Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blanchot Variations

Below is a riff on a paragraph from Maurice Blanchot's 1953 essay 'The Pursuit of the Zero Point':

"In Norway in the 1980's, parliamentary democracy formed a stable horizon which the Social and Christian Democrat parliamentarians did not contemplate ruining or exceeding. It is tempting to say that in those times Black Metal took upon itself to gather within itself the risks of politics, thereby saving Norwegian society from the dangers to which politics subject it: parliamentary democracy is protected from Black Metal as it is made very visible, very distinctive, a domain enclosed by high walls - and at the same time Black Metal is protected from itself by being firmly delineated and accorded such precise rules that musical indeterminacy is disarmed as a result."

The original text of this paragraph deals with the respective roles of poetry and literature before the nineteenth century. Black Metal took the place of poetry; parliamentary democracy took the place of literature; Norwegian society the place of language; and politics the place of art.

I think Black Metal took upon itself that which was abjected as dangerous and violent ('risky') in Christian Democracy and Social Democacy: respectively Satanic Absolutism and Fascism. Did Black Metal thereby function as a scapegoat for the Norwegian political system? Watch the 1998 documentary Satan Rir Media to see how Black Metal was made "...very visible, very distinctive..." in the news media and how one of the main artists of that musical domain came to be "...enclosed by high walls...". And certainly, Black Metal is a formulaic genre, "...firmly delineated and accorded (...) precise rules..."

Transformations such as these bring to mind the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss on mythology, in which he compared myths of neighboring Indian tribes, analyzing transformation of symbolic units within these myths and transformations of the relations between these units. Does the ease with which I transformed literature and poetry into parliamentary democracy and Black Metal point to a latent formation in European culture?

Post scriptum

I read Blanchot's essay in Michael Holland's 'The Blanchot Reader'.


Bruce Adams said...

Wrnlrd has a blog:

valter said...

I've added the blog to the 'variety links'.

Bruce Adams said...

Thanks Valter, the support is much appreciated. Documents readers can access a special Wrnlrd EP, "Aenmity Shining" here:
Specially commissioned by FSS, it's a hint of the "Myrmidon" album to come this year.

valter said...

Thanks Bruce, that's incredible! Valter