Affirm your own life, don’t give it up

Yesterday someone I know posted about how he was apparently ready to commit suicide. He said that he didn’t know why he keeps having hope, he keeps trying but “things are never going to get better” and thus he felt the only way to stop what he perceives as his suffering is to kill himself, and he ended his post with “goodbye”. Because I considered him sort of a friend, I tried to persuade him not to commit suicide. He told me that he had no other options but to commit suicide because he had no friends (other than me, I guess) and his family threw him out on the streets because he couldn’t pay them (for what, I have no clue). He told me that he just wanted “a chance to have dreams” and that he’ll never achieve his dreams. Oh he of little faith. He’s even convinced that the world just didn’t want him in the first place. I tried to convince him that he was wrong, the suicide will change nothing, and that as long as he has a job (which he told me he does) the only way forward is to persevere and work hard until you can make enough money to get out of being homeless. After a while, the conversation stopped, and I have no idea if I actually managed to get through to him, but I hope I did.

I am very much against suicide as some people may know. Not to the point that I think it should be illegal (after all what would be the point?), but I am opposed to it. The only time I could see it as acceptable or understandable is if you’re terminally ill  with no chance of recovery or if it’s someone performing assisted suicide if you’re in a vegetative state and there’s no hope of recovering from that. Beyond that, suicide to me simply means giving up and turning your back on a life that, if you persevere, you could still make somewhat better. Nothing will change for the better if you kill yourself, and that’s regardless of the question of life after death. If you think that nothing can change for the better while you’re alive and you think suicide is the answer, just know that suicide will not make anything better. All you will do is leave behind a corpse and the grief of whatever loved ones you have.

And let me you something. The world doesn’t “want” anyone. It has no consciousnesses. It’s a thing we live on, or live off. Do you really think the planet actually gives a damn that we exist on it? Of course not. And if you kill yourself, the world, the universe and life in general will go on without you. And after a while, most people will get over it in most cases. It sounds awfully cold, but that’s reality for you. If your self-esteem or emotional well-being depends on having a place in the world’s heart, then I see little hope for you. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to live for yourself. And persevere through life, so long as you can still do so.

Death, the lust for life, and the survival of the spirit

Lately I came across another bullshit article touting the prospect physical immortality, yet another one based on the idea of transferring (or rather copying) consciousness onto a machine. It’s the same shit I wrote about earlier, only without any connection to Humai. I brought up my usual point on physical “immortality” – it’s pointless, it’s non-existent, the body will be destroyed anyway, all while we forget what it is to live. A friend of mine also pointed out that, apparently, the physical body will one day be destroyed before the planet would even end, citing that someone once estimated (not sure who) that an “immortal” body, even if not susceptible to death by disease or old age, would last about 1,000 years before an accident or violent act would damage that body beyond repair. Added to that, he points out that being physically immortal usually means becoming weary of a long and endless lifespan. Suffice it say, I’m not sure even the lust for life would do much to prevent the weariness that would come with remaining in the physical world for hundreds or thousands of years. Perhaps this is because life on Earth is meaningless without the possibility of death, and without the possibility of living a worthwhile life before you die – something that I guarantee people would not do if they could keep a physical body in the material realm forever.

As a Satanist, I say it’s better just to live your mortal life to the fullest. I reject the attempts at physical immortality as an exercise in futility (for the reasons above and more), and embrace the possibility of spiritual immortality. In the Left Hand Path generally, this is one of the primary goals of spiritual or magickal practice. And for the Satanist, the path to the survival and immortality of the spirit is by cultivating a strong self or ego and vital existence. For Anton LaVey, only the person who has remained vital throughout his life and fought to the end for his existence will cultivate a self strong enough to survive death. For me, this doesn’t seem like a purely materialistic worldview, but rather it implies the role of the self as being something like a soul, the component traditionally held to survive death. Whether or not LaVey held such as thing as spiritual or purely material is something that can be debated.

In other words, why leave the flesh when it is possible that the flesh is the house of the soul, the pathway to spiritual actualization found in vital existence on earth (and perhaps through some magick) rather than the denial of material life. It is through this that you’ll find immortality through the gates of death, not through the meager attempts of humans achieve physical immortality through “transferring” of consciousness and other hogwash. Stay vital.

Life after death through fulfillment of the ego

Living “forever”

Recently I had been made aware of a tech startup aiming to be able to transfer people’s brains or consciousness into artificial bodies. The company, called Humai, believes that by doing so humans will be able to live forever, and that a human being will be resurrected for the first time within the next 30 years. A lot of people have been talking about how terrible the idea is from a practical point of view when the company founder, Josh Bocanegra (previously the creator of a dating site/app called Loveroom), told everyone about it. But for this post, I don’t want to talk about the practical implications of the Humai project as much as the question of the “immortality” that Humai proposes. Namely the question of why? Why would anyone want what Humai is offering in the first place?

First of all, the notion of physical immortality, the eternal survival of the body, seems like nonsense to me, especially if it involves simply transferring your consciousness into another body. For me, it doesn’t matter whether or not you put your consciousness in a machine, or an artificial body, or a computer, or whatever else, because you’ll never actually live forever. One day the Sun will die, and the Earth will be destroyed. Eventually the galaxy will meet its destruction, and ultimately so will the universe, time, and all matter. In either case, I highly doubt any body human or mechanical will survive, certainly not at the point when all matter dies. And in the event that creation starts all over again, I don’t think you’d be alive to see it or even participate because your body will have been destroyed beforehand. So much for “conquering death” then.

Second, I have a suspicion that something like physical immortality would be reserved for the upper classes. You know, all the rich people and the so-called elites would be the ones who get to live as the equivalent of living gods and the rest of humanity would be consigned to mortality. And then the people in the upper classes will think they have the right to treat the everyone else like garbage because they’re purely mortal. At any rate, I don’t expect consciousness transfer to be a service made cheaply available, so most people would stay purely mortal just because of the price tag. The best technology (if you could call it that) always tends to be in the hands of the wealthy few rather than the consumer majority.

Third, in my opinion, all physical immortality means is that people no longer have to deal with death as a part of life, and that we’d no longer have to feel particularly grateful to be alive. Worse, I think we’d be a bunch of entitled bastards who think the world, and life, revolves around them because they can’t die (except when they’re bodies are destroyed eventually anyway, like I said before, not that they’d know), or because they’re humans, and they’d think any life that isn’t they’re fake immortal life is a crock of shit (much like people who dismiss any video games that aren’t 60fps). And if you could live in the physical world forever, and have what could be millions of years to not worry about death and live a complacent life, that means you’d live a complacent life spiritually. You wouldn’t grow as a soul, because why would you when you can stay in the material world forever? Why think about any kind of spiritual consciousness or afterlife or any dimension of reality other than plain material existence? And aside from that, why would you even think to do something with your life, when there’s no pressure to do so because you live in the material world basically forever. And in that situation, life loses its meaning because death is part of what gives life meaning. You are born, and someday you will die, but your life in between all that is the thing that matters. People would be richer simply for being grateful with the lives they have and making something of them while they still can rather than living in this world forever and life being either peachy and uneventful or the Great fucking Gatsby. Besides, staying in the material world forever? I don’t think it would be long before people get bored of that. I’d say living forever in the material world just isn’t like anything in the afterlife, or the stillness of oblivion if you’d rather that instead. And don’t get me started on the thought of generation after generation being preserved forever. Billions of people never passing on and taking up space as machines. I don’t think I can imagine it.

If consciousness transfer becomes a thing any time in the future, I’d want to be buried in secret so that the people doing it could never get their hands on me and force me to live in the body of a machine.

The state of music

I had only recently found out yesterday afternoon about the death of David Bowie, one of the most beloved rock musicians of the 20th century. Even though I’m not a fan of his work, I know he was highly prolific musician and he was very talented. He released several albums between 1967 and the present day, and throughout his career his albums took on a different sound and look with each new era of said career and each new incarnation of his ever-changing artistic persona, all while making a massive impact on popular music with his unique take on both rock music and pop music. He collaborated with several artists during his life such as the Pet Shop Boys, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Mick Jagger, Annie Lennox, Brian Eno, Mott the Hoople, Nile Rogers, Freddie Mercury, and Iggy Pop (who was also a dear friend of his). His final album, Blackstar (which was released on Friday), was his own way of leaving the world with a parting gift and a sign of great artistic character. My brother is definitely a fan, and I can tell that Bowie’s death was probably the biggest thing on his mind today. When I heard about it, and didn’t yet know if he had heard about it, I thought “Oh shit! He is not going to like this news at all”.

To be honest, I feel that David Bowie’s death could hardly have come at a worse time. In 2015 we not only lost Philthy Animal Taylor, the drummer of Motörhead, but also Lemmy the lead vocalist and easily Motörhead’s driving force (and after Lemmy’s death, Motörhead immediately broke up). I think we are in a climate where people are thinking that all the good musicians are dying, while in the public consciousness the void looks set to be filled with the many inane figures of homogenized commercial music culture. I don’t even need to name them, seriously you should know by now if you’ve paid any attention at all. It’s actually a very familiar climate: one that Bill Hicks once alluded to when he said in his stand-up routines “John Lennon was murdered, yet Milli Vanilli walks the fuckin’ planet”. And it feels like that today too: Lemmy and David Bowie both die of cancer, and guess who walks the Earth today? It’s all too familiar for lots of people, and I think this is particularly true for those who fall outside the realm of mainstream and popular music and belong to the realms of other forms of music: particularly metal or punk, but especially metal in my experience. Over the years the world of metal has seen the loss of its own icons besides Lemmy and Philthy Animal Taylor. Among them we can name Randy Rhoads, Chuck Schuldiner, Cliff Burton, Quorthon, Ronnie James Dio, Darrel “Dimebag” Abbot, Per Ohlin (a.k.a. Dead), Paul Baloff (the original Exodus vocalist), Mike Scaccia (of Ministry and Rigor Mortis), Jeff Hanneman, and Dave Brockie (a.k.a. Oderus Urungus), all of whom proved themselves as an invaluable part of metal music for their talent, for being powerful and inspirational forces in metal music, and for leaving behind their own legacy. Some of us, myself included, can be inclined to complain that while they are no longer among us, purveyors of mindless pop, rap, and inauthentic forms of rock music still walk the Earth. And it’s a lot worse when you feel like these musicians die too soon, and even when Lemmy and Philthy Animal Taylor died it felt like they left this world too soon.

I actually felt like reflecting on the state of music today, because as I have discussed earlier here, while good musicians are dying and increasingly relegated in public consciousness, they have already been replaced in the minds of the masses by purveyors or more homogenized music, and the more homogenized music currently dominates popular music. And again, if you’ve paid attention to any media at all you’ll know who these purveyors are. I believe that a similar phenomenon is occurring in the realm of hard rock and heavy metal music, as you might see when you pay attention to the realm of mainstream “heavy music”. Essentially, this is the world of heavy metal, hard rock, punk rock, alternative rock, metalcore, and just about anything perceived as hard-edged and heavy are just fucking forced together and made part of a more homogenized heavy music category. You see this sort of thing promoted by the likes of Kerrang Magazine, Download Festival, and a bevy of ignorant youths who don’t even know what they’re listening to because they don’t think about it. These are the kinds of people who, let’s say for the sake of argument, think bands like The Who, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, Poison, Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Green Day, Slipknot, Rammstein, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, and Black Veil Brides all belong to the same category and the same family as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Pantera as well as each other. They don’t: the example shown for the sake of argument is a disparate group of musical acts representing different musical genres, and also bound to convey a different ethos to each other, and no one in the right mind would pair them together as though they were in the same family. But that’s what’s going on in mainstream rock culture, or at least hard rock culture: we’re creating a monolithic heavy rock and roll category, even when it should be clear that they don’t all belong to the same category and they all deserve to stand on their own and by their own virtues.

A photo taken of Download Festival 2014

And when we’re not doing that, we’re still favoring an idea of metal that usually consist of music that seems metal, but the vocal style and other elements (such as lyrics) can feel like nothing of the kind, a phenomenon that might have been introduced with the rise of metalcore and screamo. In addition, there’s a gravitation towards the famous and popular metal bands like Black Sabbath, Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Machine Head, Amon Amarth, and Arch Enemy (not that any of them are necessarily bad, especially not the ones from the golden age of metal), as well as the popular but only vaguely metal groups like Slipknot, Bullet for my Valentine, Trivium, Rammstein, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me the Horizon and others, but there’s not a lot of looking past that. I fear that in that climate, more traditional forms of metal outside the popular range of bands may be seen as welcome because the younger audiences may find them passé and are thus relegated to the underground. And I don’t mean old bands (though I do think people could explore the gamut of classic metal more), I mean new ones who play more traditional styles (this usually goes for heavy metal, speed metal, thrash metal).And is it me, or do a lot of the more popular bands also seem like they have a more extreme sound, even when they’re not strictly death metal, black metal, or grindcore? Is it because of the assumption that metal is all about aggression? Aggression is certainly a key element of metal music, but I think most metalheads know it’s not the only thing that makes metal what it is. Is it just because it seems cool, because it’s the thing that’s popular?  I hope not because believe me, that’s not something metal should be put through constantly. In the 1980’s, glam was popular and some traditional metal bands (like Accept and Judas Priest) as well as hard rock acts (like Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper) briefly embraced the hair metal ethos and sound at one point because that was big at the time, and they quickly rejected it. Hell even Discharge (a hardcore punk band) and Celtic Frost (the famous extreme metal band) put out a glam metal record at one point for some bizzare reason. In the 1990’s, some well-known thrash metal bands began to either embrace a more radio-friendly heavy rock sound or simply a slower sound following the success of Metallica’s self-titled album (examples including Testament, Exodus, Megadeth, and Nuclear Assault), while other thrash metal bands chose to embrace a more mid-tempo groove metal style popularized by Pantera (examples include Overkill, Sepultura, Prong, Anthrax, and Demolition Hammer). In the 2000’s, metalcore and nu-metal were becoming popular, and then we got a lot of bands playing heavy music that did stuff like that. We already know what it is to just do what’s popular because it seems popular or even because it’s “cool”, but has no relevance to what you’re actually doing and what you’re actually about.

I can’t help thinking this happens because of a fear of being passé. But since when did metal become passé. And we never say this about classic metal bands. We dare not! We don’t do this anything with the reputation of being classic. In fact, often it’s only when old media continue to do the same thing we are briefly reminded that there’s nothing wrong with still making good use of your old tropes. In movies, the recent Star Wars film was a both a massive commercial success and a great movie, partly because it carries forth a popular already-familiar brand, but also because it managed to do something new without it being completely different. At first, I thought it bothered me that it recycled elements from the original trilogy and keep referencing it, but this was not only inevitable due the film’s continuity from the original trilogy but also it also made sense because the original trilogy was memorable, and why take away what was already good? So it is with not only old metal bands who continue with their art but also new bands that carry on the torch of classical forms of metal and its subgenres. It may seem familiar, but that’s because it’s good. It deserves to be familiar. Not at all like the homogenized forms of music we see today, which are only at least credible.

Even though I’ve discussed a hell of a lot about metal and hard rock culture, my main point is simply about that climate we feel when good musicians die and we get left thinking about the musicians and band still with us, or when we think about the music of then versus the music of now. But it’s also worth remembering that if we care about that, we could at least try to make a contribution. I may be doing game design, but I do feel motivated at times to think about making metal. I’m still not very good at the electric guitar, but no matter what I do in life I’d still like to learn to make real metal and some day give it to the world, because I love metal. I would think anyone with an interest in music would feel the same about genuine, non-homogenized music. That’s one thing to take

One last note: fuck Kanye West. Just fuck him.

A desire to watch the world burn?

Apparently this month has been host to its fair share of doomsday theories. Many people thought an asteroid was actually going to hit Earth this month, and people also seem to believe that the blood moon set to appear by the end of this week is supposed to be a sign of the end of the world, obviously referring to somewhere in the Book of Revelations that says the sun will turn black and the moon will become red with blood. It seems like every now and then someone throws up a doomsday prediction set to fulfill itself in this lifetime, often coinciding with religious beliefs or an old prophecy (the second coming of Jesus being a common example), or a familiar doomsday prediction springs up again and people believe it again, or an unusual cosmic phenomenon occurs and, since we tend to fear the unknown, we greatly exaggerate it (like those solar flares from two years ago). If the scientific community is right, the end of the world won’t happen for a few billion of years, and even then there’s no telling whether or not it will necessarily coincide with the extinction of the human species. But until then, humans seem to be very impatient for the world to just up and get destroyed within their lifetime.

Any moment now.

I feel that there’s a rather bitter reason for people to keep believing in the imminent end of the world happening in this lifetime, or keep throwing up predictions. I personally have a feeling that people want to believe the world is going to end soon because they don’t seem to like life on Earth a whole lot, and when the end of the world happens and they die, that would all go away. Think about it: in death, you don’t have to deal with the life you lived anymore, and the responsibilities of life are naturally finished. To me, people wait for doomsday because they want to be swept away from all the responsibilities of this life. People are anxious die and go to heaven, hell, or just plain oblivion the easy way without ever having to be responsible for their own lives. That’s my opinion anyway. Or, it be, as Michael Caine put it, some people just want to watch the world burn.

Living a good life before it falls out of your hands

My brother and I were talking about the 1988 movie Heathers, which we saw three days ago. The basic idea of the movie was that a girl named Veronica (portrayed by Winona Ryder) becomes tired of her clique of friends and particularly how one of her friends (a girl named Heather Duke) acts towards her, so she teams up with a young man named J.D. (Christian Slater) to kill her, along with two high school “jocks” named Kurt and Ram (one of whom tried to advance on her) and make it look as though they had killed themselves, only for Veronica to discover that, after they died supposedly by their own hands, they wound up becoming more loved and popular than ever despite that they were airheaded and unpleasant in their worldly lives. As Veronica put it, “suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain”. She also discovers that after their deaths teen suicide ends up being glorified in her school to the point that when the least popular girl genuinely attempts a suicide and survives, it is derided as simply an attempt to be popular, that the adults turn the deaths of Heather, Kurt, and Ram into a cause, and that J.D. starts killing more kids and plans on blowing up the entire school and making it look like a mass suicide all in accordance with his bleak and nihilistic view on the human condition (and that she was on the slippery slope to becoming a monster like him).

We were talking on some of the essential points of the film, particularly the scene wherein Veronica rushes to counsel one Heather McNamara to prevent her from committing suicide after the latter announces her intentions to do so on a TV show via radio. Veronica tells Heather that had she killed herself,  her death would be used as another statistic in the “U S Fucking A”. I pointed out to him that it made sense in the real world because in death you leave behind your worldly life, and logically this means that the life you lived in the past is no longer under your control. This effectively means that your life can be taken up by others for their own purposes and interpret them in any way they wish and you wouldn’t be able to stop them because you have died and are now in whatever state of existence you believe you will attain after life, and that loss of control is probably a crucial force behind the fear of death. It occurred to me that this may form part of the reason to live a good and worthy life, because that life can serve as a beacon of light and inspiration to others, whereas as a scandalous and bad life would be taken as yet another example of the “evils” of humanity. The only problem I can see with that idea is that it might end up amounting to living for others instead of yourself.

Kings and queens

For some curious reason I had a brief thought yesterday about what would happen after I pass away. Not in the sense of what would happen to me after the death of my physical body, but in the sense of what would happen to my legacy in this world after my passing. I then thought of what I might want from the family I might raise in the future, and what I want in my life. I tend to have a specific desire to imprint, establish, and exert myself in the world in a creative and artistic way. This blog, though an expansive effort, is only part of how I do this, and I have many means at my disposal for reminding myself of what I am or what makes me tick, and expressing that. At times, I feel this immortalizes myself in some way, and creates a kind of legacy. I feel like I have acknowledged this sort of thing before I even started identifying with Satanism and the wider Left Hand Path, and being in the Left Hand Path naturally tied into that in a way that no other form of belief system ever could.

Because of this, I thought that if I passed on, I’d like for the family I raise to preserve my legacy. This can be seen as a basic trait common to almost all individuals if you think about it, right down to the desire to procreate and/or raise a family in the first place (even adopting a child can be taken as a form of carrying on one’s legacy in absence of the ability or desire to procreate). For many it’s about the desire to pass on a legacy, and to express the instinct of parental love. All I would desire from the family I raise, the next generation, is that they honor the legacy I create, and that they think for themselves, know themselves, carve and pursue their own identity, go on to create a legacy of their own, and be as the masters and rulers of their own lives, and it wouldn’t matter if they had different beliefs and interests from mine. In a way, they would be kings and queens on earth onto themselves, and so would me and the one with whom I may spend my remaining years. I use the term kings and queens in spite of my political attitude against royalism and the institution of monarchy, because as individuals who are our own masters we are the rulers of our own spiritual kingdom. And I’d want my partner to be a part of my spiritual kingdom in some way and be part of my legacy, which would invariably make her a queen in some way.

But I can’t help but wonder now, thinking back about what I’ve written, why I am I thinking them, why do they feel so deep and raw, and why do I feel such a need to write it? Maybe the emotions involved are just strong enough.