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Metal => Metal => Topic started by: death metal black metal on February 06, 2005, 11:00:12 AM

Title: Fireaxe
Post by: death metal black metal on February 06, 2005, 11:00:12 AM
Subversion is what I do best…

                      The Burning Blade

              Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 8.2

                      Feb 4, 2005

            http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

              "Force your will upon the world
              and enslave us to your dream."
                              - Fireaxe "River of Madness"

      We are all told to follow our dreams, strive to satisfy our
desires, and fight hard to keep what is ours, but what happens when
achieving those goals is unrealistic or simply impossible?  Few of us
like to admit defeat or part with our highest aspirations and so when
our dreams come into conflict with reality it is often reality, or our
perception of it, which is altered to accommodate the dream.  We
try to imagine a reality in which our dreams come true and thus,
truth is often the first casualty of desire.
      Take, for example, our civic responsibilities.  We all want
the things that the government provides for us, police protection,
good schools, better roads, and assistance for the unfortunate, and we
want to see these things improved and better funded.  But whenever
new taxes are proposed to pay for those improvements we flatly refuse
to pay and vote them down.  Do we think that the money will come
out of thin air?  Of course not.  We want everyone else to pay more,
believing, generally without any factual support, that we're paying
enough, or too much, and others aren't.  We don't bother examining
the issue since we might find out that we are wrong, and when we do
stumble upon facts, we accept them selectively, based on what it is
that we want to believe.  The end result that we collectively want more
than we are willing to pay for and we all live in our own little worlds
with our own ideas of what government needs to do to fix the problem.
And so even in a crisis, which inevitably results, there is little consensus,
and any way that we end up settling things appears unjust to many of
us, ensuring future conflict and dissent.
      In this example it is easy to see that we are collectively acting
in a way which makes things harder for ourselves.  That much is simple.
Figuring out a system for calculating each individual's tax burden
fairly is not simple, and getting everyone to agree that the system is
just is virtually impossible.  The basic problem is that we all feel
entitled to more than we can collectively have, an attitude that extends
to far more than just taxation and civic improvements.  It is a simple
truth that we cannot all be above average although we can all want to
be.  And though while a few of us actually make our wildest dreams
come true, the vast majority of people who dream of winning a Super
Bowl, getting elected president, or becoming a big rock star have those
dreams dashed sooner or later.  But since dreams don't die easily, the
demand for special things far outweighs the supply, guaranteeing
conflict, and not always in the form of healthy competition.
      Collectively we invite trouble by chasing dreams and shooting
for the stars, but individually it is the best way for us to achieve those
goals.  The more you want something, the more motivated you will be
to achieve it, and the more likely you will push yourself to become the
best that you can possibly be.  As individuals it is better for us to lose
our larger perspective, pushing aside the possibility that we could lose
and ignoring the plight of those who inevitably will.  We benefit from
focusing solely on achieving our personal goals for holding back in
any way results in losing ground to those who do not care about the
impact their intense desires cause.  We try so hard because we know
that when the day of victory occurs the winners will take all and the
losers will be sent home in shame.  To work hard and fail is the worst
possible outcome, so we push ourselves to extremes to succeed.  Extreme
rewards invite extreme competition and all the ugliness that surround
such behavior.  And it isn't just those who push too hard who deserve
the blame, all of us support the system in our attitudes towards the
winners and losers, and thus we encourage the system towards
extremes.
      Such a highly competitive system produces great champions,
but it also has the severe drawback of being stunningly myopic.  Having
a larger perspective on competition, life, and the world we live in is a
liability and as a result many of us do not even bother gathering a deep
understanding of things.  Our personal goals become all-consuming,
and anyone or anything that gets in our way is viewed as being an
enemy to be defeated.  Long term planning is cast aside for greater
returns on short term goals for if you are not sure that you will be on
top for long, why plan for something that will be of greater benefit to
the one who beats you and takes your place?
      Such systems are not stable due to lack of foresight on the
part of those within them.  To some degree that is a good thing, since
all will be given a respite from the madness as the system collapses,
but a catastrophic collapse is far from enjoyable and often we choose
to support the system since it is the lesser of two evils.
      Speaking of evil, I, as well as Octavio Ramos, are hard at
work writing material for the new project "Eternal Devotion to the
Dark Goddess".  Although many miles apart, thanks to the internet
we are busy co-authoring what promises to be one of the hottest tracks
on the disk.  I plan to write out all the tracks before starting the
recording process, so it will be a while before I'll have cuts from the
new CD for you to hear.  Stay tuned.
      A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.

Some good reviews and a hearty hail to Fireaxe's biggest supporters

      More reviews of "Victory or Death" have come in and the
new ones have been more positive than the older ones.  As before, the
reviewers don't go into depth about the music, sticking mainly to
reporting who Fireaxe is, which bands Fireaxe sounds like, and
giving the music an overall rating.  That's pretty much what every CD
gets except for those the reviewer either loves or loathes, so I'm not
getting, nor am I demanding, special treatment.  But what disappoints
me about webzine reviews is how little publicity they have generated
for Fireaxe.  I have yet to have a single person tell me that they found
out about Fireaxe through a webzine demo review of "Victory or Death".
It makes me wonder if anyone bothers reading them at all.
      So is it all wasted effort?  Probably not, since publicity of any
kind is beneficial, even bad press.  A few years back someone who ran
a site where every week he posted a "worst of the internet" award along
with a ridicule-filled rant stumbled across the Fireaxe site around the
time that "Lovecraftian Nightmares" was in release.  The guy did a
pretty nasty write-up, although he was so uninformed about Fireaxe
that his cheap shots completely missed their target.  But not long after
that I got an e-mail from one of his readers who had decided to listen
to a few Fireaxe mp3s, liked them, and wanted to order a copy of the
CD.  Mind you, that's not the kind of attention I'd like to get, but it
just goes to show that there is some truth behind the adage that
"any press is good press".
      But it seems like in the super-saturated market for new music
that good press doesn't get anyone's attention unless it's extremely good
press, and I am thankful that Fireaxe has a number of people who have
been so inspired by my music that they've written glowing reviews of
Fireaxe in high traffic areas on the internet.  They have been the ones
who have spread Fireaxe around the world, encouraging many to at
least listen to what I have to offer and decide for themselves if they
like it.  A hearty hail goes out to Lord Vic and his constant praise of
Fireaxe on metal-rules.com.  About 90% of the people who contact me
about buying CDs tell me that it was Lord Vic who prompted them to
sample Fireaxe mp3s.  I also owe a great debt to Bim Landers and
Nicolas Bonneau for their ongoing support.  Hails to you guys, and
many others, for keeping the spotlight on my works.
      Nicolas is my French distributor, and he'd be spreading CDs
across that beautiful country if there hadn't been a postal breakdown
along the way.  No one knows what happened, but somewhere between
here and there an uninsured, unregistered package containing ten copies
of "Food for the Gods" almost got lost in the mail, never to be seen
again.  After submitting a formal complaint to the postmaster the
package was returned to me more than three months after I sent it out,
along with a bill for the return postage.  Where had it been?  We are not
sure, but one of the stickers on it said that it had been through Germany.
Germany?  Exactly how the international postal service could take a large
package with the destination clearly written on it in big letters (FRANCE)
and send it to the wrong country is beyond me.  But at least I got the CDs
back, and soon Nicolas will be able to go about his work spreading the
anti-gospel.

The oppositional nature of consciousness

      In edition 7.6 of this newsletter I wrote a short essay which
probed the oppositional nature of ideologies.  I made quite a number of
points, the main ones being: that all ideologies are defined in opposition
to some threat to their existence; that they are at their most powerful and
motivated when fighting against that threat; and that in the absence of
that threat they seek out other rivals which can take the place of the
vanquished opposition.  In this newsletter I will make similar arguments
concerning consciousness and how people behave in much the same
way as ideologies.  But first there are a few things about ideologies that
I would like to comment on as they relate to the post-election period in
the U.S.  Note that I wrote about ideologies before the last election.
      In George W. Bush's second inaugural address it almost
seemed as if his speech writer was an avid reader of my newsletter,
using my theories to construct a speech which would motivate all
Americans to destroy our adversary, tyranny, in the name of our god,
Freedom.  Everything that I wrote about was in evidence in the address:
the warnings of complacency, the morphing of the dictatorships of old
into current world powers, and the depiction of the entire world as a
desperate struggle between good and evil.  It remains to be seen just
how much those ideals are put into actions but the "Freedom Crusade"
is certainly on the march.
      In BB7.6 I wrote, "In their quest to destroy their adversaries,
ideologies can turn inwards upon themselves, conducting a campaign
of ideological purification.  This often becomes necessary when a
substantial number of followers cannot make the connection between
the current adversary and the original adversary of the ideology."
By the time of the inaugural address this had already happened to a
great degree in the one area that President Bush had the most control
over, his cabinet.  Out went the last of the moderates and in went the
extremists and yes-men, or rather yes-persons.  Furthermore, in the
preceding months there had been an ideological purge at the CIA
with a number of senior officials being forced into retirement.  Added
to that was an expansion of an intelligence gathering group headed by
the pentagon which has no congressional oversight and is completely
controlled by the executive branch.  Even though it is this sort of
consolidation of power that the U.S. was created to oppose, as long
as the true believers in charge see a difference between themselves
and their enemies they will continue to seize power, in ways much
like their foes, to use against their enemies, foreign and domestic.
      I'd be very worried about this situation if it weren't for the
fact that control of the U.S. economy has been placed squarely in the
hands of foreigners, some of whom are run by the very governments
that the U.S. opposes.  With a massive debt and a constant need for
more loans, the U.S. government and its citizens can ill afford to
push their drive for "A New American Century" too far.  Foreign
investors can pull the plug at any time.  The only trouble is that if the
U.S. economy falls, everyone's economy falls, and so foreign lenders
see pulling the rug out from under America as a tool of last resort.
Nonetheless, I feel that time is getting close.
      Now, turning towards the oppositional nature of
consciousness.  In the Fireaxe theory I made the following
contentions regarding consciousness: that consciousness is created
by instilling within a person a permanent sense of inadequacy, in
essence a state of constant fear; and that the deeper the sense of
inadequacy, the stronger the person is motivated, generally to
serve their ideology.  It is here where we can see the reason why
both ideology and consciousness share an oppositional nature: an
ideology is much more unified if it, and its members, all stand together
in opposition to a similar foe.  It benefits an ideology to force its
oppositional nature on individuals.  Thus, within every ideology there
are a great number of lessons that are taught to its members about the
dangers of its adversary with the intent of crafting the consciousness
of its members in such a way that they fear and oppose it.  This unity
of vigilance solidifies the structure of the ideology as newly made
conscious members conform to the ideological system.
      I view consciousness as being a state of hyper-vigilance
necessary for survival within a modern society.  I've discussed my
theory on consciousness elsewhere and so I will only go over it briefly
here.  The demands of the modern world require each person to have
an internal model of the world which includes a model of himself or
herself which they can use to perform long term planning.  Long
term planning is critical in today's world, since without it you must
always react to things as they occur, which, in our modern society, is
often far too late.  You need to be able to plan for the future and
visualize yourself testing out various options to be able to make a
good choice.  Once you have such an internal model, you can see
yourself in your mind's eye, know that you exist, and thus are
conscious.
      There are many dangers within our society despite its calm
appearance and overly-publicized sensational crimes.  Most of these
dangers come in the form of victimization and exploitation with
a great many of them being perfectly legal.  As a child you must
conform to avoid humiliation at the hands of your peers and work
hard to live up to the expectations of your parents and teachers.  As
an adult you face those same pressures and more, including living up
to the expectations of your boss and spouse, providing for your
family, and fending off the constant assault on your wealth from all
directions.  Failing in any one of these areas can result in anything
from mild discomfort to a major personal catastrophe, so we try hard
to succeed.  Successful defense requires consciousness so that we can
think through all the problems that we face and avoid falling for the
tricks and traps of clever con artists.  But consciousness is more than
something which forms when dangers are imminent and then goes
away when they are distant.  Consciousness is a permanent state, and
that implies a continuous source of danger.  I think that consciousness
is made permanent by repeatedly exposing someone to sometimes
traumatic failures until the fear of failure has been made indelible
in the mind of the individual.  This can come about as a series of
lesser traumatic events, a single very traumatic event, or some
combination of the two.  It matters not how it comes about, since the
important part is that the individual will always feel the fear of failure
and thus will always work towards preventing it.
      We don't set out to traumatize our children and peers, in fact
we usually set out to do the opposite since we love and respect them,
but both we and our society have expectations for our children that
they need to live up to or else they will suffer both in the present and
in the future.  So in order to help them to meet those expectations, we
are forced to motivate them to achieve.  We try to use the "carrot only"
approach, but that can only get us so far.  Punishment is required to
prevent our children from doing things that we don't want them to do
and also to prevent them from becoming spoiled, lethargic, or content.
So when they fall short, and they inevitably do, the hammer comes
down.  Punishment isn't necessarily a physical beating.  In fact, that
is not the most effective form of punishment.  Far more powerful,
and potentially traumatic or damaging as well, is some sort of
deprivation, such as taking away a beloved possession, social isolation,
or withholding affection from the child.  We don't want to do these
things, but we do them because we they work: motivation is increased
and expectations are often reached where the "carrot only" approach
had failed.  But there are dangers.  It isn't easy to get exactly the results
we want, usually because we are not in a rational state when we are
applying punishment, and severe trauma leading to mental disorders
can sometimes be the result.
      This may sound like I am contending that consciousness is
some form of insanity.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that, but due to
the similarities between consciousness and dissociation disorders it
seems that consciousness is in essence a mild form of dissociation
with similar causes and mechanisms.  Dissociation is a form of mental
paralysis, temporarily disconnecting mind from body, which stops the
person from moving or acting in any way.  It is the "freeze" part of the
instinctive fight, flight, or freeze reaction to dangers and served our
ancestors and predecessors well during encounters with predators who
located their prey primarily through detecting motion.  I think that in
conscious people, this dissociation mechanism enables us to stop and
think whenever we encounter dangers, serving as a layer between the
outside world and our thoughts, and as a layer between our thoughts
and our actions.  Since most of the dangers we face are not immediate,
we can afford the luxury of waiting and thinking through our options.
And since many of the dangers we face are complicated, we need to
prevent ourselves from acting reflexively or impulsively lest we do
the wrong thing.  Also, with practice, I think we are able to relax the
total paralysis part of the dissociation mechanism so that we can think
and act at the same time.  We can also learn to be thinking about one
thing while we are doing another, allowing us to deal with dangers
full time while going about our daily lives.  That is pretty much the
definition of dissociation, a sharp division between mind and body,
but not so sharp as to inhibit all action.  Thus, in my view, as conscious
organisms we are constantly in fear, to a degree, and constantly trying
to work our way out of that fear.  I think that the conscious state is one
of mild, controlled panic.
      The goal of child rearing is to place the child into this state
of controlled panic by applying punishment until the state becomes
permanent.  Now, it would seem that this type of child rearing would
result in the child having an adversarial relationship with the parent
since the parent is the one who applies the punishment.  Of course,
this is not desirable since the member of an ideology shouldn't come
to view a surrogate of that ideology as their adversary.  So instead,
the force which is responsible for a child's failure in meeting social
expectations is said to be something other than the punishing agent.
In most cases the child itself is blamed, or at least the part of the
child associated with the ideology's adversary.
      In Christian mythology, bad behavior is either blamed on the
devil, or stems from the evil within us all as a result of original sin.
This ties bad behavior to the abstract adversary of the ideology and
results in the process of socialization being portrayed as a battle
between good and evil for the child's soul.  In more secular ideologies,
bad behavior is seen as stemming from the child's animal instincts
which must be purged so that one can become civilized.  Note here
that seeing a part of one's self as being animalistic or evil and trying
to distance yourself from it contributes to the dissociative feature of
consciousness: the child tries to dissociate his mind from his body.
But regardless of ideology, during child rearing the adversary of the
ideology is always connected with the force which causes the constant
state of fear in the individual.  Furthermore, it is that constant state of
fear which drives consciousness, giving it a reason for being.  A child
is made constantly afraid of something and is constantly trying to figure
out a way to make the fear go away.  But the child cannot, as the fear
is a permanent feature, and thus so is conscious.  The adversarial
relationship lasts a lifetime.
      But it is not always the case that a child accepts the ideology's
adversary as his or her own.  In some cases the child will see his
punishment as unjust and see authority figures as adversaries.  This
form of anti-authoritarianism can also be bent to the will of the
ideology if the person can be made to see that the authority figures
he or she has contempt for are those of rival ideologies or are corrupt
members of the current ideology.  I think that the majority of people
have more than one adversarial prototype inside them, having
experienced different forms of at least minor trauma at the hands of
many, and that people have a mixture of both types of adversarial
relationships: the weaker adversary which needs to be controlled or
purged, and the stronger adversary which needs to be overthrown.
I also think that the mixture isn't always balanced with people
tending one way or another.  Putting terms to these two archetypes
I could call one conformist and authoritarian and the other rebellious
and anti-authoritarian, but in real life the labels will be blurred as
people share both forms and express them in different situations.
      In the essay I wrote on the adversarial nature of ideologies
I made a rather disturbing contention that in the absence of a rival
ideology which serves as an adversary, an ideology will either find a
new adversary or turn inward on itself, indulging in either purification
or ideological mutation.  I think  that the same premise is true for
consciousness.  Although the state of fear that drives consciousness
is permanent, it can grow stronger or weaker depending on external
forces which are perceived as threats.  Since this force directly drives
our consciousness, our drive and energy grow stronger as our fears
become greater.  Fear can be very motivating, and can propel us to
great heights, allowing us to reach our true potential, and thus it is
in our best interests not to live in peace, but in a manageable state
of fear.  And so, like ideologies, we make war on our adversaries
and seek out new adversaries to replace those that we have either
vanquished or are no longer a part of our lives.  And sometimes
we find surrogate adversaries to take the place of adversaries who
we cannot oppose in real life.  The reason is simple: the struggle
makes us strong.  It makes us who we are.
      This quest to defeat adversaries can take a socially positive
form, such as taking on great challenges, replacing them with
greater challenges after we've succeeded and the luster wears off our
past glories.  But the quest can also take on a socially negative form,
such as individuals seeking to re-live their past traumas in search of
revenge and finding new adversaries which will play the role of their
old ones.  Since past traumas deal with adversarial relationships with
authority figures, loved ones, and peers, re-living these events often
takes the forms of crime and disobedient behavior, deliberately
causing harm to a spouse or loved one, searching for or simply
provoking fights with others, or engaging in the same traumatic
behaviors experienced earlier in life, either from the submissive
side or the dominant side.  The abused becoming the abuser is a
common example of reliving traumatic experiences from the past.
Furthermore, since the adversary can never be truly beaten (it is
permanent in the mind) the struggle is often played out over and
over, becoming pathological, as if a person was addicted to the
experience.
      We can see this more easily in extreme cases, but the
mechanism of re-living past traumas applies to milder traumas
as well.  How many of us know of others who always seem to get
themselves into the same situations or conflicts over and over?
And how many of us seem to find ourselves re-living past traumas
or acting as those we once despised?  Doesn't it sometimes seem like
we are actively trying to bring these things on ourselves?  We are.
Although these are sometimes dangerous or self-destructive behaviors,
we do them because they reinforce our identity and make us feel
conscious and alive.  We are at our best when we are fighting tooth
and nail against our adversary although our "best" may be a shocking
display of cruelty or pathological behavior.  We do these things
because our alternative is to turn inward on ourselves, engaging in
self-hatred and a desire to change or purify ourselves.  But either
way we are driven by a desire to find and defeat new adversaries
be they others or ourselves.
      The concept of adversaries in the mind is nothing new.
They're also called "inner demons", "voices in our heads", "monkeys
on our backs", or simply "issues".  We all have them, to one degree
or another, but only see them as a problem when they cause very
anti-social or self-destructive behaviors.  The field of psychotherapy
is focused around ridding people of their worst adversaries or at least
allowing people to control them.  Since the Fireaxe theory states that
since adversaries are permanent, trying to rid yourself of them is
an exercise in futility.  However, it is possible to change the form
of your adversary by throwing off the old perceived causes of your
worst fears and adopting new ones.  This is what religion has done
for centuries.  Conversion is the process of freeing people from past
adversarial relationships while remaking those adversaries to be those
of the religion.  Though religious converts may claim to be free, they've
really only traded in their old inner demons for new ones.  But
conversion techniques are hardly restricted to religion, and you can
see examples of ideologies, advertisers, cults, and other institutions
using fear to sell their message.  And while sometimes they seem to be
selling only beautiful dreams, beware of the adversary coming in
through the back door.
      Consciousness and the permanent state of fear have a
symbiotic relationship.  We seek out new adversaries to make us
stronger, and we need to defeat our adversaries to make the pain
and fear go away, at least temporarily.  In essence we are trapped in
a continuous cycle of creating and destroying rivals, much like how
police shows require their writers to produce an endless succession
of criminals to be put behind bars.  Indeed, those shows, and movies,
that we love to watch are like surrogate experiences for us.  We
meet an adversary, he is built up into a fearsome force, and then
he is brought down to earth.  We feel uncomfortable when the fear
grows and relieved when it goes away, at least for a little while.
Sports contests act in a similar way, as do soap operas, reality
television, and especially computer games.  We become addicted to
these things, and our society's tremendous desire for such surrogate
experiences is strong support for an adversarial relationship lying
at the core of our being.
      If there is nothing that we can do about changing our
mental state, the question becomes how can we focus people towards
more socially positive behaviors rather than pathological ones.
I think that the key lies in a contention I made about ideological
struggle: that aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face
internal strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other
to satisfy their needs.  Contentment is a behavior that is universally
viewed as bad by all modern societies and thus we are unable to
rest on our past achievements.  Growth is all important, and only
in a growing society it is possible for each person to reach a greater
height without taking away from someone else.  Without that
growth there will be internal conflict and pathological behaviors
of every kind.  So we are compelled to grow, sometimes at great
cost.  The trouble is that we live in a world which is both rapidly
expanding its population and rapidly exhausting its resources.
We cannot grow at this rate for long, and thus the future does not
look at all peaceful.

The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it

How to order Fireaxe CDs:

      Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

      Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12     $14
Victory or Death                $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares $5      $7
A Dream of Death        $5      $7

      Send everything to:

      Brian Voth
      1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
      Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

      If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
      The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
      Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.

The Future

      I’ve been focusing so hard on “Food for the Gods” that I’ve
had little time to think about what I’d like to record next.  Over the
past few months I’ve tossed around some ideas and have come up
with a working title and theme.  The next Fireaxe work will dig even
deeper into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth
the myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what
they are.  While “A Dream of Death” explored the madness of dreams,
and “Food for the Gods” described the chaos wrought upon the earth
by ideologies, “Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess” will depict the
psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times.  It will
be the darkest Fireaxe work ever.  But don’t put your order in just yet.
After wrapping up “Food for the Gods” I’ll need a while to rest and
upgrade my studio.  I’m spent.
      My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.

Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

      Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
      less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
      profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
      I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
      like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
      gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
      link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
      samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
      you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
      not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
      as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
      THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
      CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
      mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
      other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
      I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
      of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
      to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
      institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
      mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
      Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
      song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
      if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
      if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
      the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
      Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
      would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
      trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
      effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

      The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.

Ending Comments

      Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                              Brian

--
"You shall break down their alters,
and dash into pieces their pillars,
hew down their asherim,
and burn their graven images with fire.
For I am a jealous god and I shall have no rivals."

                                      - Fireaxe "The Covenant"

              http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html
Title: The Burning Blade: Fireax Newsletter
Post by: death metal black metal on June 05, 2005, 09:59:22 AM
Standing on top…

                       The Burning Blade

                Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 8.4

                         June 3, 2005

            http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

      "It is not possible to manage something you cannot define."
              - Alan Greenspan, referring to the money supply,
              and in essence stating that he cannot do the job that
              he was hired to do

             "But out of control and it swallows us whole.
              A ravenous abomination. A death machine."
                                      -Fireaxe "Death Machine"

      Many systems, political, economic, and religious, tend towards
greater and greater complexity as they are required to do more and more
things.  Examples are ever-present: the EU's proposed constitution with
hundreds of articles, the US's tax code with thousands of pages, and the
Catholic church's endless reams of doctrine.  All require experts to study
them for years to try to fathom out what they mean, and even then experts
often disagree.  And to make things even more difficult, when such codes
are enshrined into law they often have many problematic unintended
consequences which force politicians, lawyers, and priests to add yet
more rules in the hopes of fixing the system.  Over time, complex systems
grow beyond anyone's ability to understand them let alone control them,
and yet those systems are the ones that control our lives.  That's hardly
a comforting thought.
      Sitting at the top of each pile of doctrine we generally have a
person or persons who we regard as the masters of the system.  The
Pope presides over the Catholic church, the Supreme Court presides
over US law, and Alan Greenspan presides over the US dollar.  Each
wields great power over the system and speaks with great authority.  We
like to think that they can control the complex systems that we have
entrusted to them, but in truth each system has a great degree of
independence from its master.  At the core of each system lies a mass
of individuals each making independent decisions without necessarily
considering the impact of their decisions on the rest of the system.  If
only one or two people show poor judgment, or proceed in a novel and
potentially dangerous manner the system will usually manage just fine
with few disruptions.  If a larger number of people do the same, the
system can become destabilized, but it can usually be brought back under
control when the masters of the system create more laws, adjust certain
factors, or add more doctrine to the holy texts.  But if a large mass of
people test the very limits of a system, the results can be catastrophic.
It is at those times that the masters of the systems can only watch
helplessly as the system collapses.  Their control is not absolute.
      Throughout history this has happened over and over.  Each
time we come up with a new set of fixes to correct the failures of past
systems and everything seems to be working once more.  However, years
later the system inevitably fails once again, but this time in a new way
that no one could have predicted or prevented.  The pattern is cyclical
in nature.  After each major collapse, people behave conservatively for
fear that another collapse will happen again.  Slowly the new system
inspires confidence, and caution is set aside in favor of risk and novelty.
Stability gradually goes from being something that is cherished and
protected to being something that is taken for granted.  Eventually risk
and excesses rule the day and the system is ripped from its stable
moorings. Destabilization follows and there is no way back.  Despite
some often extreme attempts to save it, the system collapses, spreading
chaos on destruction in its wake.  Then the cycle begins anew.
      I see the current cycle coming to a close.  There are few who
are still alive during the economic collapse of the 1930's and the world
war that followed.  Not many are left in power who have lived through
that era and thus few truly understand that the stability that appears to
permeate our financial and political systems could suddenly disappear
and plunge the world into chaos.  Many simply take it for granted that
it could never happen again and that we're too smart to allow it to do so.
I see a number of leaders taking great risks and using their power in
ways that are destabilizing the current system.  It appears like a global
game of chicken, but there is a method to their madness of our leaders.
If you push farther than the other guy, but don't go too far yourself, you
win.  But how far is too far?  I think that we will find out soon enough.
      Speaking of new and destabilizing ideas, "Eternal Devotion
to the Dark Goddess" is slowly coming to fruition.  As my health is
improving, the tracks are forming, and the recording process may
be in full swing before the end of the year.  Of course, if the global
economy collapses this year or the next, all bets are off concerning
a release date, but as long as there is life within my body, there will
also exist the will to deliver the darkest Fireaxe CD of them all.
      A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Fireaxe salutes Wikipedia and Perry Grayson

      Only recently have I been made aware of Wikipedia, an
internet based encyclopedia, and I have to say that I am impressed
by what I've seen so far.  Unlike other internet encyclopedias, Wikipedia
is an open book, meaning that it allows anyone at all to add, update, or
correct information for any given entry.  This enables it to have hundreds
if not thousands of authors, each experts in their own field, adding to a
massive knowledge base which covers everything from history to science
to pop culture.  It also allows you to add external links to the pages so
that it can connect the entire internet to its knowledge base.  It's powerful
and its scope is vast.  Just search for "Where's the beef?" and you'll see
what I mean.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

      I know what you're thinking, that having Wikipedia open so
that anyone can make changes is dangerous or ill-advised.  Anyone can
vandalize or delete anything that someone else has contributed, or simply
post a bunch of nonsense that sounds authoritative.  But Wikipedia also
stores the history of changes for every entry, so if you find a page that
has been vandalized you can easily roll it back to the unblemished
version.  It's not a perfect system, but I am surprised how good it is.
      One day I decided to do a search for Fireaxe and discovered
that there was no entry for my musical project.  No problem.  With just
a few clicks and I added the entry along with a link to the Fireaxe home
page and a brief description.  If anyone of you wants to add your two
cents to the entry go right ahead.  Learning the form is pretty easy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireaxe

      You can also search other entries just like any good search
engine and when I searched for Fireaxe I stumbled upon a very good
write-up of horror author Frank Belknap Long, one of H.P. Lovecraft's
circle of fellow pulp sci-fi/horror authors.  The Fireaxe song "Hounds of
Tindalos" was close enough to Long's vision to merit a reference on the
page.  I quickly added a link where Fireaxe was mentioned and wondered
who would have thought to include Fireaxe in the Frank Belknap Long
entry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Belknap_Long

      Reading farther down the page I discovered that it was probably
my friend and fellow metal musician/Lovecraft enthusiast Perry Grayson.
He'd included a link to a biography that he'd written on Frank Belknap
Long which was too long to be included in Wikipedia, but which fits in
perfectly as an external link:

http://www.thevine.net/~fortress/fblhist.htm

      If you're a Lovecraft/horror enthusiast, give his article a read.
And to Perry, if you were the one who wrote Fireaxe into the Frank
Belknap Long entry, a big thank you to you.  Wikipedia rocks.


Top of the Rock

      If you don't have your health, you have nothing.  Sure, it's a
tired old cliché, but there will very likely be a time in your life where
you realize that nothing is more true.  Protect your health, preserve it,
and when it tries to get away, fight as hard as you can to get it back.
I know that from experience.  I've written about my struggles with my
health over the past three years: about how a malignant tumor nearly
did me in and left me with only one kidney, and about how the sutures
from that operation caused me a lot of pain and prevented me from fully
healing the seven inch scar until I paid to have them removed.  Now I
have another chapter to add to the saga.  I'd like it to be the last.
      At the end of last year I had the sutures from my surgical scar
removed, which solved the problems I was having there completely.
Note that those were internal sutures.  They held the muscles together,
not the skin.  After six months of healing I didn't need them anymore,
but removing them would require another surgery, something that was
rarely ever done.  The sutures were meant to be permanent.  The trouble
was that the surgeon had sewn them in using an outdated technique.
As a result the sutures dug in and caused sharp stabbing pains whenever
I used my abdominal muscles.  It was frustrating, and what was worse
was that all the doctors and surgeons that I saw told me that the problem
was due to scar tissue, not the sutures, and that my troubles would slowly
go away over time.  They were all wrong, completely wrong.  But I still
had to pay to have the sutures removed.  My insurance wouldn't cover
the procedure.  The bastards.  But anyway, I'm just glad that I could
afford it.  It needed to be done.
      In the months that followed I found myself in a similar
situation once more.  My abdomen was fine, but my energy levels had
dropped again.  They'd been down ever since I first got cancer and
had been drifting between low and very low ever since.  Something
was wrong with me but all the blood tests and scans showed nothing.
My doctors had no idea what the problem was and told me that I
would either get better with time, or suggested that I was depressed
and needed something like Prozac to make me feel better.  I would have
been insulted by the idea that depression was causing my fatigue, but I
know that doctors sometimes get kickbacks for prescribing popular
drugs.  My doctors simply had no other answers for me.  So once
again I went back to the internet to try to figure out what was wrong
with me.
      I began to wonder if I was going to have to actually become a
doctor in order to find a cure.  I was already taking over part of the
job that my doctors and specialists were supposed to do.  They could
only give me fifteen minutes of their time every month and that is not
enough time to look into something that doesn't immediately show up
on the standard tests.  As a result, "Do no harm" became "Do nothing".
I was on my own.  Like it or not, that is the direction that our health
care system has gone in recent years.  If you have something that modern
medicine has identified, like cancer, you get prompt and powerful
treatment.  But if you have something that is unusual and difficult to
diagnose, you might have to do a lot of the legwork yourself, especially
if it is a chronic lack of energy.  Most people will write you off as
mentally ill, a malingerer, or a lazy slacker if you complain about
being fatigued all the time.
      None of those labels stick to me save for the "mentally ill"
one (he he).  And although I may be a number of things, depressed
isn't one of them.  Sure, I write depressing music and I may not have
a positive outlook on the future and the world, but I have always had a
strong drive to do my best with whatever hand I get dealt.  I look at it
very simply: there is no alternative, so always fight hard.
      I'd taken up cycling back in the late 90s.  That was when I
moved out to California and noticed that there were all these bike lanes
everywhere.  That was a huge change from Michigan, where your
only riding choices on city streets were an irregular sidewalk and a
pothole-ridden gap between speeding pickup trucks and the curb.
Once in California I broke out my old ten-speed and whipped myself
back into shape.  In time I fell in love with the sport and increased the
distances that I would go on my rides.  By mid-2001 I was able to ride
over a hundred miles in a single day and did that on most weekends
during the summer.  It was great.  In July I'd watch Lance ride live on
TV in the Tour de France in the morning, and then cruise up into the
hills for my own stage in the afternoon.  Lots of Fireaxe tracks got
written while I was out on those long rides, "The Citadel Must Fall"
and "River of Madness" being two of them.  During the summer of
2001 I rode long and I rode hard and I enjoyed every minute of it.
      That was when cancer struck.  No one knows how you get
kidney cancer, but I suspect that it was because I was drinking the
filthy California tap water and breathing filthy Saddleback Valley
air on those long rides.  The air is cleaner where I live now, but the
tap water is even worse.  The stuff tastes like jet fuel.  I'm not kidding.
I drink distilled water now exclusively and when I get a mouthful of
southern California tap water I want to spit it out.  It's disgusting.
      But along with cancer, something else struck me that year
and the next as I slowly lost my ability to ride long distances and then
lost the ability to ride at all.  My immune system was getting more
and more taxed by the cancer and ended up seriously weakened.  That's
never a good thing because there are dormant infections in our bodies
that are held in check by our immune systems.  When our immune
systems become weakened, those infections wake up and spread around,
making you sick and lethargic, and some of them have adapted to have
such survival mechanisms as triggering the hyper-coagulation of your
blood.  Hyper-coagulation is where your blood gets thicker and the walls
of your capillaries end up coated with a layer of fibrous tissue.  The
infections then hide in that layer which protects them from your
immune system.  The layer even protects the infections from antibiotics
and thus you relapse after taking courses of them.  It's nasty shit and I
had it bad.  But as I said, none of it showed up on the standard tests
my doctors performed.  Of course, neither does cancer until it is just
about to kill you.  So I wasn't going to wait around and do nothing.
I had to find out what was wrong with me.
      Without the internet there would be no Fireaxe.  And to be
honest, without the internet there might be no Brian Voth anymore.
I'm not sure if it has saved my life, but the internet has helped me
improve my health on numerous occasions.  This is another one of
those.  While searching for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome the following
link came up:

http://www.hormoneandlongevitycenter.com/cfidsfibromyalgia/

      It was written by Dr. Holtorf who came to realize that
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was a very real and very devastating
syndrome when he came down with it many years ago.  I'm glad that
he did, in a way, since he has figured out a cause and treatment for
the syndrome.  His ideas are new, and not yet accepted, but I was
willing to try anything that was scientifically sound and his theory
certainly is.
      Of course, I don't believe without proof and neither does Dr.
Holtorf's clinic.  So we got proof.  Independently performed blood tests
showed that I was suffering from everything that his theory predicts:
hyper-coagulation of the blood, no less than five chronic infections,
high values of reverse T3 - a measure that escapes most thyroid
doctors, and a weakened but highly active immune system.  Dr. Holtorf
has his shit together.  The best proof of all has come recently after
several months of treatment.  My energy is coming back and I'm back
on my bike.
      I'm not all the way back.  Maybe I'll get there.  Dr. Holtorf
doesn't guarantee 100% recovery.  I think that's because once the
infections get into your system you can never completely get rid of
them.  So you need some kind of continuing maintenance.  It's also
possible that Dr. Holtorf is holding back on the final piece of the
cure so that he can rake in extra cash in treatment.  I don't really
know.  But a few weeks ago I was feeling good and so I set my sights
on a milestone that I've wanted to achieve ever since I had cancer
surgery in March of 2003.
      There's a climb sixteen miles east of where I live.  The
road goes up for more than seven miles and the grade averages
about five and a half percent.  It's not quite an Alpine climb, but
it's long and nasty and takes about forty-five minutes to get to the top.
Of course, Lance could do it in twenty-five, but most people can't
even push a bike to the top let alone ride all the way up.  It's hard.
      After cancer surgery I had started riding again and I had tried
to get to the top of that climb.  I got close twice, but never all the way.
Then the Chronic Fatigue rose up and slowly shut down my ability to
exercise.  I had to stop trying and I wondered if I'd ever be able to
get to the top of that hill again.  I kept telling myself that I would.
I imagined myself at the top, holding my bike over my head and
shouting victoriously.  Getting to the top was going to be a symbol
of my victory over cancer.  But as the fatigue grew and grew, I began
to doubt if that would ever happen.
      Dr. Holtorf's treatment turned my body into a war zone.
I was taking a handful of pills every day.  I was taking drugs to tear
down the fibrin linings on my blood vessels, drugs to kill bacteria,
viruses, and fungi, drugs to strengthen my immune system, and a
whole gob of anti-oxidants and other pills to clean up the carnage.
The infections took their toll, but after weeks of struggling I was able
to exercise again without feeling like a basket case for days afterwards.
So I began to get myself back into shape.  My body was responding
once again and slowly I was getting stronger.  I took longer and longer
rides and one day I felt strong enough to climb a mile up that steep hill
to see if I could handle the strain.  I could, and so I decided that the
following week I would make another attempt at the ascent.
      Perhaps I wasn't ready.  Perhaps I was too ambitious.
Pushing myself is one of my faults and it may have contributed to
me getting cancer in the first place.  Still I had to try.  I loaded up
with gear, carbs, and clean water and headed towards the big hill.
It was more brutal than I remembered.  That was because I wasn't
in as good a shape as I had been years before.  But I took things slow
and kept telling myself that if I felt that I couldn't make it that I could
try again next weekend.  The sun was pounding and I was sweating
profusely.  By the time I got three-quarters of the way up there was no
dry spot on my shirt to clean my glasses.  I had to stop and rest and I
wondered if I could finish the climb.  I was tired, but I still felt like I
could go farther.  The last mile and a half of the climb was the hardest.
The grade there is seven percent and it doesn't let up.  I hadn't been
past that point since I got cancer.  But now I felt better, and so I went
for it.
      It was hot.  I had to go slow.  But my legs kept churning.
I kept waiting for my body to give up and tell me to stop but it
never did.  I didn't want to give up but I was ready to if I felt that
I had to.  I kept going.  I didn't need to get to the top that day, but
somehow I did.  Yes, I made it.  I had returned to a place where I
hadn't been for almost three years.  It felt fantastic.
      At first I was too tired to celebrate.  I had to wait a few
minutes before finally hoisting my bike aloft and screaming out
my victory over cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the doctors
who were wrong, and the many problems in our health care system.
I finally felt like I had won.  And as I came flying down out of the
mountains at a modest 30+ miles per hour with the wind rushing
past and my legs pushing me faster I began to remember who it
was that I used to be.  Victory at last.
      Maybe this is a short-lived recovery.  Maybe there's
something else inside me that I'm going to have to battle in the
near future.  Maybe the next time I have to fight I'm not going to
be able to win.  But there is one thing that I know for sure, that I
will always be fighting: fighting to stay alive, fighting to get what
I want, and fighting to be who I am.  And to be honest, I wouldn't
have it any other way.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

      Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

      Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12     $14
Victory or Death        $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death        $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

      Send everything to:

      Brian Voth
      1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
      Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

      If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
      The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
      Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

      I’ve been focusing so hard on “Food for the Gods” that I’ve
had little time to think about what I’d like to record next.  Over the
past few months I’ve tossed around some ideas and have come up
with a working title and theme.  The next Fireaxe work will dig even
deeper into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth
the myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what
they are.  While “A Dream of Death” explored the madness of dreams,
and “Food for the Gods” described the chaos wrought upon the earth
by ideologies, “Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess” will depict the
psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times.  It will
be the darkest Fireaxe work ever.  But don’t put your order in just yet.
After wrapping up “Food for the Gods” I’ll need a while to rest and
upgrade my studio.  I’m spent.
      My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

      Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
      less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
      profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
      I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
      like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
      gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
      link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
      samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
      you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
      not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
      as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
      THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
      CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
      mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
      other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
      I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
      of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
      to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
      institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
      mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
      Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
      song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
      if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
      if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
      the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
      Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
      would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
      trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
      effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

      The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

      Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                              Brian

--
"Maybe God wants us to fight.
To spill each other's blood and take our brothers' lives.
Sitting there in heaven with a smile on his face.
Our wars are his sport as we kill in his name."

                                      - Fireaxe "River of Madness"

              http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

Title: Fireaxe - new recordings, tour, merch
Post by: death metal black metal on December 03, 2005, 10:09:47 AM
The Burning Blade

               Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 9.1

                         Dec 2, 2005

            http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

      "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before
      being dishonored anymore."
              - military ethicist Col. Ted Westhusing's suicide note

      "Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values
      could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw.
      'Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that
      profit is an important goal for people working in the private
      sector was surprisingly limited,' wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach.
      'He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of
      completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change
      his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right
      thing to do should be the sole motivator for business'."
                              - The L.A. Times, reporting
      a military psychologist's evaluation of Ted Westhusing
      revealing a disturbing tolerance for military contractors
      who flout ethics, morality, and the law in the pursuit of profit.

      Many times during history class, reading through the vast
volumes of past events, and watching documentaries on some of the
more educational television stations I've asked myself the famous
rhetorical question, "What were they thinking?".  I mean, honestly.
It is as if you could replace the title of any college level history class
with something like, "Extreme Human Stupidity 101".  Spending twenty
years dragging enormous rocks across the desert to build a pyramid is
almost completely futile, but at least when you're done you have a
pyramid to admire and it sure beats being buried alive with the corpse
of the pharaoh.  Compare that with the endless succession of wars
through the ages fought for reasons that seem trivial today where all
your hard work, risk, and sacrifice ends up merely relocating gold and
riches from one king's palace to another's.  (To be fair there is the joy
of rape and plunder along with the feeling that you're somehow special
because you survived the fighting, if you survived that is, but is it worth
spending ten years away from your family, land, and loved ones for a
few nights of revelry?)  How easy it is to look back at all that chaos
and struggle and rest happily in the belief that we have overcome all
those idiotic obsessions.
      Easy indeed.  We can look back on the Crusades and the
Inquisition and the witch trials and shake our heads. We can wonder
what church leaders were thinking when they tortured people into
confession and what crusaders were thinking when they murdered
Jews for pleasure while on their way to Jerusalem.  Those people of
the past were certainly nothing like us.  We are enlightened.  We can
look back on the madness that possessed the people of Germany in the
1930s as they went from building a magnificent new nation from the
ashes of the old to building a war machine that killed tens of millions
and exterminated millions more in cold blood.  Those evil Germans
were nothing like us, but their descendants have seen the light and
now they're free.  And we can laugh at the follies of the stock market
speculators and the greedy bankers who brought forth a world wide
economic disaster in the 1930s with their voracious appetites for yet
more money.  They must have been blind not to have seen the dangers.
It's a good thing that we have learned from their mistakes so that things
like that can never happen again.
      Yes, there's nothing like a good bout of relative peace and
stability to make us all believe that we've entered a new age of prosperity.
The arguments are persuasive: nuclear weapons and mutual assured
destruction have forced the major powers away from war and towards
negotiation to settle disputes; computerized banking and interconnected
world markets have integrated the world and brought about major
improvements in efficiency and productivity; and the internet itself has
brought forth a global social revolution that is only beginning to unfold.
With a little spin and a few well picked statistics our global future can
be made out to look like utopia is finally in our grasp.  World War Two,
the great turning point in history according to many American Pundits,
is behind us and civilization has won.  World Peace is now upon us for
good, provided that we exterminate all those pesky terrorists who hate
all this wonderful progress.
      Like the grossly over-priced real estate all around me, I'm not
buying it.  The closer I look at the events unfolding, the more I see all
the signs of humanity falling into the same traps of old albeit in new
and different forms.  I see truth withering on the vine as people seek
out those who tell them what they want to hear.  The entirety of the
news media market, consisting of television, radio, the internet, and
word of mouth, is becoming like a modern day Tower of Babel and I
see how each of us holding a well established version of the truth
which is incompatible with other people's versions is preventing us
from communicating with each other.
      I see lofty ideals cut down by the power of fear, loathing, and
a desire for revenge.  Christians are acting in appallingly unchristian
ways, those sworn to uphold the constitution are shredding it instead,
police state apologists who say that they're patriots write that torture is
necessary to defend us from tyranny, respected investigative journalists
betray our trust by presenting forgeries as fact, and the act of forcing
democracy down people's throats seems to be perfectly fine with most
people as long as we don't lose too many soldiers in the process.  It's
fine if those other people die, but not if we do.
      I see common sense and respect for one's neighbor sacrificed
on the altar of greed.  We export our good jobs while "importing" cheap
labor to do the jobs that "Americans won't do", bankruptcy is now a
legitimate business strategy to force unions into deep concessions, war
and disaster profiteering are reaching epidemic levels, and we buy SUVs
so that if we get into a serious accident we will be more likely to survive
(and, incidentally, the other guy is more likely to die - but, fuck him!).
      I see how these things fan their own flames.  People who get
victimized often have to adopt the same devious methods as their rivals
to compete in a world of sleeping or partisan watchdogs.  The constant
struggle incites the masses to form into mobs, deepening the divisions
between social, racial, religious, and political classes.  History is speaking
louder and louder but we refuse to listen.  Indeed, the question: "What
were they thinking?" has become "What are we thinking?".  Now that I
can see it happening I know the answer: we aren't thinking.  We've let
our dreams, our emotions, and our desires give us tunnel vision, at least
those of us who have a choice about what we do, and the big picture is
only a distraction which can lead us astray.  After all the "big picture"
is just someone else's opinion, isn't it?
      So like the noble Col. Westhusing it's difficult for me to sit
by and watch the world slowly disintegrate while being powerless to
prevent it.  Of course, I'm not about to kill myself as he did.  I don't
consider myself responsible for the actions of others and I don't feel
dishonored by the actions of thugs masquerading as mercenaries and
soldiers.  Well, actually I do feel dishonored, just not to the point of
shame as deep as Col. Westhusing felt.  But I always thought that it
was me who was flawed for not feeling so strongly about American
ideals, not the Colonel, who volunteered to go to Iraq and fight the
good fight.  It seems as though the American ideology born after World
War Two has finally died with Col. Westhusing.  Where once we had
presidents like Truman, who denounced war profiteering as treason
and stamped it out, and Eisenhower, who warned of the influence of
the military-industrial complex, we now have presidents who green
light unethical behavior and shirk accountability.  The new American
ideology has been decades in the making and the unethical and
irresponsible behavior which characterizes it has penetrated deeply
into every corner of this nation and beyond.  I'd like to see it all go
away, but I know that it won't until the next example of Extreme
Human Stupidity reaches critical mass and teaches us all a long
overdue lesson.  Like I've said before, I'd love to be wrong and I'm
not looking forward to the future if I'm right, but like hell if I'm
going to just sit here and hope that everything will work out nicely.
      Speaking of critical mass, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" is now completely written.  Recording will begin shortly
as soon as I plunge some hard earned dollars into some choice new
gear and whip my voice and fingers back into shape.  It looks like
2006 is going to be a productive year for Fireaxe.
      A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Recording set to begin on "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess"

      It's been over two years since I flipped the last few bits on
"Food for the Gods", backed up all my files, and put away all my
recording equipment.  At that time I was wondering if there was
even going to be another Fireaxe CD after the massive triple-disk
effort since my health was continuing to deteriorate even after my
cancerous kidney was removed.  I've documented those struggles in
past editions of The Burning Blade and it has been a long hard road
back to good health, or at least to good enough health.  It's been a
long time since I've felt as good as I do now and I'm very happy to
be able to get back into the musical grind.  It's time to throw down
the gauntlet once more and let fly with another screaming CD.
      Fireaxe music is challenging music and "Eternal Devotion
to the Dark Goddess" will not be an exception.  In fact it will likely
be the most challenging Fireaxe CD of them all both musically and
thematically.  Like "A Dream of Death" and "Food for the Gods",
"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" will be a concept album
with each track building upon the last and until the crushing final
act has left the listener both satisfied and blown away.  I've always
been partial to concept albums, especially those that could be
described by the term "rock opera".  Sure, heavy metal is great music
to bang your head to or fire you up before a big event, but metal can
also be much more than just another form of modern music.  Metal
can aspire to greatness.
      I haven't watched very many plays, operas, or movie musicals
in my life, but they have always struck me as being strongly expressive
in a way that non-musical productions cannot.  Music can convey raw
emotional power and metal is no exception especially when it comes
to focused anger.  But in the hands of a fine musician, metal can
capture a wide range of emotions and be as expressive as any form
of music.  I've always wanted to be that kind of musician and put the
stories that I wanted to tell up on stage backed by the kind of music
that I wanted to hear.  That vision has been the driving force behind
Fireaxe and is why the music sounds the way that it does.  Fireaxe
songs are rather long and flow through a number of movements and
moods.  This is because I want to say something more than what a
few verses and choruses can deliver.  Thus I find myself recording
concept albums, which are probably the closest that I will ever get
to producing my own rock opera.
      I'm not saying that I've achieved greatness, or that Fireaxe
is so much better than all the other metal bands.  I'm just saying that
I've been setting my sights a lot higher, or at least in a different
direction, than where the vast majority of musicians set theirs.
Whether or not I hit my mark is up to the listener.  I know that for
at least some of you, I've hit that mark, and hearing and reading your
feedback is a very rewarding feeling.  Now I take aim once more.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

      Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

      Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12     $14
Victory or Death        $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death        $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

      Send everything to:

      Brian Voth
      1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
      Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

      If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
      The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
      Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

      For the rest of this year and part of the next I will be recording
the next Fireaxe CD entitled "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".
I'd like to have it complete by the end of 2006.  The new CD will dig
deep into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth the
myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what
they are.  While “A Dream of Death” explored the madness of dreams,
and “Food for the Gods” described the chaos wrought upon the earth
by ideologies, “Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess” will depict the
psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times.  It will
be the darkest Fireaxe work ever.
      My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

      Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
      less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
      profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
      I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
      like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
      gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
      link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
      samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
      you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
      not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
      as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
      THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
      CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
      mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
      other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
      I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
      of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
      to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
      institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
      mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
      Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
      song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
      if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
      if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
      the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
      Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
      would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
      trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
      effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

      The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

      Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                              Brian

--
"Another hungry god tries to devour the earth.
Its followers more voracious than the last,
Both sides push each other to a more brutal extreme.
And in the wars and resistance the suffering festers and grows.
The gods promise salvation, but none can deliver for long.
And when the suffering becomes unbearable life goes for naught."

                                      - Fireaxe "A New World Order"

              http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html
Title: Fireaxe: The Burning Blade
Post by: death metal black metal on April 02, 2006, 10:50:19 AM
The Lukewarm Butterknife

               Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 9.3.1

                         Apr. 1, 2006

           http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


      "Let us review.  Heavy Metal in your music collections,
      good.  Heavy metals in your safe deposit box, good.  Heavy
      metals in your food, water, and bloodstream, bad, very, very
      bad.  Now, it would seem to be reasonable to retaliate against
      those who put heavy metals into our bodies by putting some
      heavy metals into theirs but I'm told that this is illegal, unless
      of course you're the vice-president."
                              - a KTLB special report on the
                              real dangers of Heavy Metal

      Fireaxe shattered commercial radio's glass ceiling and
stampeded through the payola patio this year by finding a new way
to get music from "Food for the Gods" and other Fireaxe CDs played
on the airwaves.  The trick?  Fireaxe founder Brian Voth became a
radio talk show host.  After being bitten by a rabid wombat and forcibly
deprived of balanced news sources for a month, which is the industry
standard procedure for training new pundits, Brian was ready for his
first broadcast.  Reproduced here in "The Lukewarm Butterknife" is the
transcript from his first show.  Play the music as you're reading if you
want a more complete experience.
      A big "Hello" to anyone receiving the Lukewarm Butterknife
for the first time.  If your "Hello" feels to be too big after a close self-
examination, or you are having trouble issuing a big "Hello" to your
friends and family and it is causing embarrassment, you might be
suffering from EGS, or "Enlarged Greeting Syndrome".  Please contact
your doctor, but instead of asking him his opinion about your condition,
immediately demand that he prescribe U-Rapture, the latest drug
available from Pfireaxe.  Free yourself from the dreadful embarrassment
of EGS with U-Rapture, the natural way to better health.  Warning, side
effects of U-Rapture may include dizziness, nausea, hearing loss, sudden
loss of interest in popular music, heart palpitations, 'air-guitar' style
epilepsy, high blood pressure, atheism, and violent outbursts (from
parents and neighbors).  Repeated exposure can result in partial or
complete immunity to bullshit.  Increase the dosage as necessary.  Gods
should not take U-Rapture as it is known to cause spontaneous divine
combustion.  As you may have guessed, this is the official parody of the
Fireaxe newsletter.


"Secrets man was not meant to know" - Transcript of the first KTLB show

Musical Interlude: "I wish that someone would come along and set things
right." <Church organ plays loudly in the background, fades into…>

Brian: Welcome to KTLB. I'm your host Brian Voth and this week, like
every other week and every other radio talk show host, I AM OUTRAGED!

Paid Sycophant: What's this week's outrage, Brian?

Brian: Excuse me, I was pausing for dramatic effect. That's one of those
talk radio tricks, it's called the "Paul Harvey Pause"…

Paid Sycophant: Oh, sorry.

Brian: That was another one…

Paid Sycophant: Damn. Oh, was that…?

Brian: Yes. And you know what that means.

Sound Effects: "You're Fired!" - spoken by Donald "The Donald"
Trump followed by the whining of a young man insulting the
egotist's ridiculous hairdo.

Brian: And if you're new to the show, yes, we really did fire him.
That's our shtick and we're shticking to it.  Anyway, as I was saying,
the "Paul Harvey pause" is used to focus the audience's attention on
what you're saying, thus adding tension and interest to a story that
in reality is either pretty mundane or outright boring. And that…

<Radio silence - aren't you dying to know what he's going to say next?>

Brian: …is the rest…

<Radio silence - aren't you just dripping with anticipation?>

Brian …of that crap.  Another trick that we use here in the radio biz
are voice effects to make my voice sound deep and rich.  That gives it
an authoritative tone that people will unquestioningly believe no matter
what kind of gibberish comes out of my mouth.  It's simple, but it works.
Honest.  I'll demonstrate by browbeating the next caller like your typical
right wing wacko.  And I'll use another trick known as "focusing in on
something where I'm undeniably right no matter what the argument is
really about".  Ready?  Okay.  First caller.  Hello, you are on the air
with Fireaxe.

Caller number 1: Hello, Brian?  I was looking for some mp3s…

Brian: You mean stealing.  That's what that is.  Stealing food from
out of the mouths of starving artists and bankrupt record executives.
Stealing is what you were doing.  Oh, but it's all just harmless fun to
you isn't it?  You're not breaking the law, you're sticking it to the man.
Right, sticking it to your favorite bands is more like it.  How do you
expect them to keep making music if you steal it from them?

Caller Number 1: Uh, don't the record companies screw the artists
anyway, no matter what sales are like?

Brian: No, no, no!  You're wrong!  You're a liar and you're a thief.
You're no better than a shoplifter or a former Bush policy advisor.
Just tell me one thing, just one thing, are you paying for the songs
that you download?

Caller Number 1: Well, I…

Brian: ARE YOU PAYING FOR THE SONGS?!

Caller Number 1: Um, no, but…

Brian: So there.  You admit it.  You're a thief.  I win.  Ha ha ha.

Caller Number 1: But I was looking for Fireaxe mp3s.  Aren't
those free?

Brian: Hang up on him!  Hang up on him!  <Brian's voice can be
heard in the background> Look, when I've won the argument, cut
the caller off.  Do you understand me?  When I say "I win" I've won.
How do you expect me to be a pundit if…wait, are we still on?  Cut!
Cut!

<Commercial break>

Musical Interlude: "The Failures of the Fathers! The lies of the priests.
The Failures of the Fathers! Betrayals of the leaders…"

Brian: Okay, we're back.  As I was saying before we experienced some
technical difficulties, there are a lot of these little things that work
wonders for your credibility that anyone can learn.  Simple speaking
techniques like voice roll and rhythm can turn you from just another
opinionated whiner into a charismatic ideologue with a cult following.
Just watch the "Colbert Report" and you'll get the idea.

Paid Silly Broad: Woohoo!  Colbert is way hot!  I would so do him.

Brian: Ahem. Miss, that's not nearly loose enough.  You're a woman
on a talk radio show targeted at guys.  Now ditch the self-respect and
try again.

Paid Silly Broad: I mean, I'd love to go all Monica Lewinsky on him.
He can stain my dress any time.

Brian: Much better.  Let's go to the next caller.  Hello, you are on the
air with Fireaxe.

Caller Number 2: Hey, Fireaxe dude!  I've been reading a lot about
conspiracy theories on the internet and I was wanting to know what
you thought about the one about how Israel and AIPAC are controlling
congress and making us fight for their interests.

Brian: Good question.  You know, with the advent of the internet a
lot of people are getting exposed to all sorts of conspiracy theories
and many of them can seem very reasonable provided you don't go
to any sites which hold contrary views.  Now in this case there's
no doubt that AIPAC is a powerful pro-Israeli lobbying group which
had several spies as members who were caught stealing highly
classified documents.  And it's true that AIPAC appears to exert
substantial influence over a rather large number of senators and
representatives.  And also, it does seem like current U.S. policy is
completely supportive of Israel while public opinion is somewhat
less so.  Therefore, as the case goes, Israel controls the U.S.

Caller Number 2: Yeah, that's what I was thinking when…

Brian: Now what have I been talking about with the "Paul Harvey
pause"?  This is my radio show and I get to talk as much as I like
and about whatever I want to and cut anybody off whenever I want
to as long as my ratings stay high.  Those are the rules.  Now,
understand that I'm not picking on you.  One of the techniques of
being a radio talk show pundit is that on the air I always have to be
in charge and that means showing people who's boss.  My job is to
make you look stupid.  That's how I look smart and in control, see?.
In other words, I get paid to be an asshole.

Caller Number 2: Well, you're doing a good job.

Brian: Thanks.  Now here's where you're being a tin foil hat wearing
lunatic.  First of all, it's not a conspiracy theory, it's all out in the open.
Second, it's not just Israel buying votes, it's corporations, privately funded
groups, foreign governments, basically anyone with a lot of money.
U.S. taxpayers cough up two and a half trillion dollars every year and
everyone on the face of the earth wants a piece of that action.  It isn't
just AIPAC, which pries three billion dollars a year out of taxpayers'
hands and gives it to Israel, it's hundreds of lobbyists all bribing
government officials and trying to get similar "returns" on their
"investments".  Now, what usually happens is that everybody gets what
they want, except the American people of course.  I mean, congress has
already got our money so why do they need to please us?  Are we going
to stop paying taxes?  Ha, just try it.  But that's how it works, everyone
else gets what they want, which is usually more than the budget allows,
so our noble leaders just borrow hundreds of billions more, pay off all
their "campaign contributors", vote themselves pay raises, and pat
themselves on the back for what a great job they're doing.

Paid Silly Broad: You are so right.  Congress is a bunch of weasels.
Everyone except the guy from my district. He's okay. The rest are losers.

Brian: Exactly.  That's what everyone thinks because our congressmen
love to get out in front of reporters and talk about how outraged they
are, you know, they pretend that they're Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington".  They say that they're fighting the good fight and
how everyone else is a corrupt bastard, and so when we see our guy on
television we say, "Give 'em hell!", but when they go back to work,
it's just sleaze as usual.  Check their voting records and you'll see the
truth.  It’s all about pork, payback, and partisan politics.  It's a scam.
But it really doesn't matter what we think of them.  They don't care.
You see, these congress-scum are allowed to draw their own districts,
or at least their fellow party loyalists do.  Yeah, you heard that right,
our "elected officials" get to decide who gets to vote for them.  Honest.
Now if they're really bold, they can do what the Republicans did in
Texas, which is where they redraw the districts in such a way that one
party gains a lot of seats in congress.  That's called gerrymandering
and it's supposed to be illegal, but the only thing that happens is that it
makes the other party really mad.  So what both parties usually do is
compromise.  They redraw the districts so that about half of them are
heavily pro-democrat and the other half are heavily pro-republican.
What that means is that each member of congress runs basically
unopposed in their district year after year. And third parties?  They
don't have a prayer of winning.  That's why our "professional"
representatives get re-elected at a rate in the high ninety percents.
Think about it.  If you don't like your congressman who are you going
to vote for?  The guy from the other party?  Hardly.  You have no
real choice.  And the wheels of campaign finance make the point all
but moot.  You have one guy representing the party of most of the
district with name recognition and oodles of cash running against
someone from the minority party with no name and no money.  About
the only way that someone can lose their seat is if they get caught in
a scandal, and even then he will usually just be replaced with another
candidate hand-picked by the ruling party of the disgraced politician.
We need to face the facts that our democracy is broken.

Caller Number 2: Woah, dude.  I was going to ask you about the
voting machines too.

Brian:  They're easily rigged, that much is clear, but they're not the
big issue, so let me answer your first question completely.  The force
controlling our government isn't AIPAC or lobbyists or scumbag
campaign managers.  The force that's running out of control in our
government and pretty much everywhere else is greedy people.  Now,
I'm not talking about a few obvious examples, I'm talking about just
about everybody.  Everyone wants more than they already have.  The
rich want to be richer, the powerful want more power, and everybody
else wants a bigger piece of the action.  Enough just isn't enough.  And
a lot of people feel that it isn't enough that they succeed, but that others
must fail too.  Everything becomes a battleground and politics is where
a lot of those battles are fought.  Now, these days the rich and the powerful
are well represented by both parties, and they're been winning handily.
I'll explain how.  We all know that war is a great way to stick it to the
poor and the middle classed.  Wars are treated as big emergencies and
all the programs that would normally benefit the rest of us have to be
put on hold while huge amounts of cash are shoveled into the bank
accounts of people connected to the military industrial complex.  Again,
this isn't a conspiracy theory, it's all out in the open.  Look at our history.
We fight war after war after war, non-stop, and military spending is
through the roof.  Furthermore, the poor end up fighting the war since
they have no other way to earn a living, which is adding injury to insult.
And worst still, war makes the population both scared and nationalistic,
so they will be more likely to surrender the power their forefathers fought
for and gave to them, like their constitutional rights, to the government
so that they can believe that they're better protected.  So what I'm saying
here is that Israel isn't the only beneficiary.  A lot of people are making
out like bandits and it's in their best interests to keep the war wagon
rolling right along.  They aren't starting wars or engaging in any
conspiracies, they're just whispering in politicians ears that war is good
for America and what's good for America is good for them, wink wink.
Got it?  Cool.  Next caller please.  Hello, you are on the air with Fireaxe.

Caller Number 3: Hi Brian, I read your newsletter every two months
and it's great, but…

Brian: Hold that thought while I gloat for a while.  <a pause here
where finally no one says anything> Thanks.  Go on.

Caller Number 3: What I was going to say was that you're good at
saying what's wrong with everything but you never say how we can
fix it.  How about offering some solutions?

Brian: Well, I…well… <another pause here, but not one that Brian
did on purpose> You know, I think that you're right.  I should offer
some kind of answer to the problems that I point out.  Now I'll admit
that without having all of the facts and without doing any experiments
I can only guess at something that will work, but I'm willing to give it
a try.

Caller Number 3: Alright!  So let's hear how you'd fix the deal with
corruption in congress.

Brian: Well, the problem is people wanting more, and there's a
limited supply of everything, which is why there is so much fighting.
We're all competing over the same things.  So we've got too many
people and not enough to go around.  So if you rule out the wholesale
slaughter of greedy people, and I'll do so here just for the sake of
argument, I mean, it's not that it's a bad idea, it's just that it's been
tried in the past at it doesn't seem to work out, so then the only other
solution is to create more things that people value.  This isn’t as difficult
as it sounds, I mean Alan Greenspan has already shown us the way.  One
thing that we can do is to print lots more money.  Well we don't need
to print it any more, these days money is just numbers in a computer
somewhere.  So whenever people feel too down or depressed we just
have the Fed Chief wave his magic wand and Presto!  Everybody's bank
account goes up**.  Congratulations, you're richer, now go out and buy
something and stimulate the economy.  And virtual money is just the tip
of the iceberg.  In addition to virtual cash we need virtual everything.
We need virtual reality and we need it to be a lot more satisfying than
it already is so that people will spend even more time in the computer
world.  I mean, it's already starting to happen and that's a good thing.
Why?  Because things aren't so limited in virtual reality, and in fact
some things are actually infinite.  For instance, maybe you can't have
a mansion in real life, but in virtual reality you can have a mansion, or
a castle or the freaking Taj Mahal if you want.  The sky is the limit,
just let yourself go.  Plant a virtual garden and walk your virtual dog
across your own virtual ranch.  Don't like the view?  Change it.
Push a button and presto, you live in the Himalayas, or the Bahamas,
or in some wild metaphysical paradise.  Drive an exotic car of your
own design to work every day, or ride a horse, or fly over fantastic
vistas on virtual wings if you like.  And every day can be an adventure.
Be Harry Potter one day and Frodo Baggins the next.  Live out your
action hero dreams and your every romantic fantasy.  There is truly
nothing that can't be done in virtual reality.  Does it sound too easy?
It doesn't have to be.  The virtual world can make you work hard for
everything if you want a challenge.  What if things are too hard?  No
problem.  Turn down the difficulty level and reach all of your goals.
And if you get bored, in a flash your entire world can transform into
the next fad that catches your interest.  There's no need for a closet
full of recreational equipment that you don't use anymore.  And
there's no need for a lot of the expensive crap that clutters up your
home.  Virtual reality is fully recyclable.  After all, it's just bits
spinning around on a hard drive.  Welcome to the great green dream
machine.

** How this really works is that the Fed creates money in its own bank
account and loans it to the government.  More money goes into the
system and the rich end up with most of it.  But they're nice and so
they'll let you borrow some of their booty, and Presto!  You're richer.
Kind of.

Caller Number 3: Uh, so everyone is plugged into virtual reality all
the time? That sounds a lot like "The Matrix".

Brian: And that makes it bad?  Look, I spent plenty of my youth
chasing after virtual rewards and trying to complete virtual quests.
It's fun and rewarding and so I know that this is what people want.
We just have to make it about something more than virtual knights
whacking the crap out of virtual orcs.  For instance, speaking of "The
Matrix", if you want to live out your Neo fantasies, that can happen
in the virtual world too.  Choosing the red pill can be just another
computer simulation.  And think about this.  How do we know that
Neo really did find "reality" when he chose to see it.  Maybe what he
was really choosing was his own virtual adventure of rebellion against
the system since that was more rewarding to him.  Maybe he never left
the matrix at all.  Now, I don't want to sound like a pimp, but, virtual
reality can give you anything you want.  So why not go for it?

Caller Number 3: Yeah, but, it wouldn't be real.

Brian: For all intents and purposes, it would be.  Look, all that reality
does is stimulate neurons in your brain.  If virtual reality can be made
to do the same thing then your brain won't know the difference.  It
won't matter to you which world you are in and there's no question in
my mind that the virtual world can be made a whole lot better than the
real one.  Everything can be made more intense, more exciting, and
more satisfying, easily.  Just boost the signal.  And what's more is that
we won't have to force people into the virtual world.  All we have to do
is just give them one taste of it and they'll want to spend their whole
lives in the dream machine.  And here's the real beauty of this solution,
when you're in the virtual world, you're using up a lot less resources
than you'd be if you were trying to live out your fantasies in real life.
That's the problem with reality, we're so greedy that we're sucking the
life blood out of the world.  But in the virtual world you can have wealth
without taking it from others, you can have all the sex you wanted
without any risk of disease, and you could pretend to be the leader of the
world and conquer your enemies without real people dying trying to make
your dream come true.  So I say we create a virtual reality simulator for
everyone on the planet, lock everyone inside, and enjoy the rest of our
lives in the limitless world of virtual dreams.

Musical Interlude: "Drink deep from the source of all dreams.
Feel the madness birth a new dream."

Caller Number 3: Wait, what about children?  How do we survive as
a species?

Brian: The answers are virtual children, and, we don't.  We simply
program our virtual reality to make us think that we've got all of our
problems solved.  In less than one hundred years we'll be all gone
and we won't care.  Plus, the earth will thank us for it.

Caller Number 3: You're kidding, right?

Brian: No.  Now, I just described what people tell me heaven is like.
Infinite joy forever.  And virtual reality can get us there, or at least as
close as we'll ever get.  People live for the dream of heaven and they
die for it too, so of course people will embrace a virtual world.  I mean
seriously, what is religion if it isn't a primitive version of virtual reality?
What, with heaven and hell and reincarnation and all of those gods and
angels and demons running around, it's pretty much Diablo II without
all the cool special effects.  And what's more is that spiritual experiences
are all in the brain.  We've known that since the 70's.  All it takes is a
few jolts of electricity in the right spots and we experience all sorts of
"divine" sensations.  You don't need to use drugs or go insane.  If you
want to talk to your god you can easily do that in virtual reality, and it
would feel just as real as the religious experiences that the Apostle Paul
and Joan of Arc had.  How does that measure up to drab old reality?
And no more waiting for Jesus to come, it would actually happen, in
virtual reality that is.  We could just whip up a Revelations simulation
for Christians and they'd be in total bliss.  Think of how righteous they'd
feel watching all their favorite sinners burning forever.

Caller Number 3: Sure, but no more humans?

Brian: Well, okay, there are a few of us who don't always have to have
more, more, more, and have it now, now, now.  We could live out our
lives like our ancestors did: hunting, gathering, and treating the earth
with respect.  And if anyone started to build something out of stones,
well, we'd just have to take them down into the secret cave and hook
him up to the dream machine.  Then he could live out his pyramid and
ziggurat dreams to his heart's content without messing everything up
for the rest of us.

Musical Interlude: "With ziggurats so high that they will touch the
clouds…"

Caller Number 3: Nah, that's not for me.  Oh, wait, I'm getting a call
on my other cell phone.  Hang on, I gotta take this…

Brian:  Yeah, sure, the dream machine's not for you. <laughs>  Of
course, we could always be less greedy, but you can't sell the urge to
not want.  It's a contradiction.  Next caller.  Hello, you are on the air
with Fireaxe.

Caller Number 4: Hey, Brian.  I was reading The Burning Blade and
I wanted to know why you're such a loser.

Brian: Thanks for calling in you insipid worm.  For those of you not
sure of what he's talking about, in edition 9.2 of "The Burning Blade"
I revealed that in my thirty-nine years on this planet that I'd only had
sexual relations with one woman.  Just one.  And also in that edition I
described her as "a woman whom no one wanted".  In other words I'm
one year and one woman away from being a forty year old virgin.
Which, come to think of it, probably would have been better because
that movie looked like a lot of fun for the guy.  Just kidding.

Caller Number 4: <laughs> So, it's true?

Brian: It's true.  Let me make a few important points first though
before I try to explain why it happened.  First of all, don't cry for me.
From what I've seen in my thirty-nine years, my relationship with my
friend/lover was as good or better than what most people experience
in their lifetimes.  We shared ten wonderful years, and a couple not
so wonderful years too, but those ten years were what most people
refer to as the 'honeymoon period'.  We had common interests and
common views and we got along very well.  The sex was fulfilling and
plentiful, and I never had any desire to chase other women, ever.  To
be honest I wouldn't trade my lone relationship for a series of stormy
hookups with highly desirable women.  So if you haven't spent ten
wonderful years with a woman, any woman, then maybe I should be
calling you a loser.

Caller Number 4: Hey, banging lots of babes makes you a man.

Brian: Quantity over quality?  Get serious.  What makes you a man is
knowing when to say no, not spewing your juices into every hole that
lets you inside.  Got it?  Now, I see three strong reasons for my lack
of experience.  The first is simply that I have standards.  I stay away
from loose women and vulnerable women and I have no interest in
trying to get laid just to get laid.  What I want is a serious, long term,
exclusive relationship and I'm not willing to compromise.  The next
two reasons are far more complicated.

Caller Number 4: Let me guess, you can't get it up and you need
roofies to score?

Brian: Listen up punk, and you might learn something.  One of the
more disturbing modern trends is something that I like to call the
"Commodification Of All Things".  Now, most people will agree
that something becomes a commodity when it can be purchased,
for instance, mail-order brides make marriage a commodity.  But
I would contend that anything that lends itself to marketplace
dynamics can become a commodity, and that when the marketplace
for that thing includes a large share of all that is out there, the thing
in question has essentially become a commodity, even if it isn't bought
and sold for money.  What I am seeing is that, and I really don't know
a good word to describe it but I'm talking about the rush of love, sex,
intimacy, and joy that comes at the beginning of a new relationship,
that feeling has become a commodity.

Caller Number 4: How about calling it f@&&!^$?

Brian: Watch your language, this isn't satellite radio.  Anyway, it's
more than that.  It's basically that honeymoon period I referred to
earlier where you feel that tingling of anticipation, you dream of an
ideal future with the target of your affection, you fall head over heels
in love, or lust, and everything seems to be wonderful with the world.
I think that everyone would agree that it's one of the best things that
anyone can feel.  So for lack of a better word, I'll just call it 'bliss'.
Now in the past you'd feel bliss only a few times in your life, such as
the first time you fell in love, the first time that you had sex, umm,
make that the first time that you had good sex, and you'd feel bliss
on your wedding day and when you had children.  After that your
honeymoon fades and being with your spouse isn't so blissful anymore.
You get into the day to day grind, year in and year out, and bliss is
only a pleasant memory or something felt vicariously.  In the past it
seemed that people were satisfied with that, but today I think that the
situation has become dramatically different.  I think that due to a
growing feeling of dissatisfaction in the general population, which
I'd refer to as a general deepening of the permanent psychological
deficit, people desire and even require the feeling of bliss far more
strongly and frequently than before.  So when your lover or spouse
no longer gives you those wonderful, blissful feelings that you long for,
your relationship begins to sour and you start looking for someone new
and exciting.  A number of modern trends appear to bear this out, such
as the rising divorce rate, kids not waiting until they're older to have
serious relationships, adults waiting longer to get married if at all, and
the wild proliferation of infidelity.  A lot of people blame the media for
these trends and they do much to sell the dream, but I think that the
media is just a reflection of our inner desires.  Sex is fast and loose in
movies and on television because we love that feeling of bliss and want
to feel it vicariously as well as in real life.

Paid Silly Broad: Viva la sexual revolution!

Brian: Right.  Now, in the past, and I'm speaking in general terms
here, people would only play the field for a few years in high school
or college and then pair up for life.  In any given area there would be
a dwindling supply of eligible men and women as people got married.
This makes the less desirable people relatively more desirable and
over time most people would end up getting hitched.  Everyone would
have their moments of bliss and then they'd get on with the important
business of supporting the community and raising their children.
Today, we play the field for a lot more than a few years.  In fact, we
don't have to stop playing the field, ever.  We can keep ourselves "on
the market" for most of our youth and even well into adulthood.  And
with divorce and infidelity so commonplace people aren't necessarily
off the market even when they are married.  If you are seeking bliss,
it can potentially be found anywhere with anyone at anytime and thus
the marketplace is always open, twenty-four seven.  You don't have
to settle down if you don't want to and you don't have to stay married
if it doesn't feel good anymore.  You can just keep going from one
lover to the next in a wide open market, living off of the current feeling
of bliss for as long as it lasts.  Lifelong bliss seems to be within our
grasp.  Now, like any other market you have buyers and sellers and
some sort of pricing mechanism based on desirability.  Despite women's
liberation, men are still pretty much the buyers and women the sellers
and because of the additional urgency placed on men by their more
active sex drive it's basically a seller's market.

Paid Silly Broad: <in an Asian accent> They so horny. They so horny.

Brian: Exactly.  Of course, some women are driven by their biological
clock as they get older, but the general rule holds.  The more desirable
you are the more buyers you attract if you’re a woman, or the more
"purchasing" power you have if you're a man.  Now, desirable men
often make a whole lot of purchases, and with the sexual revolution,
so do desirable women.  As a result, most of the action in the market
is dominated by those with greater desirability who can hook up
frequently and who have a wider choice of partners.  For those with
less desirability, hookups are fewer and farther between and the pickings
can be slim.  Now, that's no different than in high school or college, but
since today's market never truly tightens up, the least desirable people,
mostly men since the market favors women, end up on the short end
of the stick for a long time, sometimes indefinitely.  Think about it.
Why should anyone settle for less when there are new people coming
onto the market all the time?  And why take yourself off the market by
settling for less and miss your chance with someone more desirable?
Thus, market forces play out, bliss is bought and sold as often and as
easily as a Miami condo, and the 'poor' end up getting screwed, or
not getting screwed as the case may be.

Paid Silly Broad:  So wait, you're telling me that you're one of those
undesirables?

Brian: The empirical evidence states that clearly.

Paid Silly Broad: Umm, huh?

Brian: Let me rephrase that. Chicks don't dig nerds.

Paid Silly Broad: No, you're wrong. I totally want Bill Gates to
plug his hard drive into my mother board.

Brian: Let me rephrase that again.  Chicks don't dig nerds who
aren't billionaires.

Paid Silly Broad: Well, yeah, you're right.

Brian: Thank you for being so honest.

Paid Silly Broad: You're like Dilbert with a guitar.

Brian: You can stop being so honest now.

Paid Silly Broad: No, wait, you're more like Charlie Brown. Yeah,
that's it.  You're Charlie Brown and you want that little red-haired girl
so bad, so you're outside her window playing your heart out and singing
"Earthbound Goddess" and she's inside with Schroeder getting her brains
bonked out.

Musical Interlude: " You're my earthbound goddess. You're my heavy
metal. You are all I wanted, and above you there's no other." <is
interrupted by> Unh, unh, unh, unh, unh, yeah!!!!

Brian: Good Grief.

Paid Silly Broad: <laughs>

Brian: Thanks for that lovely visual.  I'm sure that you just traumatized
half of my audience, and you know what that means.

Sound Effects: "You're Fired!" - spoken by "The Donald" followed by
the hissing of a young woman bragging to the egotist about how much
Playboy is going to be paying her for doing a nude photo shoot now that
she's famous.

Brian: Okay, next caller. Hello, you are on the air with Fireaxe.

Caller Number 5: Hi Brian, so what's the solution?

Brian: Excuse me?

Caller Number 5: Whenever you mention a problem you're supposed to
offer a solution, right?

Brian: Oh boy. Let me think about that one for a moment.

<Commercial break>

Musical Interlude: "Searching for love. Searching in vain. The promise
of pleasure delivering pain. The closer we came, the more we could feel,
the wounds of the past, wounds that never heal."

Brian: We're back. Let's go to the next caller. Hello, you are on the air
with Fireaxe.

Caller Number 5: Hi Brian, so what's the solution?

Brian: Not you again.

Caller Number 5: You never answered my question.

Brian: Well, I think that the whole virtual reality thing covers it pretty
well.  I mean, you can have a virtual lover, or more than one come to
think of it, and then it doesn't matter what the market does, you're set.

Caller Number 5: Hey, quit dodging the question. Sure virtual reality
is going to be great, but what do we do in the meantime?

Brian: Okay, you got me.  Here goes.  In the past we've tried to go back
to forcing people to pair up for life.  We're basically talking about religion
and guilt and shotgun weddings and everyone looking down their noses
at those home-wrecking divorcées.  Repression city.  Now, as much as
all the lunatics on the religious right think that this will solve the
problem it never has, ever.  We always end up right back where we
are now where humans indulge in all the wild, promiscuous, and
deceitful sexual practices typical of Chimpanzees and Bonobos.  So my
solution is to say, "Why fight it?".  In fact, we should go for it.  I propose
that we out-monkey our nearest relatives and turn the world into one big
sexual free-for-all.

Caller Number 5: All right!

Brian: First of all we need a fair marketplace, and that means equality
of the sexes.  Now, currently men's sex drives are far more powerful
than women's and that's what makes it a seller's market.  So that is what
needs to be fixed first.  Now, the sexual revolution and its droves of
mindless boomer followers have done a good job of making women
think that sexual promiscuity is both fun and empowering.  To that I
say, praise to Ishtar!

Brief Musical Interlude: "Praise to Ishtar. She is clothed in pleasure
and love."

Brian: Oh, you bet she is.  Thanks to the influences of feminists and
free love advocates, millions of women are discovering their inner slut.
Now this was all starting to even the playing field but then some drug
company goes and invents Viagra and the next thing you know a whole
bunch of horny old baby boomer dudes come roaring back onto the
market, messing things right back up again.  Yeah, you know who they
are, these fifty-something guys who've been ogling the low-rider and
thong wearing skanks that their daughters hang out with, and now
these pharma-pimps want to relive the summer of love without all of
that hippie crap about not trusting anyone over thirty.  Thanks Pfizer,
you Pfuckers.  So now we need a version of Viagra for women that's
twice as strong as the male version just to try to even things out.  I know,
they could call it "Niagra" or something.  But we'd probably have to force
women to take it or trick them into it.  Maybe we could put it in chocolate
or cheesecake or something like that.  That ought to work.  But when we
finally have a balance between the sexes we might stand a chance of
living up to those ridiculous feminist ideals where women actually
pursue men and ask them out as much as men pursue women.  And
if that happens then finally all us undesirable men will end up getting
some action, even though it will generally be with undesirable women,
which isn't bad at all, really.

Caller Number 5: Yeah, it sounds awesome.

Brian: I'm not done yet.  Even with Niagra the market is still going to
be top heavy, with the most desirable people getting the most action,
and that means that the undesirables aren't going to get enough sex.
So the answer is that we need to rig the free market, and the best way
to do that is to get the government involved.  Now, I'm no communist
and I'm not one for quotas, but what I think would work the best is for
the government to assess a sex tax and re-distribute that money to
undesirable people in the form of redeemable coupons.  It's simple.
The more undesirable you are the more coupons you get.  Now here's
the genius part.  When anyone has sex with someone who's undesirable,
they'll get a coupon as a reward, and then they'll be able to trade that
coupon in for cold hard cash.

Caller Number 5: <laughs> So it's like prostitution in reverse?

Brian: Exactly.  Think about it.  You've got one person who's hard up
for cash and you've got another person who's just hard up, and bang,
the problem takes care of itself.  Government sponsored sex coupons.
Well, we could use a catchier name.  I know, fuckbucks, or just
F-bucks for short.

Caller Number 5: <laughing uncontrollably>

Brian: I'm telling you, fat chicks and bald guys would rejoice.  I mean,
someone like me would go walking into a singles bar and all the pretty
ladies would turn their heads and be like, "wow, look at the huge glasses
and shiny cranium on that weirdo, I'll bet that he's loaded with F-bucks".
I'm telling you it would be like Las Vegas every night.  And just think
about what a Star Trek convention or ComicCon would be like.  Babe
city.  And hey, ladies, there would be a line of studs outside of every
Cinnabon and Krispy Kreme store just waiting to lick the powdered
sugar off of your lips.  Just imagine the possibilities.  Get ready for the
New World Or-gy.

Caller Number 5: Yeah, and there'd be lots more hot high school
teachers going after zit-faced teens. Ch-ching!

Brian: And all perfectly legal, but only if the teacher is a woman that is.
We'd still have to enforce that double-standard.  But this would change
everything.  Instead of looking at ugly women and thinking "dog" or
"cow", guys would be thinking "cellphone" or "iPod".  I mean, we'd be
stimulating the economy.  Literally stimulating the economy!  And it
would work, I mean, people marry for money all the time, we'd just be
formalizing and subsidizing the arrangement.  If you marry an ugly
dude or an ugly chick, you'd be set for life.

Caller Number 5: So how about this, if Jessica Simpson walked into
NASA…

Brian: It would be like she won the lottery.


Ending Comments

      The solutions given above are not serious suggestions.
However reasonable they may sound do not try these at home, at
your office, in your country, or anywhere, especially the thing about
the F-bucks as they're probably illegal.  Plus, there's a serious risk
of Alan Greenspan showing up at your door with his hands full of
freshly printed Federal Reserve F-bucks and demanding sexual
favors from you and your neighbors.
      Yuck.  I think that I went one hideous visual too many.
Maybe.  Well, let me try one more: Jessica Simpson and Alan
Greenspan…uh oh, feeling queasy…and George Lucas…urp…no,
still okay…on the floor and getting all nasty and sticky and…
      <sounds of horrendous vomiting>

                                              Brian
              http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html
Title: The Burning Blade 10.4 - Fireaxe News
Post by: Fireaxe on June 01, 2007, 10:52:41 PM
But you must lie steal and cheat, in a world made of meat, and repent
at the end of your life…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 10.4

                 June 1, 2007

           http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

     “I have taken doping. I have taken EPO."
           - Bjarne Riis, 1996 winner of the Tour de France,
           adding that he had his winner's yellow jersey in
           a box at home and that Tour officials were,
           "…welcome to come and get it."

     Humans make the rules and humans break the rules.  And
although professional sports has often been closely associated with
athletes trying to game the system in order to achieve victory, the
problem of cheating, corruption, and the collapse of the system is
something that occurs in every arena from politics, to religion, to
the marketplace.  To understand it in one arena is to understand it
everywhere, but merely understanding why it happens doesn't enable
us humans to find a lasting solution to the problem.  Nonetheless it's
a good place to start.
     It's not exactly clear why Bjarne confessed when he did, no
French lab had suddenly announced that a urine sample that he'd
given years ago contained a banned substance, but perhaps watching
the twisted saga that is the Floyd Landis doping investigation filled
him with enough guilt to overcome the shame that came from
confessing.  Athletes are notorious for denying that they've cheated,
even when the evidence is as iron clad as it can be, so his confession
is remarkable because it is so rare.  In Floyd's case, the recent Tour de
France winner was "super-human" for a day and his urine tests concurred
with that assessment, but he is desperately grasping at straws for any
angle that will let him keep his title.  If he's innocent, it's a great story
of a man struggling to clear his name and sports is nothing if it isn't
about human drama, but if he's guilty, and I see little chance that he
isn't, it's a sick spectacle that makes a mockery out of professional
cycling.
     Nobody wants to see their heroes fall.  Nobody likes finding
out that their idol is a cheater.  I'd like to think that Lance Armstrong
is clean, after all he inspired me in my fight against cancer and his
training methods helped me to ride faster, but after seeing all of his
old rivals drop out of last year's Tour de France under the cloud of yet
another doping scandal, I have found it very hard to believe that Lance
could have beaten those riders as soundly as he did for seven years.
Simply put, if his rivals had all been doping, the only way that Lance
could have beaten them riding clean is on a motorcycle.  In cycling,
doping gives you a huge advantage, one that genetics and working
extra hard cannot overcome.
     And in Major League Baseball, where the home run record
was broken numerous times during what is being called the "steroid
era", there is the ongoing pursuit of the game's most prized record by
a man who had all but admitted that he has cheated.  Yet when you
bring all these cheaters before congress, they will lie through their
teeth and profess their innocence.  A few years ago we got to witness
men with freakishly huge biceps and who'd hit spectacularly long home
runs deny that they'd ever injected testosterone or used any banned
substance.  It was a joke, just like the hearings where tobacco company
executives lied about what they knew of their product's addictive nature,
and like the hearings for cabinet members, justice department officials,
and of course, members of the NSA when they were brought to testify.
Why do we even have public hearings anymore?  Did someone ever
confess to being guilty at a hearing in the past or are my only memories
of such admissions actually recollections of movies that I've seen?
Are people getting less honorable or has it always been so bad?  It's
hard for me to tell since I've only been alive for forty years.
     When most of us think of cheating, we think of a situation
where everyone is playing by the rules except for one greedy and
unscrupulous player who wants to win at all costs.  This is not a
very realistic scenario, but it appeals to those of us who indulge in
hero worship.  We want to think that the game is clean, that the
system isn't corrupt, and that our heroes are winning through sheer
will and determination.  This fits in perfectly with the "Protestant
Work Ethic" and similar notions in other ideologies that success is
earned through hard work and diligence.  The notion that a game
is rigged, or that cheating is widespread, not only dethrones our
heroes, but attacks the very ideologies that we hold dear.  But every
now and then some brave soul tries to pull back the curtain and
reveal the sordid reality behind the things that we want to believe
are noble and pure.  Usually those in control react by trying to kill
the messenger and apply as little damage control as is necessary to
make the faithful feel good about things again, but every now and
then the messenger succeeds and a true revolution takes hold.
     The truth is that cheating is contagious.  It's difficult if
not impossible to catch someone cheating, but it is often the case
that the first people to realize that someone is cheating are the
cheater's rivals.  Sometimes they see an obvious quantum leap in
their rival's abilities that can't be explained through other means,
and sometimes, if the players are on the same team, they know that
their teammate is cheating and will simply look the other way since
they benefit from the rule-breaking as well.  But if you suspect that
someone else is winning by cheating and you want to win instead,
you will realize that the only way for you to win is to cheat also.
This type of cheating can be seen as acceptable on an ethical level
since it can be viewed not so much as cheating, but as leveling the
playing field.  Furthermore, in a very competitive field, it can be the
case that when cheating becomes widespread, the only way to compete
at the highest levels is to cheat.  At that point, cheating simply becomes
a part of the game.  You do it because you have to no matter how you
feel about it.
     So where are the watchdogs?  Usually they are a step behind.
First they need to figure out if someone is cheating, then they need to
find out how they are cheating and then they need to figure out a way
to catch that person with proof that will stand up in court.  It's a cat and
mouse game that has been going on in sports for decades and in society
ever since the first laws were written.  But there is also the case that
the watch dogs have a conflict of interest, such as when Major League
Baseball revenues went way up when home runs starting flying out of
ballparks, or when political parties appoint cronies into watchdog
positions where they can prosecute members of all parties.  In those
cases policing can become lax, non-existent, or applied selectively
since the watchdogs benefit as much as everyone from rule-breaking.
Rules may exist on the books, but there can be an understanding that
they will not be enforced in certain cases and thus the cheating has
spread to those who are charged with preventing it.  Conflicts of
interest can develop in every oversight position and the people in
charge are only human, so corruption always tends to find a way
into the system.
     So why do athletes, and so many others, cling to the story
that they aren't cheating?  The logic seems clear.  If everyone is
doing it then the playing field is back to being level and the winner
truly did earn his victory.  It makes sense that the winner would be
adamant about defending the hard work and sacrifice that were most
definitely a part of winning.  Also, even if the accused wanted to come
clean, trying to defend one's own cheating by accusing everyone else
of cheating, especially when you have little or no proof that they did
so, is doomed to fail and will make you look even worse.  And
sometimes there are extenuating circumstances which make cheating
feel ethically sound to the cheater, such as in Floyd's case, where
bonking on one stage, through no fault of his own, knocked him out
of the lead and could have given him the justification to make up his
lost time on the next stage by using testosterone.  Before he bonked,
he was going to win, and he certainly deserved to win since he was
the best rider in the race, but fate had other plans.  Life isn't fair, but
can you make it fair by cheating?  And how about in Lance's case?
Having a very promising career destroyed by cancer would seem to
provide a compelling reason for him to do whatever it took to get
back to that competitive level and achieve what he felt he deserved.
And lets not forget the influence of big money and sponsorship deals
that come in professional sports.  Sometimes it is the owners and
team managers who condone and encourage cheating as a way to
improve the bottom line and these forces could have also played a
role for Bjarne, Floyd, Lance, and many others.  Sure, these are only
speculations, but when I think about the times in my life where I bent
the rules it was in similar situations and my thinking fell along similar
lines.
     Yeah, I've cheated.  Not on anything major, like school
or work or personal relations, but if the things that I cheated on
weren't major, why did I feel the need to cheat?  The truth is that I
wanted to win too much in my younger years.  I blame myself for
my inability to restrain my ego, and have done my best to play on
the level in the years since, but I can also point the finger at ideologies
which honor greatness with such tempting rewards.  Of course,
ideologies abhor cheaters, but when ideologies imbue their followers
with such a strong sense of entitlement that a large number of them
feel that they deserve things that are only available to a few, the fact
that some of them will end up cheating is inevitable.  And when
someone decide to cheat, the cheating will often spread to others
until it engulfs the system and corrupts the ideology.
     In sports, in politics, in the financial sphere, and everywhere
else it seems, we have a deep need to get what we feel we deserve and
if that means that we have to cheat then we often end up changing the
definition of what cheating really is.  Often it's easy to discard the
rules altogether and say that "all's fair in love and war, and this is
both".  Another way is to campaign to change the rules so that they
permit whatever cheating is going on.  But the problem with cheating
is that it is self-defeating.  In pursuit of what we must have we end up
devaluing that which we treasure so much.  We debauch the very system
that we use to measure our self worth.  This seeming paradox reveals
the self-destructive nature of ideologies, which need to survive in the
present, even if it means sacrificing the future to do so.  While clouds
of suspicion will follow some of our greatest heroes around for the rest
of their lives, there is no way to go back in time and bestow glory upon
those who should have been our heroes if the game had been played
straight.  This is the way of the world, the notorious fiends are well
known while the unsung heroes are forgotten.
     Long in appearing but not forgotten is, "Eternal Devotion to
the Dark Goddess" of which all but the final track has been recorded
in final form.  It won't be long before the CD has entered the mixing
and mastering stages, and the cover art is well on its way to completion
as well.  I don’t think that it will all be ready by the next edition of
The Burning Blade at the end of July, but by then I should be close to
putting the final product into your hands.  I'll include another sneak
preview in two months.  I appreciate your patience.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


"Black Knight" and Virginia Tech

     Those of you who've been Fireaxe listeners for a long time
know that I have more than a little amount of sympathy for the all
too many malcontents who found no better course of action than to
go on a killing spree inside the hallowed halls of their educational
institutions.  By sympathy I of course don't mean to suggest that I
approve of their actions in any way, but you will definitely not find
me among the shrieking chorus of people excoriating these "school
shooters" and trying to affix the most abhorrent labels next to their
names.  Indeed, it appears that the violent revenge that these killers
sought resulted only in an amplification of the treatment that they
received before they even considered buying a gun and taking it to
school.  Even in death these individuals are hated, smeared, insulted,
marginalized, and shunned, the very things that they experienced for
years which compelled them to do what they did.
     The media spewed out the usual tripe after the latest tragedy
at Virginia Tech university: focusing on the anguish of the victims'
friends and family, telling tales of heroism and sacrifice, finding
evidence of an unstable personality and wondering why the telltale
signs of a potential mass murderer weren't picked up on, and of course
there were the obligatory cries for more pointless gun laws.  Every
now and then some media talking head would ask a mental health
professional why the shooter did what he did, but their answers never
seemed to touch on the things that I saw as being critically important.
Why did Seung-Hui Cho kill thirty-two people?  The blame went in
the usual directions: violent video games, violent movies, psychiatric
drugs, easy access to guns, the coverage of other school shootings and
the copycat syndrome, PTSD from coverage of things like 9/11, the
Challenger disaster, and the Oklahoma City bombing, speculations
that he was sexually abused, and simply proclaiming him to be
mentally ill and leaving it at that.  The media made him out to be a
madman, and that's certainly what he became, but how he got to be
that way was left as an open question, one that needs to be answered
definitively if any progress is to be made.  I'll try to make some
progress on this issue, drawing from the Fireaxe theory and my
own personal experience.
     The massacre at Virginia Tech is the first major school
shooting since I wrote the song "Black Knight", which is a song
about someone who experiences alienation and persecution at the
hands of others and fantasizes about putting them to death.  As I
watched the coverage I have to admit that I was a little nervous that
some reference to Fireaxe would turn up, like a CD, mp3s on his
computer, or lyrics from "Black Knight" written over and over again
in a notebook.  But the only band that was mentioned was Collective
Soul, and since they are neither rap or heavy metal, no one tried to
pin the blame on the type of music that the shooter listened to.
     The bulk of the song "Black Knight" comes from personal
experience, which is why I have a lot of sympathy for those who've
gone through a similar ordeal as the character in the song but ended
up turning their revenge fantasies into reality.  Regarding my own life,
I never came close to going on a violent rampage.  Although I didn't
have many friends when I was young,  the ones I had, and still have
are wonderful people who make life very much worth living.  And
being able to get good grades gave me hope that when I graduated
I would be able to prosper in the real world and leave the ridiculous
joke of high school far behind.  Things worked out for me and I'm
glad that I didn't sacrifice anything in exchange for petty, but perhaps
gratifying, revenge, but I can't say that I didn't leave a valuable part
of myself behind in the uncaring halls of my educational institutions.
I learned lessons that caused me to question just about everyone and
everything at some point, which is not necessarily a good thing.  I
wasn't born a cynic and a subversive, that's just how you end up when
the system betrays you.
     Trust in the system is the first casualty when the bullies
select you as someone they're going to pick on.  Nothing you do can
stop the abuse.  If you do nothing and just take it, it just gets worse.  If
you fight back you only get in trouble for your courageous efforts.  And
though the bully gets in trouble along with you, you get punished worse.
The principal, and your parents too, will all give you that sorry line
about how they expect better from you.  Sure, the bully is a troublemaker,
they say, but you're an honor student, and you shouldn't sink down to his
level.  But their words are empty and their suggestions for what you
should do are useless.  You wonder if they truly care about you since
they don't do anything to help, and you just get picked on more since
the bully knows that if you fight back that it will hurt your future a lot
more than it will hurt his.  So you're trapped, and that's just how it is,
day after day, week after week, and year after year.  Time travels slow
when you're young, and things like high school and college seem to take
an eternity to get through.  That's just a reminder to us older folks who
think that telling someone to put up with the abuse is reasonable advice.
Sure, the vast majority of people who get bullied and abused in school
don't go on killing sprees, but that's mainly because they see the wisdom
in not throwing their whole life away in an act of vengeance.  In the end,
most of us are left with no good options.  So you keep going to school
and you keep taking abuse and hope that your psyche can endure it.
     Bullying is one well-known trigger, and some schools have
tried to crack down on the problem, but if you dig a little deeper into
the lives of many school shooters you'll find that the absence of a
girlfriend plays a far more important role.  Television, books, movies,
and the occasional story told by an elder mostly tend to romanticize
the high school years as being that wonderful time in your life where
you fall in love and experience so many joyous "firsts" (your first date,
your first kiss, etc.) with that special someone.  Well, it doesn't happen
for everyone, and the feelings of loneliness and despair that come from
a mixture of sexual desire and emotional longing is something that you
simply can't escape from.  Bullies don't follow you home and mock you
when you lie awake on weekend nights, but every time your natural
desires are aroused by the sight of a pretty girl, and every time you try
and fail to make a good impression on one of them, you feel that hole
in your heart grow a little bit bigger, and it hurts worse with each
passing day.
     As if the absence of love wasn't enough, a loner must endure
the even more painful experience of watching a girl who they can love
only from a distance fall for someone else.  When you have nothing
a fantasy is more than just a daydream.  Your fantasies of love are
powerful dreams which take away the pain of loneliness, if only in a
limited way.  Still, they are far better than nothing, and seeing the
object of your fantasy in someone else's arms tears away that special
dream that covers up your emotional wounds.  Worse still, when you
see the object of your desires get abused, dumped, and wind up heart-
broken it adds rage to that mixture of sickening emotions that roil
inside of you.  After all, you know in your heart that you would never
have treated her that way if she had fallen for you.  You would have
cherished her like a rare jewel if she had only given you the chance.
But even after her break-up the target of your unrequited love still
turns you down and finds love in the arms of another.  To you it
makes no sense, and it doesn't seem fair at all.  But you watch as
girl after girl passes you over only to be deceived and discarded by
guys who care only about sex and little about love.  Slowly but surely
the dream of finding that special someone and experiencing true,
pure love, is strangled to death by lies, lust, and loneliness.  And
when the dream dies, there is nothing left to hold back the pain.
     Now, some of you might answer that we all experience those
things in high school.  We all get picked on.  We all get heart-ache.
We all get depressed.  But we are all strong enough to get through
those times, and if someone has to go and shoot up his classmates,
then it is all his fault for being weak.  After all, we endured all that
stuff and we made it through just fine, so obviously there's something
wrong with the killer.  I think that people who think that way fail to
understand the degree to which some people suffer at the hands of
others and may be trying to wash their hands of the abuse that they
used to heap on misfits and malcontents.  The Virginia Tech killer,
Seung-Hui Cho, was bullied not only at his junior high school and
high school, but he was picked on in his church group by rich kids.
Honestly, in church too, where was his god then?  And for years he was
picked on relentlessly.  Also it wasn't that he suffered from the painful
but short-lived heartache that comes when you break up with your
sweetheart, it was that he never had a sweetheart to begin with, ever.
In the aftermath of a breakup some people moan that they will never
be loved again, but when you have lived a life of emptiness, the idea
that you may never find someone who loves you is not just the product
of a fleeting bout of depression, but a cold hard reality that grows more
probable with each passing day.  Yes, growing up is hard and often
painful, so much so that it can push people over the edge without any
help from violent images in the media, anti-depressant drugs, or the
second amendment.
     The last casualty is one's faith in justice.  No one can stop the
bullies, no one can warm your heart, and no one truly seems to care.
Everyone else seems to get what they need and some get far more than
they deserve, but you get little or nothing.  Where is justice?  It is
simply nowhere to be found.  No god comes down to punish those
who bullied you or abused the girl you loved from afar, and no parent,
principal, authority figure, cares enough to try to set things right.
There is no one there to punish the wicked, and thus there is no justice
in the world.  Unless, of course, you take matters into your own hands.
     Here are parts of Cho's manifesto, which was delivered to a
television station after he killed the girl he loved from afar and her
lover, but before he went on his killing spree.  After knowing more
about what he went through, does what he said make any more sense?

"You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today.
But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and
gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have
blood on your hands that will never wash off."

"You just loved to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my
head, terror in my heart and ripping my soul all this time."

"You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my
conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were
extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire
generations of the weak and the defenseless people."

"Do you know what it feels like to be stood on your face and have trash
shoved down your throat?  Do you know what it feels like to dig your
own grave?  Do you know what it feels like to have your throat slashed
from ear to ear?  Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive?
Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and bleed to death
for your amusement?"

"You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life.  Did you
want to inject as much misery in our lives because you can?  Just
because you can?  You had everything you wanted.  Your Mercedes
wasn't enough you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough you
snobs.  Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your vodka and your cognac
weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't
enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything."

     It all seems perfectly clear to me.  Cho bemoans the rape of
his purity, which comes from the feeling that he will never be able
to experience love in a pure and innocent way.  He emphasizes the
degree of his suffering since he was exposed to so much and since
that is what had consumed him.  And he laments the lack of justice
in the world which not only allows the rich to have so much, but which
allows them to take even more from others and leave him with what
he feels is nothing.  I find his manifesto to be clear, honest, and an
accurate description of his past.  The world craps on people like Cho
and this is how they feel inside.  In my opinion the television station
did us all a service by broadcasting Cho's manifesto.  Perhaps
watching it or reading it will make a few more people stop abusing
others and thus make a few less people act out in a violent and self-
destructive way.  Of course, I had those same hopes after Columbine.
     The Fireaxe theory asserts that ideology plays a role in the
development of consciousness by creating a permanent sense of
inadequacy in the mind of its followers.  The purpose of this state
of mind is to motivate the individual to perform tasks that benefit the
ideology and the ideology then rewards the individual with temporary
feelings of increased self esteem.  In this way the ideology thrives by
enslaving its followers and channeling their actions towards productive
pursuits, but the process of indoctrination is not always perfect and
sometimes the result is a broken mind.
     Cho was made to feel inadequate in a number of ways.  His
parents instilled within him a sense that academic excellence was of
primary importance and the example set by his gifted and successful
sister would have made him feel even more inadequate even though
he was of above average intelligence.  Bullies relieve their own sense
of inadequacy by picking on others, which makes those who they pick
on feel even more inadequate.  When you're at the bottom of the food
chain, like Cho, you have no one to pick on in turn and so that outlet
is closed to you.  Also, ideologies instill a sense of conformity which
prompts their followers into picking on those who are different or who
do things which are not in line with what the ideology teaches.  Even
though western ideologies values individualism and freedom, they still
demand a high degree of conformity from their members and Cho was
outside the norm in many ways.  The public humiliation of outcasts
is an ideological ritual which benefits the group by instilling a sense
of solidarity in the majority and encouraging conformity, but there is
always a need for someone to play the role of whipping boy and that
person ends up getting continually picked on in order to pacify the
inadequacies of the group.
     Lastly, Cho felt desperately inadequate in the realm of love.
In the past, marriages were either arranged or social pressures forced
people to pair up during their teen years and stay together for life, but
in modern times dating follows the rules of the free market with those
who are more desirable getting most of the attention and those who
aren’t getting little to none.  In such an environment there will be
people who end up without someone with whom they can express
their most profound and personal feelings and desires.  Now, one
could argue whether being trapped in a loveless marriage is worse
than being adrift in loveless loneliness, but in either case, inadequacy
is instilled as a result of ideological forces and people are compelled
to find other ways to satisfy their needs.
     There are a lot of people like Cho out there, but most of
them endure all the hardships of growing up as an outcast.  The
strong sense of inadequacy inside them can often inspire them to
do great things in order to feel adequate.  When this happens it is
very beneficial to the ideology, which rewards those who make it
stronger.  But in some cases the hardship is too great and a person
loses their faith in their ideology.  They can no longer attain a sense
of adequacy by following the rules of the ideology and so something
must give.  The result is often ideological mutation on an individual
scale.  In Cho's case it appears that he created a new personal
ideology that was a hybrid between Christianity and Rambo style
action-hero revenge.  He envisioned himself blazing a path to salvation
for himself and other downtrodden souls by punishing the wicked.
     Given this analysis, can future outbreaks of suicidal revenge
be prevented?  Well, if the pressure that an ideology puts on its
members is decreased, it will reduce the number of people who end
up cracking, like Cho, but at the same time it will reduce the amount
of motivation instilled within others, which will make them less likely
to do the great things which support the ideology.  Note that Seung-
Hui's sister grew up in the same crucible as he did, yet she is a very
successful Princeton graduate.  It would seem that we cannot have
one without the other.  The forces that produce greatness are also
those that produce mass murderers.  Furthermore, if the forces that
produce motivation in the population are reduced, the ideology will
grow weaker and be less able to reward those who excel, which would
add to the general dissatisfaction and thus add to the risk of internal
struggle and ideological mutation.  This is undesirable for the ideology
and thus the reaction will generally be to increase, not decrease, the
pressure during indoctrination.  This was seen in the crackdown after
Columbine and is likely to be seen again after Virginia Tech.
     In other words, Seung-Hui Cho and his innocent victims
were, in essence, sacrificed for the greater good of the ideology.
They died as the result of being part of a high pressure system of
indoctrination which not only produces the best and the brightest
people in the world but which inevitably produces people with
shattered minds and dark desires.  The struggle is for a stronger
ideology and the victims were merely collateral damage.  They are
food for the gods.
     I think, however, that such a conclusion is completely
unpalatable to most people, and thus the question of why things
like Virginia Tech happen will always be left inadequately answered.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12      $14
Victory or Death            $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     For the rest of this year and part of the next I will be recording
the next Fireaxe CD entitled "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".
I should have it completed by the middle of 2007.  The new CD will dig
deep into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth the
myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what
they are.  While “A Dream of Death” explored the madness of dreams,
and “Food for the Gods” described the chaos wrought upon the earth
by ideologies, “Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess” will depict the
psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times.  It will
be the darkest Fireaxe work ever.
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 10.4 - Fireaxe News
Post by: death metal black metal on June 13, 2007, 05:41:46 PM
Now that was a good read. I think however that you should give the will to power more study than the pseudo-Darwinian causal logic, and that you should note that "coming right back at you with hollow points" is a masculine statement in an emasculated world.

I <3 school shooters, too, not because it's how I want to go out but because they're raising the flag of "this place is fundamentally corrupt" in a way even the stumbling idiots have trouble ignoring.

Title: The Burning Blade 10.5
Post by: Fireaxe on August 03, 2007, 10:37:47 PM
Absolute power corrupts absolutely…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 10.5

                 August 3, 2007

           http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

     “…a world in which there is one master, one sovereign----
     one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of
     decision-making. At the end of the day this is pernicious
     not only for all those within this system, but also for the
     sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.…
     What is even more important is that the model itself is
     flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral
     foundations for modern civilization."
                             - Vladimir Putin

     As correct as the Russian president may be regarding the
uncomfortable reality that centralized power, while often purporting to
be the defender of morality, inevitably becomes corrupted from within,
his own actions in consolidating power within his ruling party put the
lie to his noble sounding words.  However, it would be a mistake to
simply write off Putin's observations as mere hypocrisy, as so many
pundits in the west do, since they reveal a deep and uncomfortable
truth.
     However moral they may begin, centralized institutions
which consolidate and exercise power will always tend towards acting
in ways which expand their power base, often at the expense of their
high-minded ideals.  Though morally repugnant, this makes perfect
sense.  Institutions which are the best at accumulating power will
continue to accumulate power, beating out all of their rivals in the
process regardless of ideals.  If an institution's ideals restrain it from
the pursuit of power, that limitation will make it less likely to obtain
and hold on to power than other institutions with no such limitation.
Thus, natural selection in the realm of political and social power
promotes the growth of institutions which are unrestrained by
morality.  Furthermore, if an institution can create the impression
that it is more moral than it really is, that works to its advantage by
gaining more support from the general public.
     The only solution to the problem of the rise of institutions
which are solely focused on the consolidation of power is one that
Putin has used himself, one must assemble an institution which is
more powerful than any rival and use that institution to squash those
rivals before they can spread corruption.  This is why it is often declared
that a strong central government is necessary to protect the social
order, and indeed without such an institution a nation will generally
descend into warlordism, making it vulnerable to both infighting and
invasion.  However, the problem of a strong central government is
that it will eventually become corrupted, often with those in charge
being blind to their own excesses.  In the pursuit of fulfilling its duty
of defending the nation against all foes, foreign and domestic, the
government becomes its own worst enemy.
     Putin's solution on the global front is that there should be no
single, all-powerful nation, but that power should be distributed more
evenly between two or more nations so that no nation can act without
the consent of a majority of the others.  This system is reminiscent of
the three-branch system of government of the United States and its set
of checks and balances which were intended to ensure that corruption
could not manifest inside the very institution which was entrusted with
preventing corruption.  It's not a bad idea, preventing instability by
pitting institutions or nations against each other, provided that
everyone plays by the rules and no nation or institution is able to
achieve dominance over the others, but throughout history such stability
has never lasted for very long.  Also, "stability" is a relative term since
rival institutions and nations are constantly vying for dominance and
clash on numerous fronts: sometimes in the form of proxy wars,
sometimes through economic competition and coercion, and all too
often in morally indefensible ways.
     To the second part of Putin's statement, regarding the moral
basis of modern civilization, certainly trust is at the heart of morality.
Modern civilization is immensely interdependent and thus economic
and political systems need to be stable and only change at a slow pace
in order to support the billions of people cohabiting the planet.  When
the needs of too many people go unfulfilled, due either to disruptions in
or inadequacies of the system, their trust in that system will falter and
morality becomes a casualty.  Why should one follow the rules when
the system punishes them for it?  So stability is one key for morality
provided that the system works well for everyone.  Another key is, of
course, justice.  A single, dominant institution or nation must obey laws
and norms and must not act exclusively for its own interests and against
those of all others.  Such actions destroy trust and promote instability,
which is the point that Putin was trying to make in regards to present
conditions in the world.
     There are obvious differences and surprising similarities
between the U.S. and Russia.  On one hand you have a country with
a track record of being tyrannical trying to appear egalitarian and on
the other you have a country with a track record of being egalitarian
acting tyrannically.  Both can twist the language of their high ideals in
order to claim the moral high ground, often hypocritically criticizing each
other for offenses of which they themselves are guilty.  Whether it be
interfering in elections, excesses in wars against insurgents, economic
arm-twisting, and self-righteous rhetoric, the two former superpowers
are using every part of their Cold War arsenals to gain power in the
world, causing death and suffering to many in the process.
     Deciding between them, or objectively pointing out the flaws
in the behavior of these two rivals would be a simple, objective exercise
if it wasn't for the fact that morality is not an objective term.  Every
ideology has its own unique moral code as well as caveats that allow it
to break that code when necessary.  In fact, there is nothing that cannot
be justified when viewed through the prism of ideology.  One only needs
to present a case where an immoral act is required to prevent far greater
immorality to turn an immoral act into a rational, pragmatic, and indeed
moral one.  Most people would sacrifice one life to save a hundred, and
so selling the idea of "virtuous immorality", realistic or not, is one way
that a nation can maintain the support of its power base while freeing
itself from the constraints of its own ideals.
     Make no mistake about it, Russia and the United States are
continuing to struggle over control of the vast energy reserves of Asia
and the Middle East.  Oil is power as is natural gas and both are needed
in large quantities to keep modern nations running at top speed.  The
economic, political, and rhetorical conflicts between modern nations are
simply surrogates for, and possibly precursors to, violent and devastating
conflicts.  Simply put, the words that our leaders spin are the tools of war.
Whether they are doing so intentionally or not is irrelevant, if their words
have power, they will continue to use them to garner more support for
their position.  The battleground of ideas is critical in an ideological
struggle.
     So to Putin I would say that a world with two, three, or
many masters is no more immune from the corruption that inevitably
plagues a world than one with only one master.  Morality will be
discarded in the pursuit of power and hypocrisy will run rampant until
such a time that the world ceases to function well and the lack of trust
and decency becomes intolerable.  It is then that the masses will make
an about face and tear down their corrupt institutions, with those "quaint"
notions of accountability, responsibility, and honor becoming the traits
that they seek and around which power is accumulated.  We will likely
fight over which brand of these virtues we will rally around but in the
end they will be accepted, worshipped, and finally taken for granted
once more, opening the way for the abuse of power and trust and starting
us on another cycle of social and political revolution.  Such is the way
that things appear to work.  Of course, I'd say the same thing to Bush,
but I doubt that he would understand what I'm talking about.
     Speaking of things that Bush wouldn't understand, recording
for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is finished save for a few
parts which will be performed by a guest vocalist.  Since the time of the
last newsletter the final track fell into place and a number of touch-ups
were done.  Mixing and mastering will soon begin and the artwork is in
process, but it is all taking too long, and so, as promised, here is another
sample from the new CD.  Viva la Revolucion!

http://www.neptune.net/~bev/vivarough.mp3

     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.



Economics and the Fireaxe theory

"Yeah, Bernanke.  Another baby-boomer mush head screwing up
a perfectly good system of transferring wealth from the middle
class to the investors.  I mean seriously.  Enough with the boomers
already!  They're incompetent!  They can't win wars, they can't rig
the stock market, and they sure as heck can't stand a little Gen X
competition on the internet."

           - The Lukewarm Butterknife - Tenth Edition

     Ben!  Ben!  I was joking, Ben!  Honest!
     For those of you who have been following the rise and
fall of the global markets you might have noticed that after I sent
out the April Fool's Edition of the Burning Blade this year that the
markets lurched upwards faster than Alberto Contador on steroids.
And if you're following the independent tracking of the M3 measure
of money in the United States you know that while the measure was
going up at 7.6% before the Fed stopped reporting it, that it has been
going up by over 13% for most of this year.  Contrary to how I
portrayed things in the humorous version of this newsletter, Ben
Bernanke has been hard at work pumping up the stock market and
with the exception of the last two weeks, he's done a heckuva job.
     Of course, my savings account is getting a meager 4%
interest, which, if you subtract the inflation in M3, is actually losing
money at a nine percent clip against the growth of the money supply.
&#%@!!  Somebody call the cops!  I'm getting robbed!
     Back to being serious.  Sure, money is important, you might
say, but I feel that many of you out there are wondering why I discuss
economics fairly often in the Burning Blade.  I can sympathize.  It's
a boring subject that most of us take for granted and ignore.  After
all, for almost everyone alive on the planet, their money has always
been good and has always lost only a little bit of its value each year.
There's no reason to think that will change.  And furthermore, to
focus on money beyond that which you need to get by at an acceptable
standard of living is often taken as a sign of greed.  I always used
to think that money matters were the exclusive realm of accountants
and money-hungry MBAs, but the more that I examine the world
through the prism of the Fireaxe perspective the more that I realize
that economic systems are part and parcel of ideologies and that one
cannot understand politics, religion, and how people get along with
each other without knowing how modern economics works.
     In ancient times, religion was the law.  There was no
separation of church and state.  Thus, in various religious texts
you will find laws governing property rights and the repayment of
debts right alongside laws dictating how witches are to be dealt with
and the proper way to worship one's god.  Usury for example, usually
defined as charging excessive interest, is regarded as a sin in most
religions.  But in modern times, where religion's power to enforce the
law has been taken over by secular and pluralist ideologies, and
where advances in mathematics and communications have made
economic systems vast and complex, economics has risen up to
become an extremely powerful force in the world, one that ideologies
must account for and control.  Furthermore, economics has become
so powerful that it has even had more than a minor influence on
ideological thought.
     Like it or not, modern civilization has deprived us of our
independence and ensnared us in a vast network of inter-dependence.
Almost everything we need is brought to us through that network
which relies on a multitude of logistical, contractual, and financial
relationships to function properly.  Most of us are far away from
anything resembling subsistence farming and we rely heavily upon
the network to support us.  This can be seen in any area where war
breaks out or a disaster takes place.  The support system breaks down
and instantly there is a humanitarian crisis which needs both immediate
attention and long term planning to resolve.  Without assistance, the
crisis will quickly devolve into immorality and anarchy as desperation
overrides social conscience.  We need the system to work, and the
rules which the system follows are governed by economics.
     The economic system, through market forces and regulation,
satisfies our physical needs, but more importantly from an ideological
standpoint, it influences our role in society and determines, to a large
degree, our sense of self worth.  Most of us have jobs, and our jobs have
a certain income which is determined by the economic system.  Our
income is the primary determinant of the lifestyle we lead, whether
we can afford luxuries or we struggle to get by.  Our incomes also
convey status which has far-reaching social repercussions.  The rich
have far more opportunities than the poor beyond merely their ability
to buy more and better things.  These are things we all know and
accept, but does income really translate into a sense of self-worth?
     The answer is yes, but not entirely of course.  A person's
place in society is determined by a number of things: how they treat
others, how honorable they act, and how wise they are, but also by
what they do for a living.  The whole of society benefits when each
individual contributes to the system in some way and thus it is vital
that the system reward individuals for their contributions to keep them
working to support it.  But while non-monetary contributions and
rewards are important, they cannot replace economic ones, and so
professions and incomes are a vital part of the social order.
     In modern times the importance of a functional economic
system has grown as the importance of family and social ties have
diminished.  Sons seldom follow in their father's footsteps and take
over the family business anymore and seeking employment via familial
connections is frowned upon in modern, merit based societies.  Today
most people are expected to find their own way in the world, choosing
paths that can be quite different than the ones which their parents took,
and prospering by doing good, professional work.  Thus, it is no longer
the community which is expected to take care of individuals, but rather
the economic system, which provides opportunities and rewards hard
work.  Being able to hold a job is a rite of passage in modern society.
It represents an individual's coming of age.  It shows that they are
responsible members of society.  It gives them a feeling of self-worth
and rewards them with money, which imparts no small amount of
freedom along with it.  Earning money translates into independence,
provided that you earn enough of it to get by at the standard of living
that you are comfortable with.  But when you achieve that goal you
feel like you are a part of a larger whole, like you're earning your keep.
     As a part of the community most people take an interest in
making sure that their town, state, and nation is the best that it can be.
They identify with their community and take pride in it.  They support
their community and it supports them and everything is as is should be.
At least, that's the way it's supposed to work.  But an economic system
is just like any other system created and maintained by humans, it isn't
perfect, and it is vulnerable to dysfunction and corruption.  One of the
most common dysfunctions of an economic system is the misallocation
of resources, which is a fancy way of saying that too much money gets
spent on things from which too few people benefit.  Market based
systems are supposed to work against such misallocation but the
markets often fall victim to manipulation and herd mentality.  When
the economic system becomes dysfunctional, it has the collateral
effect of eroding the self-worth of those who are not benefiting as
much from their labors as they should be.  An economic system which
has high unemployment, or which forces people to work at jobs
which are below their level of talent or expertise, or prevents too
many people from realizing their potential, or deprives people of the
things that they need, is one that disrupts the connection between the
individual and the community.  When the system treats someone poorly
and unfairly, that person will find fewer and fewer reasons to support
the community in return.  They will cease to identify strongly with their
community and regard it with contempt, anger, or simply not care
much about it at all.  They may turn to crime, drug use, or other
anti-social behaviors which hurt the community and the economy.
One can argue that having a functional economy is the foundation
of any community, of equal or perhaps greater value than religion
or a political system, since immorality and intransigence will result
when the economy does not work for all.  Preachers can preach and
politicians can make promises, but if neither can put food on the
table then their words will not find the ears of the masses.  If the
bad times persist, revolution becomes inevitable.
     Thus, modern ideologies, such as Democracy, Communism
and Fascism, must incorporate methods of managing or controlling
the economy of a nation so that dysfunction is prevented and revolution
is avoided.  Economics is too important a factor in a post industrial
society to leave unattended.  But economics is more than just a way
of managing limited resources.  Economics reflects and influences
the values of a society.  Communism is focused on both social and
economic equality which requires a totalitarian government to ensure
that economic inequalities do not occur.  Democracy is focused on
freedom and independence and regulates the economy as little as
possible, allowing market forces to determine merit.  Fascism seeks
a middle way between the two, allowing the government to have far
reaching powers to prevent dysfunction but still allowing enough
economic freedom to reward those who perform the best.  All three
ideologies seek to manipulate the economy so that it reflects their
basic ideals regarding a person's relationships with other individuals,
the community, and the state, but as long as people have at least some
freedom on how to spend their money the economic system within any
ideology will tend to shift and change.  Sometimes these changes will
result in a less productive economy which the state needs to step in and
correct, and sometimes these changes will result in a more productive
economy that can force a change in the laws of the state and even
in the ideology itself.  A perfect example of this is China, where
the recent opening up of the economy of the communist state has
resulted in massive changes in both the economic and social order
and left over a billion people confused about what ideology they
are actually following.  Is it Capitalism?  Communism?  Some odd
mixture of the two?  The Chinese government is trying to stay
in control of the economy, but it is finding it difficult to reign in
the ravenous beast without causing bigger problems in the process.
Indeed, a nation's economy can be like a frisky young stallion,
sometimes it goes where the rider tells it to go and sometimes it just
goes where it wants to go.
     No ideology has solved the problem of how to prevent an
economy from becoming dysfunctional.  This is due to the fact that the
falsehoods that make up ideologies permeate their economic systems.
I've discussed ideological falsehoods in editions 8.6 and 9.6 of the
Burning Blade.  Those essays can be summarized by stating that
ideologies must provide powerful incentives in the form of future
gains in order to motivate their believers.  In economic terms this
means that ideologies must deliver increasing growth in economic
measures such as income and gross domestic product.  These numbers
are used as proof that things are getting better and can be used to
maintain the faith of people who are not personally doing well by
showing them that the overall economy is expanding and that good
times will be heading their way soon.
     A functional economy generally grows at a steady pace over
time due to innovation, increases in productivity, and population
growth.  While this progress is encouraging, the main focus of a nation
is not on absolute gains, but on relative gains against its rivals.  If your
nation grows at a 5% rate but the average gain worldwide is 8%, then
your nation has actually declined 3% relative to all others.  Not only
does this represent a loss in a nation's power and influence but it brings
into question the competence of the government and even the efficacy
of the ideology.  No one wants to see their nation go into decline, even
in relative terms.  Such a thing makes a nation more vulnerable to
foreign interference, in both economic and military terms, and doubts
are cast on the beliefs of the people that their nation's ideology is truly
superior and that it will eventually achieve global dominance or at least
last a very long time.  If your nation grows at an above average rate, or
higher, all is well, but for those nations which are below average, their
populations will believe that something is wrong.  For those unfortunate
nations the fault must be placed somewhere, such as on the unfair
practices of a rival, the poor performance of the government, or in the
flaws in one's ideology.  Of these the easiest for people to accept is that
the fault lies outside one's own nation.  However, blaming the government,
especially the members of the "other" political party, is also quite popular.
     The central problem is that while not all nations can grow at an
above average rate, all are expected to do so (an inherent property of
ideologies), and the populations of some nations demand that their nation
be the best every year.  These unrealistic expectations cannot be met by
all nations, and so many seek ways to make it appear that their nation is
doing well despite the truth that it is not.  Fudging the numbers is one of
the best ways to create growth out of nothing, such as getting creative
with inflation figures so that it is much lower than it really is.  Since
all economic statistics are compared against inflation, making inflation
seem low makes everyone seem richer, especially when money is being
borrowed or printed at an exceptional rate.  Making credit more available
is another way of making people seem richer than they are.  This allows
people to borrow more of their future gains for enjoyment in the present,
but if the risk of defaults is not adequately accounted for this guarantees
economic shocks down the road as promises fail to be delivered upon and
dreams crash to the ground.
     Both of these gimmicks represent moral failings in the realm of
economics.  One is simply bald-faced lying and the other is yielding to
temptation.  The problem with these types of moral failings is that they
solve problems in the present at the expense of causing greater problems
in the future.  This presents a moral dilemma.  If your focus is on survival
in the long term, allowing such moral failures to occur is unacceptable,
but if short term survival is of the utmost importance, then these moral
failings are not only tolerated but encouraged.  In democratic systems,
where politicians must be reelected at frequent intervals and where many
of them do not serve for long terms, one would expect to see politicians
accepting economic malfeasance as being vital to their careers.  This is
not to say that democracies are uniquely vulnerable to economic
malfeasance as the leaders of all nations must show economic growth
or be called to answer for the decline.  No one wants to be the one stops
the printing press and calls for restraint.  Politicians who tell the people
that everyone is going to have to suffer through some bad times while a
recession runs its course are seldom popular and rarely remain in office.
So there is an extreme temptation to indulge in immoral economic
practices to meet the demands of the present and let someone else deal
with the consequences.  Of course, after this process has been repeated
a number of times, and the future consequences of past bad decisions
have grown to epic proportions, it becomes more and more important
to a nation's leaders to push the bad times off just a little farther so that
they occur on someone else's watch.  No one wants to appear responsible
for bringing down an economic house of cards.  So higher and higher it
goes.
     But once the tools are in place to make the economy of a nation
appear to be stronger than it is, dysfunction in the economy can flourish
with the general population being none the wiser.  If growth appears to
be strong and everyone feels richer, the balance of how economic rewards
are distributed throughout society can become extremely skewed without
the people realizing that they are becoming effectively poorer.  While
one's income may appear to be going up as fast as the reported amount
of inflation, the real rate of inflation will eat away at one's income,
degrading one's standard of living making it difficult to bargain for
better raises since their bosses will just point to the government's
figures as proof that the raises they have given are fair.  To make ends
meet many people often have to turn to borrowing to get by.  Borrowing
just adds another drain on one's income and can only be considered a
short term solution, but for those who need the money there is no
alternative.  Like their governments, they push their problems off to
the future and hope that it will all turn out for the better.  Also, the
government's unemployment statistics can appear to be quite low, but
not indicate that the high paying jobs are being moved overseas and
replaced by lower paying ones.  Slowly but surely wealth gets transferred
from the masses to the rich while the widely reported economic statistics
tell a story of growth and prosperity.
     The result of all this is moral decay, both in economic terms
and in social terms.  The immorality on Wall Street is frightful, with
the global marketplace appearing to be more and more like one gigantic
Ponzi scheme teetering on its last legs.  Greed has run unchecked for
decades and the world has collectively borrowed deeply into a future
that has no chance of being realized.  Unfortunately the powers that
be continue to kick the problem down the road with many of them
refusing to believe that a problem even exists at all.  After all, the
system hasn't crashed yet, maybe it will all work out.  But more
importantly is the moral decay on Main Street.  Here I'm not referring
to gay marriage, flag burning, nudity and profanity in popular culture,
or abortion rights which are moral issues in name only.  The true moral
decline in a nation is rooted in the bond created between individuals
and their communities through economic contributions and rewards.
When standards of living decline and needs go unmet it's no surprise
to see people caring less and less about their nation and the law.
When the promise of good employment after attaining a degree in
higher education evaporates and only far less palatable opportunities
remain it's hard to keep believing in the work ethic.  Gambling, in
casinos, public lotteries, and the stock market becomes endemic as
people strive for that lucky strike which will allow them to lead the
kind of life that the economic system denies them.  Certainly a few
individuals can prosper, even in the worst conditions, through hard
work and taking initiative, but if the system does not work for the
majority of people there will be breakdowns in morality across the
board.  When people lose their self respect they will not respect
others.  When people lose their sense of self worth they will treat
others as if they were worthless.  Relations of every stripe break
down, not just economic ones, and trust is replaced with lying,
cheating, and doing whatever it takes to get what you want or need.
     Moral decay also occurs among those who are rewarded
handsomely by the system, particularly when wealth and income
come too easily.  It is common for the rich and powerful to lose their
respect or concern for the community since treating others well can
become irrelevant to their well being.  Also, those obsessed with
accumulating power and wealth, who generally obey few or no morals,
prosper in environments where economic malfeasance is rampant.
When immoral people become powerful, they open the door for further
immorality.  Cheating is contagious.  And once an economy begins
to become dysfunctional, moral decay on both the rich and poor ends
of the spectrum tend to push the system towards more dysfunction
rather than righting the ship.  It's not inevitable that the system
proceeds to a complete calamity though.  One solution for several
nations has been to elect what is essentially a dictator, someone who
seizes power with the goal of correcting the system, such as Putin
has done or as F.D.R. and Hitler did during the 1930s.  Of course,
such a solution has potentially serious repercussions.
     Thus, economics is important, both to the Fireaxe theory and
to people in general since it controls our fates more than we realize.
Taking it for granted is a mistake as it does not always function in
an honest manner, and leaving it in the hands of the politicians, the
wealthy, and the herds of investors has always ensured dysfunction
and the eventual breakdown of the system.  In the end we all suffer,
not just the rich, the powerful, and those who owns stocks and bonds,
but everyone who is a part of the economic network, so it's necessary
that we all make sure that problems are stopped before they grow to
epic proportions.  Unfortunately, this time around it appears that I,
and many others, are too late.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12      $14
Victory or Death            $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 10.5
Post by: death metal black metal on August 05, 2007, 12:30:38 PM
Quote
Absolute power corrupts absolutely&#8230;


Depends on who wields it. Absolute power corrupts people without something to believe in than themselves. Small degrees of power, like money and authority, corrupt the peasant-minded masses.

That's why metal isn't right or left... we don't accept the easy answers!
Title: The Burning Blade 10.6
Post by: Fireaxe on September 28, 2007, 08:42:56 PM
Suffering at the hands of an angry god…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 10.6

                 September 28, 2007

           http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

     "In Indian mythology, we are in the Age of Kali -
     the last age. The world ends when Kali dances the
     dance of death. There are no such clear markers in
     markets. Recently, we came close - Jim Cramer, a
     CNBC pundit, launched a 'we’re in Armageddon'
     tirade on air. Embattled Bear Stearns’ CFO Samuel
     Molinaro pleaded: 'I’ve been out here for 22 years,
     and this is as bad as I’ve seen it in the fixed-income
     markets.' Kali had begun to shake her booty. The
     credit bubble was finally deflating."
                              -  Satyajit Das


     The writing is on the wall.  The emperor has no clothes.  The
mountain of strength and power that is Wall Street has been revealed
to be an illusion: a computer generated image of a thing that exists
only in the minds of true believers.  But optimism is a difficult thing
to kill, especially after a decade of bullishness that was rewarded by
unprecedented profits, and so the vast majority still believes what they
most want to hear: that all is well, that the Fed is in control, and that
if there is a downturn that it won't be very bad.  It's a wonderful story,
if only it were true.
     The believers can't be blamed for their optimism.  After all,
in every financial crisis over the last two decades or so, and there have
been many, the depressing forecasts by "gloom and doomers" have
never materialized, at least in the United States.  Bubbles have come
and gone, leaving only a couple of minor recessions in their wake, so
how could anyone believe that this time will be any different?
     The answer is that each bursting bubble of the past was
"fixed" by the creation of a bigger bubble, which allowed the debts
of the past to be rolled over into the newer schemes of the present
and future.  Sure, there were always a few casualties after every
bursting bubble, but the powers that be are very adept at staying afloat
while passing the bill on to investors and taxpayers.  And even though
the loopholes that allowed those lucrative bubbles get plugged by
regulators, new ones are found or created, and the great game of
milking the bubble is kept going for another few years.  In essence
this "serial bubble blowing" process is not much different than when
you max-out a credit card and "solve" the problem by getting a new
credit card.  You can keep doing that for as long as you can keep
getting new credit cards, but eventually you will run out of credit
and the party is over.  Of course, when you stiff the credit card
company, only you and it suffer, but in the case of bubbles, the
damage can get spread far and wide, and today that is true more
than ever.
     National borders and tight regulations used to isolate
bursting bubbles in various nations from the rest of the global
economy, limiting their damage, but over the last few decades of
deregulation and globalization this is no longer the case.  Loans in
California can be made by banks in New York and then repackaged
and sold to hedge funds in Europe and investors in Asia, which is
why defaults in Indiana can cause firms in Germany to go under.
Now with a fully integrated and loosely regulated global marketplace,
bubbles can grow to monstrous proportions, infecting every corner
of the world while resisting all efforts to contain them.  Such is the
case with the ravenous "credit bubble" of today, which was born in
the wake of the bursting dotcom bubble and which has no equal in
size and scope in all of recorded history.  It is beyond anyone's ability
to control or to fix and when it finally bursts, as it appears to be doing,
the suffering will affect everyone on the face of the earth.  This time
though, there appears to be no "next bubble" into which to sweep the
massive fallout from the current one.  The world is tapped out and the
debts are past due, but that hasn't stopped the central banks from trying
to delay the inevitable once more.
     It should surprise no one that the central bankers of the world
were revealed to be hypocrites early on.  The doctrine of leaving the
free markets to work things out on their own is only adhered to when
things are going in favor of the financial giants.  When the markets
drop and the losses mount, the capitalists suddenly transform into
communists and the invisible hand of the marketplace is shoved
aside by the inflationary hand of the Federal Reserve.  Their remedy
is the same as always: a quick, and this time enormous, "liquidity
injection" to keep the money flowing; which, last month, served only
to prop up a foundering system of financial malfeasance and moral
decay.  After all, the central bankers cannot afford to admit that the
system that they preside over is dysfunctional and rotted to the core
so they must do whatever they can to maintain the facade that all is
well.  While it is true that central banks must act to save the markets,
their jobs would have been much easier if they had exercised stricter
monetary policy and tighter lending standards, nipping the bubble in
the bud at the expense of slower growth or a recession.  Unfortunately,
as explained in the last edition of The Burning Blade, a nation's
leaders must preside over growth and progress every year or risk
being deposed and thus bubbles, debt, and short term solutions are
encouraged, even when they come at the expense of future growth.
And so as long as central bankers are appointed by politicians, the
tight-fisted economists will rarely reach the top post while those that
give speeches about fighting deflation by dropping money out of
helicopters are fast-tracked.  But those who advocate loose monetary
policy are not necessarily scheming profiteers.  In reality most have
simply embraced the ideology of Neo-liberal economics which
downplays the negative side of running debts and champions
deregulation.  Many Neo-liberal true believers are convinced that
bubbles are really just signs of true economic strength and prosperity
rather than problems of a loosely regulated financial market and
have put forth convincing arguments that far-above-average growth
is sustainable indefinitely.  They claim that the central bank's role
is essentially to nurse bubbles along rather than pop them and prevent
them from recurring.  It's hard to argue against them.  After all, until
the bubble bursts, the evidence is on their side, and with each money
making deal and trade, more converts are made to the god of eternal
wealth creation.  It's truly a case of the blind leading the blind: those
blinded by ideology leading those blinded by greed.
     Despite how it may appear today, the crisis is far from over.
It's not about a few sub-prime loans gone bad, but about the magical
creation of trillions of dollars of housing equity through the
manipulation of interest rates and the leveraging of trillions of dollars
of loans against those homes into gargantuan sums that sent every
global market skyrocketing.  The practice of leveraging, one of many
dangerous financial gimmicks that has been abused to an extreme,
turns small gains into large ones, but now it is turning small losses
into potentially fatal ones which can bring down major firms overnight.
Anyone paying attention to the housing market knows that the losses
due to foreclosures have only just begun.  Rates are resetting, prices are
dropping, and the economy is costing people jobs.  In regards to the
marketplace spasms that we've seen over the last two months, there's
a lot more where that came from, and as the collapse continues, it will
pick up speed.
     In the past, financial collapses have played out over months,
not days, and generally take more than a year to hit rock bottom.  These
descents are neither constant nor gradual and over the period of the
collapse a number of false bottoms are reached where the markets turn
upwards and everything seems to be over.  But after each rebound
comes another, deeper drop, followed by another rebound and another
drop.  Over and over the process repeats, punishing anyone who dares
to invest in what seem to be bargain basement deals, until finally
equilibrium is established once more.  If the collapse has truly begun,
then the world will be a very different place a year from now.  Very
different indeed.  And, as usual, I'd love to be wrong about this as
I'm doing well in the current financial climate, but when I see how
many of those that I care about are faring, and witness how the reality
of a dysfunctional economy - not the fiction that the well known
economic indicators suggest - is grinding down upon them, I realize
that what we need most of all is change, even if that means slogging
through another Great Depression to get to better times.
     Speaking of impending doom, you won't have to wait too
long to hear the latest Fireaxe CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess".  The mixing is nearing completion and is gelling nicely,
yielding a full, rich sound that both sounds and feels good.  Also,
the artwork is almost complete and it too is a healthy cut above that
which has been previously released.  Click the link below to view
what you will soon see spinning around inside your CD player.  It
seems that I'm getting better at this whole artist/musician/sound
engineer thing.

http://www.neptune.net/~bev/Eternallabel.JPG

     Those are the wings of the Dark Goddess.  You'll get to see
her in all her malevolent beauty in the fold-out booklet.  I think that
you will all be very pleased if not blessed (cursed?) to own it.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Did I say "Guest Vocalist"? - Oops

     In the last edition of The Burning Blade I mentioned that
I was going to have a guest vocalist sing on a few of the tracks for
"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  That was certainly my
plan, it just didn't turn out that way.  There were a few parts which
I felt would sound great with a soft, feminine voice and I felt that
it wouldn't be too much of a problem to find a local singer with a
great voice who could do those parts.  So I laid down the final
versions of the tracks with that in mind and then went online to
look for possible candidates to finish things up.  In retrospect I
pretty much painted myself into a corner since there was no way
that I could get the tracks to work right without female vocals,
that is without making some major changes to the songs and
delaying the release even more.
     The initial results of my search were depressing.  It turned
out that the pool of women who were available for studio work was
smaller than I thought, and it got even smaller when I ruled out those
who were simply not very good at singing.  Now, I wasn't looking for
the next Celine Dion by any stretch, but they had to be able to at least
sing on key.  Slowly I began to realize that my falsetto voice, one that
I used in "Lovecraftian Nightmares", sounded better than many of the
singers that I heard.  That was a shock.  But thanks to a little luck I
finally found a singer who could do the parts how I wanted them done
and who sounded good doing it.  I had her record a sample track
and she nailed it.  Praise to Ishtar!  We agreed on a fee for the work
to be done and everything seemed to be coming together at last.
     Unfortunately, I never heard from her again.  I left a
couple of messages for her but got no reply.  Now, I know that I'm
world class loser when it comes to women, which means that I'm
very familiar with the whole concept of women seeming to just
disappear off the face of the earth when I try to get in contact with
them.  But, I mean, how big of a loser do I have to be such that I
can't even pay a woman to come to my apartment and sing a few
verses for me?  Seriously.  It's not like she had to let me take her
out to dinner or let herself be seen with me in public or anything,
and I wasn't going to force her to pose for a "band" picture if she
didn't want to.  It was just a professional relationship, that's all,
and not professional in the oldest profession sense either.  So am I
truly so repulsive that women don't even want to be around me?
Alright, I'm definitely getting carried away here. he he he
     I'm not certain why she didn't call me back.  However, when
I think back to our negotiations I remember that she and her friend
brought up the idea of getting a piece of the profits if the CD went
big.  It was hard but I was able to keep a straight face.  But when they
brought it up more than once I had to say something.  I guess that they
didn't know much about Fireaxe.  But I didn't want to come out and say
that I'm dedicated to not turning a profit on my music no matter how
many CDs I sell.  I was afraid that they might have walked out the door.
("What? You're just doing it for fun!?")  So instead I explained that
none of my previous CDs ever sold more than 120 copies and that
there was little chance of that ever changing.  They didn't seem to be
satisfied with that but everything seemed fine when they left.
     To be honest I was willing to negotiate on a "royalty" of
twenty-five cents per CD sold after the first 200 copies if it seemed
like I needed to throw that in.  In retrospect I probably should have
brought that up during our one and only meeting, but I thought that
all was well and I really didn't want any strings attached.  Yep, I can
read women like a book.
     I also remember the singer's friend telling me that the singer
had auditioned for "American Idol", that she'd made it through the first
round, and that she was waiting for the second round to start.  So maybe
one of you will see her on that show some day.  I won't, since I don't
watch the show, but it reminded me of how far out of step what I am
doing with Fireaxe is with the rest of the music profession.  The
recording industry has been all about finding the next big thing since
as far back as I can remember and it probably all started when the
Beatles achieved mage-fame.  This is not to say that music was pure
before 1960 and that popular demand never influenced what musicians
composed or played, but since that point the Rock Star image: the wild
lifestyle and easy money; has been the dream that has driven many a
youth down to the local music store to buy their first guitar, microphone,
or drum set.  As the number of garage bands multiplied and the recording
industry became highly profitable, music turned from being a legitimate
profession (albeit a difficult one that didn't pay well) to the equivalent
of the lottery, and when the big prize is so desirable, people will do just
about anything to get it.  Selling out, getting exploited, trying anything
to get your big break, etc., etc., we all know what the business has
become, have become far too common and in the process music was
reduced to being a means to an end, not an end in itself.
     Fireaxe, on the other hand, is all about the music, or more
specifically, all about the theme that I'm trying to express.  The reason
that I first picked up a guitar was that I could write songs in my head
but I didn't have the skills to play them.  They were good songs, or at
least I thought so, and I wanted to be able to get them out of me so that
others could hear them and so that I wouldn't forget them over time.
Fireaxe is the result of a long journey to achieve that goal.  My music
is an expression of what I want to say and what I want to play.  Fireaxe
is what I think and what I feel.  It is nothing more and nothing less.
I care nothing about becoming rich or famous and would gladly trade
a platinum selling CD for profound conversations about the subject
matter involved.  I'm also not out to change the world, I'm just enjoying
the process of creation, and creating something that I can be proud of.
It's what I do.
     But the singer that I tried to hire didn't seem to care what the
CD was about or what the meaning was behind the words that she was
singing.  That was fine with me as long as she sung them, but it seemed
that all she cared about was whether singing for me would help to further
her musical ambitions.  If that was her goal then I can say that she made
the right decision.  Fireaxe wasn't going to break down any barriers
for her and her time will be better spent doing something else.  But
the whole experience did serve as a disheartening reminder of how
idolatry and the profit motive have perverted and perhaps destroyed a
perfectly good form of art.  As it is what we call music these days is the
artistic equivalent of advertisements since they essentially both serve
the same purpose.  Both try to shock you, surprise you, titillate you, or
do whatever it takes to grab your attention and then they attempt to
stick a catchy tune or clever slogan in your head so that you'll remember
them and feel compelled to buy the product that they're selling.  Of
course, it's not just music that has suffered from this disease.  Movies,
television shows, video games, and other forms of "content" have
merged with advertising to become one and the same thing.  On the
plus side, one side effect has been that commercials have been getting
more entertaining as of late, but the downside is that everything else is
becoming more and more generic, vapid, and devoid of meaning.
     This trend has even larger social implications, but I will
leave that discussion for a later time so that I can get back to work on
the new CD.  But to finish the story, absent a viable female vocalist I
decided to give my falsetto voice another try and practiced for several
weeks before laying down the final tracks.  Don't worry, the good news
is that I sound pretty good singing like that and the new microphone
certainly helped me to get solid sound quality.  I have no regrets about
releasing the CD with me singing those delicate parts. I do regret that
it is so difficult to enlist the services of professional musicians to help
out with my projects.  Without the dream of stardom to dangle in front
them, it seems that you can't even pay them to play for you.  It's a
bummer.  But if the promise of great riches is the only thing that
motivates us, no wonder we have bubbles, tunnel-vision, and the
inevitable crashes.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12      $14
Victory or Death            $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     For the rest of this year and part of the next I will be recording
the next Fireaxe CD entitled "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".
I should have it completed by the end of 2007.  The new CD will dig
deep into the dark crevices of our society and our minds, pull forth the
myths that we cling to and hold dear, and expose them all for what
they are.  While “A Dream of Death” explored the madness of dreams,
and “Food for the Gods” described the chaos wrought upon the earth
by ideologies, “Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess” will depict the
psychological enslavement of the individual in modern times.  It will
be the darkest Fireaxe work ever.
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: The Burning Blade 11.1
Post by: Fireaxe on November 30, 2007, 09:25:07 PM
Subversion is what I do best…


                 The Burning Blade

              Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.1

                 November 30, 2007

                      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

     "I watched my beloved angel shed a tear for my lost love,
     and become a demon goddess with wings of burning fire."
                        -  Fireaxe "Black Knight"


     It was four years ago when the mighty Santa Ana winds blew
hot and dry, sweeping down out of the hills and driving ravenous
flames towards the Fireaxe studio in eastern Chula Vista.  At that time
I jokingly wrote that it was a divine attempt to prevent the release of
"Food for the Gods" because of all the blasphemy and heresy that it
contained.  But this year, as "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess"
neared completion, the Santa Anas rose again and raged more powerful
than ever, scorching hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying thousands
of houses, and forcing evacuations on the outer edges of my fair city.
Coincidence?  I think not.  Someone up there doesn't like me or what
I'm doing one bit.
     I suspect that it's the Christian god.  He's the deity who caused
the great flood, wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, and told George Bush
to attack Iraq.  He's also the one that I used to believe in but now enjoy
exposing as a fraud.  Sure, I hear some of you out there saying that no,
the Christian god is all about love and forgiveness and he would never
do such a thing as burn down half of Southern California in an attempt
to stop a single CD from being released.  Well, I've read the bible and I
can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.  That Christian
god is one petty, violent, and childish deity who's not afraid to slaughter
innocents and destroy cities just to punish a few who refuse to do what
he says.  I mean, it only stands to reason.
     However, another thought did occur to me as I was busy
mixing in my humble apartment while watching the news reports of
fires getting closer and closer to me, and that was that perhaps this was
not the work of the Christian god at all but rather it was the acts of the
Dark Goddess herself, celebrating the release of another Fireaxe CD
which portrays her in a positive light.  That made sense too, and I can
imagine her frolicking in the parched hills of Southern California,
setting the chaparral ablaze with her burning wings as she rocks out
to my music with pleasure and abandon.  In fact, I'd be pretty honored
if that was the case if it wasn't for the fact that over two thousand
families lost their homes due to the booty-shaking of the goddess of
death and destruction.  Worse still is the notion that there may be
liability issues involved if my music had something to do with it so I
feel compelled to issue a disclaimer.  Folks, it's not my fault.  Honest.
I'm not trying to summon up malevolent deities from the nether world
and I'm not trying to get revenge on all the people whose house prices
tripled while I sat here renting for years.  All that I'm doing is delivering
a message that death is real, that we should accept it, and that we should
live our lives accordingly, and if that makes the Dark Goddess want to
burn a path of devastation across my state then maybe you should listen
to my message instead of trying to shut me up.  Furthermore, if I really
do have some kind of control over the Dark Goddess, do you really want
to mess with me?  I thought not.
     Then I had another thought, and that was that the fires weren't
happening because the Dark Goddess was celebrating the release of the
CDs but rather that they were a message from the Dark Goddess telling
me to hurry up and release them, or else.  Point well taken.  I've spent
nearly as much time on "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" as I did
on "Food for the Gods" and the latter project was 3 CDs long.  Am I lazy
or a perfectionist or what?  Sure, the new CD looks and sounds really
good, but I have to admit that it did take me a lot longer than I wanted
to get it out the door.  So maybe you can take comfort in the fact that it's
not just you who are tired of waiting, the goddess of death wants a copy
of the CD too and she's going to make sure that the pressure is on.
     All in all I really don't know what the divine message is in
regards to the fires.  It could be one of the things that I mentioned above
or it could be something else that I didn't think of.  Of course, it couldn't
be that the fires were just the result of dry weather, high winds, fallen
power lines, and arsonists.  And the fact that both fires happened when I
was about to release a new CD couldn't be just a coincidence.  That's
neither interesting nor meaningful.  So it had to be a message from one
god or another.  I suppose that I could ask one of the "experts", like the
Pope or Billy Graham or the guy down at the corner who hands out
homemade pamphlets, as to what it all means but since the experts never
agree on those kinds of things I suspect that none of them would know
for sure.  And their followers?  Please.  When an image of Pope John
Paul II appeared in a bonfire on the second anniversary of his death
Catholics couldn't decide whether it meant that he was in heaven or hell.
Seriously, how much more obvious does it have to be?  Does he have to
appear holding a pitchfork, breathing fire, and be shouting "Don't think,
just obey!  I'm infallible!  I'm the infallible Pope!  I speak for God and
doubt comes from the devil!  Genuflect you bastards!  Muahahahahaha!"
     Now, the Fireaxe theory tells me that I should interpret such a
divine message in a way that motivates me to work harder towards the
goals of the ideology that I follow, but since I don't follow one I'm at a
loss to adequately explain the coincidence.  So I'm left with simply
coming up with an explanation that makes me feel good, which is the
modern way, and in that regard I feel that the image of the most powerful
goddess in the universe being driven into a state of total ecstasy by
Fireaxe music and dancing naked in the hills while leaving a trail of
despair and destruction in her wake, is the most satisfying one of all.
Praise be to Kali!  And to you, oh great goddess of death, remember
that if I die the music dies too, so don't let those flames get to close to
me, okay?
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is finally finished

     The parts have all been recorded and put in their places.
The tracks have been mixed and balanced and equalized and the
composition has gelled into 100% pure power-prog.  The mix has
been mastered with a light hand and attention to the dynamic as well
as a desire for a heavy and powerful sound.  And the artwork, oh man
the artwork, is probably good enough to sell a hundred discs on its
own.  The wait has been worth your while.
     The CD is out of my hands now and in the hands of the
men who are going to crank out the copies of the best Fireaxe work
to date.  If all goes well I should have the finished products back in a
couple of weeks, but there always seem to be complications and so
I won't accept orders until the CDs meet my standards.  I'll send out
a short e-mail when they are ready, so for now you will have to be
satisfied with reading about the new CD instead of hearing it.


The Artwork

     After ambivalent reactions to the covers of the last two
Fireaxe CDs, "Food for the Gods" and "Lovecraftian Nightmares",
I realized that the problem was that I needed to get my ugly mug
off of the cover and replace it with the visage of some incredibly
beautiful woman, such as the case was with "A Dream of Death".
So instead of a portrait of me getting sacrificed to various ideologies
or one of me about to get eaten by something which must not be
named, this time you will be treated to a stunning and fiery portrayal
of the Dark Goddess herself in all her malevolent glory, painstakingly
illustrated by none other than yours truly.
     I know what you're thinking, that perhaps I should have
shelled out some cash and had a professional artist do the cover art.
I concur.  After taking a lot of flack over the cover art for "Victory
or Death" it was clear that I either needed to work a lot harder at
being a better artist or hire someone who did that kind of thing for a
living. I asked an old friend if his wife would be interested since I'd
seen a number of impressive color pieces that she'd done on her
website but unfortunately that didn't go anywhere, so I took a crack
at it myself, figuring that if I fell short of what I wanted that I could
hand it off to someone else to transform it into something awesome.
Well, to my surprise I didn't fall short.  I'm not sure what happened
between the release of "Food for the Gods" and when I started work
on the new CD but apparently I acquired some serious skills in the
graphic arts category.  Okay, maybe they aren't that serious, I mean,
I'm not going to make anyone forget Frazetta or Vallejo, but I'm
pretty sure that the days of getting snide comments about the cover
art are over.
     Simply put the Dark Goddess is beautiful.  She looks like
a combination of Kali, Pele, and a drow priestess with eight arms,
jet black skin, and a pair of brilliant burning wings.  She might make
you think about the line from "Black Knight" that I quoted at the top:

"I watched my beloved angel shed a tear for my lost love,
and become a demon goddess with wings of burning fire."

     After which you might pull out your copy of "A Dream of
Death" which has an angel shedding a tear on the cover and place
them side by side.  Nifty symmetry don't you think?
     Anyway, I didn't want to try and squeeze the Dark Goddess
into the puny 5" by 5" space provided on a standard CD insert.  Such
a tiny portrait would probably be considered an insult and you do not,
I repeat, YOU DO NOT want to get the Dark Goddess angry at you for
any reason, so I decided to go with a six-panel foldout booklet and allow
her to luxuriate inside a generous 15" by 10" domain.  That's roughly
the size of an old album cover for those of you who are old enough to
remember them and also those of you who've seen any of those ancient
artifacts.  I always loved it when bands put out albums with brilliant
cover art since it added to the listening experience.  I've wanted Fireaxe
CDs to be the same way and I've tried hard to provide artwork that
matched the style and themes of the music even if the result was a
little too amateurish at times.  This time around I think that I nailed
it, but I'll let you be the judge.
     If it helps loosen up your purse strings, the Dark Goddess
appears completely nude, save for her necklace of skulls.  Don't worry,
they don't cover anything up and neither does her hair, which is
another trick that artists use to frustrate their male viewers.  Also,
she does not look like the statue of Kali that appears in the "Food for
the Gods" booklet in the section containing "The Servant of Pain".
No, in my imagination the Dark Goddess is not a skinny old hag,
instead she is beautiful enough to appear in the pages of Playboy,
which is the source of the pictures of the women who I modeled her
after.  Of course, I had to use magazines for that purpose considering
that it's nearly impossible for me to get a beautiful woman into my
apartment for any reason let alone have her take off her clothes and
stand still for hours while I draw pictures of her.  But then, one of the
benefits of using magazines was that I could raid the stash that I
collected as a teenager in the eighties.  That was back when the
magazine took pictures of  "the girl next door" instead of "the ho
down the street".  So, needless to say, the Dark Goddess does not
have implants.


The Sound

     Between the time when I recorded "Food for the Gods" and
"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" I made a few upgrades to
my digital studio, most notably the addition of a Neumann TLM-103,
one of the best cardioid microphones in the business along with a
state of the art vocal processing unit.  That was a big step up from my
old microphone and the result was that my vocals on the new CD
sound extremely clear, warm, and strong.  That combined with a solid
year of practice resulted in a dramatic improvement in the quality of
Fireaxe vocals.  I no longer see my singing as a liability to the music
and in fact in many places I feel that it is an asset.  As usual I do a lot
of different styles of vocals on the CD, from clean to gruff to quiet to
screaming and everywhere in between.  I even had to do a few parts
which I wanted to have sung by a female vocalist and I feel that I
pulled them off pretty well too.  So maybe, just maybe I'll be free of
reviewers' snide remarks about Fireaxe vocals once and for all too.
     Another improvement was the guitar sound on the CD.
In the past I had a strong tendency to pump up the high-middle
frequencies on the guitars so that I could get the sharp, crisp sound
that I wanted.  The trouble with that was that the sound often ended
up too thin and "crunchy" and didn't sound too good on some speakers
and systems, especially cheap ones.  So this time around I put a lot of
work on trying to clean the "muddiness" out of the guitar tracks
without sacrificing the sharp sound that I was looking for.  It's not
as easy as it seems.  There are about forty different knobs, sliders,
and buttons that you can tinker with between the guitar and the final
mix so triangulating on the correct formula takes a long time.  Plus,
since I need to record directly into the board instead of through an
amp and microphone I face the additional problem of needing to
clean all of the fuzziness out of the signal that an amplifier does
naturally.  It's quite a challenge, but this time around I feel that I've
got a really strong and balanced sound from the guitars, especially
in the solos, where the tone is rich and smooth.  I was also able to
get the bass guitar sound to emerge out of the mix without being
intrusive or overwhelming and it rounds out the sound rather well.
Slowly but surely I'm learning all the tricks of the trade.
     The final mix flat out rocks.  It sounds much, much better
than the rough cuts that I released earlier this year.  I made good use
of the limiter to get the volume up but stayed away from compressing
the mix so that the full dynamic was left intact.  That was critical
in achieving the "Rock Opera" feel of the CD which has a lot of
transitions between heavier parts and lighter movements and needs
to have the volume fluctuate between them.  Compression will just
squash everything up to full volume and crush the dynamic.  I'd
advise other bands out there to avoid compressing your mixes, even
a little.  It only sounds good that way for about twenty seconds, after
which you just wish that the music was out of your face.
     I also worked hard on getting the levels balanced between
the individual instruments so that the emphasis shifts around from
one instrument to another throughout the songs and the harmony
blends nicely.  That was one of the reasons why the mixing and
mastering took so long.  Each time I listened to the music I found a
few more things that I could change to make it sound better, and with
each change I got more confident that I could produce something that
sounded just as good as professionally recorded music.  After a couple
months the tracks were really sounding good and I fell victim to the
curse of rising expectations, trying to squeeze a little more out of the
tracks than what I could accomplish.  By that time the CD was almost
literally burning a hole in my studio.  It desperately wanted to get
out and be heard and so I set aside my perfectionism and cut a final
mix.  The CD isn't perfect, but it is really good, and not just "good
for music recorded in a home studio".
     The best part about the mix is that it sounds good on just
about any platform without needing to make any adjustments to the
equalization.  So far I've listened to it through three widely different
sets of speakers and three pairs of headphones from the cheap ones
that come with your iPod to a pair of two-hundred dollar Sennheisens
and in each case the music came out sounding clear, well-balanced,
and strong.  I didn't have to make many compromises, it sounds how
I want it to sound.  And while I know that I can do better with better
equipment and more experience, I am proud of what I've accomplished.
Also, I have to give credit where credit is due and thank you all for
your support over the years.  Those of you who've related to me your
honest criticisms and sung my praises with ringing endorsements
have given me confidence that I can compete alongside the "big boys"
and inspired me to work all the harder to match that level of quality.
You have personally made me a better musician/producer/artist.  I thank
you deeply.


The Music

     Fireaxe continues to evolve.  Within "Eternal Devotion
to the Dark Goddess" you'll find all of the elements of Fireaxe music
that you've come to appreciate, from simple soft verses to  towering
stacks of harmony, from ferocious driving riffs to methodical power
ballads, from scintillating guitar solos to calmly plucked melodies,
and all of it wrapped around a central theme that cuts brutally across
the grain of the modern landscape.  Told in nine parts and filling
almost every available second on an eighty minute CD the work is
another epic tragedy that explores the ideologies of today and foretells
a dark and dreadful future.
     Of course, that's what you've come to expect from Fireaxe.
So what's new about this CD?  Well, of all the tales that I've told
through my music, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is
without a doubt the darkest and most disturbing story of all.  I'm not
going to go into detail about it so as not to ruin the impact of your
first listen to this work, so instead I'll just say that any search within
this CD for an uplifting or positive message will be completely futile.
The protagonist is anything but heroic and the antagonist has gaping
character flaws as well, and their conflict is summed up well in a quote
from the final track, "The world is not black and white, it is black and
black."  The tale is a journey through our modern world where sadism,
deceit, and exploitation lay waiting behind every shining promise.  It
is a tale of cut-throat capitalism, of torture and abuse of power, and of
the desperate struggle to preserve love and purity in a world of lust and
debauchery, but mostly it is about lies and how they used to create and
destroy.  In the CD I unravel the fabric of our ideologies, institutions,
and dreams and reveal the base threads that form the core of our society.
As always I leave nothing sacred and if I didn't get around to tearing
into your particular beliefs in this CD then you'll just have to wait for
the next one.
     Those of you who have the first Fireaxe CD "A Dream
of Death" may notice a number of plot similarities between it and
the new CD.  That's a sign that I'm running out of ideas.  He he he.
No, while there are similarities between the two stories, it is the
differences which are most important.  While "A Dream of Death"
had a protagonist which was idealistic and hopeful, the protagonist
in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is anything but.  And
while he does begin the CD with youthful ambitions and a naïve
view of the world those traits are stripped from him very early on.
Instead he takes the listener on a tour of the dark side of the world
where aggression, greed, and ruthlessness are the traits of the victors
and in which he rises to power by embracing those ideals.  The CD is
somewhat like "A Dream of Death", but with the lovely blue, yellow,
and white colors obliterated by a convulsing mixture of black and red.
This is no dream, it is a nightmare from start to finish.
     Those of you who've heard a lot of Fireaxe know that I don't
use profanity very much in my music.  I feel that it generally detracts
from the lyrics and that there's usually a more intense way to capture
the same feeling, but in the new CD I use profanity a lot more than
usual.  Of course, the point is not to sell more CDs.  There are a few
reasons why I loosened up my standards, the most important of which
being that vulgar words were often the best ones to use in many of the
passages.  When used judiciously, one "f-bomb" can go a long way,
and there is simply no better term to use to describe politicians than
the one that suggests that they are having sexual relations with one
of their parents.  Secondly, not only do I use profanity in the CD but
I get pretty graphic in a lot of places, often using words that are going
to get bleeped out if the songs ever make it to the airwaves.  One reason
for that is that the profane words greatly increase the emotional impact
of the events I describe, but I also wanted to capture the general vulgarity
of the time period that we're living in, one that I will not mind seeing
come to a close.  Too many things have become saturated with vulgarity
to excess which has made anything subtle become all but invisible.
Nuance is dead and extremism rules the roost.  I tried to capture that
modern decadent feel in this CD and I think that I have.  Be warned,
you might find yourself grasping for the lyrics sheet asking yourself,
"did he really say THAT?"  Yep, I probably did.
     Also new in this CD is a bona fide love song, or rather a
lengthy section of a longer track where I put away the guitars and
weave a elegant tapestry of love and romance with only my voice and
my keyboard.  I'm very pleased, and more than a little relieved, that it
turned out as good as it did.  It's so sweet and innocent that it feels
out of place in the rest of the CD, but the contrast is what I needed
to make the song work.  The track, "My Angel", is perhaps the most
emotionally intense Fireaxe song ever, which saying a lot, so you don't
want to miss it.  It's also the longest track on the CD, weighing in at
nearly sixteen minutes.  The song is an epic tragedy in and of itself
but it fits in well with the rest of the tale, speeding the protagonist's
descent into hell.
     Overall I feel that the music is more "mature" and refined
than that on previous Fireaxe CDs.  By that I don't mean to imply that
the previous CDs were "immature" in any way (it's not adolescent
rebellion, it's pointed social commentary), but that the new CD has
a more confident and relaxed feel to it.  That is probably due to me
growing as an artist and getting a firmer command over the medium
that I'm using.  Maybe some of the mature feel is due to the better
recording and production quality too.  It's hard to tell for sure, but I
do know that this CD sounds terrific.
     Anyway, enough about me going on and on about my music.
I'll go back to going on and on about the sorry state of the global
economy next year.  Until then, praise be to Kali, may she continue
to frolic down Wall Street with reckless abandon and may she keep
dancing and grooving until each and every one of the "Masters of the
Universe" are humiliated, penniless, and begging her to release them
from their wretched lives.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Food for the Gods:      $12      $14 - 2 copies left
Victory or Death            $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $5 - slim only - booklet out of print

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current eighty, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. You are food for the gods.
6. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
7. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
8.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
9. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 11.1
Post by: death metal black metal on December 02, 2007, 07:52:44 AM
Quote
The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of [ systemic logic ]
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans [ in civilizations ]
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology [ or organic group ] is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation [ or affirmation ]

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death


The selected bits represent the best translations of Nietzsche-cum-Schopenhauer to hit heavy metal in some time. (Some critical marks added)
Title: The Burning Blade 11.1.1 - CD release!
Post by: Fireaxe on January 08, 2008, 07:44:54 PM
Pain is my mistress and revenge is her desire…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe newsletter - edition 11.1.1

                 January 8, 2008

                 neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

     "And as the Dark Goddess descends, you will bid her welcome.
     For by the Dark Goddess' hand, all your pain will disappear."
                        -  Fireaxe "I Used to be Young"


     "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is finally ready.
     Yeah, I know.  It's about damn time.  Four years is a long time
to wait between releases, but keep in mind that don't make music for a
living and thus I need a full time job to pay the bills.  The down side is
that I can't spend as much time making music as I want to, but the up
side is that I have full creative control over every part of the music and
art that go into Fireaxe.  I feel that it's worth the trade-off.  But even if
I were independently wealthy and could spend as much time as I wanted
making music I don't think that I could write and record more than one
CD every two years.  Inspiration is critical to the creative process and
good ideas don't happen on demand.  You can't force a good song out
of you.  If you try it generally sounds derivative and flat.  So part of the
reason that Fireaxe releases don't happen very often is that it takes time
for me to collect and assemble enough cool ideas to produce a work of
art that measures up to my standards.  I'm not going to produce junk.
And yeah, I do other things besides just work and create music, so
sometimes by favorite hobby has to be set aside now and then.  But now
the wait is over.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is a special CD release issue of the Fireaxe newsletter.


"Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is available for purchase

     The new CD is ready and waiting for your orders.  It looks
great, it sounds great, and if you're not careful it's going to knock you
smartly on to your backside.  Prepare yourself for the deepest Fireaxe
descent into hell to date.
     More good news is that I finally broke down and started up
my own PayPal account, so now you will be able to buy Fireaxe CDs
through the internet instead of sending checks, money orders, or cash
through the mail.  This is not such a big deal for U.S. residents, but
for people living in other countries and using other currencies, PayPal
makes things a lot simpler and cheaper.  Wire transfers are too costly
when the amounts are less than $20 and money orders are a pain.  So
now you can pay just by clicking a mouse.  What could be simpler?
But please finalize your order with me in e-mail before sending any
money.
      In the past I used to charge $5 for the single CD Fireaxe
releases.  Unfortunately this low, low price is a thing of the past now
that I am producing pressed CDs with fancy full color 12-panel fold-up
booklets.  Add to that the cost of oil going up and inflation in general
and you can see that I have to charge more than in the past.  Brace
yourself for a massive 20% price hike.  Yes, "Eternal Devotion to the
Dark Goddess" is going to cost $6 per copy.  Sorry, there's nothing
that I can do about it.  Personally, I blame Alan Greenspan.
     However, because the replication houses aren't able to
control the exact number of CDs they print in any run, I ended up
with 20 extra copies of the CD complete with booklets and jewel
cases.  So I've decided to give away a free CD to the first twenty
people who order "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  Also,
because replication houses don't press CDs in any quantity less than
five-hundred, which is four hundred more copies than I sold of
"Food for the Gods", I've got a lot of CDs which need to find good
homes.  So the more that you all can help me to spread the word the
better.  Thanks for everything you all have done so far in helping me
get the word out and thanks in advance for everything to come as well.
     Also available for purchase are a couple of full-size posters
of the cover art.  I wanted to make one poster for myself to hang on
my wall and show off the long hours that I spent slaving over a hot
Mac, so I blew up the cover art to three times its original size and
took it to Kinko's for printing.  The poster looked great when it came
out of the printer, but they had some trouble with the lamination
process and they had to try it a few times before they got it right.
That left a few defective copies lying around that they were going
to throw away.  Now, while the "rejects" are flawed, they still look
really good, and you can only see the defects if you look closely at
them.  So I asked if I could have the defective prints as well as the
original in case anyway wanted one.  Well, they couldn't just give
them away, but they sold them to me at a huge discount, so now I
have a couple of slightly flawed posters to offer to you.
     These posters are big, 48" x 32", printed on glossy paper,
which made the colors turn out brilliant, and laminated so you don't
have to worry about them getting scratched, scuffed, or torn.  Plus,
you can see all of the details that I put into the artwork, which makes
it look that much better than the CD booklet.  I really love mine.
Anyway, the price I paid for each defective poster was $15.  The
cost of shipping will be a little more since it requires a large mailing
tube, so I will offer the two posters that I have for $20 each.  That
price might sound steep, but printers charge $12 per square foot
for oversize prints, so the total price for the flawless copy hanging
on my wall is over $100.  Ouch.  But I was willing to pay that much
because I wanted a lasting copy of something that I was very proud
of.  Now, I wish that I could get that price down to what you pay for
regular band posters, but until Fireaxe becomes popular enough so
that mass production is viable, which doesn't seem very likely, there's
really no good cost effective option for stuff like posters, T-shirts, wrist
bands, pendants, or a wall mount display that features a pair of chrome
plated crossed axes with an electric "eternal flame" pattern roiling over
them and a glowing "Forever Vigilance" motto framing the piece.
You'll have to make stuff like that yourself.  However, JPGs of the
cover art are available on request.
     Check out a small version here:

neptune.net/~bev/Eternalposter.jpg

     A close-up is here:

neptune.net/~bev/FireEternal.html

     By the way, I've had to chop the first part off of the links
that go into the e-mails that I send since URLs usually get flagged
by spam filters and returned to me.  So if you want to go to that link
you'll have to add in the http part and the : and the // and the www.
     Now, I thought that the new CD would be ready before
Christmas but the first replication house that I went to turned out to
be considerably less professional than they let on.  I'm not too surprised
since something always seems to go wrong when it comes time to make
copies.  I gave the shop a week to print up some swatches of the artwork
so that I could verify that all was well but after trying a few things out
they were unable to produce anything that they wanted to show me.
Maybe they were incompetent or maybe they were spiritually opposed
to printing up a satanic-looking CD.  I don't really know.  All I know
is that after a few more days of getting nothing back from them I
had to find another place to do the replication.  So two weeks simply
disappeared in a puff of smoke.
     As it turned out things worked out for the better.  I made a
few slight but beneficial changes to the artwork before taking it in to
a much more competent outfit.  Everything went like clockwork at
the new place and it looked like they would even be able to squeeze
my order in so that it would be done before I went on vacation.  That
would have been great since it would have allowed me to hand deliver
a number of CDs to family and friends.  But after taking one last listen
to the music through my three-way speakers I heard something in the
mix that bothered me a little too much.  I tried to resist the urge to
make any more changes so late in the cycle, but I was overcome and
I just had to fix it.  So I had them pull the CD out of the replication
queue, which they were able to do just in time, but that caused me to
miss my deadline.  I don't regret it though, ending up a few days late
is better than delivering a flawed product, especially a pressed CD
which is going to last a long time.  Enjoy this one, it's a keeper.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion            $6      $8
   to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:      $12      $14 - 1 copy left
Victory or Death            $5      $7
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $7 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $5 - Sold out

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music to
the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
     goddess of death after all.  It's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
     do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
     does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
     particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
     likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
     CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
     someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
     raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
     those who wronged you and their families, corrupting the
     government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
     and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
     face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
     stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
     side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: The Burning Blade 11.3
Post by: Fireaxe on March 29, 2008, 01:01:54 PM
The citadel must fall…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.3

                 March 29, 2008

           neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


     "In the past, financial collapses have played out over
     months, not days, and generally take more than a year
     to hit rock bottom. These descents are neither constant
     nor gradual and over the period of the collapse a number
     of false bottoms are reached where the markets turn
     upwards and everything seems to be over. But after each
     rebound comes another, deeper drop, followed by another
     rebound and another drop. Over and over the process
     repeats, punishing anyone who dares to invest in what
     seem to be bargain basement deals, until finally equilibrium
     is established once more. If the collapse has truly begun,
     then the world will be a very different place a year from
     now.  Very different indeed."
                       - The Burning Blade 10.6


     Twelve months ago the consensus was that the sub-prime
problem was contained.  Six months ago the consensus was that while
the problem had grown that it was now contained and that a recession
would be avoided.  Today the fifth largest bank in the United States
stands in ruin, a recession, if not a depression, is staring us in the face,
and the global markets are thrashing around like epileptics on meth
despite the best efforts of those in charge to bring stability to the global
financial system.  But once again the markets are responding to the latest
shock treatments by the Federal Reserve and many are saying that the
problems have finally been solved and that the crisis is over.  Praise to
Ishtar!  Well, we've all heard that song and seen that dance before and
some of us never bought into it in the first place.  And when the Fed is
using methods that it hadn't needed to use since the Great Depression it
is definitely time to set aside one's faith in the powers that be.  But it
must be nice to be a true believer and never have to face a painful truth
or admit that you were wrong.  Willful ignorance is bliss.
     It is comical, although in the dark sense, to watch the
world's foremost financial experts attempt to solve the problem of
a deflating credit bubble by adding yet more credit to the system, but
that is exactly what they are doing.  In this sense they are making the
same mistakes as so many believers down through the centuries have
made before them who never stopped to consider the idea that the
truths that they held most dear were based on false assumptions.  Yes,
the madness all starts innocently enough, with a problem that is
successfully solved by the gentle application of force, or some other
taboo method which raises moral and ethical questions.  But with
success that method becomes less taboo and more acceptable and
more likely to be used again when similar problems arise, which they
inevitably do.  Then comes the transition period, when the questionable
method is used more frequently to snuff out problems that now occur
increasingly more often and are more severe when they appear.
Taboos are brushed aside and more force must be used each time in
order to make the newer, bigger problems go away.  Objections are
often raised, but the success of the method is unquestionable and its
use becomes not only policy, but is embraced as dogma by the ideology
which wields it.  At that point, the end result becomes inevitable.  All
problems are addressed using the application of that highly successful
but ethically questionable method which eventually gets used with such
forcefulness and frequency that it becomes a moral hazard unto itself
and winds up creating more problems than it solves.  However, the true
believers, who've been conditioned to think that their methodology is
infallible by years if not decades of success, will continue to pound
away at every problem that arises with it regardless of the damage that
they cause in the process and in spite of the fact that their method no
longer produces the desired results.
     Welcome to the worst case scenario.  Whether it be a man
beating his wife, a state torturing people for information, an addict
seeking another fix to calm the shakes, a politician telling another lie
to win another vote, or a central banker extending another vast loan
to prop up a corrupt system, the repeated use of such measures always
ends in escalation and tragedy.  Of course, we've all heard many
stories of this nature and we all know that buying into bubbles and
abusing one's power is wrong and self-destructive, but no matter
how much we swear to never allow ourselves to be as stupid as
our predecessors we make similar mistakes and suffer similar
catastrophes.  The reason that we do these things is that the immediate
gains of doing something immoral outweigh the long term risks of
repeatedly doing that thing, at least for awhile, thus allowing us to
believe that we can quit at any time and permitting the conditioning
effect of getting rewarded for doing something self-destructive to grow
and strengthen.  Eventually this conditioning will grow strong enough
to overcome the most disciplined minds and the path to disaster is all
downhill from there.  So in the end we will have a dead wife, a police
state, a homeless junkie selling their body for drugs, a corrupt politician,
and Ben Bernanke, a man who refuses to administer the necessary but
painful economic medicine to reform a broken system and chooses
instead to administer morphine until the patient dies.  Another
predictable tragedy unfolds.
     Of course, an even worse scenario is that somehow the
central bankers of the world manage to save the current monetary
regime, as dysfunctional and corrupt as it is, and keep it alive for
a few more years or longer.  The system is increasingly benefiting
the few over the many and preventing the judicious use of existing
resources in favor of overconsumption and wasteful excess, not to
mention the utter destruction of any sense of morality and ethics in
the financial realm and beyond.  I would not want to see the current
system continue as too many are suffering enough as it is.  To be
honest, I wished that the correction could have begun ten years ago,
but it wasn't allowed to happen then or any time since and now the
collapse will regrettably be much, much worse.  So please mister
Bernanke, stop feeding our bodies into the voracious god of neo-
liberalist capitalism.  Let it die, and let us all come together to bury
it and rebuild upon a solid foundation.
     Speaking of "Food for the Gods", the three-CD work is
undergoing an overhaul in the Fireaxe studio.  Not only will all the
tracks be remixed with an ear to make the sound more balanced
like "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess", but the vocals are
being re-recorded as well.  So far the change is like night and day
and songs like "My Name is Joshua" and "Chariot" sound as fierce
and strong as they were meant to be.  And oh, wait until you hear
"Malediction", it will have you praying at the feet of the dark goddess
herself.  Well, actually I don't want you to start worshipping her or
any other god or goddess for that matter.  Please see past the hyperbole
to the intended message: the new "Food" will rock harder than ever.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Meaning of the Songs - Masters of the Universe

     Before I get into the descriptions of the individual tracks I'd
like to take a moment to talk about the CD in general and some of the
early feedback.  Overall the responses are very favorable with the
consensus being that while it is another great Fireaxe epic it is not
quite as good as "Food for the Gods".  I can understand that for the
most part seeing as how it is impossible for a single CD to measure
up to the epic nature of a concept work nearly three times as long.
However, I do think that "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is
better than any single CD from the previous work considered by itself,
so please don't be disappointed.  My intention was to create an eighty
minute story, similar to the fourteen epics on "Food for the Gods",
and specifically one that contained a more in depth look at the modern
world than I was able to portray in "Waiting for Tomorrow".  So, in
essence, the new CD is more like a part of the larger themes explored
in "Food for the Gods" and so it naturally can't be as epic, but I feel
that it is certainly more refined, profound, and well produced than
any previous Fireaxe work.
     Also, there is a difference in the feel of the two projects.  In
"Food for the Gods" there were a lot of aggressive "testosterone driven"
style tracks, like "Chariot", "My Name is Joshua", "Where Eagles Fly",
etc., where the protagonist is a highly motivated and ruthless
conquering hero.  In contrast, on the new CD only "Masters of the
Universe" contains that style of music, although "Viva la Revolucion"
is close to imitating that form.  Instead, the new CD is more subtle
with the protagonist doing much more suffering and much less
winning than the protagonists in the previous work.  While that may
be a let down, it is by design.  "Eternal" was intended to be a long
descent into a personal hell that ends in a type of triumph that only
a nihilist could love.  But the protagonist doesn't have a "Sum of
All Fears" or "Cut or be Cut" moment at the end of the new CD
which is what some of you might have been expecting.  However, I
intentionally avoided putting such a moment in the CD because that
was not the direction that I wanted to go.  In "Eternal" the protagonist
has been denied triumph and glory all his life.  His victories as an
executive are tainted and incomplete, the woman he loved was defiled
before he could win her hand, and his "revolucion" was merely a
cynical ploy to help him exact his revenge.  There is no big bang at
the end, just a number of defiant verses and an initially confusing
final passage.  When the last track draws to a close you might find
yourself asking "what just happened?" but upon closer examination,
and I'd like everyone to examine Fireaxe music closely, you will see
that his plan was a carefully orchestrated ruse intended to draw the
antagonist into making a terrible blunder using the principles discussed
in the previous tracks.  I'll go into further detail in later editions of the
Burning Blade, but I did want to point out the reasons why the CD is
how it is for those of you who have already had a chance to listen to it.
Anyway, on with the song descriptions.
     The second and third tracks of "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" are what I like to call my one-two punch, where I lay siege to
the ideologies of our modern world on both the left and the right.  As
much as the CD, and all Fireaxe in general, may sound like a typical
antiwar leftist screed, the more that you look into it the more that you'll
see it is a balanced attack along a number of different fronts.  Ideology
in general, or at least the inevitably corrupted versions of them, was, is,
and always will be the primary target of Fireaxe both in music and in
writing.  The new CD is no different, and this theme is clear in the
second and third tracks.
     "Masters of the Universe" is a scathing attack on cutthroat
capitalism with numerous and often vulgar references to various
deceptive, unethical, and brutal business practices which have once
again risen to prominence in the modern corporate culture.  The
arrogance of the protagonist saturates the song as well as his extreme
aggression in the pursuit of profit.  I've got a lot of favorite lines in
this song but perhaps the one I like best is the spoken part where he
says, "R.O.I. Look it up."  For those of you not economically literate,
the abbreviation stands for Return On Investment, which is another
way of saying "profit".  It's simply the amount of money that is returned
to you when you invest in a particular project, asset, or company.  I
like the line because it captures the protagonist's attitude so well, as
if he is saying, "If you don't understand what I'm talking about then
you're an idiot and you deserve to be poor".
     That attitude personifies the modern right wing, although
there is little which resembles true conservatism in today's version
of economics.  The protagonist's harsh attitudes towards bleeding
heart liberals, the poor, and the working class are shared by many
"conservatives" and find sympathy in the halls of right leaning
institutions.  And although he does attack organized religion it's
only to point out that it's all a big scam, just like the ones that he runs
with his business.  The critique here is that organized religion isn't
about morality, it's really all about power.  And while there are a few
stabs at leftist ideas here and there, the song mainly assaults the right
by showing the extreme side of that perspective and how corruption
has turned it into a voracious monster.
     Another aspect of the song that I like is the similarity
between the world of cutthroat capitalism and the domain of street
gangs.  This track compares well with the typical egotistical machismo
and disrespect for others that can be found in a large number of "gansta
rap" songs.  From the rhyming to the profanity to the rapid-fire lyrics
the rap and metal genres merge in what I believe is a completely
unique way.  Although the musical style is all metal, the influence
of the rap culture and its reflection in the modern business culture
come together to reveal that high brow and low brow are not necessarily
two completely different things.  Both the street thug and the young
executive can embrace similar strategies and attitudes towards rivals
and have the same success in their rise to the top.  Add to that the
fact that both corporations and gangs are highly motivated to sell
product and eliminate competitors and one can see that the "law of the
jungle" applies similarly to both cultures.  The closer that you look,
the less of a stretch comparisons between the two become.
     Now, the depiction of corporations in the song is extreme
and I do not believe that it is typical of what goes on in the average
company, large or small.  Likewise, "gangsta rap" music isn't an
accurate portrayal of a typical day in the inner city, but both do a
good job of capturing the part of both cultures that is pulling them
in a sociopathic direction.  There have been many times throughout
history where the cultures of the boardroom and the mean streets
have turned from civil to brutal and back again and these days it
appears that egotism, greed, and a win-at-all-costs attitude has
pervaded too much of our society.  But beyond just pointing a finger at
all that is wrong with cutthroat capitalism, "Masters of the Universe"
delves deeper, unearthing the driving forces behind the madness.  The
song reveals how the protagonist began humbly, trying to play by the
rules in a culture where backstabbing, cronyism, and deal-making
are the preferred methods of advancement.  It doesn't take him very
long to realize that he is going nowhere and so he puts his drive to
succeed ahead of his personal ethics and grabs for the brass ring.
Who can blame him though?  If breaking the rules and chucking one's
morality have no consequences then aren't the rules really that there
are no rules?  The protagonist is merely adapting to his environment.
     In the middle of the song there is a slow part which digs
further into the issue of how the protagonist got to be where he is.  His
success bore great fruit, even though it came at a price, but we find
out that it is not his personal ambition that drives him as much as it is
his desire to be a success in the eyes of his parents.  His inner conflict
rages as he sees how happy he has made his mother and father, hiding
the fact that he had to use methods that they would not approve of to
attain his position.  But were their expectations reasonable given the
ends that he had to go to in order to achieve them?  The great moral
questions of our age abound here, especially when the protagonist
utters the following lines:

"This is what you wanted.
This is what we dream of.
This is what we worship.
This is what brings us closer to God."

     Capitalism has become the dominant ideology in the west
and indeed the entire world, replacing democracy which had made all
religions subservient to it.  Capitalism is more than a monetary system
though, it has become a system which assigns value to things beyond
that which are considered commodities and services.  At this point in
history it should be obvious to even the most pro-growth proponent
that the excessive and growing consumption by the vast majority of
the world's inhabitants is evidence that the many values systems of
a variety of cultures, traditions, and religions have been supplanted
by what can be measured in monetary terms.  Success is defined by
terms like "bigger", "better", and "more" rather than by more aesthetic
qualities.  This is not to say that we are focused entirely on getting rich,
but rather that wealth is the measure by which we evaluate too much of
our world.  If someone is rich we assume that they did something right
to become that way, and if they are poor we assume that they made
mistakes or did something wrong and deserve their status.  Thus,
wealth becomes a measure of morality as well as success.  Also, we
judge ideas, talent, skill, and a great number of things by how easily
those things are translated into wealth.  The mark of a good idea or a
good performance is revealed by how many people are willing to pay
for it since money has become the measure of quality.  One dollar
equals one vote in the "democracy" of capitalism.
     Think about how you see the world.  If someone says that they
have a good idea, is your first thought that they should try to market
it or that the proof that it is a good idea is how well it sells?  Such a
standard makes Fireaxe an utter failure.  When someone says that they
graduated from a prestigious university do you assume that they will be
able to land a well paying job or think that something is wrong with them
if they do not?  Do you see your job more as a way to make money than
as a way to do your part in our society?  And if you became rich, would
you quit working?  Most people would argue that while they do enjoy
material things that their values system is separate from economics, but
after the grotesque spending and consumption spree that I've witnessed
over the last decade or more all that I can say to that is that most people
are completely full of shit.  If our values were strong we would laugh at
advertising rather than embrace its irrational context.  No, instead we
have been sold a make-believe world of achievement, enjoyment, and
self worth defined in monetary terms that is every bit as virulent and
absurd as any dogma put forth by any of the world's religions.  Our
ideology has become capitalism, or perhaps more accurately,
Consumptionism, which is a heresy of overindulgence that lacks the
discipline of the notion that debts must be repaid and the tenet that a
stable and well regulated money supply is essential to social well being.
Thus, when the protagonist in the song declares that becoming rich
"is what brings us closer to God" he is referring to the worship of a
new religion called Consumptionism.
     There is one more bullet left in "Masters of the Universe"
and that occurs in the very next verse.  Before we hypocrites do our
customary "tsk tsk" dismissal of the protagonist's perverted values
system, which of course we do not share, the protagonist reveals two
very inconvenient facts about why we accept things the way that they
are.  The first is that most of us have few issues with someone doing
immoral things so long as they are serving our interests, especially
when it is our leaders doing those immoral things.  Instead we make
excuses for them and don't try to reign them in like we do others who
break our code of ethics.  This type of moral relativism is practiced by
many and especially by those who claim to have strong morals.  The
second inconvenient fact is that even if we don't suffer from moral
relativism, we must still align ourselves with someone whom we may
not approve of so that we do not suffer under the rule of an even more
malevolent leader.  This is not to say that all leaders are despicable
tyrants, but in the absence of an ethical standard which keeps the
ruthless out of power there inevitably manifests a "race to the bottom"
where sins committed by one ruler effectively permit other rulers the
leeway to do the same.  And so, down, down, down we go.
     Now, about the music on the track.  "Masters of the Universe"
was the most troublesome song that I've ever written as far as getting
it to sound and feel the way that I wanted it to.  Over the course of the
writing and recording of the CD I changed the tempo of the song at
least twice, reworked the drumming several times, altered the guitar
parts more times than I care to remember, and recorded the vocals in
a number of different styles before finding something that I liked.
For some frustrating reason the song just kept coming up flat.  I'd
record it one way and then on subsequent listens it would sound
lifeless.  So I would make some changes and think that I had it
rocking and then discover later that it still hadn't gelled right.  I
could have given up and stayed satisfied with what I had at any time,
but my perfectionism took over and the end result is what you are
hearing on the CD, which is pretty much exactly the feel and flow
that I wanted when the lyrics were first written.
     The end result is fantastic.  The music is aggressive and
relentless, matching the protagonist's approach to business.  The
thrashy guitar work and syncopating rhythms scream "Fireaxe" at
the top of their lungs and I am glad that this song is well liked by
many a faithful listener.  I now know for a fact that all my work
putting this song together was worth it.  I love just about everything
about it, including the style, which is reminiscent of the formula
that worked so well for metal bands of the eighties.  Yes, the solo,
the breakdown into the slow part, and the ABACAB format aren't
exactly breaking new ground, but given the unique directions taken
in the rest of the CD it's not a bad thing to have a well placed
throwback to the era of foot-stomping, head-banging metal as part
of "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".
     Regarding the lyrics, Octavio Ramos and I teamed up to
co-author this song and I feel that it contains some of his best and
most brutal analogies to date.  What can I say about my friend
Octavio?  He was truly inspired when he wrote this song, and the
vast majority of the lyrics came from his hand.  Not unlike the way
that the music went, the lyrics also took several iterations before
they reached a final form.  Octavio would send me something and
I'd slice it and dice it and send it back and then he'd work on it and
send me back something which was even better than before.  The
final product is simply filthy.  It's sharp, vicious, and oh so very
corporate.  The age of modern capitalism is well represented by
"Masters of the Universe".
     Which brings me to the final question to be answered
about this track, what exactly is FUD anyway?  In the song there
is a line about "gonna FUD you in the ass" and you might be
wondering if that's a typo or that I meant to write another word
beginning with 'f'.  The answer is no, I meant to say FUD and it
is very much a euphemism for the corporate version of sodomy.
FUD is an abbreviation which stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and
Doubt.  It is a tactic that originated in the software industry a few
decades ago and takes advantage of the fear, uncertainty and doubt
in computer users about whether or not a new application, game,
upgrade, or download will work with their system or potentially
screw things up beyond repair.  A lot of people have a least one
horror story about how when they installed something on to their
computer that something else stopped working or that their computer
would crash or lock up on them at inconvenient times and as a
result they did not want to re-experience the pain of reformatting
their computer or paying the expense of having someone else fix it
ever again.  Thus, people will tend to want to buy only reliable
software and equipment.  This is where the FUD strategy comes
in.  If a large corporation, like say, Microsoft for instance, wanted
to sell its applications over those of its competitors, it could do so
by implying that installing non-Microsoft products on a Microsoft
operating system might result in compatibility issues and other
problems, while using Microsoft products for everything ensures
that everything will work perfectly.  Then, out of fear of a computer
crash, uncertainty that third party software would install correctly, and
doubt that tech support would be able to help them fix any problems,
users would be more prone to choose Microsoft.  Voila!  FUD!  Of
course, in reality Microsoft went much farther than simply implying
that there might be problems when using third party software.  In
fact they were caught altering the way that their operating system
supported certain applications so that their competitors' products
would not work correctly while Microsoft products would.  This
strategy was named "embrace, extend, and extinguish" and in
essence allowed Microsoft to wield its position of having a
monopoly on operating systems as a weapon against those who
tried to write software that competed with their products.
     In any event, that is just a taste of the some of the unsavory
tactics practiced at some of the largest corporations in the world.
Investigate others at your own risk as you might lose faith in the
system and in humanity in general as a result.


The Meaning of the Songs - My Angel

"And though my hands were far beyond cleansing,
I kept my heart pure. What a waste."

     And with those words the most intense Fireaxe song of the
CD, and perhaps of all time, was launched.  One listener commented
that I wasn't able to keep up the intensity after the third track and I
have to begrudgingly agree with that, I mean, how can I follow "My
Angel" with anything that sounds nearly as powerful?  This is not to
say that the second half of the CD is weak by any measure.  In fact,
there were times during the recording where I thought that the first
half was weak in comparison to the second and figured that I needed
to work more on the first four tracks to balance it out.  In any event,
if this track moves you more than any other you are not alone.
     To me, "My Angel" is one of the many "stories which must be
told" which aren't being told for one reason or another.  "Black Knight"
is another one of those stories as well as the entirety of "A Dream of
Death".  I say this because these stories tell of life from a perspective
that doesn't get a lot of attention, mainly because the main characters
are nerdy outcasts like yours truly, and also because they end in tragedy,
not in triumph.  Not surprisingly, the "nerd tragedy" genre is not alive
and well, except on Fireaxe CDs and perhaps between the lines of
many a Dilbert cartoon.  Still, there is an audience for it, however
small, so I will continue to serve it.
     I remember once reading a story written by a young man whose
girlfriend was raped.  I can't remember whether he had tried to defend
her and was beaten up or whether he was simply not there when it
happened, but I do remember him write that his girlfriend was never the
same afterwards.  She was traumatized, distant, frightened of intimacy,
and her relationship with the author slowly disintegrated despite the
author's devotion and willingness to accept her.  In his writing I could
feel his sense of anguish, despair, anger, guilt, and most of all a sense
of powerlessness that struck a chord with me.  He described how he
had a strong urge to buy a gun and kill his girlfriend's rapist after the
man was released from prison but didn't go through with it because he
didn't want to throw his life away for nothing.  After all, revenge wasn't
going return his beloved girlfriend to being the way that she was before.
In the end he was broken, she was broken, and lives were pointlessly
destroyed.  His was the kind of story that I wanted to tell with music
and with the types and intensities of emotions that I wanted my
listeners to feel.  And so I wrote "My Angel".
     The song is not autobiographical in any sense except that I
delved into my own emotions to give the song its character.  The ladies
of the world have decided that they do not like me and so I've never
actually gotten a romantic type relationship to the point where it could
be destroyed as painfully as the one in the song, but I have had a number
of friends relate similar experiences to that of the protagonist to me and
so this song is dedicated to all those who've suffered through this sort
of powerless, frustrating agony.
     The protagonist in "My Angel" seems very different than the
one in "Masters of the Universe".  Where he is strong, aggressive, and
relentless in the previous track, he is soft, caring, and unsure of himself
in this one.  However, the key lies in the opening spoken verse where he
expresses his desire to keep his heart pure.  The protagonist knows that
he has cast aside his ethics and honor to become rich and powerful in
the business world, but he doesn't want the entire world to be that way
for him.  Sure, he could go after women like he goes after profit, and
would easily be able to seduce as many as he wanted given his position,
but what he desires is to have some place in the world that's free of the
"lust and envy" and immorality that have polluted the rest of his life.
He wants to have something that's "pure and undespoiled", a part of his
heart to share with another whom he can shelter from the ravages of
a world of animalistic drives.  This idealism is very much right wing in
as much as it champions a traditional view of sex roles and the dating
ritual.  He places his angel on a pedestal and woos her with charm,
romance, and an offer that few women could refuse.  To be quite honest,
the first part of the song is so sweet and innocent that it sounds almost
bizarre when viewed from the perspective of our modern sex-obsessed
culture.  That was by design, contrasting the sexual mores of an age
long gone, if it ever truly existed, with that of the post-feminist reality
of today.  Indeed, the ideology of the left wing, with its insistence on
destroying traditional sex roles, enforcement of equality, and endless
mockery of modesty and chastity has created an environment where
instant gratification and serial monogamy are the norm and where the
idea of building a solid relationship that can endure hardships is
pointless, dull, and doomed to failure.  It is this facet of left wing
ideology that comes under fire in "My Angel", one which is essentially
Consumptionism applied to sex and relationships, and which is vulgar,
animalistic, and devoid of meaning.
     In the first part of the song the protagonist overcomes his
fears and reluctance and approaches the woman he desires.  He is then
rewarded for his sincere and romantic efforts with a pair of promises
that she makes to him, revealing that their relationship is probably
just one question away from marriage.  Perhaps the protagonist intended
to ask that question at the celebration that he takes her to in the second
part of the song, but we will never know for after the protagonist leaves
his angel for "just a moment" she is swept up into the arms of a handsome,
smooth-talking liar who seduces her.  The protagonist is overcome with a
desire to step in between them and assault his rival, but the thing which
holds him back is the look in his angel's eyes when she stares into those
of the intruder.  Indeed, she is swooning, enraptured by the liar's spell,
and she surrenders to him body and soul as we find out later.  And so,
realizing that he does not measure up to his rival's charisma and charm,
the protagonist simply swallows his anger, as he has done so many times
before, and walks away.  Inside he is seething, and in an extremely intense
section of the song we hear his anger turn inwards and become self hatred
and finally depression.
     Now, I realize this part of the song is loaded with profanity, but
in light of the context I felt that it would be disingenuous not to use such
language.  How many of us have been in that position before?  Were our
thoughts clean or were they profane like the ones expressed by the
protagonist?  In any event, I didn't try to hide the vulgarity of the scene
or the profane words or the graphic nature of what happened and instead
put it all out on display.  This is the hideous face of reality. Look at it.
See it.  Understand it.
     The third part of the song begins slowly.  Things seem like
they might finally be over but the emotional turmoil has only just
begun.  The protagonist's "angel" visits him after getting dumped by
the smooth-talking liar and she confesses her sins, all of them, and in
painful detail.  Meanwhile the protagonist just sits there, holding his
angel, trying to make her feel better, but all the while the anger inside
him is growing.  He hates the liar for what he has done to his angel and
regrets not doing anything to stop him, but when he realizes that his
angel hasn't truly come back to him and in fact still loves the man who
treated her so badly his anger breaks free of its chains and he starts to
lose control of himself.  It is here where his emotional churning begins
in earnest.  The protagonist is tormented by the thoughts of what could
have been but was destroyed by his angel's flight of fancy.  He screams
at his angel, calling her hateful names, and barely stops short of hurting
her physically before somehow managing to calm himself.  Then, once
again he tries to swallow his anger and just accept things the way that
they are rather than the way he wanted them to be.  He almost manages
to do so but his heart just won't allow it.  No, he has been hurt too deeply
and the realization that not only can he no longer feel love for his angel,
but that he will never be able to love anyone else so passionately again,
pushes him over the edge.  The protagonist can no longer control himself
and his full fury is unleashed upon the woman he once loved with all of
his heart.  Here I spare most of the details of what he does to her in the
final part of the song, alluding to his actions without describing them,
and instead I focus on the very dark emotions that the protagonist feels
as he stares down at the lifeless body that used to make him feel so
wonderful.  In the end he sees her "for what she was…just another
promise…betrayed."  This, in a nutshell, is the story of the protagonist's
life.  The dreams he chased and the promises that they held all end in
misery and betrayal.
     One possible perspective on the song "My Angel" is to say
that the protagonist got what he deserved.  After all of the lying and
cheating and treachery that he used to gain power and riches in the
previous song he loses what he held most dear as the result of someone
else using those very same tactics albeit in the art of seduction.  While
that is true, that was not my primary intention for the song.  Instead,
I was trying to show how the innocent and idealistic facets of life are
destroyed by the corrupted versions of ideologies from both sides of the
spectrum.  In "Masters of the Universe", cutthroat capitalism destroys
the protagonist's sense of fair play and the value of his hard work.  In
"My Angel", promiscuity destroys the protagonist's innocence and his
capacity to love.  But what has been utterly destroyed though is the
"American Dream".  You know, the one where a man gets a good job,
works hard, is successful, and marries a loving woman who raises
their children in a comfortable home in the country with a white
picket fence and a dog and so forth.  That America is long gone,
shoved aside by the new America divided by two radical ideologies
raging out of control with lust and greed.
     The music in the song had to match the emotional content
and thus it ranges everywhere from soaring and beautiful to hideous
and intense.  The latter I knew that I could do well, but the former
was quite a challenge.  At first I was very worried about putting five
minutes of little more than vocals and keyboards into a Fireaxe song,
especially with the "new age" sounding synthesizer parts and the
naïve nature of the lyrics.  From a metal perspective this part of the
CD is completely wussified.  And while a minute or two of that kind
of thing would probably be tolerable to most head-bangers I wasn't
sure if I should have trimmed it down or not.  Yet the flow of the song
demanded the length of the part as well as its pure innocence and so
it ended up mostly unchanged in its final form.  Another concern that
I had was that there was no distortion to cover my voice and that with
the new microphone that I was using that everyone would hear all of
the mistakes and inconsistencies in my singing.  It felt like I was
taking a huge risk, but that's what I do when I record music, and so it
was full steam ahead.  The good news is that I feel that I was able to
not only whip the part into passable form, but that it is has become one
of my favorite parts of the entire CD.  It is hauntingly sweet, and when
listened to with the knowledge that it will all end horribly it becomes
tragic as well.  In the middle where I sing "My angel. My angel."
it sounds so nice that I can't believe that it is me doing the singing.
I've come a long way since the "Unholy Rapture" days, that's for sure.
So all seemed well until my search for a female vocalist came up
empty and I had to sing her part or figure out a way to leave it out.
The former option was easier as cutting out her part was going to put
a big hole in the song, but singing female vocals was a challenge that
was almost monumental.  This wasn't like the part in "Black Knight"
where I could get away with whispering the parts of the "demon
goddess" in a feminine voice.  No, I had to pull out my best falsetto
and try to sell the lines as if I were a love-struck young woman.  I
tried my best and I feel that it almost sneaks past the listener without
raising a flag.  Well darnit, it just isn't easy trying to make your
musical vision into reality.
     When the song moves into the second part the music
captures the feel of ballroom dancing as it gently sways to a duet
between a piano and bass guitar (a first for metal?).  Then the
rhythm guitars come in and build the intensity to match the mood of
the music.  It builds and builds until finally reaching the crescendo
where the full power and intensity pound away with the same ferocity
as the rage in the lyrics before giving way to a dark emotional mood.
The transition through the second part is grand, capturing everything
wonderfully, or at least I think so.
     The third part of the song grinds away at your emotions,
switching between soft, delicate parts, strong, forceful parts, and
crushing parts with pulsing intensity and screaming vocals.  Back
and forth the music goes, rising and falling with the turmoil of the
protagonist until it finally reaches the emotional climax of the song…

"and forever there'll be a hole inside me,
bringing me pain, and screaming your name."

     After which it descends into one of the most powerful
riffs on the CD topped with a piercing guitar solo and finishing
with a low end, flowing riff to carry an exhausted listener home.
It is a special track in many ways.
     At the end of the "My Angel" you've listened to only about
thirty-six minutes of Fireaxe but you might feel as though you've
listened to the entire CD.  The first three songs are very taxing in
an emotional and even physical way and I wouldn't be surprised if
you might be worn out after hearing them.  I don't blame you if you
are because when I listened to the CD all the way through for the
first time rather than just song by song. "My Angel" had the same
effect on me and it kind of left me emotionally numb for a while,
allowing the next few tracks to slip by without raising my interest
too much.  Did that mean that those songs weren't as intense as I
thought?  Well, no.  I knew for sure that some of my favorite parts
of the CD were on the second half but they didn't sound so intense
on my first listen.  What I realized was that I'd been emotionally
drained by the first three tracks and that I needed time to recover.
So if you've been feeling the same way after listening to "Eternal
Devotion to the Dark Goddess" consider pausing the CD halfway
through as kind of an intermission to let your batteries recharge.
There's a short break at the end of the fourth track "The Evil Men
Do" which works well as a break between halves.  Pause your CD
player, take off your earphones, walk around, relax a bit, and think
about what you've just heard before diving back in again.  Then you'll
be ready for the second half of this darkest of all Fireaxe CDs.
     That's all for this edition.  More to come next time.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion            $6      $9
   to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:      $12      $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death            $5      $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $6 - Sold out

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
     goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
     do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
     does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
     particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
     likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
     CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
     someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
     raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
     those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
     government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
     and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
     face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
     stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
     side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 11.3
Post by: ASBO on April 01, 2008, 04:59:34 PM
Quote
Welcome to the worst case scenario.  Whether it be a man
beating his wife, a state torturing people for information, an addict
seeking another fix to calm the shakes, a politician telling another lie
to win another vote, or a central banker extending another vast loan
to prop up a corrupt system, the repeated use of such measures always
ends in escalation and tragedy.


Alarmingly accurate.
Title: Fireaxe
Post by: death metal black metal on April 10, 2008, 06:22:23 PM
Quote
Just in case anyone out there is reluctant to download this material due to an attack of conscience, Fireaxe fully supports the free distribution of any and all Fireaxe related content. In other words, feel free to upload and download mp3s, wavs, gifs, jpgs, newsletters, or anything else to do with Fireaxe on any server without worrying about any legal action. This also applies to burning and distributing CDs and DVDs which contain Fireaxe content. The only request that Fireaxe would like to make in this regard is that the distribution of the content be done without material compensation. Simply put, you can give it away to your heart's content, but you're not allowed to make money selling Fireaxe stuff. Please report all offenders to bev@neptune.net
 
That being said, if you order Fireaxe CDs from me, such as "Food for the Gods" you'll get 3 labeled CDs, a full-color booklet with lyrics, and a cool "chubby" jewel case to hold everything.  It's a very good deal at $12 ($14 overseas), assuming, of course, that you still own something that plays CDs.
 
Brian Voth - Fireaxe


Fireaxe MP3s (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=mp3;action=display;num=1162558148)




The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 11.3 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1206831715;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 11.1.1 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1199861095;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 11.1 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1196497507;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 10.6 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1191048177;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 10.5 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1186235614;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 10.4 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1180892731;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 9.1 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1144011019;start=0#0)

The Burning Blade - Fireaxe News 8.2 (http://www.anus.com/metal/hall/YaBB.cgi?board=metal_news;action=display;num=1107727213;start=0#0)
Title: The Burning Blade 11.4
Post by: Fireaxe on May 30, 2008, 09:36:46 PM
Because the beast must feed…


                 The Burning Blade

           Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.4

                 May 30, 2008

           neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


      “We’ve built this monstrosity of a machine, and there are
     tons of architects always working on it. The problem is no one
     knows what is going on in the entirety. Nothing this complex
     has ever existed in history. I believe what we are watching is
     an exercise in the folly of human ego.”

                 - Mike Arnold, professional trader talking
                 about the financial system but could just as
                 well be talking about any number of systems
                 in the modern world especially our ideological
                 constructs


     Mr. Arnold's point is well taken, and it is one of the reasons
why the concept of an emergent system is so important to understanding
anything in the world today given that the major forces that effect each
of our lives are not controlled by individuals or institutions.  As much as
we might like to simplify the forces that change the world as the result
of a coterie of powerful people who, behind closed doors, make decisions
or plot conspiracies that bend the world to meet their ends, the reality of
the situation is that even the most influential members of our societies are
beholden to forces outside of their control.  Of course, this is not to say
that those leaders do not have any influence at all and that the ones who
make poor decisions should not be removed from power, but merely that
eliminating them does not necessarily solve the problems that plague our
daily lives.  To solve our problems means that we need to understand
where they come from rather than to merely blame the guy "in charge".
     Mr. Arnold makes another good point when he suggests that
what is going on in the financial system is another "exercise in the folly
of human ego".  Certainly there is plenty of that to go around in the
world whether it is the egotistical "Masters of the Universe" on Wall
Street who believe that they have conquered the markets and made
them serve their will, or the vanity of the central bankers who believe
that they have conquered the business cycle and can steer the economy
along a path of constant growth, or the self-indulgent blindness of the
average person who became remarkably trusting of the system when it
promised to make his dreams come true and allowed him to borrow
himself into certain doom.  A great many of us are worshipping at the
altar of our own bloated egos.  And although the "80s" were dubbed
the "Me" decade it seems that the two decades that have followed have
taken this egocentric perspective to such dizzying new heights that
nothing, not even giving to charity, is done if it doesn't boost one's
view of oneself and brought us to the point where admitting that one
is wrong is the most horrifying thing that one can do.
     Will this situation continue to get worse?  Can it continue?
And if it is due to change, how and why would it happen?  It would
seem that psycho-social thinking on a global scale has been moving
from having an emphasis on selflessness to having an emphasis on
selfishness for quite some time.  This change appears to go hand in
hand with the rise of capitalism, an ideology which champions the
individual's desire for self-gratification as a force which drives
economic progress.  Capitalism in turn blossomed under liberal
democracy, an ideology which champions an individual's desire for
freedom.  Combined, these ideologies refocused the attention of the
masses away from what is best for the group towards what is best for
the individual.  In contrast, selflessness is more closely associated with
ideologies such Communism and Socialism which champion feelings of
a social nature, such as the pleasure of vicariously experiencing another's
joy and the warm feeling of contributing to a group effort.  For a while
the world was somewhat balanced between the two extremes with
Capitalism and Communism dividing the world between them after
Fascism was conquered and its excesses exposed.  But the fall of
Communism and the rise of Capitalism and Democracy in the world
over the last two decades mirrors the shift away from selflessness and
towards selfishness, and while ideologies are neither exclusively selfish
or selfless in nature they can have a strong preference for one over the
other.
     In other words, the folly of the human ego which is taking
place in the financial markets is not so much a moral failing on the
part of individuals, but rather their adherence to an ideology which
supports the individual pursuit of wealth.  To a degree the channeling
of greed into productivity benefits society, but when taken to an extreme
the result is social corrosion and a profound lack of trust between
individuals which hurts society more than it helps.  It would seem that
at some point the social order would collapse if selfishness were to
become more and more the rule and we may be reaching that point in
more ways than just economic.  Overindulgence in things such as sex,
food, and narcotics have pushed us close to the point of collapse of
both the institution of marriage and the health care system.  It would
probably be a good idea to reconsider the idea that the self is the most
important aspect of one's world before these systems collapse, but it
appears that we lack the capacity to do so, at least on a collective basis.
However, a collapse will force a reconsideration to take place anyway,
although it will occur in a less orderly fashion, so one way or another
things are going to change.
     In a post-collapse world one might predict that selflessness
would come back into vogue, at least in the "West", where even our
religions seem overly focused on helping us to attain supernatural
rewards for ourselves rather than embracing a larger whole.  It is likely
that group loyalty, conformism, and solidarity will rise in power and
influence in the wake of a collapse, but not before the well-conditioned
focus on selfishness has been purged from the majority.  This would
occur quite naturally in a post-collapse environment where almost
nothing will generate a positive outcome.  Egotism will be associated
with the failures of the past and become repulsive and people will shun
the symbols of their former excesses.  People who continue to behave in
their selfish ways will end up getting punished over and over until they
no longer act that way.  In contrast, people who form into groups will
weather the storms much better.  Also, people will force others to earn
their trust rather than implicitly trust those whom they don't know and
that will force people to behave in more honorable and decent ways.
This phase might follow a period where people become very desperate
and act in the most despicable and devious ways to satisfy their selfish
desires, even more so than they do now.  Of course, these are only
speculations on the mechanisms of how selfishness would be
transformed into selflessness, but the empirical evidence is rather
clear that disasters have a strong tendency to pull people together and
work as a team.  A major social and economic collapse would act like
one long, drawn out disaster which would alter people's psychology in
a lasting or even permanent way.
     Of course, selfless socialism is not the most efficient ideology
and it is far from being immune to excesses.  One need only look at
atrocities such as the Spanish Inquisition and witch burning to see
examples of conformism run amok not to mention the eugenically-
driven policies of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia which resulted in
the deaths of millions.  Also, the stifling of individualism and creativity
inherent in socialistic ideology limits growth, both socially, politically,
and economically.  However, in the aftermath of a collapse it is likely
that we will swing from extreme selfishness to extreme selflessness
rather than stop at an ideal balance between the two.  Moderation has
never held much influence in the realm of human behavior.
     And so I feel that in a post-collapse world we will see the rise
of religions, reborn once more by adapting or ignoring their founding
principles so that they cater to popular sentiment, and also the rise of
secular forms of socialism which have become all but dormant in a
world dominated by Capitalism.  Whatever the form the fundamentals
of those new ideologies will likely be the same, that individualism is to
be discouraged and that the emphasis should be placed on what benefits
the whole.  While refreshing, to a degree, it should not be said that
selfless ideologies will get along simply because they agree on that
particular principle.  In fact, they will be very antagonistic towards
each other since they will still be driven by the fear of the "other"
groups as people are today.  Neither selfless ideologies nor selfish
ones are strangers to war, and as the old system collapses there will
be struggles over the remnants of its spent corpse.  Thus, as always,
we will be Food for the Gods.
     Speaking of "Food for the Gods", the three-CD work is
still undergoing an overhaul in the Fireaxe studio although work on
it is being delayed due to a variety of issues.  There is a lot to do and
not enough time to do it and I refuse to release half-assed efforts.  So
I will have to ask you once again to be patient as I get everything
sorted out.
     A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Meaning of the Songs - The Evil Men Do

     It may surprise you to learn that "The Evil Men Do" is my
favorite track on "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  There are
a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is that I feel that
it single-handedly destroys the illusions of Capitalism and exposes
the depravity of the corrupted version of that anti-social ideology for
all the world to see.  Also, the emotions, the perspective, and especially
the music make this track one that I love to play loud or sing when
the spirit moves me.  I might be alone in feeling that this track is my
favorite as no one has written me and concurred, so allow me to give
my reasons for liking it as I do.
     First of all, this track is seriously depraved, or at least the
things that the protagonist does and witnesses are far beyond the pale
of civilized society, which is not to say that they aren't unheard of in
the halls of power.  In the previous track, "My Angel" the protagonist
has killed the woman who betrayed him and the "voices" that he hears
at the end of that song are not voices in his head but the voices of the
members of the board of "the Firm".  In "Masters of the Universe"
the protagonist was able to use secrets that he learned from his mentor
to blackmail the board and help him in his rise to power, but after
"My Angel" the tables are now turned.  However, instead of using the
protagonist's crime to get rid of him the board finds an even better use
for the protagonist: he is to do their dirty work.
     In the vocal introduction to "The Evil Men Do" the members
of the board aren't appalled by the murder, or at least they do not reveal
it if they are.  Instead they are relieved that they can no longer be
blackmailed by the protagonist and they now see the opportunity to
use him just as he used them.  So they are sympathetic to his plight,
describing their disdain for the protagonist's "angel", and give him
comfort and reassurance while covering up his crime.  The protagonist
is stunned, expecting to go to jail for what he'd done, but he soon
realizes that even more of what he naively assumed about the world,
such as the sanctity of the rule of law, has been corrupted by the
pursuit of power and wealth.  Emotionally distraught and in a
vulnerable state the protagonist protests, weakly, still clinging to
what is left of his morality until he finally cracks and, in a particularly
touching but dark moment, accepts his new role as the man the Firm
turns to when they need to get something done, no questions asked.
     The protagonist holds no illusions about his new position.
He is enslaved to the Firm and must do its bidding, but his new role
provides a channel for his anger and resentment and he has no sense
of morality to prevent him from using his power in horrific ways.  He
begins by destroying the man who seduced his angel, but goes far
beyond just taking an eye for an eye.  In passages reminiscent of
Tiglath Pilesar's soliloquy in "Written In Blood" the protagonist
describes his exploits in detail, telling of the suffering he brought
down upon not only the man who wronged him but upon his entire
family.  And in perhaps the most sinister part of all he says that none
of his victims were aware of who had destroyed them or that anyone
had been responsible for it at all.  Now, if that doesn't repulse you,
send a chill up your spine, and make you wonder how much that kind
of thing goes on in the real world then I haven't done my job as an artist.
     In the second verse the protagonist gets down to business,
describing the ways in which the Firm corrupts the system and gains
even more power and influence, which enables it to spread its tentacles
even deeper into the halls of power.  None of the things that I describe
are made up in any way.  Democracies are not immune to corruption
and there are numerous examples of people in positions of power getting
bought out, manipulated, coerced, or otherwise bent to the will of one
of more wealthy people or institutions.  The only question that remains
is how deep the corruption goes in our respective governments.  My
favorite part of this verse is the final line, "This is no longer Democracy,
this is Kleptocracy".  The term "Kleptocrat" is one which is often used
in reference to those who governed the former Soviet Union when it
was making its transition to capitalism.  In essence what happened was
that those in power sold off the state's assets, such as the oil industry,
at bargain basement prices to those who would give them kickbacks
and other lucrative favors such as getting the enabling politicians
reelected.  In America this type of thing can be seen when politicians
retire and end up getting large salaries for a do-nothing job in a
corporation or go on speaking tours where they receive large sums of
money to speak to people who, oddly enough, benefited in no small
way from the politician's actions.  There is also the ubiquitous
"revolving door" where politicians become lobbyists and vice-versa
and schemes where the friends and family members of politicians end
up in high-paying positions of "friendly" companies and so on and so
forth.  Again, the only question that remains is how deep this sort of
thing goes but the idea that someone will ride into Washington D.C.
and clean the whole mess up is about as likely as Jesus returning to
earth, or showing up in the first place for that matter.
     The powerlessness of the people to prevent the corruption in
their government and other institutions appears to contribute to the
overall trend towards selfishness.  When one is betrayed by those things
who they trust it is natural to pull away from relationships and stop
giving of oneself to groups and institutions.  This is what happens to
the protagonist over and over in the CD.  He doesn't start off greedy
or selfish, but he ends up that way and mostly against his will.  In this
way the protagonist is a model of society in general, forced into doing
things that they abhor.
     Which brings us to the chorus, which I like very much:

"No one knows the evil men do at the helm of the machine.
No one hears the cries of the fallen, the machine has only one speed.
I can't count the lives I have laid waste to.
Can't stop if I tried because the beast must feed."

     Before we blame the protagonist for being evil and claiming
that he is responsible for the corruption of the state it's important to
look at the larger picture and the forces driving "the machine".  For
one there is the profit motive, and while trying to increase profits does
not necessarily mean that one has to break the law, the competition
between companies in the marketplace does mean that one has to
match or exceed the actions of rivals in order to get ahead.  So if your
rivals are corrupting the government and gaining an advantage that
way then you will need to do the same or worse or you will end up
taking losses or going out of business.  Secondly, those in charge of
corporations do not act exclusively to get rich.  Many have their own
agendas and some are very ideologically driven.  These men will often
have no qualms about bending a few laws in pursuit of the greater
good as they see it no matter how others view their point of view or
their actions.  Thirdly, many people in positions of power, especially
civil servants, are quite willing to become corrupted if they get
something which they desire in return.  And the more that a society
embraces the tenets of Capitalism and replaces the ideals of morality,
honor, and decency with the pursuit of wealth the more that these
forces will combine to create an environment rife with corruption.
In other words, if it wasn't the protagonist who corrupted the state in
the manner in which he did, it would have been someone else.  Thus,
it is not the individual who experiences a moral failure, it is that the
system lends itself to immorality.  And to make matters worse, as
described in the quote above, "the beast must feed", which shows
that the protagonist realizes that he is not in control any more and
that the forces described previously are conspiring push things
to the extreme whether he wants them to or not.
     In the final verse we learn that the protagonist has been
rising towards the highest position in the Firm and will soon gain
such perks as having "a direct line to the president" as CEO.  He
ruthlessly smashes his rivals, both inside the Firm and outside,
crushing another young hopeful, the "son of the chairman", for the
coveted position of running the Firm.  It is here where everything
suddenly falls apart.  The protagonist is brought before the board
and, in a manner not unlike how the mafia operates, is given an
offer that he cannot refuse.  Perhaps my favorite line of the track is
as follows:

"Accept our generous severance package
or have your sordid past turned over to the D.A."

     The line is cold, calculating, and so very…corporate.  Up
until then the protagonist might have come to believe that he had
become too important to the Firm to be blackmailed anymore and
simply knew too much to be let go, but now the cold hands of fate
are wrapping around him and strangling his ambitions once and
for all.  The machine has chewed him up and spit him out.
     It is also here where we learn a few things about the
antagonist in the story, the man who becomes the CEO and who
later ends up interrogating the protagonist.  The protagonist describes
him as "strong and clever" and as "a true believer", setting the stage
for the track "My Reflection" later in the CD.  He also describes him
as the "son of the chairman", with the subtext that perhaps the man
does not truly deserve to be CEO, instead getting to the top due to
his father's influence.  I added that line on purpose, to portray the
nepotism that is often found in corporations, and I would like to point
out that in no way did I intend for the antagonist to be a rather loosely
veiled portrayal of George W. Bush.  Sure, George never would have
gotten anywhere close to the seat of power anywhere he went in his
life if performance was the standard by which he was judged.  In
every instance his father or someone powerful appointed him or
pulled strings to get him where he was.  In contrast the antagonist
is modeled after a righteous crusader who both believes and lives
his beliefs.  Bush, on the other hand, has been accurately described
as a man who is not a Christian in any real way but who believes that
he is.  As such Bush was never truly a danger along the lines of a
Hitler, Stalin, or Torquemada, instead he is a blundering, delusional
oaf who is far less clever than he thinks he is and who believes that
he is strong when he is merely being stubborn.  The antagonist is
something that Bush can never be, a man truly committed to doing
what he believes is the right thing no matter what the cost as opposed
to a man who embraces half-assed measures and talks a far bigger
game than he is prepared to play.
     I love the music on this track as well.  Of the few times that
I've written a song in three-four time, such as "Beyond Zimbabwe"
and "DeathMachine" I've always ended up with something that I
like a lot.  "The Evil Men Do" is no exception and the lightly
swinging time signature mixed with the growling distorted guitars
creates something that sounds like a death waltz.  It matches perfectly
with the theme of the song, that the dance of corruption between the
corporations and the government is unstoppable, dragging you, me,
and everyone else in the world down into a spiral of depravity and
decadence.  The spoken word sections are the darkest on the track
and are backed by two guitars playing a pair of complementary
rhythms.  I love to sit back and listen to those parts intertwine as
the protagonist lays down the ugly truth about the world.  It feels
like I'm being drowned in capitalistic filth.  And before the third
verse, when the guitar solo kicks in and rides on top of the two
rhythms and finally splits into two parts as well it sounds simply
amazing.  These are the moments that make doing all of the
recording and going through all of the trouble worth the effort.
Building to such beautiful musical moments are what writing music
is all about, even if such moment are mired in a track of hideousness
and ugliness, but then, that is the essence of Fireaxe.


The Meaning of the Songs - Death's Angel

"Like a cancer they cut me out of their body
and threw me upon the refuse pile of the world."

     And so begins the protagonist's brutal quest for revenge.
This song, "Death's Angel", is where the protagonist is transformed
from being an embittered, former executive to a crusading terrorist,
casting aside his former ideology and embracing one of his own
creation, but it takes a searing life experience to get him from one
state to the other, and that is what occurs in this dark and brutal
track.
     At first the protagonist dreams of revenge, of dragging his
former employers into the streets, burning down their fancy houses,
and doing unspeakable things to them and their families.  But as his
evil fantasies escalate he sees that it isn't just a few people who
deserve such a fate, but rather the entire system and everyone in it.
In a passage that I just love, and please don't think that I desire to do
any of the things that the protagonist dreams about, the protagonist
delivers a twelve line assault on modern society, skewering the left,
the right, and the center, and damning us all for our collective
irresponsibility.  But rather than start his crusade to destroy the system
that made a mockery of his life the protagonist merely punts, leaving
the world to drown in its own excrement, and decides to kill himself
by overindulging in every earthly pleasure.
     It's a fair question to ask whether or not this part of the CD
is autobiographical in any way and certainly I've had both cause and
opportunity to "get the most out of life" as it were.  Not long ago a
movie came out called "The Bucket List" where a pair of aging men
decided to indulge in all of the things that they always wanted to do
before they died and I know that in the past I figured that if I was
given something like six months to live that I would probably do
the same thing, but when I actually stood on death's door all those
selfish thoughts simply disappeared.  When you accept death, and
I mean truly accept it rather than hallucinate your way into some
fantastical afterlife or spiritual rebirth, one thing that goes away is
your ego.  The future that you see does not include you and so your
thoughts naturally turn to what you can do for your friends and loved
ones rather than what you can do for yourself, or at least that was
how it worked for me.  I could have easily cashed out a big chunk
of my life savings, flown in a number of my most loyal Fireaxe
listeners, and thrown a big party in Las Vegas where we could have
done anything that we wanted to do, within the limits of my money
that is, and had the wildest time of our lives, but those thoughts were
unappealing to me.  Even as my life appeared to be almost over,
instant gratification held no sway over me.  No, I still wanted to do
something lasting and important, even if I wouldn't be around to
enjoy it.  So for me, finishing the musical project that I'd worked so
hard on, "Food for the Gods", was the only thing that truly mattered.
I wanted to give my friends and family the truest expression of who
I was.  If I died it would be my epitaph.
     In contrast, the protagonist in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" has no connections left to the world.  He has a big pile of
money but it means nothing to him, especially considering how he
earned it.  He has been betrayed by so many and he has seen how even
his parent's affection can be bought off with simple materialistic things.
The corruption in the world has infiltrated every part of him and
completely robbed him of anything meaningful to live for, so he
decides to kill himself, and do so in a style that is fitting in a world
that is obsessed with pleasure and indulgence.
     The protagonist's suicide attempt is, as one might expect,
fraught with emotional turmoil as his body chemistry is thrown way
out of whack by all of the drugs, alcohol, and fast living he indulges
in.  But as much as he tries to escape, he can't truly get away from
his past, which culminates in a very touching verse:

"Sometimes when I dream I can feel her,
my angel,
a ray of warmth shining on my tortured soul
and I am whole again.
But as I wake her fleeting touch
leaves burning wounds that never heal.
For just one taste of heaven
I pay in the fires of hell.
Fate is cruel,
and if there is a god it deserves to die."

     This is one of my favorite verses in the CD and yes, that part
is very much autobiographical as I have felt that way for most of my
life.  It's a feeling that H. P. Lovecraft captured so brilliantly in his
poem "Nathicana", which I set to music in "Lovecraftian Nightmares",
or at least all but the last two lines of the verse above.  Those lines are
my personal touch and they feel perfect at that point in the CD.  The
protagonist has hit rock bottom, but even then he refuses to give in to
the seductive call of kneeling before an imaginary deity and receiving
salvation.  No, he will find his own way in the world, even if that
means loneliness and death.
     The voice of the antagonist/interrogator speaks up here,
reminding the listener that the tale is all part of the protagonist's
confession.  He hooks on to the protagonist's words and attempts
to spin them in a way that befits his belief system, saying that the
protagonist has merely lost his faith.  The protagonist throws that
notion back in his interrogator's face with another line that I like
very much:

"I did not lose my faith it was taken from me,
but I found something better."

     If faith was an act of sheer will, as many arrogant believers
seem to think that it is, losing one's faith would indeed be a sign of
weakness and moral failure.  However, in reality faith is psychological
conditioning and can be destroyed just as easily as any other form of
conditioning in the human mind.  All but the most pathological belief
requires external reinforcement and when the world no longer works
in a way that supports one's beliefs one's conditioning will break down
and fade away.  This is what has happened to the protagonist's belief
in the system and the ideology behind that system.  The promises that
the system made to him: wealth, power, love, respect; if he only played
by its rules, were each revealed to be a lie.  The system had no honor,
it was just a ravenous beast which used promises to trick its members
into doing its bidding.  Betrayed and cast out the protagonist realized
this and thus the antagonist's words find no traction with him.  But
the protagonist does find something better than what he used to believe,
that instead of covering over his pain and suffering with the pleasures
and triumphs of achieving ideological goals he embraces his pain and
uses it to motivate himself to destroy those who caused it in the first
place.
     The protagonist's rebirth is rather brutal.  He is in some
unspecified Latin American country where the rich live like kings and
the poor live in squalor.  Some of the poor have formed into a band of
"freedom fighters" who decide to kidnap the protagonist and charge a
ransom for him in order to fund their operations.  The freedom fighters
treat the protagonist harshly, after all, he is just another "white devil"
come to exploit them and their countrymen.  After suffering their abuse
the protagonist begs them to kill him since that was what he was trying
to do to himself personally, but they refuse since they wouldn't get their
ransom if they did so.  That turns out to be a serious mistake as the
protagonist has his epiphany.
     The protagonist is denied the easy way out.  He can no longer
escape the pain and humiliation that he suffers not only at the hands of
the freedom fighters but from the world at large. It is here where his
survival instinct kicks in and he begins to fight back, taking revenge
upon his captors.  In the process though he rediscovers himself, or
rather, he rediscovers his anger and resentment and re-experiences
the joy and release that comes destroying those who wronged him.
All his life he's fought back, besting or punishing those who made
him suffer, and when he feels those familiar emotions again as he
extracts his pound of flesh from the freedom fighters his life is once
again filled with meaning.  He is now committed to doing what he
only fantasized about doing at the beginning of the song: destroying
the system that betrayed him.
     Musically this track also has a number of very memorable
moments, not the least of which is the twelve lines where the
protagonist fires away at those he sees as being responsible for the
mess that has been made of the modern world.  Giving each line a
different guitar rhythm makes it sound so much more dynamic than
if I'd cranked out the same riff for each, and adding the descending
church organ to them made the verses come together magnificently.
It both sounds and feels like the protagonist is deconstructing the
modern social order and leaving nothing but wreckage in his wake.
I also enjoyed recording the part not longer after that one where there
is a guitar solo with some odd vocal parts in the background depicting
the protagonist's attempts to kill himself with pleasure.  I love how the
organ and solo guitar complement each other in that section, weaving
a web of sadness which contrasts at first with the protagonist's lustful
indulgences and then joins together as he almost reaches out to an
imaginary deity.  The chorus then hammers home the protagonist's
feelings as he begs for a death that refuses to come.  That all leads
into the centerpiece of the song where the protagonist is singing
against a backdrop which features little more than the church organ.
This is another place where I do not regret spending a large sum of
money to get a microphone of superior quality as well as a vocal
processor which brings out the strengths of my voice.  All the
vocal practicing paid off as well here as I was able to deliver these
lines the way that they needed to be delivered, with power and feeling.
This was another one of those moments that made all the effort that
has gone into Fireaxe over the years worthwhile.
     The second half of the track switches to being more up
tempo, borrowing a little from Latin style music to set the scene.
I like the feel of this part, especially the contrast between it and the
previous part which drives home the change which is happening to
the protagonist in the story.  It jumps from a smooth and depressing
feel to one that assaults the senses and wakes you up, just as the
protagonist is being awakened from his psychological slumber.
Midway through the second half the music begins to build as the
protagonist slowly regains his strength and motivation, culminating
in the same chorus that was played in the first half of the song.  But
instead of clashing with the different musical style the chorus sounds
towering, driving home the protagonist's deepest emotions as it finishes
out the wild and roiling track.  This time around the chorus is not
depressing but uplifting, although in a dark way, as the protagonist
embraces his suffering, channeling it into a force which will enable
him to execute his darkest desires.



The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

     Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

     Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
     Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion            $6      $9
   to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:      $12      $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death            $5      $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares      $5      $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death      $3      $6 - Sold out

     Send everything to:

     Brian Voth
     1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
     Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

     If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
     The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
     Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

     In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
     My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

     Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
     less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
     profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
     I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
     like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
     gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
     link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
     samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
     you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
     not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
     goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
     do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
     does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
     particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
     likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
     CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
     someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
     raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
     those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
     government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
     and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
     face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
     stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
     side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
     as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
     THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
     CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
     mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
     other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
     I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
     of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
     to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
     institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
     mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
     Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
     song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
     if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
     if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
     the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
     Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
     would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
     trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
     effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

     The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

     Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                                   Brian
Title: The Burning Blade - Fireaxe Newsletter
Post by: Fireaxe on August 03, 2008, 12:22:59 AM
And I believe that it will be alright if I just have faith in a lie…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.5

         August 2, 2008

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "There are reasons to believe this coming crisis is different
   and bigger than the world has ever experienced. Instead of
   using globalism in a positive fashion, it's been used to globalize
   all of the mistakes of the politicians, bureaucrats and central
   bankers."
            - Ron Paul on the floor of the
            House of Representatives


   "…we have reached a point in financial history that we have
   never seen before. That’s right, no one you are reading and no
   one commenting on our current financial markets is an expert
   on where we are going. So, successful navigation of these straits
   will require a great deal of listening, frankness, and humility –
   things that have always been in short supply within the financial
   system."
         - Doug Wakefield and Ben Hill, financial
         market experts with a firm grasp on the
         limits of their expertise


   Or, to simplify, we're screwed.
   When I was in college I took a course in economics and
expected it to be all numbers.  I figured that economics was a science
and that like the other science courses that I had taken I would be
bombarded with equations, principles, and models that had been
tested and proved over time.  This was not the case.  Economics, as
it stands today, is not a science but is simply yet another pseudo-
scientific discipline ruled by ideologues and is thus very much like
other "sciences" from psychology to business to education to politics.
Proof of this can easily be obtained by pointing out that there are
currently six major schools of economics, along with numerous minor
ones, which all disagree with each other when it comes to the causes
of economic events and policies that should be followed to avoid
problems and increase prosperity.  Economists more resemble the
gambling addict who swears that he's figured out a perfect "system"
that is guaranteed to make you money in the casino than the scientist
who humbly forges on in the pursuit of verifying or falsifying his
hypothesis.  Furthermore, as these economic schools tend to focus on
influencing policy decisions rather than analyzing economies, it can
also be said with some certainty that economic theories are closer to
being ideologies than disciplines.  This would explain the reason why
our financial history is littered with booms, busts, and frequent switches
from one economic policy to another in similar fashion to the way that
our political history is rife with successes, failures, and revolutions.  The
Fireaxe theory states that all ideologies are based on falsehoods and thus
if economic theories are, in effect, ideologies, that they too are based on
false assumptions.  Support for this assertion comes from the ongoing
and worsening financial disaster where the assumptions on which
neo-liberal "Monetarist" economics are based are finally, and painfully,
being proved wrong.  Price stability my foot, or other body part.
   If the idea that there are different schools of economics
is confusing it might help you to visualize the Keynesians, the
Monetarists, and the Austrians as the Catholics, the Protestants, and
the Jews, and to think of Alan Greenspan as the Pope….not at all an
inappropriate analogy given that when Greenspan appeared before
congress he could have just as well been speaking in Latin given all the
gibberish that was coming out of his mouth.  Of course, nothing he said
mattered as long as the economy was going well, and Alan knew how
to goose the money supply and kick problems down the road better
than anyone, so few wanted to challenge him and none were successful
at changing anything when they did.  But now that our problems are
not being solved by, and to be quite frank about this, extraordinarily
dangerous measures that will serve only to further distort a seriously
dysfunctional economy, we will see if Pope Greenspan is anointed as
a Saint and implored to come back and save us or if he is scorned as
a false prophet.  Of course, he's already absolved himself of all guilt
and placed the blame for the current fiasco on others, but whether the
general public will do so remains to be seen.  Personally, I would like to
see Pope Greenspan burned if effigy if not in person and have certainly
heaped a lot of scorn upon him over the years but given that the U.S. is
running a huge deficit when it comes to accountability, among other
things, I doubt that he will be regarded as anything less than a genius.
   Economics is not about the pursuit of truth, instead it is about
generating the justifications necessary to convince a government to make
a given set of policy decisions for an economic system which is based
more in political ideology than sound principles.  This is a tragedy since
the study of money and trade would best be served by a purely analytical
approach using modern computers and finely tuned models, and given
the scope of today's global economy we would all benefit greatly if
things were being run in an efficient, productive, and most importantly,
sustainable manner.  But instead of monitoring a wide variety of
economic measures and using them to make periodic corrections to
the economic system, today's leading economists usually cherry-pick
the economic measures which support their positions and use them to
justify their solutions.  Since economics is not a science, no school
can prove itself right until after its policies have been applied, and so
all of them seek to try out their approaches on the national scale.  The
result is an ongoing battle between rival economic ideologies for
control of the political apparatus with the winner being the one was
being applied when the economic woes at the time subsided.  That
economic ideology then stays in power until the economy inevitably
collapses, as it must since all ideologies are based on falsehoods, at
which point the competition for the new ruling economic theory takes
place.
   This has happened before many times.  In recent years, the
Great Depression marked the end of classical laissez-faire economics
and ushered in the rise of Keynesianism in the West, Fascism in parts
of Europe, and Communism in the East.  All of these economic
theories held that the state must intervene in the markets to some
degree in order to promote stability and ensure efficiency, and after
the global economic collapse in the 1930's it wasn't difficult to point
the finger at an unfettered free market as being prone to catastrophe.
All of these theories failed at one point or another and none are
practiced today.  In the West, after a thirty year reign, Keynesianism
collapsed during the inflation prone years of the 1970's and gave way
to Monetarism in the 1980's, which has essentially spread across the
world and pushed all other theories to the sidelines.  Monetarism
championed price stability as its central focus, which was very much
in need after a period of very high inflation, but instead of being a
return to sound money policies, such as having a currency that is
backed by gold and limiting the amount of debt and leveraging in the
financial system, Monetarism argued that as long as prices were kept
stable, increasing or decreasing the money supply to any degree was
fine since stable prices were proof that the money was sound.  But now
that prices are highly unstable in many areas, the money supply is
being radically increased, and debts and financial obligations have
reached unprecedented levels, the Monetarist's policies are failing and
one can hear the various economic schools positioning themselves
as having the answers to solving today's problems.  As the collapse
continues, as I'm convinced that it will, we will likely see Monetarists
discredited and another flawed school take its place, or perhaps several
schools come and go before a recovery kicks in and a new economic
"god" is crowned.
   As an aside, a year ago I predicted that the current collapse
would likely take about eighteen months to hit bottom.  After taking
a closer look at the Great Depression, which required thirty months
before things bottomed out, I think that my estimate was too optimistic.
So instead of things turning up by the end of the year it may take until
the 2010 before the true bottom is hit.  Of course, given the scope of
the problems in the financial system today, it could take even longer
for everything to come crashing down.  As Wakefield and Hill point
out, we've never been here before, so the future cannot be predicted
to any degree of certainty.  I feel that your best bet is to be prepared
to ride out some serious turmoil and the following malaise which may
stretch out for a decade or more before returning to something more
stable.
   So, is economics a complete crap-shoot that no one can
master?  I would have to say no.  There are a number of economic
principles that most schools agree upon as well as a number of more
or less common sense measures that need to be accounted for in any
economic theory before it is put into practice.  Sound money is one,
which has been proved out over time versus paper "fiat" money.
Another key fundamental which the Monetarists overlook is debt.  An
excessively high debt load always seems to precede a collapse, and
a few years back when I saw that the total debt load for governments,
corporations, and individuals in the U.S., and most of the world for
that matter, was as high as it was before the Great Depression I didn't
need much more to convince me that something truly bad was on its
way.  I try to focus on the big picture and solid principles rather than
get sidetracked on details and short-term performance, and as an
engineer I understand the second law of thermodynamics which in
effect states that "there is not such thing as a free lunch".  Yes, over
the decades I saw the plates piling up and knew that eventually the
waiter was going to come over with a hefty bill, so the question in
my mind has not been "if" it would happen, but when.
   But how did it get like this?  It seems clear to me that much
of it has to do with another "big picture" indicator: the distribution of
wealth; which needs to be kept within an optimal band in order for an
economy to run at full speed.  Wealth is a reward and those that work
hard and contribute more deserve a larger share.  Also, wealth creates
opportunities, allowing people to take risks, like starting a business,
or changing careers.  And spreading wealth around creates a more
"democratic" financial landscape that allows more people to indulge
in the fruits of their neighbors' labor, expanding the marketplace for
all things.  In the two extreme cases: perfectly even distribution of
wealth, and having most of it controlled by a few, one's opportunities
to become richer are essentially zero, your reward will be the same no
matter how good you do, so motivation is lost and productivity lags.
But between those two extremes there is an optimal balance between
rich, poor, and middle class where economic activity is at its most
productive, taking full advantage of people's desires to get ahead and
benefiting from a wide and rich consumer base.  It would seem that
shifting too far from the optimal band to either end of the spectrum
would result in a loss of productivity, but it appears that free market
forces do not keep the distribution within the band and instead tends
to result in the rich having far too much and everyone else far too little.
In the past market forces have been offset with steep progressive
taxation and strong labor unions, but both of these institutions have
been severely weakened in the U.S. over the last thirty years and the
result is a sub-optimal distribution of wealth in the country.
   Now when the distribution of wealth becomes so skewed that
productivity lags, one solution is to tax the rich more and the poor less,
making the tax tables more progressive, and another is to increase the
salaries of the working class, both of which rebalance the distribution
of wealth.  However, a more common "solution" is for the rich to loan
money to the less well to do, which at first results in a temporary
redistribution of wealth and continued prosperity.  But since the loans
must be paid back, with interest, the result in the long term is a further
skewing of the distribution of wealth and an even greater loss of
productivity.  Of course, this can be corrected with even larger loans,
with the loss in productivity being delayed yet longer, but it will result
in the distribution of wealth becoming skewed to an even more extreme
level.  This will continue until either someone who is in power, and has
even an ounce of common sense, steps in and says, "enough is enough",
and puts an end to it, for which he gets blamed for the subsequent
collapse, or the capacity for the debtors to pay back their loans drops
far enough so that the number of defaults exceeds the predicted risk on
the loans and the system of ever-expanding credit starts to turn rapidly
in reverse.
   This, it appears, is the situation that we find ourselves in today.
Debt has become a way of life for many of us, and with the prices of our
houses falling rapidly, our illusion of wealth is being revealed as vanity.
More troubling is that our government is attempting to solve the problem
in exactly the wrong way, borrowing yet more money to pay off those
who extended the loans, which will shift the distribution of wealth even
further off kilter.  Furthermore, with interest rates being kept so low, it
appears that the powers that be are attempting to create yet another
bubble which would allow the have-nots to borrow yet more and further
exacerbate the problem.  If economics was a science we wouldn't have
our lives in the hands of men who are learning via trial and error.
   But isn't the economy growing despite this suggested loss in
productivity due to a misdistribution of wealth?  Well, if you believe the
government's reporting of the inflation rate, which somehow doesn't take
food or energy into account, the GDP in the U.S. is barely above zero.
However, if you subtract the amount of money that Americans have to
borrow from the GDP (around 12%) or use the increase in the money
supply (at least 16%) instead of core inflation, the fable of growth in the
U.S. turns into a horror story of extreme contraction.  Without debt we
are in a depression and the bad news is that we are running out of things
to put up as collateral so that we can borrow more.  Now, if the
Monetarists are right, and they have been wrong at every juncture since
the credit crunch began last summer, the economy will magically get
better by the beginning of next year, which is curious timing since it
seems that if the economy doesn't get better by then that they are in a
position to put the blame on President Obama (or McCain if you
believe in miracles).  However, if I am right, without a program to
aggressively redistribute wealth we will continue to slide downward with
no end in sight.  Another bubble, if it is possible to create one under the
current conditions, would only kick the true problems down the road
further.
   It is true that bubbles are self-correcting, at least in that what
goes up must come down, but contrary to a number of economic theories
the solution is not to leave things alone and let them work themselves
out.  The collapse of the system does not redistribute wealth in itself,
and thus the post-collapse environment will still be at a sub-optimal
level of productivity.  In fact, the distribution can get even more skewed
as many debtors will find themselves absolutely destitute as their
collateral is taken away.  The natural reaction after a loss is to cling
to what one has left and so anyone, even the government, will be hard
pressed to redistribute the nation's wealth after a collapse.  Taking
money from the rich is hard in any case let alone after they have lost
so much, and so it is not so much the height of the boom, nor the
severity of the crash that results in the extended suffering in a
depression, it is the misdistribution of wealth and slowness of the
adoption of measures which redistribute that wealth which prevent
things from going back to the way they were.  Also, the recovery
moves even slower when the banking system collapses, since
borrowing, at least of the type which increases productivity, not that
spent on plasma TVs and granite countertops, is vital to any economy.
When banks end up with little or no capital or go out of business
altogether, the economy grinds to a halt.
   Assuming that this is all correct, how can one go about
getting from a post-collapse economy to a healthy thriving one with
sound money and stable prices and motivated people with many
opportunities to get ahead?  That's the tricky part, because the
distribution of wealth isn't just numbers on a piece of paper, it is a
complex and elaborate set of both physical and financial relationships
which connect everyone in the entire world with everyone else.
Changing things a little in one area can result in large repercussions
elsewhere, so changing things a lot all over the world will have a
profound effect on the lives of billions of people, most of whom will
resist changes as they cling to what is giving them a sense of security.
Add to that the fact that they have good reasons not to listen to what
any economist has to say and they will be even more stubborn.  But as
conditions worsen during a collapse, there will be a growing and very
vocal movement of people wanting change of any kind, and so social
and economic upheaval become inevitable whether it is planned or
forced upon a nation.  This is the legacy of economic ideologies which
allow the economy to become dysfunctional and stay that way for too
long with policies that encourage too much debt and result in huge
disparities in the distribution of wealth.  And so as "change" has
become the leading theme in the U.S. Presidential election, from my
analysis it's going to happen whether we like it or not.  I foresee epic,
world changing events ahead, and most of them will probably not be
pleasant.
   Speaking of unpleasant, I again have been forced to delay
work on the revised version of "Food for the Gods" due to health
issues.  The good news is that no, my cancer hasn't returned.  In fact,
I am past the five-year mark and am considered "cancer free".  And
no, my health is not getting worse due to chronic fatigue syndrome.
In fact it is getting better, slowly, but the aggressive nature of the
treatment has my physical strength and energy levels fluctuating
up and down on an almost daily basis.  I've tried to maintain a strong,
healthy voice during my treatment but the fluctuations make that
almost impossible, and the parts that I need to sing demand that my
voice be at its peak.  Its frustrating, but I am making progress on
the health front, and with any luck I will be strong enough before
the year is over and back in the studio to lay down more tracks.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Fireaxe interview online at Metal to Infinity

   A couple of months back Stefan of MTI Belgium asked me
to do an online interview to which I readily agreed.  The man who did
the review for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess", Officer Nice,
sent me a number of really interesting questions and allowed me to
write as much as I wanted in my answers.  As you all know by now, I
enjoy writing and took full advantage in the interview, which I think
turned out very well.  You can read it here:

metaltoinfinity.00freehost.com/InterviewFIREAXE.html

   And the review is here:

mtibelgium.00freehost.com/FireaxeCDreviewEternaldevotionto.html

   And see the rest of Stefan's site here:

users.telenet.be/metaltoinfinity/MTIindex.htm

   And yeah, that first picture is me standing in front of the
poster for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess".  I've still got
one left if anyone is interested in a slightly blemished product.
It's $20 delivered, laminated, and a full 4' x 2 ½' in size.  The
second picture shows me in my studio surrounded by gear.  Well,
it's not a lot of gear to be honest, just enough to get by, but I will
be doing some major upgrades before starting work on the new
version of "A Dream of Death".  Expect another big step up in
sound quality when that CD is re-released.


The Meaning of the Songs - God is Pain

   Well, what else would a Fireaxe song be called?
   I recall a somewhat negative review of "A Dream of Death"
where the reviewer bemoaned my use of the words "pain" and "death"
so often over the course of the CD.  True, the subject matter of a typical
Fireaxe song does not stray far from those subjects, nor from "god" or
"dreams" as well, which are conceptually similar according to the
Fireaxe theory, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise to any loyal
listener that a Fireaxe song might be called "God is Pain" since I've
made similar connections in many other tracks.  The difference
between those tracks and this one however is that on this CD the
connection has never been so stark, forceful, and harsh.
   Whereas "My Angel" is the emotional centerpiece of "Eternal
Devotion to the Dark Goddess", "God is Pain" is the intellectual
centerpiece, providing meaning to the entire CD and tying the
various thematic elements together.  Throughout the first five tracks
the listener experiences the agony and the ecstasy of the protagonist's
life and up until this point it appears to be little more than a mere
morality play, the point of which seems to be that if you do bad things
like the protagonist did then you will end up suffering for them.  But
the very end of Death's Angel takes us in a very different direction as
the protagonist is "born again" in a way not dissimilar to what happens
to those who fall in with the Christian Evangelical movement.  Of
course, the protagonist embraces a far different god, but the elements
are all the same, and it is in "God is Pain" that the phenomenon of
rebirth and fierce devotion is examined.
   "God is Pain" explains our need for love and acceptance
as an addiction, describing how it began and how it works in all of
our lives.  The idea that we are all addicted to one thing or another
lies at the heart of the Fireaxe theory, which posits that ideologies
benefit by creating a persistent sense of inadequacy in its members,
a permanent psychological deficit as I have described before, which
constantly demands to be satisfied.  Ideologies do well to restrict the
ways in which this need must be satisfied so that its members must
perform things that benefit the ideology in order to get their fix.  In
this way an ideologically conditioned individual will constantly be
working towards goals which benefit their ideology in order to
satisfy their inner need.  It's the ideal system, since no one is more
motivated than an addict, and complacency and contentment are
eliminated as threats to the system since one always needs a fix, but
is it a reasonable theory?  Well, if you've ever seen the way that
athletes punish their bodies and endure great pain to achieve mostly
mediocre goals, or listened to the stubborn ravings of a religious
fanatic who seems immune to reason and will argue with his critics
with an often frightening conviction, or wondered how a person can
be so driven to succeed that he lets the rest of his life fall to pieces
around him, then you might have already made this connection in
your minds.  Those guys are addicts.  And if you've seen the joy in
those people's eyes when they achieve their goals you might think that
there is something to that notion, at least for some people.  To wit,
there is already an accepted term for the case of the person who works
too much: workaholic; and we often describe the feelings that we get
from our successes as "highs" akin to what we experience when we
take drugs.  So I feel that most people would be open to the idea that
you can become psychologically addicted to something in the same
way that you can be physically addicted, but I also feel that people will
say that these addicts are the exception, not the rule.  However, the
point that I am making in "God is Pain" is that it is psychological
addiction which is the rule and not the exception and that we are
simply pointing at those who are more addicted than we are as the
only ones who have this problem.
   The human brain can produce endorphins, which are as
powerful a chemical as any that can be introduced into the brain,
which give one feelings of pleasure and euphoria.  This is how the
brain naturally works, although in relatively low doses, rewarding
itself when it does something good.  This effect is also functional,
strengthening the neural pathways used to achieve that good thing
so that it can be experienced easier later.  Of course, the larger the
dose of endorphins, the more powerful the high, and the stronger the
desire becomes to regain it.  However, the reward mechanism loses its
intensity each time it is re-experienced, at least if it is achieved in an
identical way, like watching the same movie over and over, and so
variation is important when it comes to getting either the same or a
more powerful reward.  Thus, when you find something that you like,
you first do that thing until it becomes less enjoyable, then you do
something similar to that thing, which gives you renewed enjoyment,
until that becomes boring as well, and then you enjoy another variation
and another until either the possibilities are exhausted or no variation
gives you the reward that you desire.  At that point you'll switch to
something completely different to get the good feeling again.  Now,
some people will get bored with things much faster than others,
revealing differences in people's ability to absorb new experiences,
but the phenomenon works the same way for everyone.  As an
aside, this explains the phenomenon of fads.  First a trend is started
and becomes popular, then copycats follow suit, offering similar but
slightly different experiences, and then eventually the entire trend
dies out and a new trend starts.  This is simply the marketplace
reacting to the masses which are seeking out neurologically
rewarding experiences and are in need of fresh fixes.
   The human brain also contains chemicals which produce
unpleasant feelings when something bad happens or may be about to
happen.  Instead of seeking these experiences out, we try to avoid them,
but avoiding bad experiences is not always easy, especially when
dealing with a complex environment, and so neural pathways must
be built to reinforce pain avoidance techniques.  It is the thrust of
"God is Pain" and a central part of the Fireaxe theory that ideologies
contain tenets which instill a permanent state of inadequacy in
an individual and make them feel that something bad may happen
to them at any time.  This serves to encourage people to be more
adherent to their ideologies out of fear of pain.  For instance, in
Christianity, a believer must live up to the impossible standards set
by Jesus, and no matter how good you were during your life there is
no guarantee that you will get into heaven as that decision is always
left to the Christian god.  Also, Christianity sets up a conflict
between a believer and their own body, convincing believers that
if they do not resist their natural urges that they will end up in hell.
Similarly, in our modern Capitalist system, advertisers spend billions
convincing us that we are inadequate in some way if we do not buy
their product, and the simple fact that great wealth can be achieved
by anyone gives people the impression that they are lazy, untalented,
or in some other way inadequate if they are not wealthy.  Also, the
constant threat of losing one's job, one's health care, one's home, and
so forth, due to either market forces or the whim of an executive can
make one feel as if they are continually under siege.  Furthermore,
over-consumption, a common problem in today's capitalist society,
can put one at odds with their own body as chasing pleasures,
indulging to excess, and seeking out variation on those pleasures
can make one obese, unhealthy, and suffering from a variety of
sexually transmitted diseases.  Now while ideologies do not
necessarily set out to cause the very problems that they benefit from,
the ones which are successful are inevitably the ones that in some
way fuel themselves in this manner, whether intentional or not.
   When a person is constantly beset by experiences which
create negative feelings it is natural for them to seek out positive
rewards to offset them.  What I am suggesting in "God is Pain" is
that ideologies condition a person into a state where they will
constantly feel inadequate unless they have access to rewards.  This
produces the well known cycle of addiction, where one moves back
and forth from feeling bad to feeling good depending on how often
one is getting rewarded for their achievements.  A constant stream
of small rewards can make one feel as if they have no addiction at
all, and most of us seek out routines which guarantee such access,
but for those who are stuck feeling very inadequate, normal rewards
do not satisfy their needs, and so they require large rewards, which
often require extraordinary measures to achieve them.  Because of
the infrequency of attaining extraordinary rewards, people with a
powerful addiction will constantly cycle from highs to lows in the way
which is depicted in the song.  For a while they will be drowning in
depression and despair but when their creative fires have been stoked
and they produce something amazing they are flying sky high, at least
for a while, and then they drop back down into depression again.  So,
should we pity them?  Perhaps, but remember that they do drive our
society, since their deep sense of inadequacy creates a powerful
motivation to do something spectacular.  It is they who are often the
ones who produce great works or do great things that help everyone,
and, of course, who give us many of the positive experiences that we
need to feel good ourselves.  We need and often adore the severely
addicted because they feed our own addictions.
   So how does this addiction all get started?  In the second
verse of "God is Pain" I suggest that it is not something sinister, but
something which we see as benevolent.  However, I describe it in a
very sinister way which probably made a lot of you feel uncomfortable:

"Love is a knife thrust into the heart of a child.
 Innocence is torn away, enthralled by love we must obey.
 Love is a drug and we are addicts,
 quivering, powerless, aching for more;
 and as it slowly turns to gray we beg and plead, 'Don't go away.'"

   Of course, there is nothing wrong with loving one's child,
the problem comes in the amount of love that is administered.  Love
produces endorphins in the brain and the stronger the feeling the
more powerful the high.  Thus, excessive amounts of a "good" thing
will produce an addictive dependency cycle with the child needing
love on a frequent basis.  It is my contention that dependency of this
nature is passed from parent to child.  A parent that has a strong
sense of inadequacy will find a reward in creating a strong bond of
love between themselves and their child.  This bond is created by
the mechanism of positive reinforcement via endorphins and made
stronger through variations just like any other form of conditioning.
Once established in sufficient strength, the parent receives their fix
when they share their love with their child and the child becomes
similarly addicted over time.
   Now, once the child is dependent on receiving love from a
parent, the parent has control of a powerful motivating force.  They
can use the power of withholding that love to make their child jump
through whatever hoops they require.  It may sound sinister when put
in those terms, but that is what is going on whether the parents are
doing it intentionally or not.  Many parents have a need to see their
children excel and personalize their children's successes and failures.
The parents will then either reward their children when they succeed
or become disappointed in them when they do not.  The child soon
learns that in order to continue to get their fix they need to do the
things that make their parents proud of them.  This is how ideological
notions of inadequacy and the cycle of dependency can be passed from
generation to generation in a non-verbal way.
   With this in mind we can look back at the first five tracks of
the CD and see things in a new light.  The protagonist inherited his
addiction from his parents and in the slow part of "Masters of the
Universe" we learn that he did all the wicked things that he did in
order to be successful and thus make his parents proud of him.  Also,
his addiction was what caused him to turn to those wicked ways, but
not until after he realized that he would never get his reward by doing
things by the rules.  One way or another his addiction was going to get
satisfied, for you see, within each of us there is a beast that needs to
feed, and the beasts in some are hungrier than the beasts in others, and
so the result is constant struggle in a world awash in ideologies which
motivate their believers through psychological addiction.  No wonder
we act like animals when we want something.
   Furthermore, the torture of the protagonist by the antagonist
throughout the CD is a struggle between two strongly addicted
individuals willing to do anything, no matter how painful or depraved,
to get what they crave.  Also the protagonist's "angel", though in love
with the protagonist, surrenders to the smooth talking liar who promises
a more powerful and satisfying romantic experience, one which gets
her hooked on the liar's passion which was stronger than what the
protagonist gave her.  Furthermore, the smooth talking liar himself is
addicted to seducing women, going through one after another in order
to satisfy his needs.  And lastly, the antagonist feels the need to go on
a righteous crusade to take over the firm, clean it up, and spread the
new economic gospel.  It is psychological addictions and what they
make people do that form the grisly storyline of "Eternal Devotion to
the Dark Goddess".
   And of the point I made about rebirth earlier, an addiction will
find a way to achieve satisfaction, potentially taking the host down roads
that he does not want to travel.  In "Death's Angel" the protagonist
pacifies his addiction with overindulgence in sex, drugs, and anything
else that he can buy since he can no longer achieve the kind of success
that used to satisfy him.  When deprived of those fixes he finds a new
fix, although a very dark one, in getting revenge against all those who
brought him pain.  Now, while the religious may call this a surrender to
evil whereas when they are born again it is a surrender to good, but
regardless of the ideology to which one converts and the relativistic
terms used to describe their nature the substance remains the same:
born again type "crusaders" are merely using religion as a fix to satisfy
their psychological addictions.  But each fix never lasts for long and the
demands for getting the next are steep, and thus, "God is Pain".
   There is a somewhat mysterious line at the end of the second
verse where I suggest that as the pleasure and rapture of getting one's
fix is fading away, we invite the pain back into our lives.  That may
seem a little too inexplicable and so I feel the need to discuss it some
more.  In the original lyrics I had a third verse which explains this
concept a little better but I cut it out since I needed to squeeze the
project on to a single eighty minute CD.  The verse was as follows:

"Nothing tastes as sweet as something that we've fought for,
 no victory complete, unless our foe is strong and ruthless.
 Nothing satisfies like that which was so long denied,
 and there the answer lies, to feel the joy we must relive the pain."

   The idea here is that a high is only satisfying if the struggle
to attain it was difficult, and so when we need that special fix to offset
deep feelings of inadequacy we seek out rewards that are hard to
achieve, thus inviting the pain and suffering that will come from
such an endeavor.  As the weightlifters say, "no pain, no gain" and
this is true on a psychological level as well.  Unfortunately, as the
addict discovers, the greater the high, the harder the crash and the
deeper the addiction becomes.  When one attains a great reward it
often has the effect of making one less satisfied when it wears off,
and thus success can become an obsession.
   The next two parts of the song describe the cycle of addiction
as it pertains to religion and then to politics.  These are both in the
classic nihilistic Fireaxe vein and I enjoyed writing and recording
them immensely.  The religion in question can be any of the major
monotheistic ones and the politics described can be of any political
party.  Please do not think that what I wrote is only relevant to "those
other guys".  I seek to be an equal opportunity disbeliever and skeptic
and am not trying to hold anyone's beliefs, religious or political, above
criticism.  I see our allegiances to our churches and political parties as
being very much based in conditioning and addiction of the type I
described in the song.
   In the third part of the song I work my way towards the epic
"Tell me what I want to hear" chorus which describes the nearly
blind obedience to one's conditioned "narrative" that can be seen
rather clearly in our society today.  By narrative I am referring to
an ideological perspective on the present, the future, and an often
very revisionist version of the past which ties everything together to
make one's political or religious beliefs appear to be the one true
way.  With the rise of politically biased news channels and the
advent of the internet which plays host to every flavor of narrative,
especially extremist ones which do not generate enough of a
following to afford a more public platform, one can tune in to the
narrative of their choice and absorb local and world events as told
through an ideological prism which matches their own.  Thus, in
this day and age you can be well informed while never having been
exposed to anything that contradicts your current view of the world.
The result that we have people who know an awful lot about certain
things and yet are completely wrong about them.  Yes, ideologies
have adapted to the information age.  Perhaps we should call this
the "disinformation age".  When a person becomes conditioned to
accepting a certain narrative they derive pleasure from it just like
any other addiction and they resist being exposed to alternate
narratives, with the exception of those with a "crusader" type
mentality who expose themselves to alternate narratives in order
to defeat them in their mind, or in an internet forum, and receive
a neurological reward for their trouble.
   The third part of the song ends with the following line
which sums up the crux of the problem: "In the mind a shining lie
is stronger than the deepest truth."  Ideologies can always offer up
a version of reality that is more appealing than anything the truth can
offer.  Would you rather believe that you go to heaven when you die
or that you rot in the ground for all eternity?  Would you rather believe
that you evolved from a monkey or that you were created in the image
of a god?  Would you rather believe that your political party is
righteous and has all the answers or that all forms of government
evolve to become corrupt, self-serving, and resistant to change?
And would you rather believe that you are in complete control of
your life, your beliefs, and your thoughts, or that you are a product
of and slave to your upbringing, your environment, and your brain
chemistry?  It's not just that people like to hear good things, they
need to hear good things and that's what makes the truth so hard to
accept.
   I feel the need for this disclaimer: Fireaxe is not about
becoming popular or accepted and thus I have no intention of telling
you what you want to hear.  That is why the music sounds the way
that it does and why this newsletter often slaughters sacred cows and
turns them into hamburger.
   The last part of the song brings the story back into the
torture room where we hear the protagonist and antagonist going
at each other once again.  The protagonist claims that he and his
"freedom fighters" became a threat to the antagonist's god, but  the
antagonist objects, believing his god to be of the omnipotent type.
The protagonist, in turn, mocks that notion, laying down the ultimate
truth that a god is only a symbol that is held in place by raw power,
in this case, the Firm, which the two rivals helped rise to prominence.
At this point in the story, the Firm has become the most influential
force in the world, controlling the most power nation on earth and
using that power to force all other nations into obedience, in essence
becoming like a god, but in the last line of the song the protagonist
tells the interrogator that he knows that such a god can die and
implies that he knows how to kill it.
   The protagonist's silver bullet, a lie, is what he uses to kill
the god that the Firm has become, as we find out in the final track,
but the groundwork for that revelation is all laid out in this track so if
you want to understand the CD you need to understand "God is Pain".
You see, the antagonist is an addict, addicted to the need to champion
his god and defeat those who threaten it.  Furthermore, his addiction
is so strong that he needs to go to extremes to satisfy it, such as the
way he hunted down the protagonist, breaking every law in his
thirst for justice, in the eighth track.  So when the protagonist sells
him on the ultimate lie, that the world is full of doomsday weapons
and assassins trying to destroy everything that the antagonist holds
dear, the protagonist knows that his divinely addicted rival will not
let the truth stand in his way of his need to save the world for his god.
It doesn't matter that such a plot doesn't exist, the antagonist believes
in it, and that is enough to send him off on a self-destructive rampage.
   The music in "God is Pain" is very dynamic, swinging from
intense passages to sedate ones and back and forth, always building
to climaxes and dropping down to soothing passages before building
to the next powerful moment.  My only regret in the song is that the
"Tell me what I want to hear" chorus doesn't quite jump out at the
listener as much as I wanted.  Perhaps the listener is suffering from
a little fatigue due to the length and intensity of the song or perhaps
I just needed to change a few more things around to make it work
better, but other than that I think that this is another classic Fireaxe
track.
   The up and down swings in the music match the points that
I am trying to make about psychological addiction and the emotional
swings that accompany it.  This song pounds you down and then lifts
you back up only to pound you back down again.  You feel the life of
an addict with its many peaks and valleys, but it is not the same thing
over and over of course.  Variations are the key to powerful rewards.
So the first two verses switch back and forth quickly while the second
two build slowly, peak and then take you down slowly.  Those second
two verses, the ones that deal with politics and religion are my favorite
musically as well as lyrically, with the two matching each other to create
a powerful whole.
   And I would be remiss not to mention my favorite guitar
solo of the entire CD.  In between the first two verses and the second
two is a towering passage featuring pounding rhythms, forceful
choral parts, and a solo where I pretty much outdid myself, stretching
my talents to the limit to make this part of the song sensational, or
at least I, and at least a few others, think so.  If you like this style of
metal, you are in luck because I plan to take Fireaxe even more into
the "classically influenced but still hardcore metal" direction in the
next new release.  Expect to hear much more like that in the future.


The Meaning of the Songs - Viva la Revolucion

   What can I say about this song?  I love it.  I absolutely love
it.  No, that's not self worship, it's just that I surprised myself by
writing a song that I feel is probably the catchiest Fireaxe track of
them all.  So whenever I spin it I feel the urge to air-guitar and bob
my head to the beat as I envision the arrogant fat cats of the world
getting their comeuppance.  Put quite simply, it's a fun song, and
it contains a surprising amount of energy, which is what the listener
needs after the long, slow track before it.
   But as much as the song is about violent revolution against
a corrupt corporate controlled state, its role in the CD is somewhat
contrary to the perceived intentions.  The point is not to tell the truth
about the current state of the world, although there is a lot of truth in
the song, but to follow a narrative which incites people to rise up and
force a change in the system in the hopes of achieving something
better.  This song is the lie, told via half-truths, that the protagonist
uses to encourage his "freedom fighters" to lay siege to the mansions
of the rich and generate an ugly spectacle which will eventually place
him in a position to deliver his ultimate lie to the antagonist.  You see,
coming up with the perfect lie is only one part of the process of making
someone believe it.  No, you have to drive it home with fear and pain,
as described in the previous track, and so the protagonist knows that if
he can start a movement that poses a threat to the antagonist, the
antagonist will be far more likely to believe the protagonist's lie.  And
so the song is in essence the rallying cry of the oppressed against their
corporate masters, portraying the powerful as uncaring and corrupt,
and demanding that they be exposed, held to account, and if they are
truly despicable, put to death.
   That being said, there nothing in the song which can really
be called a lie.  Opening up a newspaper on any given day will
expose you to a number of stories that capture the points that are
made in the song regarding the sorry state of modern capitalism, at
least as it is practiced in countries exposed to an unhealthy amount
of neo-liberal economics.  It omits large amounts of what is positive
about capitalism though, and thus falls in line with the typical leftist
and socialist narratives regarding the state of the world and what
needs to be done to save it.  In many ways it is a mirror image of
"Masters of the Universe" which is closer to the conservative, right
wing narrative, although I exaggerated the extreme positions of the
protagonist in "Masters of the Universe" more then in "Viva la
Revoluction".  It may seem like I am playing favorites here, being
easier on the left than the right, but in truth I tend to side against
the people in power no matter what their beliefs, so with the right
wing being in charge they are getting the harsher treatment, at least
for now.
   Perhaps my favorite part of this song is the "Open the Books"
chorus.  If there is ever going to be a motto for the war against
corporate corruption, this has to be it.  By the time the current
financial collapse is finished and firm after firm has either been
laid to waste or bailed out with massive government intervention if
We the People don't rise up and demand far more transparency in
both the public and private sectors than we have now then we deserve
to have every last scrap of wealth stolen from us.  We will soon learn
that Enron was the rule, not the exception.  We will soon  realize that
the numbers that come out of trusted institutions such as banks and
the government are either faith-based or completely fabricated.  And
we will soon know that de-regulation is the same as leaving the cookie
jar open on the bottom shelf while you leave your children next to it
completely unattended, except that the result isn't a bunch of fat kids
that have ruined their dinner it’s a bunch of fat cat executives and
their errand-boy bureaucrats who have ruined the country.  And while
it's true that the current system can work, with changes, and, as
described earlier, with some aggressive redistribution of wealth
to get things rolling again, I would bet dollars to doughnuts, well
perhaps I should say that I would bet gold and silver against lattes
and kripsy cremes since dollars are losing their value with shocking
rapidity, that most of the world will opt for  something much
different than Democracy and Capitalism as they stand today.
Perhaps a few nations will give Fascism another try.  In any event,
the baby is going to go out with the bathwater.
   "Viva la Revolucion" has a Latin American theme, both in
the music and in the chorus where I shout out some Spanish phrases.
This is because the protagonist ended up in some non-descript Central
or South American country in "Death's Angel" and so I thought that
I would add the character of those nations into the CD.  In many
countries south of the border a man can live like a king if they have
a rather modest amount of money saved up due to the depressed
standard of living there.  When one compares the distribution of wealth
between the rich and the poor, the U.S. even at its most extreme
point in the last century, which is today, falls short of the majority of
its neighbors to the south.  The result of such a disparity is a nation
where the wealthy few are served by the poor and impoverished
masses who have no choice but to serve for whatever the rich are
willing to pay them.  That environment has been a fertile breeding
ground for communism and socialist revolutions and so it is no
accident that the protagonist ended up there since it dovetails into
the theme of the CD.
   But the burning question that I sense out there is: what
are the meanings of those Spanish phrases?  Well, Spanish isn't
the most consistent language in the world, and although there
are plenty of native Spanish speakers where I live, a mere ten
miles from the border with Mexico, they each gave me different
translations of what I wanted to sing.  So I ended up converging
on something which is probably close enough to what I wanted
that it should pass for Spanish.  With that being said, "matemos el
ricos" means "kill the rich" and "queme los elites" means "burn the
elites".  And in case anyone is interested, yes it is really hard to roll
your r's when you are singing, especially for someone who'd never
rolled an r even when speaking prior to recording the song.
   Regarding the music, this is one more example of Fireaxe
fusing together metal and some other musical style, in this case,
Latin rock.  In "Food for the Gods" I merged Persian and Judaic
music into "Gods of War" and "Woe is Israel" and felt that those
experiments were successful enough to continue the trend.  From
the high-hat work in the drumming to the wide-ranging rhythms
in the chorus which added the feel of a horn section, this song
does have both a Latin and metal vibe  I think that it's pretty cool.
The lively beat and chorus provide a nice break from the slower
and more plodding tracks on the second half of the CD, adding
some musical spice in the midst of exceedingly dark songs about
pain, death, and torture.  It stands out, and yet it blends in.
   And yes, I am aware that it follows the conventional
ABACAB format and has a radio friendly duration.  I like to
throw in one or two songs that can be pulled out as stand alone
tracks for radio play on my CDs.  I realize that I need to make a
few concessions to help you folks out there who have radio shows
spread the word about Fireaxe and so "Viva la Revolucion" and
"Masters of the Universe" were crafted with you in mind.  But in
my opinion the concessions didn't affect the overall CD much if at
all.  The story switches from scene to scene in the protagonist's life
and so many of the songs can be pulled out and played as stand alone
pieces without diminishing their impact on the story.  Of course
when they are all rolled together, they become much more powerful.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
4. That aggressive ideologies must continue to grow or face internal
strife as their aggressive members will feed on each other to satisfy
their needs
5. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will attempt to save the human race by
destroying it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2008, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both th
Title: The Burning Blade 11.6
Post by: Fireaxe on October 07, 2008, 08:38:02 PM
I hate to break the news but we're all getting mugged…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 11.6

         October 7, 2008

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The rich will strive to establish their dominion and enslave
   the rest.  They always did.  They always will."
   "We should remember that the people never act from reason
   alone.  The rich will take advantage of their passions, and
   make these the instruments for oppressing them.  The result
   of the contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent
   despotism.  The schemes of the rich will be favored by the
   extent of the country.  The people in such distant parts can
   not communicate and act in concert. They will be the dupes
   of those who have more knowledge and intercourse."
      - Gouverneur Morris, co-author of the Constitution
      of the United States in a letter to James Madison,
      suggesting that the rich and the poor should have
      separate representative branches in government,
      otherwise "let the rich mix with the poor and…
      they will establish an oligarchy."


   And now our gods are on their knees.
   Capitalism was allegedly "five-hundred trades away from
Armageddon" according to a pair of traders inside two large banks
as hundreds of billions of sell orders stacked up in money market
funds one morning not long ago.  And Democracy was successfully
thwarted as members of Congress in the U.S. collaborated with Wall
Street to pass a massive bailout bill over the adamant opposition from
a vast majority of their constituents.  They gave a single man almost
unchecked power to spend an incomprehensible amount of money
while giving the citizenry only the promise that he has our best
interests at heart.  Worse still is the fact that the man chosen for the
task was so clueless about what was happening with the financial
system that he thought that everything was sound only a few months
ago.  Passing such an outrageous bill, even in a time of crisis, has to be
one of the most anti-democratic as well as one of the stupidest things
that I have ever witnessed from my government in my lifetime and the
only thing that our representatives could say about it in their defense
was that "we had to do something".  I assume that asking someone
other than a Bush administration insider or appointee about other
possible solutions was out of the question?  How about after the bill
failed the first time?  Without a doubt, the men and women who voted
for the bill are cowards and incompetents and need to be removed from
office as quickly as possible.
   The oligarchy that Gouverneur Morris warned us about has
seized control of the corridors of power, or at least they've made it
obvious who has the power in our country, and they are working their
hardest to transfer as much wealth as possible into their own hands
while making it appear as though they are serving the best interests
of the country.  The housing bubble itself enabled a massive transfer
of wealth from the masses to the rich as the rich made huge profits
selling overvalued houses and handing out trillions of dollars in loans
to people who won't be able to pay them back.  Now those same people
have enabled the transfer of those bad loans to the government while
lowering their own tax burden so that they can keep milking the good
loans while making the rest of us cover the losses on the bad.  Worse
still is that every effort is being made to keep people in their overpriced
homes and making payments, regardless of whether it is better for them
to simply walk away and let foreclosure occur.  The oligarchy would
rather see the masses sucked dry rather than made economically stable
with a bailout, debt forgiveness, or other popular measure.
   As Morris wrote, the rich will take advantage of the passions
of the poor and use those instruments to oppress them.  This they did
with extreme effectiveness in the last decade, promising great wealth
to anyone who invested heavily in a 401k or bought a home.  And now
that the final bubble has burst the masses are starting to wake up to the
oppression of a massive debt burden, a plummeting stock market, a
failing job market, expensive health care, and the onus of a deep
recession, if not a full blown depression, looming before them.  The
rich also took advantage of the congress, using fear to ram a number of
ridiculous bailout packages down the throats of clueless legislators.  As
the majority leader of the Senate remarked that no one knew what to do
over five trillion in liabilities were added to the national balance sheet
with trillions more undoubtedly on the way.  The way our elected
officials rolled over and let the rest of us get robbed made the $700
billion bailout bill seem like the financial version of the USA PATRIOT
act.  They abandoned their responsibilities and sold us up the river,
surrendering their power to control the country's purse strings to a Wall
Street insider whom we are supposed to entrust with fixing the banking
system.  The potential for the abuse of power here is so mind-numbingly
far reaching that it is a real stretch of the imagination to keep believing
that we still live in a democracy.  The U.S. has appointed nothing short
of a financial dictator with nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to
spend as he will, with more hundreds of billions likely to be added to his
account in future months, and who can pick and choose who he wants to
bail out (his old friends at Goldman Sachs maybe?), who gets the shaft
(old political enemies maybe?), and all with virtually no accountability.
But at least we have the satisfaction of seeing Monetarist fundamentalists
and free market apologists admitting that they have been following a
false doctrine and embracing what they call "socialism". All this from a
group of people who used to laugh at Soviet-style managed economies. 
Of course, it's not socialism if the masses get the shaft.  What we're really
talking about is an oligarchy, a form of government where the wealthy
rule from behind the scenes, but at least we get to pick which servants of
the rich run the country so we can pretend to still have a democracy.
   But it is looking ever more likely that even the powers that
be cannot save the system from itself and the complete collapse of the
global financial system draws nearer with each passing day.  To those who
still don't believe that such a thing could happen and to those who feel
that our leaders were misled into supporting a $700 billion dollar bailout
package I can only say that this time around the cries of "wolf" are real.
The "Masters of the Universe" have screwed up really, really bad this
time and if you've been following the past editions of The Burning
Blade then you have some idea of how it all happened.  If it was just five
or so trillion in potentially doomed mortgages and other loans that are
at risk in the U.S. then the problem is painful to deal with but still
manageable.  Completely nationalizing the loans and adding that
amount to the government's massive debt would surely drag the economy
down, as it would in the many other nations with housing bursting
housing bubbles, but the global financial system would remain solvent.
The problem is that the loans were leveraged into massive bets on trades
in markets world wide, most of which were insured by other institutions
who were also massively leveraged themselves so that even larger profits
could be made off of the mortgages.  But now with the collateral for
those trades going bad and with drastically fewer loans coming in to
enable them to make more gambles to offset the failing ones the game
is up and those massive bets need to be unwound.  So how massive are
these bets?  Well, it's a little hard to believe when you see the numbers,
but there are over sixty trillion dollars in outstanding credit default
swaps and over one quadrillion (notional amount - so let's assume
10% of that is realistically on the line) in outstanding derivatives out
there along with who knows what all else.  So what that means is that
we are not talking about a five trillion dollar problem, but one of over
one-hundred sixty trillion dollars, and all of it thanks to deregulation,
greed, and a conscious lack of oversight on the part of the central banks
and governments in the U.S. and elsewhere.  This problem is too big to
solve and the powers that be are trying to prop up a failing system by
keeping all the major players in the game no matter how much money
they have to throw around or mergers they have to fund for fear that if
the dominoes start to fall and all those trillions have to be written off
that in the end there won't be a single bank or investment firm left
standing.  That so many institutions around the world are at risk is
thanks to the globalization of the modern financial system which was
intended to reduce risk by spreading it around but in the end allowed
excessive risk taking and "moral hazard" to contaminate every market
in the world.  No one is immune.  Thus the desperation and fear in the
eyes of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke as they met with members of
congress a short time ago.  Their god, Monetarism, is failing them and
things are falling apart faster than they can put them back together.  We
are most certainly facing the possibility of a total and complete collapse
of the entire global economy.
   Of course, I am not saying that in an effort to implore people
to try and stop it from happening.  To the contrary, I want it to happen.
Not because I am an anarchist or suicidal or anything, but because I
want to see a stable, well regulated financial system arise in its place
and I don't see that happening until we clear away the debris of the
rotted and hopelessly corrupt current system.  I want to help to rebuild
my nation when it falls, but I do not want to build a castle on quicksand.
   I suppose that I could gloat, since I predicted that this was
coming, and I could argue with some of you about whether the
economy will bottom out soon and rebound or that things will not be
as bad as I think they will be, but the point of trying to get at the truth
is not to have bull sessions and argue about who is right and who is
wrong but to use that knowledge to prepare oneself to deal with
potential crises.  So, to help you all out in this regard I'll lay out some
possible scenarios and make a few recommendations about prudent
courses of action.
   Firstly, I don't expect the collapse to happen within the next
few weeks or months although the way things have deteriorated
recently it wouldn't surprise me if it did.  Generally when things reach
a crisis level the government begins to intervene with mild measures
which grow more and more draconian as previous actions fail to correct
the growing cascade of problems.  The easiest of these brute force
methods is to simply block certain financial transactions from occurring,
such as shutting down the stock market if it goes down too far too fast
(Russia did this twice in the last few weeks) and limiting the amount
of money that people can withdraw from their banks and investments
to prevent a classic run on the banks.  Yes, they can and will prevent
you from accessing your money when you want it.  These measures
help to keep banks and other institutions solvent, stopping them from
losing capital due to investors selling their stock and depositors cashing
out their accounts.  Now, due to the fractional reserve system, banks
do not have enough capital to pay off their depositors if they all wanted
to withdraw their money at the same time.  This is the case whether the
banks are healthy or not and it works fine as long as the system is well
regulated, the economy is functional, and fraudulent practices are not
running rampant.  People are told not to withdraw their money since
that will always make things worse and can often create problems where
there are none to begin with.  However, in today's case I see no good
reason to keep up our end of the bargain.  We have been lied to and
betrayed by those entrusted to handle our finances.  And even with
FDIC insuring your deposits you should realize that they only have
around fifty billion dollars in reserves to insure around four trillion
dollars in deposits.  All it would take to wipe out the FDIC is for one
major bank to go bankrupt.  At that point, if your bank fails then you
will have to get in line behind everyone else to get your money back
from the government.  That might take a while.  But if you do decide
to keep money in the bank, make sure that you have a recent statement
of your account to show as proof that you are owed that money.  But
given the miniscule interest rates you're getting from your savings
account, it doesn't matter so much whether you're keeping your money
in the bank vault or under your mattress.  Having a stash of bills at
home will protect you from a wide variety of policies and calamities
that can rob you of your savings, and if the economy were to recover,
you won't have lost much in interest when you deposit that money
back into your bank.
   If you have a 401k or other investment in the market it is a
different story when it comes to the potential downside of withdrawal.
Add an early withdrawal penalty of 10% to a major rally in the market
of, say, 20% to 40% and you could end up costing yourself a lot.  Then
again, the market could turn down sharply and you could lose half of
your nest egg or more.  It might be worthwhile to diversify by cashing
out a fair amount of your retirement account and investing it elsewhere,
but with the prices of traditional good investments (stocks, real estate)
falling like rocks you'll need to look elsewhere for assets that either hold
their value or appreciate in difficult times.  Gold and silver are the
traditional "safe havens" when economies are going through major
crises, especially if inflation or hyperinflation ensues.  In many cases the
government will run out of money and resort to funding its operations by
printing up the cash it needs to pay people.  This usually results in inflation
and only temporarily solves the problem, inviting more money printing
and more inflation.  Inflation is bad if you have cash under the mattress,
or savings in the bank, and it can be lethal for people on fixed incomes.
Inflation is good for people who are in debt, but only if they see their
wages going up, the prevention of which seems to be the only thing that
the people in power have been successful at doing.  Another potential
problem is deflation, which can happen if the government steps aside
and lets banks fail left and right without printing money to compensate
for the loss in capital as the Federal Reserve did before the great
depression.  In this case the cash is king since there is so little of it and
prices are forced downwards sharply since no one has any money.  True
that the prices of gold and silver will also come down during deflation,
but they will still buy their equivalent in goods.  But what I expect to see
is stagflation, which is prices going up while wages and growth stay flat.
This will be like a noose slowly tightening around everyone's necks as
wave after wave of declining growth, reduced investment, job losses, and
decreased spending ripple through the global economy.  But whether we
have inflation, deflation, or stagflation, gold and silver will hold their
buying power when nothing else is.  The trouble with buying gold or
silver today is that the markets for those metals fluctuate so much on a
day to day basis that picking the right time to buy is likely to give you a
bad case of indigestion.  Also, the market for precious metals is getting
very crowded as of late and the U.S. treasury is running short of gold
bullion coins so if you decide to buy it may be hard to find them in the
amounts that you want.  I recommend precious metals, mostly coins that
you can hold in your possession, mainly because they are not paper and
their value cannot suddenly drop to nothing, as any Zimbabwean or
Argentinean will tell you about their former currencies.  E-mail me if
you need to find reputable dealers in the U.S.
   The government has the power to do almost anything in a
financial crisis and you shouldn't rule out confiscation as a possibility.
In my mind the closer you have your money, in whatever form it is in,
to your physical person the harder it is for the government to confiscate
it.  They might seize assets you have anywhere: bank accounts, 401k
accounts, etc., giving you an IOU for them which they will pay back in
devalued currency at some later date.  Yes, that sounds criminal, but it's
been done before.  And they might make gold ownership illegal, as the
U.S. did in 1933, forcing you to trade your gold for paper dollars and
arresting you if they catch you trying to exchange gold for goods on the
black market.  And they might make use of the eminent domain power
to seize real estate, making any investment potentially unsafe, save
perhaps for the purchase of a representative or senator of course.
Another possible move for a desperate government is the replacement
of all dollars with a completely new currency, with the exchange rate
for normal citizens being less than one to one.  The government would
justify all of these methods of what is essentially theft by stating,
credibly, that they need the funds to pay for basic services and to keep
foreign investors from pulling their money out of the country and making
things even worse.  As hopeless as this all might sound, the message is
clear, diversify all your funds and don't rely on anyone, especially the
government, to bail you out.  Everyone will be hurting and things which
are safe and reliable will come at a premium.  And watch out for scams
as con artists and desperate people will be everywhere.
   Budget-wise I would recommend cutting back to the bone.
Pay off high interest loans like credit cards but keep the low interest
loans where they are, provided that you can pay them.  If you have a
place to live free and clear then you are going to be doing better than
a whole lot of people if and when the collapse happens.  You might
also want to invest in a small amount of "survival" gear.  Now, I'm not
talking about enough food and water to hole up in your basement for a
couple of years, but having the ability to ride out a week or more if a
major breakdown occurs (such as a power outage lasting for days, the
police walking off their jobs due to their salaries not being paid, all
banks, credit cards, etc, shut down for a week as a new currency is put
in place) is a good idea.  And for self-defense I recommend getting a
good shotgun and learning how to use it.  Handguns are expensive,
hard to hit your target with, and people don't always fall down when
you shoot them with one contrary to what you see on TV and in the
movies.  A shotgun, on the other hand, is much easier to handle and
far more lethal, and you can sometimes survive a confrontation just by
racking it as the sound alone tends to make people run away very quickly.
But please, if you buy a gun, learn how to keep it and use it legally and
safely and don't shoot anyone unless your life is in danger.  Life is not
a video game.  If you screw up, you can end up dead or spending the
rest of your life in jail.
   Long term I foresee something similar to the 1930s depression.
All governments will become quite fascist, as they did during that
period, regardless of who is elected to lead them.  The leader will only
determine the flavor of fascism.  I expect to see soup lines, public
works projects, unemployment, and a lot of sad and angry faces no
matter what policies are put in place.  And if I am right about the
distribution of wealth being a major factor in economic health then
it will take a long time for the economy to come around.  The rich
simply will not part with their money easily and they have a powerful
influence over the government.  Forced redistribution of wealth may
result in a coup and political turmoil will likely break out in many
parts of the world as the suffering grows and spreads.  There are no
easy answers to these problems, so don't believe anyone who says that
our problems can be solved if we just did one or two simple things.
Even wealth redistribution needs to be done in a fair manner and the
power of the free market, a regulated free market that is, must be
unleashed before true recovery can occur.  The global economy is
distorted and dysfunctional and a lot needs to be changed before it will
go back to working properly again.  Even if a leader knows exactly
what he or she is doing, the transformation will not be quick and easy.
   So how does one prepare for global chaos?  There's no simple
answer and you'll each have to find your own paths, but the better that
you prepare yourselves financially, physically, and mentally, the better
off that you'll be.  Get your books in order and diversify your money.
Make your commitment to having a healthy body and diet stick this
time.  And prepare yourself for living with a lot less than you expected.
Reach out to community organizations which will help everyone spread
the burdens and which will come together to help each other in times
of need.  Understand that the big party is over and that it is time to
rediscover the side of yourself that enjoys simple pleasures and
working hard.  It won't be the end of the world, it's just the end of the
world as you know it.  The sooner that you accept that things are going
to be different, the sooner that you can make adjustments and live a
satisfying life.  Take it from someone who survived cancer and slogged
through years of chronic fatigue syndrome.  Don't be afraid to chuck
your ego, lower your standards, and tone down your goals.  Now, I
didn't say stop fighting.  Always fight.  And in the coming times you'll
need to work hard to find the strength to stand up for yourself and others.
But come to grips with the fact that your victories will be more modest
and your rewards less spectacular.  You'll be the better for it if you do.
   Speaking of chronic fatigue, it appears as though my current
treatment, which is improving my overall health, is going to push back
any work on "Food for the Gods" probably to 2009.  Part of that is due
to my personal desire to get better which makes me opt for a more
aggressive approach to treatment.  I'm basically forcing my body to
fight the illness as hard as it can, which puts a heavy load on me both
physically and mentally, but I really want to be out of the woods before
the wheels completely come off of the economy.  In the back of my
mind I fear my doctor going out of business before I'm done getting
better and then what would I do?  In any event, I've written up an
especially long newsletter for you in the meantime.  Enjoy.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Meaning of the Songs - My Reflection

   With an explosive beginning, sweeping away the closing bars
of "Viva la Revolucion", comes a highly dynamic track which has
become a lot more popular that I originally anticipated.  "My Reflection"
contrasts sharply with the previous tracks and provides some revealing
insights into one of the main themes of the CD, that the protagonist
and antagonist are two very similar people.
   How can this be?  The two seem like polar opposites.  But
the closer that you look at them the more clear it is that they have a
great number of things in common.  Perhaps the most important thing
that the two share is their drive.  Both of them will stop at nothing to
achieve what they want.  Both of them rose up through the ranks of
the Firm and were determined to become the CEO with the antagonist
succeeding where the protagonist fell short.  And both are more than
willing to commit atrocities in their desire to destroy each other, not
caring much for the ones who fought, suffered, or died in the process
of allowing them to realize their goals.  Also, neither are particularly
noble, so if you want to read about the white knight versus the black
knight, then open up a book of fairy tales and take a vacation from
reality.  In the real world, ruthlessness, determination, and the
willingness to make sacrifices for the "greater good" are characteristics
that the powerful all share, and if you add to those things the ability to
sell the lie to others in order to win their support and you have a good
description of both of the major players in "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess".
   But what makes the comparison so fascinating is not what the
two men share as much as the differences between the two.  Halfway
through the track "My Reflection" the protagonist puts his finger on it:

"But our difference is your weakness, you still believe."

   The antagonist was described as a "true believer" in "The
Evil Men Do" and in the many passages where he invokes the term
"god" it is clear that he believes in a righteous cause which justifies
anything that he has to do to purify the world.  But is it really just a
belief in a god that separates the two men?  No.  The story goes much
deeper than atheism versus theism.  In "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" as in other Fireaxe projects and in this newsletter, I use the
terms "god" and "ideology" interchangeably and thus by "true believer"
the protagonist is referring to the antagonist's faith in the system.  The
system failed the protagonist and thus he no longer has any faith in it,
but the antagonist still believes in the system although he sees many
flaws in it which he works hard to correct.  Both see the system as
being corrupt, but one wants to purify and reform it while the other
seeks to destroy it.  On that level you might say that it is a battle
between hope and nihilism.  On one hand you have the antagonist
holding out hope that the system can be fixed and that all can be made
right once again while on the other hand you have the protagonist
condemning all ideologies and declaring that none are worthy of
following.  But on another level there is an undercurrent flowing in
the exact opposite direction, that of a struggle between truth and lies.
The protagonist states that all ideologies are based on lies and that
those lies will eventually corrupt any system, no matter how noble it
is in purpose.  He proves this by slowly corrupting the antagonist
throughout the CD and finishes the job in the final track.
   And so with this in mind we can take another look at "My
Reflection" and see both the differences and similarities between the
two foes.  In the first half of the song both the music and the vocal
styles paint a sharp contrast between the two rivals.  The antagonist
is bellowing with self-righteous fury and his lyrics are backed by
pounding rhythms and intense guitar work while the protagonist is
quiet and smug and his lyrics are backed by light drumming and a
single acoustic guitar.  The men seem to be polar opposites, but a
closer look at what they are saying reveals some profound similarities.
For example, recall the opening verse:

"Don't give me that revolutionary bullshit,
save it for your all controlling state."

   It's no coincidence that this line is very similar to the ones
that the protagonist uttered in "Masters of the Universe".  Both men
have a contempt for the idealism of others, but the difference is that
one has faith in the system of which he is a part and the other does
not.  But how big of a difference is that?  When it comes to all other
ideological systems, past, present, and potentially future, they agree,
with both of them dismissing all other ideologies as being wrong.
And so in numerical terms there's not much difference between the
protagonist dismissing all ideologies as being lies and the antagonist
dismissing all but one of them as being lies, but in psychological
terms the difference is huge.  Ideologies themselves supply their
believers with plenty of reasons to disbelieve in rival ideologies as
it is necessary for their own survival to have believers of other faiths
portrayed as disillusioned dupes.  And to brush off the notion that its
believers are fanatics, an ideology will usually allow the questioning
of its own veracity, making believers think that they are skeptics and
realists, even if its proponents must resort to elaborate word games
in order to establish the ideology as the one true way.  But a deep
questioning of one's own beliefs, that which can make one lose their
faith, cannot come about until one's belief system fails them and the
reinforcement mechanism for their ideology is permanently broken.
This is the most important difference between the protagonist and the
antagonist and it is what the CD portrays in vivid detail.
   The two go back and forth in the first half of the song with
the similarities between the two growing more and more obvious.
The protagonist tells of his exploits in that nameless Latin American
country where he and his "freedom fighters" committed countless
atrocities against the rich and powerful, atrocities which he justifies
by pointing out their exploitation of the working class.  The antagonist
in turn brushes aside his lawbreaking and immoral actions and justifies
them with pragmatism, suggesting that doing anything less would
allow far worse things to happen.  Both showed how exceptional they
are by accomplished what they set out to do quickly and efficiently,
and neither were shy about going to extremes to do so.  Also, one can
find another similarity by comparing the scenes in "My Angel", where
the protagonist is raging out of control and abusing his true love with
the scenes in "Black and Black" where the antagonist is screaming his
head off and torturing the protagonist.  Another thing that they both
share is a profound hatred of each other and an obsessive desire to
destroy their rival at all costs.  And in one of my favorites lines, when
the antagonist says that the protagonist deserves to burn in hell the
protagonist responds by saying that since the torture chamber that his
rival commands is like a living hell then "who are you if not the devil?".
As the similarities build the traditional way of looking at the conflict
as a struggle of good versus evil breaks down completely.  The fairy
tale world is vanquished and replaced with the real one in all its
hideous glory.
   As an aside, one might ask why fairy tales exist, especially
since they are so unrealistic.  From ancient stories of brave knights
slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress and tales of how the
faithful are rewarded for their loyalty while the wicked are destroyed
to modern tales of hobbits and rings, Jedis and Sith, and the lone hero
who breaks the rules and brings down the bad guy, these simplistic
depictions of a battle between good and evil have always resonated
with the public regardless of how little they reflect the world around
us.  But the point is not to lavishly replicate reality, although the
nature of the tales change to match the culture and the ideologies they
support.  Instead the point is to satisfy the ideologically imposed need
which people have to see their beliefs vindicated.  Of course, some
resemblance to reality is required since the tale needs to be accessible
to the individual, but in place of the often random and sometimes
confusing nature of reality the plot is specifically structured to teach
an ideological lesson.  Everything that happens in the story happens
for a reason and that reason is to show that behaving in a certain way
will win you a reward in the end.  For example, in real life a baseball
team may win the world series because a few players had surprisingly
good years, or perhaps the owner spent a lot of money signing star
players from rival teams, or maybe a lucky hit or bad call decided a
close game which put them over the top.  But in a fairy tale, a baseball
team will invariably win it all when they accept and adopt the tenets of
the prevailing ideology, such as having one player learn to set aside his
ego and be a team player, and having another break a bad habit like
drinking, and having a third played inspired by love or religion or
whatever the writer wants to lionize.  But it is their adherence to the
proper way of behaving that wins them the prize in the end.  These
fairy tales serve not only as lessons to be learned, but they also serve
to reinforce ideological messages that often become eroded by doubts
when one sees one's ideals falsified by reality.
   So why not just teach reality instead?  What's so wrong
about learning that sometimes the "bad guys", or rather, the guys
who don't necessarily follow all the tenets of the prevailing ideology,
win?  Sometimes cheaters finish first and aren't caught.  Sometimes
liars get the girl.  Sometimes the rich foist billions of dollars of bad
debt on the public and pocket millions themselves.  Why not teach
what really goes on in the world?  Well, believers will frame that
question in terms of a struggle between good and evil as well, just like
in the fairy tales, and say that while the real world has its problems,
that it can one day be as righteous as the world in our dreams if only
we remain true to the ideals of our ideology.  As long as one keeps
their faith goodness will invariably spread to others and eventually the
world will be perfect, or at least that is what we are told.  And some
ideologies fashion some sort of heaven or happy hunting ground as
a reward for those who kept the faith all of their lives but ended up
with little to show for it.  Such a thing is impossible for a skeptic to
falsify.  But in truth the fairy tale is just a dream.  It is an unworkable
vision of reality that can only be realized for a short period of time, if
at all.  So why do they remain popular instead of being dismissed?
Because it is the impossible nature of the fairy tale which makes it
vital to the ideology.  It must be idealized and unreachable, because
once indoctrinated to embrace fairy tales, a believer will long for the
fairy tale world and find reality unsatisfying, corrupt, and even plagued
by evil.  The believer will then feel compelled to try to change reality
to match the image of the world in their dreams.  This will put the
believer into a state of conflict with their environment, which provides
a critical source of motivation that will generally make the believer
more productive and more determined than a person who merely
accepts things the way that they are.  Motivated believers work harder
at self improvement, are more aggressive in their dealings with others,
and fight with more determination than the more complacent non-
believers.  And ideologies benefit greatly from having legions of
motivated believers since it improves the chances of the ideology to
survive and thrive against rival ideologies.  And thus, fairy tales,
impossible but alluring versions of reality, will always tend to
overshadow actual history since the embrace of the lie imparts a
survival advantage to those who believe it.
   As a further aside, are the stories that I tell in my music also
fairy tales?  Do they propagate an impossible vision of reality to make
an ideological point?  Well, "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" is
certainly not a biography, and yes the plot was intentionally crafted to
drive home a given message.  All art aspires to do the same.  But as far
as motivating my listeners to embrace an alternate vision of the world
and to strive to make reality match that vision I can only say that my
music has mostly the opposite effect, which is probably a major reason
for its lack of popular support.  "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess"
is more of an "anti-fairy tale" where one by one the ideals which modern
fairy tales uphold and extol are presented and then shot to pieces.
Instead of indoctrination, the CD strives to deprogram the believer.
For example, the protagonist is the perfect gentleman in his romance
of his angel, but did he win her heart?  No.  She fell into the arms of a
liar and he was powerless to prevent it.  So did he win her back in the
end?  No.  She did come back to him, but she was despoiled in both
body and mind and couldn't love him as she did before.  So did he make
the best of it anyway, accepting her "warts and all"?  No.  It was too
painful for him to accept her and instead he killed her.  Now, the
protagonist did have his revenge against the man who defiled his angel,
which is another well worn fairy tale plot, but in this case his revenge
was so excessive and depraved that it bears no resemblance to the typical
fairy tale.  Instead of a vindication of one's beliefs that acting in a certain
way produces the expected rewards the listener is left in a state of shock,
scrambling to find a nonexistent moral message.  The CD goes further.
When the protagonist does the "right" thing he gets screwed and when
he does the "wrong" thing he gets screwed.  Reality burns him every
step of the way.  And while it's not difficult to have some degree of
sympathy for the protagonist as a result of his many travails, the embrace
of his final nihilistic fate is not one that anyone would find at all palatable.
No, the protagonist is not a figure to be emulated, but rather he is a symbol.
He, along with the antagonist, are the living embodiments of the destructive
and eventually suicidal nature of ideologies.  Now, perhaps someone might
listen to "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" and conclude that the
message is that all ideologies are false and dangerous and thus they must
be destroyed, but that would be missing the point, effectively coming to an
ironically mistaken conclusion.  The point of the story is to try and sweep
away the ideological indoctrination that we have all been subjected to and
to clear a path to reality.  Like I wrote, it is an "anti-fairy tale".
   Now, back to the track "My Reflection".  In the second half of
the song the protagonist expounds upon the critical crossroads in his
life where he and the antagonist made different decisions that took them
down two different paths.  The idea of the song is to show how two very
similar people could end up diametrically opposed.  The first verse is
particularly thought provoking:

"My reflection, why would he ask any questions?
Why would he not believe the lies?
All is perfect in his eyes."

   Why does someone ask questions?  Here it is not so much
a reference to curiosity but a reference to doubt.  Doubts come when
one's vision of reality, or one's ideological fairy tale world, is clearly
contradicted by the real world.  This happens when something goes
seriously wrong.  When things go the way that we expect or anticipate,
we do not ask questions nor do we wonder if the way that we are doing
things is the right way.  Doubt is something that never enters our minds.
And some believers live in such a well constructed fairy tale world that
nothing that happens is in the least bit unexpected, as least from an
ideological perspective.  They have answers for everything and doubts,
when they have them, are generally mild and don't cause them to
question their beliefs for very long.  The world is thus "perfect" in their
eyes.  The protagonist, on the other hand, could never achieve such a
state, at least not for very long.  The system was always failing him
and forcing him to ask deep questions which eventually overthrew his
faith in it.  So here the suggestion is that one difference between the
protagonist and antagonist is that the protagonist suffered just enough
doubt to push him into disbelief.
   The rest of the track asks many questions along those lines.
Perhaps the difference between the two rivals was the antagonist's
privileged upbringing, being the son of the chairman of the firm,
which gave him an easier path to the top.  Perhaps the antagonist,
after having his own true love stolen from him, swallowed his pride
and accepted her in her degraded state.  Perhaps the antagonist never
suffered hardships at the hands of others, or if he did, perhaps he
gave in to them rather than resist to the end.  The questions are left
unanswered and the story doesn't reveal the exact reasons why the two
chose such different paths, but in the end one has undying faith and the
other does not.
   My favorite line of the song is at the end:

"And as his god began to fade, and reason fell away,
faith was all that remained and faith became a weapon."

   Sometimes a fairy tale world becomes so well conditioned
that believers will choose to embrace an ideological fantasy world
instead of reality when the two become obviously incompatible.
Instead of succumbing to their doubts, the believer will become
fanatical and work even harder to force reality to fit their idealistic
vision of it.  This is what happens to the antagonist in the final track,
his faith becomes a weapon to wield against reality.


The Meaning of the Songs - Black and Black

   And now the final act.  The soft ending of "My Reflection"
quietly transforms into the bass driven beginnings of the titanic clash
between the protagonist and the antagonist.  Throughout the song the
scene has switched back and forth between the torture chamber and
the protagonist's recollections but now with one last switch we will
remain in the cold dark place where the secret crimes of state are
committed.  Everything has become "Black and Black".
   As the interrogation begins in earnest the protagonist's
strategy becomes clear.  He wants to attack the antagonist's weaknesses:
his faith in the system and his belief in his god, and so the protagonist
is constantly steering the interrogation in that direction.  So while the
antagonist is trying to break the protagonist down physically and
mentally and force him to tell the truth, the protagonist is trying to
soften the antagonist up psychologically, making him overly emotional
so that he will believe his final lie.  As much as the antagonist believes
that he is in control, asking all the questions and having total power
over his captive, his control is only an illusion, and he gradually
surrenders his control to the protagonist.  In the end the antagonist
has power over the protagonist's body and the protagonist has power
over the antagonist's mind and by the end of the track both end up
being twisted, brutalized, and permanently disfigured.
   One odd part about the interrogation is that the protagonist
has told the truth, as ugly as it is, throughout the entire CD, and yet
in many of the cases the antagonist doesn't believe him, until the
protagonist lies of course, but I am getting ahead of the story.  The
exchanges between the two reveal the perceptual blindness of the
antagonist:

Antagonist:
"Who are you working for?  Who are your contacts?
I want answers.  I want the truth."

Protagonist:
"No, you want a lie.
You want me to vindicate the lies you tell your people and yourself."

   Here the protagonist actually gives away his strategy, telling
the antagonist that what he really wants him to say it exactly what the
antagonist wants to hear.  But the antagonist refuses to believe that he
is as gullible as he turns out to be:

Antagonist:
"I will not believe your lies, I am not weak like your freedom fighters."

Protagonist:
"Everyone is like them,
willing to do anything for their gods and their dreams.
That's how we came to power,
we fed the people the lies they needed to hear."

   Just as fairy tales yield a survival advantage to those who
believe them, lies helped both men rise to the top of the Firm as well
as enabled the Firm to conquer and crush all of its rivals.  One take on
this quote is to wag one's finger at the powerful and shame them for
taking advantage of the gullible masses, but it does take two to tango,
and if the masses lack wisdom and self-restraint then they deserve at
least part of the blame for their own exploitation.  Of course, given
that ideologies are based on lies, almost everyone is vulnerable to
some sort of exploitation, and all sacred cows can be used as Trojan
horses to victimize the faithful.  In our modern world most recently
both the stock market and the housing market were used in this manner
as capitalist dogma professed that stocks are always good investments
and that real estate prices never go down.  We have since found out
otherwise.
   But put that way it sounds as if the market and housing crashes
were the result of some elaborate conspiracy to bilk the masses out of
their hard earned money, and while I do not discount the idea that a few
cynical investors knowingly decided to exploit the gullible, a conspiracy
is not necessary in most cases.  If the people in charge truly believe their
own lies, that is, they whole-heartedly accept their ideology's dogmatism,
they will be the most convincing salesmen of all when professing the
lies inherent in their beliefs.  In their eyes they are not inducing and
exploiting an ill-fated bubble, they are simply receiving their fair share
of the profits from an endless boom which is benefiting everyone.  And
they will even, as we are now seeing, undertake extraordinary measures
to force reality to match their distorted perspective of it.  The most
fanatical of those believers will not part with their faith even when
reality is strongly putting the lie to their beliefs, and they will not
accept the idea that what they believe in is simply not true.  Technically
speaking they are not liars, just disillusioned fools professing their
beliefs.  And as much as this is the case for the Secretary of the
Treasury and Federal Reserve Chief, it is the case for the antagonist:

Antagonist:
"Not I. You were the master deceiver. You are the anti-Christ."

Protagonist:
"The most dangerous liar is the one who believes his own lies, you."

   The antagonist can't see his own misconceptions, believing
instead that his rise to power was due to his righteousness.  This is
revealed in the next part of the song as the antagonist says:

"I cleansed the firm of all your evil,
now it is a tool of righteous power."

   Never mind the lies that the Firm was built upon nor the
illegal and immoral tactics it used to gain its position of power over
the government, the antagonist brushes the past aside and feels that
since he has cleansed the Firm of whatever evil it used to do, at least
given his interpretation of the word, a pragmatic one at best as we
have seen in the CD, that it is now a force for good:

"We spread our ways and the world pays tribute.
We take them down the path to God."

   This is a reference any imperial ideology, such as Neoliberal
economics, neoconservative politics, the well known "White Man's
Burden" or any other ideological rationalization for the domination
and exploitation of foreign cultures.  The imperial ideology always
sees itself as doing the exploited nations a favor, uplifting their culture
to one that is more economically powerful.  In return for this favor
they skim a little of the profit off the top, or perhaps skim more than
just a little off the top as the case often is.  But conquered nations are
not like their conquerors, even though they are made to emulate their
masters, because they are never allowed to achieve full sovereignty.
Instead they remain beholden to their conqueror with their growth
stunted and their aspirations throttled.  And if they do not appreciate
their servitude they are kept in line with fear.  The protagonist points
this out as he turns his rebuttal into another assault on the antagonist's
faith:

"And when they refuse I've seen what you do.
It's not a god but fear you serve:
fear of abandonment,
fear of punishment,
fear of death.
Worship is cowardice."

   This enrages the interrogator and he scales up the intensity,
screaming in his captive's face as he brings pain and suffering down
upon him.  It is here where the protagonist's psyche begins to break
down and he drifts out of consciousness.  In a passage backed by a
lone acoustic guitar he explains why his captor's attempts to break
him down with fear will not work as he no longer fears death.  In
fact, he wants it to happen as he has nothing to live for, and as the
Dark Goddess' angelic voice calls to him from beyond the realms of
death he finds himself yearning for her embrace.  But he knows that
before he dies he wants to accomplish one last thing: he wants to
satisfy his desire for revenge.  And so he must stay awake.
   The next passage is probably the most ugly analogy that I
have ever used in a Fireaxe song and is meant to describe the cycle
of life and death as it pertains to ideologies:

"All gods are born in blood their faithful are baptized in fire.
All gods are patricidal gods, seeking to destroy that which spawned them.
All power is built of hatred and contempt for what came before.
And as the father strangles his son anger is his only salvation.

"One by one his rivals fall until the tyrant is slain.
One god rises up from the ashes and the world is brought to heel.
But that which is born of hatred must have rivals to fuel its anger.
And so it breeds a thousand young to slaughter and feed on its corpses.

"The world is not black and white, it is black and black.
And enthralled to insane gods we fight and die for a lie."

   This is the Fireaxe theory condensed into ten lines and
portrayed as a passion play between the father, which is the ruling
ideology, and its sons, the rival ideologies.  The basic idea is that
ideologies are created in opposition to the previous ideology and
that they derive their source of power from their hatred of that
ideology.  This hatred fuels it to overcome and vanquish the ruling
ideology, becoming the new ruler of the world, but without rivals
the new ruler loses its motivation and so it creates new rivals to fill
the role of the vanquished oppressor.  Thus, it is the oppositional
nature of ideologies that is the root cause of all conflict in the world.
Ideologies must oppose other ideologies since that is how they gain
their strength, and only the strong survive.  Recall the discussion of
fairy tales earlier and how they are lies which put the believer into a
state of conflict with the world.  Ideologically fairy tales will often
portray a rival ideology as being the source of all evil in the world,
even going so far as to blame that rival for the immoral behaviors
of its own believers in the defense of the ideology.  The lie is that
once the rival is vanquished that peace will reign and everyone will
be happy, but of course since the ideology is inherently oppositional
in nature, even if all of its rivals are defeated it will seek out more,
dividing itself into pieces and attacking itself if it can find no other
rivals outside of itself.  And thus, the world is not black and white
but black and black.  All ideologies are afflicted with the same curse
and the world will be a constant struggle for survival and domination.
And though ideologies can be defeated, they can only be replaced
by ideologies which are even more oppositional in nature since that
is the only way to become stronger and remove the ideology in power.
   The antagonist cannot accept this view of the world and dubs
it "madness".  He counters it by saying that the proof that good always
conquers evil is the fact that he has captured the protagonist and has
total power over him, or so he believes.  When the protagonist accuses
him of resorting to the argument that "might makes right" the
antagonist stands that argument on its head, saying that no, "right
makes might".  In essence, there is no difference between the two
statements, but in the mind of the interrogator the notion makes
perfect sense.  He believes that he is powerful because he is righteous,
ignoring the circular logic that the proof of his righteousness is that he
has achieved the most powerful position in the world.  The protagonist's
plan has worked and the antagonist is too emotional to see the flaws
in his logic.  Now the antagonist is vulnerable to the protagonist's lies
but first the protagonist must endure a brutal assault on his body and
his identity as the antagonist orders that his face, the part of his body
that most embodies his unique self, be destroyed beyond all recognition.
   Again the protagonist slips out of consciousness as whirling
blades cut deep into his flesh.  The music here is some of my favorite
on the CD.  The screams of pain and agony give way to the enchanting
chorus of angelic voices inviting the protagonist to quit fighting and
surrender his life.  Then the voices are joined by heavy rhythm guitars
and a solo which just soars above it all.  For me this is musically the
most powerful moment on the CD and perhaps the most emotionally
powerful as well as I envision the protagonist suffering an almost
unimaginable amount of pain.  But this was his choice, this was what
he decided to face back in "Death's Angel" when he embraced the
Dark Goddess and surrendered to his desire to seek his final revenge.
Also recall the line in "I Used to be Young" where the protagonist
says, "If I can just stay sane they'll pay the price".  Now we see that his
will has been strong enough and it is time for him to deliver his fateful
lie.
   Up to this point the protagonist has told the truth, telling the
antagonist about all of the sordid details of his life and confessing his
most deeply held beliefs.  However, it is only when he delivers his lie,
confessing to being a secret agent for some unnamed enemy, that
the antagonist believes him.  The protagonist sells his lie like the
professional liar that he is, sneering at the antagonist, mocking him,
conjuring visions of mushroom clouds and an army of secret assassins,
and finally stating that the battle is over and that the antagonist has lost.
   The antagonist falls for it, stepping squarely into the trap that
has been cleverly laid out for him, and he overreacts in the way that all
terrorists strive to provoke out of their far more powerful enemies with
their abhorrent rhetoric and deeds.  Driven by fear and believing that he
is ordained by his god to protect his ideology from the evil which seems
to be all around him the antagonist crosses the Rubicon, demanding
that he be given the powers of a dictator and insisting that everyone be
stripped of their rights in his search for the assassins and the mysterious
"package" that can destroy an entire city.  His pragmatism is his own
undoing as he willingly sacrifices many of the tenets of his ideology in
the belief that he will be saving the lives of millions of people including
his own.  What's a few lost rights here and there when the stakes are so
much higher?  And in the final lines he reveals that he is not content to
simply perform an internal purging of enemy agents but desires to
declare war upon the enemy nation.  One can image him plunging the
entire world into war.  But as disturbing as that image is, what is
perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the antagonist is reveling in
his new role.  He now gets to live the part of the white knight in
the fairy tale battle between good and evil.  And victory, being so
deeply rewarding to him on a psychological level, is something that
he will pursue without fail regardless of whether his foe truly exists
or not.  Breaking all the rules just provides a greater rush as he is
determined to get the ultimate ideological fix.
   Before 2001 the idea that something like this could happen in
a democratic country was probably unthinkable to many, but today the
idea is almost cliché.  But now, as president Bush is just months away
from stepping down, it seems that the world has dodged a bullet and
that perhaps the worst fears of the president's critics will not be
realized.  It seems as though the United States was pushed to the brink
of fascism or totalitarianism and then drew back as cooler heads
prevailed, proof that the democratic system works.  But I would be
very reluctant to believe that we are out of the woods and scoff at the
idea that constitutional democracies which enshrine human rights as
its highest ideals will never slide into an authoritarian abyss.  I would
instead take the other view, that it was surprising just how fast my
country embraced totalitarian methods, how willingly many of my
fellow countrymen sacrificed their rights, and how silent and compliant
the majority became when confronted with a relatively minor attack.
Yes, I said minor.  Compare the attacks on September eleventh with
less than three thousand deaths to a typical carpet bombing of a city
during World War Two where that many or more would die every
night.  It makes me wonder what my country will do when faced with
much greater adversity, such as the suffering that I know will come
should the global economic system fall.
   So when the opening theme of the CD plays once more and
the protagonist predicts that the antagonist will destroy himself and
half the world as well I don't see the ending as being leftist hysteria
or the moralizing of those who demand that if we do not stay true to
our democratic ideals then this kind of thing will happen to us.  Instead
I see it as the ever-present and perhaps inevitable fate that can befall
any ideology.  There will always be charismatic leaders who see the
world in black and white terms and who are no more motivated and
empowered than when they are fighting to vanquish their ideological
rival.  To them the world is a battlefield with the fate of the entire
universe on the line and given their addictions to ideological
reinforcement their tendency towards totalitarianism and extremism
is something that they are drawn to like junkies.  What greater rush
can there be than being God's all-powerful champion on earth?  What
greater feeling can there be than winning the final battle between good
and evil?  It matters not what an ideology's ideals are since its
oppositional nature can always give rise to its self-destructive tendencies.
When that happens, and it has happened to many nations in different
ways throughout history, then we shall again see all the horrors and
brutality inherent in our ideologies exposed for all to see.  As always,
we are food for the gods.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of
Title: The Burning Blade 12.1
Post by: Fireaxe on December 06, 2008, 05:02:33 PM
Don't live for pleasure, make life your treasure...


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.1

          December 6, 2008

        neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of
   organizations, specifically banks and others, were such
   as that they were best capable of protecting their own
   shareholders and their equity in the firms."
               
   "So the problem here is something which looked to be a
   very solid edifice, and, indeed, a critical pillar to market
   competition and free markets, did break down. And I think
   that, as I said, shocked me. I still do not fully understand
   why it happened and, obviously, to the extent that I figure
   out where it happened and why, I will change my views.
   If the facts change, I will change."
         - Alan Greenspan, testifying before
         congress, taking that first critical step
         towards the realization that his ideology
         was based on bullshit


   Trillions and trillions more.  Nearly nine trillion dollars have
gone into propping up a hopelessly dysfunctional system, and yet the
financial jockeys of the world continue to flog their economic horses
in the belief that the exhausted stallions will miraculously spring back
to life and gallop to victory.  Yes, a little more stimulation is all that we
need.  Never mind the fact that we've been stimulating our economies
almost non-stop for the last thirty years or so and that the imbalances
from all those short term solutions have built up into a massive long
term problem, and still the ones holding the reigns persist.  It reminds
me of those videos you can find on the internet that show a group
of police officers using their Tasers to subdue some poor victim.  I
suppose that most of the time those things work as expected and the
Tasered suspects give up, but sometimes the victim does not go quietly
and in fact becomes more and more agitated with each successive jolt.
And so it goes, on and on, another shock, another scream, with the
officers believing that eventually their actions are going to have the
desired effect.  After all, it works most of the time, so why not try it
again?  But instead it just becomes torture, torture plain and simple,
and the true victim of the whole ordeal is the people's faith in the
system.
   The dollar is no longer based on a gold standard, it used to be,
but in 1971 President Nixon removed the link so that he could continue
to run large deficits to pay for the Vietnam War without having to give
up the rest of the country's gold reserves.  Within five years all the other
major currencies followed suit, enabling the governments of the world,
along with their central banks, to manufacture as much money as they
wanted, just like Zimbabwe.  But unlike the currency of that troubled
African country, the dollar hasn't been a victim of hyperinflation, at
least not yet, but it does take twenty times the number of dollars to buy
the same amount of gold today than it did in 1971 and so the dollar is
not a reliable long term store of value.  The reason for this is that
whenever more dollars are printed, the value of every dollar in
circulation goes down, acting like a flat tax on every dollar holder
everywhere.  When the government creates more dollars, everybody
pays for it.  Over the decades, those in charge of such "fiat" currencies,
money backed by nothing, have done a whole lot of printing, both of
paper money and the purely electronic versions, and today they are
doing a whole lot more of it.  Trillions worth.
   But the fact that they can create as much money as they want
gives the people in charge of the global financial system an infinite
amount of liquidity that they can throw at any problem.  They can
print up trillions, tens of trillions, even quadrillions of dollars, euros,
or yen if they need them.  So it seems as if they should be able to fix
any financial problem that comes along.  So what if Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac are a six trillion dollar liability, the U.S. Treasury can
print up that much money easily.  So what if the credit default swaps
market is a fifty trillion dollar accident waiting to happen, the Fed can
match that amount and more if it has to.  Without a gold standard to
limit the amount of money which can be created it appears that we
can avoid the missteps that triggered the vicious deflation of the Great
Depression.  Just run the presses and we can conjure up enough money
to recapitalize the banks, bail out any and all essential institutions, and
quickly go back to business as usual.  After all, that's how it's worked
for the last thirty years so why should this time be any different?
   Because the problems in our global economy are about more
than just money.  As I wrote about in the Burning Blade 11.5, in order
to have a thriving economy it is critical that the distribution of wealth
is not skewed too far towards either equality or inequality.  Going too
far in either direction makes it progressively more difficult for anyone
to get richer which demotivates the population and inhibits growth.
The mechanism of credit is one way to solve this problem since it
redistributes wealth on a temporary basis, allowing people to access
the capital that they need to improve themselves in some way.  This
in turn results in an increase to the total productivity of the economy
and is the best use of credit.  People can borrow to start or improve
their businesses, make sure their children got a good education, and
so forth, rather than buying luxury items like plasma TVs and SUVs.
And when debt is turned into productivity gains, everybody wins.
The number of defaults are low, the people loaning the money collect
interest, the people who improved themselves jump up to a higher
standard of living, and the rest of the people can enjoy the fruits of a
larger, more productive economy.  Thus, credit is good, but only up
to a point.
   The interest on loans, along with the return on the investment
of capital, which are two sides of the same coin, should not exceed
the total productivity gains in the economy, otherwise individuals and
companies will, on the whole, take in less profit than they are paying
out in debt service.  When this happens the redistribution of wealth
only goes in one direction, towards those who are loaning the money
and away from everyone else.  Now, it is acceptable for this to happen
for short periods of time, such as after a natural disaster or something
where a large infusion of capital is required to create or rebuild the base
for a productive economic system.  The reason for this is that when the
economy is again operating at full speed it can pay back those loans
and still be profitable.  But if debt service continues to siphon all of
the growth in the economy and then some, the distribution of wealth
will grow more an more unequal and the economy will invariably end
up descending into a debt spiral.
   In a debt spiral, the lenders get richer and the borrowers get
poorer and the longer it goes on the worse things get.  But the economy
can still appear to be strong if the lenders keep lending more and more
money, allowing bankrupt individuals and unprofitable businesses to
keep spending as if they were still solvent.  Normally, regulations
restrict the amount of lending, forcing an ugly end to any debt spiral
which usually come after a bubble has burst, but over the decades the
lending market has been deregulated, allowing bursting bubbles to be
papered over with new bubbles and allowing debt to flourish almost
without limit.  When debt becomes too prevalent borrowers end up
needing to borrowing money just to pay the debt service on their
currently outstanding loans, meaning that they will be in an even
worse situation in the future.  And when the whole economy becomes
dependent on ever expanding credit, it's an accident waiting to happen.
But as long as there are loans to be had, everything will appear to be
just fine, and in fact, it might appear that the economy is thriving.
   A debt spiral comes to an end in one of two ways, either when
the lender stops loaning money to the borrower, or the borrower cannot
borrow enough to pay the interest on their debts and goes bankrupt.
When either of these situations happens to an individual the situation
is manageable.  When they happen on a larger scale, such as with an
entire nation, there is a risk of a total collapse of the entire system.  But
it doesn't happen overnight.  A collapse begins with the most vulnerable
part of the economy failing.  In our case it was sub-prime lending.  At
first the amounts seem small and so a bailout is usually the decided
course of action, but all that does is shift the burden to another part
of the system.  In the case of government bailouts, like the kind that
are going on now, the debts are transferred from the banks to the
government, which in effect spreads trillions of dollars of debt over
millions of taxpayers rather than being concentrated in a few failed
institutions.  The immediate problem is solved, but the total amount
of debt remains the same, and the system continues to be caught in a
debt spiral.  As time moves forward more parts of the economy fail
and each time the path of least resistance is to bail out the latest victim
in the hopes that the bailout will be the last and that everything will
go back to normal again, but since the overall debt burden is not
reduced and borrowing is still necessary to keep the dysfunctional
economy going there can be no move back towards normalcy.  If
allowed to continue on this course, the amounts of the bailouts grows
progressively larger and at some point ends up going asymptotic,
meaning that an infinite amount of money will be required to bail
out the economy, at which point the financial system implodes.
Money becomes worthless.
   At that point a new currency must be introduced, but as simple
as that sounds it is fraught with difficulty.  The first problem is how to
distribute the new currency among the people.  Do you trade old dollars
one to one for new dollars?  Do you erase people's debts?  How do you
prevent corruption from distributing the wealth in an unfair way?  And
what is fair anyway?  These are not easy questions, but certainly the
reduction of debts to levels which do not bleed dry the productivity gains
of an economy is a necessary criteria to create a stable and sustainable
system.  But debt erasure alone does not solve the underlying problem,
which is that the economy has maladapted in such a way that it requires
a continuous and growing supply of credit.  Without larger and larger
loans the economy will collapse, and so getting rid of the old loans
simply damages the financial sector and makes it less able, and willing,
to supply the loans that will be needed in the future.  Furthermore, a
maladapted economy can't be changed overnight.  In any economy, a
large amount of capital has been invested to build up the industries
which are currently profitable and industries which were no longer
profitable were allowed to fail and were sold off.  And over that period
millions of people have switched jobs, been retrained, bought and sold
houses, started families, and made a number of significant changes to
adjust to life in the debt-based dysfunctional economy.  A similar
amount of change is needed to bring the economy back to being more
stable, and that requires a similar amount of time and capital.  The
trouble is that those who have the money, and due to a skewed
distribution of wealth they are few in number, will expect a return
on their investment when rebuilding the economy, and that only fuels
the debt spiral.
   Thus the problem is three-fold.  One is the buildup of a large
inequality in the distribution of wealth.  Two is the accumulation of so
much debt that it stifles economic growth.  And three is the distortion
of the economy into a system that is not viable without a growing
supply of credit.  Any solution to the current crisis needs to address
these three problems in order to move us towards a sustainable economy.
The best solution is one which involves taking advantage of market forces
and allows equilibrium to be reached in a natural way rather than being
forced externally, however, in a dysfunctional economic system, market
forces do not always pull the economy towards a sustainable equilibrium
and thus some amount of intervention is necessary to push the economy
into a state where market forces can take over and correct for any and
all imbalances.
   So, given this analysis, one can evaluate the chances of success
of the current economic stimulus plans.  First of all, by recapitalizing the
banks, the current system is simply maintained, which allows more debt
to build up, further distorts the economy towards debt dependency, and
makes the distribution of wealth more unequal.  Likewise, by transferring
debts from the banks to the government there is no reduction in the debt
load, it only allows banks to extend more credit which exacerbates the
existing problems while putting every taxpayer on the hook rather than
just the lenders and borrowers. These solutions are only short term and
only make the problem much bigger in the future.  Bailouts only work if
the problem is relatively isolated and, as it is becoming more and more
obvious, the entire global economy has been distorted by excessive
credit and thus the solution is not quick and easy.  Obama, unfortunately,
appears to be offering only more of the same: borrowing, or printing
money, in large quantities to bail out the banks, the state governments,
and to kick off massive public works projects like FDR did in the thirties.
Having the government borrow makes the problem worse although
keeping people employed and creating jobs does prevent a total collapse
of the economy.  But as FDR discovered, public works projects do not
necessarily get the economy going again since they require heavy-
handed government intervention to make them work.  This prevents
the free market from stabilizing the economy and can result in a
distorted system which is dependent on government intervention.
I personally think public works projects are a good idea since the U.S.
has been ignoring its infrastructure for decades and it needs to be
rebuilt, but those projects will pull resources away from other business
ventures and thus won't stimulate the economy back into being healthy
in and of themselves.
   Obama's plan to shift the tax burden, although only slightly,
will have some effect in redistributing the wealth, but it will be minor
and will probably not offset the shift towards greater inequality due to
the mountain of outstanding debt.  Sadly I see nothing in Obama's plan
that would arrest the current slide, and as the pain grows worse our
leaders will be left with a choice: to stop the printing presses and let
deflation take its toll, or let them run full throttle and push us towards
a hyperinflationary holocaust.  As much as that sounds like an excluded
middle fallacy, the middle ground in such a choice has never been
reached when similar crises have beset economies.  And when dealing
with fiat currencies, the tendency is usually towards runaway inflation.
   There is an advantage to inflation in that it reduces the
amount of debt, provided that the inflation spreads evenly throughout
the economy and reaches struggling borrowers.  Debtors are rescued
but savers and those on fixed incomes suffer greatly, so it is not an
ideal solution.  It has been tried, and I don't doubt that it will be tried
again, even though the $150 billion dollar stimulus package which the
U.S. government distributed to taxpayers with low and medium incomes
this summer didn't do much to stimulate the economy.  One problem
was that the amounts were too small.  To really help people out, and
many people are very deep in debt, any effective stimulus would need
to be on the order of a trillion dollars or more, and even then most of the
money would end up going straight into the repayment of debts and thus
exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth.  Inflation as a way to wipe
out debts needs to be done in a big way to offset the toll that debt service
is taking on people, but even then the economy is still maladapted and
will require more borrowing.  That, on top of inflation robbing people of
their savings and impoverishing people on fixed incomes, will do more
to damage to the economy than it helps.  Also, although seeing banks
and large corporations fail is emotionally satisfying to the masses, it
does nothing to redistribute wealth.  The wealth of the owners of those
firms is safe from any bankruptcy court, and the owners themselves
will soon find equally lucrative jobs elsewhere.  Furthermore, wealth is
about more than money, it is also about the ownership of commodities,
controlling the means of production, and providing essential services
that people need.  Inflation does not affect the distribution of that kind
of wealth and often makes those things even more valuable.  The
bottom line is that there are no easy solutions and anyone who tells
you otherwise is blowing smoke.
   As to what will happen, I believe that global hyperinflation
is the path of least resistance and is therefore inevitable.  Throughout
history experiments in fiat currencies have always ended badly, usually
in a hyperinflationary spiral which ends in the currency being worth
less than the paper it is printed on.  Yes, harsh deflation, which results
when an economic system built on a gold standard collapses, can
seriously damage an economy, but it is a more survivable event since
the lower and middle classes can generally preserve at least some of
their wealth through physically held cash and accounts in banks which
don't fail.  Hyperinflation wipes the slate clean for debtors and savers
alike, which destabilizes the economy, the government, and even the
very fabric of society.  Faith in the system collapses utterly, and after
hyperinflationary episodes in France in the 1790s and Germany in the
1920s, the result was a dictator rising to power and a world in flames.
I don't want to see my country, or any country for that matter, follow
down that road, but as we have seen over the last few months, every
injection of liquidity into the system has fixed things for a short while,
but not for long.  The system has required larger doses of what was
once a large amount of money and in the future it will require larger
doses still.  A billion dollars is still a lot of money, right?  And as time
moves forwards the numbers will get larger but the effect will always
be the same: temporary relief with another crisis soon to follow.  But
the odd part about the current crisis is that even with all the liquidity
that has been added to the financial system, very little of it has trickled
down to the rest of the economy, with prices remaining relatively
stable.  This makes me wonder if something which could be dubbed
"hyperstagflation" is our fate, where the cost of living doesn't change
in the normal economy and millions of job losses results in a major
downturn, but the financial sector overheats and then completely self-
destructs.  But I think that when the deleveraging of the markets finally
runs its course, perhaps being marked by the bursting of the bond
market bubble, that inflation will simply explode and we will be in for
a rough ride.  All that I can say is, buckle up and hold on tight.  We
aren't anywhere near the bottom yet.
   It's been a rough year for Fireaxe, and although my economic
situation is fine, my health has still not allowed me to go back to the
studio and crank away at all the projects that I have lined up.  Every
now and then I have a day where I am bursting with energy, which
gives me confidence that I will one day be back to full strength, but
for now I must bide my time and lay the groundwork for the future.
Cancer could not kill me.  A hundred billion parasites cannot keep me
down.  And if I have anything to say about it Fireaxe will rise again
and be better than ever.  But not all victories are won with a single
brilliant stroke.  Sometimes it requires a slow, methodical, and
unspectacular approach to defeat the enemy.  Yeah, that kind of
thing doesn't sell well, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Death of a God

   Welcome to the Fireaxe economic bulletin!
   I apologize for writing about economics in so many newsletters,
but given that Fireaxe is all about ideologies, and that economic theories
are fine examples of modern ideologies, and that Capitalism is teetering
on the brink of disaster, the current global situation gives me a chance
to see how well the Fireaxe theory is holding up and whether or not it
allows me to predict the course of major events in the future.
   One thing that jumped out at me during the last two months
was when Alan Greenspan went before congress and testified that he
acknowledged the presence of a flaw in his financial ideology.  Yes,
seeing the words "flaw" and "ideology" in the same sentence put a big
smile on my face. And while quotes from that testimony received a
lot of press, the full exchange between Senator Waxman and Alan
Greenspan regarding the flaw is particularly enlightening:


Chairman WAXMAN. Dr. Greenspan, I am going to interrupt you. The
question I had for you is you had an ideology. You had a belief that free,
competitive--and this is shown--your statement, "I do have an ideology.
My judgment is that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled
way to organize economies. We have tried regulation, none meaningfully
worked." That was your quote. You have the authority to prevent
irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis.
You were advised to do so by many others. Now, our whole economy
is paying its price. You feel that your ideology pushed you to make
decisions that you wish you had not made?

Mr. GREENSPAN. Well, remember, though, whether or not ideology
is, is a conceptual framework with the way people deal with reality.
Everyone has one. You have to. To exist you need an ideology. The
question is, whether it exists is accurate or not. What I am saying to
you is, yes, I found a f1aw, I don't know how significant or permanent
it is, but I have been very distressed by that fact. But if I may, may I
just finish an answer to the question--

Chairman WAXMAN. You found a flaw?

Mr. GREENSPAN I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the
critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to
speak.

Chairman WAXMAN. In other words, you found that your view of the
world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working.

Mr. GREENSPAN. Precisely. That's precisely the reason I was shocked,
because I had been going for forty years or more with very considerable
evidence that it was working exceptionally well.


   First of all, it isn't surprising to see Greenspan trying to
defend his ideology by trying to claim that everyone has one.  This is
similar to the method that some religious believers use when arguing
with atheists and its purpose is to obscure the nonsensical nature of
using faith as a proxy for proof.  The basic approach is to claim that
everyone's inner model of how the world works is based upon
uncertainties which are similar to beliefs, and thus everyone follows
what could be described as their own personal religion or ideology.
Often the believer will refer to such an inner model as a "worldview",
a "perceptual system", or a "conceptual framework" as Greenspan did
in an attempt to blur the distinction between faith and proof, in the
process rendering the words religion and ideology meaningless.  The
argument that then follows is that since everyone has a conceptual
framework and since we are all imperfect humans, that all frameworks
are therefore imperfect.  This opens the door to the idea that anything
that anyone believes is doubtful at best and thus who can say what is
right and what is wrong?  This argument reduces both atheism and
religion down to being mere opinions, and suggests that any claims
by atheists that their arguments are based on proof or logic just shows
that the atheist has "faith" in science.  Of course, completely missing
from this argument is the idea that some "beliefs" may be a lot more
concrete than others and that non-falsifiable beliefs are pure intellectual
folly, but believers usually counter that there are parts of the universe
where logic and proof simply don't apply, after which the debate
generally lapses into solipsistic nonsense.
   But unlike religious debates, Greenspan cites the importance
of evidence rather than claiming that there are some realms where the
concept of proof is no better than faith.  He claims that the evidence
supported his ideology for forty years and thus he had no reason to
believe that it was wrong despite the fact that others disagreed with
him.  This is where he uses the "ideology dodge" and it is unfortunate
that Waxman and Greenspan didn't get into a deeper discussion of the
matter concerning ideologies.  The evidence that Greenspan cites only
supported his beliefs because he was looking at it through his rather
narrow ideological prism.  In reality, economic indicators which
troubled a number of economists from many other schools of thought
were showing that great dangers were brewing.  However, had Waxman
pressed Greenspan on this point he probably would have answered his
critics by saying that everyone looks at the evidence through their own
ideological prism and that no one's conclusion about the dangers is
better than anyone else's.
   This is a good stonewalling technique and can be used by
those in power to brush aside criticisms of their policies as well as
suggestions that another course of action be taken.  If all policies can
be reduced to being of equal merit, and when arguing something as
flexible as economics it is easy to point out the flaws in any proposed
system or course of action whether or not those flaws exist, then the
final decision can always be to go with the plan that the person in
power has proposed or stick with the one which he is overseeing.
This stonewalling technique will work regardless of what kind of
results are being produced.  If things are going well you have a strong
case for continuing along the same path and you can say that there is
no reason to do anything differently.  And if things are going badly
you can say that your approach is still the best and that doing anything
else would make things even worse.  It is only when the wheels come
off completely that those in power are forced to admit their own
mistakes and can be made to do something different.
   Greenspan continues to resist accepting any blame for the
current crisis, but his testimony was noteworthy in that he finally
admitted that there was a flaw in his ideology.  This is no small
admission.  A true believer never has to admit that his ideology is
false since he can always distort any evidence to fit his conception
of the world, such as what Alan had done in a number of interviews
since the start of the current collapse.  But Greenspan has lost his
faith and the moment that he admitted it was a very deeply symbolic
one indeed.  It was the equivalent of the Pope announcing that he'd
discovered a flaw in church doctrine and that until it was resolved
there was no way of telling who was going to get into heaven and
who was going to hell.
   So what was his ideology?  Greenspan followed a version
of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy which she outlined in a series
of essays entitled "The Virtue of Selfishness".  Rand's theories turned
traditional morality on its head, championing the notion of selfishness
and spurning the ideal of altruism.  On the surface this idea is a non-
starter.  If everyone was selfish then our society would collapse into
anarchy as everyone would try to satisfy their own needs at the expense
of everyone else's.  However, Rand adds an important caveat to her virtue
of selfishness and declares that "self interest rightly understood" will
eliminate the problems that would arise if everyone mindlessly pursued
their own personal goals.  The "rightly understood" part essentially
means that a selfish but thinking person would avoid doing things for
short term gain that would come at the expense of survival in the long
term.  For instance, rational people understand that using violence to
get what you want will eventually lead to violent retribution and thus
they will seek more peaceful ways of getting what they need.  Also,
Rand's philosophy does not exclude the idea of people working together
if it results in everyone's mutual benefit.  In fact, Rand declares that
"the rational interests of man do not clash" and thus if everyone
pursues what is best for them, using reason to guide them and not
making decisions based on desires or whims, then they will come
together and create a system that realizes their collective goals.
Thus in the Objectivist's view there is no need for regulation,
morality, altruism, and any external force, save for the defense of
individual rights by the state if necessary, since the simple fact that
people working together for the mutual benefit of all will produce
greater gains than if everyone worked separately as individuals.  Also,
Objectivists hold that if everyone acted rationally and in their own
self interest, that the most efficient cooperative system will arise
naturally, and that trying to impose a system or structure only serves
to make people less efficient.
   From this perspective the push for deregulation and the
brushing aside of moralistic accusations of greed and avarice which
has occurred over the last few decades makes perfect sense.  As Gordon
Gecko said in the movie Wall Street, "Greed is good" and he delivered
a very powerful and persuasive Objectivist argument in support of that
notion.  There are serious problems with the ideology however, not the
least of which is that if people act in their own self interest, but do not
act rationally, they will inevitably take a self-destructive course.  In this
way, Objectivism falls victim to the same problem that Rand finds in
other moral systems whose apologists blame any problems in their
systems on the moral failures of their believers.  Instead of immorality
causing the breakdown of the system as is the case with religion,
irrationality is the cause of the breakdown in Objectivism.  And it is
irrationality that plagued the system that Greenspan created as
Chairman of the Federal Reserve: the CEOs and the stockholders did
not act rationally and as a result acted in ways that brought about their
downfall as well as the collapse of the global financial system.
   Another problem is that even under ideal circumstances, where
everyone in an objectivist society is acting as rationally as possible,
the complexity of modern society is so vast that it is impossible for
anyone to tell whether or not what they are doing is something that is
beneficial to their society in the medium to long term, and so people
are left to guess.  If someone cannot perceive the negative effects of
their own actions they will be prone to make mistakes and they will
likely err on the side of what benefits them the most in the short term.
This is another problem that befell our modern financial system.  New
investment products such as derivatives, credit default swaps, and
structured investment vehicles became so complicated that no one
truly understood them, and since many of them were not being
regulated the opacity of the market prevented anyone from figuring
just how vulnerable anyone or anything was in the event of a market
crash.  And while a more altruistic person would likely stop short of
indulging their selfish needs when faced with the opportunity to
profit greatly with little apparent risk, Rand accurately points out
that ideologies have consistently failed to enforce their moral codes
on their followers and all eventually succumb to corruption.
   But perhaps the most serious problem with Objectivist
philosophy is the idea that rational thinkers will always favor long
term interests over short term ones.  A person who rightly understands
that something like over-fishing can permanently destroy a source of
food will choose to not have fish for every one of their meals, even
though that person may like fish better than any other meat.  This
makes perfect sense.  But as I have pointed out in The Burning Blade
edition 10.5, due to intense competition, strategies for the long term
survival of ideologies are not adequate for survival in the short term,
and thus the most advantageous long term survival strategies will not
survive to realize those long term benefits.  It is this dilemma which
turns corruption and "irrational" behavior into successful survival
strategies.  Consequently, this ensures that no system will be able to
survive in the long term since all will sacrifice conservative strategies
to focus on the here and now.
   Take, for example, a marathon.  The ideal strategy is to run at
the fastest pace that you can maintain over the entire course of the race.
While you can go faster if you sprint, you know that you can't sprint the
entire distance and that if you sprint and then rest and then sprint again
that you will end up wearing yourself out long before you reach the
finish line.  So everyone chooses a fast but sustainable pace and the
winner is the one who is just a little bit faster than everyone else.  For
such a race a long term strategy is best.
   Now, let's change the rules of the marathon a little bit and say
that at every mile marker there is only enough water to supply half of
the runners with what they need to keep going.  The limited supply of
water is analogous to the limited supply of resources available for the
growth of an ideology.  Now, instead of running the race at a steady,
marathon pace and trying to finish the race in the fastest time possible,
the pressure is on to make it across every mile marker in time to get
your share of the water since you know that you can't finish without
drinking.  Naturally the pace will be much higher as the need for
water overrides the need to finish in your best time and now sprinting
becomes more important as the race for the line at each mile marker
become more and more competitive.  With these rules anyone who
tries to go at a steady, sustainable pace would get eliminated early
and the best marathon runners would find themselves forced to
abandon the approach that they had trained for and resort to having
to keep ahead of the herd no matter what the pace was. Everyone
would be running faster than they would want to go, dipping into
their reserves early, and doing whatever they had to in order to get
to the precious and limited supply of water before it was gone.  And
what is more is that no one would finish the race in their best time.
In fact, it would not be surprising to see the winner staggering across
the line, barely able to continue, or to see competitors stopped along
the course, desperately trying to recover from the extreme efforts that
they needed to undertake in order to obtain what they needed to fuel
their next effort.  Sure, it would be an exciting race to watch, maybe,
but not any fun to run.
   I feel that this is a good analogy for ideological competition
in the real world and explains why long term strategies are not viable
under highly competitive conditions.  But to make things even more
accurate I would remove the finish line altogether, making the race go
on forever, and add that whenever a runner drops out of the race, they
are replaced by a fresh runner, which is analogous to ideological
collapse and rebirth.  Now when the race is run you will not only see
people running in inefficient, short-sighted ways, but you will see
frequent turnover in who is leading the race as the best of the
fresher runners beat out the best of the ones who've been running
for longer periods of time.  What a rat race.  In any event, even
though the runners are running in a way that eventually dooms them,
can it still be said that they are not behaving rationally?
   Which brings us back to the flaw in Greenspan's ideology.
Alan believed that the people who ran corporations would act with
rational self interest, not taking on the kinds of risks they did indeed
overindulge in, since he thought that they would avoid doing things
that would lead to the collapse of the system.  He figured that the
Masters of the Universe would turn down larger short term profits,
which might end up turning into losses, in exchange for smaller
long term profits, thus ensuring the survivability of their firms as
well as the system from which they benefited so greatly.  But if you
take the "under-funded marathon" analogy above and apply it to the
business world you can see that in the highly competitive world of
modern Capitalism, corporations are forced to sacrifice long term
stability in exchange for survival in the short term.  Without regulation
to prevent the riskier and riskier financing practices that were building
up over the years the top firms were left with the choice of either
shunning risky investments and losing a lot of their market share,
or embracing something that many of them knew was a bad idea.
It didn't matter how rational they were, the game was geared to
reward those who sacrificed the future for the present, and now that
we've arrived in the future, we are stuck with the fallout from decades
of similar short-sighted decisions.
   Furthermore, the deregulation and loose monetary policies
that Greenspan both advocated and enabled were critical in allowing
the corruption of his Objectivist ideology.  However, that corruption
gave it an advantage over other systems, allowing it to survive and
conquer.  Freed from the constraints placed upon it by the more
moral, in a financial sense if not ideological as well, thinkers of the
past, the Capitalist system surged far ahead of any rival, conjuring
massive amounts of wealth that dwarfed the attempts of any other
system to challenge it.  Rival systems have been all but wiped off of
the face or the earth.  Capitalism has won.
   But the victories of Capitalism aren't limited to the greater
ideology itself.  Over the decades the corruption of Objectivism
enabled its originator, the United States, to maintain its status as
the one true superpower, its financial might forcing Europe to unite
in order to compete with it and forcing Asia to accept trillions in
dollars and IOUs in return for shipload after shipload of the finest
goods in the world.  That will be seen as quite a steal if inflation or
hyperinflation comes to pass since those holding dollars will not be
able to get the same amount of goods back as they gave to earn those
dollars in the first place.  Also, one cannot forget that such financial
hegemony allowed the United States to exercise its military might,
launching expensive wars in other lands while allowing for tax cuts
at home.  And even now, as the global financial system collapses,
the rest of the world still comes to the aid of the United States since
the stability of the system rests upon the almighty dollar.  If the
dollar goes down, everyone goes down.
   Yes the rational objectivist thinkers became irrational looters
and parasites in the end, but had the United States adopted a more
financially conservative and more modest stance over the last thirty
years it would not have reached such heights and would probably be
far less powerful than it is today.  Perhaps the U.S. would not even
exist as we know it.  So it seems that "irrational" is not as ineffective
a trait as Objectivists would lead us to believe.  It appears to have
its benefits, although long term survival is not one of them.
   The Fireaxe theory appears to be vindicated by current
events as Capitalism stumbles and falls.  Using it, and assuming that
this is the death of the god known as Capitalism, I will predict that
there will be a lot of ideological mutation in the years ahead and we
will be beset by dozens of competing philosophies all trying to get us
to embrace them so that they can rise to power.  Also, growth will lag
as a global recession takes hold and without growth to satisfy the
aggressive nature of ideologies and relieve individuals of their sense
of inadequacy we will see vicious and perhaps violent internal
struggles between burgeoning rival ideologies as well as people
falling into depression and despair.  People will flock to religion,
politics, and any other ideologically driven organizations in order
to replace what they lost with the death of Capitalism, which provided
meaning and structure to their lives.  Revolutions may happen,
political turmoil will be a certainty, and the specter of war looms on
the horizon.  And, as always, we are food for the gods.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian

--
"This is no longer Democracy, this is Kleptocracy."

            - Fireaxe "The Evil Men Do"
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
Post by: JewishPhysics on December 07, 2008, 06:31:58 PM
I find this Fireaxe Theory interesting and in all likelihood accurate.  If I were a betting man, I'd place my money on Islam being the contender for the apocalyptic suicide cult.  That's why I am so eagerly awaiting Holocaust 2.0 in Europe (this time against Muslims, obviously).  Do you have any hypothetical solutions to this problem?
Title: The Burning Blade 12.2
Post by: Fireaxe on February 02, 2009, 02:36:57 AM
But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're giving none away.


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.2

         February 1, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The length and severity of depressions depend partly on the
   magnitude of the 'real' maladjustments, which developed
   during the preceding boom and partly on the aggravating
   monetary and credit conditions."
      - Gotfried Haberler, Prosperity and Depression, 1937

   "To preserve their [the people's] independence, we must not
   let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our
   selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and
   servitude."
               - Thomas Jefferson


   And so it begins.
   No, not the long, hard upward climb out of the hideous mess
that we've gotten ourselves into, but the clash of ideologies and the
struggle to see which one takes the reigns of leadership in the next
era.  After the recent inauguration of a new President in the United
States one might think that the ideological shift has already occurred
and that liberal progressive politics along with Keynesian economics
have won out, but one election means little when it comes to the larger
picture.  The ongoing economic plunge may make victims out of many
prospective ideologies ranging from the left to the right before order
is restored, and the winner may not always be the one that is best, or
even one that works well at all.  History is replete with examples.
   Jefferson and Haberler spoke the truth long ago but their
words will be ignored, drowned out by the hope-filled lies of a thousand
ideologically based quick-fix solutions.  Echoing sound advice that was
true in the days when the Bible was written, and even before that time,
Jefferson shows us the way to long term prosperity.  Perpetual debt is a
sure path to enslavement and thus is anathema to the principles upon
which the United States was founded.  And yet, if one thing has not
changed with the hand over of power in America it is the belief that
debt is the solution and not the problem.  If we borrow enough, or so
it seems that our new leaders argue, and spend it in the right ways of
course, to distance themselves from the failed leadership of the past,
then our perpetual debt will somehow be magically transformed from
an anchor hanging around our necks into a helium filled balloon
lifting us up into the sky.  Never mind that there simply may not be
enough willing lenders out there, or enough able lenders for that matter,
who are willing to underwrite the current fiscal fiasco.  Instead, let's
focus on our wondrous balloon of debt, filled with the stuff that dreams
are made of, to quote the protagonist from one of our most treasured
movies.
   Haberler explains why the current plan is doomed to failure,
and does so in an amazingly concise manner.  It's not stimulus that we
need, but an overhaul of our economic and financial systems in which
our maladjustments are corrected and our debt spiral is brought to a
halt, and that will take time even if we do settle upon the proper
course.  Perhaps we should consider inscribing Haberler's quote on
our next issue of currency, placing it just underneath Jefferson's quote
about debt so that we are reminded of these principles every time we
spend some of our precious, hard-earned dollars.  Of course, such an
undertaking would only make sense if those paper dollars were fully
convertible into gold or silver and not the byproduct of a fiat currency
scheme where the money supply is created by government debt and
private bankers collect interest on that debt ad infinitum.  Let the
coming devastation be our last lesson about the perils of paper money
and the false promises of bankers.
   On a personal level we all understand the problem.  We've
borrowed too much and spent more than we should have and now we
must cut back and save or simply declare bankruptcy and try to start
over with bad credit.  We look at our gas-guzzling SUVs, our watt-
hungry plasma TVs, our sprawling, energy-sucking McMansions,
and the many other facets of how our extravagant lifestyles have
cost us, and will continue to cost us, and our own personal economic
maladjustments are painfully clear.  We look at our credit card
statements, our interest payments, our mortgage debt, and how
much pressure those things put on our incomes and we are painfully
aware that it will take years, if not a decade or more, to get things
back into a healthy balance.  And we know that if we delay acting
and allow things to get worse that it will only take longer for us to
dig our way out of the hole that we, with plenty of help from Wall
Street and Washington D.C., have gotten ourselves into.  And so we
read Haberler's quote and nod our heads and know what we have to
do.  The party is over.  It's time to tighten our belts.
   Yet on a national level, or perhaps it will make more sense
if we think about it as being on an ideological level, so many of us
completely abandon our common sense and venture off into a land
where perpetual prosperity is possible and where our salvation is just
one well-written piece of legislation away, or perhaps for those more
realistically inclined, one four-year term away.  Perhaps it's the fact
that our nation doesn't appear to have a credit limit, or that we've
been brainwashed to believe that tax cuts and stimulus packages
always stimulate the economy more than they drag on it and thus
pay for themselves, or perhaps we are simply in denial, and we'll
only admit to things being a little bit bad and that it's nothing that
having the right people in charge can't fix.  These things are all
true to some degree, but the bottom line is that what we know on
a personal level must be applied at the national level before we
can even think about a recovery, and we all need to lower our
expectations and make a lot of sacrifices or we're just engaging in
wishful thinking at best and suicidal policy-making at worst.
However, it appears that the influence of ideology and the nature
of ideological conflict is responsible for our collective disconnect
from grim reality.  Our gods are leading us to the slaughter.
   According to the Fireaxe theory, ideologies instill us with a
permanent sense of inadequacy which they then exploit by providing
us with a sense of fulfillment which can only be attained when the we
do something to further the ideology.  In essence, ideologies turn us
into addicts who must promote and spread our ideologies in order to
get our fixes.  From this perspective one can see that individual failure
does not disrupt this arrangement.  If a person feels more inadequate
than normal due to economic hardship, they can still receive ample
psychological nourishment from their ideology to keep them going.
If an ideology can provide material benefits, or fill its believers with
hope that the future will be bright, or at least fill their followers with
self-righteous indignation about the current ruling ideology and make
them believe that things will be better when their ideology comes to
power, then the believer can get his fix.  All you need to do is click to
your favorite newscast or website and bask in the glory of what will
one day be.  However, if an ideology cannot provide this glorious
vision it will fail to alleviate the believer's sense of inadequacy and
the result will be a crisis of faith.  If this crisis is prolonged, the
believer will simply stop believing in it and the ideology will become
weaker.  And so, in order to survive an ideology must maintain the
exploitative relationship between itself and the believer.  To this end
the ideology must sell the dream of a prosperous future, and preferably
one that promises more prosperity and requires less sacrifice than the
dreams of rival ideologies.  In turn the believer must embrace that
dream in order to feel validated, and it doesn't matter how much that
dream is detached from reality or how much intellectual slight of
hand is required to make it sound as if it could actually work.  The
end result is that our leaders, no matter how rational or intelligent
they may be, are forced to champion the unrealistic illusions of our
ideologically based needs whether they believe in them or not, and
yes, many of them do believe.  Giving us anything less would be akin
to betrayal and they would soon lose our support and be thrown out
of office.  So our leaders can't tell us that our nation will fall from
power, or that it will take more than a decade before we get even
close to where we were just a few years ago, and they definitely can't
tell us that the last twenty-five years of growth and prosperity was
mostly a debt-based illusion and that hard times lay ahead well into
the foreseeable future.  No, they have to tell us what we want to hear.
   Jefferson and Haberler be damned.
   The worst is yet to come though.  As the financial crisis
continues to fester and our ideologies prove powerless to prevent the
great fall, hope will no longer satisfy us and we will turn to darker
ways of satisfying our ideological addictions.  Fighting in the streets
is a real possibility, but I feel that most of us will simply say, "to hell
with the world", draw back into our own virtual realities, and indulge
ourselves in the escapism of our choice until the storm clouds lift.  I
predict that the real battles will be fought in the halls of power, both
economic and political, and when all is said and done I fear that
much of our treasured legal and political systems will lie in ruins
and what remains will be used as weapons in an ideological war for
supremacy.  As scary as that may sound we've taken some large strides
towards that nightmare reality already.  And as usual, I'd very much
like to be wrong about this, but I will prepare for stormy weather.  I
advise that you do too.
   Speaking of telling you what you want to hear, when it comes
to Fireaxe, I'm afraid that I can't do that in this newsletter either.  I'm
still not yet strong enough to pound away on my voice box and belt out
the lyrics for "Food for the Gods", the re-recording of which has ground
to a halt for nearly a year.  I'm getting closer, but I'm just not there yet.
The good news is that not only am I still composing and stockpiling
musical ideas for future projects, I've decided to finally break down
and learn how to play the guitar.
   Now, that may sound like a joke, or at least an overly modest
admission, and after listening to the solos on "Where Eagles Fly",
"God is Pain", and dare I add one of my old favorites "The Rack", one
might wonder where I get off deprecating myself.  But the truth is that
I am first and foremost a composer, or rather I should say that I'm a
writer of music so as not to compare myself to the masters.  My skills
as a singer, guitarist, keyboardist, etc., were all gained not by sitting
down, studying, and practicing for hours on end until the instruments
and I became one, but by doing whatever I needed to do to sing or play
what I had composed.  And since I don't perform the music live, I
only have to play the parts right once, which leaves a rather large gap
between my skills and that of a true professional musician.
   So when it comes to the guitar, I've never bothered to learn
the fret-board or work on my finger rolls and hammer-ons and spend
hours duplicating all the fancy tricks that the Yngwies, Vais, and
VanHalens of the world make look so easy.  But after being called a
"virtuoso" in a very awesome review of "Eternal Devotion to the Dark
Goddess" (thanks Officer Nice) I've decided that it's time get my
chops up to speed and see just what level of virtuosity I can achieve.
So in the future, expect better from Fireaxe.
   But also, don't worry about me to falling into that musical
masturbation trap where I just sit there and play arpeggio after arpeggio
and pretend that my solos are an entry for some sort of "best metal
guitarist" competition.  Those were the kinds of excesses that chased
old school metal off the stage in the early nineties.  Fireaxe is still going
to be all about the emotional content of the song with the solos written
to complement and accentuate the mood of the music.  Now, I don't
mean to demean those guitarists who've spent their lives perfecting
their craft and have recorded some of the most fantastic guitar work
in the world.  You guys seriously rock.  You've been an inspiration to
me and I've learned lots from you.  But showing off and playing "prog
for prog's sake" is dead letter to me.  I see the guitar as purely a tool
of communication and I will use it to tell you how I feel.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Hill

   I've always enjoyed riding my bike, and since riding is more
about endurance than peak exertion cycling has been one of the few
physical things that I can do while working my way through my
lingering health problems.  I've put thousands of miles on my bike
over the years and I very much enjoy the pastime, but it is often that
I wonder what it is about riding that is so rewarding for me.  On an
average Saturday I'll ride upwards of sixty miles or more, with a few
thousand feet of climbing thrown in for good measure, and spend a
good five hours or more just sitting there pedaling, mile after mile.
It's hard work after all, and I sweat, and I hurt, and sometimes I fall
short of my goal for the day, and so sometimes when I'm out there I
wonder what exactly is it that I'm getting back for all the effort that
I am putting into it.
   Is it staying fit?  Well, that's part of it, but I only need to ride
a few hours a week to be in good condition.  I ride a lot more than I
need to for my health.
   Is it achieving that "runner's high"?  Well, no.  I don't recall
ever feeling any sense of euphoria when I've been out there save
perhaps when I reach a new milestone for speed or distance or go
somewhere where I've never been before.  Those times are few and far
between and the "high" that I get is more a feeling of accomplishment
rather than any endorphin rush.
   Is it to get close to nature?  Well, being outside in California
on most days is a wonderful feeling, and traveling through the
countryside is definitely enjoyable, but I don't need to labor on a
bicycle for hours to achieve that.
   Is it to train for some big event?  Well, I do try to ride in the
MS-150 every year and have done so since 2006, but most of the time
I am just out there on my own, rolling over roads I've been down before,
and not trying to build towards anything more than doing even more
riding next year.  So why the heck do I do it?
   Naturally my mind drifts towards ideological causes when I
start to ask questions about human behavior.  I don't consider myself
immune to ideologies or completely detached from their influence.
And when someone goes out and does something that doesn't seem
to result in any personal benefit it's generally a sign that they are
satisfying some ideologically based need.  That is the conclusion that
I have reached regarding my cycling.
   So what do I believe in?  I believe that by working hard,
pushing yourself, and denying your desires for quick and easy thrills
that you can achieve exceptional things and give yourself a lasting
sense of satisfaction with your life.  Yes, there's nothing new or in
any way radical about that idea although in these days of easy loans,
guiltless hook-ups, and instant access to just about any pleasure known
to man in hedonistic quantities the concept of delayed gratification has
become trite and quaint if not outright heretical.  But that doesn't mean
that it doesn't work, and it certainly works for me.
   I'm a victim of ideology and that will never change.  Inside
me is a permanent sense of inadequacy that I too need to alleviate,
just like everyone else, and that means that I am driven to do things
that make me feel worthwhile.  While one can escape the delusional
elements of any ideology, such as creation myths and life after death,
the psychological conditioning from being brought up under a particular
belief system will be with you for life.  Simply put, the imprint of the
ideology which you were raised to follow defines who you are.  It's
part of yourself, and you have to learn to accept it.  In my case the
thing that makes me feel worthwhile is to be exceptional in some
way and usually in the realm of individual accomplishment.  Fireaxe
is certainly a part of that pathology as one reason why it exists is
that it is my attempt to produce exceptional music, and to my ears,
as well as to many of yours, it is.  Fireaxe wouldn't sound the way that
it does and I wouldn't have got to where I am in other areas of life
without the drive to be exceptional.  It's not enough for me to merely
do something, I have to be good at it, and that is the force that has
driven me all these years for better or for worse.  The evidence is
on those CDs.
   For me, cycling is no different, and I very much enjoy the
feeling of doing a ride which is exceptional in some way whether it
be in length, severity of the climbs, or the environmental conditions,
but the key to being satisfied by it day in and day out comes from
re-experiencing the process that I know will lead to great things.  I
don't have to do an exceptional ride each time out to feel good about
myself, or do those exceptional rides very often.  It is the process that
matters the most to me.  Through cycling, I reaffirm in my mind the
way that the world works: that hard work pays off in the end.
   Nothing typifies what I believe in more than riding up a long,
steep hill.  You can't get to the top without working hard for a long
time.  There are no shortcuts to be found, trying to sprint your way to
the top will wear you out before you even reach the summit, and all
along the way your body will send you many signals that it would
much prefer it if you turned around and coasted back to the bottom
rather than kept going upwards.  What gets you to the top is slow,
steady work, dedication to training, and the determination to reach
your goal in spite of any adversity.  This formula is proven out every
time I ride up a hill, and it serves to reassure me that in areas where
the hill is long and my chances of success are in question that sticking
by my principles is the best course of action.
   I'm fortunate to have a job where this is also true.  I'm not
sure that I would fare well in an occupation where I wasn't always
in the process of building something that is lasting and significant.
But when I look around at other areas of life, and how others see the
world today, I realize that my cherished beliefs are not accepted and
respected by all.  This disturbs me deeply because to me the value of
hard work is not an article of faith, it's a confirmed fact.  I know that
throwing it away is a recipe for failure and mediocrity…perhaps not
today, but certainly tomorrow, and as I see it, tomorrow has arrived
with a vengeance.
   The economy is one example of how discarding the notions
of hard work and frugality has resulted in catastrophe.  That's probably
why discussions of the current debacle are so frequently found in these
newsletters.  I'm personally offended by what has happened and have
felt that way since long before the current crisis began.  Instead of
building our wealth slowly, denying tempting indulgences, and
accepting the long term commitment to our dreams we mortgaged
our secure future to buy a fleeting present and tried to cheat our way
to the top of the hill.  But reality smashed our illusions, as it always
does in the end, and now we find ourselves sliding back down to the
bottom.  Years of work is being undone and the efforts of many are
being wasted.  And if that wasn't bad enough, the self-indulgent
feeding frenzy on Wall Street which continues to this very day is
an insult to us all.
   But setting the economy aside, and yes, I've written about
it far too much in these newsletters, don't we manage our personal
relationships in the same reckless and delusional way that we have
managed our money?  Intimacy, once earned through trust, honor,
and commitment, we now share with anyone: friends, strangers, and
often on no more than a whim.  We seem to have no appetite for
making the sacrifices necessary to build a lasting relationship and
instead we are just seeking affection, validation, or little more than
to feel the thrill of conquest.  We've become serial monogamists,
interested only in the fresh, exciting, and exhilarating parts of a
relationship, and we turn away from our partners whenever things
become dull or when conflicts arise.  All the while we cling to the
childish dream that some day we will find our soul mate out there
somewhere and that with them the blissful part of a new relationship
will last forever without us ever having to work at it at all.  Is it any
wonder why we can't achieve lasting success given our focus on
instant gratification and our quest for the perfect mate?
   Commercially we are over-stimulated and bombarded with so
many products that we can pick and choose what we want to indulge
in, satisfying any urge that pops into our minds.  It is said that this is
a good thing, especially for our children, that having an abundance
of toys stimulates more brain activity and that having choices allows
us to become unique individuals who can express our own personal
identities, but is it such a good thing?  We all know that overindulgence
leads to selfishness and egotism and I am seeing more and more of
those repulsive qualities in our youth as well as in our elders.  When
one has fewer choices one learns to make the best of what one has and
appreciates what he gets back from them so much more.  When one is
focused on a single thing one becomes more intimately familiar with
that thing and understands and experiences it on a more profound
level as compared to having a superficial understanding and
appreciation of a larger number of things.  So where does a person
who is used to having their desires catered to find the determination
to keep working towards a goal, day after day, where the rewards are
few and far between?  Today if we don't like what we're watching we
change the channel, and if we don't like who we're with, what we're
doing, or where we are, we change our friends, lovers, jobs, cities,
religions, and anything else, treating them as if their only purpose is
to satisfy our own desires.  We are a nation, no, we are many nations,
and all them filled with spoiled children who refuse to grow up.
   Well, there I go again, sounding like a conservative, or like
so many loudmouthed pundits out there shouting down the permissive
culture of liberalism and secular humanism as if those ideologies were
the cause of all of our ills.  I'm not a conservative, I'm a progressive,
and to me it is quite clear that we cannot make any progress towards
anything if we keep indulging ourselves like a teenaged nymphomaniac
in Las Vegas with an unlimited expense account and a binge eating
disorder.  And in case those pundits and conservatives haven't been
paying attention, in the right wing there is no shortage of selfish and
egotistical people who make a mockery out of everything that they
proclaim to believe in.  Yes, it seems that every few months another
right-wing demagogue gets caught in an embarrassing scandal, but
the corruption runs far deeper than that.  The objectivist foundation
of Monetarism and its support for deregulation is everything that the
right wing deplores about the decadence of the left: no imposed set
of rules, no personal responsibility, do whatever feels good; applied to
the realm of finance.  Also, torture and police state style surveillance
are just as corrosive to society as drug abuse and the sexification of
everything under the sun.  And how long will it be before people
realize that when Republicans promise tax cuts that it's not about
fiscal policy but about the bald-faced bribing of the electorate?  Both
ends of the spectrum are engaged in the same shameful overindulgent
behavior, they are merely doing so in their own unique ways.
   And so, though you may hear the incessant cries of those
who claim that our problems all started when we turned away from
some god or another or that we lost our faith, know that the reality is
that what we really turned away from was the principle of an honest
day's work for an honest day's pay.  Such a concept isn't unknown to
religion, in fact it's central to most of them, it just seems to have been
forgotten in recent years.  Take a look at the "believers" around you,
do they practice what they preach, or at least, what they should be
preaching but probably aren't?  Believing in some fanciful story
about the origins of the universe or the coming of the messiah is an
almost meaningless exercise in self-delusion.  And merely accepting
Jesus as one's personal savior could hardly be called theological heavy
lifting.  No, what separates the true believer from the pretender is
their devotion to doing the things that require hard work and sacrifice.
Does your Christian friend deny himself worldly pleasures or does he
avidly pursue one or more of the seven deadly sins?  Does your Muslim
sister honor her neighbors and treat them fairly or does she see them as
infidels to be cheated and their opinions dismissed?  Does your Jewish
brother admit it when he is wrong or does he vehemently claim to be
right in spite of all evidence to the contrary?  Believers of every stripe,
and many of us non-believers as well, have simply lost the will to do the
things that make us better people.  Our gods have failed us, or at least
we have failed them, not that there is any real difference between those
two ideas.
   So if they cannot teach their followers the value of sacrifice
and hard work then the religions and all other ideologies of the world
are naught but a collection of fanciful stories and tools to control and
dominate the minds of their hapless, overindulgent flock.  The guilt for
this lies everywhere, especially among the self-righteous, for we have
forgotten that our most ferocious criticisms need to be leveled at
ourselves.  Don't get me wrong.  I may detest religion, but I do have a
deep respect for many believers.  They've earned it not for what they
believe in, but for what they do.  They are the exceptions though, and
religion has proved once more than it cannot prevent the moral decay
of its believers.
   So is anyone out there truly surprised that we have arrived at
where we are, staring over the edge of a precipice that doesn't seem to
have a bottom?  Honestly,  if any of you are looking upon the myriad
of exploding bubbles, imploding marriages and relationships, and the
sheer lack of civility between people in public and in private and are
still clinging to the idea that honesty, modesty, and hard work, are
relics of the past, then I invite you to get on a bike and climb up a hill
with me.  Along the way you will sweat, you will suffer, you will cry
out for mercy, and in the end you will understand the way that the
universe works.
   But worry not, such a day of reckoning can be put off to
another time for the savior of the planet has finally arrived.  No, I'm
not talking about Jesus, I'm talking about Obama, and if you have
faith in him he will make the world a better place.  Now, I'm not
making fun of him, I think that he is the most competent and
honorable president that we've had in a long time.  No, I am poking
fun at his followers whose fawning idolatry is both seriously
premature and unbecoming of citizens of a democracy.  But I'm
willing to let slide the rejoicing and the hosannas provided that the
enthusiasm of his supporters is transformed into the dedication,
resolve, and most importantly, humility that will sorely be needed
in the coming years.  Do Obama's supporters, and does the entire
nation if not the world for that matter, understand where we are,
where the bottom is, and what it's going to take to pull us back up?
Simply put, are we ready to climb the hill?
   Personally, I'm skeptical.  As much as Obama may speak
about the process of rebuilding the country not being quick or easy
what will his supporters do when the economy suffers the next big leg
down?  When congress passes his bills and the country rallies behind
him and still the slide continues with no end in sight, what will his
adoring masses do then?  Remember that the generation which
supported him the most is the same generation that was brought up
in an environment of overindulgence, selfishness, and egotism and
that many are liable to drop their support for him on the way down
as quickly as they gave it to him on the way up.  I also see an angry,
fearful, and desperately misinformed opposition which is ready to
pounce on our president after any false step.  As the United States
goes into decline, as it inevitably must, they will heap the blame on
Obama and his party.  And if the recovery doesn't begin until late
2010 it could be the Republicans back in charge of the congress,
resulting in two more years of political gridlock as the crisis continues
to wreak havoc across the globe.
   When I look at the world I see nations full of individuals,
not communities, and thus lacking in the ability to rise up as one
and actually effect real change.  Winning an election is easy compared
with what our forefathers had to do to wring concessions out of the
other, unelected, group of people who run the country.  Over the last
decade or so we've seen corporations consolidating into monopolies
and trusts once more and worker's unions being rendered almost
completely powerless.  How is the working class supposed to raise
its standard of living in such an environment?  I also see the vultures
sitting on the sidelines, waiting for once strong companies, exclusive
real estate, precious commodities, and other things of great worth, to
fall in value so that they can swoop in and buy them up at bargain
basement prices, turning a massive profit when the economy recovers.
The vultures won't help out during the fall and in fact they want the
crash to be severe, thus maximizing their profits.  How will this
encourage people to believe that hard work is the path to greatness
when disasters and shrewd dealing produces the wealthiest people in
the world?  And I see a nation where the rich, traumatized by the recent
loss of a significant portion of their wealth, will fight tooth and nail to
retain what they have left regardless of how much more good it could
do if it was used to rebuild the country, and in a way that doesn't extract
more value than it adds.  How can we redistribute wealth when everyone
feels that they are entitled to every dollar they have and feel that they
are owed even more?  But as the bailouts continue and borrowing, or
even the printing of money, is used to stimulate the economy rather
than doing things which will put us back on a solid footing once more,
the mal-distribution of wealth and the oppressive weight of our debts
will continue to prevent any meaningful recovery from occurring.  It
is true that we could band together to change this, but we are divided,
not united, and we will likely splinter yet more as disillusionment sets
in.  Perhaps a special leader can unite us, and when he tells us the truth
instead of what we want to hear we might follow him anyway, but can
he take us where we need to go?
   A very interesting read about what it takes to redistribute the
wealth in this country can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Long

   Huey Long was the populist governor of Louisiana as well
as a United States Senator in the late twenties and early thirties and
spent most of his time and political capital fighting against the rich
and the powerful, at least up until his assassination at the ripe old
age of 42.  The story of his tumultuous life and political career is
fascinating, especially when you look at the ferocity of his opposition
and the steps that they were willing to undertake to stop him from
doing what was best for the people of his state.  Read and understand:
this is what we are up against.  It's not going to be easy.
   In the coming years I see a number of people charging up
the hill, hell bent on reaching the top before anyone else, only to be
out of breath and completely spent as they round the bend and see
many more miles of a road heading upwards.  I see more and more
people gathering at the bottom of the hill and just sitting there,
waiting for something to happen to make it easier for them to get
to the top, but the hill never changes.  Maybe a lucky few will catch
a ride with someone strong, and take the dishonorable way up, but
for the rest of us there is but one plan of action that ensures the best
possibility of success: go slow, endure the pain, and keep pedaling,
but most of all, stay humble.  If there is one thing that the Dark
Goddess despises most of all it's hubris, and her work is far from
being done.  Stay strong and stay modest.  The future is not going
to be about victory, but about survival.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
Post by: Fireaxe on February 02, 2009, 02:54:58 AM
I find this Fireaxe Theory interesting and in all likelihood accurate.  If I were a betting man, I'd place my money on Islam being the contender for the apocalyptic suicide cult.  That's why I am so eagerly awaiting Holocaust 2.0 in Europe (this time against Muslims, obviously).  Do you have any hypothetical solutions to this problem?

First of all, while you are busy imploring the Dark Goddess to destroy your enemies please consider if attracting her attention is a good ideal. :)

On a more serious note I sometimes wonder if it isn't the unique structure of the human brain that makes suicidally escalating ideological warfare inevitable.  If we were able to create a new form of human, or artificial intelligence equal to ours in mental capacity, yet with different "wiring" as it were, would the resulting social order by less volatile?  If so then perhaps we can genetically engineer our way out of the problem.

Or, if artificial intelligence is the answer, then maybe the good guys in those Terminator movies were really the machines.

Sorry for the late reply, I don't usually do much here than post my newsletter and run.

Brian
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
Post by: death metal black metal on February 02, 2009, 07:24:52 AM
On a more serious note I sometimes wonder if it isn't the unique structure of the human brain that makes suicidally escalating ideological warfare inevitable.  If we were able to create a new form of human, or artificial intelligence equal to ours in mental capacity, yet with different "wiring" as it were, would the resulting social order by less volatile?  If so then perhaps we can genetically engineer our way out of the problem.

I wonder why we spend so much time on this when the situation is painfully clear:

The truth is both slightly difficult to perceive, and not mentally tangible or pleasing.

So most people are in denial.

Everything else is just working around that.

For example, what idiot really thinks democracy is going to help us? We all know most people are idiots!
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.2
Post by: death metal black metal on February 02, 2009, 07:27:26 AM
The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it

I always love reading this part of your newsletters.

I think what's interesting is that ideologies do exist which do not pander -- that is, do not attempt short term survival by convincing others that they're convenient -- but these are universally ignored.

Maybe the human problem is simply... selfishness, empowered by an ability to restrict which parts of reality we recognize?
Title: The Burning Blade 12.3
Post by: Fireaxe on April 05, 2009, 07:13:03 PM
With deficits so high that they will touch the clouds…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.3

         April 5, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The things that will destroy us are, politics without principle,
   pleasure without conscience, wealth without work, knowledge
   without character, business without morality, science without
   humanity, and worship without sacrifice."
               - Mahatma Gandhi


   "There was nothing inevitable, unavoidable or unforeseeable
   about the current crisis. At every step, critics warned of the
   dangers of further deregulation. But with the financial sector
   showering campaign contributions on politicians from both
   parties, investing heavily in a legion of lobbyists, paying
   academics and think tanks to justify their preferred policy
   positions, and cultivating a pliant media -- especially a
   cheerleading business media complex -- the sounds of
   clinging cash registers drowned out the evidence-based
   warnings from public interest advocates and independent-
   minded government officials."
               - Robert Weissman


   Didn't we know it all along?  Didn't we sense it coming?
Didn't we feel it somewhere in the back of our minds that we were
doing something immoral, unethical, illegal, or just plain stupid?
Of course not.  We were all caught by surprise weren't we?  And to
think that we are to blame?  Nonsense.  It was all the fault of someone
else wasn't it?  You know, someone in that other political party or
someone whom we already have a grudge against.  Yes, that's it, it
was the greedy rich, or the crafty, communist Chinese manipulating
their currency, or decades of misguided Republican deregulation, or
the irresponsible Federal Reserve whose chairman was following a
flawed ideology, or those corrupt Democrats who got massive
kickbacks from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in return for favorable
legislation, or it was those dirty illegal aliens, or those shady people
who hire illegal aliens, or it was those activist judges who are always
legislating from the bench, or those corrupt judges who are on the take
from big business, or the predatory lenders who sold credit as if it were
crack, or the people who took out loans that they knew that they couldn't
pay back, or it was the fault of one or more of any number of at least
partly responsible parties, or should we say irresponsible parties, that
have brought us to where we are today, with the exception of course
being that we had nothing to do with it.  And let's not forget our mantra.
Let us all open up our windows and scream it out to the world: "If
everyone had listened to me (or whatever pundit, idol, deity, or other
bastion of authority you happen to follow) then none of this would
have ever happened!"
   STFU!  For the love of Ishtar, STFU everyone!
   But alas, there will be no S'ing the FU.  And as we continue
to slide into oblivion the chorus of the self-righteous will only grow
louder.  Let us not forget that magical side effect of blaming someone
else in that it makes us feel more secure and less guilty about our own
failings.  Yes, even yours truly succumbed to this annoying practice.
When I received feedback on my advice/rant titled "The Hill" in the last
newsletter and received a lot of warm congratulations I knew that I had
screwed up.  Sure, the essay started out as an innocent exploration of
my own beliefs and practices, the kind of self examination which is
necessary for one to truly understand themselves and the world, but
while I tried to stick to my usual themes of ideologies and the Fireaxe
theory it seems that along the way I got sidetracked into blasting away
at the all too numerous hypocrites of the world.  I don't think that that
in itself is a bad thing, there are people who deserve the blame and who
need to change their ways, but it seems that no matter how balanced I
make my rants and how evenly I try to spread out the vitriol, it always
seems as though everyone thinks that I am on their side and that I am
talking about someone else.  If that's what you are thinking then you
are seriously mistaken.  When I spread around the criticisms I am
most definitely talking about me and about you.
   I know that I came off sounding too self-righteous in that essay.
I didn't mean to imply that Brian Voth is the almighty hill-climbing
wonder who stands atop a mountain of amazing accomplishments
and pisses down on all the lazy wastes of flesh below.  And when
I ended it by telling everyone to stay modest my own hypocrisy was
prominently on display.  I should have tempered my words and thus I
will do so now.  To be honest, I know all about "the hill" and how steep
and difficult it is because I've put forth half-assed efforts or outright
given up while climbing it more times than I care to admit, and I know
all the excuses for falling short because I've heard plenty of them uttered
from my own lips.  Part of my reason for writing it was to give myself
the kind of motivation that I need to meet the obstacles that I'm going
to be facing for the rest of my life, and life is going to get a lot harder
for almost everyone in the world for some time to come.  I know that
I've slacked off in a lot of areas, coasting along on my talents without
taking the time to really develop them, and I've taken too many things
for granted.  I guess that what I'm trying to say is that I am not talking
down to you from the top of the hill.  Nor are we both standing at the
top patting each other on the back and sneering at those pathetic
creatures below.  No, I am at the bottom of the hill, just like you, trying
to summon up the motivation to face the hard road ahead and end up at
the top, or at least end up somewhere high enough to satisfy my needs
and desires.  Understand that you don't climb the hill once in your life
and that's where you end up.  No, you have to climb it over and over
again so get used to the idea of starting over.  Now, let's plot our course
and find out what we're made of.
   To help in plotting that course, I'll get back to what I like to
think is some clear-headed, sober analysis about the state of the world
today.  And rather than give my less than qualified opinion about what
needs to be done to fix everything, like everyone else seems to be doing,
I'll instead focus on what is likely to happen so that you and I can make
better decisions about how to navigate the rough seas ahead.
   If there are any questions about how ideology has polluted the
world and made rational analysis nearly impossible then they are being
answered by the constant game of shirk and blame that passes for
discourse in political and financial matters today.  Everyone is railing
against someone else and making their case from a purely ideological
perspective based on half-truths and misconceptions.  At a time in
which it is of the utmost most importance to be clear-headed, open-
minded, and analytical about what is happening we have instead
surrendered to the false tenets of our belief systems, clinging to solutions
which worked in another time for a different set of conditions, and
unwavering in our support of them.  This is a sure recipe for failure.
But failure in what sense?  It seems inevitable that we will not choose
the best path out of the mess that we are in and that we will probably
end up switching courses many times, sometimes getting stymied by
entrenched opposition and at others applying truly draconian measures
which will end up doing more harm than good.  Democracy is supposed
to save us from such turmoil, idealistically dealing with crises by having
a group of people who represent a diversity of interests get together and
agree on a solution that works well for everyone.  But if what we've seen
so far is any indication of what is to come, our vaunted method of
governance is going to prove woefully lacking.  As a conscious, self-aware,
thinking people, there is no other way to describe such an outcome other
than failure.
   But failure for one ideology, especially one so powerful and
with so many followers as the one which is currently falling, means
opportunities for all the others to acquire new adherents and gain
ground.  And if the turmoil grows bad enough we are sure to see a
number of new ideologies or modernized versions of older ones appear.
Make no mistake about it, if the old system crashes completely to the
ground then almost everyone's understanding of how the universe works
will be fundamentally changed forever.  As unthinkable is it was only
a few years ago, free-market Capitalism may be on its death bed, with
only the fanatics, and others who did well under the current system,
clinging to the idea that it is the best way to run an economy.  The vast
majority of us may entertain various alternatives, including those which
are seen as utterly repulsive today.  Of course, it's not going to happen
overnight, if it happens at all, but as the misery drags on, minds will
change.
   And as the bickering, blaming, inaction, and poorly constructed
legislation continues to handicap our attempts at finding solutions a lot
of people are going to start thinking about dictatorship in a new light,
as a necessary evil rather than a corrosive and destructive force, since
a dictator would have the power to challenge and uproot our many deeply
corrupted and obstinate bureaucracies and impose his solutions the way
they were meant to be enacted, not some makeshift compromised versions.
The old tale about how Mussolini got the trains to run on time and other
myths about how efficiently Fascist governments can do things will be
unearthed and spread far and wide regardless of any truth in them or the
lack thereof.  Of course anything is going to be better than a democracy
paralyzed by partisan feuding and a financial system paralyzed by debt,
but without well regulated free markets and a stable currency no economy
is going to run at full speed, dictator or not.  However, with free markets
and laissez-faire capitalism associated with the numerous bankruptcies,
foreclosures, unemployment, and who knows what all else that are in
store that are going to bring widespread suffering and misery among the
masses it seems likely that a fascist ideology, by another name most likely,
will be presented as a middle way between Capitalism and Communism
and will gain wide acceptance in many nations.  The first signs of this
trend have already begun as governments worldwide have increased
spending and kicked off large public works projects, which is essentially
the government seizing greater control over the economy and displacing
private enterprise and free markets.  As the economic fallout spreads,
nationalizing privately owned companies, instituting price and wage
controls, protecting national industries, and other measures will likely
be instituted, appearing to be necessary and in many cases being things
that must be done in order to stave off the obliteration of important
national industries.  Fascism will be in vogue to one extent or another,
but what flavor of Fascism will each nation choose?
   As the neo-liberal Objectivist style ideology which has dictated
global economic policy for the last few decades lays dying, the F.D.R.
style Keynesian model has been dusted off and put in its place, thus
avoiding a full scale ideological conflict about how governments should
conduct themselves in a crushing fiscal crisis.  It appears that we already
have a solution when faced with a depression, simply follow the recipe
that the United States followed through the great depression and you too
will emerge as a superpower.  If only it were so simple.
   As the credit bubble implodes and the massive debts that have
built up are becoming unserviceable, we are seeing a wave of insolvency
sweeping across the world.  Individuals, corporations, governments,
and almost everything in between are becoming terrible credit risks,
and who can blame the banks for not lending the money that they have?
Would you lend money in this economy?  But the credit bubble needs
more debt to feed on or else it will undergo explosive decompression,
and so the governments of the world, with the U.S. leading the way in
grand fashion, have jumped into the role of "borrower of last resort" to
take up the slack and prop up a dysfunctional global economy.  The
question on everyone's mind is "will it work?", but already it seems as
if there is not enough savings in the world, or enough willing lenders,
to loan the U.S. and other governments the money they need.  If the
recent G-20 meeting is any indication, U.S. plans to spend our way
out of the mess we are in have been nixed by the rest of the world.
But while they can pull back in buying our debt, they can't stop us from
simply printing more dollars, and not long ago the Federal Reserve
announced that it will step in and buy at least some of that debt, a
paltry three-hundred billion dollars worth.  This is very noteworthy
since it is the first step on the road to hyperinflation.  We do not want
to take another.  While a deflationary spiral is very bad it is survivable.
Hyperinflation destroys nations.
   The pillar which cannot be allowed to fall is the solvency of
the United States government.  If the dollar goes down it will probably
take the global economy with it since so many things hinge on the
rating of U.S. bonds and everything is so interrelated.  It will put an
end to the idea that we can borrow and spend our way out of the next
great depression.  At that point the new Keynesians may lose their grip
on the reigns of power and the battle for ideological supremacy will
begin in earnest.
   So, what will this battle be like?  I think that a lot of us believe
in the idea that at some point things will get so bad that everyone will
simply wake up and see the truth, or at least see things in the same way,
and come together to fix all of our problems.  But as things have moved
forward through this crisis I see things moving in the opposite direction
and do not believe that we will ever end up any more united in purpose
or belief than we are now or were at any other time.  Using the Fireaxe
theory I predict that there will be a further ideological balkanization,
both within and between our nations only with deeper divisions than
today, with those numerous ideologies all clamoring for power and using
any methods at their disposal to gain acceptance.  Truth will be a victim,
not a champion, and fallen rivals won't so much agree with the wisdom
of the victorious ideology, they will simply grudgingly go along with it,
and that will be what passes for consent and unity.  How long it takes
and how ugly it gets between now and when we reach that "consensus"
is anyone's guess but our history books can give us a good idea of what
is in store.
   Speaking of what's in store I believe that I am almost ready to
go back into the studio and lay down the new vocal tracks for "Food for
the Gods".  Well, not new, but re-recorded vocals using much better
equipment than I had back when I first recorded it.  Even better news
is that I may be even better and stronger than before, but more on that
below.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


Back and Better than Ever?

   For years I did not dare even to think that I could be fully
healthy again.  It's what chronic fatigue syndrome does to you, or at
least my version of it in which I was dragged down by a collection of
festering infections and kept there for years.  Over that time I've tried
a number of approaches to treat my illness, and many of them made
me feel better, but only for a little while, and each time the hope that
I would recover faded I ended up a worse off than before.  When that
happens month after month, and year after year, it slowly grinds you
down on both a physical and psychological level.  It's not hard to give
in and give up.
   Even now as I am getting better, and occasionally feeling like
I am close to end of this nightmare, I still take a very pragmatic view
of where I am.  I've been disappointed too many times before, so that
is why I am not jumping up and down and telling everyone that I'm
on the verge of being cured.  It might not happen this time either.  It
might not happen ever.  But I can say for sure that in the latest stage
of my program that I've had days where I feel better than I've ever felt
in at least eight years, and to think that I might feel like that again,
and every day rather than just now and then, well, it's enough to get me
pretty excited regardless of my guarded optimism.
   On my good days I almost always take a few moments to sing,
usually something from "Food for the Gods", but I've also taken to
belting out some of my favorites from the band Manowar.  Manowar is
a band that knows how to write battle hymns and on those days when I
am strong I feel that I too am rising above my enemies and crushing
them once and for all.  In fact, should I reach a point where I am
convinced that I have achieved victory over Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
and Cancer too but I didn't feel like celebrating becoming cancer free
for five years at that time due to my other health issues dragging me
down, I may record the first official non-satirical Fireaxe cover song to
commemorate my return to health.  I'm thinking that doing "Blood of
My Enemies" or "Heart of Steel" would both be very appropriate.  But
for now I will wait and keep the pressure on my illness.  It has a way
of coming back just when you are starting to feel great.
   Even better news is that I've found that my voice is stronger
than ever.  I can really let it rip.  You'll have to wait a little while before
you can judge for yourselves but my range, my resonance, and my
control are better than I've ever heard them before, and that's without
regular practice.  So I've decided that it is time to get my voice back into
shape.  For the first time in a long time my muscles are much better able
to recover from intense efforts, which is what the style of singing that I
do truly is, and if my voice holds up, and improves, I'll be able to get
back in the studio and make "Food for the Gods" sound like it was
meant to sound.  Barring, of course, a relapse or something like the
global economy going completely to hell.
   Also, after a couple of months of practicing my guitar every
day and learning tons of tricks and tips from YouTube, which is a
surprisingly good source for free guitar lessons, I'm getting a lot
better in that area too.  I can do sweep picking and pick muting and
a number of different arpeggios and play faster and cleaner than ever
before.  But what is more is that I'm truly learning the instrument and
it feels much more like an extension of my body rather than a heavy
wooden object in my lap.  I'd like to get to the point where I just will
the music to happen, where it is just a flow from the parts of my brain
that create the music, through my fingers, into the guitar, and then back
into my ear, without me having to stare down at the fingerboard and
think about what I have to play next.  That would be sweet.
   And yeah, after spending so much time working on all the
tricks of the trade it's hard not to get seduced into thinking about
playing in those terms.  For instance, you start thinking that since sweep
picking sounds so neat that you should build a solo, or even a whole
song, around it, or that you should put an arpeggio so hard or so fast
that no one will be able to copy it into one of your solos, or that you
should come up with a new guitar playing trick that no one has ever
done before and make it your trademark move.  But I feel that doing
so takes you away from the music and the reason why one learns to play
in the first place, so I need to consciously fight the urge to be too cute
for my own good and tell myself that the things that I'm learning are
just tools to let me build the music that I feel in my heart.
   Lastly, I regret just talking about music in another newsletter
rather than being able to link you all to a new recording, but know that
I'm still here and making music is still what I love to do.  No matter
how bad things get, Fireaxe will live on in one form or another.


Did I Speak too Soon?

   And now some bad news.  I didn't but just finish writing
about the good news and of all my optimistic projections when I
suffered yet another setback in my recovery program.  My infections
fought back a few nights ago and fought back harder than they'd ever
had before.  Like any other living thing they do not like the prospect
of dying and after I turned up the heat on them they counterattacked.
I spent the last couple of days suffering through chills, weakness, and
dehydration that required spending a few hours in the emergency room
getting IV fluids at one point.  It was not fun.  I'm feeling better now,
but it's been a rough couple of days.  I blame myself mostly, for trying
to get too aggressive when dealing with my health problems.  These
"low grade" infections need to be put to death slowly, at a rate that your
body can flush out of its system, and I pushed myself a little too hard
over the last week, which is something that I tend to do.  It's a failing
of mine.  In any event, I promise to give a full accounting of what I've
been going through at some point in the future when I am healthy and
thus confident that my understanding of my illness and treatment is
correct.  I don't want to hand out bad advice.  There's enough of that
out there already.
   So what can I say?  The hill is long and steep and riddled with
setbacks.  But as long as I breathe, I will fight.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian
Title: The Lukewarm Butterknife - 12th Edition
Post by: Fireaxe on April 05, 2009, 07:13:48 PM
Mad as hell at people who are mad as hell...


      The Lukewarm Butterknife

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.3.1

         Apr. 1, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "Due to the exponential growth of negative equity for
   many homeowners, the top 10% of all Americans now
   control 110% of the nation's wealth."
         - A fictitious but not implausible headline

   "Your money, your house, and all that you've done,
   are defined in terms that don't mean a thing.
   The truth be told: we all die and rot,
   but that truth won't make your heart sing."
         - Fireaxe, "Everything is Bullshit"


   Wouldn't you know it?  After surviving cancer and fighting
my way through chronic fatigue syndrome I'm finally getting close to
being in good health again, but now that I'm fit and ready to join in the
big party that has been going on for the last ten years I arrive only to
find that everyone's either vomiting, lying around in a drunken stupor,
or explaining to the cops why the parking lot three stories below is
littered with the remains of household appliances.  What a rip-off.
I mean, for years Wall Street was handing out free money, real estate
agents were handing out free homes, and millions of hot, sexy, twenty-
somethings were handing out free sex, and there I was, sitting in my
apartment, renting, like a total idiot, with no stocks to my name, and
barely able to get it up because my hormones were so out of whack from
the Chronic Fatigue that whenever I looked at a woman I saw her as a
human being instead of a sex object.  Oh, what a loser I was, even more
so than when I was in high school.
   Honestly.  I could have been rich, well, on paper at least,
living in a house so large that both my bike and my cat could have had
their own rooms, and been bumping uglies with dozens of today's
unbearably narcissistic, liberated young women…well, liberated in
the sense that they've been liberated from any sense of personal
responsibility.  But no, I had to be sick.  I had to eat vegetables while
everyone else was wolfing down triple (bypass) bacon cheeseburgers,
krispy kremes, and fondue, whatever the heck that is.  I had to suffer
while everyone else was having fun.  And now that it's finally my turn
to come out and get my share of the action it feels like I walked out of
my apartment and into a funeral parlor.
   Honestly, it's enough to make me believe in a god, because
someone up there obviously hates me.
   But I'm an optimist.  Seriously.  Sure, my predictions on the
direction that the world is heading in are so depressing that you might
think that I'm one of those mind-numbingly dreadful pessimists, or
worse, a mind-numbingly dreadful pessimist pretending to be a realist
but who practices revisionist history whenever their dire predictions
fail to materialize.  But no, I've always looked on the bright side of
things, and the most wonderful facet of living through the Greater
Depression and all of the misery, violence, and social upheaval that
will come with it is that I can stand before you all and proudly say that
I predicted it all.  Ha ha!  <flatulence noise> And furthermore, Nyah!
All you head-in-the-clouds dreamers were wrong and I was right.  So
there!  And so what if all our hopes and dreams and everything that
we've ever worked for are getting smashed into oblivion?  So what if
the world is going to be a horrible place to live in for the next decade
or more?  So what if there might be a war so destructive that many of
us will end up being killed or poisoned by nuclear fallout?  I don't mind
because I'll have something to look forward to.  You see, when we're
standing next to each other in the soup line, hoping that they don't run
out of gruel by the time we get to the front, you can bet that I will have
a smile on my face because I'm about to tell you for the two-thousandth
time that I saw it all coming.  I predicted this disaster.  And I'm going to
lord it over you for the rest of our lives.  Sweet.
   And speaking of the end of our lives, there's another chance for
me to mock you poor hope-filled unfortunates.  And here I'm speaking
to the believers in an afterlife.  Yes, when we're all dead and rotting in
the ground and most definitely not in Heaven, or Elysium, or Nirvana,
or any other band, you can be sure that I'll be having the last laugh.
Well, the last laugh figuratively speaking, because I and everyone else
who is dead won't be doing anything at all.  We'll just be corpses and
that will be that.  Yes, an eternity of nothingness and the heat death of
the universe is what we have to look forward to.  How does that grab
you?  Muahahahaha!  You see, you wasted all that time going to church
and enjoying the company of fellow believers and feeling good about
yourselves because you believed in some wonderful and fulfilling
illusion.  While I, on the other hand, righteously hid my atheism in
the closet (well, not counting the internet), commiserated with other
non-believers about our dismal public image and  our persecution at
the hands of pundits and evangelicals, and got into far too many
frustrating and pointless arguments about religion with irrational
fanatics.  Ha!  Who's laughing now?  All that time that you spent
feeling safe and warm and loved by some benevolent deity you could
have been grappling with the cold, hard reality that life sucks and then
you die.  And now that the world is about to become a living hell who
is better prepared?
   Well, you are of course.  You've still got your dreams and
your gods and your church is going to be a great support group for you.
Meanwhile I'll be angry about how my fleeting existence is being ruined
by the actions of others and becoming even more convinced that humans
are a backwards step on the evolutionary ladder.  But hey, at least I was
right about the big crash.  So there.
   A big "Hello" to anyone receiving the Lukewarm Butterknife
for the first time.  This is the official parody of the Fireaxe newsletter.
The humor this time around will be darker than usual and you may find
it hard to enjoy or even identify the jokes.  So if you are not laughing
by now, do not consider yourself humor-impaired, just trust that what
you've read so far is hilarious and key off of the reactions of others so
that you appear to be amused by the same things that they are.  There's
no sense in getting ostracized over something so irrelevant as having
your own opinion.


"A Little Box of Sunshine" - Transcript of the second coming of the
KTLB show

Musical Interlude: "I wish that someone would come along and set things
right." <Church organ plays loudly in the background, fades into…>

Brian: Welcome to KTLB!  We are back on the air and better than ever.
I'm your host Brian Voth and this week, like every other week and every
other radio talk show host in the country, I AM REALLY, REALLY,
OUTRAGED!

The "dumb guy" of a paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each lovable
in their own way, friends:  Preach, brother Voth!

<An awkward silence occurs>

The "laid back guy" of a paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each
lovable in their own way, friends:  Dude. You jumped in on his "Paul
Harvey pause".

Dumb guy: Uhhhh….

The "overly PC liberal guy": And you said "preach", to an atheist, who
is like, not into that whole preaching thing and, you know, he might
find that offensive.  I certainly do.

The "repentant neo-con, but still a conservative, whatever that means
these days, guy": Oh, for crying out loud, can't anyone say anything
anymore without someone getting offended?

The "smart chick who no one takes seriously because she's hot":  Yeah,
and we should stop people from using hyperbole, because everyone does
that like, all the time.

The "lecherous guy who thinks he's a player": I'd like to go hyper on
your bolees, babe.

Brian: Would you all just KNOCK IT OFF?!

<Another awkward silence occurs, broken by…>

Dumb guy: Yeah. Quiet, you doofuses.

<A longer, even more awkward silence occurs>

Brian: Look, dumb guy, laid back guy was right about the whole Paul
Harvey pause thing, and you blew it. Twice.  And you know what that
means…

Dumb guy: I'm fired?

Laid back guy: Nah, we did that bit before.

Overly PC liberal guy: Outsourced?  Like the millions of good paying
factory jobs that got shipped overseas and were replaced by low paying,
part time retail sector jobs with little or no benefits and health care?

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Look, if people want to get paid
more they need to get a better education and find a better job.  Or they
can get more than one job like so many hard working Americans do.

Smart but hot chick: No, those better jobs are being filled by companies
who hire foreign workers on H1 visas for a fraction of what American
workers are paid.  And many of the low paying and part time jobs are
being filled by immigrants who will work off the books for criminally
low wages.  That's the dirty little secret of modern capitalism.  What
we have is slave labor only without the physical chains.  Everyone gets
hurt, except for the rich.

Lecherous guy:  Oh, all this talk of dirty secrets, chains, and jobs
gettin' filled is turning me on.

Brian: No one's getting fired or outsourced.  Those are the gags from
our older shows and they've all gone stale.  We like to keep it fresh and
topical, which means that for screwing up so badly, Dumb guy, we're
inclined to give you a huge bailout, just like our government gives to
Wall Street, and a bonus too.  But no, that joke's been used about a
million times over the last few weeks, and here at KTLB we have to
be creative as well as topical, so instead we are going to hit you with…

Dumb guy: Uh oh.

Laid back guy: This isn't good.

Overly PC liberal guy: Violence is not the answer.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy: Violence can be the answer, but
you have to do it right, like we did in World War Two.  Sure we made
a lot of mistakes in Iraq, but the surge worked.  You can use violence
to reduce violence.

Smart but hot chick:  The surge coincided with the Iraqi Sunnis losing
the civil war against the Shias, that's why the violence went down.  The
Sunnis didn't want to keep fighting both the Shias and the Americans,
that was more than they could handle.  And Al Qaeda was using suicide
bombers against Shia civilians, which made the Shias retaliate against
Sunni civilians.  So when the Sunnis saw that Al Qaeda was counter-
productive to their insurgency, a lot of the Sunni leaders, like the "Sons
of Iraq", sold Al Qaeda out to the Americans as part of a deal.  The
Sunnis also called off attacks against American soldiers and in return
the Americans let the former leaders of the insurgency run the Sunni
provinces.  The Americans are even paying them to "provide security"
in those areas so that they don't have to do it themselves.  But when the
Americans leave, the Sunnis will probably start the civil war up again.
And Iran was also instrumental in reducing the violence in Iraq since
they saw a friendly Shia-led government in charge and they wanted to
keep things that way.  Iran was able to talk Al-Sadr into laying down
his arms so that Maliki would have a stronger hand to play against the
Americans during negotiations.  And play it he did.  So if the surge
worked so well, why did Bush have to make concession after concession
to Maliki's government?

Lecherous guy:  Babe, if you want to see a surge that works, I got
your surge right here, yeeeeeaaaaaah.

Brian:  (sighs) I don't even remember what I was talking about.

Dumb guy: You were going to hit me with something.

Laid back guy:  Ah, man, you didn't have to remind him.

Brian:  Right, our new trendy punishment for bad behavior is that
we're going to hit you with: THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT!

<Sound effect of one of those big movie set spotlights turning on>

Brian:  Yes, the media spotlight.  The most vicious destroyer of lives
in the modern world.  The entity that killed Princess Diana, drove
Britney Spears and Michael Jackson insane, branded one rather
nutty woman the "Octomom", (what is she, a cephalopod?) and
savaged the reputations and careers of countless others.  Yes, Leno,
Letterman, and Colbert will be making jokes about you every night.
All the embarrassing details of your life will be revealed and broadcast
twenty-four seven on every cable news channel.  You'll be hounded
by paparazzi, accosted by pundits, used as a political football by
attention seekers across the nation, and if you're not careful you'll end
up with your own television show that makes you think that you're
a star but which really makes you into a national laughingstock.
Just ask Paris Hilton, Ozzy Ozbourne, or Joe the Plumber.

Overly PC liberal guy:  Or Bill O'Reilly.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Or Keith Olbermann.

Smart but hot chick: That reminds me of something that Pablo Picasso
was quoted as saying, but the quote can't be confirmed.  Anyway, it
goes like this, "From the moment that art ceases to be the nourishment
of the best brains, the artist can use all the tricks of the intellectual
charlatan. The refined people, the rich ones and the professional
layabouts, only want what is sensational or scandalous in modern art.
And since the days of cubism I have fed these boys what they wanted
and pacified the critics with all the idiotic ideas that went through my
head. Whilst I amused myself with all these pranks, I became famous
and very rich. I am just a public clown, a fairground barker."

Lecherous guy:  You want cubism?  I've got a nice pair of cubes in
my pants that I'll let you paint…with your tongue.

Dumb guy:  Uh, Brian, I'm just pretending to be dumb, you know, like
Larry the Cable Guy.

Brian: Oh, well, heck, you'll be fine then.  Hmm, no need for this…

<Turns off the media spotlight>

Brian:  Now, where was I?  Oh, right, I was OUTRAGED!  And then
I added a Paul Harvey pause to build suspense.

<Not-so-awkward silence where no one interrupts>

Brian:  But since Paul Harvey has passed away we should discontinue
that bit too.  And also, I think that we should honor a moment of silence
for the late commentator.

<Moment of silence occurs, not to be confused with a Paul Harvey pause,
although it is a pause for Paul Harvey>

Brian:  Yes, outraged!  Everyone is!  Outraged at the Treasury department
and the Federal Reserve and Wall Street and anyone with the letters A, I,
and G in their name.  Craigs of the world beware.  First the powers that
be said that the economic problems were contained.  Then they said that
they needed tens of billions of dollars to make them go away.  Then the
economy tanked and they said that they needed hundreds of billions of
dollars to fix everything, but that this time the money was going to fix
the problem for sure.  And when things got even worse they said that
they needed hundreds of billions more dollars to bail people out and
trillions of dollars in guarantees for everything under the sun in order to
prevent the entire financial system from coming crashing down and
destroying life as we know it.  And every time we said:  NO!  NO!  NO!
And every time our corrupt and economically illiterate politicians went
ahead and gave them the money anyway.   And then We The People got
mad and elected a new guy to change all that and he goes ahead and
keeps on doing the same thing that the last guy was doing which wasn't
working.  Seriously, what is the deal?  I am so out-of-my-head nuclear
pissed-off right now that I can barely see straight.

Laid back guy:  Dude, it's a scam.  Face it.

<Then, for the next ten minutes, ten painful minutes, the overly PC
liberal guy and the repentant neo-con conservative guy get into an
argument about economics and politics of the type that we've heard
so many times before over the last few months, or years, or decades
really, that it does not need to be transcribed here>

Smart but hot chick:  Well, you have to hand it to Obama.  He's been
very bi-partisan about his financial bailout plan…both liberals and
conservatives hate it.

Lecherous guy:  Hey, "bi" is okay with me.  Bring a Japanese girlfriend
and we'll have a real bi-party-san.

Brian:  Well, here's the latest deal.  One trillion dollars.  One trillion
more dollars are going to get dumped down the rat hole that Wall Street
has become.  And here's how they're selling it to us.  See if this sounds
familiar.  The government steps in and buys a bunch more toxic crap
from the big banks, banks that should have been put out of their misery
and liquidated long ago.  Well, actually, it's like, other people are going
to put up a fraction of the money to buy the toxic crap but We The
Patsies will put up most of it.  That's why they call it a public-private
"partnership".  But the partnership part of it is just spin because the
government is taking most of the risk.  Anyway, the banks are going to
unload a bunch of toxic crap that no one wants to buy at the prices they
are asking because it's all toxic crap and everyone knows that it's almost
worthless and so the government is going to buy a trillion dollars of it.
It's a screw and we'll be lucky if we only lose half of our investment.
Yeah, five hundred billion at least.  But here come the Masters of the
Spiniverse to tell us that the toxic crap isn't worthless, it's just under-
valued because the market is gripped with fear and paranoia.  That toxic
crap is only a little bit bad, they say, and if we buy it at a discount and
we are patient enough we'll see a big return at the end of the road.
Cha-ching!

Dumb guy:  Uh, you lost me.

Brian:  Sorry.  Okay, here it is in a nutshell.  They've got stuff that no
one wants to buy but they tell you that it's worth a lot more than this
low, low price that they're willing to sell it to you for.  It's a steal at
these prices!  You're guaranteed to make money.  It's a "can't lose"
proposition.

Overly PC liberal guy:  Hey, that sounds like my real estate agent.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  And my stock broker.

Dumb guy:  And my dead-beat brother-in-law.

Laid back guy:  Dudes and dudettes, it's snake oil.  It's a scam.

Brian:  My point exactly.  It's a scam.  And this is like, so much worse
than the AIG bonuses thing.  I mean, people got so angry about that
and that was only a measly  $165 million.  This is a trillion dollars
that we're going to lose this time around.  That's six-thousand times
more!  So everyone should be six-thousand times angrier about this
than they were about those bonuses.  I mean, I'm so outraged that
I've been searching around the internet for instructions on how to
build a guillotine.

Laid back guy:  Dude.  Lighten up.

Brian:  Lighten up?!  Lighten up!  You know, I ride in the MS-150
every year.  That's where we ride our bikes one-hundred and fifty
miles over two days to raise money for the victims of Multiple
Sclerosis.  But this year you know what I'm going to do?  I'm going
to sponsor my own ride called My-401k.  I'm going to kidnap bankers
and force them to ride four-hundred and one kilometers every day
until their friends and relatives cough up enough money to make up
for what I lost in my retirement fund.

Repentant neo-con conservative guy:  Hey, not all bankers are bad.

Overly PC liberal guy:  I have to agree.  It's the system that's corrupt.

<But they don't really agree, and tragically another boring argument
about deregulation, what Democratic presidents did, what Republican
presidents did, and what the Federal Reserve did, and all argued using
talking points rather than facts and logic erupts between the repentant
neo-con conservative guy and the overly PC liberal guy until one of
them brings up the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and the rest of the
dysfunctional but lovable friends are forced to bind and gag the pair
to get them to shut up>

Brian:  Praise to Ishtar.  If only we could do that to all the people who
keep that ideological argument crap going in real life.

Dumb guy:  Yeah, we shouldn't play the blame game.  We need to
set fault aside and solve our problems.

Brian:  NO!  We SHOULD play the blame game.  And we need to
get it right.  None of this ridiculous political grandstanding.  I want
to see judges and lawyers and real prosecutions, not some powerless
bi-partisan congressional investigating committee whose purpose is
to find a scapegoat and whitewash everybody else, themselves included.
I mean, how can we fix the problem if we don’t know, or at least we
don't agree, how it happened in the first place?  And when we find
out how it happened we will know exactly who is to blame.  It's not
some game, it's called justice.  And we need it, badly.  But you see,
that will never happen, because the guilty people want to keep the
ill-gotten gains that they made under the corrupt system and so they
want to sweep the whole blame thing under the carpet.  You know,
they'll convict Bernie Madoff and make it seem like justice was served
but they'll let everyone at the big banks and the hedge funds and
everywhere else get off without even a slap on the wrist.  Most of them
will even get to keep their jobs even though they screwed up about as
badly as anyone can.  And the reason why the government lets all that
happen is because most of them are enslaved to their party's leaders
and their parties are all about giving back to their campaign fund
contributors.  It's one big circle of payola.  And here's a news flash for
you, it isn't just the Republicans who are on Wall Street's dole, now
those supposedly pro-labor Democrats are also in the business of
paying back their Wall Street pimps, and all with our money.

Dumb guy:  But isn't everyone's fault?  You know, we all went along
with it, so we all deserve some of the blame.

<Sound effect of Brian's head nearly exploding, or is it a sound effect?>

Laid back guy:  Dude, calm down.

Brian:  I AM NOT TO BLAME!  I lived responsibly.  I lived within my
means.  I didn't play the market, or buy or build or flip or refinance some
monster-sized house, or buy a bunch of crap on credit  to help "stimulate"
a dysfunctional and doomed economy.  I've earned the right to act like a
self-righteous a-hole and that's exactly what I'm going to do.  In fact, I
didn't just live modestly, I was out there warning everyone about the
problems that were building up, but did anyone listen to me?  Noooooo.
I was mister "doom and gloom".  I was laughed at and ignored.  But now,
now the devastation is finally here.  Well folks…can you hear me now?!

Laid back guy:  Dude...seriously, chill out.

<But Brian got even more angry>

Brian:  And here's where you all better listen and listen good.  I'm not
the only one who's not responsible for any of this crap.  There's a lot
of us out there.  And normally we're a quiet bunch who just mind our
own business, but when we get really, really mad, like now, do you
know what happens?  Yeah, we go all Fascist on you.  That's right,
Fascist with a capital F, and…well, capital punishment too.  Does that
scare you?  Well, it should.  You see, while everyone else was out there
lying and cheating and having fun, we were sitting at home, playing by
the rules, and doing everything prudently.  But now, now that the people
who lived large, broke the rules, and ended up in trouble want us to bail
them out, well we're going to rise up and put our foot down.  On your
necks!  Oh, you're going to be sorry, because we're going to do a lot more
than just give you all a stern lecture about your moral failings.  No, we
won't be reading from the bible, or telling you that "we told you so",
and we won't be delivering pretty speeches about how to motivate
yourself to get up off your backside and climb up "the hill".  No, we'll
be marching you up that hill, at gunpoint, and chained at the ankles so
that you can't slink away like you did from all your other responsibilities.

<Stunned silence fell over the studio as the others felt too nervous to
interject anything, and were a little afraid as well>

Brian:  Yeah, we'll find us a dictator.  Someone tough, and disciplined,
like we are.  Not like any of the panty-waste politicians that get up there
and tell you what you want to hear and then turn around and do whatever
their campaign contributors tell them to do when they get elected.  I
mean, the lefties called Bush a dictator.  Give me a break.  The man is
an incompetent coward.  He proved it on September eleventh and he
proved it again during Katrina.  He's useless.  We all saw the footage.
When a crisis comes along he just sits there like a bump on a log.
He was a dictator?  He was a leader?  Get real.  Bush couldn't lead
lemmings over a cliff.  (Editor's note - lemmings do not actually
commit mass suicide as portrayed in a Disney documentary some years
ago, please check out http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/lemmings.asp
for a more detailed explanation)  And Obama?  A dictator?  The righties
in this country have lost their minds if they think that Obama's got the
guts to chart his own path.  No, he's acting like one of them now, one
of the Washington elites.  He promised change, and that's what happened.
The bastard changed.  And don't get me started about Reagan…or Clinton
either.  Or rather, either Clinton either.

<Fortunately both the repentant neo-con conservative guy and the overly
PC liberal guy were bound and gagged and so they weren't able to speak
up and defend their mighty heroes>

Brian:  And there's going to be no more of this pathetic two-party system,
and no more arguing about which side is right.  That's all just a stupid
distraction anyway these days.  You know what the difference is between
the two parties?  Democrats are sniveling, spineless, and wrong; and
Republicans are confident, forceful, and equally wrong.  Choose your
flavor of incompetence and corruption and cast your ballot.  Maybe it
will be counted but it isn't going to matter.  No, when us pissed-off
responsible type people get our backs up there's only going to be one
party in this nation, and if you aren't loyal to it then say hello to a forced
labor and re-education camp.  We're going to tell you what to do because
you're too stupid to follow the rules.  We're going to take away all your
privileges because you're too irresponsible to use them wisely.  We're
going to tear down all your false idols in Hollywood and on Wall Street
and in Washington and on television and on the internet and drag you
kicking and screaming into the real world.  And we're going to send
out a swarm of brownshirts to smash every symbol of this screwed up,
consumerist, "anything goes" culture of yours and force you to bow
down before the god of GROW THE HELL UP!

<A pause follows…not a Paul Harvey pause, more like a Paul Hitler
pause>

Smart but hot chick:  <hesitantly, but bravely speaking up> Brian, it
might not be as bad as you think it is.  The markets have been stable
for a while now and they're going back up.  Maybe cooler heads are
prevailing.  And while things will be bad for a year or two maybe they
won't get really bad.

Brian:  <Gets one step closer to the edge and he's about to break>
Listen.  What has happened with every prediction that the "experts"
have made so far?  Remember how they said that the housing market
could never go down, or the DOW was headed to thirty thousand, or
that the economy was fundamentally strong, or that if we threw enough
money at the problem that we'd avoid a recession, or…or…or.  And
when they were proved wrong each and every time they just made new
predictions, pretending as if they had any credibility left, and those new
predictions were just like their old predictions only they lowered their
estimates just enough to make it seem like things were going to get
better a little further down the road, like in six months or a year or so.

Smart but hot chick:  Yes, but…

Brian:  Okay, so how do I know we're doomed?  I'll make it simple.
It's all about debt.  You know how high debts are today don't you?

Smart but hot chick:  Yes, even higher than they were before the
crash of 1929.

Brian:  And the government thinks that they can solve the problem by
borrowing more and then paying off the banks so that they will start
lending again and everyone else can borrow more.  They're trying to
solve the debt problem by creating more debt!

Smart but hot chick:  Well, when you say it like that it sounds
really stupid.

Brian:  It is!  And here, Obama is projecting a deficit of $1.8 trillion
in 2010, which is almost as much as the total number of dollars that
all of the Asian countries combined are holding, meaning that even
if they were willing to lend us all that money, and they'd have to be
stupid to do so, we'd wipe out all of their savings in less than two years.
And that's just using Obama's rosy projections, which don't include all
of the other spending he's going to need to do to make good on the
trillions of dollars of guarantees that Uncle Sam has made in our
names over the last year.  We're broke, our country is broke, and our
leaders are trying to borrow their way out of debt.  It's insane!  And
now the Fed has started printing money and opened up that can of
worms.  I swear, it's like being on a plane and finding out that the
pilot is blind.  Soft landing?  Fat chance.

Smart but hot chick:  But what if it all works?  What if you're wrong?
You've been wrong about things before you know.

<The sinister, and rather discomforting sounds of Brian chuckling
can be heard>

Brian:  Oh, I'd love to be wrong.  I've made a good living for myself
in this screwed up economy and I wouldn't mind seeing the madness
of the last ten years keep on going for the rest of my life.  I'd love to
be sitting right here with you five years from now when everything is
back to normal, or whatever it is we call this perverse state of being,
and we could just laugh about how foolish I was back then.  So if you
like you can hold on to that naively optimistic dream because yeah, it
might all come true.  And if you're so inclined you can cling tightly
to your smooth-talking, pretty-boy president and his crack team of
economic advisors who are still following a failed economic ideology
and your oh-so-knowledgeable-about-the-great-depression chief of the
Federal Reserve, and you can have as many trillions of dollars as you
want to throw at the problem and you can  pretend that it's going to
be enough to save you.

<And now Brian's sinister tone turns into raging anger>

Brian: So go ahead, bet against me!  Put up everything you've got
against what I've got.  Going to print up a few trillions to bail out a
deficit that no one wants to finance?  You'd better keep those printing
presses running full speed around the clock because I've got over a
quadrillion dollars in insanely overleveraged derivatives ready to
smash everything you've ever built into a million pieces.  And do
you like bailing out AIG?  Well get ready to do a lot more of that
because that was caused by only a few tens of billions of dollars of
Credit Default Swaps going bad.  I've got fifty trillion more where
that came from and it's going to rain down like fire from the sky on
every financial institution on the face of the planet.  And all your
mighty economic wizards are going to be running around with a big
money hose hooked up to the Federal Reserve trying to put out the
fires, but water isn't going to come out, only paper, paper dollars.
And you know what?  Paper burns!  So take your hubris, take your
experts, hell, you can even take all your gods and angels and try to
stop the mother of all bubbles from devouring everything that you
hold dear.  You say that Jehovah is with you?  And Vishnu too?
Well, I've got the Dark Goddess on my side and she is pissed!
You've got no chance.  Bush had no chance.  Obama's got no
chance.  McCain wouldn't have had a chance either.  Do you think
that Jesus is going to come down and save the markets?  Good luck.
Who do you think killed Jesus when he came down the first time?
So bring it on, Jesus!  Let's see a second coming.  The Dark
Goddess will send you back to heaven nailed to a cross made of
greenbacks, upside-down this time, and faster than you can say,
"Why hast thou forsaken me?"

<And now Brian started screaming as loud as he could>

Brian:  Hear my words and listen this time!  The sky is falling!  All
the dead, well, at least the dead economists, are rising up from their
graves!  The stars are right!  We're all doomed!  It's gonna be lights
out!  Do you understand?  LIGHTS OUT!

<What could be the most awkward silence of all time descends over
the KTLB studio.  Several minutes of dead air follow, more dead even
than Paul Harvey.  Finally the silence is broken.>

Brian:  Well, to hell with this.  I can't do this anymore.  It's April
Fool's Day and I'm trying to be funny and I just can't do it.  I'm just
so full of anger and hatred and frustration that it all comes out
sounding like the most awful bile that I can produce.  I'm sorry.  I'm
done ranting and offending everyone.  And I'm done broadcasting
too.  This is it.  I'm taking KTLB off the air for good.  It's over.
Good night.  This is Brian Voth, signing off.

<end of transcript>

And so Brian left his paid group of mildly dysfunctional, but each
lovable in their own way, friends behind, jumped on his bike, and
pedaled for home.  He had a lot on his mind and being alone on a
bicycle is a good place to get some thinking done.  So as he rode he
pondered the economic crisis, the political madness, the world, and
what his place was within it all, and as usual he couldn't come up
with any satisfactory answers.

Then some idiot driving an SUV and talking on her cell phone at
the same time cut him off as she suddenly swerved into a parking lot,
leaving Brian with no way to avoid running into her.  It was the kind
of thing that happened a lot on that particular road…some dumb ass
cutting you off.  In fact, Brian had taken to calling it "Dumb ass cuts
road" because you could almost always expect someone to nearly
run you over when you rode on it.  Normally Brian would have been
on his guard for someone doing something stupid, but this day his
mind was focused elsewhere and so with a heavy thud, he paid the
price for not paying attention.

Thus, it was on the road to "dumb ass cuts" that Brian fell off of his
bike, struck his head on the pavement, and had what could have been
called a religious experience or a divine revelation if Brian hadn't
been an atheist.  So instead we'll just call it a fortuitous brain fart.

It was not a vision.  No deity spoke to him.  A choir of angels that
sounded a whole lot more impressive than what even the most costly
Yamaha keyboard could produce was not heard.  But for one brief
moment Brian felt something that he hadn't felt since his childhood:
a wonderful feeling that filled his heart with everything that had been
missing from his life as he now knew it.  For an instant Brian felt safe,
warm, and loved, and not only that he also felt reborn, and with a new
and powerful sense of purpose.  It was as if a door had opened and a
universe of infinite possibilities stood before him, and there he was,
looking through that doorway and feeling like a kid again, wanting
to go running through it and explore everything that life had to offer
with a sense of wonderment and fascination.  It was that feeling, that
glorious, exhilarating, and innocent feeling that pulsed through Brian's
mind as he fell, and that feeling changed him forever.

The clueless driver, oblivious to what had happened, drove off, leaving
Brian with a flat tire, some road rash, and a nasty bruise on the side of
his head, but as he patched himself and his bike back together he could
think of only one thing, "I must experience that feeling again, and help
others to feel that way as well."

Once he was home Brian swept away all the trappings of his former life,
tossing oodles of his once treasured objects into the garbage or pawning
them off on eBay, and he devoted himself to his new mission in life.
Opening up an old notebook to the nearest blank page the founder of
Fireaxe began to describe in words what he had experienced only in
feelings on that fateful day, and oh how the words flowed.  The decades
old pencil in his hand was almost flying over the page as the inspiration
poured out of him.  And as he wrote, his message of a return to a long
lost place and time took shape on the page before him and grew more
powerful with every stroke.

Brian worked all through the night and halfway through the next day,
not wanting to sleep before he had completed his epic masterpiece for
fear that that feeling, that fleeting feeling which had inspired him,
would be gone when he awoke.  And so, with his fingertips sore, his
palm covered in graphite dust, and his eyelids desperately yearning to
close, Brian scrawled out the final words of his personal revelation
before succumbing to the sandman, collapsing face-down on the essay
that would soon change the world and everyone in it.

The next day he posted it to the internet.

For a while nothing happened, and Brian's newfound sense of purpose
began to fade.  He wondered if this had been another illusion, that his
essay had been just one more thing that he had felt strongly about but
which no one else did.  He also wondered if anyone was going to read it.
After all, with so many people writing blogs these days it was hard to
get any attention paid to your writings, and what was more was that the
people who'd want to read what he wrote, well, they were probably
spending their time writing those other blogs.  So as nothing continued
to happen, Brian spent a lot of time staring into the void, wondering
how it was that he'd been so wrong about something which he felt so
right about.

A week later he got an e-mail from someone who'd read his essay
and was gushing with praise, thanking Brian profusely for writing it.
The next day another e-mail came in which the sender also sang
Brian's praises, and that was followed by a third in which the author
told of being so inspired by the essay that she'd decided to change her
whole life and was now happier and more productive than she'd ever
been.  In the days that followed Brian got more such e-mails, and in a
few weeks time he was getting so many that he couldn't answer them
all individually.  But try he did.  Alas, he could not keep up with the
flow and in a month's time his mailbox was completely packed with
unanswered e-mails.  It was amazing.  His message was resonating
loudly with others and many were asking him to write another essay,
building on the growing movement that he had started.  Exited, elated,
and feeling oh so vindicated, Brian was more than happy to oblige.
But he decided to go one step further than merely write another essay.

And so Brian bought a digital camera and made a YouBoob video.

It was unlike anything that anyone had ever seen.

Like so many of the other self-made videos on that site it was nothing
more than one person talking into the camera, but it was what Brian
said that made it so different.  He began graciously, thanking his many
supporters for their sentiments and their stories and even mentioning
a few of them by name.  There was nothing revolutionary about that,
but simply doing it reminded people that civility hadn't been completely
killed by the internet, at least not yet.  And it made them think that
perhaps their own manners could use a little cleaning up in the future.
It would be the first of many times his viewers would question
themselves.

On the table before him Brian had a stack of books, and one by one
he opened them and began to read.  One was the Bible, one was the
Koran, one was Mao's little red book, and there were many, many
others, each one of them held in high regard by the followers of one
ideology or another.  Brian didn't add any of his own commentary as
he read.  It wasn't necessary.  The passages explained themselves.  At
first the words seemed ancient and irrelevant, as if they had been
washed away by all the changes and advances of the modern world,
but as Brian spoke them they erupted with life again, sounding ageless
and eternal as they rose up to take their rightful place as the foundation
of humanity's wisdom.

But they were not happy verses, and they did not fill the viewers with
a sense of pride and faithfulness.  It was quite the opposite really.  For
the passages that Brian had chosen were ones that spoke out against all
of the transgressions that the faithful of every faith, as well as those
who had no faith, had committed against their neighbors, against their
enemies, and against themselves.  Sin after sin, scandal after scandal,
wrong after wrong, the list seemed endless but no one dared turn away
as they watched.  Brian spoke calmly and forcefully, sparing no one
as he read from those books, and in the minds of all those who listened
they did hear not Brian's voice, but the voice of what in their hearts
they knew to be that of the supreme authority shaming them for what
they had done and were still doing, and admonishing them for ever
believing that they were so righteous that they no longer needed to
adhere to the more difficult practices of their beliefs.

And when Brian closed the last book and set it down before him there
was no one in the world who had watched the video who did not feel the
immensity of their own guilt as well as the overwhelming desire to make
things right once more.  They were ready to commit their lives to making
up for the evils which they had brought into the world.  That was when
Brian began to speak in his own words.

"When I was young I used to have a tiny box that once held staples but
which had outlived its usefulness in that regard.", Brian began, his voice
taking on that quality of reminiscence that puts people's minds at ease.
"I kept it in my desk at school, right beside all my textbooks and
notepads and pencils and all the other things which I'd come to associate
with the drudgery of learning and making good grades.  Most of the
time I spent at my desk I would be doing my schoolwork, completing all
the exercises to the best of my ability, but every now and then I'd have
a little free time, and during those times I would pour my creative
energies into making something that I, and perhaps a few others, would
appreciate and enjoy.  Then I would fold it up neatly and place it in that
box, on top of the other wonderful little things that I had made, and put
it back amongst the boring books and the dreary notepads."

"Over time that little box filled up with a number of amusing things:
some drawings, a story or two, more than a few cartoons, whatever I
had felt like making at the time.", Brian said, waxing nostalgic, but
not getting lost in his own story.  "And that little box I began to
associate with pleasure and wonderment, for whenever I added to it,
or even when I just opened it up and looked through all the things
that I had put into it, I once again felt the joyous feelings that came
from performing a labor of love.  It was like having a little box of
sunshine in my desk, and it made going to school seem not so bad."

"I don't know what happened to that box.  It's gone now.  And gone
with it are all those little reminders of how wonderful life can be.",
Brian spoke, building up to the point of his story.  "The sad part is that
I didn't know that it was gone for a very long time.  I didn't realize that
something was even missing.  I suppose that I was too distracted by all
the other things in my life to notice that I no longer had my little box
of sunshine.  So all that time I wasn't putting anything into it, and it
wasn't there for me to look through and remember that life can be a
beautiful thing."

"But now, now I know that it's gone.  And I know what I have to do.",
and now all those who were watching could feel something arising
deep within their hearts as if they knew what Brian was going to say
next, but they still wanted to hear him say it.  "Friends, neighbors,
fellow humans, let us make our world into a little box of sunshine,
and let us start filling it with all the things that makes this world worth
living in.  Let us all contribute, and give, instead of being selfish and
only taking what the world has to offer.  We must do this so that we,
our children, our children's children, and all who come after us, can
look at what we have done and be filled with pride, happiness, and
the passion to go forth and contribute their own things of wonder."

And that was all he said.

And that was all it took.

Within hours the internet traffic to and from YouBoob overloaded
the servers and the site had to shut down.  But within hours Brian's
loyal supporters were quick to put the video on mirror sites across the
globe and before long thousands of people were watching the video
and buzzing about what they'd just seen in chat rooms and bulletin
boards everywhere.  It seemed that everyone wanted to see it and
soon millions of people were logging on to the internet in search of
the video that their friends and family members had told them that
they absolutely had to see.  But alas, the internet was not designed to
handle such a heavy load, and although millions of people were able
to watch Brian's humble video, and were transformed by the
experience, hundreds of millions, nay, billions of people were left out.

That state of affairs could not go unanswered.

And so it was hastily arranged for Brian to deliver his YouBoob
message on live television and to have it broadcast simultaneously
across the world so that everyone within walking distance of a
television could watch it.  But that didn't seem to be good enough
and so telecommunications companies got into the act as well and
offered to beam the speech across their networks so that anyone
with a cell phone could hear it too.  And as news of the soon to be
broadcast speech spread over the planet via newspapers, phones,
and word of mouth, people of every faith, color, and creed began
to realize that something truly amazing and unprecedented in the
history of humanity was about to happen.  It was a truly exciting
time to be alive.

Television crews were dispatched to Brian's humble apartment,
intending to broadcast the speech in the same place that the
original video was made, and somehow resisting the urge to sex
the presentation up to the gills as Hollywood so often does.
Instead they would try their best to duplicate the look and feel of
the original recording.  But just minutes before the camera crews
arrived and Brian's apartment was transformed into what seemed
like the focal point of the entire universe, a visitor came and
knocked on Brian's door.

It was one of Fireaxe's oldest and dearest supporters, someone who'd
known Brian since the early days of his musical project, back when it
was still difficult to find and download porn from the internet. Brian
was surprised to see him and welcomed him inside to share in his
moment of triumph, but what surprised Brian even more was what
his friend had to say.

"So who the hell are you now anyway?"

Brian was speechless.

"Are you the Destroyer of Dreams?  The Servant of Pain?  Or are you
now one of the Masters of the Universe?", the man said angrily, and
more than a little disappointedly, about what he'd seen the creator
of Fireaxe become.  "I saw your video.  It was crap.  For years you
railed against ideologies and shot everyone's dreams to pieces.  You
burned through politics, religion, and economics and left nothing
sacred.  But now you're about to infect the entire world with the most
insidious dream that anyone has ever seen!  You've become the enemy.
So tell me something so that I know for sure, were you full of it then,
or are you full of it now?"

"Look.", Brian began, regaining his composure.  "I spent what,
thirteen years blasting away at everyone's most cherished ideals,
slaving away over my guitar and my computer, pouring money,
time, and my life into Fireaxe, and what did I accomplish?  I had
maybe two-hundred listeners at the most, maybe a couple dozen
people who thought that my music was good enough to recommend
to others, and most of the people who heard my message didn't
even understand what I was talking about.  It's the same thing with
my newsletters.  I mean, I could have had the same effect on the world
if I just drove out in to the desert, miles from anywhere, and screamed
my damn fool head off for an hour or so every couple of months.  But
now, thanks to a fantastic, life-changing accident, I'm seeing things
in a whole new way.  And now my message is reaching people, a lot
of people, and I'm changing their lives for the better.  I'm finally
giving them what they need.  Look, I'm still the same person.  See,
you know that box I was talking about in that video, my little box of
sunshine?  Well, Fireaxe was one of the things that I've been putting
into that box all these years.  It's my contribution to the world.  But
you see, the box is bigger than Fireaxe.  Fireaxe was just what made
me happy.  But what I'm giving to the world now is something that
can make everyone happy."

The man considered those words, but didn't hesitate with his answer.

"Creating Fireaxe was what made you happy, and so yes, the music
you wrote fits nicely inside the box, but the stories you told with your
lyrics and the meaning behind those lyrics, those are far, far bigger
than the box.  Your ideas are large enough to contain that little box of
sunshine, and every other box in the world for that matter.", the man
retorted.  "Listen, I don't agree with everything that you've written
or sung or said.  In fact, I find some of it offensive, and some of it
makes me wonder if you've completely lost your mind.  But I always
want to read what you've written, and hear what you've recorded, and
that's because you make me think, and that's a rare thing in this
world.  You, Brian, make me question my view of the world and my
place within it.  You challenge me to expand my horizons.  You force
me to sit down and ask myself if what I believe and feel strongly about
is a load of crap.  And to be honest, a lot of the time I hate you for that.
Sometimes you're a real pain in the ass."

Brian sat and listened as his admirer turned the tables on him, forcing
the creator of Fireaxe to examine his own beliefs.  But he also thought
about the authors and directors and musicians and others who had
shaped his ideas and challenged his beliefs and how much he respected
and admired them even if he didn't agree with them.  Then Brian
wondered if he'd become one of those influential creators, and that was
an awesome thought.

"And that's why you're not popular.  Well, that and the fact that you
play a style of music that's essentially dead.  But you don't tell people
what they want to hear.  In fact, you tell people what they don't
want to hear.  And there isn't a big market for that.", the man added
with a wink and a grin.  "But people like me need people like you.
Not to tell us what to think or what to do, but to tell us that there's
more to the world than we think there is.  I mean, what do you get
when you turn on the television, or the radio, or go to the movies, or
click around on the internet?  All you see is someone trying to tell you
what you want to hear.  They're just trying to pleasure you for money.
They're whores.  That's what they are.  Whores.  So maybe you get off
on someone making you feel good, or maybe you get off on someone
making you feel angry at people you don't like, or maybe you get off
on feeling afraid of some boogeyman.  They don't care.  They'll just
do whatever they need to do to get you off and then take what they
need.  Honestly, it's like an ideological Sodom and Gomorrah out
there."

And Brian appreciated that vivid imagery very much.

"And that's why we need you.", the man said as he drew his soliloquy
to a close. "You're not a whore.  You're not a sellout.  You're the exact
opposite.  You're a heretic.  You're the village atheist who keeps us all
honest, or who tries to at least.  But even though the masses just block
you out when you do the Fireaxe thing, remember that I'm still out there
and I want to hear what you have to say."

And after that moving speech Brian could do nothing but rethink his
newfound perspective on the world.  It made him wonder if he'd truly
seen the light or if it really had been all an illusion.  A few moments
later the camera crews pulled up outside and the big show was about
to start.  Brian's friend headed for the door, not wanting to be around
when things got crazy.

"Thanks.", Brian said as he nodded respectfully to the man who cared
enough about him to tell him exactly how he felt.  "You've always been
of great intellectual value to me too."

And then he was gone and the madness began.

The second, professionally done, recording of Brian's message isn't
available at YouBoob anymore, and neither is the first one as popular
outcry demanded that it be taken down.  Perhaps you can dig it up
somewhere on a mirror site if the PC police haven't gotten to it yet,
but of the people who saw the live broadcast, and they number over
a billion, there are a few who remember what Brian said well enough
that they can retell it almost word for word.  It started out the same as
that modest little YouBoob video did, with Brian sitting at a table with
a stack of books at his side, but what he said the second time around
was quite a bit different than what he'd recorded before:

"Friends, neighbors, fellow humans, you're all missing something,
something that you need more than anything else in the world.
Sometimes you feel it strongly, and sometimes not much at all,
but the need is always there.  That's what these books were written
to do.", Brian began, passing his hand over the Bible, Koran, and
the other revered texts.  "Their purpose is to make you feel that need
and allow you to alleviate it, but only if you follow what the books say
and spread the word.  The books turn you into addicts, into drones,
and into slaves."

"They promise you a little box of sunshine, something that can fill
your heart with joy now and then so that you can endure the toil of
hard work and the pain of conflict and do what's necessary to hold the
book that you accept to be true higher than all the others.", Brian said,
speaking calmly and forcefully.  "And they'll tell you that box is out
there somewhere, hiding just around the corner, and if you just follow
the book that you'll get there."

"But is that little box of sunshine just a dream?  Is it just make-believe?
No, it's real.  I know it's real.  And when you open it up you feel the
most wonderful thing in the world.  That little box will wipe away all
your tears, take away all your pain, and make you feel whole again.
It's worth fighting, and dying, for.",  Brian continued, putting feeling
into the words and making them come alive.  "Very soon we're going
to need to open up that little box of sunshine because we've painted
ourselves into the darkest, ugliest corner that the human race has
ever been in, and we've got a lot of death, and suffering, and misery
ahead of us.  Let's be honest.  Did we really think that things could
go on being so good forever?  Did we truly believe that we were at
the end of history?"

"And so as things get worse, and we feel the need for relief, we'll all
be searching for that little box of sunshine, the most wonderful thing
in the world, and fighting over it when we find it since there isn't
enough to go around.", Brian added, his voice grim and foreboding.
"But just how wonderful can that little box be if we judge it by its
fruits?  You as well as I have seen what it does to people, how it
changes them when they pursue it, and how they forsake their morals
and principles just to get their daily fix from it.  And so I can come to
no other conclusion but that it is not a gift from a god,
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.1
Post by: Fireaxe on April 05, 2009, 07:48:26 PM
For example, what idiot really thinks democracy is going to help us? We all know most people are idiots!

Good point.  I think that the advantage of democracy, and thus its ability to rise above past ideologies, is not its theoretical ability to formulate coherent policy (it doesn't) nor it's assumed capacity to free individuals to pursue rational self interest (a Randian -Objectivist Fallacy), but that it enables people to move up in the social hierarchy and motivates them to do so from a purely selfish perspective, thus exploiting basic human nature to a greater degree than any prior system.  While the love of a father figure, such as with a dictatorship with a rigid class structure, also takes advantage of human nature by keeping the "idiots" in an eternal, childlike state of submission, the demands of a large, modern, and complex system are too great for a single person, or even a group of people, to direct in an efficient manner.  A system like Fascism is great if it is focused on a simple task or implementing a workable solution, but Democracy, even with all of its wastage and incoherence and overindulgence is generally flexible enough to adapt and address complex problems, especially ones that no single person can understand.  It's advantage appears to be that no one controls it and thus it can evolve to find novel, unconventional solutions.  The downside appears to be that it cannot evolve to meet ALL challenges, especially self-inflicted ones like the current mass idiocy that may likely destroy the entire global financial system, and so a reversion to a Fascist order seems to be the logical course seeing as how it will be required to fix the problems created by the democratic regimes.  Once the system is back on track though it is likely that the more efficient system of Democracy will flourish again (and trouble will, of course, follow once more).
Title: Re: The Burning Blade 12.2
Post by: Fireaxe on April 05, 2009, 07:57:04 PM
Maybe the human problem is simply... selfishness, empowered by an ability to restrict which parts of reality we recognize?

That's a pretty good summary of all the fancy bullet points I made above.

All other forms of life on our planet are certainly selfish, but lack that critical empowerment to imagine a world bigger than what they've experienced.  With that comes the inevitable downside that humans can imagine a world that simply doesn't exist, for instance, one where a god takes care of everyone, or one where money does grow on trees. Our selfishness decides our fate. If you had a choice, which world would you choose to live in?
Title: The Burning Blade 12.4
Post by: Fireaxe on June 05, 2009, 09:43:53 PM
And I believe that it will be alright if I just have faith in a lie…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.4

         June 5, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The foundation of all Mental Illness is the unwillingness
   to experience legitimate suffering.”
            - Carl Jung

   "What to do to escape all the pain?
   Let the madness dream salvation."
            - Fireaxe "River of Madness"


   The sickness is everywhere.
   Accounting laws were changed and now the banks can
report huge profits instead of massive losses, California legislators
and voters alike are unable to either raise taxes or cut spending,
the U.S. government is borrowing and spending like there is no
tomorrow, and my nation's newly elected president is backpedaling
on his campaign promises so fast that it's starting to look as if his
opponent had really won the last election, or that there was no
election at all...that it was all merely smoke and mirrors with a
new spokesman appointed to serve up the same old policies, or at
least the same old policies with a few minor variations added to
them in order to keep up the appearance of change.
   This is more than people taking the path of least resistance:
delaying the onset of our legitimate suffering in the vain hopes that
it will all go away or that it can be foisted off on to someone else by
when the day of reckoning arrives.  No, this is ideology at work.
And while I wouldn't go so far as to use Jung's quote to equate
ideology with mental illness, although some ideologies certainly
make their followers think and act as if they were crazy, I will say
that one of the things that ideology excels at is redefining what
"legitimate suffering" is.  Through faith an ideology allows their
believers to act in stupid, cruel, oblivious, hypocritical, and self-
righteous ways while all the while believing that they are doing
what is right and fair and just.
   It is faith in Monetarist economics that enable bankers,
the Fed chief, and the Secretary of the Treasury to believe that the
banks' toxic assets are worth far more than market value and thus
do not need to be marked down.  It is faith that tax cuts always
help the economy and that tax hikes always hurt it which sends the
Republicans to the polls.  It is faith that entrusting the government
to take care of those in need is the best way to form a social safety
net that drives Democrats to vote for their candidates and initiatives.
It is faith that what worked for FDR in the thirties will work again
under very different circumstances today that has led to what could
well be a suicidally large stimulus package.  And it seems to be
the case that my president's faith in reciprocity has him making
concession after concession in every which direction in the hopes
that those who he has done favors for will return them when it
comes time for him to roll out his big legislation.  Everyone seems
to be talking about making tough decisions, but nobody seems to be
actually making them.
   With ideology on call to twist the facts and force them to
fit a predefined conclusion one never has to break down and accept
legitimate suffering.  One can always blame someone else for
causing a problem and insist that they suffer instead, or cling to
the belief that imminent suffering can be put off until it disappears,
or try one's best to make oneself and everyone else happy in the
hopes that one isn't setting oneself, and everyone else, up for a
bigger fall in the future.  Even Christians, whose ideology is built
upon the ideal of embracing suffering, legitimate or not, all too
often find ways to avoid feeling humility, enduring pain, and
admitting that they were wrong about something.  If there was
truly proof that there are no gods it is that the arrogant believers
of the world have not been struck dead where they stand.
   Legitimate suffering today would seem to entail that
everyone set aside their ideologies, admitting that at least for now
that they may not offer the best solutions, and come together to
work on our numerous and extremely serious global problems,
but for people with power, money, and influence on the line, and
especially for those who have already suffered and feel that they
have endured their share of the pain if not more, making further
concessions is unacceptable.  So instead we are running away from
legitimate suffering and towards a more fervent, even fanatical,
embrace of our ideologies.  We crave ideological validation to
compensate for our losses as reality gives us less and less to satisfy
our needs.  We search for new dreams to replace the wreckage of our
old ones and give us hope again.  And as we all pull away from each
other and retreat into our own ideologically constructed fantasy worlds,
open-mindedness, rational discussions, genuine compromises, and
painful concessions become unpalatable and our needs and desires
turn towards imposing our will on the irrational and uncooperative
others.  Extremism on one side invites extremism on the other and
the middle ground rapidly disappears.  The roots of fascism,
totalitarianism, and dictatorship are becoming all too clear, and
their reemergence seems inevitable.
   In the U.S. we have two political parties who are each
becoming more and more fascist by the moment.  This didn't happen
overnight, it has been brewing for decades.  The Democrats are the
party of government fascism: of more and more regulations over
everyone and everything, of frequent government intervention into
the economy, of the government taking care of the impoverished,
the sick, the elderly, the disabled, and anyone else struggling to be
economically viable, and of the government imposing progressive
social reforms on the entire country.  Of course, they do not admit
to being fascists and instead frame their reforms as being necessary
to guarantee the promise of equality, to restrain the ruthlessness of
the powerful, and to prevent the uncaring nature of the free market
from causing more damage to the nation than it benefits it.  There
should be no argument that they have a point, that "corporate fascism"
needs to be opposed lest it turn us into a nation of wage slaves and
beggars, but in their efforts they built an equivalently dangerous
monster in the form of an all-powerful state.
   The Republicans are the party of corporate fascism: of less
and less government regulation and intrusion into business matters
(though intrusion into social and personal matters is acceptable to them
in order to placate their religious base), of freeing people from forcibly
taking care of their less fortunate neighbors (a number of whom have
brought their misfortune upon themselves), and of giving individuals
more rights to do as they will with their own property (which gives
those with more property far greater "rights" than the rest of us).
Of course, they cloak their fascism in the language of liberty, that
they are liberating the people to do as they please and freeing them
from an oppressive tax burden, but their libertarian efforts mostly
end up freeing big business to exploit their workers, fleece their
customers, and abuse the legal system to meet their own ends.
The Republicans also have a point, that government fascism needs
to be opposed lest it turn us into something out of a George Orwell
novel, but in their efforts they've unlock the ghosts of robber barons
and monopolies past which are making a mockery of the free market
system that they so adamantly defend.
   And so we have balance, right?  As long as both parties
are fighting against each other, neither one can impose their brand
of fascism upon the country, correct?  Regrettably that is not the
case as both parties agree on one thing and that is that "We The
People" need to surrender more of our power, our wealth, and our
rights to either the state or to big business.  They are the elites and
they will run the country for us while we reward them for their
splendid governance by voting them into office year in and year out.
We are just pawns in their great chess match, beasts of burden to be
used and discarded, political footballs whose tales of suffering and
woe are condensed into sound bytes and used as artillery against the
other side.  Our roles are to empower them to achieve the victories
that they crave so very badly and in return, or so they promise, we
can share in the bright shining dream that they have woven for us.
They explain the world to us using their ideologically tainted media
outlets as if we were children who could not figure things out on
our own if we were given the facts, all the facts, and without spin.
Unfortunately not enough of us seek out the drier, spin-free sources
of information and many of us demand that the media do nothing
more than reinforce our ideological beliefs on a regular basis.  In this
way watching the news has become like attending church, it is a ritual
which satisfies the believers and prompts them to assist and spread
their ideology.  But of course it is in our rulers' best interests that we
do not figure things out on our own, not that we would all arrive at
the truth, there is too much diversity of opinion and ideological
contamination for that to occur, but that we might realize that we
don't need our leaders as much as we believe that we do and that we
would demand, or simply take, the power that we have surrendered to
them back into our own hands.  This is the nightmare that haunts the
power elite and it has echoes throughout history: the Jews refused to
subordinate their god to the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Romans; the
Protestants found their own path to their god that did not go through
the Catholic church; and the Americans, French, and Russians all
discovered that they did not need a King, a Pope, or a Czar to rule
over them.  Perhaps the next revolution will be the popular acceptance
that things which are "too big to fail" are "too big to exist" be they
banks, corporations, or governments.  Spare none the axe for if left
too strong they would surely become a tyrant.
   But a revolution, that sounds like too much work, and
throwing one's self against the corporate and government fascists
with all of their amassed power and wealth seems like asking for
a great deal of suffering, so I would think that our particular form
of mental illness will persist, that we will side with one group and
rail against the other and believe that everything will get better once
our people are in control…and in complete control if necessary.
   Speaking of getting better, I've slowly worked my way back
to feeling pretty good after the dehydration episode that sent me to the
emergency room two months ago.  That can happen when you get too
aggressive when it comes to slaughtering your intestinal parasites and
you're not drinking enough water to flush out your system.  And yeah,
"flush" is a perfect word for it.  My bathroom has been getting a serious
workout as of late.  But anyway, I've learned my lesson and I am back
on track.  Some day soon I will start training my voice with the intention
of finally re-recording the vocal tracks for "Food for the Gods" and
getting the whole Fireaxe thing back in gear.  I thank you all for your
patience and your good wishes.  Here's to good health!  May I get mine
back and may you never lose yours.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Life Cycle of the Ideology

   If there is one good thing about living through such
tumultuous times, and I believe that the bulk of the tumult is yet to
come, it is that I can observe what is happening in the world at first
hand, which gives me a better opportunity to understand how ideologies
are born, how they grow, how they mutate, and how they become
corrupted.  As things have progressed since that world-changing event
on September eleventh I've immersed myself in studying how both
individuals and ideologies react to such paradigm shifting events.
Now with the credit crunch continuing to grind away at the heart of
the ruling Capitalist ideology I have the rare opportunity to put the
Fireaxe theory to the test as well as fill in the details about how and
why ideologies eventually die.
   In this essay I will describe what I believe to be the life cycle
of the ideology, the steps along which they progress from birth to
death, and try to account for the variations that we see in the different
belief systems.  Much of this I've discussed previously in other
newsletters, in Fireaxe music, and in the outline below, but here is
my first cut at tying it all together and condensing it down to a more
easy to understand framework.
   Yes, even condensed it is a long essay, and it seems to only
scratch the surface in a lot of places, but I think that it ties a lot of
loose ends together and presents a large part of the Fireaxe theory
in a concise and organized way.

What is an ideology?

   In the Fireaxe theory, an ideology is a set of rules generally
formulated about an abstract central concept, such as a god or a notion
like "freedom", and which governs the behavior of its members.  The
rules comprise of laws, morals, ethics, and social norms which allow
the members of the ideology to form systems of complex relationships
between each other for the betterment of all.  Ideologies form a symbiotic
relationship with their members in which the members serve their
ideology, making it stronger by contributing to it and helping it
spread, and in exchange they receive material, psychological, and
"spiritual" rewards.  Successful ideologies are the ones which
empower and motivate their believers to win more converts and
deliver more wealth and power to the ideology.  The strategies
employed by different ideologies to gain power and influence vary
widely but the end goal is the same for all: to survive and thrive.
   Ideologies are thus a collection of individuals all acting in
coordinated ways which further the interests of the whole and thus
they can be compared to organic life forms which are collections of
cells which act in concert to the benefit of creature.  Extending this
analogy allows the likening of competition between ideologies to the
Darwinian struggle between organisms in nature and indeed the
survival strategies for ideologies and organisms fall along similar
lines: they both stake out territory, gather and consume vital
resources, fight with each other, grow in number or size, and seek
to spread to neighboring areas.
   The analogy is not perfect since humans are able to switch
ideologies or follow a blending of two or more ideologies while
organisms remain much the same from birth to death.  Also, ideologies
can mutate much faster than life forms can evolve, which makes the
ideological world a much more dynamic and potentially unstable place.
Nonetheless, the analogy is strong enough to use in understanding and
analyzing ideologies and their effects on human behavior as well as
regarding them as entities which act in their own self interest.  In
this regard it is possible to describe the life cycle of ideologies, from
birth to growth to mutation and death, as if they were living entities.

Birth

   Ideologies are born when a member of an ideology become
dissatisfied.  Dissatisfaction starts when the symbiotic relationship
between the believer and the ideology breaks down, which generally
occurs when the ideology is not delivering enough rewards to the
believer.  These rewards can be of any type: material rewards such
as wealth and power, psychological rewards such as recognition,
appreciation, and indications that ones goals and dreams are slowly
coming true, and "spiritual" rewards such as the promise of eternal life
or the satisfaction that one has resisted temptation.  Material rewards
are the strongest form of reward and a shortage of them can quickly
lead to anger and despair, such as when basics like food, shelter,
or medical care cannot be easily obtained.  Such shortages can be
compensated for with psychological and "spiritual" rewards and it
is common for people living in poverty or suffering from hardship
to dream of winning the lottery,  to proclaim their moral superiority
over the "spoiled", the "greedy", and those who take life for granted,
and to celebrate their certitude that their suffering in this life will
guarantee deliverance to a glorious existence in the next, but such
rewards do not always make up for material shortages, especially for
those who are used to having more.  And even with adequate material
rewards, a shortage of psychological and "spiritual" rewards can drive
a person to become dissatisfied with their ideology, and the promises
and propaganda of rival ideologies can sow the seeds of doubt and
discontentment as well, and if that dissatisfaction lasts long enough it
can sever the bond between ideology and believer, often permanently.
   Ideological dissatisfaction, which can also be called a
"crisis of faith", creates an immediate problem for the individual
since they can no longer receive many of their ideological rewards,
especially those of a psychological and spiritual nature.  Things
such as praying, paying taxes, and giving to charities no longer give
the individual the same feeling of satisfaction since the framework
which made these acts of selflessness and humility meaningful has
been brought into question.  What use is it to pray to a god who
doesn't seem to listen, or to send money to a government which will
only spend it on wasteful projects?  As doubts grow, the ideological
conditioning in the mind becomes undone, usually over time, but
sometimes it happens all at once, and the rewards which once
satisfied the individual now leave him or her wanting.
   This presents a serious problem since, according to the
Fireaxe theory, ideologies imbue their believers with a permanent
sense of inadequacy which can only be relieved when enough
ideological rewards are received.  When the ideological bond breaks
down the deficit does not go away, and this tends to leave the
individual feeling worthless, isolated, depressed, and in need of
something to fill the void.  It is not unusual to find people who have
lost their faith in what they believed in indulging themselves in a
number of material excesses, such as sex, drugs, alcohol, and other
thing which make one feel better or at least less inadequate, but it is
unusual to find people who can completely compensate for a loss of
ideological rewards without embracing another ideology.  Most people
will fall into a state of confusion or depression and seek out something
to replace what was lost, trying out this belief system or that belief
system or even trying to work out a new path on their own.  It is
those who try to find a new way to offset their permanent sense of
inadequacy who sometimes give birth to a completely new ideology.
   The litmus test for any ideology is whether or not it satisfies
the needs of the individual.  It does not need to be based on truth to
any degree, it merely needs to be plausible enough to make the feelings
of inadequacy go away.  For instance, if a Christian had a crisis of faith
and stopped believing in a god, she would not be able to embrace the
idea of a glorious afterlife in heaven to alleviate her fear of death.
However, if she were to adopt a belief in technologically advanced
aliens who communicated with her telepathically and told her that at
the end of her life they would come and take her with them to their
home planet where they would make her young again, that belief
would fill the void left behind when she stopped believing in heaven.
Also, this example shows how atheists can come to believe in a version
of eternal life that doesn't involve a divine being or the need to worship
one.  Technology can substitute for divine fiat on a conceptual level,
such as how some atheists embrace Cryogenics as a way to extend their
life, or believe that some day robotics will be developed to a point where
their consciousness can be transferred into a machine, and thus they
too can alleviate their fear of death through the denial of their own
mortality.
   But a new ideology doesn't have to be simply a refurbished
version of their old one with aliens standing in for angels, it can be
very different indeed as long as it satisfies two requirements: one,
that it must alleviate the believer's sense of inadequacy through some
kind of reward system; and two, that it must solve the problems of the
believer's former ideology which caused her to stop believing in it in
the first place.  Meeting these two requirements is not a simple task
and can require a long period of trial and error before an adequate
replacement ideology is found.  Also, the second requirement implies
that the new ideology will be in conflict with the old since it inherently
suggests that the old ideology is false.  Being in conflict with another
ideology will make more demands of the believer and thus the believer
will need more rewards to compensate, which can often be gained
through winning arguments, achieving victories in political and social
policy matters, or showing in some other way the superiority of the new
ideology.  But even if the believer stays in the closet to avoid conflict
with members of the old ideology, the new ideology will still be more
of a burden than the old since it is necessarily more complex.  It must
do everything that the old ideology did, plus it must solve the problems
that the old ideology did not.
   The basic principle is that ideologies necessarily get more
complicated as time goes forward and as new ideologies replace the
old ones.  Ideologies are not simple things, they generally comprise a
large number of ideas, rules, and explanations that can fill the pages
of a thousand books or more.  Primitive ideologies could contain all of
their rules on stone tablets or in a single tome, but modern ideologies
require volume after volume of laws and regulations which seemingly
address every facet of human interaction.  So how does a single person
create a whole new ideology all by themselves?  In short, they don't.
Rewriting an entire ideology is more work than anyone can do and so
in general a new ideology borrows a lot from the old out of convenience,
but there will always be at least one central difference which separates
it from the former ideology, something that will often be mostly
conceptual in nature but around which the rest of the ideology can be
formed.  For instance, the notion that "all men are created equal", or
that "self interest rightly understood" will naturally lead to a more
perfect social order if it is left unregulated, can be used as a guide to
remake the old ideology into the image of the new.  Once the central
concept has taken root, the rest of the ideology can be formulated
around it, uprooting and replacing the borrowed parts of the old as
necessary.
   Armed with a new concept which forms the basis of a new
ideology, the believer will change their way of thinking and acting in
accordance with the new ideology and note any changes in their life,
especially whether they are receiving, or seem more likely to receive,
the rewards that they need.  If the results are positive they will reinforce
the belief in the new ideology, if not, the new ideology is likely to be
discarded and another one tried out.  Once they find a new approach
that "works" for them, the individual will often seek to spread their
discovery to others.  At this point the new ideology has been born.

Growth

   An ideology grows by spreading to other people which means
that a successful ideology must do two things: one is that it must
inspire its members to spread their beliefs to others; and two is that
it must appeal to and work for a large variation of individuals.  It is
the second requirement which is the most difficult to achieve since
people vary greatly in their life experiences, views, and needs.  For
instance, while alien and high technology based ideologies may have
a strong appeal to sci-fi buffs, they are relatively inaccessible to those
who have had little exposure to "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" style
fiction or who find those subjects fanciful or too far fetched to be real.
But a determined believer, one who is driven to find converts because
his new ideology rewards him for doing so, can always find ways to
repackage or alter his ideology to broaden its appeal.  For instance,
if someone was trying to spread a "Star Wars" type ideology and he
found that having the movies set in a time long ago and in a galaxy
far away made them seem too irrelevant and inconsequential to most
people, especially compared to religions whose sacred ground you
can visit without having to leave the earth, the believer might change
the ideology to say that the story happened in our galaxy, and in the
present, and that one day soon we will be swept up into the battle
between the empire and the rebellion.  All of the sudden the idea of
investing time and energy into becoming a Jedi Knight, or at least
the idea of developing any fledgling Jedi skills that you might have
to the point that when a Jedi Master comes down to visit Earth that he
will take you on as an apprentice, takes on a sense of both relevance
and urgency.  Yes, it doesn't square with what George Lucas wrote,
but it's far more exciting, and who is to say that the movies are perfectly
accurate?  Maybe Lucas didn't have a high enough mida-chlorian count
to channel the scripts for his movies accurately.  Yes, an ideology can
explain away anything and still be believed as long as it still "works"
for believers, and if changes need to be made to win more converts
that isn't a problem provided that the changes don't cause the ideology
to lose more converts than it gains.  Most ideologies go through
many changes as they grow in order to gain a broader appeal, and
although changes to the central ideals are more difficult to make,
changes of any kind don't necessarily invalidate the ideology.  If
people still believe in it, then it is the "truth".
   Thus, the way that an ideology spreads is very similar to
the way that anything spreads through our culture and successful
ideologies will usually take on characteristics that increase their
ability to spread.  This can result in the ideology being "dumbed
down" for the masses, or injected with current cultural trends and
notions, or merged with competing but similar ideologies.  In this
way the growth and mutation of an ideology is not unlike how a
movie idea is developed in Hollywood or how a large project is
undertaken in a corporation.  To win the support of each new person
the ideology usually has to be changed in some way to impress them,
accommodate them, and meet their own particular needs (as well as
stroke their egos).  Each new convert makes their mark on the ideology
and those changes get carried forward to the next person.  But as the
ideology grows it becomes more difficult to change things since those
changes will invariably start to conflict with what others hold as core
beliefs.  If the ideology changes too much it may stop working for the
original believers who may demand that no more changes be made to
it and attempt to exert an autocratic control over the ideology, dictating
what is part of it and what is not.  This can work, but it can also arrest
the growth of the ideology or splinter it into several factions.  However,
once an ideology gets beyond a certain size it will be beyond anyone's
ability to control.  This may seem bizarre or ironic, but it is not unheard
of for the person who invented an ideology to disown the beliefs of those
who changed it and popularized it.  Even ideologies which hold up one
person or a group of people as their supreme leaders are not completely
beholden to their decisions, for leaders are only leaders if their followers
follow.  Simply put, once an ideology reaches a critical mass of believers,
it takes on a life all its own.
   As an ideology grows and slowly starts to replace the old
ideology it must do more than merely provide psychological comfort
for individuals, it needs to form complex systems of human interaction
that empower it to an equal or greater degree than the old ideology.
If it cannot achieve this, it will not be able to make much headway in
changing the old ideology or winning converts and will probably end
up as little more than a cult or an eccentric social movement, but if it
does prove to make its members superior to the ruling ideology it may
one day challenge that ideology for supremacy.  For instance, if we take
our "Star Wars" type ideology and assume that those who follow it
become committed to some kind of "code of the Jedi" which stresses
physical conditioning, mental discipline, and a strong sense of honor,
followers who once spent their free hours playing video games and
surfing the net would now be busy transforming themselves into more
attractive, capable, and admirable people.  Such changes would help
them in achieving their life goals whether Darth Vader was real or
not.  Their ideology would then begin to attract followers based on the
results it was achieving for its adherents rather than any connection
to a popular series of movies, and casual supporters would start making
adjustments to their behavior to accommodate the young movement.
The ideology would be growing, gaining power and support, and
changing things.  But to really grow beyond the nerdish subculture
the ideology would need to be expanded to be about more than just
the possibility that one could become a real Jedi Knight and provide
meaning, guidance, and ideological rewards for those from other walks
of life so that they are motivated to contribute as well.  If the ideology
can accomplish that it doesn't matter how contrived or silly it is, the
fact is that it works and that its influence on the world is both real and
formidable.  It would be a force to be reckoned with.

   As an aside, one might point to the Fireaxe theory and
state that it is my personal ideology: that it is my substitute for my
former religious beliefs and that I'm trying to spread it to others.
To that I would answer that the Fireaxe theory is a poor substitute
for any religion or ideology since it runs directly counter to any and
all notions of creating a utopia in this life or finding salvation in the
next.  Personally, I find my rewards in my incessant attempts to
show that I'm an exceptional person, of which trying to formulate
a theory which explains how the world works is one such attempt.
It's something more to place into my little box of sunshine.  And as
far as spreading it to others is concerned, if that was my intention I
would sex the theory up with some outrageous and controversial
views, obscure many of the precepts with difficult and impenetrable
language, give it lots of "feel good" hooks to allow believers embrace
it and want to spread it around, and most importantly I would add a
utopian vision of the world and the way that it would be if everyone
were to understand my theories and put them into practice.  Doing
such things would prove my theories correct while simultaneously
negating the premise on which they were founded, and while that
would be an entertaining thing to witness I would find it repulsive
to purposefully disillusion people.  So for now I will stick with being
boring, pessimistic, and essentially irrelevant.

Conflict

   Unless the process of mutation an ideology undergoes as it is
growing reduces its ability to motivate its members, it will inevitably
come into conflict with the ruling ideology and with other competing
ideologies.  Each ideology is trying to make the population follow its
own set of ideals and the rules they set out for their believers generally
conflict in many areas and on many levels.  Recall that implicit in the
new ideology is the idea that the old ideology fails in some way and is
therefore flawed.  The new ideology was born to replace the old and
succeed where it failed.  But those in power, who are following the
old ideology, will usually not see the flaws in their beliefs.  After all,
the system works for them: they receive their rewards in return for
their service; but even if they do suspect that it isn't working as well
as it should they have vested interests in keeping the old ideology
going and will tend to defend the status quo.  Powerful ideologies
can usually crush weaker ones, usually by imposing hardships on the
members of the new ideology so that their suffering outweighs any
rewards they get from it, but the battle between ideologies all comes
down to the level of dissatisfaction in the general population towards
the ruling ideology for that is where the competing ideology gains its
strength.  If too many members of the old ideology are not satisfied
with it and the new ideology appears able to correct the problems with
the old, the conflict between the two will generally not be settled
quickly or easily.
   Ideological warfare is fought first and foremost on the
battlefield of the mind.  The goal of this warfare is for each ideology
to convert the members of other ideologies into believers or to at least
make them obey its rules.  The fighting can take place on multiple
levels and can involve anything from physical violence, propaganda,
the threat of violence, imprisonment, and persecution, to less
aggressive tactics such as political infighting, subtle persuasion,
material rewards, and virtually any other method that can influence
people towards an ideology and shift the balance of power.  The
intensity of the conflict is generally proportional to the level of
disagreement between the ideals of the competing ideologies.  All
ideologies do not necessarily differ on a fundamental level, which
would make them incompatible, and sometimes the differences
between them may only be slight.  If there are few and relatively
minor differences between the ideologies the conflict may end up
being resolved without too much fighting.  And resolution does not
necessarily mean the eradication of one ideology or the other.  One
side may simply concede in the areas where the two conflict or both
may strike some compromise which preserves the character of both
ideologies while allowing them to get along.  The conflict and the
resulting resolution may also end up changing either or both ideologies,
essentially mutating them in minor or major ways, but even if an
ideology makes concessions it doesn't necessarily force it to change
any of its ideals or beliefs.  Instead an ideology can always frame its
concessions as being merely temporary setbacks on the road to reaching
their ultimate goal and they can promise their believers that if they keep
fighting and supporting the ideology that one day they will achieve the
victory that has been denied them.
   Intense ideological conflict occurs when two or more
ideologies have fundamental differences which cannot be resolved
in a more diplomatic way and force must be used to one degree or
another.  Conflicts of this magnitude are quite common between
ideologies and all ideologies which aspire to rule must be prepared
to fight for their survival, using violence if necessary.  If an ideology
cannot defend itself through force of arms, it will eventually fall to
an aggressor which can.  This is not to say that non-violent struggle
cannot succeed against a violent foe.  Martyrdom, for example, is
often a powerful psychologically influential force and in the end the
battlefield on which ideological conflicts are fought is in the mind.
Martyrdom, and here I refer to non-retributive self-sacrifice rather
than the suicide bomber variety, makes an appeal to the basic
humanity of the martyr's foes, challenging them to kill an unarmed
innocent, which usually violates many of the ideals of his foe's
ideology.  Many members of ideologies will see the contradiction
and hypocrisy in defending their ideology by breaking its rules and
thus refuse to do so.  However, during such intense ideological
conflicts, ideals are often set aside and a pragmatic view of the
conflict takes hold.  When an ideology is fighting for its survival,
or at least when its members believe that they are being threatened
with extinction, standing by one's ideals can be rationalized away
and brutalizing the enemy can be seen as being necessary to serve
the greater good.  From this point of view a small part of the ideology
is temporarily violated in order to preserve the whole.  Thus, appeals
to a foe's better nature, such as through martyrdom, are not necessarily
effective.  On the other hand, committed believers will often stand
loyally by their ideological ideals out of principle, believing that the
greater good is undone by the corruption of their beliefs and respect
the martyrdom of a weaker foe, even when faced with annihilation.
This may seem illogical on the surface, but if, for instance, an ideology
has a belief in an afterlife and judgment, its members will often
devoutly follow their ideology, even  unto the death of both, since they
believe that they and their ideology transcend reality and thus they
will not desire for either to become corrupted.
   Such commitment on the part of its believers is vital to the
survival of the ideology.  During ideological warfare, rewards may be
few and far between as resources get consumed during the fighting
and so believers must satisfy themselves with dreams of eventual
victory and the promise of great rewards for themselves, their families,
and their loved ones in the future or in another world.  The stronger
that an ideology has been conditioned into the thoughts and behaviors
of the believer the more easily he can envision future glories and
receive psychological and "spiritual" rewards and thus the more
hardships he can endure for his ideology.  Things which weaken this
conditioning, such as witnessing the corruption of the ideology, need
to be avoided since they can demotivate the believer and cause them
to contribute less to the ideology or to forsake it completely.  Also,
ideologies which survive intense conflicts are the ones which are
very good at conditioning their believers to resist the pressure of rival
ideologies in whatever form it comes in: physical, intellectual,
"spiritual", and anything else.  War in any form is a brutal and
frightening experience that most people want to avoid, but being
able to endure more suffering than your foe helps you to win a conflict
and thus ideologies benefit when they provide ample comfort to those
who are making extreme sacrifices in its name.  But to be effective,
this conditioning can't occur only during wartime, and thus even
when at peace a successful ideology will make sure that its members
are immersed in propaganda, rituals, and simulated fighting in order
to toughen them up for potential conflicts with rivals.  Additionally,
it helps an ideology to be in constant conflict in order to build up such
preparedness in its believers, and being at war also provides an ideology
with a justification for why its believers must make do with fewer
rewards.  After all, you can always blame the enemy for any and all
shortages and promise that your followers will get plenty of rewards
if they work hard to win the war.  But such an approach doesn't work
forever, and even the most hardened warrior will grow weary of sacrifice
eventually.
   There are ways other than total victory in which violent
ideological conflicts can be resolved.  One way is for one ideology to
absorb the other, mutating in the process, or for both ideologies to be
forced into an alliance against a third ideology.  Alliances can eventually
lead to a unification of principles between the two ideologies as they
adopt what is best of the other and discard what is not.  Another
possible resolution of a serious conflict is for the rivals to continue
to fight but with less aggression, essentially providing each other with
a "boogeyman" rival to use to build up preparedness in its members
and blame hardships upon.  In this way low grade warfare becomes
mutually beneficial to both ideologies and such a relationship can
continue on for centuries.  Rivals can unite when faced with a common
foe and then go back to infighting once the threat has been rebuked.
Thus, even though conflict consumes resources and often destroys
the lives of its members, it can be more beneficial to an ideology than
it is detrimental.  Aggression is often a survival advantage for an
ideology.

Corruption

   Ideologies will inherently become corrupted due to the
unrealistic promises that they must make to their believers in order
to win their support.  The fact that an ideology must make such
promises is due to a number of reasons.  First, the growth of an
ideology is dependent on it being able to appeal to people who are
already under the sway of a different ideology and to do so it must
promise more than what the other ideologies promises to deliver.
Second, modest goals will render an ideology impotent if and when
it meets those goals since the believers will become satisfied with
what they have achieved and will no longer be motivated to help the
ideology to grow further.  And lastly, unrealistic promises, if believed,
will motivate believers far more than modest, realistic goals, and
having highly motivated believers adds to the power of the ideology
and gives it a survival advantage over others.
   Of course, no ideology can deliver unrealistic promises, but
they can all claim that they can at some point in the future, and as
long as they deliver sufficient rewards in the meantime to keep the
dream alive in the minds of their followers they can sustain their
believers' commitment and support.  This seems to ensure that
eventually the unrealistic nature of the promises will become clear to
all and the ideology will collapse, but this point can be delayed by
bringing more converts into the ideology which adds to its wealth
and power base and provides enough rewards to satisfy the members
of it who have been working for it longer.  This is essentially how a
classic Pyramid Scheme works but with ideologies the rewards can be
anything of ideological value instead of just wealth.  Of course, the
end result is the same no matter what is coveted, but until the inevitable
collapse occurs the ideology will have a growing number of highly
motivated and aggressive believers supporting it and thus will make
it a formidable force in any ideological conflict.  And though an
ideology's long term survival may be doomed due to its need to attain
the unattainable, its short term survival is made much more likely,
and it will often be able to conquer and absorb many other ideologies
before it meets its end, especially those which put long term survival
ahead of short term gains.  This dynamic forces similar behavior from
other ideologies because when one ideology sacrifices the long term
for the short term and becomes aggressive, other ideologies must follow
suit in order to compete, while makes the future uncertain and the
present unstable.  A study of the behavior of ideologies in both recent
and ancient history suggests that short term survival, that being
measured in terms of decades rather than in centuries, at the expense
of long term survival is more the norm than the exception.
   Thus, ideologies have a need for constant growth in order
to compete with other ideologies.  This growth can be in any realm:
the Capitalist pursues greater profits, the churches send missionaries
to gather converts, the militarist seeks to conquer nations, the Socialist
gathers more workers to unite against the elites, etc.  The form of
growth which satisfies the believers is dependent on the ideals of the
ideology.  The ideology also convinces its believers that by achieving
their own personal rewards, the rest of the world will benefit as well,
and successful ideologies present their members with a utopian view
of the world that would be brought about if everyone were to follow its
edicts.  For example, the belief that Capitalism will pull the world out
of poverty and make the most efficient use of all resources possible is
one such promise, and the belief that if the world is converted to one
religion that its messiah will return is another popular one.  The trouble
is that there are physical limits on the growth of an ideology, imposed
either by other ideologies competing for the same resources or by the
lack of infinite resources in the world, and so at some point the supply
of rewards for the believers will begin to run dry.
   Corruption begins when there are not enough rewards to
go around for all of the believers who need them.  At this point
dissatisfaction will set in among those believers who go without,
but ideologies will often resort to spreading false hopes, half-truths,
and using outright lies to keep their members believing that a great
reward is not far off in the future and that they need to keep working
hard in order to obtain it.  In Christianity this can be done by
proclaiming that every natural disaster, war, famine, or other major
catastrophe is a sign that the end times are near and that Jesus will
be coming soon, probably within the lifetime of the believer.  In
Capitalism this can be done by either increasing the money supply
so that everyone can have more paper money (even though doing so
makes each dollar worth less) or by convincing everyone that their
long term investments will be worth even more than they expected
when it comes time to cash out.  With any ideology it works the same:
the thing that the ideology holds most sacred, and which in the minds
of its believers has been established as being a source of undeniable
value and reliability after years if not decades of reinforcement,
becomes bastardized and corrupted in order to make it seem as though
the ideology is still growing.  And while this corruption might appear
to be a conspiracy led by a number of scheming individuals, it is more
likely the case that those responsible are blinded by their own ideology
or swept up in their own hubris and are either unaware that they
are undermining their own faith or convinced that their actions are
temporary measures which are necessary to support the ideology until
better times arrive.  In a world of ideological competition and conflict,
the illusion is necessary for survival since appearing weak can
demotivate the struggling ideology's believers as well as invite rival
ideologies to attack.  For a while these illusionary rewards work as
well as the real ones and the ideology remains strong, but in time they
too will fail to satisfy, and eventually the members of the ideology will
become tired of all the sacrifice and begin demanding the real rewards
that they feel that they have earned.
   At this point force is often needed to keep the dissatisfied in
line.  Those with the most power and influence will use their power
to continue to get their share of the rewards, or more than their share,
in whatever way is necessary, and as long as they are receiving
adequate rewards they will hold true to the belief that their ideology
is working.  It works for them after all.  This reinforcement will skew
their perception of the world and they will often see those who complain
about their lack of rewards as suffering from some moral failing rather
than seeing the ideology as being impotent.  They will hold that the
dissatisfied people simply need to be more devout and follow the rules
of the ideology with more fervor, and that if they do so that they will
be able to get their rewards too.  Such rationalizations permit the
powerful to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the less powerful, and
to justify using force against them if necessary.  It's for their own
good after all.  Such neglect and poor treatment of the dissatisfied
serves to incubate new ideologies which will oppose the ruling
ideology.  In turn the emergence of conflicting ideologies will justify
the use of more force by the ruling ideology.  This can become a
vicious circle and end up spreading deprivation and dissatisfaction
to all members of the ideology.  When the corruption gets past a
certain point the game is over.  The ideology cannot provide sufficient
rewards and it can no longer stand as it was.

Mutation

   Ideologies that collapse due to either losing an ideological
conflict or falling victim to corruption, or which stagnate and lose
ground to rival ideologies, often go through a period of inner conflict
and turmoil before emerging in a mutated form.  Mutation follows
the principles outlined in the previous sections: that dissatisfaction
gives birth to new ideologies which are similar to the original but with
the problems which caused it to collapse possibly corrected, that these
new ideologies will themselves mutate and grow within the collapsed
ideology if they appeal to a broad range of supporters, that conflicts
will develop between the inner divisions of the old ideology, and that
those conflicts and their resolutions can follow one of many possible
courses.  There also exists the possibility that the mutating ideology
adopts ideas from rival and other ideologies, especially successful
ones, to replace the failed ideas within.  However, during mutation,
the ideology seldom changes its central ideals and tends to remain
true to all or most of what gives the ideology its particular character.
If collapse ends up changing the ideology's central ideals, it is probably
more accurate to state that the old ideology has died and that a new one
has taken its place.
   Ideological mutation differs from biological mutation due
to the flexibility of the human mind and its ability to switch ideas
rapidly.  Whereas biological mutation requires many generations of
small changes to create a creature distinctly different from the original,
ideologies can be formed within the time span of a single generation.
If you think about an ideology, with its ideas and  rules of behavior,
as a strand of DNA, each part of the strand is a separate idea which
is integrated into the larger whole.  Making changes to an ideology
is as simple and fluid as individual humans adopting new ideas and
rules of behavior and discarding the old ones.  As these ideas propagate
through the believers of that ideology, which can happen quickly, the
whole ideology mutates into a new form.
   Just as with evolution the process isn't without occasional
missteps, and natural selection is very much a powerful force in
determining which ideas remain in the ideology and which ones do
not.  Sometimes seemingly good ideas, when put into practice, produce
poor results and must be discarded, but because of the flexibility of
the human mind, ideologies can rapidly converge upon workable
collections of ideas and rules.  But while the human mind is very
flexible, ideologies may be less so, and some ideologies are more
flexible than others when it comes to tolerating new ideas.  Both
flexibility and rigidity have their strengths and weaknesses since
new ideas can be either good or bad for an ideology.  Rigidity has
the advantage of staying with something that is tried and true, but
in a world of ever-changing rival ideologies, what is tried and true
today may not be as effective tomorrow.  Too much rigidity will
inevitably lead to an ideology becoming inferior.  Flexibility has the
advantage of allowing an ideology to find better solutions to problems
which help it to grow and compete, but all change is not necessarily
good, even if it appears to be so at first since the full impact of an
ideological change may not register for years or decades.  Too much
flexibility will inevitably result in an ideology making too great of a
commitment towards a strategy that will fail, possibly catastrophically,
in the future.
   The principle of natural selection, applied to ideologies, is
the driving force in determining which mutations "work" and which
ones do not.  Contrary to the opinions of believers, an ideology does
not "work" because it is the truth, it works because the behaviors
that it enforces upon its believers place the ideology at a survival
advantage against other ideologies.  While the truth, defined as
being something that can be empirically demonstrated beyond all
reasonable doubt, can be an effective weapon in ideological conflict
since ideologies which can embrace a truth which reveals a rival as
being flawed are at a distinct advantage in a propaganda war, all
ideologies must hold as a central ideal a set of unreasonable
promises that they can use to motivate their believers to a greater
degree than their foes.  These unreasonable promises run counter to
the truth, and thus all ideologies are flawed at their core, but these
flaws are a necessary requirement for the survival of an ideology.
These flaws allow the ideology to "work", at least in the short term,
by promising its believers spectacular rewards which motivate them
to work as hard or harder than their rivals.  And thus a critical
requirement for an ideology is that it must be able to convince its
believers that its promises are not unreasonable and that they will
come true.

Death

   The death of an ideology occurs when either everyone who
believes in it is dead or when it mutates to such a degree that it no
longer follows its central ideals.  In the latter case, the ideology may
still bear the original name and carry with it many of the same ideas
and rules as its predecessor, but if the central ideals have changed it
is probably easier to conceptualize what has occurred by stating that
the original ideology is dead and by giving the new one a different
name.
   An ideology will fall out of favor when it no longer "works",
causing believers to try to alter it or abandon it altogether.  This can
be due to the ideology becoming too corrupt, by it losing a conflict
with a rival, or by it remaining stagnant for too long and thus
ending up inferior to other ideologies.  All three cases will generate
dissatisfaction among its believers and result in mutation, but to
change the central ideals of an ideology the amount of dissatisfaction
must be very great.  Such deep changes don't come easily and inner
conflict is usually the result with those who benefited the most from
the original ideals and rules lining up behind the ideology and those
who benefited the least demanding major changes.  This inner conflict
is generally fought between groups which can be called the Orthodoxy
and the Reformers.  The Orthodoxy are those who cling to the original
ideals of the ideology and the Reformers are the ones who want change.
In the beginning the Orthodoxy is in charge, but as the conflict rages
the group which is more or less in control can change back and forth
many times before victory for one side results.  If the Reformers are
victorious, or threaten to tear the entire ideology apart, the changes
that result can be deep enough to essentially kill the old ideology, or
move it far enough away from its original central beliefs that it is
something completely new.  If the changes are not so deep the ideology
can stay reasonably true to its original nature, but if a number of such
changes are forced upon an ideology over time then it is inevitable that
it will move beyond its original central ideals.  At such a point its
distant predecessor can be declared dead even though some of its
ideals are still in practice.  An example of this is the polytheistic
religion of ancient Greece.  Although the Greek gods are no longer
worshipped and their rituals are no longer performed, the impact of
Greek philosophers on virtually every ideology today is significant and
often profound.  Their gods may be dead, but their influence is alive
and well.
   Ideologies can die a more violent death as the result of war
where one ideology conquers the other, but it is not necessary to
exterminate the remaining population to kill the ideology though,
usually a catastrophic defeat is enough to convince its believers that
their ideology is flawed and they will be open to accepting a new
one or at least to accepting major changes to the old.  In such a case
the conquering ideology needs to swiftly replace the system of
rewards which the former ideology bestowed on its followers with
an equivalently satisfying system of its own.  A conquered people are
a very dissatisfied people, having lost their former rewards systems,
and a conqueror risks giving birth to new ideologies which are opposed
to it if it does not address the needs of the conquered.   Such new
ideologies can be very difficult to eradicate since their followers will
see themselves as having nothing to lose and everything to gain by
fighting and will be highly motivated to restore what had been taken
from them.  But if the conqueror is successful at getting its ideology
working among the conquered people, is generous in handing out
rewards, and is careful about abusing its new members and thus
giving motivation to the resistance, the conquered people will work
hard in support of the conquering ideology.  If all goes well the
conquered people will follow an ideology similar to the conqueror,
but with elements very similar to how it was before mixed in, like a
hybrid ideology, and the conqueror will be itself rewarded with a
loyal and prosperous ally.  The death of one ideology is often
followed by the birth of another.  And so the cycle continues.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for surv
Title: The Burning Blade 12.5
Post by: Fireaxe on August 01, 2009, 01:27:47 AM
All the powerful stink of corruption. All that's noble is drowned in lies.


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.5

           July 31, 2009

        neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html

   "The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace
   and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking
   powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent
   than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce
   as public enemies all who question their methods or throw
   light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern
   Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two,
   the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
         - President Abraham Lincoln

   "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have
   great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t
   have both."
         - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


   Is democracy dying?  Such a question is easily dismissed
out of hand.  Of course Democracy isn't dying, far from it, in fact it's
spreading to every corner of the world and being seeded in places
where such an egalitarian form of governance has never taken root
before.  How could this not be proof that democracy is thriving and
that it is without question the most superior form of government that
the world has ever known?
   And yet, what Abraham Lincoln decried during his shortened
presidency and what Justice Brandeis observed some seventy years
ago should give us all pause to consider if our assumptions about our
beloved system of government are as correct as they appear to be.  To
be sure, the distribution of wealth in the United States today is more
heavily weighted towards the very wealthy than at any time since the
Great Depression, and concurrently we are witnessing the corruption
of our government via lobbying, high stakes campaign funding, and
the ubiquitous "revolving door" where former members of government
take jobs with the corporations they aided with generous legislation,
where banking executives are hired by the Treasury Department and
who then end up giving billions to their former firms, and where
industry insiders are appointed to be regulators, and very lax ones at
that over the industries for which they used to work.  However, in his
quote, Justice Brandeis mixes two different forms of power, that of the
political and that of the economic, and seems to jump to the conclusion
that imbalances in one will automatically disrupt the balances in the
other.  Are the two not separate and distinct?  The answer is that the
two forms of power are very similar in nature and very tightly connected,
and thus as goes economic equality, so goes political equality.
   Democracy is based on the idea that everyone is equally
represented.  Everyone is allowed to cast one and only one vote, thus
distributing the political power in a democracy evenly among all of its
people.  Ideally this ensures that nothing occurs politically without the
support of a majority of the people and that the will of a majority will
inevitably be expressed as action undertaken by the country's leaders.
However, if political power is not evenly distributed throughout a
society, then the will of the majority can be thwarted by a powerful
minority which can effectively enslave the rest of the population to do
its bidding.  In practice, democracy is not perfectly egalitarian as it is
not efficient to gain the consensus of a majority every time an initiative
is put forth by the legislature and thus the political power of the people
is generally exercised only occasionally, usually in a general election
every few years, with the elected representatives left relatively free to
make decisions for the people as they see fit.  This keeps the decision-
making process efficient while still allowing the people to influence the
overall process.  However, if a democracy's representatives are allowed
to wield too much power, or they become relatively immune from
popular influence, the efficiency gained through easier decision making
will be offset by the fact that those decisions will inevitably benefit only
a relatively small number of people, such as the legislators themselves,
the lobbyists who influence them, their friends, relatives, and cronies,
and whichever part of society whom they relate to the most.  When
power is concentrated within a small number of individuals, that power
is generally used to benefit those individuals in a disproportionate way,
and if their power is not checked, those individuals will be prone to
seize even more power for themselves, concentrating it further, and
use it in even more disproportionate ways to benefit their own particular
interest groups at the expense of all others.  The concentration of
political power is inherently undemocratic.
   Economics and the distribution of wealth works in a similar
fashion, and here I will quote more from Justice Brandeis:

   "We learned long ago that liberty could be preserved only by
   limiting in some way the freedom of action of individuals; that
   otherwise liberty would necessarily yield to absolutism; and in
   the same way we have learned that unless there be regulation
   of competition, its excesses will lead to the destruction of
   competition, and monopoly will take its place."

   "A large part of our people have also learned that efficiency in
   business does not grow indefinitely with the size of business.
   Very often, a business grows in efficiency as it grows from a
   small business to a large business; but there is a unit of greatest
   efficiency in every business, at any time, and a business may be
   too large to be efficient, as well as too small. Our people have
   also learned to understand the true reason for a large part of
   those huge profits which have made certain trusts conspicuous.
   They have learned that these profits are not due in the main
   to efficiency, but are due to the control of the market, to the
   exercise by a small body of men of the sovereign taxing power."

   Wealth, and economic power, works best when it is allowed
to concentrate, but like political power, it is only efficient when that
concentration is kept within certain limits.  If power is too spread out,
it cannot coalesce to form structures which maximize efficiency, but if
power is too concentrated it becomes tyrannical and survives not by
being the best but by crushing all rivals with brute force.  As we have
seen over the last few decades, by deregulating the markets and allowing
economic power to concentrate via mergers, globalization, and financial
leverage, we have lost our economic efficiency as well as our financial
stability and we now face the dilemma of how to deal with institutions
which have been dubbed "too big to fail" but which by all rights should
have been allowed to fail years ago.  Instead of shutting them down,
liquidating their assets, and dispersing their economic power to create
more balance, our government, led by former employees of those very
institutions, either props them up at the people's expense or merges
them into other massive institutions, further concentrating economic
power and exacerbating the problem.  Indeed, these "failed" institutions
continue to make huge profits while the masses struggle or go bankrupt
and yet we are no closer to a solution to the problems which became
visible two years ago.  And thus, the concentration of economic power,
greatly aided by concentrated political power, in a few institutions and
individuals has created something akin to a black hole in the financial
universe, drawing in all our wealth and hard work and giving us
nothing in return.
   Our leaders tell us that if we surrender more power and wealth
to them that they can solve all of our problems.  That is exactly the
opposite of what needs to be done.
   The powers that be have done all that they can to preserve
the current economic system, but the system is dysfunctional and
serves mainly to exacerbate the existing mal-distribution of wealth.
Capitalism only works when profits are redirected back into the
system in ways that make it more productive, but in the current
system the profits are drained out of the system and into the bank
accounts of the very wealthy.  Productivity is slashed in pursuit of
short term profitability and long term profitability is made possible
only through ever increasing amounts of debt.  For example, take the
case of a company which manufactures goods in the United States.
The CEO notices that high wages for American workers are cutting
into the bottom line and decides to move the company's factories
overseas to save on labor costs.  So they fire their American workers,
who end up getting jobs at the local department store selling the same
products that they used to make, only now they are making $8 an
hour instead of $24 an hour.  The executives get richer and award
themselves bonuses, which they invest in, say, financial institutions
who loan that money to the former factory workers.  In essence what
used to be the workers' salaries are now being given to them in the
form of loans.
   Now, let's say that half of the workers borrow money to make
up for what they no longer get in salary and half cut back on their
spending and live within their means.  The half that cuts back will
cause a drop in demand for the things that they used to buy, such as
the goods they used to manufacture, which will result in less profits
for the company which may have to lay people off.  However, the
half that runs up debts will keep up the demand for things, and if
they are allowed to borrow more money than they used to make they
can also do such things as buy bigger houses or speculate on the
markets.  This debt-based buying causes an increase in demand which
drives up prices on houses and stocks.  That in turn allows the debtors
to borrow even more money against their houses and stocks, which are
worth more now, allowing them to buy an even bigger house and yet
more stock.  This is called asset inflation and is a driving force behind
credit bubbles which are highly destructive when they burst.  The more
that people buy the more they can borrow and the economy appears to
be booming, but it is all an illusion.  The increases in the prices aren't
due to any increase in productivity, which has remained relatively
constant, they are due only to the increase in the amount of money
which can be borrowed, money that has to be paid back, and with
interest.  For a while everything works wonderfully: the wealthy
executives make a good return on their investments, the banks turn a
tidy profit, and the borrowers get to live the high life.  But loaning
money which serves unproductive purposes such as the inflating of
asset bubbles is not Capitalism, it is wealth extraction, and the more
that it goes on the more wealth will slip through the fingers of the
working class and concentrate into the hands of the rich. As time
moves forward, one by one the debtors will reach the point where they
can no longer borrow more money nor make their interest payments
and they end up bankrupt.  Slowly but surely demand for houses,
stocks, and everything else fades away to nothing, the bubble bursts,
and the economy seizes up.  At this point the wealthy executives have
plenty of money, and the banks have plenty of capital to back new loans,
but the general public is insolvent and so little borrowing happens.  A
recession sets in.
   Furthermore, in a shrinking economy, most new business
ventures are going to end up losing money or failing, and so those with
money will be unwilling to invest in any new start-ups.   The problem
is not a lack of capital, the problem is the concentration of that capital
in the hands of a few along with the demand by those few to always
make a return on their investment, and make as large a return as they
possibly can.  The wealthy did not get that way by accident, and they
will generally not spend money unless they can make more money in
return, which will result in the further concentration of wealth and the
further enfeeblement of the economy at large.  In other words, the rich
get richer and the poor get poorer, but one doesn't have to be a Marxist
to understand that the mal-distribution of wealth is a problem not just
for the poor, but for the entire economy.  Being rich is not a problem
in and of itself, and in fact the desire to become wealthy is one of the
driving forces behind Capitalism, but when too many people become
too rich, money no longer flows through the entire economy and the
opportunities available to others evaporate.  When one can't get ahead
one stops trying, and the rest of us are deprived of their contributions.
   Political power suffers from a similar malady.  Those in power
tend to be those who can assemble power: drawing money, influence,
favors, and leverage from a variety of sources; and thus concentrating
power in themselves is what they become quite good at.  Whether they
gather power for altruistic purposes or whether they do so for their
own selfish reasons matters not because in either case the successful
ones will be the ones who accumulate power and do not let it go.
Furthermore, like wealth, the more political power you have, the easier
it is to gather more, and so the tendency is for power to concentrate in
individuals and in institutions.  As a case in point, many of us in the
United States are very disappointed that the current president, as well
as his political party, has not reversed the rather large number of laws,
signing statements, and questionable programs which the previous
administration enacted during its reign that usurped power and rights
from the people.  We made our demands, we received promises, and we
voted, but once they got elected our leaders stopped listening.  The
lesson is clear: once the government seizes power, it is very reluctant
to give it back.
   So, what does the future hold? Well, we've now entered what
is likely to be the last stage of a terminally ill economic system.  With
the collapse of the residential real estate market and the growing
instability in the commercial real estate market, the borrowing required
to support an insanely unstable bubble has ground to a halt.  Most of us
either don't want to borrow, don't need to borrow, or can't get a loan.
Without more debt, the credit bubble will burst, so in steps the
government to borrow for us, using its triple A credit rating to take out
the necessary two trillion dollars in loans needed to keep the financial
system afloat.  So far it has worked, in as much as we've staved off a
total collapse, but it appears that we will need to borrow that much or
more every year into the foreseeable future or else the greatest bubble
in history will explode.  It seems inevitable that a major catastrophe
will occur in the near future, and all the while our debts grow larger
while the bottom lines of the banks grow fatter.  This is no longer
democracy, this is Kleptocracy.
   This is the system that we in the west are really exporting
around the world.  It is democracy in appearance, but behind the
scenes one can find the movements of wealth which guide the hands
of the policymakers regardless of their nationality and political
leanings.  Yes, there are two or more rival political parties vying for
power in most democratic nations, but more and more their battles
are becoming a feud between groups of wealthy people while the
rest of us are left to struggle, suffer, and hope.  And as global wealth
continues to concentrate into the hands of a few we can expect things
to get less and less democratic no matter which party is in power.
Democracy may not yet be dead, but it is growing weaker with every
compounding of the interest that We The People owe.
   Speaking of dead, every nasty organism that decided to
set up shop in my intestines over the years, or perhaps even decades,
has been thoroughly obliterated.  My latest tests show that my treatment
program is working.  Candida Albicans…dead.  Salmonella…dead.
Dientamoeba Fragilis…dead.  And now, finally free of infections and
inflammation, my guts can be reloaded with beneficial organisms that
will help me get back to being healthy again, or so the theory goes.
I'm optimistic about my future, and eager to find out if all the hard
work and sacrifice I've gone through over the last year and a half will
at last pay off.  I'm also eager to get my life back on track.  On the
Fireaxe front, all of my studying and practicing is paying off and I'm
getting awfully good with this guitar.  Now I'm itching to show you
all what I can do with it, well, without showing off or making an
ass out of myself.  Should the next phase of my treatment ratchet up
my strength and energy I'll probably feel inclined to crank out that
Manowar cover I've been wanting to do and that would seriously rock.
Hail and Kill!
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


A Dark Future Awaits?

   You might have noticed that the media is trumpeting the idea
that the worst of the crash is over and that a recovery is just around the
corner.  This would be great if it was true, but keep in mind that while
the experts are saying that the economy will be rolling again in six
months that they have been saying the same thing for the last two years,
so it is hard to put much faith in their prognostications.  As foreclosures
and job losses mount I'm inclined to believe that this is a false bottom
and that we have more misery ahead.
   I will continue to prepare for rougher times and I urge you to
do the same.  As to what the world will look like in the coming years
it is hard to predict, but I did find a very interesting speech given by
a Russian named Dmitry Orlov who witnessed the financial collapse
of his country in the nineties and how his fellow citizens coped with it.
I'd take what he says with a grain of salt, but he does provide a lot of
food for thought.

http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22183.htm

   Since the last newsletter was long, this one will be short.
Take care and good luck.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the CD that much better.  So it looks like a year of sequels for Fireaxe.
I'll probably leave the names the same but I've been kicking around a few
new ideas for the CDs, such as "Food for the Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert
for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath", "The Morning After Death", or
"I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket - a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the power, Fireaxe is the channel, and any diversion
diminishes the emotive effect.  Thus I try to avoid such diversions.
That is how art should be.


Rights to duplicate Fireaxe materials

   Currently Fireaxe is not for profit.  I sell the single CDs for
$5 or $6, $12 for "Food for the Gods" since it is three CDs, which covers
the production and mailing costs.  For CDs sent out of the country,
I'll have to charge an extra $2 per disk to cover the additional mailing
cost. If you write reviews or put samples on your website I'll give you a
CD for free.  Since I am not making any money with the current
recordings, you are free to make duplicates of them to distribute as
long as you obey the following guidelines:

1. You can only sell the duplications for the price of the medium or
   less, plus any delivery cost.  You are not allowed to make any
   profit with the music.
2. You should tell me how many copies you gave out and who got them so
   I can keep track.  Also, if they have an e-mail address I'd
   like that as well so I can add them to the mailing list.
3. You are likewise free to adorn any webpages or duplications with the
   gifs and jpgs on my website as long as you include an obvious
   link back to my website.  This includes putting Fireaxe song
   samples on your site as well.
4. You are free to play any Fireaxe songs (in unaltered form) provided
   you are an unsigned band without a marketing tie-in.  You are
   not allowed to record those songs onto anything that you will sell.
5. Do not fall in love with the Dark Goddess.  I mean, seriously.  She's the
   goddess of death after all, it's not a good idea.  Furthermore,
   do not have sexual fantasies involving the Dark Goddess.  She
   does not have a womb and thus lacks the entrance to that
   particular organ.  Also, attempting to use other entrances will
   likely result in castration.  Again, it's not a good idea.
6. You are vehemently discouraged from doing anything depicted in the
   CD "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" such as: torturing
   someone, lying for corporate profit, rationalizing greed, beating,
   raping, and murdering your girlfriend, destroying the lives of
   those who've wronged you and their families, corrupting the
   government, trying to kill yourself with pleasure, kidnapping
   and ransoming people, committing atrocities, cutting someone's
   face to pieces, destroying half the world as revenge, and especially
   stating that any of these things are okay because "God is on your
   side."  Please, think before you act.
7. You are food for the gods.
8. You are required to crank the song "Hounds of Tindalos" as loud
   as you can as often as you can.  It’s your only defense against
   THEM.  Be warned, they come through angles.  Note that the
   CD is round.  Are your speaker cabinets square?
9. Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, Hastur the Unspeakable, and all other
   mythos creatures are purely the inventions of Lovecraft and
   other fiction authors.  None of it is real, at least that’s what
   I’m going to say in court if you try to sue me for destruction
   of your property, house, city, or soul as a result of listening
   to the “Lovecraftian Nightmares” CD too much.
10.  You are free to play "The Rack" in school or church or any other
   institution bent on crushing your will and turning you into a
   mindless zombie slave of the corporate dominated world.
   Try not to develop a bad attitude about it.
11. You are not free to commit suicide while listening to any Fireaxe
   song.  I'm sorry, I'll have to prosecute.  On a serious note,
   if you are thinking about doing it, please e-mail or call me
   if you have no one else to talk to.  When I was in my teens
   the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd used to really get to me.
   Just hearing songs like "Comfortably Numb", and "Hey You"
   would get me pretty depressed and mildly suicidal.  I'm just
   trying to say that I've been there. If my music is having that
   effect on you, please get in touch.  You aren't alone.

   The gist of it is that you can do just about anything with the
music as long as you don't profit from it and that I get some sort of
credit for having written it.  I'm open to any methods of distributing
my music, such as compilation tapes or CDs, radio play, or recording
label distribution.  However, you will need my direct permission to
do so or some kind of legal agreement.


Ending Comments

   Any comments or questions are welcome.  If anyone has any
updates on their projects, I'd like to hear from you.  I know there
are a few people out there working on some cool things that I haven't
heard from in a while.  Drop me an e-mail regarding how you're
getting along.

                  Brian
Title: The Burning Blade 12.6
Post by: Fireaxe on October 05, 2009, 02:38:40 AM
Individualism has made a mess of our world…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 12.6

         October 4, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "What we face is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just
   the details of policy but fundamental principles of social justice
   and the character of our country."
         - Senator Edward M. Kennedy, referring to
         the matter of health care reform

   "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The
   savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe.
   Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
         - Ayn Rand, in defense of a limited form
         of government based on her Objectivist
         philosophy

   "My advice to people today is as follows: if you take the game
   of life seriously, if you take your nervous system seriously, if
   you take your sense organs seriously, if you take the energy
   process seriously, you must turn on, tune in, and drop out."
         - Timothy Leary, 1960s counterculture icon

   "Fuck the establishment."
         - A popular counterculture phrase which
         is far more to the point that either of the
         wordy quotes above.


   What is the character of the United States?  The president used
Kennedy's quote above to challenge the American people to rediscover
something that was discarded in this country decades ago: a common
moral compass.  He continues trying to channel the spirit of F.D.R. and
invoke the sentiments of a left wing which has long since died out in
America, having been replaced not only on the left but on the right as
well with ideologies which champion a strong sense of individualism.
The character of our country is simply not altruistic and hasn't been so
for decades, yet Obama persists in compounding his most serious error:
trying to move beyond the failed ideologies of the present by retreating
backwards towards a failed ideology of the past.  In this he will fail and
a better look back into the past will reveal why.
   The global economic collapse and Great Depression of the
1930s was a period of massive economic, social, political, and thus
ideological upheaval.  Most countries either turned to dictatorship,
such as in the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy, and Spain, empowered
their existing dictators, such as was the case in the U.S.S.R. and Japan,
or allowed democratically elected leaders to act as virtual dictators, like
in the U.S. and U.K.  In all these cases, the collapse of the free market
and failure of laissez-faire economics led to a massive rise in the power
of the state, which seized control of the economy as well as many other
facets of their citizens' lives.  The leaders of the state first used their
new powers in what they believed were altruistic ways: saving the people
from exploitation by the greedy, protecting domestic industries from
foreign competition, and fighting back against all enemies both outside
and inside their borders.  In the decades that followed these newly
empowered states became more aggressive, redistributing wealth by
force, instituting massive government run social programs, holding
witch-trial type investigations against  internal dissenters, slaughtering
their own citizens if they opposed the state, declaring war on each other
frequently, encouraging conformity, demanding fealty, and in general
telling their people what to do.  All in all it was a particularly dark and
traumatic period for the entire world.
   In those dark years antiestablishment sentiment was growing,
quietly gaining strength until it exploded into view during the 1960s.
What followed was an era of rebellion against the excessively powerful
states which was just as global in scope as were the Great Depression
and World War Two.  The ghastly horrors of the Nazis had revealed
how excesses of state power could lead to unparalleled atrocities, for
once a state lends legitimacy to inhuman policies, those policies will
be carried out by legions of loyal followers with ruthless efficiency
and little regard for their victims.  States appeared to have the power
to make traditional morality null and void.  Stalinist Russia and China
under Mao showed that Nazi Germany was not an exception to the
devastation that unchecked state power could bring.  During this era,
resistance, both peaceful and violent, was brought up against many
governments and it was often met with brutal repression, which had
the effect of reinforcing the point that placing too much power in the
state will result tyranny.  Communist states were especially brutal
when it came to the exercise of state power, but Western democratic
governments also produced many reasons for why they could not be
trusted.  In the U.S., Eisenhower's cover-up of the U2 spy plane
incident, the hard-to-believe conclusions of the Warren commission
regarding President Kennedy's assassination, and the Gulf of Tonkin
subterfuge which was used to drag a reluctant country into the Vietnam
War greatly damaged the credibility of the United States of America.
In later decades Watergate, Ford's pardon of Nixon, Carter's impotence
in dealing with domestic issues, and the Iran-Contra scandal further
eroded the faith that people had in their leaders, even though those
leaders were supposedly answerable to the people and not above the
law.
   The notion that the state was a tyrannical imposition on the
lives of its citizens was something that affected both conservative as
well as liberal ideologies.  Although the sixties are mostly associated
with the left-leaning anti-government counterculture, conservatives
were also embracing the idea that government was the problem, not
the solution, although the left and the right had different bones to pick
with the state.  It was during the sixties and seventies that both the
traditional left and right underwent ideological mutation, downplaying
the role of the state and uplifting the freedom of the individual.
   The "old left" was the legacy of the F.D.R. years which had its
last gasp during the Johnson presidency.  The old left championed labor
unions and embraced the government's role in directing the economy
as well as redistributing the wealth of the nation through high taxes
which funded programs like Social Security and Medicare.  The "new
left" downplayed the more socialistic elements of its past which tended
to revolve around solidarity and government intervention and embraced
the individual's right to "do their own thing".  Social progress became
their goal and ending segregation was the centerpiece of the new left's
campaign.  In the years that followed the new left made great gains
through the decisions of the supreme court which struck down many
racist and sexist laws, liberating the people from the imposition of
old social norms by state and local governments.
   On the other side of the political spectrum the distaste for
government was also growing.  Massive social programs enacted by
F.D.R. and Lyndon Johnson needed to be funded through higher
taxes, and the rise of labor as well as the environmental movement
was coming at the expense of business interests and economic growth.
Both the "old right" and the "new right" opposed these leftist policies
but the "old right" still envisioned government as a tool to maintain the
existing power structure and social order.  The "old right" opposed
change in all forms, but its embrace of racists, sexists, segregationists,
and other extremists were destroying its political viability.  The "new
right" downplayed these elements and focused more on liberating
individuals, and especially big business, from what they felt was
excessive government taxation and regulation.  The right used the
miserable performance of the government run economy of the Soviet
Union to make their case for deregulation and since 1980 they've been
able to greatly reduce taxes and overturn many laws which restricted
the conduct of corporations and reduced profitability.  Though the new
right still needs to appeal to extremists by embracing the notions of
traditional social roles, most of its political progress has come in the
area of the economic liberation of the individual.
   In recent decades both the left and the right have come to
despise government.  This is the true character of the American people,
at least as things stand today.  Freedom to us means freedom from rules
and regulations whether they are constraining our social identity, or
our economic potential, and we resist the idea of having the government
make our decisions for us.  We believe that the government's role is to
facilitate our successes and aspirations and not impede them or dictate
which paths we should take.  In other words, we are standing John F.
Kennedy on his head: "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask
what your country can do for you, and if it can't help out, it should
get out of the way."  Political philosophers on all sides of the spectrum
have made the case for disengagement from government over the years
which is what I was trying to show with the quotes from Rand and
Leary above.  We want the government to make sure that everyone
plays fair, although the left and right differ on what the rules of the
game are, but in general we want to be left alone to succeed or fail
based on our own merit.
   In the U.S., President Obama is trying to pass health care
reform legislation which requires intrusion of the state into the private
sector the likes of which has not been seen in decades and it is not
surprising that he is meeting a lot of resistance.  Any notion of a single-
payer system had to be abandoned early on due to its clash with the
strong feelings of individualism in the general populace.  Single-payer
means fewer choices for the consumer, and Americans like to have
choices.  As a result the current proposals underline the demand for
more choice in the health care insurance realm: increasing the number
of competing insurance companies available to choose from, adding a
government run option that those currently without insurance can
choose, holding back from changing the system too radically so that
people can choose the insurance company that they currently have,
and forcing insurance companies to offer insurance to everyone so
that those who have few or no choices today have a number of options.
The one choice that the plan takes away is the option to choose "none
of the above", but given the generous provisions of the rest of the plan
this option is likely to only appeal to a small minority who would
literally be gambling with their health.
   Even though the plan has been crafted to appeal to America's
individualist spirit, it doesn't have enough support in congress.  The
right is opposed to any government run or government subsidized
program for very practical economic reasons as well as the fear that
government run health care may one day have to be rationed, which
would erode an individual's freedom to obtain better and faster health
care if they can afford to pay for it.  The right wants to overturn
F.D.R.'s reforms, not add new ones, and is reluctant to support any
new government intrusion into the private sector.  The left, as well
as the general public, is more open to Obama's ideas due to the fact
that private insurers have exploited the public so badly that they are
willing to invite big government into their lives.  Although the left
distrusts big government, it distrusts big business as much or more.
But Obama's popularity is fading among the left due at least in part
to his many compromises in which he is seen as giving up too much
and allowing both state and corporate power to grow.  On the matter
of health care he has already made a number of compromises to both
big business and the opposition party and there is fear that reform will
benefit everyone but the people paying for it.  And when it comes to
other compromises, many on the left feel betrayed by many of Obama's
policies, such as his leisurely exit from Iraq, his aggressive policy
towards Afghanistan, his continued support of profiteering private
military contractors, his bailouts of banks and car companies, his delays
in closing Guantanamo Bay, his reluctance to prosecute those who
authorized torture, and his continued authorization of a great number
of police-state powers that his predecessor conjured up after September
eleventh.  Obama is not restoring trust in the government in the eyes
of the left as well as the right and public is finding it hard to trust
our elected officials to deliver a health care package which is an
improvement over the current dysfunctional system.  It seems that
instead of true reform we will get another compromise where taxes
go up, big business feasts on more subsidies, and most of us end up
paying more in premiums for essentially the same product that we are
getting now.
   This is a serious problem.  The U.S. has become a nation
which does not trust its own government, and thus in the face of a
number of issues where the solution requires government intervention
the nation stands paralyzed and unable to act.  To make matters worse
it appears that our elected officials have also lost their faith in the
government and have put their individual interests ahead of their duty
to their nation.  They too have been influenced by individualism and it
seems that they don't want to be told what to do by the people and are
instead doing what they personally want to do as well as what benefits
them the most.  Corruption, careerism, allegiance to a political party,
and the frequent exercise of the "revolving door" have further paralyzed
the nation with every congressperson seeming to ask "what's in it for
me" before deciding on how to vote.  Not even the government trusts
the government, so why shouldn't our public servants try to work the
system to their own benefit and let the chips fall where they may?  This
too is the character of our country, individualism to an immoral extreme,
and we are a long, long way away from Obama's dream of a country
which comes together to take care of its own.
   Speaking of health care, the program that I am on to improve
my health is starting to show definite signs of improvement.  Over the
last two weeks I have been experiencing states of health that I have not
felt in over six years and I think that I am finally seeing the light at the
end of a long, dark tunnel.  My improvements are still coming in fits
and starts though as my gradually strengthening immune system is
hard at work fighting against the low grade bacterial and viral infections
that have stolen a big chunk of my life.  But I'm still guarded about
pronouncing myself almost cured since I've had so many setbacks over
the years, so again I can make no guarantees about future developments
on the Fireaxe recording front.  Yeah, I know, another announcement
that I'm not back in the studio yet.  All that I can say is that your
disappointment about the situation pales compared to mine.  I'm a
person who thrives on being able to accomplish things and the past
seven years have been like my worst nightmare.  It kills me to not be
able to do the things that I want to do nor feel the way that I used to
feel.  It honestly feels as if I am half dead a lot of the time, as if I am
driving around firing on two cylinders instead of four, and that the
rest of the world is rushing past me while I struggle.  I often wonder
if I will ever truly be healthy again or whether I will just have to accept
living a life that I can't truly enjoy.  The illness that I have has denied
many of my desires and aspirations and I wonder if my recent stretch
of good health is just another period of false hope.  But regardless of
how I feel I will soldier on, knowing that if I sit still that that is the
point when I truly start dying.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


The Ego, the Trendy, and the Almighty Dollar

   In the credits for "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess" I
made mention to something I called the church of the Ego, the Trendy,
and the Almighty Dollar.  This was a direct reference to the forces
that have corrupted the recording industry over the decades and turned
it into a vapid, exploitative, chop shop filled with pathological liars,
ruthless scumbags, and self-absorbed egotists whose only measure of
success is the number of outrageously overpriced CDs that they can sell
regardless of what they contain.  At least, that's my opinion.  And when
I look closer at the evolution of modern ideologies it seems that those
same forces are also hard at work reshaping almost every aspect of our
society and ourselves, changing the ways we think and act towards each
other, and slowly but surely corrupting everything of lasting value.  As
I outlined above, both liberal and conservative ideologies have been
greatly altered by an embrace of individualism and a distrust of the
consolidation of power, especially in government.  And growing hand
in hand with the rise of individualism are egotism, the superficiality
of trendiness, and the worship of the almighty dollar.  Our culture
is suffering greatly because of it.
   Don't get me wrong, I'm a fierce defender of individuality.
My strength lies in my creativity and I am at my best when I am given
a more or less free reign to meet a defined target or goal.  I know others
who are the same way.  When people are allowed to try new things or
find their own way to a solution they can sometimes find a better way
to do things than before or discover something new and useful along
the way.  When that happens we all end up better because of it.  But it
doesn't happen nearly as often when everyone is forced to conform to
a certain ideal and is made to do things the same way as they have
always been done.  However, when taken to an extreme, an emphasis
on individuality will eventually result in a lack of social cohesion
and a sharp deterioration in our overall effectiveness due to a lack of
cooperation and a reluctance to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
While some individuals may end up doing quite well an individualistic
culture, the whole is worse off than before.  Both conformity and
individuality have their merits and a blending of the two ideals allows
a culture to reap the benefits of both while avoiding their weaknesses,
but over the last half century our ideologies have moved from an extreme
embrace of conformism to an extreme embrace of individuality and as a
result our ideologies are coming apart right before our eyes.
   For most of us, the freedom to express ourselves how we want
to has become an almost sacred rite.  We have absorbed the dogma
of individualism: that we are unique, that our uniqueness makes us
exceptional or at least will enable us to become exceptional, and that
who we are is intimately linked to the material things that we amass,
to the many things we have accomplished, and to anything else which
makes us, as individuals, noteworthy .  Our personal needs and desires
are what motivate us and give us purpose.  "Me" has far surpassed "we".
And even when we are doing things for others we often see our actions
as being things which build up our own self image.  As a people, and as
individuals, we have become narcissistic, but since all mental disorders
are defined by a person's diversion from the norm, we do not see our
self-absorption as a sign that something is wrong with us.  We are all
that way after all, and therefore we are all normal.  Furthermore, we
can all point to someone who is more narcissistic than we are and say
that they are the one who has the problem while we are sane, balanced,
and healthy.  But over the years, and step by step, we have moved
towards being people who are at the center of our own private universes,
kings and queens of our domains, without fully realizing just how far
away we have moved from what we used to call normal.
   Take music for example.  Half a century ago the music scene
was essentially divided in two with "respectable" music played by white
musicians and "scandalous" music played by black musicians.  The
divide was such that if a song performed by a black musician threatened
to become popular, a white musician would do a cover of it, with the
lyrics cleansed of their risqué content, and that version would be released
to mainstream America.  It was an age of rigid social norms, conformity,
and uniformity, and everyone was encouraged to join a church, behave
morally, and be a part of their local community.  The music of that
period reflected those preferences as was not particularly challenging
or threatening.  Of course, not everyone conformed.  The fifties gave
birth to rock-n-roll music as well as the beat poets, rebellion which
would later grow into a massive non-conformist movement, but for the
most part people listened to the few musical genres of the era and were
content with the limited choices.  People had more of a group identity
back then, putting things such as the community or the church first
and their own interests second.  Music mirrored the times, and existed
mostly as part of a larger cultural context: something to dance to or
to enjoy in a public setting with others rather than something private
and personal to be experienced alone.
   The sixties and seventies were a time of great change, both
in music and in society, and it can be argued that music was the driving
force behind social change.  In the sixties, television was responsible
for creating the first rock stars, photogenic teen idols and girl groups,
making them into national sensations.  At first only respectable stars
were allowed on television, but the growing popularity of rock-n-roll
musicians allowed them, or at least the white ones, to spread their
influence far and wide.  And although mainstream America fought
against rock-n-roll and other "corrosive" influences every step of the
way, the non-conformist message of the new music could not be stopped.
Teens now had idols who were brazenly sexual, egotistical, and who
did things their own way.  Many teens emulated their idols and broke
out of the conformist mold, ushering in an age of self-exploration and
experimentation.  Music now served as a vehicle to deliver the message
of individuality, of freedom to be who you were rather than what society
expected you to be.  But even with all the emphasis on individuality, the
non-conformist movement was itself rather conformist.  Those who
broke free of the mainstream would join the counterculture movement
and conform to its ideals and ways of thinking.  Likewise, the music
scene was still essentially divided into two parts, one for the mainstream
and one for the growing subculture.
   In the eighties and nineties the music scene exploded with new
bands, genres, and ways to access music springing up all over the place.
Now people could express and indulge their individuality with a style of
music that seemed to be specifically for them and do so wherever  and
whenever they pleased.  Teenagers everywhere could listen to their
favorite bands in their cars or on portable music players and often
proudly wore T-shirts with their favorite band's name and logo on their
chests.  The type of music we liked became a part of our identities.  Music
was everywhere and cable channels featuring nothing but music helped
to create an army of teen idols.  It seemed that anyone could become a
rock star and garages and basements all across America were filled with
hopeful groups of teens and young adults emulating their heroes and
trying to become the next big sensation.  Indeed, for many it wasn't
enough to just listen to music, they wanted to be just like their idols:
performing on stage, living the wild rock star lifestyle of sex, drugs,
and overindulgence in everything, and being worshipped by thousands
of adoring fans.  The age of conformity and restraint had passed, and
few mourned its death for more and more people were coming to think
that mainstream America did nothing but stand between them and their
dreams.  Conformism just told us to grow up, be responsible, and cast
aside our childish fantasies, and seemed to give back nothing in return
so good riddance to it.  We had been liberated.  Now everyone was free
to become a superstar, either in music, television, movies, or in whatever
path to fame and riches that they wanted to pursue.
   The turn of the century saw the dawn of the internet, which
had a major impact on the music industry and on society in general.
For the listener it created another explosion of musical availability.
No longer were people limited to listening to the bands that recording
labels thought were good.  Now, anyone, anywhere in the world could
listen to any band in the world at any time.  A universe of music lay
at every fan's fingertips.  And for aspiring musicians it threw the door
wide open to their dreams of success, connecting them with their fan
base directly and releasing them from the need to "sell out" or cater
their music to trend of the moment.  Now anyone could become popular,
all that a musician had to do was put together a website, add some songs
that people were interested in, advertise here and there, and overnight
you could become a star.  As a result the number of bands in the world
expanded almost exponentially, and recording technology advanced to
the point where individuals could produce their own music in their
own homes.  Bands as well as solo artists like yours truly could express
their individuality more easily than ever before.  Music, it seemed, was
everywhere, and everyone wanted to be a part of it.  On television,
programs that featured aspiring musicians competing for major
contracts grew massively popular and millions of people tried out
in the hopes of achieving their dream of stardom.  Of course, not
everyone can be a star, first you need to have talent, but then a lot
of people are good enough to sell CDs.  More important is the second
requirement for being a star: you need to have fans; and if everyone
is trying to be a star the dwindling number of admiring fans end up
spread pretty thin.  The market has become oversaturated.  With so
many people up on stage clamoring for the spotlight there is no one
left to be in the cheering crowd.  So some of us have to set aside our
dreams of stardom and be fans so that others can become idols, right?
   Well, no.  Today everyone can be a rock star, and you don't
even need to be good at playing an instrument.  The surprising
popularity of video games where you can dance, play an instrument,
or sing at a passable level and watch or listen to yourself performing
as well as your idols enables all of us to live out our rock star dreams.
What is more is that you don't even need to put in the long hard hours
practicing your instrument, learning music theory, or paying your dues
in any significant way in order to be good at the games.  Everything
has been simplified and anyone with a modest sense of rhythm can
pick the games up quickly.  And to complete the narcissistic nature
of the games, they also supply an army of virtual fans to worship us
when we succeed so we can all be idols.  We can believe ourselves to
be great, even when we are not.  And so we have gone from music as a
force for cultural cohesion, to music as an expression of individuality,
to music as a tool for personal wish fulfillment.  We've gone from
conformity to individuality to narcissism.
   This same progression has occurred in more areas than just
music, though not necessarily over the same time frame, and the basic
problem remains: if everyone is talking then who is listening?  And if
no one is listening, there's no point in talking.  You're more likely to
make an impact by barking at the moon.  Take blogging for instance,
which is even more accessible to the public than music since it takes
no natural rhythm and very little talent of any kind to do.  At first
blogging was a novel new form of communication, but advancements
on the internet has enabled millions to write blogs about whatever is
on their minds, whether insightful or trivial, and many millions have
done so, but how many people are out there reading all those blogs?
Do we need so many?  And books are another example.  Publishing a
book used to be a somewhat exceptional event and it was mostly done
by professionals, but now it seems that every public figure is out there
hawking a book and everyone else has either tried their hand at writing
one or has a great book idea in mind that they want to write.  It makes
one wonder if there is anyone out there reading all of this material, or
even if a person can read a mere fraction of the stuff that has peaked
their interest.  Is this another oversaturated market?
   Furthermore, with such an abundance of blogs, books, and
music available, the value of that material is reduced in many ways.
One way is that, with so many choices, people tend not to choose the
more contrary or challenging selections, and instead choose the things
that they are more comfortable with.  The world can now accommodate
them rather than the other way around and as a result people ignore
the things which could teach them valuable lessons and expand their
horizons.  Secondly, we don't tend regard something which is in
abundant supply as being precious, something that we should treasure,
embrace, and explore deeply.  Instead everything becomes just another
piece of content that we absorb only superficially, agreeing, disagreeing,
or ignoring it before moving on to the next piece of content.  In essence,
more has become less.
   But beyond blogging, books, and music there are so many
areas where there are so many people doing and so few people
appreciating that the model for winning praise and achieving fame
appears to be unsustainable.  In a society filled with narcissists our
narcissistic needs go unfulfilled because there are too many narcissists
out there competing for the attention of too few admirers.  Our dreams
are dying in droves, but we can't seem to let them go.  So in response
we do what narcissists always do: either fall into despair or turn up
the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed.
   The competition between self interested individuals is fierce,
and true narcissists are quick to discard any rules, traditions, or
standards of behavior to achieve their ends.  Narcissists may care
about others, but their own interests always come first.  Take the
pursuit of wealth, which has been transformed from a generally
conformist protestant work ethic approach where one starts at the
bottom and climbs their way to the top through hard work, teamwork,
and self sacrifice, to a Machiavellian approach where any method,
legitimate, legal but immoral, or flat out unconscionable, can be
employed to rapidly build a fortune regardless of who ends up going
bankrupt in the process.  Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy influenced
many Monetarist economists who came to power during the eighties
and tore down the existing regulatory structure in much the same way
that the counterculture movement tore down the conformist mainstream
in the sixties and seventies.  Their belief that "self interest rightly
understood" would naturally lead people into optimal, robust, and long
lasting economic relationships championed the desires of the individual
and allowed people to believe that greed was a positive force in the
world.  But as we are currently discovering this belief was an illusion
as it brought out not the best in people but the worst.  Of course, for a
time the ones who bent the rules of the game prospered and became
filthy rich while those who held fast to their morals saw their market
share dwindling, and this lasted long enough to chase many of the
more honorable businessmen out of the markets.  As a result we are
left with a financial system run primarily by a den of thieves and
overseen by regulators who are ideologically opposed to regulation.
This is another serious failure of excessive individualism.
   The emphasis on individual desires has spread far and wide
and many who have attained great wealth or power have sought to
live like rock stars, coveting the overindulgent lifestyles of the idols
they admired as teenagers.  In recent years we've seen many people
in positions of power and responsibility, such as CEOs, politicians,
religious leaders, and popular public figures, caught indulging
themselves in all manner of immoral and illicit behaviors for which
"normal" people should be ashamed, but like true narcissists most
of them have fiercely defended themselves, blamed others for their
failures, denied everything, or insisted that what they did wasn't
wrong at all.  Our role models appear to be anything but.
   Of course, it's easy to look down upon extreme examples of
narcissists, but how much different are we common people?  Before
we point our fingers at the wealthy and powerful we need to point
them at ourselves as well.  Note that narcissists are extremely resistant
to self-analysis, except when it is in the form of exhibitionism, so
opening ourselves up to criticism is a good way to slow down our
descent into a self-destructive pathological state.  So let's ask ourselves,
are we so much different than those whom we mock and wag our fingers
at?  How many of us joined in the stampede to make a fortune in the
markets, both during the dot com boom and the housing bubble?  Were
we not trying to live out our "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"
dreams?  Many of us dreamed of making a fortune by getting in on
the ground floor of a spectacular IPO run-up, and millions of us
bought extravagant houses, filling them with toys paid for with our
equity gains, and thought that we could keep getting richer the more
the bubble inflated.  Were we not putting wish fulfillment ahead of
our better judgment just like those who destroyed the financial system
for their own enrichment?  Let's set aside our rationalizations and be
honest, how much of a factor did the idea of making a quick buck go
into decisions about a secure and stable future?  Do you see how the
two ends are contradictory?
   Also how many of us have sought to reap the benefits of the
obliteration of traditional sexual norms?  Are we not trying to live out
our "James Bond" and "Marilyn Monroe" fantasies or at least trying
to shore up our flagging self esteem by having sex with someone in
order to validate an image of ourselves as being sexy, desirable, and
virile?  Our sexual behavior has gone far beyond simply satisfying our
needs for sexual release and companionship.  Today we seem to be
acting more like drug addicts looking for a fix.  Our media is saturated
with sexual content and overindulgence seems to be everywhere and
anywhere.  College campuses have become highly sexualized places
for youths to experiment, and often overindulge in sex, alcohol, drugs,
and anything else that is considered taboo but which our rock star idols
and other heroes make seem to be the best things that life has to offer.
The internet…well, need I say more?  And everywhere we see people
engaged in one night stands, serial monogamy, adultery, pedophilia,
bondage, bestiality, and perversions of every kind which are more
available and less frowned upon now than ever.  You can get just
about anything you want if you look hard enough and you'll find many
people who are into the same thing too.  But the problem is not that
we are having a lot of sex, the problem is that a lot of the sex that we
are having is pathological, narcissistic behavior.  All of our excesses
have come at the expense of deep, meaningful and lasting relationships,
and our sexual activity has become much more about the physical and
much less about the emotional.  We fuck each other more and respect
each other less than we ever have as a people.  And when our marriages
and relationships break up how often do we seek revenge against our
former partners or wallow in self-pity for months or years on end?
Like narcissists we react to the blows to our self image by going to
extremes, often using sex as a way to get back at our former lovers.
And how many of us have justified our loose sexual behavior by saying
that it liberates us, or that its something we want to do before we die,
or get old and lose our looks?  Sex is best when it is something intimate
that is shared between two people, but we have turned it into little more
than masturbation, using another human being as if they were a sex toy
whose only purpose is to fulfill our own personal desires and dreams.
   The same can be said of gambling, computer gaming, or
any other addiction that is so widespread in our culture today.  The
common theme in all of these things is that the self comes first and
other people come second, or third, or maybe not at all.  Do we ever
wonder where the money really comes from when we try to get rich?
Do we even care if we are involved in the exploitation of others for
personal gain?  Did we ever stop to think that maybe the stock market
or the housing market was a bubble and that we were contributing to
something that was going to destroy ourselves and others down the
road?  Do we care how our partner will feel after we discard him or
her after we have gotten what we need out of our relationship?  More
and more the answer to those questions is becoming "no".  But it's not
just that we don't care, or at least we don't care as much as we used to
decades ago, it's that we shouldn't care.  We shouldn't care because our
ideologies are telling us that it is wrong to care.  The individualistic
character of our ideologies tells us that we should take care of ourselves
and to be responsible for our actions as opposed to becoming dependent
on others and counting on them to look out for our better interests.
This idealism forces us to be strong and independent and not be a
burden on other people, but it also allows us to justify a lack of
concern for others and persuades us not to bother helping them when
they need it.  After all, if we help people out when they are in trouble
it will just make them dependent on us, and then they will never learn
to take care of themselves.  So instead we help them out by letting them
work out their problems on their own and praising them when they find
a solution.  This makes them stronger and more capable, and this is the
way that individualism, and narcissism as well, spreads throughout our
society.
   Many people are under the impression that narcissism is all
about self love, thinking that a narcissist is someone who might spend
hours staring into the mirror and admiring how beautiful they are.
But narcissism is characterized more by a person's love towards an
imagined version of their self along with hatred directed towards their
real self or at least the way they see themselves when they are critical
of themselves or depressed.  Narcissists are very insecure people who
require frequent positive reinforcement to feel good about themselves.
This kind of pathology can arise if a person is made to feel inadequate
or unloved most of the time, either through ridicule, neglect, or constant
criticism, but is made to feel wonderful on those rare occasions when
they accomplish something exceptional.  The person will internalize
the criticism, feeling as though they are worthless people who no one
will ever love unless they achieve something great or are at least
working towards greatness.  This persistent state of feeling inadequate
which can only be alleviated when one does something that supports
their ideology is one of the key facets of the Fireaxe theory: that
ideological indoctrination serves to psychologically enslave its
members to serve the ideology.  In the case of narcissism, a person
is enslaved to the individualist ideal that self improvement and
personal achievement are the measure of a person's worth.
   Individualism causes us to focus on ourselves and less about
others, encouraging us to pursue grandiose dreams of personal success
and fulfillment.  How such dreams got into our minds is no accident
and is the result of ideological indoctrination.  How often were we
told that we could become anything we wanted if we just put our minds
to it?  How often did stories of individuals who fought against incredible
odds, succeeded, and were lavishly rewarded get fed into our minds?
How often did we hear that we too could become rich, or famous, or
powerful, or exceptional, just like our heroes?  Hearing such stories
over and over again altered our perception of the world into one where
individuals, not groups or organizations, are the ones who changed
history and made all the differences.  While this is true in some cases,
in others it is certainly not, and our culture, and even our history books,
often downplay or disregard the role of things outside the narrative
of the individual being the primary agent of change.  It all sinks in,
making us believe that the independent self, striving towards personal
glory and fulfillment, is the model that we should emulate rather than
setting aside our egos and working with others to build something that
all can appreciate and benefit from.  Over and over we hear about
freedom and individuality as being the forces that make our culture
strong with anything else being dubbed as conformist and socialist.
And as we come to think that way, the things we do and say reflect
and promote the individualist ideology and help it to spread to others.
   But the major problem is that our individualist ideologies are
doomed and this fact is becoming more obvious every day.  Since we are
focusing more on ourselves and less on others there are fewer trappings
of success to go around, making us feel more inadequate and either
motivating us to try even harder to achieve our goals or causing us to
lapse into depression and self-loathing.  In either case our focus on
ourselves grows stronger as does our devotion to our individualist
ideologies.  We do not see that individualism is failing us, we only see
that we, as individuals, are failing ourselves, and thus we are trapped
in a spiral of failure and further commitment to a failed ideology.
As this situation progresses our scarcely fulfilled needs forces us to
abandon standards of respectful behavior and we embrace any rationale
which lets us behave in ways necessary to achieve our ends.  In the
process we end up manipulating and hurting others, who learn that
trusting others is a mistake and start relying more on themselves.
This is another way that individualism spreads, when we are lied to,
used, and betrayed, we pull away from others and focus on our own
needs in order to protect ourselves.  As narcissism proliferates we have
no choice but to focus inwards and cut off our ties to the world, which
deprives others of our contributions to their well being.  Once it gets
moving, the process grows and grows.  The more that we focus on
ourselves, and strive to become an idealized version of ourselves, the
less able we are to form lasting and meaningful relationships.  And
the less that we get back from our relationships, the more that we
compensate for the loss by striving towards personal fulfillment
instead.  Our relationships become selfish and the expectations we
place on our partners become impossible to meet.  Social cohesion
relies on people having a common vision, trusting each other, and
setting aside their personal goals in favor of the interests of the
group.  When we refuse to compromise our personal needs and
desires it ends up sabotaging our relationships, but we need the
appreciation of others to feel good about ourselves and so we are
constantly seeking out new relationships to replace our failed ones.
The result is constant social turmoil and a persistent lack of trust in
each other, making the forming of new relationships more and more
difficult.
   One depressingly common "solution" to this dilemma is to
lie in order to get what we need from others.  Narcissists will often
put up false fronts and pretend to be what they are not in order to
win the trust of others and gain their admiration, support, and
sympathy.  In a culture full of other narcissists the trick is to stroke
the egos of those who you wish to exploit.  In essence you simply
tell them what they want to hear.  By giving them the recognition
and admiration that they crave and reinforcing their desired self
image they will be open to doing what you want and may even
become dependent on you for more of the same.  This strategy can
be found everywhere.  From the "player" who tells a woman that she
is beautiful, special, and fills him with passion whenever he sees her,
to the pundit who tells his viewers that the rival political party is full
of corrupt liars and that their party should be calling the shots, to the
religion that tells its worshippers that they are better than everyone
else and that they have immortal souls which will rejoice forever in
heaven, those who want something from us know how to stroke our
narcissistic desires.  Some of us use this strategy knowingly but
others honestly believe their own lies because those lies build up their
own self image as well.  When two people do this same trick to each
other, their relationship is more one of codependency rather than
cohesion, and it is generally emotionally charged, volatile, and short
lived.  The narcissist's ego needs constant feeding, and often requires
larger and larger sacrifices in order to satisfy it.  Enough never seems
to be enough.  Whether it be riches, power, popularity, or some other
desire, those who become rich or powerful or popular can never seem
to be rich or powerful or popular enough to satisfy them.  And as they
bleed the world of the things that they need to make them feel good,
others become even more deprived, exacerbating a problem which only
grows worse.  Our narcissistic individualist ideologies are sowing the
seeds of their own destruction but all we seem able to do is more of
the same things which led us to this point.
   This, incidentally, is one of the themes in "Eternal Devotion
to the Dark Goddess" as well as other Fireaxe works.  In "Eternal",
the protagonist begins with modest goals and dreams and a naïve,
traditional view of work and love.  The less idealistic world takes
advantage of him, forcing him to abandon his beliefs in order to get
what he needs and he becomes a cruel and heartless narcissist, willing
to do anything to be successful, and later doing anything to have his
revenge against those who wronged him.  It's meant to be dark and
the protagonist is intended to make us uncomfortable, mostly because
we see parts of ourselves in him and fear that we are a little too much
like him than we would like to believe.  What we only fantasize about,
he does for real, and when we recoil from his actions are we not
recoiling from something that is inside of us all?
   Okay, so individuality has its problems, but is the conformism
that we abandoned in the past any better?  Unfortunately it is not since
conformism can make people feel inadequate by excluding them from
the group and rewarding them only when they exhibit the proper and
accepted behaviors.  And being forced by social norms to stay in a
loveless relationship is just as unfulfilling as drifting from one
superficial relationship to another.  The answer is not that we were
happy once and that all we need to do to be happy again is go back to
that time and become conformists again.  The simple fact is that all
ideologies benefit by making their followers feel inadequate unless they
are serving the ideology, they just do so in different ways, and as much
as we may think that our dedication to freedom and individualism
makes us free from ideological influence, we are very much mistaken.
Make no doubt about it, we are Food for the Gods and we pray at the
church of the Ego, the Trendy, and the Almighty Dollar.
   Yea though we may visit churches where the words of Jesus
are preached, we do not obey him.  Instead we indulge our narcissistic
sides in a Christian way by wearing crosses and "WWJD" bracelets,
putting fish symbols on our cars, proclaiming our devotion to our
savior in public so that we may be seen by others, and feeling oh so
holy when we do good deeds.  Never mind what it says in the bible,
we'll just build up an image of ourselves as Christians and that will
get our names written into the book of life.  And if we don't get our
personal wants fulfilled from time to time then that counts as sacrifice,
right?  What I see are so many Christians paying their biggest tributes
to the church of the Ego where it isn't Jesus on the cross, but an image
of themselves suffering their way into heaven.
   The rest of us express our narcissism in other ways.  We
buy fancy cars to impress others, live in expensive homes that we
show off to our neighbors, give extravagant gifts to show just how
much we care about people, show off how clever or funny or talented
we are when we talk or write or add stuff to our web pages, and do
any of a multitude of things to impress others and win friends.  Our
egos demand it all and we strive to deliver what our lord and master
requires.
   The Trendy is our second deity, it being the result of our
reluctance to form deep and meaningful relationships with anyone
or anything.  We interact with the world on a superficial basis,
judging things only by what they can do for us rather than any
deeper qualities, and thus what attracts our attention tends not to
do so for very long.  We move from one thing to the next, sucking
the life out of what interests us until it no longer gives us pleasure.
We don't have a culture, we just have trends that erupt out of
nowhere, burn hot for a while, and then disappear without a trace,
and we are desperately searching for the next Trendy thing to make
us satisfied, at least for a little while.
   And our trinity isn't complete without the Almighty Dollar.
It is a symbol of the materialism of our age, the holy power that can
transform our lives from the drudgery of the present into a glorious
future filled with everything that our hearts desire.  But the dollar
is more than an object used to purchase one's dreams, it is the life
blood of capitalism, pumping through the heart of our economic
system and blessing everyone it touches with precious opportunity.
The dollar binds us together in a way that our social and personal
relationships no longer can.  When you walk into a store you don't
need to impress the store owner, or have a good reputation in the
community, or be in any way attractive or desirable, for if you put
your Almighty Dollars on the counter then you will get what you
want, no questions asked.  The relationships that bind us together
today are our economic relationships with one another far more
than anything else.  A smile and a hearty handshake are often non-
transferable, but wherever you go everyone will accept a dollar.  The
more money you have the more freedom you have and the more that
people will seek to do things for you in the hopes that they can get
their share.  And it doesn't matter how those dollars ended up in
your hands or what you had to do to get them.  The dollars are just
paper, unstained by the sins of the giver and the taker, and once
they change hands they are as clean as the day they were printed.
Our lives are governed by our economic relationships: how much you
are to be paid for something, how much you owe to someone else, the
contracts between people, industries, and countries which guarantee
the flow of money for goods and services; and all are dependent on
the implicit trust that a dollar is a dollar and will always be worth
roughly the same value as what the holder did to earn it.  It makes
one wonder what would become of the world, and all of those billions
of economic relationships, if somehow the Almighty Dollar were to
fall from grace as it appears poised to do.  If the dollar were to become
defiled could we still afford the demands of our egos?  If our security
depended on our reputation and things of lasting value would we
spend time chasing after the next superficial trend?  If we watched
our narcissistic dreams go up in flames before us would we set aside
our precious individualism and pull together as a team to make things
work again?
   Well, I am well aware of the things that narcissists do when
their beliefs are under attack, and acting sanely isn't one of them.  I
expect to see a sheer horror show of all the worst that humanity has to
offer in the coming years, but as usual, I really want to be wrong about
that.
   And as for me, well I have so many narcissistic traits that
I qualify as one of the people I've pointed my finger at in this essay.
I've tried hard to fight against it, more so in recent years.  I've tried to
stay modest, to let go of a lot of my dreams and my expectations, and
to treat others with respect and give them their due, but in today's
world it can be like swimming upstream.  The world doesn't give back
very much and I find myself having to pull inward more often that I
would like.  But I want to hold on to those old fashioned ideals because
I feel that individualism will fall out of favor soon and we will move
in a new and different direction.  Until then I will continue to resist
conforming to non-conformist ideals and I urge you all to do the same.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   In 2009, Fireaxe will take a step back and work on a couple of
projects from the past.  First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out
and will be re-mastered before a second printing run is made.  Also, it
may also be re-mixed for even better sound quality depending on time
constraints.  Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will
be getting a complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will
be re-recorded using much more modern equipment and with everything
that I've learned over the last ten years going into it to make it better than
ever.  Also, since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute
limit instead of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music
to the work in which I will explore a number of musical themes and make
the
Title: The Burning Blade 13.1
Post by: Fireaxe on December 09, 2009, 06:17:35 PM
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer…


         The Burning Blade

      Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 13.1

         December 8, 2009

      neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


   "The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the
   United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief
   economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the
   finance industry has effectively captured our government -
   a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging
   markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market
   crises. If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the U.S.,
   it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation:
   recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy
   that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent
   a true depression, we're running out of time."

         - preface to an Atlantic Magazine article
         written by Simon Johnson, chief economist
         at the IMF from 2007 to 2008

         theatlantic.com/doc/200905/imf-advice


   Neo-liberal economics, the current ruling ideology of the
global financial system, is an utter failure.  The glorious benefits of
capitalism and how it efficiently allocated wealth to where it is most
needed turned from a system of self-regulating markets into a casino
of get-rich-quick schemes, rent extraction, and debt burdens on tens of
millions of individuals, hundreds of banks and financial institutions,
scores of multinational corporations, and far too many local, state, and
federal governments which are so great that without the continuous
and potentially long term injection of trillions of dollars into the global
economy the entire financial system would completely collapse.  And
yet, the wealthy few have never had it better.
   Even as neo-liberalism fails it is succeeding beyond its wildest
dreams at achieving its long term goals.  "Starve the Beast" or so the
strategy is called, the beast being the almighty government with its
power to seize wealth from its citizens and distribute it how it sees fit.
Neo-liberals would have you believe that resource allocation is best left
to a free market system governed by as few regulations as possible, if
any, despite the fact that having too few regulations has always resulted
in gross inefficiencies, monopolies, and spectacular market implosions.
Neo-liberal theorists sought to reduce the size of government to the
point where it could be "drowned in a bathtub", a misguided notion
founded during the counter-culture movement of the sixties when both
the left and the right rebelled against the establishment powers.  Their
approach is simple: cut taxes, privatize, subsidize, deregulate, and
respond to every crisis with a flood of cheap money to paper over the
holes that were being made in the walls that support our economic
system.  As they assured us it would, money did trickle down into the
pockets of the working class but that flow was dwarfed by the torrent
of cash flooding into the coffers of the wealthy, especially Wall Street's
"Masters of the Universe".  The neo-liberal program has worked very
well in Third World nations, slowly but surely bankrupting their semi-
socialist governments and forcing them to sell off their country's natural
resources and industries, and usually for a song to a select group of well
connected insiders.  Now it appears to be the First World's turn to go
under the knife and watch their precious "welfare states" get whittled
down to next to nothing while the government is transformed into a
willing tool of the moneyed elites.  Welcome to the economic endgame.
   But before I start sounding like just another internet conspiracy
nut I should add that this was not a plan that was hatched by a secret
cabal behind closed doors one cold November evening but rather is the
natural progression of a system where individuals are pursuing their
own interests first and foremost with other concerns coming in a distant
second.  When you want more of something you tend towards doing
whatever it takes to get it and if you are held back by an attack of
ethics you will end up playing catch-up behind those who have no such
moral dilemmas.  Sure, some cheaters get caught, but when the payoff
for breaking the rules and being successful outweighs the reward for
catching someone in the act the best and the brightest will choose to
run with the pack instead of playing the role of dogcatchers and the
trend will inexorably drift towards a no-holds-barred free-for-all that
will one day destroy itself by its own excesses.  This has all happened
before, many times and under many ideologies and economic systems,
and we are seeing it happen again.
   Today we are arriving at our economic system's endgame stage
and rather than get deep into discussions of interest rates and comparative
advantage I'll instead describe how we got here using a simply analogy
that everyone understands, or at least everyone who's ever played the
game Monopoly.  Monopoly is one of the best games ever invented
and it replicates the process of economic development rather well.  In
the game, everyone starts off equal and life is mostly cost free for the
first few laps around the board.  Players choose their strategies, buy up
undeveloped properties, try to get some good luck, and even wheel and
deal to achieve full blocks of properties or utilities which will serve as
launching pads for their future development and wealth.  During this
first stage of the game the money coming in by passing "GO" and landing
on the "Chance" or "Community Chest" squares is more than enough to
cover a player's expenses.  Soon though, as houses start to go up and the
number of bank owned properties dwindles closer to zero, moving about
the board becomes a more costly proposition and a run of bad luck can
have you selling your properties back to the bank or handing them over
to other players.  At the turns go by and houses become hotels the $200
for each successful circuit of the board becomes less and less important
and what matters the most is having a steady flow of income from well
developed properties.  If you're behind in that race only lucky dice rolling
can save you, but the odds are that the player with the most property is
going to win.
   So how does this relate to the current economic situation?
Imagine a game of Monopoly where all of the properties are owned
by a single player, we'll call him Gates, save for a handful which are
owned by other players.  Similarly, most of the money is in Gates'
hands too and little of it is in the hands of the others.  At this point it
is all the others players can do to stay above water, hoping that the dice
will roll in their favor so that they can pay off the bills that are going
to add up when they land on Gates' hotels, but one spate of bad luck
will put them out of the game just as a lost job or a health crisis can
put most lower or middle class people into bankruptcy.  The same is
not true for Gates who has the funds to weather a few bad rolls and
muddle through until the tide turns in his favor, which it eventually
will.  So slowly but surely the other players will go bankrupt one by
one and surrender all of their wealth and property to Gates.  They
have no hope of winning or even getting back into the game and for
them the game is effectively over.  But for Gates the game is still alive
and well and he wants to continue playing so that he can realize his
dream of owning everything on the entire board, having a hotel on every
property, and owning all the money in the bank.  The thing is, he can only
get there if the other players keep playing the game, so if they are ever
about to go bankrupt Gates is ready to give them a loan, putting their
future earnings in his pocket as well as their present savings.  Now
Gates isn't worried about giving out loans because he knows that he is
going to get the money back, plus interest, because it is inevitable that
the players who owe him money will land on his properties a lot more
often then he lands on theirs.  And so, the longer Gates keeps the other
players in the game the more times they pass go and the more times they
collect $200 that they will give to him to pay back their loans.  At this
point the other players will actually be happy to land on "Go directly to
Jail" and spend as much time there as possible because it costs them
less to do that than to move around the board and land on Gates' hotels.
Also the other players are going to be dreadfully unmotivated to play
the game, wanting to quit, watch TV, take long bathroom breaks, or do
anything else but roll the dice.  What's in it for them?  They have no
future.  They have been reduced to eternal indebtedness and wage
slavery.  In the real world this is the direction we have been moving
towards for decades with the bubbles of the last decade only serving to
accelerate the process, making us think that we were getting richer while
we were only receiving empty promises.  Now we are dependent on a
system which only exploits us.
   The credit crunch can also be explained using our Monopoly
analogy.  Let's say that Gates has given out a large number of loans,
some of them double or triple the amount of the properties which the
players must mortgage, to all of the players.  Let's also say that Gates
has used a lot of the IOUs from those loans to pay for new hotels on his
properties, selling them to the bank for cash.  Imagine what happens
when some of the players start defaulting on their loans.  All of the
sudden the IOUs are of suspect value and are possibly even worthless.
Gates' empire is about to come crashing down around him.  Also, since
Gates is no longer able or willing to loan money to the other players,
they are going to go bankrupt the next time they land on one of Gates'
hotels.  Complete disaster is about to strike.  So Gates calls the banker,
we'll call him Hank, and gets Hank to give him a loan for any IOU that
goes into default.  Hank is willing to do so since he wants the IOUs that
his bank holds to be paid in full too and thus the bailout saves the day.
Now the game can continue with Gates' empire still intact, but without
Gates giving any new loans to the other players (because he fears that
those IOUs will likely become worthless) the poorer players will end up
bankrupt and Gates and Hank will end up owning everything.  Their
empire however, will be a poor, sorry, and unmotivated one.  This is
our future.
   Now, how can the game be fixed?  The laissez-faire solution,
leaving everything alone to work out by itself as well as stopping Hank
from bailing out Gates, isn't going to change much.  Though Gates'
empire will suffer large losses, the other players will lose even more and
the game will end up tilted even more in Gates' favor.  Another popular
solution is to force Gates to give the other players access to more loans,
but that isn't going to help change the outcome, it will only prolong the
inevitable victory for Gates and likely create an even larger bubble,
resulting in an even worse crash than before.  Furthermore, "socialist"
solutions involving the redistribution of money won't help either.  For
instance, let's assume that all of the players' money, Gates' included, is
collected by a third party, let's call him Barack, who evenly divides the
cash between the players.  All will be well for a few times around the
board but since Gates still has all of his properties and hotels he will
soon end up with the lion's share of the wealth and the other players
will be on the verge of bankruptcy once more.  A labor leaning solution
is to have all the players pool their properties and wealth so that they
can build houses and hotels and try to compete against Gates, but if
Gates has convinced Barack that such a thing is against the rules then
that solution won't work either.  What's needed is to restore a more
balanced distribution of revenue generating property among the players
so that  everyone has a chance to contribute, be rewarded, and excel if
they work hard enough, and it is important to add that such intervention
must be temporary so that the free market system is allowed to do what
it does best: allow competition to bring out the best in everyone.  In the
game Monopoly such redistribution is done by declaring one player the
winner and starting the game over, giving everyone a fresh start.  In the
real world such a reorganization has yet to be done in any satisfactory
manner.  Taking too much from the wealthy reduces their incentive to
work hard and invest capital while giving too little to the poor creates
only temporary fixes to structural economic problems.  Enraging either
group through either repeated government interventions or leaving a
broken system in place risks political turmoil and can even result in
violent revolution or a military takeover.  This is not a simple problem
so beware of simple solutions, especially ideological ones.
   The Great Depression and U.S. economic policy throughout
provides a good lesson in economic rebalancing.  Then as now the
wealth and income distribution in the U.S. had become heavily skewed
to record levels in favor of the wealthy and the debt burdens which so
many were carrying were at were so great that they were suffocating the
economy.  Similar to our Monopoly analogy people were desperate to pass
go and collect their $200, but it never seemed to be enough and many
people were losing their property in a system which was stacked against
them.  In the 1930s, F.D.R. redistributed income by raising taxes on
the rich through the roof and spending that money by employing large
number of Americans on public works projects.  This worked, though
slowly, and contrary to the current U.S. stimulus packages there was no
massive borrowing (which is currently pushing the U.S. to the brink of
insolvency) nor tax breaks in the hopes that the private sector would
somehow magically fix all of our problems.  Contrary to neo-liberal
theorists, the private sector is not the answer to all economic problems.
While the private sector is a powerful force in the economy, it is mostly
focused on short term profits and is unable to pay for massive long term
investments nor endure the continuing losses on investments which
provide a great benefit to all, especially to those without much wealth,
as well as pave the way for private sector opportunities.  Long term
investment and sacrifices for the common good are what the government
can do well and has done so in the past in the form of the interstate
highway system, the postal service, the internet, the G.P.S. system, the
national parks project (thanks to Ken Burns for his magnificent series
on that), funding for research in universities, and the list goes on and
on.  A great many highly profitable businesses owe their existences to
government led infrastructure investments that no private businesses
would have been able to undertake.  F.D.R.'s investments in particular
helped the economy to flourish twenty years later but they were not
enough to rebalance the nation's wealth so that it could rise up out of
the depression.
   It is popular on both the left and the right to claim that World
War Two pulled the U.S. out of the depression.  The right claims that
F.D.R.'s policies actually prolonged the depression rather than helped
to end it and that only when the government began awarding massive
contracts to private sector military suppliers during the war did the
economy turn around.  The left counters that the massive government
spending during WWII was simply F.D.R.'s Keynesian economic
programs writ large and that the reason why the U.S. didn't pull out of
the depression quickly in the 30's was that F.D.R. didn't tax and spend
enough.  The trouble with both of these arguments is that they ignore
the massive government borrowing during the war which is an obvious
cause of the boost in economic productivity during that period as well as
ignore the post war recession and the fact that the economy didn't truly
pick up until five to ten years after the end of the war.  Furthermore,
massive government borrowing along with equally massive military
spending has been policy in the US since the mid-70's and has it done
nothing to keep the U.S. out of its current economic woes.  In fact it
appears that such policies are one of the primary reasons for causing
today's economic woes.  Thus, it seems that both the left and right are
missing the larger picture, that the balance of wealth and income is what
is crucial to create a thriving economy, and thus they do not see what the
war did to produce such balance and lead us to a lasting recovery.
   During World War II roughly 60 million people were killed, a
great many of them young men who would normally find employment
in the manual labor market.  These losses immediately produced a
global labor shortage and the situation was made even more acute by
women leaving the wartime labor market to have children and raise
families.  In the aftermath of the war manual labor was desperately
needed to rebuild the shattered nations of Europe and Asia and that
demand combined with the labor shortage put tremendous upward
pressure on the price of manual labor.  The result was an increase in the
salaries of blue-collar workers that was so large that they were rivaling
the salaries of white-collar workers.  Labor unions took advantage of the
situation and used collective bargaining to gain a great many benefits for
all working class people.  For once the poor were getting richer.  The end
result was a more balanced distribution of income throughout the labor
market which resulted in a growing middle class and a thriving economy.
The key to this massive growth lay in the way a balanced distribution of
income motivates laborers to be more productive as well as motivates the
wealthy to invest in new enterprises.  Laborers became more productive
because they were finally receiving a large share of the fruit of their labor
which they then spent on more luxury items, realizing their dreams of
ownership as well as creating massive demand for new products such
as cars, appliances, and other modern marvels.  This demand created
opportunities for those with capital to invest in new industries as well
as expand existing ones.  A fortune could now be made by giving the
"common man" what he wanted because those common men had a larger
share of the economic power, and thus the door was opened for those who
wanted to become rich as well as those who wanted to become richer.
Wealth was everywhere and thus economic opportunity was everywhere
and everyone was interested in working hard to get their fair share.  The
free market system sorted out the good ideas from the bad ones and
everyone ended up richer, more productive, and better off than before.
And with the G.I. Bill and the ability of working class people to be
able to afford higher education for their children the ground work
was laid for a prolonged boom based around an educated workforce.
   Compare that economic situation to one where the wealthy
already have the vast majority of the nation's wealth and the poor have
little.  The wealthy are few and thus they do not create a large demand
for anything so economic development stagnates.  And when the wealthy
do employ people it is mainly to create things for themselves and other
vanities and thus the poor will not be able to share in those developments
nor indulge in the fruits of their own labor.  This saps their motivation
to work hard.  Where are their rewards?  Certainly a few lucky poor will
be able to rise up out of their situation and excel but most will merely
survive at a subsistence level with few luxuries and no opportunities.
Furthermore, the low demand for labor drives wages down and ensures
that the poor will stay both poor and numerous.  This is the type of
economic profile that is common in the Third World and is the direction
in which the First World is headed.  The United States is leading the
charge.
   Current economic policy acknowledges the fact that demand
throughout the general population creates a thriving economy and this
is the reason why the goal is to create jobs.  Left leaning theorists believe
that the best way to create jobs is through government programs and
right leaning theorists feel that it is best to empower the private sector
so that they hire more people.  The trouble with both of these cases is
that too much of the money spent for these purposes never reaches the
hands of the people who can create the kind of demand which will pull
the economy upwards.  The government is handicapped by massive
corruption and endless privatization which ensures that a great deal
of the money spent ends up being siphoned off by cronies and other
well connected individuals.  The private sector is similarly burdened
with executives demanding massive pay, stockholders requiring a large
share of the profits, the government raising taxes and assessing fees,
and banks taking their pound of flesh for the loans that businesses
require in order to operate.  Furthermore, the tight labor market that
created the boom in the fifties and sixties has turned into a global
labor glut, especially in the United States, where both highly skilled
and unskilled workers come into the country and work cheaply and
where factory jobs are exported to cheap labor markets.  This has put
severe downward pressure on wages, destroyed labor unions, and
rolled back many of the gains won by organized labor in days long
past.  At the same time the "F.I.R.E." sector corporations (Finance,
Insurance, and Real Estate) have become extremely powerful and very
adept at "rent seeking", that is extracting higher and higher fees for
their services from an increasingly captive market with the help of a
cooperative government.  No economy thrives when one part of it
becomes so powerful and so predatory and to make matters worse the
bursting housing bubble has allowed the F.I.R.E. sector to collect
handouts from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury department in
addition to extracting payments and penalty fees from cash-strapped
borrowers.  As it stands now the once powerful and wealthy middle
class has simply been bled dry of the bulk of their wealth, wealth which
can now be found piled up in the bank accounts of the rich.  The only
solution to get the economy moving again is to somehow get the bulk
of that wealth moving back through the hands of those who can create
large-scale demand (as income not as loans), but with the labor market
oversupplied and, as Simon Johnson points out, the government captured
by the finance industry, the only transfer of wealth we are likely to see
in the future is from the bottom to the top.
   Today we watch as health care reform morphs into a program
that transfers taxpayer wealth into the bank accounts of insurance
company executives.  We are unable to stop a "war on terror" which
costs taxpayers trillions and benefits those who own and run firms
which supply the military.  Massive government debts promise future
taxpayer earnings to stockholders and bankers while the Federal Reserve
"saves" the economy but by only enough to enable financial firms to
continue to extract mortgage payments from the victims of a housing
bubble which the industry itself was very much complicit in stoking.
What is going on is more than just "starve the beast", it is in essence
"domesticate the beast", making the government serve the ends of the
rich at the expense of the poor.  And as the dollar dies and paper wealth
of all types grows less valuable, the ones who have a lot of dollars have
been on a shopping spree: buying up foreclosed houses, spare gold, rare
antiques, and anything else of value that those of us who need money
cannot afford to keep.  So we must trade everything of value to us for
those precious Almighty Dollars and need more and more of them each
day to buy the things that we need to survive.  We mortgage our houses
and land on hotels and the game slowly gets more and more stacked
against us.  The endgame is here and it appears that we, as a people,
have lost.
   Speaking of endgames I continue to wage my battle against
chronic fatigue syndrome with both hopeful signs and depressing signs.
Things are changing for me though and I have always taken that to be
a good sign, indicating that the current phase of my treatment is doing
something productive and not just proving to be a waste of my time.
The bad news is that another two months has gone by with no progress
on the Fireaxe front.  The nightmare continues.  The battle wages on.
   A big ‘Hello’ to anyone receiving the Burning Blade for the
first time.  This is the Fireaxe newsletter.


From Individualism to Narcissism to Fascism

   In the introduction to The Burning Blade 12.4 I wrote of the
reemergence of fascism and how movement in that direction in the
United States appeared to be inevitable.  In an essay in The Burning
Blade 12.6 I wrote that we have embraced individualism to such a
strong degree that our culture was suffering greatly because of it.
So one might ask, "How can we be headed towards both fascism
and extreme individualism at the same time?", and wonder if I am
suffering from a sharp loss of long term memory that is typical among
bloggers, pundits, and anyone else who takes a strong position on a
regular basis.  Compartmentalization it is called, which allows you
to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time and
yet see no conflict between them.
   Well I am one of those writers who will admit a mistake.
For instance, about two and a half years ago I predicted that the current
economic crash would bottom out after eighteen months and end up a
lot lower than it did at the end of twenty three months.  About a year
after my first prediction I extended my crash bottom date by another
twelve months, stating that it would likely follow the same pattern
as the crash preceding the Great Depression with one big leg down
followed by a partial recovery which would give way to another major
leg down.  I figured that the stock market would finish up at a level
80% below where it began, giving us a Dow Jones value of about three
thousand.  Well, unless the next month sees a seven thousand point
crash in the market then I think that I can toss that prediction into the
waste basket too.  And though I think that we will still see another big
leg down during this crisis, and maybe a few more, I'm not going to
make any more predictions about when it will happen because I'm
pretty much just throwing darts blindfolded at this point.  We are deep
in uncharted waters here folks.
   However, when I pointed out two seemingly different trends
in two different newsletters I don't think that I was making a mistake.
I see compatibility between the descent into fascism that I wrote about
half a year ago and our embrace of extreme individualism which I wrote
about in the last newsletter.  At first fascism and individualism appear to
be completely incompatible.  One conjures images of Hitler, Mussolini,
the fiercely loyal SS, and brutal gangs of brown shirts, while the other
conjures images of John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Easy Rider, and
legions of westernized youths all trying to find their own personal
identity.  But I feel that the key which connects the two lies in a
transitional stage of narcissism where the individualist's embrace of
their own ideology and belief that it is the absolute truth leads to the
desire to impose that truth on others in order to save them from
themselves (as well as spare the individualist from the bad decisions
of others).  In other words, individualism will turn into narcissism and
narcissism can lead to fascism or totalitarianism or other similarly
suffocating ideologies.  In the essay that follows I'll expand on this
idea and dig deeper into the subject of narcissism and how it affects
and distorts our behaviors, our religious beliefs, our politics, and our
relationships with each other as well as what it portends for our future.
   Carl Jung wrote that "The foundation of all Mental Illness is
the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering."  For narcissists,
who suffer from a permanent sense of dissatisfaction with, and even
hatred towards, their current selves there is no such thing as legitimate
suffering.  They perceive themselves as always suffering unjustly, as
struggling against a world which refuses to or is not able to appreciate
them and which persecutes them out of jealousy.  Any suffering,
sometimes including that which they inflict upon themselves but
for which they hold others at fault, is viewed as being illegitimate
and feeds their persecution complex, reinforcing and deepening
their narcissism.  Ideology plays a powerful role in causing this
mental illness and this can be seen clearly in the Christian religion,
most notably in the parallels between a narcissist's self-perception and
the life of Jesus.  Jesus' role in the Christian religion is one of supreme
importance.  He is said to be the son of the Christian god and the savior
of all mankind with the power to perform miracles, and yet throughout
his life he was always persecuted by others who couldn't see his divinity
nor accept the truth in his words.  In the end he suffered more than
anyone else ever had or ever will, dying an agonizing physical death
during which it is said that he suffered for the sins of all mankind.
This basic formula is how narcissists see themselves: that they are
special and have wonderful gifts to give to others but they are constantly
persecuted for their beliefs and actions.  Jesus' story provides a template
for narcissism and Christians are encouraged to emulate his life and
actions, making them more narcissistic.  Furthermore, Christianity fuels
narcissism in other ways.  For instance, narcissists do not love themselves
as is the popular perception, but rather love an idealized version of
themselves.  In essence they love who they aspire to be and hate who
they currently are.  Christianity provides narcissists with a reason to
hate their current selves since no one can be completely free of sin,
and they provide the narcissist with an idealized version of themselves
such as that they are a saint or a holy warrior or a humble soul
bound for eternal salvation.  And as they follow the teachings of
Jesus they will run into conflict with the parts of the world which
do not believe as they do.  Jesus even expects this to happen ("I
came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at
variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother…").
When a Christian encounters strong reactions to their proselytizing it
can be perceived as persecution, and the story of Jesus allows narcissists
to view such persecution as a validation of their holiness.  The more
they suffer, the more they are like Jesus, which makes them feel like
how they want to be, holy and pious, instead of how they are, wicked
and sinful.  Thus, Christianity provides a framework for encouraging
and exploiting narcissism in its followers.
   Of course, the more negative aspects of narcissism, such as
superficiality, a strong desire for revenge, jealousy, immodesty, and
especially their tendency to put up a false self image, are not things
which Christianity teaches and in fact speaks against in its holy
book.  The trouble is that these aspects of narcissism are innately
tied to the deep seated feelings of insecurity that Christianity, as well
as other ideologies, instill in their believers in order to motivate them.
A person immersed in self-hatred will have a great need for admiration
as well as a strong reaction to any criticism.  Their need to be loved and
admired by others will lead them to feel jealousy towards those who
receive the accolades which they do not as well as make them tend
towards immodesty in their attempts to gain others' attention.  And to
gain the support of the large numbers of people which their insecurity
demands it is almost imperative for them to create a false image of
themselves and lie to others so that they can get what they need.  Being
honest is a strategy which works well if you only need a few friends and
are willing to accept that there will be others who don't like who you
really are.  But if you want to be popular you generally need to be all
things to all people, putting up a sterile, superficial image of yourself
which has only good features and no bad side.  Lying to others as a
matter of course will make it necessary to keep your relationships
shallow and the fear of being betrayed by a friend or cast aside by a
lover, fears often rooted in painful first hand experience, will make the
narcissist resist becoming too attached to any person or thing.  The
greater one's needs, the more one must embrace the negative aspects
of narcissism to satisfy those needs.
   Problematic is that narcissists can be very charismatic people
who can inspire great numbers of others and spread an ideology far
and wide.  A narcissist is usually an accomplished liar, having had a
lifetime to figure out what to say and how to act in order to get others to
like them, and is good at telling people what they want to hear, building
up their self image with compliments, and promising them a wonderful
future if they follow the narcissist's recommendations.  In this way the
narcissist can make others dependent on them, building within them the
need to hear the narcissist's words to make them feel good about themselves
and their future.  Many narcissists are natural leaders and the general
public will accept them as such even though narcissists are no better at
leading than anyone else and have serious, usually hidden, shortcomings.
Thus, despite their personality flaws ideologies benefit greatly by turning
their followers into narcissists since they are able spread the word of the
ideology so well as well as inspire believers and convert non-believers.  Not
surprisingly narcissism is widespread in religion, politics, the performing
arts, and anywhere else where appealing to a wide cross-section of people
is critical to one's success.  The last three presidents of the United States
are marvelous examples of narcissists, especially the current one, all of
them leaders who excel at being well liked and stirring great passions
in others but who have dubious leadership ability and glaring flaws.
And I would go so far as to say that it is rare that any politician, or
leader in any field, could have attained their level of power without
being narcissistic to some degree.  Caring about others, being true to
yourself, and not feeling inadequate will generally cost you down the
road even though you may serve the greater good better than an awe-
inspiring narcissist.  And consider the recent trend in management
towards inspiring, motivating, and leading one's employees to success
as opposed to coordinating them, advising them, and overseeing their
efforts.  This is in essence narcissists applauding and encouraging their
own narcissism.  Managing people the old way requires hard work,
attention, and diligence while doing things the new way places too much
emphasis on things which can be accomplished with empty words and the
fakery often employed by narcissists.  While inspiration and motivation
are powerful tools they will quickly give way to cynicism and lethargy if
they aren't backed with substance.  There are no shortcuts to lasting
success.
   Narcissistic leaders can be very dangerous given their personality
flaws, especially their defensiveness, jealousy, lack of empathy for others,
and often strong desire for revenge.  Such a leader would be prone to
start or escalate wars based on perceived slights and not exercise restraint
given their lack of caring for the lives lost to champion their vanity.  And
when two or more narcissistic leaders discover that they have personal
or national disagreements is it not unusual for the dispute to escalate
in a series of retributions which won't stop until a catastrophe results.
Narcissists have a tendency to clash with one another as they both tend
to have the same needs such as becoming the best at something, winning
the admiration of the same group of people, being the one in charge, etc.,
and due to their sensitivity to criticism and desire for revenge any dispute
between them tends to get blown out of proportion, often quickly.
However, since narcissists are very insecure they are also prone to being
seduced by other narcissists who are able to build up their self image and
give them the admiration that they feel that they deserve.  This seduction
can take the form of a boss exploiting an underling, an underling brown-
nosing their boss, two equals forming a codependency bond, or several
narcissists coming together to form a "mutual admiration society" or
"echo chamber".  Like-minded co-dependent narcissists can work together
towards the same goals as well as shut down opposition to their goals
and silence any criticism of their group, in essence acting like a single,
powerful narcissist.  Narcissism in large groups tends towards the "cult
of personality" phenomenon where the public image of a leader is carefully
orchestrated to attract throngs of loyal followers.  Other narcissists who
fall under the sway of a narcissistic leader don't need to be forced to
support the leader as they have no small amount of their self image tied
up in how their idol is perceived.  They live vicariously through their
idol and their idol's successes are their successes.  By aligning themselves
with a narcissistic leader the follower willingly becomes part of the echo
chamber, saying only good things about them, shouting down any criticism,
and identifying with that leader as if the leader and the follower were one
and the same.
   This is the process for how individuality can transform into
fascism.  As individuality devolves into narcissism, people become more
insecure, more desirous of admiration, and more vulnerable to the
compliments and promises of a charismatic and narcissistic leader.
If you add to this mixture a severe shock to the system, such as a war,
an economic collapse, or other social calamity, a narcissistic leader is
often allowed to seize total power by the throngs of narcissistic followers
who want a dictator to impose their will and give them back what they've
lost.  We are seeing many signs of rising fascism here in the United States.
Political parties are becoming more and more like "echo chambers" and
are intolerant of criticism and unwilling to compromise, individuals are
arguing politics with the passion and hostility typical of narcissists, and
rival cults of personality are doing battle with each other in the media
and on the internet, polluting the public discourse with intellectually
dishonest partisan rancor.  Our personal narcissism is bonding with the
narcissism of our favorite ideological personalities and we are becoming
less tolerant and less respectful towards our opponents.  In short, we are
being seduced into becoming foot soldiers in an ideological war.
   Now I'd like to go back to an earlier part of this essay about
how the Christian religion tries to discourage its followers from having
narcissistic tendencies.  Even a casual reading of the New Testament
reveals numerous instances of Jesus admonishing the selfishness,
intolerance, and duplicity of the people he encounters in his journeys.
In a sense the New Testament is a manifesto against narcissism, trying
to pull people away from pettiness and materialism and towards caring
for others and gladly suffering misfortune.  One would think that it
would dissuade people from being narcissistic and thus make them more
resistant to kneeling before fascists, but the Bible fails at the former as
well as the latter.  As discussed earlier, the Bible fails to discourage
the personality flaws inherent in narcissism because it exploits the
insecurities of the individual and builds up their image as a holy
warrior bound for heaven.  By reinforcing one side of a person's
narcissism it automatically encourages the other side, but instead of the
negative narcissistic traits being self-centered ones, the Bible redirects
these so that they become god-centered ones.  Personal success changes
from becoming richer than your neighbor to saving more souls or being
more pure than your fellow Christians.  Your goals become your god's
goals and you are willing to accept poverty or suffering because you
want to prove to your god, and fellow Christians, that you are able to
pass tests of divine design.  You still love the image of your idealized
self but the image changes from one of material gain to one of spiritual
accomplishments and the belief that you are attaining entrance to an
eternal paradise.  Furthermore, the character flaws associated with
narcissism can manifest in uniquely Christian ways despite the Bible
speaking out against them.  Narcissists are notoriously resistant to self
examination and are quick to point out the speck in their neighbor's
eye while somehow seeing past the log in theirs.  Projecting envy on
to others and putting up a false holy image are things that many
narcissistic Christians will indulge in to make themselves appear to be
more pious than their fellows.  Manipulating people, having a strong
desire for revenge, and thinking that the end justifies the means can
also be justified if one believes that they are fighting a crusade against
the devil with the fate of millions of souls on the line.  And if one puts
their god before all else, as the bible demands, a reduction in empathy
towards loved ones can follow as well as sheer contempt for those seen
as evil.  Narcissistic Christians will often wish to see sinful people
punished harshly to fulfill their desire for revenge and reward their
piousness.
   Thus, Christian ideology encourages one to become a part of
a cult of personality structured around their god.  This makes them
quite vulnerable to charismatic, narcissistic leaders who claim to speak
for their god and who tell the congregation what they want to hear.
In this way their faith can lead them into fascism and totalitarianism.
For Catholics, their church is already structured around a rather fascist
hierarchy which tends to make them subservient to the Pope's decrees,
but papal power has waned in the last few centuries and especially the
last few decades and the church is not as powerful a force as it once
was.  Protestantism was a movement away from a centralized church
structure and in recent centuries has focused on a person's private
relationship with their god with very limited amounts of religious
politics, and thus it is very much like individualism applied to religion.
But protestants are hardly immune from the seductive powers of men
"aflame with the Lord", especially those who lead evangelical movements.
And revivals like the first and second "Great Awakenings", the Azusa
Street revival, televangelism, and the Promise Keepers movement have
occurred frequently during the course of history where some degree of
"Christofascism" has swept through nations and often resulted in the
remolding a number of laws of the land to fit Christian ideals.  However,
the era of Christian domination over the state appears to be over as new
ideologies such as democracy and communism have arisen since the
Enlightenment which are resistant to the spread of Christianity.  Though
Christian movements occur in nations which follow these newer ideologies
they tend to run out of steam before altering the existing ideology in any
substantial way.
   Christianity isn't the only ideology which exploits narcissism
in order to enable it to spread, all ideologies contain elements which
make believers feel inadequate and promise them a wonderful life or
afterlife if they serve the ideology's goals.  In the Fireaxe Theory this
motivational scheme is described as the ideology instilling within the
believer a permanent psychological deficit, a persistent feeling of
inadequacy, which can only be alleviated, and then only for a short
time, if the believer does something which serves the ideology.  How
this scheme works for various ideologies is described in more detail
in The Burning Blade 12.4 and it matches up very well with what
sociologists and psychologists have discovered about narcissism.
The downside of exploiting narcissism is that an ideology's leaders
will often be volatile, disingenuous, arrogant, and prone to addiction
to forms of instant gratification.  However, it is only in extreme cases
of narcissism where these negatives outweigh the positives, at least the
positives as they pertain to the ideology, and so from an ideological
point of view moderate amounts of narcissism in its followers is not
only tolerable but desirable, even if the afflicted individuals as well
as those close to him or her sometimes suffer greatly because of it.
Narcissists may spend their lives drowning in self doubt and self hatred,
manipulating and abusing loved ones, and brutally punishing their rivals,
but on the whole they tend to advance the causes of the ideology.  One
of the more disturbing "advantages" of an ideology exploiting narcissism
is that in most cases it is a permanent and untreatable affliction.  This
can be a major problem for an individual seeking a cure for their problems,
but for an ideology it is very useful since it makes it very difficult for
rival ideologies to convert its narcissists to their belief systems or
dissuade or influence them in any way.  Narcissists are fiercely defensive
and can often be highly resistant to logic when aroused.  When fighting
they can be vicious and unrelenting, seeking victory over their opponent
at all costs.  And when they are overwhelmed and face defeat narcissists
sometimes completely capitulate, descending into their private hell of
self loathing.  At first it might seem as though this capitulation is a
sign that a narcissist has conceded and will change their ways or beliefs,
but in reality it is a defense mechanism which allows them to preserve the
idealized self image which they are striving to attain while directing all
the criticism towards their inadequate current self.  In this way their
self loathing can deepen their pathology and thus capitulating can make a
narcissist even more committed to what they believe.  Examples of this
bipolar-esque cycle of Christian narcissism and self pity can be found
in a number of Psalms written by David in the Bible.  A noteworthy
one is Psalm 22 which most Fireaxe listeners will recognize.  And so,
ideologies benefit by encouraging their followers to seek conflict because,
win or lose, it will end up making them more devout and more committed.
   The permanent nature of narcissism makes it difficult to change
the course of a group, organization, nation, etc., once narcissists take
control of it.  If you've encountered narcissists in your life, and you
probably have, especially if you've spent time in any newsgroups or
chat rooms on the internet where narcissists are often free to launch
vicious flames at people they disagree with and seem to be locked in
endless duels against other narcissistic foes, you understand how futile
the act of trying to bring change can often be.  Even when a narcissistic
organization has become highly dysfunctional and the criticisms against
it are stated calmly, rationally, and by many, those in charge will still
resist change, often resorting to the pathological responses of their
affliction such as manipulation, intolerance, and hostility to defend
themselves, their policies, and their positions in the power structure.
For example, a large group of dissenters might protest the dysfunctional
policies of a particular government and march peacefully in the streets,
counting on media attention to relay the slogans they chant and wrote
on signs to the rest of the public.  Heavy handed governments will reveal
their intolerance of criticism and hostility by cracking down on the
protesters, calling a media blackout, and sending the riot squads out
to beat up, use tear gas on, and arrest and humiliate the protesters.
Democratic governments have been known to be equally intolerant and
use the same tactics, but they are often under pressure to appear to be
more reasonable and their actions more justified so what they often
do is use manipulative tactics to create the public image they want to
project.  This is commonly done by provoking the protesters into
becoming violent by either planting instigators in the crowd or having
riot police act overly aggressive towards them.  This strategy often
results in minor outbursts of violence or clashes between the rowdier
protesters and the police even though most of the protest is peaceful
and well behaved.  The media however, can usually be counted on to
show the violent parts of the protest almost exclusively, or at least can
be manipulated to show only those scenes if necessary, so as to portray
all of the protesters as being crazy anarchists who deserve what they got.
This all makes the government looks calm and reasonable in contrast.
Of course, using provocative tactics to smear your opposition instead of
letting them have their say is an attack at the core of democracy itself, but
a narcissistic government will have no trouble in doing so.  The leaders
believe themselves to be right and the protesters to be misguided at
best or dangerous fanatics at worst and so they can rationalize such
tactics as being necessary to save the misinformed majority of protesters
from the seductive rants of their fanatical leaders.  Furthermore, another
common tactic is to take a few choice words or phrases from one of the
nuttier protesters and attempt to portray the entire movement as embracing
such foolishness.  This is the straw man fallacy, but listen to any pundit
for a few minutes and you'll think that the country is under attack by an
army of straw men.  Narcissists see no problem in using logical fallacies
in order to support their positions.
   And to finish on a darker note, if ruling narcissists refuse to
leave power, even as the domain over which they rule crumbles around
them, and if other narcissists refuse to give up the fight even though it
is obvious that they have lost, it often becomes necessary to use force
to remove them from power and prevent them from causing further
damage.  But there is a danger here, one that is familiar to Christians,
that using force to silence a dissenter, especially using excessive force
such as nailing the dissenter to a cross, can turn him into a martyr and
turn people against those who wielded that force.  Though a dissenter
can be dangerous when they speak they can be even more dangerous
when they are silenced and using force can make a rational person appear
to be an unreasonable narcissist who is unfit to rule.  This is especially
so if rival narcissists are encouraging that perception.  But when two
opposing forces clash they are often both led by narcissists who have
gained power by exploiting the narcissistic tendencies of their followers
and thus they both tend to be unreasonable, prone to revenge, and resistant
to change except by force.  When ideologies become deeply entrenched
in an individual or group it is often necessary to imprison or kill them in
order to make them stop and when such actions are undertaken they invite
similar retaliations as the leaders of the victims portray those violent acts
as unjustified aggression and proof of the other side's depravity.  This can
"radicalize" moderates and motivate them to join the fight, escalating the
conflict further.  For terrorists and resistance movements, this escalation
of retaliation is part of their central strategy and their goal is to draw
as many people as they can into a conflict that they hope that they can
win.  The trick to beating them is not to fall for their game and to act
rationally, but for narcissists resisting the urge to strike back is very
difficult and they are more likely to launch a massive counterstrike or
escalation instead.  Thus, a few narcissistic fanatics are sometimes able
to drag entire peoples into wars and turn us all into Food for the Gods.


The Fireaxe theory - Outline

I. Basics - well established theories

1. Emergent systems - that complex systems can arise from the
interactions of simple things
2. Natural selection - that organisms mutate, proliferate, and compete,
with the "losers" becoming extinct
3. Behavioral science - that neurological systems, at their core, function
according to the rules of conditioning
4. Entropy - that within a closed system, entropy always increases,
which limits the amount of transformation that can occur

II. Extensions

1. That consciousness is an emergent system: a complex system arising
in the human mind from the interaction of simple neurons.
2. That civilizations are emergent systems arising from the physical
interactions of humans whether conscious or not.
3. That ideologies are emergent systems arising from the psychological
interactions of conscious humans
4. That emergent systems follow the laws of natural selection in much
the same way that organisms do
5. That the universe is, by definition, a closed system

III. Contentions regarding consciousness

1. That consciousness is a survival advantage
2. That being a member of an ideology is a survival advantage
3. That making its members conscious is a necessary part of an
ideology's survival
4. That consciousness is created by instilling within a person a
permanent sense of inadequacy - in essence a state of constant fear
5. That the deeper the sense of inadequacy, the stronger the person
is motivated  - generally to serve their ideology

IV. Contentions regarding ideological struggle

1. That ideologies fight for survival using many methods including,
but not limited to, war and enslavement
2. That aggression is a survival advantage
3. That survival in the short term outweighs survival in the long term
prompting ideologies to pursue shortsighted and sometimes suicidal
strategies
4. That aggressive ideologies make members of rival ideologies
feel afraid and inadequate which in response become more aggressive,
thus creating a vicious circle
5. That aggressive ideologies must grow or face internal strife as their
aggressive members feed on each other to satisfy their needs
6. That internal struggle results in ideological mutation

V. Contentions regarding the future

1. That internal strife is inevitable since the laws of entropy imply
that continuous growth is not sustainable
2. That the abstract bases for ideologies transcend mortality and thus
suicidal aggression is not restrained by fear of death
3. That technological progress has made the destruction of the world
through ideological warfare possible and will continue to make it
easier to effect
4. That ideological mutation will eventually result in the creation of
a suicidal ideology which will destroy the human race in the attempt
to save it


How to order Fireaxe CDs:

   Ordering Fireaxe CD's is an informal process as I am selling
them personally out of my apartment. Simply mail me a letter which
contains the following:

1. The names of the CDs that you want to buy.
2. The address where you want the CDs sent.
3. Cash, a check, or a money order for the total cost.

   Or if you want to do PayPal, just send me the answers to
1 and 2 above in an e-mail and I'll tell you where to send the money.
   Here is a price list.  The first number is the cost for U.S.
based customers, the second is for outside the U.S.  The prices
include shipping and handling.

Eternal Devotion      $6   $9
    to the Dark Goddess
Food for the Gods:   $12   $15 - Sold out
Victory or Death      $5   $8 (free with any purchase)
Lovecraftian Nightmares   $5   $8 - Sold out
A Dream of Death   $3   $6 - Sold out

   Send everything to:

   Brian Voth
   1301 Medical Center Dr. #415
   Chula Vista, CA 91911    USA

   If you review CDs on a website or in a magazine, any one
of the single CDs (Not "Food for the Gods") is free of charge in
exchange for the review.  In this case all I need is a request by
e-mail.  Please send me the URL of your review site or copy of your
magazine with the review in it when it is done.  If you want to
exchange CDs, tapes, or stuff of equivalent value, make these
requests via e-mail and we'll arrange a trade.
   The CDs come with a booklet filled with awesome art, a
letter about the project, and some information about the CD which
can also be found on the Fireaxe site.
   Lastly, if you want to print and distribute Fireaxe CDs I
can send you an additional CD which contains tiff files for all the
booklets, tray cards, and labels for each project.  The tiff disk is free
so just say the word.


The Future

   Unfortunately 2009 was a total bust for Fireaxe as far as
recording is concerned.  Health issues sidelined projects scheduled for
completion during the year and other than the guitarist taking the
opportunity to get a whole lot better with his axe, nothing was
accomplished.  With any luck 2009 will be the only year that went
for naught.
   In 2010, Fireaxe will once again focus on remaking the past.
First of all, "Food for the Gods" has sold out and will be re-mastered
before a second printing run is made.  Also, it will be re-mixed with the
vocal rerecorded for much better sound quality.  When all is said and
done it should sound as good as "Eternal Devotion to the Dark Goddess.
Secondly, the first Fireaxe CD, "A Dream of Death" will be getting a
complete overhaul before it is re-released.  Everything will be rerecorded
using much more modern equipment and with everything that I've learned
over the last ten years going into it to make it better than ever.  Also,
since it was recorded at a time when CDs had a 74 minute limit instead
of the current 80, I will add six more minutes of music to the work in
which I will explore a number of musical themes as well as add a killer
new song written by Octavio Ramos.  So it looks like a year of sequels
for Fireaxe. I'll probably leave the names of the CDs the same but I've
been kicking around a ideas for alternate titles, such as "Food for the
Gods - Regurgitated", "Desert for the Gods", and "A Dream of Undeath",
"The Morning After Death", or "I'm Dreaming of a White Strait-Jacket -
a Fireaxe Christmas in Hell".
   My goal is to deliver music to whoever wants to hear it in
whatever way is necessary.  Whatever the market demands, I will supply,
but I do want to avoid the mass marketing channel.  Exposure is fine, but
in the modern business, the substance of the music must be altered to
match the demands of the marketplace.  This would totally defeat the
purpose of why I write music in the first place.  I write music because it
is a way to express my emotions.  What I both think and feel goes into
the songs.  That is the
Title: The Burning Blade 13.2
Post by: Fireaxe on January 30, 2010, 11:35:38 PM
The most dangerous liar is the one who believes his own lies…


The Burning Blade

Fireaxe Newsletter - edition 13.2

January 30, 2010

neptune.net/~bev/Fireaxe.html


"One thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises