An encounter with a New Ager (sort of)

It’s not often that I get stopped in the middle of town for any reason, but this morning that’s pretty much what happened. I was waiting around in town for a few minutes before the right time to go to work, just pacing around, and some passerby took notice of the jacket I was wearing because it had the name Lucifer on the back. It’s a Kenneth Anger jacket, apparently based on his classic film Lucifer Rising. Someone came up to me and asked me what it meant.

Eager to avoid a lengthy conversation about my beliefs, I tried to tell him that it was just a jacket from one of Kenneth Anger’s movies, but he ended up trying to get at what Lucifer meant philosophically. As I tried to explain myself, he often interrupted me before I could finish a sentence explaining what Lucifer meant, and throughout the entire exchange I felt impatient because I thought this guy was gonna eat up my time before I got to work. He wanted to know what Lucifer meant to be in a broad philosophical sense of how people relate to each other. I tried to explain the way I view the moral core of Luciferianism as a syncretism of enlightenmentarian and pagan values in an occult context, but I had trouble finishing my sentence, and he interrupted me by trying to tell me something about our society not being based on the idea of the Mother anymore, about how I need to look at what other people are saying but not through their words, how everything’s based on money and something about vibrations of love and vibrations of fear.

After that we stopped he finally let me go to go to work, but I got this bizarre feeling of “what the hell did I get into?”.

The spirit of Moses…

Sometimes it bears mentioning that America is not the only place where religion is invoked at the altar of what should be secular politics, just the country where you see it happen most often. Why last week we saw the Home Office scare away asylum seekers from Iran who converted to Christianity by using Bible verses. Apparently the idea was to scare immigrants who converted by arguing that Christianity isn’t peaceful, which to be fair at least they’re being honest about it this time around – though, mind you, I wouldn’t expect native Christians to be told that any time soon unless they encounter an atheist. But, that obviously is not what I’m here to talk about today. The subject of this post in particular is Boris Johnson, that famous former mayor of London who always seems to make himself look foolish. Yesterday he wrote an op-ed for The Telegraph, a flagship conservative paper here in the UK, in which he urged Prime Minister Theresa May to “channel the spirit of Moses” and “let my people go”.

It’s curious to imagine who he’s comparing to Moses here. Is he comparing himself to Moses in this one, or is he trying to compare Theresa May to Moses? In any case it looks ridiculous. Our relationship to the EU may not be democratic in any real sense, but it isn’t really comparable to the way the Israelites were treated under the Pharaoh of Egypt according to the Bible. For one thing, the Pharaoh according to the Bible wasn’t about to let the Israelites leave Egypt any time soon, and if he did he certainly wasn’t going to delay the exodus by a few arbitrary weeks while Moses figures out what the hell’s going on.

Of course, this has no real effect on whether or not we leave the European Union, and it doesn’t have too much affect on if we have a deal going for when we leave other than it makes the hardline Tories look like laughing stocks. But while Boris’ comments are absurd and ridiculous, and should be treated as such, it’s very fascinating to me that a figure like Moses would be invoked in such a way, as a liberational figure in our context. Well, he might have been a liberator in the sense of him leading the Jews out of Egypt, but he was also a brutal war criminal.

In the Book of Numbers, God commands Moses to slaughter the Moabites and later the Midianites for certain religious transgressions. In Numbers 25, the Moabites engage in “whoredom” and perform sacrifices to idols, and some of the Israelites join them in worshipping Baal-peor (a deity from whom we get the demon named Belphegor)

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.” – Numbers 25:4-5

In Numbers 31, Moses receives commandment from God to slaughter all of the Midianites except for any young girls who are virgins.

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” – Numbers 31:17-18

Knowing this I’m kind of curious just what the spirit of Moses means in this case, because I’m tempted to think it means slaughtering a people (one of whom by the way Moses had at his bedside the entire god damned time) because they beguiled the Israelites one too many times into doing in something more fun than worshiping Yahweh.

But the way this seems to play out, how a guy who we know from the Bible acted as a mass murderer, a war criminal and something of a dictator as well when he came to be in charge of his own forces out of Egypt comes to be known exclusively for leading the Jews out of Egypt and hence is seen as purely heroic rather than the mad dog he turned out to be very much reminds me of the way Michael Parenti talks about the wagon train and the swarthy hordes. I’ll leave the video for it at the end of this post, but to apply it to this situation is not especially difficult. Moses and the Israelites are the guys in the wagon train, they’re the “heroes”, the “human beings”, assailed by and forced to destroy the swarthy hordes, who in this case are literally every non-Yahwist tribe the Israelites encounter. In much the same way paradigm serves to rewrite the history of European and North American imperialism, it serves in the Bible to “justify” the brutal repression of non-Israelite peoples. The next time you think about the atrocities the Israelites commit in the Bible, keep this paradigm in mind. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I think about when I hear Boris Johnson talk about channeling the spirit of Moses.

“The Women of Midian Led Captive by the Hebrews” by James Tissot

What is my destiny in life?

I’d like to be frank about something in life that has been bothering me for a while. There are times in life where I don’t quite know where I’m going or what I’m supposed to with myself, and it bugs the hell out of me at times especially with the knowledge that I’m going to be 25 a few weeks.

For months I have been trying to find ways of getting the ball rolling for my planned project as concerns the video game industry, I was slated to attend a meeting with the career’s adviser at what was my university a while after I graduated for a program that would, in theory, help me set up the path to forming the enterprise by directing me to potential resources, strategies and collaborators. But by now it’s been about five months since I was originally supposed to meet and I still have no confirmation of anything. Meanwhile, I met a guy in town who might be one of the only people who actually has broadly similar if not the same interests as me. After we met a few times, I got to thinking about re-invigorating the interest in trying to make music. And let me tell you, recent developments are making that urge sort of come to the fore as of late.

At some point this year I ended up getting transferred to a Universal Credit program, which took over from whatever benefits I was getting on before in the process of finding long-term work. I was told that, in order to have some sort of support net while I try to build an income and a life, I would have to try and get the ball rolling. But the more I hear about Universal Credit, the more I feel like I’m walking into a trap that I can’t walk out of. I’ve heard of people get their benefits sanctioned for entirely stupid reasons, which is so bad that it forces people to live on ready meals for a £1. Thank gods I still live at home for now so I’m not subject to the worst of it, but it’s still pretty bad, but I don’t have much choice in the matter regardless. But in order to get an income, I have to push on while being told that I’m supposed to cut my hair one day just to look more “professional”.

As such, getting into music sounds like something that would probably free me from such burdens, at least in theory. However, I am also burdened with the question of whether or not I really want to give up the game industry, because I don’t feel like I should give up the prospect of creative writing. There are still long-held ambitions in my mind about stories I would like to write, ambitions that are mostly impeded by murky financial realities.

I’m in a place where I don’t really know what to do at this point in time, and I’m not immediately sure of how to dislodge this inertia.

Miscellaneous musings on Hindutva and volkisch paganism

This weekend I stumbled across a video about Hindutva on YouTube, consisting of an interview with a man named Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor is an Indian politician, an MP serving under the Indian National Congress (which appears to be a liberal social-democratic party), and the author of a book entitled Why I Am A Hindu, in which he apparently discusses his relationship with the Hindu religion so as to repudiate the Hindutva ideology that has become prevalent in his country. I will leave the video at the end of this post for your interest, but for the purpose of this post, I’d like to cite a part of what Tharoor says in the video that I find pertinent.

Tharoor makes an important point about the character of Hindutva, namely that it is not actually a religious ideology in the sense that it serves as a representation of the Hindu religion, but instead a purely political ideology that distorts Hinduism for its own ends.

Hindutva is a political ideology. It’s not really a religious interpretation. It’s a political ideology that has hung itself on a hook that is embedded on the wall of religion. But it is not actually a religious ideology. What they’ve done is they have created a political project around the idea that the people who follow the religion are a distinct people. Some have even used the word Hindu race. They have their own culture, their own history, their own heroes. And this collectivity has somehow been humiliated, conquered, subjugated. 200 years of British rule, 1,000 years of Muslim invasions. Now the time has come for them to reassert themselves. And Hindutva is a project to advance the political agenda of those who believe this by trying to create a consciousness of separation amongst these self-defined Hindus.

Another insightful portion of the interview is the manner in which he describes the popular schism between Hindus in Indian society through his explanation of the argument he wanted to present in his book:

I wanted this to be an argument within the Hindu faith between people who consider themselves to be good Hindus, or decent Hindus, or believing Hindus, or seeking Hindus whichever phrase you want, but who don’t subscribe to this kind of notion of Hindutva, and those who have reduced Hinduism, far from the soaring metaphysics and philosophy inquiry and spiritual yearnings of the ancient texts, into something more akin to the team loyalty of the British football hooligan.

Now, while I think that it is impossible to truly separate Hindutva from the context of the Hindu religion, he makes a fairly astute observation of Hindutva as a general phenomenon. Indeed, the Hindutva ideology, being a nationalist ideology, expertly embodies the fixation on tribal identity and the belief that a nation is unique on the basis of its in-group. It is not even a matter of speculation to suggest that Hindutva basis its concept of Indian civilizational uniqueness on race, because as I have established before the earliest thinkers of Hindutva were quite explicit in their views about “the Race” and the need to preserve it. Indeed, such a rationale underpins the tendency of many Hindutvas, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to support Israel. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the same man who praise the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, said it “will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends” if Israel were to be created as an ethnic state for the Jews. In fact, he apparently opposed the UN on the proposal to partition Palestine into a bi-national Arab-Jewish state in 1947. If this doesn’t underscore the racialist basis for their support of Israel enough, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar spelled it out quite plainly in We, or Our Nationhood Defined:

The Jews had maintained their race, religion, culture and language, and all they wanted was their natural territory to complete their nationality. The reconstruction of the Hebrew Nation in Palestine is just an affirmation of the fact that Country, Race, Religion, Culture and Language must exist together to form a full nation idea.

In other words, the Hindutvas have always held ethnocentrism to be a central component of the nation state, and Hindutva has always been an ethnocentric ideology, as evidence by its tendency to support other movements that promote ethnonationalism during the 20th century.

Now, this racialist outlook and the way by which the belief system it wants to attach itself to is bastardized that it may be repurposed to serve the goals of racial politics to the point of effectively being detached from the broader religion, it reminds me of something else I’ve seen. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that Hindutva is essentially the Indian equivalent of the Western phenomenon known as Volkisch Paganism (also known as Neo-Volkisch movements). The term Volkisch Paganism, in a modern context at least, refers to a belief system that seeks to blend paganism or pre-Christian polytheism with racially identitarian ideology – in particular, white nationalist or white supremacist ideology, often including neo-Nazism. In many cases, it is simply a kind of opportunism on the part of white nationalists to appropriate paganism for their own ideology, and it often seems unconnected to paganism, both historical and modern. While it is not universally true that pagan belief systems explicitly condemn racism, there is an example from the Greek poet Pindar which explicitly affirms that the “races” stem from the same source.

One race there is of men and one of gods, but from one mother draw we both our breath, yet is the strength of us diverse altogether, for the race of man is as nought, but the brazen heaven abideth, a habitation steadfast unto everlasting.

Thus we can determine with some confidence that the volkisch character of volkisch paganism is a modern construct, rather than a reconstruction of ancient philosophy.

In addition to this, I sometimes hear of Volkisch pagans opportunistically support Christianity in service of their racial ideology. A good example of this is how, some time after the Christchurch shooting, I encountered a volkisch pagan on the internet who praised Brenton Tarrant, the man responsible for the shooting, as a hero of the white race.

An idiotic volkisch pagan praising Brenton Tarrant

The supreme irony of this statement is that Tarrant cannot accurately be described as a pagan. The thing about his manifesto that you can point to in order to pin him as a pagan is the part where he says “I will see you in Valhalla”, which is of course the hall of Odin that serves as the resting place of Vikings who died in battle. However, even this follows directly from “god bless you all”, rather than any praise of Odin. However that is not all. While Tarrant claimed to be an agnostic on the subject of Christianity, saying “That is complicated. When I know, I will tell you.”, he nonetheless made a number of appeals to Christianity in his manifesto. For example, this is the part of his manifesto that was addressed to Christians.

“The people worthy of glory, the people blessed by God Our Lord, moan and fall under the weight of these outrages and most shameful humiliations. The race of the elect suffers outrageous persecutions, and the impious race of the Saracens respects neither the virgins of the Lord nor the colleges of priests. They run over the weak and the elderly, they seize the children from their mothers so that they might forget, among the barbarians, the name of God.

That perverse nation profanes the hospices … The temple of the Lord is treated like a criminal and the ornaments of the sanctuary are robbed. “What more shall I say to you? “We are disgraced, sons and brothers, who live in these days of calamities! Can we look at the world in this century reproved by Heaven to witness the desolation of the Holy City and remain in peace while it is so
oppressed? Is it not preferable to die in war rather than suffer any longer so horrible a spectacle? Let us all weep for our faults that raise the divine ire, yes, let us weep… But let not our tears be like the seed thrown into the sand. Let the fire of our repentance raise up the Holy War and the love of our brethren lead us into combat. Let our lives be stronger than
death to fight against the enemies of the Christian people.” ASK YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD POPE URBAN II DO?

And here is the part that he addressed to the Turks:

You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you. On the east side of the Bosphorus. But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands. We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more. FLEE TO YOUR OWN LANDS, WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THE CHANCE

And here is a section of the part talking about the radicalization of young men, wherein he basically makes the same argument as people like Jordan Peterson when they talk about secularism.

These men and women are not being being brain-washed, corrupted or misled. They are finally removing their blindfolds and seeing the reality of the the world and their peoples future. The truth that the West killed the notion of god, and proceeded to replace it with nothing. Brought forth two competing ideologies (communism and fascism)to replace this loss of god, then proceeded to allow both sides to slaughter each other to a standstill and then let corporate backed capitalists tear the survivor to pieces. Resulting in a society with no core beliefs, no purpose and no vision for the future.

All of these sections place a very strong attachment to Christianity as a cultural force for Europe. Even if we can assume that the shooter was not formally Christian, he could still be counted as pro-Christian in the sense that he considered Christianity, or more or less Christian culture, a positive civilizational force that needs to be defended from Islamic aggression – one could, in this sense, draw parallels to the way Hindutva prioritizes the desire to find Islamic aggression towards Hinduism as a civilizational-political force.

I hope these miscellaneous thoughts go anywhere in explaining why I have such hatred of things like Hindutva and Volkisch Paganism. They are opportunistic bastardizations of the creeds they claim to represent, and in practice serve as spiritual bulwarks for fascism. They must be opposed not only by secular individuals who believe in secular society, but also most vociferously by people of the very creeds that these ideologies defile.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh march

The terror of Christchurch

I remember about three years ago when that guy in Florida murdered 50 gay people at that Pulse nightclub, and the horror that it inflicted upon the world, and the only reason it returns to my mind now is because what happened in Christchruch yesterday appears to have been about as deadly. From what we know so far, a white nationalist terrorist killed about 50 people and injured about 50 more attacking two mosques – the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre. In addition to this being the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand and in general probably one of the deadliest shootings that happened in this decade at least, the attack was made all the more gruesome by the fact that the attacker livestreamed the massacre on Facebook as he was committing it.

There are many perplexing details about Brenton Tarrant, the man who seems to have committed this atrocity, in that his motives are unlike any mass shooter I’ve seen to say the least. On the one hand, he seems to sincerely espouse a number of ethno-nationalist/alt-right talking points, particularly about the replacement of white Europeans by Muslims, and him placing himself as a militant enemy of just about any leftist (he has said that he doesn’t want to reason with or convert leftists, preferring to simply to place their necks under his boot and see them on the streets as it were). But he also has some more eclectic positions, such as his support for eco-fascism, his disdain for conservatism (which is strange for someone who would otherwise position himself on the right), and his apparent support for the government of China. He also claimed that he didn’t know if he was Christian or not, whilst invoking Pope Urban in his manifesto, screeching about the need to defend Christendom, and railing against people he deemed anti-Christian (such as Madonna). And then there’s the part of his manifesto that is literally just shitposting, such as his claim to have accepted ethnonationalism through a video game named Spyro the Dragon 3 and learned how to kill from another game called Fortnite. But perhaps the most striking part is that, in parts of his manifesto, he states that he actively sought out to inspire terror in ordinary people and his enemies in order to trigger a variety of events in numerous countries, possibly leading up to civil war – for example, he hoped that the shooting would cause the “left” to push for the abolition of the Second Amendment in the United States, which he believed would fracture the country along political, cultural and ethnic lines.

I think it’s safe to speculate that the culprit was not just your ordinary far-right extremist (in fact, he considered himself to be both right-wing and left-wing depending on the definitions), but he also appears to be what some have called an accelerationist (someone seeking to intensify the contradictions of capitalism in order to bring about radical political change as a result) as well as, judging from the fact that he apparently got many of his ideas from 8chan, the kind of nihilistic wastrel who mixes hardcore nationalist and collapsitarian ideology with memetics pulled straight from the gutter of the internet. However, if we are looking to judge him in a single label, we can go by the shooter’s own word when he describes himself as “an actual fascist”, and describe him accordingly for convenience.

What also piques my interest in particular is the terrorist’s claim to have contact with Anders Breivik, and the fact that he appeared to reference Rotherham on his rifle. There is the possibility being discussed that he may have been part of a broader network of right-wing terrorism that has yet to be discovered. I don’t know for sure, but to be honest, as I looked into him I think it’s safe to say that may be in doubt: that is unless, of course, that network happens to be on /pol/. People in online liberal and leftish spaces tend to blame random American conservative commentators that normal people don’t give a shit about, in part because of his manifesto mentioning Candace Owens, as well as Pewdiepie (who was quick to denounce him and his actions) simply because he shouted “subscribe to Pewdiepie”, but really simply the memetic nature of parts of his manifesto and even the slogans he shouted as he committed the massacre tells me that this guy is the product of /pol/, and the ways by which blackpilled nationalism reinforces itself there.

One other thought I had at the back of my head is that I remember years ago when satanicviews told me something about holy war between Christians and Muslims, or more or less that that was on the minds of many Christian zealots, and from the looks of it we may be seeing that in 2019. And to be honest, he might be getting that as a result of his attack. I’ve seen one Muslim post on social media a picture of a rifle with Arabic words on it, captioned with a comment about revenge, which tells me that it’s possible that something might kick off. In the mean time, though, I think we need to do something about the growing phenomenon of fascistic ideology that appears to be motivating him, and for me this means addressing the structural sources of alienation that allows people to become attracted to fascism.

My review of the Lords of Chaos film

This month will see the British release of a movie titled Lords of Chaos, directed by Jonas Akerlund and ostensibly based on the Michael J Moynihan book on the same name. The film was already released via the Sundance Film Festival on January 23rd 2018, will be distributed to the UK by Arrow Films on March 29th this year. However, I would encourage that, instead of bothering to give anyone money to see it, you go and watch it for free on YouTube (or so I would had the film not been taken down). Seriously, I don’t recommend giving the makers of this film any money, and in this review I hope I will adequately demonstrate why.

This movie bills itself as “based on truth, lies and what actually happened”, which to me is the tell that this will be a fictionalization of the events surrounding the Norwegian black metal scene (paying particular attention to Mayhem and Burzum) to the point of being almost a fantasy. Key events from that timeline do appear in the movie as would be expected (such as Dead’s suicide, the wave of church burnings, the plan to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, Varg’s killing of Euronymous, Faust killing a gay man etc.), but so do numerous fictions that will be discussed later on in this review. It’s worth noting as well that the director, Jonas Akerlund, has almost little connection to the black metal scene, and is instead known for being the director of several pop and rock music videos, though he did do a few metal music videos as well (including a classic music video for Candlemass’ song “Bewitched”). His only connection to black metal comes from his brief time as a drummer for Bathory, and he never did any albums with the band – his only appearance with Bathory was on a split album called Scandinavian Metal Attack released in 1984, and after that he never appeared in any future Bathory records or any other black metal bands. The film has been billed as a dramatic retelling of the Norwegian black metal scene, but is only really a biography centering around Euronymous, and I’ll explain later on how this influences the way the story is told.

Right off the bat, when I saw the trailer and when you begin to watch the film, the first thing you notice is that none of the characters speak Norwegian or even have Norwegian accents. In fact, almost every character is played by an American actor. Euronymous for example is played by Rory Culkin, a younger brother of Macauley Culkin from those Home Alone films, and Varg Vikernes is played by a guy named Emory Cohen, who apparently makes Varg seem like he was a New Yorker with kind of an Italian accent. In fact as I was watching the movie I kind of laughed when I heard this film’s version of Euronymous introduce the film via narration and he says “This is where I live with my typical Norwegian family” in that American accent of his. When it comes to the film industry people sometimes talk about what’s called white-washing, the practice where characters in films that are supposed to be non-white people are played by white actors. It was a controversial practice even in the old days of Hollywood, and to some extent still occurs in films today. But here, we have real people who are supposed to be Scandinavians played by some random American actors. Is there a word for this? If not, I say we call it mutt-washing.

Rory Culkin and friends seen here doing their best metalhead impressions.

A funny detail of the movie, in its early stage, is that not-Dead and not-Euronymous are first seen brandishing their corpse paint at what seems to be a regular heavy metal party, set to such classics as “Fast As A Shark” by Accept and “Stand Up and Shout” by Dio. The reason this comes across as strange is because, as far as I’m aware, these would have been the kind of people who would have been into early death metal and thrash metal and the like, with part of the reason for developing what is now known as Norwegian black metal stemming from a dissatisfaction with regular heavy metal and even death metal because they thought it wasn’t brutal enough for them. But then I suppose we can probably assume that scene itself was just concocted to introduce a character who never even existed: Ann-Marit, Euronymous’ fictional girlfriend.

Before we get to that, it’s worth mentioning at this point that the makers of the film went around asking the core bands of the Norwegian black metal scene – Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone – for the rights to use their music in the movie, and from what I’ve gathered all of those bands refused to give them said rights. Despite this, however, the film evidently managed to get some original Mayhem recordings, as well as some other black metal tracks, as well as some shitty versions of Mayhem songs apparently made to sound like they were actually practicing, which when put that way is a somewhat interesting touch but also comes across as what happens when you can’t get the license. Probably the worst part was when the extended promotional trailer for the movie actually used a Metallica track, “ManUNkind” (which originally appeared in their 2016 album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct), in place of any black metal track let alone from Mayhem’s discography. That said there are some positive touches in that regard, such as when we see Mayhem rehearse an actual studio track with Atila Csihar on vocals, played by his son Arion Csihar.

Now then, as was established before, Ann-Marit is a fictional character, there is no evidence that a woman named Ann-Marit was a girlfriend of Euronymous. I’ve seen Brave Words claim that the Ann-Marit in the movie is supposed to be Ann-Marit Sæbønes, who was the mayor of Oslo between 1992 and 1995, but considering that the real Ann-Marit Sæbønes is currently 73 years old and would have been almost 50 by the time Norwegian black metal became its own scene and the girl in the film is easily in her 20s or maybe younger, this would be impossible. Euronymous was never known to have had a girlfriend, and in fact it’s been speculated that the real Euronymous may have been gay. Some even suggest that Euronymous liked to brag that having gay sex was the most evil thing you could do, suggesting that perhaps he might not have been gay but embraced homosexuality for edge points. But there’s no evidence of him having a girlfriend, so this Ann-Marit character exists solely to fill the dramatic void of “insert love interest here”, which is sort of weaved in by having her be a photographer for Euronymous. In practice her role in the film has two functions: to serve as a vehicle for Euronymous more “humane” side, and possibly so the film’s version of Euronymous can live out the fantasy of fucking his friend Dead.

I am not kidding with that last part. There is more than one scene in the movie where Euronymous is with Ann-Marit and we’re treated to flashbacks of Dead from when he was alive. This happens in particular in two scenes: one where Euronymous is having sex with Ann-Marit, and one where Ann-Marit is cutting Euronymous’ hair (which never happened in real life but we’ll get to that). In addition to this the film’s version of Dead, portrayed by Jack Kilmer (son of Val Kilmer), looks almost suspiciously feminine. You can sort of tell he’s a guy, but his face kind of makes him look like a girl in a way that the real Dead probably didn’t. This suggests to me that the film is trying to use either Ann-Marit to remind us of Dead or Dead to presage Ann-Marit, even though none of these characters seem to have anything to do with each other.

If you didn’t know this was supposed to be Dead, would you really have guessed this is supposed to be a man?

And speaking of Dead, his role in the film is actually somewhat close to how he was in real life to some extent. His obsession with death is depicted effectively, albeit gratuitously, there’s certain details of his life (such as when he sent that dead crucified mouse via mail to Mayhem, and the way he buries his clothes before each show to get that stench of decay) that are pretty well-represented, and then other parts of his life in the film that seem like they may have been invented (like that time in the film where Dead randomly strips naked for some reason, or when Dead is out in the forest chasing a cat with Euronymous later daring him to pull the trigger of his shotgun on him). It’s also evident within the film that Akerlund, for some reason, really liked to bring attention to the grisly aspects of Dead’s stage performances and his suicide. When Dead cuts himself live on stage, the director does multiple brief slow motion close-ups to really lay on the moment, as though this was something we really had to see, and when he commits suicide this repeats somewhat and when he finally blows his brains out you actually see it happen. In addition, when Euronymous checks on Dead only to find his dead body, you see the carcass right down to the hole left in his head. What fascinates me for some reason that the violence in general pulls no punches, which is of mixed value, while the sex scenes and Ann-Marit stripping off (none of which happened in real life) feel rather oblique by comparison, which simply feels weird to me.

Euronymous’ character in the film is a bizarre cocktail of invention by the writers, mythology from the Norwegian black metal scene, and a tiny speck of real life, but in any case the Euronymous in the film does not represent the Euronymous we know. So much of the malevolence of Euronymous, save for in key scenes, is shorn from the fictional version of Euronymous. We never see his religious conviction and his relationship with Satanism explored in any real way apart from him ordering the church burnings and him telling Varg that the church is a dictatorship (the irony being, of course, that the real Euronymous was so pro-dictatorship that he left a Norwegian socialist group named Red Youth because they apologized for supporting Pol Pot), we never get a meaningful examination of the conflict between the malevolent persona he projected to the world and the seemingly normal family man that his closest friends saw of him, the arrogant personality that his contemporaries observed of him is largely softened if it even comes out at all, and the most evil we see of him is in his callous willingness to use the skull of Dead as a necklace and fire people who disagreed with him, as well as the suggestions he plants into other people. The Euronymous of the movie is not the arch-villain of black metal as we know it, he is too softened by his love for Ann-Marit for that, and he has no guiding philosophy behind what he does (although, to be fair, it can be argued that the real Euronymous’ beliefs may have been largely a part of his projected image rather than his actual beliefs). Instead, he’s just an edgy young man who, when it comes down to it, just wanted to be a rock star.

Throughout the film Euronymous is barely a sympathizeable character at least in my view. In fact, in the film every event almost seems to center around Euronymous’ ego, and it seems as though all of the major events within the film (Dead’s suicide, Varg Vikernes being the man he is, Faust’s murder of a gay man, the church burnings) all stem from suggestions or ideas implanted in the heads of others by Euronymous. In that sense, he’s directly responsible for everything that happened in a way that he likely wasn’t in real life (with the exception of Dead’s suicide, which many of his black metal contemporaries suggest was talked into by Euronymous in order to boost the sinister image of Mayhem). Yet despite all this, the film goes to extraordinary lengths to make him seem like a sympathizeable character or even a kind of Byronic hero. After the first church burnings and Faust murdering someone, we see Euronymous engaging in an internal dialogue characterized by remorse and regret over much of the events that unfolded, right after it’s established that most of what happens in the film is Euronymous’ design (and even then it’s worth noting that Faust’s crime wasn’t inspired by Euronymous in real life). During another church burning, he, Varg and Faust are in the middle of doing the burning but Euronymous barely does anything as if regretting the path he is taking, even though there’s no reason to think he would ever do that in real life. He is even seen opposing Varg on the plan to destroy Nidaros Cathedral, even though he himself planned to blow up the cathedral in real life! And he channels some of this in his dialogue with Ann-Marit, when he talks about his frustrations with Varg and his internal doubts. What irony then that we see no mention of his family being involved in any of this, even though many of Euronymous’ peers seem to attest that he shut down his shop, Helvete, due to pressure from his family. Instead it seems to be his own calculated decision: wanting to get out of the very black metal scene he spearheaded, he closes shop and attempts to sign a contract with Varg and pay him. Around this time, before his death, he has Ann-Marit cut his hair, which never happens in real life. From what I understand, apparently the director must have seen pictures of Euronymous from when his body was with the coroner or something and assumed that’s what Euronymous looked like before he died.

The fake Euronymous getting his hair cut by Ann-Marit

The real Euronymous is barely reflected in the film other than in one key respect: that he is the very poseur he despises. Even within the film’s attempt to depict Euronymous as a semi-heroic figure could not overlook the fact he was interested primarily in cultivating an evil image more than any actual beliefs. This is highlighted particularly in the moment where Euronymous sits down with Varg to discuss Varg’s role in the band, his plan to blow up Nidaros Cathedral and whether or not Euronymous was going to pay him. The highlight of that part of the film, the part that cemented Euronymous’ opportunistic character, was that when Varg told Euronymous that we was going to quit Mayhem he hands back the piece-of-Dead’s-skull necklace that Euronymous gave him when he inducted him into the band, only for Euronymous to tell that he could keep it and that the bone one the necklace was actually a chicken bone. It is, as this film’s version of Varg said, fake as everything else, a line that in my view sums up Euronymous’ character in the film far better than anything else could.

Speaking of Varg, this film’s version of Varg is probably the most distorted character in the entire film. To start with, his very first appearance in the film is that of some random metalhead who saw Mayhem’s show and greeted Euronymous only to be dissed by him for having a Scorpions patch on his jacket. According to Varg himself, this is inaccurate, and it’s known that Varg was in his early teens influenced by Iron Maiden as well as several early black, death and thrash metal bands, so it’s very unlikely that the real Varg by the late 80’s-early 90’s would have cared much for the Scorpions. Even more so, Varg’s character is treated as having developed entirely from that moment where he was dissed by Euronymous for being a Scorpions fan, with that pivotal moment becoming the reason for Varg’s development towards black metal, as well as his persona becoming progressively more malevolent and elitist with time as if competing with Euronymous, which unsurprisingly is also an invention of the film crafted to suit its Euronymous-centered narrative. This progression also lends itself to showcasing Varg as a Nazi, with him saying that death metal poseurs should be “gassed to death”, chastising one of Euronymous’ circle for being “a fake fucking Nazi” and having a room full of Nazi paraphernalia in the room where he comissions and interview to promote Euronymous’ shop. While it is definitely true that Varg associated himself with Nazism at some point in the past, it is possible the film is exaggerating this tendency, and if we go from Varg’s word on the situation it’s likely that the interview did not happen in the way that the film depicts it. As a side note he’s also depicted as a non-drinker and a vegetarian: while the former appears to be correct, the latter is not entirely accurate for the time of the film’s setting (Varg did pursue vegetarianism while in prison, but it wasn’t a lifestyle choice so much as a reaction to the quality of the food he was given while in prison). If that seems incidental just remember that when Varg says he doesn’t eat meat and Euronymous says “just like Hitler”, the film’s version of Varg says “yeah, exactly like Hitler”.

I suspect Varg’s reputation as a neo-Nazi has influenced the film to go to incredible to lengths to defame Varg’s character more so than it already has been in real life. The film’s version of Varg strives to embody a syncretic and seemingly contradictory ideology based on Nazism, Satanism, and paganism. The problem there is that Varg never really was a Satanist and in fact he considered the church burnings to be a manifestation of heathenism rather than Satanism. The film’s version of Varg, on top of being a “poseur” who has to compensate by being the edgiest fucker alive and also a Nazi, is also quite sexist and lascivious. When Ann-Marit is invited to see the Black Circle at Euronymous’ shop, Varg orders her to take off all of her clothes for no reason, and in various seens of the film he’s shown having sex with random groupies, and towards the finale of the movie he is having sex with another of them and then telling her to “get out of my sight you fucking whore”. Needless to say, this is an entirely fictitious aspect of Varg’s life, one seemingly crafted to suit the intended narrative of him being a power-mad rock star. To be honest, I don’t quite know where to begin as to what’s wrong with the idea that there would be groupies in Norwegian black metal, or any black metal scene, because as far as I know that simply doesn’t happen for black metal.

It doesn’t get much better than Varg telling a girl who doesn’t exist to strip naked for no discernible reason.

At this point I feel I need to make something very clear: the real Varg Vikernes was and is many things – he embraces racist ethnonationalist politics, spreads anti-semitic conspiracy theories on his YouTube channel, uses paganism as a tool for his politics, and the actions he undertook during his youth might legitimately be characterized as religious terrorism – but the reality is that he is simply not the power-mad, misogynistic avatar of Euronymous’ dark side that the film makes him out to be. And it’s so frustrating that I now feel almost compelled to sympathize with Varg of all people because of the way he was treated in the film because, while I find parts of his worldview fascinating, I have no love for his racialist primitivism.

The central failure of the film is in its attempt to make Euronymous seem sympathizeable and Varg seem contemptible, and the crown of this failure is in the film’s finale, where Varg kills Euronymous. For a start, the film establishes that Euronymous wanted to kill Varg after his arrest, that he wanted to stun him with a taser, tie him up, torture him to death while recording it as a snuff film, so already Euronymous sort of brings this on himself just as he did in real life. But even when he’s actually getting stabbed, it’s hard to see Euronymous as the victim. Besides already telling everyone that he wanted to kill Varg to begin with, there’s the fact that Varg’s characterization leading up to him being so hardcore that he wants to blow up Nidaros and kill Euronymous is ultimately Euronymous’ fault for dissing Varg’s Scorpions patch according to the film’s own narrative. Furthermore, as Varg stabs Euronymous, Euronymous while pleading for his life tries to explain that he didn’t mean it when he said he was going to kill him and make a snuff film out of it, to which Varg rather aptly mocks him for being all talk. Euronymous even deigns to suggest that, rather than kill him, Varg and he could use this encounter to boost the extreme image of the band, a proposal Varg treats with contempt. Even until the end, this film’s version of Euronymous is an opportunist until the end, a fame-hungry weasel who looked at everything like it was a marketing gimmick – which, to me, somehow manages to seem even more despicable than the real Euronymous! This movie failed to demonize Varg in that respect, instead they made him look cool for killing a poseur who wanted him dead in an actually somewhat decently-choreographed scene.

The film fails similarly with its depiction of Faust stabbing a gay man in Lillehammer. In real life, the story goes that Faust was walking in the Olympic Park when a gay man who seemed drunk came up to him. Faust states that he killed the man out of impulse, in order to get out some aggression, and that it had nothing to do with black metal and (presumably) not much to do with him being gay. In the film, however, Faust has a drink alone at a bar in Lillehammer, leaves, and a man who doesn’t seem all that drunk starts following him, approaches him, begins to talk romantically to him many times, tries to touch his genitals, and is then brutally stabbed to death by Faust. Whereas the real version of events was basically senseless murder, the film’s version of events almost makes it look like Faust was defending himself from a pervert, and I’m not sure if that was the director’s intention or not. Both murder scenes evoked a strong “how do you fuck this up so badly!?” reaction from me at the time I was watching the film.

So in summary, Lords of Chaos is a mediocre retelling of the lives of Euronymous and Varg Vikernes and the events surrounding the Norwegian black metal scene. If you really want to see it, don’t bother paying for it. Since it was taken down from YouTube since I last saw it, I will leave a link to a Twitter post that features the movie in full below. I will also leave a link to a documentary titled Once Upon A Time In Norway, which gives a much more accurate picture of the Norwegian black metal scene at the time than the movie does. If any of the links get taken down or no longer work, let me know and I’ll remove them.

The BJP’s holy war

So, we’re here it would seem. This past week we’ve seen a historic escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan that will probably, though some would say not assuredly, lead to war between the two countries – a decidedly grim prospect for the region and perhaps beyond considering both countries possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Before we get into the main angle I had in mind for this post it’s worth going over just what happened, and it’s worth keeping in mind several developments had been occurring on Tuesday alone.

Ever since the partition of India from the British Empire in 1947, there has been conflict between India and Pakistan at the borders of the two countries, with particular attention paid to the Kashmir territory, but the last few weeks have seen major conflagration on the India-Pakistan border. In February 14th when a Deobandi Islamist terror group named Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked Indian convoys in Pulwama. The Pakistani government denies being involved in the attack, and the group is not obviously connected to the Pakistani government (although the Indian media frequently claims the opposite), in fact the group is officially banned in Pakistan. However, that didn’t stop India from sending its jets over the border in order to strike Pakistani territory, claiming that they were attacking a terrorist camp. In response, Pakistan began firing shells at India, and is even beginning to hint about the use of nuclear weapons.

This, I think, should be a concise enough summation of the surrounding events. Now, then, we can get to the angle I want to postulate – that India is the primary aggressor in the recent standoffs, and that the intent behind this is to wage holy war with Pakistan.

For starters, while the Indian government claims it was striking Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balatok, Pakistani locals tend to say that no damage was done to Jaish within the area. This raises the question of just what India attacked if not a Jaish base. That they attacked Pakistan in response to Jaish-e-Mohammed’s attack suggests that they consider Jaish-e-Mohammed to be an ally of Pakistan or a proxy of Pakistan. Although there is no real evidence that Jaish-e-Mohammed is backed by Pakistan, some scholars and the Indian media like to claim that Pakistan funds them. It is possible that the Indian government assumes this as well, and that this was the rationale to strike at Pakistan in response to being attacked by Jaish forces.

Oh, and speaking of the Indian media, One key thing to remember is that Indian media on the subject of Pakistan, especially right now, is about as untrustworthy as American media is on countries they either don’t like or think should be invaded by the US. In fact, the Indian media is in full spin generating falsehoods about Pakistan’s role in the recent standoff in order to cultivate manufactured consent for war in the Indian population. One Indian Express article for example claims that Pakistan used F-16 aircraft to attack Indian bases, without actually presenting any evidence (despite having “here’s the proof” in the headline). It is entirely possible in my view India is seeing the same type of disinformation campaign that presaged the American invasion of Iraq in 2002.

But why I do I suspect a big religious angle to the coming conflict? Why holy war? Well, the first thing that stuck out for me is how, hours after the airstrikes launched at Pakistan, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a metro journey in Dehli from Khan Market to East of Kailash in order to visit the ISKCON Temple (also known as the Glory Of India & Vedic Cultural Centre), as well as apparently unveiling a giant Bhagavad Gita at an event held there. More starkly, in that same event he gave a speech following the air strikes wherein he said this:

“The power of God is always with us to save the Earth from the enemies of humanity. We are attempting to spread this message with complete authenticity to the evil spirits and asuras. Today is very significant.”

Judging from the context of this speech, it’s very clear that Modi is referring to the nation of Pakistan and its people as demons, as Asuras (the enemies of the Devas) and as enemies of humanity, from whom the Earth is to be saved. This is very explicitly not only a prelude to conflict within the region and a sign of India’s intent to fight Pakistan but also a clear invocation of the Hindu religion in support of the coming war.

It is also worth noting that a major goal of Hindutva ideology is the creation of the Akhand Bharata (or “Undivided India”), an irredentist project aimed at bringing together the whole Indian subcontinent under the rule of India. This of course would require the subjugation of Pakistan by India so that it may come under its rule.

But what is the angle on the part of the BJP for such holy war? In my view, the answer may lie in good old-fashioned political maneuvering. There is to be a general election in India this year, expected to be held between April and May, and from what I understand Narendra Modi has been declining in popularity. In August 2018 his popularity slipped below 50% for the first time, and by the end of the year many Indians began to consider that their lives have worsened under his tenure as Prime Minister. However, the recent strikes against Pakistan have been a source of hope for the BJP, as Indians have been taking to the streets to celebrate India’s attack on Pakistan – which has been interpreted as a sign that Modi’s popularity may be set to grow again just a few months ahead of his potential re-election.

So, while I have no doubt Pakistan is pretty dangerous in this situation as well, I suspect India is acting as the primary aggressor in this mess, seeking to engender a holy war in the region in order to crush Pakistan so that Modi can stay in power for a little longer in order to flex on Islam. Kind of a petty way to send millions of people to their deaths if you ask me.