20. Enthusiasm (II)
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
An old man told me, when I met him in a coffee shop, when we could still speak to strangers in coffee shops, that popular music is carefully made in order to control the masses. He took the example of the most brutal German metal music. I could not understand how this old man, in a frayed coat and baseball cap, had discovered German metal. Men like him usually grunt at stuff like that. Anyway, he had found this stuff and knew all about it. His interest extended beyond Rammstein, right down to knockoff bands that exist in the memetic ecosystem beneath them.
He cornered me in my favourite nook, catching me off guard the morning after the Bataclan Theatre massacre. I avoided the news in those days, except on Saturdays, when I caught up with what was going on. I was working my way through the reports of death on the BBC website, depressed at the inevitable confrontation Europe was moving towards and in despair that no politicians seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. Nobody seemed prepared to put up a real fight. I was looking at a blood slick across the theatre’s floor when the old man sat down beside me and started talking. Usually, I am more defensive and reserved. The world throws up plenty of strange people who want you to dance their dance, and not even for their benefit—they grab you just because they are compelled to dance their dance and find a partner. It has been my experience that sleepwalking into another person’s dance is the greatest threat to a man’s stability. You can lose years in another person’s day dream. No, it is important to listen to the music of the cosmos and make your own steps; if you are a healthy person, then you will not feel the need to drag someone from the streets into your dance.
The old man’s contention was that, looked at coldly, German metal concerts were little different from a Hitler rally. Watching videos of these concerts afterwards, I had to agree. I watched German arms raised in a worship regulated by a metallic screeching that mimicked the gears of war—or perhaps, simply, the screech of a shell. These Germans, these Indo-Europeans, clearly wanted to saddle their horses and take to the field again; it was only that, for the moment, they adored a bald man with few ambitions beyond money and women, not some dreamer of the day. “This is all deliberate,” the old man said, “the authorities are well aware that, psychologically, the Germans are liable to go in for this sort of thing—especially with the monarchy removed.”
He told me that the post-war psychologists planned the development of kraut metal to canalise this psychic instinct. The bands have everything: the leader, the Nordic themes, the ecstatic rallies, and the hardness of lightning and war. The product is almost—just not quite—what was buried in Berlin in 1945. A bored technocrat would just have to slightly tweak the symbolism and lyrics used by the bands in order to revivify the old devils. The old man maintained that he discovered this through judicious use of the I Ching. At the time, I thought this was so much nonsense; but, as often happens, what a man dismisses as nonsense will possess him. I have the old man to thank for my wife, since I met her after consulting the I Ching regarding a blind date.
I never saw the old man again, but, as the years go on, I have become more convinced by what he said. The entire entertainment complex is a kind of psychic reservoir that maintains the equilibrium of our current system. These bands are not truly artists, since they are constrained by the rational profit motive; if they let themselves go altogether, into the realm of dreams, the psychic reservoir would overflow, and Europe would be laid low under more than Muslim thunder.