OK, so here we go. Life in solo blogging land. It’s a bit strange, because I haven’t got the boundaries that are required by a mainstream newspaper website like The Age anymore, so I can get a bit more personal.
So here’s something that I’ve been pondering lately.
The other day I watched a film clip that has often excited me. Most people won’t get it, but it raises some interesting issues.
The song in question is Duality by the macabre masked men in Slipknot.
For some reason I find the inferred tension and latent violence in the song and film clip thrilling, but something about it also connects with me. It’s probably more intense than violent, but for some reason I can’t help feeling like it expresses a truth that isn’t getting expressed in other contexts.
To watch the video go here.
But here’s where the internal paradox kicks in. I’m a big believer in non-violence and non-violent transformation of societies and communities. Two of my biggest heroes are Gandhi and Martin Luther King. I’ve had low-level training in
non-violent intervention and community peacekeeping and do my best to live out the principles where possible.
So the question that keeps rolling around my head is this: Why do I passionately enjoy music that often has such an inferred anger, angst or violent edge? And even stranger still, why did I get into it more after I decided I wanted to commit to a path of Christian faith?
Before I made a serious commitment of faith, I was into mainstream easy-listening (some would say bland, insipid and unchallenging) Christian music like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Post-commitment, I found myself drawn to bands like Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura, Fear Factory and so on.
My MP3 is also loaded with plenty of other stuff: blues, jazz, folk, a little hip-hop (but not too much) and faith-based music like Sons Of Korah.
But maybe the last band is a bit of an insight. Sons of Korah specialise in putting the words of the psalms to music. I think that at one level heavy music expresses an aspect of human life that a lot of the psalmists also touch on – anger, frustration and despair that something’s not right with the world.
As I mentioned, metal is not the only stuff I listen to, and if it were then I think it would be a problem.
But I listen to heavy music in the context of my faith that also gives me hope that things can change – but also believing that there’s a need to name what’s broken before you can start to fix it.
I don’t see it as celebrating the darkness – just naming it. There’s something liberating about naming a problem.
But it brings me to consider another point.
Me and many of my friends are passionate about non-violence, yet will happily watch movies that involve redemptive
violence – or just violence – for entertainment, play violent video games or join the Fight Club group on Facebook.
So what’s going on with this? Is it hypocritical? Is non-violence merely aspirational but never fully achievable? Does our participation in violent forms of entertainment affirm and perpetuate a culture of violence?
These are all just thoughts and reflections quickly bashed out in the midst of trying to lock down a full-time job here in Edinburgh and I’d be interested in hearing people’s thoughts.
Please note: I haven’t got as much time to invest in the quality of these pieces at the moment, but I don’t want to leave it too long between entries either. The quality will improve over the coming weeks as I get more time.