A sickness perhaps
In the wake of my last paper published by Counter-Currents, a funny thing happened: I needed to get outside, to leave the books and computer, to allow my instincts something beyond toil. I suppose this is only funny in the context of my last paper (“Nietzsche, Physiology, and Transvaluation”), which was an attempt to conclude a series of papers on physiology and conceptual vitality. (I say attempt, because I’m being advised by John Morgan of Arktos and Jack Donovan of Dissonant Hum to write a true conclusion to the series.) I had begun to “waste away” in the extreme effort it took to meet my deadlines. I actually stopped weight training while writing the Nietzsche paper. Deadline met, I left for my family’s Thanksgiving on a Sea Island in Florida. Tummy full, I promptly disappeared into the Great Smoky Mountains with my wife and son, only to re-emerge upon Modernity’s twilight for a visit from Babbo Natale. All of this adds up to about five weeks without physical training. Two weeks in, I was dreaming about doing pull-ups, a sickness perhaps.
Morbid of mind
Three weeks later, I had not only become sedentary but also morbid of mind. I tried to write, but everything was pedestrian – too connected to the mundane conversations I’d been having. I wrote a letter to the precocious teenager down the street who’d just been accepted to Emory University. It’s unreadable. I’m no good with the uninitiated. This is all that I kept:
The other night our neighborhood was so quiet. I assume you were inside watching TV. Outside it was a perfect fall evening. We were in our backyard, again in miniature, sitting in front of a fire. The clear black sky was full of stars and planets, and I taught my son the position of Jupiter and Saturn, as well as some constellations. As I watched the smoke drift into the black sky overhead, listening to our fountain become the melody for the crackling fire, I waxed philosophically about the pathos of distance between my family and everyone else in the neighborhood.
Here we were, after all, with the elements and the heavens, with an understanding of, and reverence for, both of them, and you were watching TV. I remember saying how beautiful it was to be doing something so simple that connected us with thousands of years of our ancestors. Really, I said that it connected us to the Greeks. I was thinking but didn’t say, that our simple actions were a transvaluation of the very essence of the bourgeois form of life. For there was nothing about which science, economics, liberal humanism, or Judeo-Christian morality could’ve inform us that evening. My wife gets it already, so it would’ve been redundant. Words are like that sometimes, especially in the face of the primal.
I remember that after dinner, my son and I had a sword fight. I was trying to teach him how to defend my attacks, either through sword placement or bodily dexterity, but being so young, he was only interested in his own charges. I’m trying to balance his attacking instincts with the need to close shop and defend. But all of his heroes attack, so what am I to do? I thought the warm fire, and the cold darkness it accentuated, would help teach him about defense by emphasizing the need for balance. But, I hastily ended the lesson when I saw Jupiter above the truncated-by-privacy-fence horizon. It’s hard to teach him to enthusiastically revere something that modernity derides without contextualization, but sometimes words can spoil a perfect sensation. This was about instincts, after all.
I wanted to write something to my uncle who thinks he’s being radical by embracing the vaguely defined “Native American culture,” but how does one tell an elder – and an otherwise exceptional man – that he’s just fallen into a trap that betrays the very blood in his veins? Nonetheless, my state of mind and body proved the legitimacy of my most recent work, and more importantly, the thought of Nietzsche, Mishima, Lycurgus, and Mussolini.
Through it all, however, there was one constant, besides my family: a renewed love affair with the music of John Coltrane. It began with the Nietzsche paper. I wanted that paper to reflect a certain physiological – if not cosmic – energy. I’d used extreme metal and then hardcore during the writing of my dissertation. At that time I simply HAD to maintain the energy of life in Fascist Rome. The dissertation’s pace and energy was to reflect its subject matter, and was to shape the reader’s revulsion or enchantment with the Ultras. The Nietzsche paper was the first thing I’ve written since the dissertation that needed such a musical impetus.
I’m not sure why, but I played some Coltrane while writing the introduction. It was probably early-60s post-be-bop, but nothing too crazy. Fortune smiled, however, when what I’d chosen bled into something from late-1965, from the point at which Coltrane ceases to make sense to bourgeois man. Saying much of praise about myself, I heard something. “Dusk Dawn.” “Transition.” “Living Space.” “Attaining.” Even “Expression.” It all made sense. For so long, jazz people have blamed Coltrane’s cancer for his latter music’s lack of regard for musicality. But I never understood that. This is the same argument people make about Nietzsche’s late work, that Twilight of the Idols is the mirror’s reflection of a removed mask of sanity. I think the bourgeois nature of the commentators is what is really being reflected here. What I was able to hear matched what I was reading and writing. It was an act of war against modernity. It was the triumph of a will, and the willingness to destroy an entire paradigm – since we are talking music here, something so magical that I will refrain from any attempts to explain either its humanity or divinity, it must have been a will to destroy a very ontology. Bourgeois man has no frame of reference with which to classify Coltrane’s post-A Love Supreme output (to say nothing of Nietzsche). Especially jazz people. What are they to do with 12 minutes of chaotic squawks, polyrhythmic drumming, meandering bass lines, and random piano play? One hears them clapping politely in Seattle. What they should’ve done was burn something.
Epitome of the modern (American) West
Coltrane was an extraordinary man. He wasn’t a prodigy. But he became a master – the pinnacle of his craft – through hard work. He took it upon himself to master every form of modern jazz. He played ballads, blues, bebop, post-bop, modal, and free. Like other bebop players of his day, he studied the modern classical music of Debussy, Stravinsky, and Bartók. To play modally, he studied the Lydian and Dorian modes that comprised medieval European music, as well as Indian modalism. He practiced until his mouth bled.
When asked what kind of music he played, Coltrane explained in his soft-spoken manner that he was a classical musician. He was a Western man playing music unaccompanied by lyrics that was composed by other Western men. This begs the question that many racialists ignore: what is the black man if not the epitome of the modern (American) West?
Jazz became the music of Black Nationalism and white bohemia. That alone says much about American aesthetics – and the utterly bourgeois nature of American radicalism. And yet, even these fringe groups cannot hear late-Coltrane. I believe I’ve just explained why. But for us truly radical thinkers, those of us who have cleansed our instincts of the taint of modernity and have begun to see the world through heroic eyes, might Coltrane’s music, and the story of its genealogy, have something of value?
This will be my next project. Keep in mind; I dislike aesthetics as a concept. This dislike is what originally made Deleuze and Guattari so appealing. (Put bluntly, people tend to “like” what corporate marketers tell them to like. Taste has never been active in America. At least not in the mob.) I will say much about music and anti-music, and why the post-bourgeois form of life must have a post-bourgeois musical form. And I will use Nietzsche, for he had much to say about bourgeois music.
I will make various Coltrane tracks available for download as I begun writing the paper.