The Exegesis: Hardcore

 Showing off boot-loosened teeth at
the Bad Brains 1982 Boston debut

These are dangerous times for the unaffiliated, for the freelancers. For those who aren't willing to turn off their minds and join the parades of the Left or the the Right, the Nü Atheists or the EvangeliCIAls.

The problem is especially acute this election year, since both Obama and Romney are papering over their essential sameness on truly important issues like the economy, the jobs crisis, and the ongoing imperial project by ratcheting up the Culture War, focusing on gay marriage, contraception and the like.

If anyone is wondering why the skeptics and the atheists are out in force this year, this is exactly why.
The Obama team doesn't dare align themselves with the SkepAth neckbeards openly (even Neil De Grasse Tyson is keeping the NüAths at arm's length), not only because they don't want to alienate black and Latino voters (who tend to take their religion very seriously) but also because of the sizable- and sickening- dark underbelly of the movement (Atheist hotspot Reddit was recently exposed as a clearinghouse for kiddie porn and CFI/CSICOP has had militant pedophilia advocates like Vern Bullough in its upper echelon).

But it can count on billionaire allies like cosmetics heir Todd Stiefel (who made a king's ransom when he sold his family business to GlaxoSmithKline) to bankroll the atheist movement with the goal of harnessing the movement the way the Republicans have historically used the Religious Right.

The problem is that despite the headlines being tossed around- where agnostics, New Agers, Buddhists and Home Church Christians are magically transformed into atheists, the number of committed atheists remains extremely small. This fact was driven home when Stiefel's Reason Rally couldn't put more than an smallish megachurch's worth of atheists on the Mall for the big "coming out" party.

But the Nü Atheists have very powerful allies; in the media, in the Democratic Party, in academia, and a not-insignificant number of celebrities. Normally, I'd think this was all great- I've spent a lot of time railing against the Religious Right on this blog and it's long past time there was a counterweight to their power. 

But I'm not sure taking on the Religious Right is on their agenda. Part of it because they realize the SkepAths don't have the numbers and that the Right is almost completely immune to their lines of attack. And now I see the Nü Atheists gathering outside my gate.

Make no mistake, there's a definite alternate strategy being rolled out. The SkepAths are going after the moderates, after the agnostics, after the spiritual-but-not-religious. They see this as their mission field. They think they can systematically shame, bully and intimidate these people into walking away from their beliefs and join the SkepAth parade.

In many ways, this is a sound strategy since America has always worked to prevent any kind of infrastructure to emerge which would challenge the Religious Right and spiritual-but-not-religious types usually have no support system to defend them against such a concerted and well-coordinated campaign of intimidation.

So the SkepAths are taking on the role of hyenas, metaphorically. For all the huffing and puffing, they dare not engage the Religious Right directly, which has the manpower and the resources to make SkepAth lives miserable. And even though the mythology has it that 9/11 was the impetus behind the atheist revival (atheist movements date back millennia), the SkepAths are even more terrified of Radical Islam, which wouldn't hesitate to defy all convention to strike back at them (see Van Gogh, Theo).

So, too weak and cowardly to take on the leaders of the pack, the SkepAth jackals instead resort to picking off the stragglers in the moderate-to-liberal religious sphere.

This is why you're seeing a lot of weird and hyperbolic articles on religion in the press, pseudoscientific reports arguing that "critical thinking destroys religious belief" and that religious people don't perform acts of charity out of compassion. These are all designed to create sensationalistic headlines- the actual data in the body copy always fails to back up the shocking ledes. They're meant to shame and intimidate your average moderate churchgoer into believing she's missing the boat.

It's also why you're seeing a new wave of UFO debunking and hoaxing (the lion's share of UFO hoaxes are perpetrated by skeptics), and a film version of Pilkington's establishment-hyped Mirage Men, a book whose basic thesis was totally debunked by Jacques Valle two decades ago. It's also why you're seeing attacks on purported alien abductees in the media, via the media pimpings of the unscientific ravings of a lucid dreaming cult out of LA and the recent ridicule campaign spearheaded by the grotesquely distorted portraits taken of abductees by photographer Steven Hirsch, even though the abduction issue has been marginal at best in the UFO underground for more than a decade.

So why are we hearing about it now? Again, this is the Culture War agenda in action.


Elite Democrats like Bill Maher think all alien abductees are backwoods bumpkins named Cletus or Bubba, as they love to remind you with their tired, unfunny jokes whenever the subject is raised. And anyone named Cletus or Bubba is sure to be a GOP voter and so are fair game for dehumanization, as Hirsch's photos prove (all of which are of Middle American whites, the majority are middle aged). By contrast, Hirsch also has an exhibit of homes of sex offenders, all of which are placid, sunlit and idealized suburban dwellings.

The obvious takeaway is that these poor, tormented souls are folks just like you while these alien abductees are the real freaks and monsters.

At the same time I sense this strange wavering among some in the alt. research community, as the tidal forces are pulling people towards the Left and the Right.
Born-again skeptic conversions are nothing new, especially among those mercenary types who realize they can't make money off their books and such in the Internet Age. But the greater forces at work- the macro-cultural and macro-political forces that are Balkanizing America as we speak don't stop at the door of the alt.research cathedral, especially since there's no such thing.

It's always been the great downfall of esotericism that it has failed to plant its feet in the ground. It's allowed everyone to pursue their own interests under its umbrella but at what cost? At what point do researchers cut loose from their peers merely to distinguish themselves, even if means betraying people they spent their lives breaking bread with?

The ancient Gnostic cults were crushed by their refusal to deal with reality, to follow the lead of the Buddhist sects they took inspiration from and create an infrastructure and support system with which to sustain themselves. In the east, groups like Mandeans and the Druze would learn from their mistakes.  The Cathars and the Bogomils suffered greatly for defying Rome's monopoly, but the Mormons-- Gnostic to the core-- would find unparalleled success in the New World.

Esotericism has always had to contend with enemies on the Right- the Fundamentalists and the Vatican have traditionally used conspiracy theorists to defame and impugn its competition. Today an entire industry of shills is eagerly doing the dirty work of the religious establishment-- ultra-right wing Christians like Alex Jones, Vigilant Citizen, Mark Dice and so on-- and the Skeptics and Nü Atheists have now joined the fight from the left, on behalf of the Democratic Party establishment.

It reminds me a lot of another esoteric movement, albeit in a slightly different sphere.


Getting strongarmed in the pit,
SS Decontrol at Gallery East 1981

The smart money had it that Punk Rock was dead in 1980. The smart money had it that Punk was just another 70s fad. The arena rockers and superstars that it somewhat foolishly threatened to displace were still well-entrenched, and the Baby Boomers who had the music industry by the balls had no interest in Punk.

Its answer was a watered-down replacement it dubbed "New Wave," a toothless, unthreatening movement built around novelty acts like Devo and The B-52s. The Sex Pistols had split after a disastrous US tour and The Ramones were working with Phil Spector, of all people. The "angry young men" like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson were told in no uncertain terms that they'd only get played if they cut out the anger shit, and soon enough they were making records indistinguishable from the soft rock they were originally supposed to replace.

Even The Clash were made to toe the line. After releasing a string of classic punk albums and singles, they learned that American radio programmers weren't even breaking the shrinkwrap on their records. Some of the more enthusiastic critics at Creem and Trouser Press loved them, and they even scored a Time magazine feature, but zero airplay. And without airplay in the late 70s there was no way of getting heard.

Faced with overwhelming pressure from their record company and disinterest from the industry as a whole, they blinked. The result was London Calling, a classic Rolling Stones album in all but name. The critics loved it, radio would play it, but for young punk rockers like myself reactions ranged from disappointment to confusion to betrayal. "The Clash sold out," became a mantra in punk circles.

I saw The Clash on that tour and had a genuine out-of-body experience, which went a long way to allay my fears and doubts. The Clash were still very much The Clash on stage, more so than ever in fact. But it bothered me-- and a lot of other fans I knew-- that I couldn't go home and hear those songs the way they were played onstage (until I began my lifelong obsession with Clash bootlegs, that is).

And for punk rock Clash fans, it didn't get any easier; their records became increasingly un-Clash-like, heavily produced studio concoctions designed to get past the gatekeepers at US radio stations.  I knew a lot of people who took it all very personally. I mean, this is Boston we're talking about.

Unfortunately, other bands followed The Clash's lead. Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones-- obvious heirs for The Clash's crown-- also watered down their sound soonafter. The Buzzcocks broke up. The Ramones seemed to drift into irrelevancy and The Plasmatics went metal. For my generation, it seemed that punk had evaporated as soon as it came to our attention. We all felt cheated.

Aside from the New Wave material which outside of Devo and The B-52s was regarded with deep suspicion by my set, the sounds we were hearing coming out of Boston, New York and London were not encouraging. No Wave, art-funk, synthpop and the rest might be all fine in theory but outside of a few key singles you're talking a tidal wave of terrible music.

Postpunk still hadn't filtered down, though I was hearing very promising signs on the Emerson College radio station in the summer of 1980- Bauhaus, Siouxsie, U2, Killing Joke, Psychedelic Furs. But again, with Punk having vanished, there was never any guarantee any of these bands would ever gain any traction.

At the same time, there was a lot of discouraging portents in the culture at large. Ronald Reagan was riding a conservative political and religious renaissance that would take him into the White House. Even though I lived less than 20 minutes from downtown Boston, my school was in the grip of a Southern Rock boom, and Confederate flags were everywhere. The general mood was extremely hostile to anything remotely Punk and I was the only kid in my grade who wore Punk t-shirts to school. Needless to say I learned to spend a lot of time alone. I spent a lot of time in the weight room too, which helped keep punk-bashers at bay.

The New Wave/Art scene in Boston that had emerged in the wake of Punk was in serious danger of collapsing-- not because of any lack of enthusiasm in the audience but because nightspots like Kenmore Square and Queensbury had been targets for roving gangs of Southie boys, who took great pleasure in ganging up on poor New Wavers as they left the clubs. The fact that the scene was heavily gay was a red flag for the wolfpacks. The violence became a major topic of concern in local magazines like Subway News and Boston Rock and the cops did absolutely nothing to stop it. By 1982, the entire scene had imploded.




The conservative backlash, the collapse of first wave punk and the atmosphere of violence and harassment were the tinderbox- the match was Black Flag, the LA hardcore band who set Boston aflame in the summer of 1981. Black Flag were a four-piece at the time, led by gravel-throater screamer Dez Cadena, who had recently replaced Ron Reyes.

Black Flag were absolutist, uncompromising, fundamentally anti-commercial. Their music was tuneless, coarse, dissonant and totally exhilarating. Pound for pound The Plasmatics were better and were doing hardcore first, but they were too cartoonish and accessible. Unserious. Not truly hardcore.

Having been double-promoted in elementary school I demanded that I be kept back in 9th grade, since I didn't want to graduate when I was 16. And it was the best decision of my life. It put me on the right side of a subgenerational divide and in the midst of a large group of kids who loved comics and punk rock as much as I did.

And it was with them that I entered the neo-Mithraic mysteries of Hardcore. It was a transformative experience for me, and it changed the way I saw myself and my relationship to the world. It informs everything I write on this blog.

Brothers in arms- singing along with Minor Threat, 1982

Hardcore rewrote the rule book. It changed the expectations. It loosened the deathgrip of the music industry, if only for a few years, and let more idiosyncratic and individualistic voices through. Mind you, these were the ones who came of age during Hardcore and then broke its rules; bands like Jane's Addiction, Beastie Boys,  the Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Faith No More and so on. But it was hardcore that gave them the strength and courage to rewrite rules people once thought were set in stone.

Hardcore was an enema, it was a flushing away of the detritus that killed first wave punk. Most of the essential hardcore records were made between 1980 and 1982 and were usually the various bands' first releases but it was a movement that needed to happen. It created an infrastructure for punk bands to exist and write their own rules. It created a network of labels, venues, organizations and individuals that informed everything that came after.

And in Boston, it sure as hell kept the wolfpacks at bay.

Yes, it was reductionist. Yes, it was violent and simplistic.  Yes, it created a whole new set of rules that were often worse than the ones they replaced. But that was only for the people who stayed trapped in what was a corrective. The ones who kept taking the antibiotics after the infection was gone. And the problem today is that its lessons-- the worthy ones-- have been forgotten.



Even The Clash acknowledged its power and their influence on it, both positive and negative. When The Clash were set to finally break America in 1982 with the toothless Combat Rock, Joe Strummer pulled a power play that resulted in their drummer-- who was a major influence on their increasing drift away from not only Punk but Rock-- getting sacked and being replaced with their original drummer, whose style was far more brutal.

He also cut his hair into a mohawk and significantly toughened up their live set, which had been drifting into Jazz Odyssey-type funk and dub jams on their previous tour. When they played Boston they made sure their set was jam-packed with their early punk material. Ironically, so hardcore-crazy was Boston at the time that hardcore fellow traveler Jim Sullivan headlined his review "Half-Speed Clash Go Through the Motions."

Needless to say, the show formed the backbone of the first Clash live album and the soundboard recording is a favorite with bootleg traders for its ferocious, uncompromising sound.

So, what's the point of all this, aside from a walk down memory lane? 


Maybe it's time for esotericism (for lack of a much better term) to go through its own hardcore phase. Maybe it needs to strip things down to the bare essentials for a while and concentrate on building an infrastructure that will nurture and protect its adherents the same way Hardcore did in the early 80s.

Maybe it's time to for esotericism to define what it is and what it wants to accomplish and why. Because these are dangerous times, and any sign of weakness, uncertainty or self-doubt is like blood in the water to all of the sharks on the Left and Right that are circling us as we speak, looking for their pound of flesh.

Maybe it's time to build a canon. Maybe its time to draw up a manifesto. Maybe its time to define who we are and what we want to contribute.

Maybe it's time to start drawing lines in the sand. Maybe its time to stop fighting amongst ourselves and start fighting with our enemies, who are legion.

Maybe it's time to look at the work of people like Mitch Horowitz and argue that it was esotericists who are in part responsible for the best of what America was and could be. And not just America, the whole world, because this is an international community.

And maybe it's time to come up with a better term than "esotericism."

Atheists like Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot have proven that they're willing to kill tens of millions for their beliefs, but I doubt hardly any of them today are willing to die for them. And that puts them at a distinct disadvantage if they're serious about "destroying religion." And once the adrenaline rush of conflict wears off they'll discover they have nothing. If you read PZ Myers carefully, that's exactly how he wants it.

They have no monopoly on science or technology- in fact, I very much want to explore those topics with more gusto here in the future, since I don't believe for a second they're incompatible with spirit. Scientism most definitely is, but that's a philosophy for people who don't see the leash around their necks.

But what the SkepAths can do is bully and harass us, unless we gather together and stand up against them. Like the wolkpacks in Kenmore Sq., the SkepAths are cowards and will only attack if they think they can get away with it unscathed.

One of the first orders of business of a hardcore esotericism would be to ensure that they cannot.

UPDATE: Right on schedule, the BBC is running a series ridiculing "conspiracy theorists." They've even enlisted PZ Myers for an episode on- wait for it- alien abductions. Jesus, why the sudden fascination with abductions among the SkepAth set?

I'm sure no one informed the Beeb that PZ Myers' daughter- a self-described "moral nihilist"-- wrote an impassioned plea for the legalization of bestiality.  

UPDATE: The Agenda is in full effect, people. AOL links to a Reddit page where a neckbeard reveals a blurb Jeffrey Dahmer wrote in his yearbook. The author then adds this egregious dig:
On a side note, Jeff's mom was on the nutty side. My dad remembered hearing some strange noise outside one night. He looked out the window, couldn't find the source of the noise, but saw some lady running out on the street chasing something. The next morning he heard that Dahmer's mom was supposedly chasing a UFO. The crazy part is that my dad remembers hearing the strange noise.
So a UFO that more than one person witnessed is somehow linked to Dahmer's psychopathy right? Well, guess what? We have Dahmer's own justification for his murders. And it sounds just like the life philosophy of your typical Redditor (or POS Myers and his moral nihilist spawn):
"If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…" [Jeffrey Dahmer: interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, Nov. 29, 1994].
UPDATE: Vanderbilt heir Anderson Cooper gets in on the Agenda with his recent UFO debunking. Cooper even dredged up human clownshoe Joe Nickell (aka "Cap'n Combover") for the exercise. Click the link for some hearty laughs.

37 comments:

  1. Sublime. If I think of anything above and beyond that word to describe this post, Chris, I'll let you know.

    Peace

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  2. It has not escaped my notice that your thoughts are shared and echoed by many, myself included. If we be labeled heretics, so be it. I stand united with all free-thinkers, seekers, and am busily writing and contemplating just such a manifesto about the responsibility of writers,artists, sensitives, alternate theorists and seekers to create culture instead of consuming it. Count on me for hardcore support!

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  3. Hardcore esotericism = Jim Morrison

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  4. I was born in '82. Not to make you feel old but to say that i am a baby born out of that movement. My mom listened to a lot of that music and now so do I.

    Your writin is hardcore!

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  5. Hey man,

    I feel your points. I always wondered why every is saying "we live in troubled times, we live in a changing world, we live in uncertainty etc etc. It took me a while to understand their statements but I think they should word it better.

    This is what I think:
    The world is clashing; "clash of the Titans" and the world is angry because of the clash "Wrath of the Titans".

    The Clash is about Ideas being challenged because the idea needs a space and a mind to exist and apparently the old tenant of these spaces and minds is having trouble leaving.

    In a sense its like the entire world is in an alchemical vessel and the gods are mixing different cultures into into one pot to create a new culture and therefore all the impurities of the old has to be evaporated.
    Its like war removes the violence in the genes of races; refer to europe WW1, WW2 etc, vietnam war korean war etc. Now the middle east and the Americans are undergoing this evaporation of violence.

    As for the Esoteric ideals well remember Chris all of these ideas were spread very rapidly in a short period of time via the internet and that these ideas were from the ancient cultures and world. Its just that these ideas are now trading "spaces and minds". Take for example the West, where they practice eastern meditation etc etc. Well if you go to india and china the regions that used to practice this now are in to wealth making so its just trading spaces.

    Don't worry let the world have its play, just stand your ground and firmly root in your own beliefs. Hopefully you came up with your own ideas of spirituality/reality. Its far better to synthesize it on your own than wallow in the regurgitated transmission of the past. And from reading your posts I can tell you have synthesized your own idea.

    Regards
    Kuga

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  6. Thanks for reminding me of how lame I was in the 80's :-) Of course, in 1982 I was 13, and just starting to listen "seriously" to music. I gravitated toward the music of the 60's and 70's, probably because I grew up far from any major city (L.A. and New York were a good 5 or more years ahead of my hometown, musically). But I do recall a couple guys, who I became friends with, who loved Black Flag. I also came to hear all of the great punk and hardcore bands in my college years.

    What I have found most interesting in your blog is how I stumbled on it via a conspiracy site that has begun to question "conspiracy theory" dogma, which matched up nicely with my own feelings and research (I became quite immersed in conspiracy theory during the Bush years). And just a month or two ago I started watching all the X-Files seasons on DVD (I was an avid fan of them when they originally aired, loosing interest somewhere around season 6 or 7 I think.....though I have probably seen them all before at some point in reruns). I've been fascinated by the more esoteric aspects of religion and belief since college (where I got my degree in Religious Studies). So finding your site recently has an interesting synchronicity for me.

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  7. Chris, some of that hardcore was noise/hard on the ears. Here in the pacific northwest I witnessed a few hardcore acts one of them I was security(Poision Idea). It was cut short after the band scorched the mosh pit with fire,literal BREATHING FIRE. I for one could never figure out why people would hit one another while dancing. Your idea of harnessing us heritics into a force of reason is key to our survival and as an agent of change on this planet. Somehow we have to convince brain dead (heart damaged) xtians and fascist sensibilities to listen to reason/truth. What would Budda do? Shineforth brave souls! Dennis

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  8. Hey again, Chris

    It's funny, but last night I was thinking about some of the themes in your post, before you posted it.

    My girlfriend Sarah used to be heavily into the Punk scene here in Britain. There were still a few tiny places here and there where the underground scene was still kicking; that unwavering anti-commercial DIY stance that you discuss as part of the Hardcore scene.

    But Sarah always tells me how this ethic got kind of fractured by the early commercialization and pop-ification of punk. Sarah still enjoyed this music at times, but was aware it was a different breed entirely. She understood that while the dissonance and unexpected key-changes might remain in some form, most of the commercial music was now essentially bloodless and toothless.

    She understood this incendiary ethic that you discuss in connection to hardcore. Me myself, a lover of all music, but especially hip-hop, metal and industrial, was still heavily influenced by punk in my formative years (which people thought was weird for a 6, 2" black guy from Brixton, but was actually anything but).

    I guess the underground is still where you gotta go if you want something really transformative and dangerous/evolutionary.

    "Tried to see if I'll give up
    But there wasn't any luck
    It's a fact, a fact of life
    That's the game, game of strife everything is all in stride"

    - Salin' on, Bad Brains

    *Peace*

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  10. I actually just started Mirage Men and would love to read the Vallee debunking when I'm done. You happen to remember where he goes after those claims?

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  11. SSD? SSD!!

    I went to high school with Springa. I remember him leaving school to go on tour, then coming back to finish, which I thought was way cool. He ended up graduating in my class, and was the classiest thing about it. Alas, I was still asleep back then, awakening in time to see what I was missing. :/

    The Kids Will Have Their Say!!

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  12. Chris…

    A very timely, insightful and well considered post. Politically, the polarization on both right and left represents a retreat to a dangerous dogma. In his GOP primary victory over Indiana’s moderate incumbent Dick Lugar, Richard Mourdock’s unashamed position that he would vote the conservative party-line in spite of his constituent’s wishes, typifies our government’s lemming-like march toward an ideological precipice. The far left is equally derelict.

    Since the Church is equally derelict in ministering to the populace, the void has been filled by music & musicians… American Jazz… Blues… Rock-n-Roll… Punk… etc.

    Somebody had to step up! Somebody had to mirror the mystery!

    Per your suggestion: Maybe it's time to come up with a better term than "esotericism."

    Whaddya think… Paranormal Punk? Esoteric Heretic? Anonymous of the Arcane?

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  13. All I'm wondering is how we defuse that skeptic adrenaline rush instead of fueling it. I'm with you all the way since I have a few "skeptic" friends who drive me absolutely nuts. To the point where I don't even know what to say to them anymore. I can see forming a stronger community as having a definite effect on peoples' view of esotericists. I'm just about ready for war.

    This is what I was always hoping the Synchromysticism crowd would turn into. But I was eventually turned off by the people touting that stupid "anal-obsessed illuminati" or whatever bullshit and could no longer associate with people simply because they claimed to be "Synchromystic". So that went down the toilet.

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  14. Esotericrats? Mythpublicans? In all seriousness, good post. Inspiring. This whole country is desperate for some reality. Or surreality, perhaps. It could be problematic that the general public associates "ufo nuts" with those people on the tops of buildings, arms outstreched, like in the movie independence day. I'm with you though, keep it up.

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  15. David- Oh, I knew I could count on you. And I've been mulling over the "heretic" label quite a bit today.

    William- Well, where are the new Jim Morrisons? The quandary we find ourselves in.

    Just- Your mom was awesome. Feel grateful!

    Kuga- I think about that irony quite a bit- how Jeff Kripal's "orientation" has almost reversed itself. But that's the ebb and flow of time. And standing one's ground is really the basic point I'm trying to make here.

    Gus- Well, there are a lot of us out there. We just don't know who we are quite yet. Luckily we are blessed with some truly risible enemies who make it easy to define oneself against.

    Dennis- It was a generational thing I guess. It was fueled by too much sugar and a sense that we'd all been cheated.

    Raj- I think the music is just a vehicle. It's about the Spirit. When I first saw the Bad Brains it was like the sky opened up. There I was with a bloody mouth full of loose teeth and I didn't care- I was so riveted. And what set them apart was their spiritual consciousness. Same with The Clash. It was then I realized there was a very real and tangible power in spirituality that could pick you up and shake you and take you out of your body. There were a lot of bands who could play fast and loud, but I realized that the Spirit was what made the difference.

    That informs every moment of my life.

    Pla- Indeed- read Vallee's book Confrontations. Why Pilkington went forward- when I know for a fact he was told Doty was a pariah in the UFO community- is beyond me.

    Actually, it isn't beyond me, given Pilkington's connections.

    Moses- You and I need to grab a beer sometime and compare notes. Actually, that's Al from SSD in the pic up top in this piece.

    Jack- Well, like I said given our enemies we don't need to try too hard to define ourselves. And I would never want the uniformity of hardcore- the diversity and freedom of esotericism is part of its appeal for me. The real issue is to stop with the circular firing squads and try turning some of that firepower on the cryptoshills and the pedophreaks and the mindkillers.

    Tommy- Studiously ignore them. It might take some work but believe me, nothing wounds them more deeply. Let them huff and puff and bluster and go about your business. They have nothing and they want you to have nothing too. They'll all be bitter, angry Republicans in 10 years and bitter. lonely alcoholics in 20.

    Synchromysticism was a means, not an end. It was a bit too open-source, IMO, hence the appropriation by the extreme right.

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  16. You could certainly make out a case that the true consensus religion of America is already a kind of fuzzy esotericism, in which ghosts and witches, aliens and guardian angels slosh around in a cozy suburban mix.

    If that's true, then the easy answer might be one of consciousness-raising. (Starting with the Firefox spellchecker, which doesn't even want to admit that "esotericism" is a word and asks me if I meant to write "eroticism" instead.)

    But if you're correct that the public faces of both religion and non-religion are political constructs, designed to keep people distracted, then increasing the visibility of pop esotericism would be no particular improvement.

    And if you're saying that what we need is hardcore esotericism -- as I assume you are -- what basis do you have for believing it would be any more successful at getting past the cultural gatekeepers than hardcore anything else?

    There are powerful filters -- psychological as well as political -- against people opening their eyes. That is always the first problem.

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  17. Cory, I don't think the point is getting anything past the gatekeepers. Hardcore didn't even acknowledge their existence- that was kind of the point. And that fuzzy esotericism you mention is New Wave- it's the Oingo Boingo of the spiritual world.

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  18. Eva- Normally, I wouldn't think the UFO thing is even an issue, other than the media seems awfully desperate to do away with it recently. It can't help but make one wonder.

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  19. Spirit, for sure, Chris. The only thing that can reanimate the dead, figuratively or otherwise. In those moments when you realize you're in its presence, it's truly breathtaking.

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  20. There is a relevant article in Reality Sandwich, about Dogma and how to create space to evolve. Will giving our like minded souls a name to identify with help our cause? Me thinks so. Battle with the mind parasites? Evolution! Get real! You can handle the truth! Thanks Chris, the Sun of an occulted nature is a solid clearing house for evolutionary ideas. Dennis

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  21. There is a relevant article in Reality Sandwich, about Dogma and how to create space to evolve. Will giving our like minded souls a name to identify with help our cause? Me thinks so. Battle with the mind parasites? Evolution! Get real! You can handle the truth! Thanks Chris, the Sun of an occulted nature is a solid clearing house for evolutionary ideas. Dennis

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  22. Spirit, yes! After trying so hard for years to be a "real" atheist, I finally realized that I just wasn't. I remember back in college I would force myself to not use religious (or spiritual) terminology. I must have been terribly boring back then. Of course, I always failed, and my drug experiments could often only be described in mystical terminology. Not to mention my musical compositions, which in trying to be completely devoid of any spirituality, taught me the emptiness of atheism and "skepticism" (and ended up being far more spiritual and mystical than they would have been had I been trying for that instead). Anyway, the skeptics certainly seem to be everywhere these days.....which only highlights their ridiculousness ever more.

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  23. Personally I think London Calling is a masterpiece and nothing at all like the Rolling Stones. Joe Strummer sold out? Not in this life.

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  24. no doubt punk and hip hop made me crazy like around 91 before i had hair on my nuts...Well Im more from the sick of it all/leeway era....of course the real musical revolution around that time was the ill-named black rock coalition. The funk will never hurt you, kids. A lot of ugly shit went on in mosh pits with cowards using an excuse to find someone they dont like.

    the real UFO hoaxers arent corny neckbeards but the secret government which uses advanced technology plus media to push the alien idea. I was witness to one of these broad daylight demonstrations about a half mile above brookhaven institute long island. They love to keep people focused on big technology and outer space, real alien events occur due to a contact with innerspace...

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  25. You are absolutely right on... Where are the new Jim Morrison's? I think that comment snapped me into focus.

    We went from Jim and Pam Morrison to Jim and Pam on The Office……

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  26. A few syncs in this post and comments section for me.
    I only just the other day wrote about a film called "On Borrowed Time" about the life and films of film maker Paul Cox.I met Paul last year at the Byron Bay Writer's Festival,although I didn't get to chat with him.He was very good friends with Theo Van Gogh and wrote in his book how he was with Theo only four days before he was so brutaly killed.
    I've also written on my blog about the Blue Acturian sculpture that I bought from Cynthia,who is the first UFO abductee in the story you linked to about UFO abductees being photograthed.I've corresponded by e-mail with her and found her to be a lovely lady to talk to.The world could do with more kind people like her.And I also have a Greatful Dead decal on my front windshield talking of the the Greatful Dead.I saw Crosby,Stills and Nash play Byron Bay Bluesfst on Good Friday and Stills was wearing a Democracy Now t-shirt throughout the entire concert and made plenty of comments about the state of politics in the USA,as did Steve Earle and John Fogerty.You can only do so much as a musician.
    And I think there are a lot of musicians doing what they can to educate their audience without preaching too hard at them.Punk rock was never my scene,so I can't really comment on it as a movement.
    My favourite bands while growing up where "The Beatles" and "Pink Floyd" and my favourite musos were John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.
    And John I feel paid the ultimate price for his outspokeness.A price I doubt I would want to pay a musician.
    Another modern band who I think show a lot of guts in their song writing are "The Living End".Have you heard of them?

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  27. Esoteric Activism?

    (another feeble attempt at a a rallying cry...dyslexics untie!)

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  28. Chris,

    You have some decent points about the New Atheism, although I find your one sided attacks and sometimes scurrilous attacks on them bewildering. Reddit is an atheist site? Is Wikipedia a Hindu site then? Atheism=pedophilia? Really? Isn't this a throwback to the days of 1990s rightwing Usenet trolls who accused everyone to the left of Alex Jones of membership in NAMBLA? As for Dahmer, many more people have killed for Jesus than for Darwin. Ask any homicide detective or social worker how many parents have murdered and tortured their kids to get the devil out of them. Christianity=child abuse? Still wrong headed and one sided, but you'd at least have a better case there.

    Just in case you're wondering, I consider myself a squishy agnostic at most. But I've found the writings of people like Dawkins (Hitchens not so much) liberating, because they helped me decide what I didn't have to believe. I do not feel compelled to accept the whole paradigm. And you know what these Horrible Atheists do to me for it? They argue with me. Oh, the humanity! But I'm an adult. I can take having my ideas subjected to critical scrutiny, even if it's sometimes a pain in the ass.

    You also fail to note that people like Sam Francis do not reject the paranormal or the spiritual out of hand. Most of those who do seem to honestly feel that the evidence is not there in sufficient quantities.

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  29. Matthew, Maybe you need to read the rest of the blog before you go making these snap judgments. I've been collecting data on what I call the new golden age of human sacrifice- how religiously motivated murder is reaching a new apex. I'm just waiting for the opportune moment for it to gel.

    As to Reddit, well, gee Matthew, it advertises itself as the "web's largest atheist forum," so what exactly are you having trouble with? Did you click the link I provided? I didn't make that up- you can corroborate the story if you care to take the time. I didn't make up the information about CFI- you can corroborate that too, several other independent sources.

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  30. I might add that we've discussed religiously motivated murder quite a bit on the FB group over the past few years now.

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  31. Chris,

    The atheist subredit is (presumably) the largest atheist community on the web, not redit itself. There is, for example, a Christian subredit. And I have been playing Russell Targ's little ESP game on my IPhone, but my psychic powers are not developed enough for me to be aware of work (like the senses-shattering expose of religiously motivated murders) that exists only in your head.

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  32. Your problem Matthew is that your jerking knee prevents you from understanding what you read. Note that I said Reddit was an "atheist hotspot." Hosting the "largest atheist community on the web" qualifies it as such, no? Absolutely. Did I ever once say it was exclusively atheist? No.

    And it doesn't surprise me that your psychic ability is stuck in an impotent state. On the contrary, I'd expect no less.

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  33. ...and I'm holding you to your statement about reddit. Reddit itself is no more an "atheist hotspot" than Facebook is a hotspot for whatever you are, since you have an active presence there. Certainly not to the extent that you can imply--as you do--that the atheists and the pedophiles are the very same people. Whatever validity your "argument" has rises and falls on that equation.

    By the way, as to one of your links, I don't consider a poorly typewritten, hysterical screed full of confident--but poorly sourced--Laurouchian accusations to be evidence of anything.

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  34. This is called "moving the goalposts." It's a little game your type likes to play and I don't have time for it. That little screed as you call it can be corroborated in several other sources, including Bullough's own website.

    Now, off with you.

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  35. I suspect that the religious right and the extreme atheist movements are two sides of the same coin. Their ultimate aim may be to drive the white population back to the Catholic Church. It would work something like follows - the religious right I could easily imagine deciding that the Pope should be allowed to run everything especially when faced with a threat to their identity such as that posed by the immigration of large numbers of non-Christians especially Muslims. The atheists could also be driven back towards a Christian identity through the same threat because they fear Islam far more than Christianity. Maybe atheism was created as a sort of staging post to move protestants back to Roman Catholicism. It would have been difficult to move European Protestants back to Catholicism directly but if they could be first moved to atheism and then persuaded that their identity and values were at risk and were then fed the idea that Europe's identity and heritage was Christian they may unite around a central Christian identity represented by Rome if they felt sufficiently threatened. Most atheists are only nominally atheist in my opinion. They will abandon it like rats from a sinking ship if sufficiently frightened.

    Interesting facts - mass immigration is clearly a white elite project. The economic collapse has been timed perfectly to coincide with a rising fear and unease about the effects of mass immigration. The Nazis came to power as a result of economic collapse and a cultivated xenophobia. The far right is on the rise throughout Europe and in the United States. The British government is going to pass a law to allow Roman Catholics to sit on the British throne. As the Monarch is head of the Church of England why would this law be needed? The Pope constantly talks about Europe's Christian identity and heritage. Richard Dawkins has recently agreed that the free distribution of the King James Bible to British schools is a good idea as it helps literary standards! You have to laugh don't you?

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  36. Excellent depiction of the early Boston Hardcore scene. You are one of my favorite writers and have been working my way through all your articles. Fantastic work.

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