I. 13.00 - 14.15
Ondřej Daniel - I am Satan. I am Lucifer. I am [the] Devil.”: Ecstatic practices of Czech and Slovak black metal
This paper aims to discuss the ecstatic practices of black metal (BM) performances. In many ways, these performances are similar to religious mystical experiences. Making sense of them thus requires considering social cohesion and identifying liminal spaces and practices. As practices that simultaneously involve body and soul, individual and collective action, internal experience and outward displays, as well as the widening and narrowing of consciousness, these rites are sometimes explicitly, but more often implicitly, taken to be mystical experiences. The first BM bands started praising social provocation based on occult references in the early 1980s. Bands formed later started taking provocation literally and in the early 1990s, there were episodes of sectarian violence documented. Around 2010, BM re-emerged in new forms and started being appropriated by the lifestyle-driven culture of young urban professionals. The BM performances can be described through specific body practices and are confined to particular places, linking the genre to a wider pool of extreme music genres. At the core of this paper lies an analysis of practices observed and recorded in several BM fanzines and bands after the fall of state socialism in former Czechoslovakia.
Ondřej Daniel earned his PhD from the Institute of World History (Faculty of Arts) at Charles University in Prague in 2012, having specialised in post-socialism, nationalism, migration and popular culture. He has published over 25 academic articles and book chapters in Czech, English, French and Polish.
Yiren Zhao - The Chinese Identity in the Chinese Black Metal
With the trend of globalization and opening-up of China in the late 1980s, black metal emerged in China in the late 1990s and became fully established as a genre around 2000. Western black metal, especially Nordic black metal, has always been seen as the orthodoxy and origin. In the process of localization, Chinese black metal has been looking for its own subjective consciousness and even constructed a Chinese genre - Chinese agriculture metal (see Wang, 2018). To establish the Chinese identity, Chinese black metal has tried to employ local and traditional instruments and melodies, to feature Chinese sense and express in Chinese lyrics with the arousal of native consciousness. Meanwhile, it has also attempted to thoroughly explore the ideology of China, in order to define a specific identity and gain aesthetic recognition in the context of cosmopolitanism and globalization. On this basis, this paper wants to establish a mechanism of identity-aesthetic by which the Chinese black metal has made attempts to create a new identity both locally and internationally. The paper tries to answer two questions: what is at the core of Chinese identity, and how does Chinese black metal construct the Chinese identity at the textual, symbolic and ideological levels. By doing so, this study can fill in the ethnographic study of Chinese black metal and provide clues to the theoretical and practical development of the global study of black metal.
Yiren Zhao is a Doctoral Candidate at School of Music, Theatre and Art, Örebro University, Sweden.
Adrien Nonjon - Restoring the power of Darkness and opening the gates of Chaos in Europe: Intellectual origins, political practices, and dynamics of the «Militant Black Metal»
We propose in this paper a return to the content of militant black metal, as it appeared in the 2000’s in the post-Soviet countries, especially in Ukraine in the wake of the far-right movement Azov. Combining NSBM and R.A.C./Oï’s aesthetics, militant black metal is largely influenced by the so-called German conservative revolution, especially by its most radical fringe, the völkische movement (whose most eminent representatives are Ernst Jünger and Martin Heidegger), and neo-Fascism. Arising from pagan, hooligan, satanic and racist culture, militant black metal has indeed conceived a coherent vision of the world and cosmogony, dominated by the concepts of Aryan Luciferianism and dark aristocracy (I), which is an important and fundamental point in the renewal of the Ukrainian far-right political thought (II). Far from being a mere fashion reused by the Western European black metal/NSBM (Germany, France), and influencing their own artistic identity, we will show that on the contrary, this form of Black Metal is a real political strategy, offering in a context of war a springboard for the popularization of the Ukrainian far-right in Western Europe (”The Black Metal Pact of Steel”) in order to prepare the ”Reconquista” and the return to the ”Age of Darkness”(III).
Adrien Nonjon, graduated from the French Institute of Geopolitics (MA), is currently in MA of Political Science and International Relations at Paris I Sorbonne. Specialized in the study post-Soviet states and Ukrainian Studies, his work focuses on the Ukrainian far-right and its different political-cultural dynamics. After having worked on the Azov movement, then on eco-nationalism and eco-fascism in Ukraine, his studies are focused on the geopolitical ideas within the extreme right of Ukraine and their dynamics of diffusion in Europe. Adrien is also interested in alternative cultures in the post-Soviet area such as neo-paganism.
II. 14.45 - 16.00
Robert Bobnič - Phosphene: The Vision in Black Metal
In Codified World, Vilem Flusser is proclaiming that in the world of techno-images »everything is in Technicolor«. Of course, with an exception of Black Metal. It would be shortsighted, however, to consider Black in Black Metal only in terms of negation of aesthetics and culture of the techno-mediated capitalist world. For Black is, as Laruelle would have it in the On Black Universe, »anterior to the absence of light, whether this absence be the shadows that extinguish it, whether it be it nothingness or its positive opposite. […] As opposed to the black objectified in the spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any process of manifestation. This is vision-in-Black.« The vision in Black Metal as the vision in Black Universe is always already the non-human vision, however, for Laruelle the Universe has to do with the man – passionately. With the vision in Black, there comes a special kind of passion, laboring under the name of spirituality. There is a special kind of spirituality, immanent to Black Metal – not the work which transforms the subject but the work which transforms god. This is work in progress and the colorless polycephalic evolution is still going on, but we can ask ourselves some questions, among others the question of a deep historical tendency towards immanence in the world of an endless loop of a profanation without an object and the Black Metal’s vision in/of it. In this sense, it is possible to articulate and historically contextualize Black Metal's (especially in its more avant-garde form) immanent political theological position anterior to its ideological contradictions.
Robert Bobnič, Ph.D. student and member of collectives of Radio Študent, ŠUM journal, and ŠOP Records.
Lukáš Makovický - Ad Inhominem: Totalitarianism and Transcendance
I have mercy for none
Blessed by death itself
Magnificient and out of reach
I am your hell
Is the one sought
Beyond any control
A brilliant experience
I have reached the essence
Of my existence
Ad Hominem - “Compulsive Extermination”
Totalitarianism and the spectre of its return have been one of the key concepts legitimating the manifold regimes of liberal governance ever since World War II. For recent thinkers from Agamben to Žižek, the concept has been questioned and critiqued on the basis of the political subject to which it is bound. As expressed by the lyrics of Ad Hominem above, dehumanization is the limit condition that paradoxically connects one with the boundlessness of what is. This paper seeks to mercilessly explore the im/possibility of transcending and affirming totalitarianism in its most dehumanized forms as the condition of another, that is, more-than-human, more-than-biological form of freedom. It seeks to use the extremity of the totalitarian motifs in Black Metal as a groundwork for shattering the spectre that condemns us to our political present, one that itself reeks of bare life, stripped of any transcendence, magnificence, and brilliant experience. In particular, it hopes to shine some darkness on the Levinasian notion of 'totality' by posing the question of whether dehumanization can ever be complete. If so, can the very mediation (thought as alienation) between the Self and the Other, taken to its extreme as a strategy of overcoming it, condition a shedding of the distorted articulation of freedom that liberal regimes, witnessing their demise, pride themselves with?
Lukáš Makovický is a Doctoral Candidate at Faculty of Social Science at University of Lapland.
Boris Ondreička - “Actually, the Living Are Not Living” (La promesse de bonheur)
[...] There is no perspective
of our friendship with Sun
as was considered
(as a ‘doctor’
in some folk sayings)
We cannot count on solar photosynthesis
as a fertilizer
of (future) life
We have to
• consider the (sunless) chemosynthetic utopias
(vitamin D can be ((easily)) manufactured®
of the (hospitably) darkest abiogenetic guts
of hydrothermal (formerly hydro-) vents
below the primordial bottom
of the deepest Oceans,
• design an artificial atmo-protective Crust,
• to move to (so-called) Outter-Space.
Enlightenment is out
the answer. [... ]
Boris Ondreička (1969) is an artist, author and curator, former director of an art-initiative tranzit.sk, since 2012 curator at TBA21, Vienna.
III. 16.30 - 17.45
Lexi Turner - “Despite being chained to the festering corpse”: putrefaction and preservation in black metal xenochronic temporality
Black metal's relation to the subject is consistently parallel to its sonic composition. On the one hand, it is concurrently evocative of a frenzied entropy bordering on pure chaos. On the other, a strength defined through strident espousal of a narrative of authenticity, devotion to genealogical constancy with regard to audio-visual aesthetics, spiritual opposition to Judeo-Christian values, and, on unfortunate occasions, suspicion of miscegenation and democracy. Lyrical imagery is similarly paradoxical: between notions of purity and pestilence, howling fear and sardonic revelry, but most of all oxymoronic temporality: death and eternity in equal measure. I shall investigate the black metal experience of the subject position rooted in a time out of joint, where preservation and putrefaction seem of equal concern, and accordingly is established a seemingly counter-intuitive anti-human political ideology.
I've previously explored noise regarding Deleuzian difference, repetition and eternal recurrence, and Foucauldian perpetual disintegration. Here, I shall continue this research into black metal's erratic liminality and dual obsession with purity and decay as affective actualisation of aphairesis, nigredo and apophasis, as discussed by Reza Negarestani and Eugene Thacker, through which disavowal and dissolution of legible materiality might achieve access to a perennial, spiritually pure One-ness: “despite being chained to the festering corpse, or being subtracted, the soul is able to conserve some of itself and render the body intelligible.” This dark intelligibility is the philosophical component of that which makes black metal retain a melodic discretion absent from noise, and an ideological clarity absent from the majority of metal. Investigating xenochrony and anachronism in artists including Tele.S.Therion, A Forest of Stars, 1914 and Sunn O))), I shall map out black metal's unique relation to subjectivity, ideology and time.
Lexi Turner is a writer, musician and “goth philosopher” with an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London and a BA in Film Studies from King's College London. She has given lectures at conferences all over the UK on topics ranging from rhizomatic analysis of the addict as non-human body, Dionysian recurrence in modernist ballet, and most recently sexual ambivalence and nihilism in gothic rock, at the collaborative lecture between the Punk Scholars Network and the International Society of Metal Music Studies. Her master's thesis analysed noise music and sadomasochism as investigation of the body as the locus of power relations. Lexi will begin her PhD in the department of Performing and Media Arts, at Cornell University, in September.
Mark Horváth & Ádám Lovász - Uninhabiting the Gaping Black Night: Gravitational Distortion and the Truth of Extinction
In his brief poem “Letter From the One to the Most-Distant”, the French philosopher François Laruelle characterizes post-religious cosmically-oriented humans, himself included, as being “uninhabitants of the sky and of the earth”. This sense of uninhabitation, of a mystical rootedness within the benighted uprootedness of Being, is dramatically conveyed by the lyrics of the Canadian band Gravitational Distortion. As the song “The Void Between the Worlds” suggests, there is only one hope for humankind in a cold, dead universe: “Escape outside.” Yet this sole hope for a human future paradoxically demands that we make a home for ourselves within the cold blackness of space. Hence, the incomprehensible vast void should somehow be domesticated by human presence. But to what destination is the universal tendency of evolution heading? Ray Brassier has indicated this direction with ruthless clarity: intelligence, through its speculative power, is capable of rendering present a future extinction. Habitation is impossible, for science has shown us that the cosmos is, to quote Gravitational Distortion’s lyrics again, a “gaping black maw.” Every locality is a transitory step towards complete uninhabitation. We already know everything is going to end. There is no object that corresponds to the idea of infinity beyond the vacuity of space itself. Space as immobile emptiness shall reign supreme, overcoming the qualitative characteristics of life and spontaneous vitality. Space is the home of the finite. The final song on Gravitational Distortion’s album, “Cosmogyral Incineration”, is set in space, and constitutes as good a summary of Brassier’s cosmic eliminativism as any: “Annihilation of dimensions. Forever.”
Mark Horvath is a philosopher and researcher who lives in Budapest. He is, along with Adam Lovasz, co-founder and co-editor of Absentology, a Facebook page dedicated to philosophy and weird science. His areas of interest include postmodernity, virtuality, digital studies, posthumanism, pessimism, nihilism, finitude, ecology and Bataille and Baudrillard's philosophy. He has presented at many Hungarian and international conferences, and published in some journals. In 2016 March, he published his first philosophy book, The Isle of Lazaretto (co-authored with Adam Lovasz). In 2016 winter, he published a selection of essays, entitled Darkening Places. He has also co-written the first Hungarian monographs on social acceleration and Georges Bataille's philosophy with Lovasz. In early 2018, he will be publishing a book on digitality and death.
Adam Lovasz is an Australian-born philosopher and doctoral student in philosophy based at Eötvös Lóránd University (ELTE) in Budapest, Hungary. Presently Adam is studying in the Institute of Philosophy at Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest. His interests include embodiment, phenomenology and speculative realism, as well as non-anthropocentric modes of thinking. He is the author of numerous books, and his work has appeared in a number of journals, such as Ex Symposion, Horror Studies, Rupkatha Journal and the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. Adam is also co-founder of Absentology, a center of critical thinking and interdisciplinary philosophical inquiry.
Matija Potočnik Pribošič - The Dark Sublime And The End Of All Things
In his Critique of Judgment, Kant establishes the concept of the sublime as distinct from the concept of beauty, marking a significant transition for the theory of art and theory of cognition. Both, however, are based on a metaphysically untenable notion of subjectivity; that we must move past. By reflecting on black metal, and by posing a critique of Kant's Critique of Judgment and The End of All Things, this paper explores a new concept of the sublime, based on a different, impure type of subjectivity in favour of a rationalist, object-based theory of art, more compatible with a nihilistic naturalistic ontology. Black metal does not constitute a privileged object of theory nor does it form a special harmonious relationship with it; rather, it is a source of truth. It is an artistic practice that explores the concept of the sublime with no erroneous concepts of theory to stand in its way. In another form, black metal encounters the same problem set of alienation and authenticity that burdens philosophy, and produces its own solutions that must now be elevated to its proper concept.
Dr. Matija Potočnik Pribosič is an unaffiliated researcher working on a project of general metaphysics understood as the intersection of rationalist epistemology and nihilist ontology, striving to develop a naturalistic account of general metaphysics based on the faculty of understanding.