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Bigotry is My Business…and Business is Good.

Recently a friend of mine put up a post on facebook asking for experiences, thoughts, or opinions relating to the currently ‘hot topic’ of gay marriage. Wanting to create a play, in the tradition of forum theatre, around the subject she was after some real life testimonies or viewpoints to give a feeling of reality to the piece. Now I’ve had no experience of gay relationships myself, and do not have any very good friends in civil partnerships (although I do know quite a few in gay relationships) so I wasn’t too sure if I could contribute something to this – even though it is a subject which I feel very strongly about. Despite this it reminded me of something I’d read a couple of weeks previously which got my blood boiling and one which, frankly, I thought needed relaying as it’s exactly the sort of thing that could be useful. She asked for my input – here’s what I gave her:

There are some people in the world, no matter who you are you will come across them, who you like, respect and, in some cases, idolise until they say just one thing that turns your stomach so much that you no longer want to be associated with them. You may or may not have heard of Dave Mustaine, lead singer and lead guitarist of Heavy Metal band Megadeth and former guitarist of Metallica – in essence a key proponent of two of the biggest metal bands in history – a genre which is supposed to be all about love and community for the outsiders and misunderstood who don’t ‘fit in’ with others. If you’re a bit different, feel bullied or outcast or don’t like the way the world works sometimes you look up to people like Dave. Well, the problem is he’s the sort of person I’m talking about.
When interviewed in 2012 Dave was asked whether he supports gay marriage and his answer was, and I quote:

“Well since I’m not gay the answer to that would have to be no”

Dead. To. Me.

What the fuck does something like that even mean? Why is it so absurd to people like him that heterosexuals like me support gay marriage? You don’t have to be gay to be in favour of simple civil rights for all. When asked further if he would support gay marriage legislation he responded:

“I’m Christian. The answer to that would be no.”

I’m going to make something very clear right now, Christianity is not wholly to blame for the backlash against gay marriage, a lot of Christians cite the positive messages from the Bible in their support and I have a great amount of respect for them for that. It’s people like Dave who are the problem. People who use their religion as a crutch to prop up their conceited and twisted views on the world, as a mask to hide who they really are.

So let’s rip the mask off Dave, lets kick the crutch from beneath you so it’s actually you that we’re talking to. Let’s speak directly to the recovering alcoholic with a history of drug use that got him kicked out of the most alcoholic band of the 80s. Speak to the violent narcissist about how he really feels. Do you support gay marriage?

“Well I’m no fucking homo so no I don’t. It’s unnatural. While we’re at I’m not black either so back to the plantation. I’m also male so no more jobs for you ladies. I’m an American, so everybody who has come to America can fuck off right home to die in starvation and poverty and buy all of the shit pumped out by our industry. Sorry kids, everything you’ve ever hoped and dreamed about whilst listening to my music is bullshit. You’re going to stay ostricised, bullied, oppressed and assaulted as long as people like me continue to breathe. Here’s a guitar solo – choke on it”

Fifty or sixty years ago people acted like this about the rights of ethnic minorities and now we are rightly ashamed that those people were ever looked at as right. Years into the future, I hope our society looks upon this argument with the same amount of embarassment and asks themselves ‘Why was this even an issue?’

 

After some careful consideration I thought this might be the sort of thing I would like to share with the wider world and so it has wound up here on my pseudo-socially engaged Metal heavy blog. I know Heavy Metal and homosexuality do not often go hand in hand, I personally can only name the great Rob Halford off the top of my head as an example of a gay metalhead, but the point is that it’s supposed to be about understanding no matter who you are. It shouldn’t matter who you are or what your background is, the feeling of community that music gives can extend to everybody and the music of the downtrodden should be the most fundamental component of this.

 You may think I’ve gone slightly far in my treatment of Mustaine with my cross comparison with race and gender debates but frankly if he’s willing to be this derogatory to homosexuals because he’s not one of them then that is unnacceptable and tantamount to saying the same thing about any different background. Tolerance is about love and understanding for people NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE and allowing them the same rights that you allow yourself.

Metal gets enough of a bad rap by people who assume (falsely) that it’s all about violence and hate. Bigots like Dave Mustaine aren’t fucking helping.

 

Rant over – this is what happens when I’m not just reviewing gigs.

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Doublethink – 27 years on

As you may have guessed from my first blog post (so very long ago, admittedly this place has fallen into disuse somewhat) I’m a bit of a reader. In the case of my first post this was about The Catcher in the Rye, a book which is widely regarded as a ‘classic canonical text’ and so it became one which, naturally, I was drawn to. You see in 2008, as I was about to set off for University, I decided it was about time I got back into reading and thought I would check out many classic and cult texts to see if I believe them to be worthy of their reputation. This started with Frankenstein and since then I have managed to flick my way through American Psycho, Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Catcher, 200 pages of Moby Dick (when the characters in a sea-faring novel are not even on the boat by page 200 I give up) and, as hinted by the title; Nineteen Eighty Four.

Now, for those of you unaware I’ll have a brief explanation.

Nineteen Eighty Four is perhaps the most known work of author George Orwell. Published in 1949, it presents a dystopian future where the world is a constant war between three superpowers; Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia and protagonist Winston Smith attempts to find his way to the ‘rebellion’ against the totalitarian, thought controlling Oceanic regime. Originally working for the Ministry of Truth (which concerns itself with rewriting history and thus is more concerned with Lies than Truth) Winston commits countless ‘thoughtcrimes’ as he holds a deep seated contempt for the regime, plans to join ‘The Brotherhood’ in rebellion, embarks in an illicit sexual affair with the character Julia and is eventually betrayed, captured and tortured at The Ministry of Love (again, the contradiction is self-evident).

Anyway, short English lesson aside the book is filled with very deliberate contradictions on the part of ‘The Party’ such as their slogan:

“War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength”

as well as the Ministries I have referred to (along with The Ministry of Peace concerned with War and The Ministry of Plenty concerned with Starvation). This is explained in the novel through the concept of ‘doublethink’, a psychological conditioning whereby a person simultaneously thinks, accepts and believes two contradictory statements and it is through this that the society continues to function, everybody in The Party accepts that their acts are evil things done purely to cling to power yet believes wholeheartedly in The Party’s pure, unequivocable leadership and unity.

It’s at this point that my title becomes relevant. Indeed it has been 27 years since 1984 (you see what I did there?) and recent conversations, books and all other things have got me thinking about thinking. Admittedly Nineteen Eighty Four is a fictitious text set in a dystopian reality far removed from any we have come to experience in our world (at least the developed, democratic world in which I live) but when you look at the psychology of the thing it goes a lot closer to home.

I realise I’m ranting, I’ll get to the point. Specifically recently I have been reading Stephen Fry’s latest autobiography ‘The Fry Chronicles’ and at one point he speaks candidly about the cult of celebrity. In the modern age with information pouring in from all sources we know that the whole celebrity lifestyle with the glitz, glamour, and priveledge is a con. Just take one look at the newspapers (unless there’s a superinjunction out) and we can see that these ‘idols’ fuck around, drink, smoke, party and vomit in hedges just as much as many of us may or may not have done in our less dignified moments. Not only that but their lives and any whiff of privacy are destroyed thanks to the very papers we read (again, unless the courts deem otherwise). Yet still, for some reason, we both idolise them and in many cases want to be part of this world. Part of the group of people who vomit their way into DUI charges, attempt to explain their behaviour with an Anti-Semitic rant and shout fuck loudly at a camera in full knowledge that children around the country are watching. Why do we accept this sort of thing? I’m starting to think doublethink may not just exist in fiction.

We know that Wayne Rooney is a gruff young man; pumping with enough hormones, vitality and monetary backing to have occassional lapses in judgement and make mistakes like the rest of us yet as soon as he does something slightly wrong we jump straight up and express our vitriolic condemnation. We are willing to accept his shortcomings as long as he is entertaining us yet at the same time are absolutely appalled by it and would want to have nothing to do with the man…

…wait…what?

Lindsey Lohan falling out of a club at 3am blind stinking drunk. Raise your hands if you’ve done that…my that’s a lot of you. Oh look, my hand’s up too.

It’s not just individuals but programmes as well. Many of my friends religiously watch The X Factor and are absolutely in love with how entertaining, exciting and touching these talented people can be yet, when pressed, admit that Cowell and the judges are the ones making real money out of it, are only looking for good television and know that a malleable voice and personality with a suitably emotionally-blackmailing sob story wins out over a talented by dull individual any day.

People nowadays are a lot smarter than some media outlets would have us believe. They know it’s a con, they know these people are monsters and they know the lifestyle is as misleading as any sentence starting with the phrase “I’m not a racist but…”. It’s doublethink – these preconceptions about the horrific nature of this true reality are substituted with a distorted one where everything is entertaining and lovely whilst still gaining some smug satisfaction from secretly knowing how fake it all is.

So the question is not do people know about this but rather do they care? We are looking at this world as if it were a shining diamond but underneath we are safe in the knowledge that it is in fact plain old carbon, filled with ordinary people making ordinary mistakes but, ultimately, under the scrutiny of the barking hounds of the public. Sometimes we really do forget that the only thing seperating these people from our own mistakes and personal agendas is that they are being watched, and guess who’s doing the watching.

I feel I may have somewhat lost sight of what I was originally saying in this post but hopefully it makes sense to all of you. Doublethink is a tricky phrase at the best of times but hopefully your confusion resulting from this post may make you pick up Orwell’s masterpiece and give it a try. Once you’ve read into the psychological minefield like I have maybe this look at the world will make more sense. it is a classic for a reason you know.

Nick

Philosophical Chaos

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Not quite weekly, turns out the way I will be blogging will be on no consistent level, a chaotic one as it were.

That’s the second time chaos has come up in one of my posts, last week I referred to myself as ‘an advocate of chaos’ and its a concept I have been thinking about for some time, transposing it mathematically, scientifically and philosophically whilst looking for chaos in the threads of everyday life. Of course titling oneself as an ‘advocate’ doesn’t really do much except applying your name to the general definition of what is a vague word at best. Chaos can mean a number of things.

I first came across the concept in A level maths lessons when looking at functions. Having spent the past two years drinking the less vital parts of my brain away and focussing my efforts on a drama degree I forget the specifics of the lesson, something to do with the Ran# button on the calculator, but I remember the idea of the function with an increasing number of solutions. For the first set of values the function had one solution until it got to a point when it suddenly had 2. Pushing the function up higher the solutions doubled again, and again, and again until the number of solutions became infinite and I had seen, for the first time, mathematical chaos.

This is essentially the building block upon which all other chaos is built, something starting in order and resulting in unpredicted outcomes. I had not imagined at the time that a problem could herald infinite solutions in the same way that the numbers must have felt trundling along at a steady rate with just the one answer. It goes on towards chaos theory in science which looks at the inexplicable and disordered Universe and tries to bring logic to the storm. Even the butterfly effect is a biproduct of chaos, the small change at the beginning of the timeline like a butterfly flapping its wings can have astronomical ramifications which, as more variables are added, become impossible to predict, become chaotic.

Still, this doesn’t explain my advocation of chaos. I’m a logical human being, an artist yes but one who puts his faith in science and rationality so why should I look at this disorder and declare my advocacy? Well, recent events have transpired over the past few months, events I’d rather not go into, which have changed the complete topography of my life and were also events that I never thought would happen. For a while I was distraught, trying to explain and rationalise, trying to plan my next move and trying desperately to figure out what would happen next but then I realised something. If I predicted this would never happen and yet it did then why am I trying to predict now? The fact of the matter is, no matter how much you try to predict the outcome of things, it is absolutely impossible to predict every conceivable situation you will find yourself and so the act of planning for it becomes increasingly illogical. One formula – infinite solutions. Never say never.

So that is how I decided to advocate chaos, whatever happens next happens and that is that, whatever is plausible is, by definition, possible regardless of the odds. The way I see it, the whole thing fits in quite nicely with nihilism and hedonism too, although I do still have a dissertation to write.

Thanks for reading, hopefully if anybody’s reading in a rational existentialist crisis you can look at this and think maybe it’s time to let go and leave the outcomes up to chaos.

Nick

Categories: Philosophy Tags: , , ,

Holden Caulfield

August 25, 2010 1 comment

Hi blogosphere, remember me?

I shouldn’t think you do, I had a blog between around August 2008 and May 2009, during which time I couldn’t have blogged more than about 8 times. It was, shall we say, pretty inconsequential.

The main problem with the blog was its pervasive focus upon my life, more specifically my life with my then girlfriend, now complicated ex. When the relationship collapsed the blog became little more than a painful reminder, a eulogy that I had to push into the back of my mind so that I could move on. Resultantly, it died, and nothing has been written there for over a year.

Recently whilst looking over some of the books I’ve read over the past few years I stopped upon J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and, flicking to the back page, I found Holden Caulfield’s immortal final sentiment:

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody”

The philosophy comes at the end of a long story of Caulfield’s attempt to ‘find himself’, as it were after leaving school and running away to New York, during which time his isolation and misanthropy become torments as he finds himself failing to function in the real world with all its ‘phonies’ (one of Caulfield’s favourite cynical sentiments). Throughout the narrative Caulfield is despondant, cynical, misanthropic, alienated, confused and, at times like this, an absolute genius.

Taking the sentiment to heart, I’m making a decision that this blog will ultimately be about my views and not my life. The moment I begin to talk about the people around me, the ones I’ve lost and the ones I love, I’ll miss them and the entire mood will shift from that of an intelligent adult capable of rational thought to the endearing ramblings of a troubled teen on a train to New York. Eventually I may find this blog honouring those I’d rather forget or denouncing those I’d rather forgive.

As an advocate of chaos I can’t promise that things will never be mentioned, just like I can’t promise I won’t lay in front of the laptop at 3am after 8 pints of lager and an emotional argument, finger hovering over the ‘post’ button next to some self-destructing rant about the evils of the human species with reference to one or two specific individuals. However I would hope that this blog will largely contain my thoughts on current affairs, politics, art, music, culture, society and will not be a narcissistic diary of my week’s accomplishments for the veneration of the internet community.

I don’t claim my views to be any more valid than anybody else’s, they are just my views and I am perfectly willing to hold them up to rational debate.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy the show

Nick.