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The adoption of pop culture in the apocalypse

Rupert Till The Number of the Beast: What is this that stands before me? This paper asks in what ways apocalyptic imagery, characters, and other material from the biblical Book of Revelation, and more specifically reference to the Devil or Satan, are evident in the cultures and occultures of heavy metal.

It asks in what way the original meanings of the text have been sustained or altered, and why it is that this is the case. It asks what implications this has for our understanding of how religion and meaning operate within contemporary society, and what this tells us about changing patterns of belief and consciousness in popular culture.

It is an international cultural field with a history of at least 40 years, with innumerable cultural operators and outputs, and millions of participants and fans. This book begins by outlining the origins and nature of the Devil in Revelation and apocalyptic Christian writing.

It discusses the popular conception of a single contemporary character known as the Devil, Satan or the Antic-Christ, and how he fits into the apocalyptic, drawing upon Cohn in particular.

It goes on to investigate briefly how the blues became associated with the Devil, before moving on to discuss how a popular oc cultural conception of the apocalyptic has come to be a key feature of heavy metal.

  • Metal is a cultural form that is willing to embrace and explore the shadow, and it has been criticized in various quarters for addressing fear, horror, death and negativity Walser
  • The band quickly established an overtly apocalyptic theme to their work, and they specifically referenced the Devil;
  • Who were the alleged culprits responsible for such a dangerous operation?
  • After the world-wide success of his two brain teasing, allegorical, postmodern detective novels, The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum , many readers outside Italy have learned to appreciate Eco's vast encyclopedic competence and his voracious curiosity about practically every aspect of "high" and "lowbrow" culture;
  • This was because his playing was affected by two of his fretting fingers being damaged in an accident at work McIver
  • They also remind us that these issues are still real today and that intellectuals must try to understand them even if they do not agree with, let alone accept, the results of mass of culture.

Headbanging, a heavy metal dance form, is then considered alongside the Jungian concept of the shadow. This is followed by a study of the incorporation of the apocalyptic into the work of the band Black Sabbath, who are usually credited as being the inventors of heavy metal.

This paper will focus on the origins of the apocalyptic in heavy metal. Black and death metal acts focus on the Devil, the Anti-Christ and Satan more specifically, some time after the musical period that this chapter discusses. These forms of extreme metal, although more overtly linked to the apocalyptic, are not discussed here in great depth, for more information see Extreme Metal by Keith Kahn Harris This chapter does not claim that the apocalyptic, and links to subjects such as the demonic or to death, are what define or uniquely explain metal, but that they are clearly and often present, and are an interesting feature that is not inevitably negative.

It is acknowledged that metal has various elements of light and optimistic material, but this chapter aims to focus on its dark side, its shadow. The book focuses on western European culture, and on the development of heavy metal culture in Britain in particular.

Figure in Black that Points at Me: The Apocalyptic Devil Before we can discuss the Devil, we must first look at who he is and where this familiar apocalyptic character comes from. It is perhaps the primary apocalyptic text of Western Europe of the last years. The falsity of this link to Jesus reinforces the implicit criticism by heavy metal of the Christian approach to the apocalypse that will be discussed later.

Revelation is a typical apocalyptic document, Cohn explains in some detail its position in the history of the apocalyptic. Over the years, the purgatory it describes has been elaborated and expanded upon, filled with beasts, otherworldly creatures, devils, demons, and other unpleasantness.

Like earlier apocalyptic writings, Revelation contains an underworld that is filled with dark monsters Cohn The serpent is an animal, and Satan is an angel. The Devil with demons, who together act to bring evil and oppose the God of Christianity, is probably a conception developed from Zoroastrian beliefs or its later form Zurvanism Cohn Partridge goes on to explain Popular culture now portrays the Devil as surrounded by demons, often given the hairy legs, horns or hooves of Pan and Dionysus, gods of revelry and fun, and the trident of Poseidon, Neptune and Shiva.

Native religious figures along with the darker biblical characters, end up within apocalyptic writing as agents of an external personification of evil, trying to corrupt humans and lead them astray.

The apocalypse is about revolution, about the old order, the mainstream, being replaced by a new order Seed Apocalypse is a combat myth, it is not just about good and bad, but bad versus good, or the fight to define who chooses the good and the bad.

  • These and many other questions can be answered by reading Opera aperta, Diario minimo and Apocalittici e integrati;
  • After the release of Flashdance in 1983, for instance, torn T-shirts and leg warmers became hallmarks of the fashion of the 1980s Pemberton-Sikes, 2006;
  • In this case they often become popular icons, with an entire semi- fictional world that surrounds them, in which the pop star appears to live, a curious mixture of fantasy and reality.

In revelation it is the Devil fighting against Christianity, and advocating chaos. Christianity claims that one day the universe, or our planet at least, will be perfect, it is a utopian, optimistic belief.

But it means having to wait for the future, in a Christian life that denies the shadow and the body in the hope of the end of chaos in the future. Metal takes almost the opposite approach. Apocalypse leads to eternal damnation of the non-elect and apocalyptic heavy metal bands and their fans have certainly been presented as the non-elect by Christians.

Christian damnation is based on a final judgement that is carried out by the relevant deified figure, and inevitably the judgement is cast according to the moral attitudes of the dominant Christian mainstream culture. Heavy metal is built around a transgressive philosophy that is not happy to the adoption of pop culture in the apocalypse this judgement or the authority of Christianity to judge. Hellhound on my trail This oppositional approach to Christianity in influenced by the blues roots of heavy metal.

How heavy metal developed from blues is discussed in Walser Associated with juke or jook joints, the music was bound up with folk religious practices such as Haitian Vodou or African traditions, and also with the drug taking, gambling, drinking and prostitution common in these venues. Blues and related forms of black secular music were criticised particularly strongly by African American Christian culture, which saw this music as primitive, uncivilised and backward.

In fact many artists were involved in both blues and gospel, and the two influenced each other in various ways. Some blues artists however became particularly associated with evil and the demonic. Robert Johnson, for example, has often been described as having sold his soul to the devil in return for musical skills. This legend may have been circulated in Europe by Son House and others, to excite European audiences Farley In fact it was Tommy Johnson who claimed this had happened to him as recounted by his brother LeDell Evans The association with the devil, and the transmission of the Robert Johnson story, seems to have been later exaggerated by books written about blues such as those by Greil Marcus or Robert Palmer They included his cataract an evil eyejealousy of his playing skills, and links with blues player Zinnerman who had also courted a dark reputation.

The story was enhanced by being mixed with the Christian European legends of Faust or Dr. Faustus, in which the main character sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power and knowledge.

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Heavy metal adopted not only the musical virtuosity of British blues but also maintained the occult themes that had been carried over from American blues.

The themes and, hence, the music found a ready market with fans feeling dislocated and dispossessed by the social and political upheavals of the s and s. Heavy metal, with its rejection of Christian norms, expressed the fears and longings of these people. The new wave of British heavy metal in the s continued this development, with the occult themes becoming more culturally specific. Human technology has made it possible for people to cause even greater destruction, and nuclear weapons, selfish individualism, runaway consumption, chemical warfare and ecological disaster are perhaps the apocalyptic demons of today Seed the adoption of pop culture in the apocalypse It is no surprise then that contemporary culture returns again and again to stories of the end of the world.

Popular music forms have some advantages for the creation of apocalyptic myths. As Seed describes Popular music is a mixture of reality and fiction, in which the rock star main characters are real people but are often presented and marketed using a level of fictionalisation. An apocalypse is a revealing of secrets, and metal is an occulture, or is occultural, occult referring to secret, open to myth, invention and fantasy.

The fascination that can be seen within heavy metal with pentagrams, spells, witches, magic, Crowley and the like, comes from a desire to know the forbidden, that which is hidden or taboo, and to disobey hegemonic cultures that seem controlled by the Christian or parental. Christopher Partridge describes the rise of new forms of religion in general as occultures, and rather than seeing them as a blend of various beliefs, including Christianity, sees occultural beliefs as being specifically oppositional to Christianity.

He applies the term to heavy metal.

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Although hard-core satanic belief may represent a minority of the overall heavy metal subculture, the dissemination of occultural ideas is widespread. While we are not, for the most part dealing with institutional religion here, neither are we dealing with the secular mind. Indeed, even if the world is not literally re-enchanted for some of the artists themselves, dark occulture is helping to re-enchant the world for some of those who listen to their music, particularly when the demonic becomes iconic.

Partridge describes this kind of metal as dark occulture, or contemporary western demonology. As he tells us, the dark spirituality of heavy metal, like other occultures, has Christian roots. While formal, institutional Christianity church attendance etc. Metal is a rejection of Christianity, an adoption of the other. Whereas Christianity uses the promise of heaven to assuage the fear of death, offers eternal life and demonises the afterlife of unbelievers, metal accepts a human physicality and so death, and associates with the underworld and its imagery and culture, although these are largely sourced from Christian iconography.

Hell and the Devil are therefore constructions that are particularly relevant to metal and its weave of apocalyptic imagery.

  1. Il nome della rosa. Roberto, the protagonist, survivor of a shipreck in the novelistic tradition of Robinson Crusoe, learns to survive alone on a ship off the coast of an uncharted island, with his memories, thoughts, fears and desires revolving around the existence of his "double"-his secret?
  2. Lyrics continued to refer to the Devil or to devils, but also addressed other apocalyptic tropes, the satanic framing other subjects.
  3. The story takes place partly in Piedmont Eco's native region and partly on an island in the South Pacific. Before , in some academic circles, Eco was known for his theoretical writings on semiotics see A Theory of Semiotics and Semiotics and Philosophy of Language.

Although this includes elements such as body- piercings, tattoos, make-up, long hair, sexual activity, drug taking and a deep knowledge of musical styles that are alien to mainstream tastes, images related to the Devil are a powerful and immediate method of transgression.

Kahn Harris is here describing extreme metal Heavy metal courts death, it associates with representations of death. Metal purposely explores nothingness, oblivion, an escape from thought. It is also associated with the Devil, a signifier of death, just as God is linked with the eternally living. Heavy metal fans do not want to die, and in most cases do not want to kill, they do however want to explore death. Kahn Harris describes the increasing transgression at the heart of the extreme metal forms that developed from heavy metal, including death and black metal.

He describes how transgression of the boundaries of binary opposites such as good-bad or moral-immoral is at the heart of the power of metal. The duality required for such binaries to operate have their roots, at least within western Europe, in the kind of binaries exemplified in apocalyptic writing, and so it makes sense that it is these writings that are iconographically drawn upon within metal.

Discussing black metal, Farley tells us, most bands and their fans are neither Satanist not neo-facist. The symbolism, extreme lyrics and diabolical imagery are intended to shock and as such are a protest against the pervasiveness of societal norms One of the appeals of this music is that it is inaccessible to adult society… Satanic references within the lyrics only signify a form of subversion Heavy metal is a secular state and does not believe in a future utopia brought by second messianic coming, so it sits, remains, in the time frame of purgatory and the end times.

Christian apocalypse is balanced the adoption of pop culture in the apocalypse heavenly perfection afterwards. Heavy metal has no afterwards, it is frozen in the now, the moment, and thus the body, rather than the mind. The dystopian history presented by metal serves as a warning for the future, rather than apocalyptic end of the world.

The Apocalypse Of Pop Culture By Filip Hodas (10+ Pics)

Dystopia is a secular contemporary adaptation that has evolved from the apocalyptic. Within postmodernity, time no longer progresses from age to age. The idea of an ending no longer is necessary. With no utopian ending, culture exists in the forever, as well as remaining within the cataclysmic, in the world of pain. The sustained battle between chaos and order becomes eternal. Jung and Headbanging As we have seen, metal addresses the body, and embraces the void, seeking an escape from the usual passage of time.

This is epitomised in a principle heavy metal dance form, headbanging. This is the rhythmic moving of the head backwards and forwards in time to the music. Although on a surface level this is merely a way of making the long hair prevalent in metal occultures move and dance, it operates on a deeper level.

Why is it that heavy metal fans do this?

  1. Iommi also played power chords with no third, again initially largely for practical reasons due to only being able to use three fingers to fret chords, but the resulting sound was characteristic, powerful and successful, it is a key musical feature of heavy metal, and it is perhaps appropriate that its roots were in an industrial accident that crushed fingers.
  2. Fans project themselves into, and live out, fantasies that arise from their unconscious and shadow, to a greater degree.
  3. By investigating the warnings provided by a heavy metal popular dystopian apocalypse, we can see through this engagment with the Jungian shadow what is revealed about the fears of the collective unconscious.
  4. I am alluding here mainly to Eco's extensive use of international intertextuality and to his art of being able to speak to different levels of readers by providing enough material with plenty of ideas and not just information for everybody's taste, background and competence. The Apocalyptic Devil Before we can discuss the Devil, we must first look at who he is and where this familiar apocalyptic character comes from.
  5. Eco saw Zolla's L'eclisse dell'intellettuale, , Eclipse of the Intellectual as a target because it preceded and epitomized many of the negative views that "apocalyptic intellectuals" expressed against the threats of impoverishing and bastardizing "high" culture. Conclusions — heavy metal thunder.