Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two

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Music Monday: Ronnie James Dio edition

I'm sorry Ronnie James Dio is dead, because he seems to have touched a lot of people, and they're grieved at his death. I am emphatically not one of them. What I mean is - that I hate death, all death, and the death of anyone is cause for grief - but exactly because I hate death, I do not feel grieved at the passing of the artist - just the death of the man.

Because I hate heavy metal.

You know, growing up a middle class white kids in the suburbs, the almost inevitable answer from any of my peers to the question "What kind of music do you like?" was "Oh I like all kinds of music except for rap, heavy metal and country-western." At the time it probably seemed very open-minded to us, though in retrospect I see how blinkered and bland it was. Today, I've developed a ...well, not exactly taste for, but at least tolerance for rap - especially the hip-hop that's closest to its soul and R&B roots. I'm sorry, I've never learned to like country music, except for it's oldest of the old-school practitioners, like Johnny Cash. I recognize that as a white man with Southern roots in my family, this is a major failing.

But man, I hate heavy metal.

And when Dio died, I thought about why. Because lamentations for him are omnipresent on the web over the weekend, far more so than any number of other popular or important figures that have died recently. This I find annoying for the simple reason that I hate heavy metal and don't care about it ... and if you're a fan of metal, I'm sorry but I've been secretly judging you in my brain. Actually, I'm not even sorry - I think metal is just a blight. It is harsh and dissonant, it celebrates noise, anger and volume over anything that is remotely beautiful or lyrical, and is often (though not always) performed by people with as little talent as other empty shells like Brittney Spears or...well, insert your "doesn't-write-their-own-music-and-is-a-construct-of-marketing" performer here. There are obvious exceptions, people with extraordinary talent and creativity. I can't help but feeling that their talented is wasted in a cesspool of death and nihilism.

Man, I really hate heavy metal. The more modern, the more I hate it. (Caveat: Gwar is an amazing concert to go to, and I love the spectacle and mad energy. I've seen them several times and would do so again - but I would never listen to them other than at a live performance.)

So in the shower, I'm thinking about this visceral reaction I have to metal, and all things metal-ish. And I realized it's because yes, the music is harsh and ugly, just plain ugly - but more than that, it celebrates death and violence. More than just that, it's all about hurting things, hurting people, hurting each other...destroying things. It's nihilistic...but then so was The Smiths, and I like The Smiths and (insert-your-goth-band-here). So it's not just that it's ugly - though certainly that. And it's not just that it's nihilistic.

At it's heart, (if it has one) metal is just entropy in music form. It doesn't just hate authority - punk hates authority and law, and is often ugly - it doesn't just revel in death and violence; metal hates everything. It is about tearing down, destroying...sheerly for the sake of entropy itself. I joke that entropy is the greatest of my Three Immortal Enemies, but in truth it's the force that I rail against the most. I think human endeavor is one of the few anentropic forces in the universe, and we are constantly stymied or foiled in our efforts by the one inescapable truth - all things tend towards a state of entropy. My heroes are the people who don't accept that is a defeat, and put on their pants get to work building things, learning things, and making the universe more complex, not less. The things I've done I'm most proud of are the things that made the world, or even just my life, better as a result of creating something that wasn't there before. Conversely, when I'm at my lowest I'm riding the tides of entropy, and doing little to oppose the process of decreasing order and increasing randomness.

Man, I really hate entropy.

Everyone you've ever lost, every person you've loved, and who died - you lost to entropy. There will never be an immortal person, because of entropy. Nothing anyone ever builds will last forever, because of entropy. Absolutely everything will be torn down to its constituent parts and boiled away into the heat-death of the universe, because of entropy. The stars will die, nothing will live, and there will be nothing but uniform, gray, energyless matter that is entirely entropic. This is the death not just of you, not just of the people you love, not just of love itself; but everything. Everything will cease to be, because of entropy.

So when some doped up knuckleheads put on skin-tight pants and sing a song pledging their enduring love of entropy and all its avatars, I loathe them. They are part of the problem, they are in service to the death-of-all-things, and they believe that makes them sexy and appealing. And some of you believe them, and some of you think that their service to entropy is exciting, and you like it too.

For this I judge you. And because of this, I hate metal. Because really, at the heart of the matter, distilled down to its most basic truth - I rail against death, chaos, violence, suffering, and the tearing down of all human endeavor. I can't stand the music that celebrates those things, I dislike the people that make that music, and I think the people who like that music are at the very least, wrongheaded.

If Dio hadn't died, and so many people I know been so vocal about it, I probably would have never put a structure to my feelings on the matter. But he did, and you did - so I did...and ironically, my thoughts are a little more ordered, a little more structured, and in a very small way, (a very, very, very small way) that means the entropy in the universe is just slightly lessened.

But I still hate metal.

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