consuming relationship between inherited forms of the past and the networks of the present), the fact remains that barring a good deal of time spent with the lyrics sheet and interviews, you'd be hard pressed to tell apart NSBM (National Socialist black metal) from what we might call NSNSBM (not so National Socialist black metal). However, this perhaps only attenuates the sense of listening to something that bristles with the wrong kind of hate. And hence, perhaps, is all the worse, letting us turn a blind ear to what we suspect, correctly, is going on just below the buzzing surface.
Third and this I delay for a far longer post, much of black metal that is secessionist, telluric, and insistent on the autonomy of local zones (things behind which many of us could get, at least in a non right wing militia or intelligent design teaching school district form) gets lumped in with the real NSBM, or at least the muddled and murky pond of ethnic/racial nationalisms on which a large amount of BM depends for its lyrical content. There is a major difference between a simple hailing - or heiling - of your proud white frosty nation and attempting to preserve local cultural traditions and historical figures of anti-imperial rebellion. (This is not to assume that there is a very messy hinterland between these two tendencies.)
Fourth, it is because that gesture - the reaction toward neoliberal integration - is abortive/aborted that it needs to be brought forth. A deep listening, one that goes past the irresponsible and ultimately banal national-racism, and a concern for the unrealized kernel that happens against the intentions of its creators is at stake. A perhaps translatable model, an apparatus of reading and willful reuse/misuse (the echoes of my salvagepunk thinking intended here).
Of course, in separating the wheat from the chaff, you need to know when all you have is a bundle of shit to be cast away and burned. Some things are, and should be, beyond recuperation.