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Topics - Cargést

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Interzone / Defining God
« on: March 26, 2013, 05:23:28 PM »
People like Dawkins and Dennet sell huge quantities of books and seats at lecture halls by combatting what I think we can all say is a pretty weak form of the notion of "God" (the "big man in the sky").  However, many of those who are called upon to rebut their claims treat similarly weak interpretations (e.g. modern folk interpretations of the Abrahamic God), thus "New Atheism" is still seen as a viable platform by many.  The only way this anti-religious dogma can be quelled, as far as I see it, is by looking closely at what we mean when we say "God", and what is actually meant by the instigators of spiritual disciplines when they use similar terms.  I'll be treating the Christian God, since that's the one we, predominantly Westerners, have grown up with.

The BMS idea is pretty popular amongst exoteric (casual or fanatical) Christians, because it's a nice and easy story to comprehend: a man bigger than the universe got bored and made everything the way he wanted it, then made a small version of himself to make different things.  The big guy doesn't live here, but somewhere really really high up, and has an evil child under the earth.  Evil comes about when the little man forgets the big man and listens to the evil child.  Clearly this is dumb, I don't think it needs all that much exploring.

A more esoteric notion is that God is some fundamental force that creates and controls the spatiotemporal universe according to its own essential qualities (an idea found in a large amount of monastic literature).  It is not a "person" in the way that you or I are individual "people", but both contains and suffuses all people.  It's something like a "pinnacle of existence", a collection of ideal qualities, whence all lesser entities (such as ourselves) originate - the Form of the Good, as Plato would call it.  It is perfect, and so its expressions - love, laughter, happiness, bliss - are also perfect, though imperfect forms of them - fear, crying, sadness, discomfort - are also to be encountered in this world.  Don't worry, though: it's all part of the bigger plan, and it all works out in the end!  Evil is only perceived by imperfect people; the perfect God sees no such thing in the dramas that unfold on this planet, as he is all-loving (meaning even the bad bits are loved).  We all end up diffusing into this originating force at the "end of time", if that actually happens (death?).

Now, that's a much more agreeable notion of God, though it still has some holes, and is also really quite difficult for the uninitiated to understand (hence the downfall of religion over the ages).  I'd like to propose an even more esoteric understanding of God that is nevertheless simple enough to be understood by anyone: God is the one who's watching.  God is the one observing everything through everything.  When there is sight through your eyes, it is not the person who sees, but God who is seeing; indeed, when you think of yourself as that person, it is not the person considering itself to be itself, but God who is aware of the idea of an "ego".  When there is pain, it is God who is aware of the pain, and when there is joy, it is God who is aware of the joy.  At the most fundamental level, when I say "I", I mean "God": the feeling of being alive, of existing, is what is fundamental to "me", for if I didn't exist, who am "I"?

When scrutinised, this can be seen to be a refined form of the previous notion: all phenomena occur in God, and all phenomena grow out of God; however, God itself is not a phenomenon to be perceived, because it is the one perceiving (thus we can call it "noumenon").  It has no qualities of its own - no shape, size, odour, colour, thoughts, feelings, dispositions, or anything - for it is that which is aware of qualities.  How could it make anything out if it was something itself?  All things would be blurred by its own qualities, and yet the variety of the universe is perceived unhindered.

And now, notice how our definition has progressed: the common modern interpretation is obviously faulty, the older esoteric understanding pretty but overly complicated.  Where are we now?  Right back at the beginning: "in principio verbum est, et apud verbum deum, et deus verbum est"; "before all else ('in principle') is the Word, and with the Word is God, and God is the Word" [John 1:1].  Or this: "the Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be perceived... but I tell you, the Kingdom of God is within you" [Luke 17:21].  The New Testament itself contains this streamlined notion of God, though so many are blind to it (as prophesied).  We have come full circle: what grew out of wisdom became knowledge, and knowledge dwindled to ignorance, whence wisdom was born again, as per the cycle of the ages.

Interzone / The Potential of Video Games
« on: April 24, 2012, 07:00:28 PM »
This doesn't particularly fit into any other thread (the only other truly video-game oriented threads are either totally anti [as is expected] or not general enough), so I'm making a new one - mods, please feel free to move this to a more fitting thread if you remember there being one.

I have exams starting next week, so I've decided to go sober for a while.  Doing this always gives me very interesting insights, as the copious amounts of substances I've ingested over the previous month or so gradually wind their way out of my body.  I've just been struck by the thought that, contrary to my previous belief, all of the time that I have spent playing video games has not been wasted.  I generally prefer games which have good stories/gameplay over those which merely look cool (which seem to me more like interactive movies).  Some of the best games I've ever played - Morrowind, Terranigma, Secret of Mana - have actually imparted to me very valuable ideas, either through the dialogue/storyline put in by the developers, or because my ruminations during play have led to new discoveries.  Principally, though, the time has not been wasted, because I actively engage with the game as the character I am playing, and really try to immerse myself in the story/setting.

The best video games should be as artistically viable as the best books, the best music, the best films, and so on.  The problem is that the days of video games being seen as creative endeavours are past us, and now they have been relegated to "entertainment".  In short, we're right back at square one: Call of Doodie: Modern Wankfare 16 is Pong with swanky graphics/controls (team based combat is team based combat).  However, a brief Golden Age (around the early '90s, funnily enough) yielded a number of titles which were far less concerned with scores, special effects, and variations on a single gameplay mechanism (e.g. killing someone), and more focused on providing detailed and thorough worlds wherein the player had "real" goals and difficulties.  Final Fantasy etc. was probably the start of this kind of game, though the style became more sophisticated with later, often more action-oriented RPGs (so that the story was not separated by/from the battles, and killing things was no longer the main goal).

Consider that, throughout time, Men have created stories about their worlds, their people's pasts, their Gods, and so on.  In many cultures, these stories eventually take the form of plays - essentially, ritualised reenactments, in which both the actors and the audience must "suspend disbelief" so as to reap the benefits of what they see and hear (the same benefits as would befall someone who read the play as a book or poetry, let us say).  In Japan, it was customary for Lords (and some of their retainers) to dabble in acting; I should think there are analogues all over the world, wherein the higher castes, with loftier gazes, recreated the actions of the past so as to gain a better understanding of the world.

Here I am reaching my conclusion: video games could have become the "individual's play", just as books became the individual's fireside narratives.  By this, I mean that we could have developed programmes which allowed users to fully adopt (or even create) the role of a certain individual, play out that role, and learn all of the lessons learnt by that individual in the game, albeit from the comfort of a sofa.  Instead, we've just spawned ridiculous amounts of eyecandy on which to waste hours of our lives attaining Double++ rank by shooting angry twelve year olds.

There are some games with which the above can be done.  Play any of the three games I listed up there, and make a solid attempt at "identifying with the character", or however it's said.  It's as much "escapism" as reading a book is, and the only reason you won't get quite so much out of it than you would from reading an Epic or somesuch work is that nobody's had the vision or the balls to create something that good within the medium (yet!).

Celsus (c180 CE) is said to have argued that Jesus was the bastard son of Mary and a Roman soldier named Panthera, used magic to deceive people into believing he was the son of a god, and there was no real difference between Christianity and many of the mystery religions existing at that time and some of the elements (such as the resurrection and virgin birth) could be found in older myths.


Metal / Song Structure in Metal
« on: December 15, 2011, 06:00:57 PM »
(I wrote this this morning.  It's ok, goes a bit off the mark into my own semi-philosophical ramblings, but I think I get the point across.  I'll post [or link to] the review of Pure Holocaust if anyone's interested.)

Metal, when it comes down to it, is not about distorted guitars, fast tempos, aggressive vocals, or Satanic/Evil lyrics and imagery.  It’s not even about awesome riffs, cool solos, or the brilliant harmonic sensibilities introduced in the late ’70s/early ’80s.  These things, in conjunction with each other, might make something which sounds like it could be Metal, but I am going to point out something very obvious which I’m not sure many people have thought about to any great degree: these same ingredients make up the best of NWOBHM, Extreme Metal, and fucking metalcore.  Think about that for a minute: the metalcore of the 2000s has exactly the same basic ingredients as all good metal.  That’s how it sells - it sounds like Maiden, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, and, for some odd reason, Orchid, all in the same song.  There’s something for everyone, there - harmonised guitar solos, an impressively wide range of vocal styles and pitch, all sorts of tempo changes, cool beats, slamming whatever they’re calleds (breakdowns?), and so on, and this is why teeny boppers hop on the bandwagon and buy these bands’ retarded output.

What’s missing, then?  What seperates the shit from the good?  The answer, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed by the title of this post, is the structure.  Metalcore has no discernible structure when it extends beyond verse/chorus rock (which is extremely rare), but a great deal of NWOBHM, Death/Black Metal, and even grindcore has very well thought out and reasonable song structures.  Rather than the ingredients themselves, it is the way in which they are combined which makes Metal great.  As I mentioned in the Pure Holocaust “review”, the journey/return song structure is pretty common in Black Metal, and, actually, in a lot of other forms of Metal - listen to Altars of Madness, Don’t Break the Oath, or Deicide’s debut, and see if you can pick out how many times this kind of structure crops up.  A possible reason for its prominent inclusion in Metal is that, as a basic song structure, it accurately mirrors vast portions of the lives we live: we start something, we follow through with it, and when we finish it, we look back at the entire process which has led to the point at which we now stand.  A change has occurred, but that change brings with it the memories of its origin(s).  However, we can say more than this: by extracting the human from the equation, we see that reality, progressing through points along the axis of “time”, is a succession of cumulative orientations and events, which must, by the laws of Nature/Physics, be based on every single orientation/event which preceded them.  How like human memory is this very basic principle?  Things happen, and the fact that they have happened remains throughout time, and actively affects (some would say it effects) the futures which arise.

I would say, with only a slight hesitation, that, as sentient beings, we are inherently aware of such orders in our Universe, if perhaps not all consciously aware.  Thus, when something in our lives mimicks and sheds light on these processes, that object/event appeals to an innate sense in us; we acknowledge embedded, microcosmic versions of the patterns in reality which extend around and above ourselves, and, potentially, learn more about our reality through such experiences.  Whether this is conscious or subconscious is neither here nor there, for the resultant enjoyment is evident (for, perhaps, it is the Joy of the human to learn and experience).

Metalcore gives us nothing but a random string of slightly interesting items to observe.  Once we’ve examined them, we say “alright”, and put them away again.  The best of Metal stays with us forever.  I would say that it actively alters our perceptions of the world around us (and, perhaps, the world “behind” us [consciousness et al, I’ll get onto that at some point if I haven’t already]).  Like a “life experience” (going bungee jumping, being entangled in a hostage situation, coming close to death but surviving), this music informs us about our realities, our lives, and our selves, and, as such, it is indispensible.

Metal / Heavy/Speed Metal labels
« on: October 17, 2011, 01:58:24 AM »
Does anybody know of any (preferably European) labels that sign Heavy or ("Melodic") Speed Metal bands, and which aren't inundated with shitty Power Metal?

Trawling the web, not finding much at the moment.

Interzone / A theory on missionary
« on: October 03, 2011, 09:34:21 PM »
Mods, please start cleaning up this bloody forum, starting with these irrevocably pointless "theory on sex" threads.

Metal / Absu - Abzu leaked
« on: September 25, 2011, 05:35:40 PM »
Downloading a supposed copy of this now.  I have little hope.

Legit.  Here's the link: http://www.filesonic.com/file/2107925631/www.New-Album.com_absu.rar

So far, it's pretty shite.

Interzone / Heritability of General Intelligence
« on: August 25, 2011, 12:11:14 PM »
From the Nihilism mailing list, for those who aren't subscribed:

Quote from: Richard Ratner
"A landmark article went online a few days ago in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The study was prepared by a team of 32 researchers headed by the University of Edinburgh’s Gail Davies and entitled “Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic.” The study’s methods do not lend themselves to easy explanation unless you’re at home with SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and inverse variance weighted models used to capture “the variance in the trait that is due to linkage disequilibrium between genotyped SNPs and unknown causal variants.” But the bottom line of the article is reasonably simple. Using nothing but genetic information, the team of researchers was able to establish that the narrow heritability of crystallized intelligence (the kind that can be more easily affected by education) is at least 40 percent. The narrow heritability of fluid intelligence (the kind that involves pure problem-solving ability, independently of acquired knowledge) is at least 51 percent. Note the at least. The study’s authors explicitly state that these estimates are lower bounds.

Shelves of books and articles denying or minimizing the heritability of IQ have suddenly become obsolete. Those who continue to claim that IQ tests don’t measure anything real inside the brain also have their work cut out for them."


So there you have it folks, Murray finally formalizing a far too obvious truth that we had known all along - genetics plays the major role in determining general intelligence.
They claim to have been able to place a lower bound on the heritability of fluid intelligence and g of 0.51, with the expectation of reaching 0.8 as gene analysis method
become more robust in the near future.

Question is, how do we use this for our advantage?

Metal / Burzum compositional style
« on: June 03, 2011, 10:19:22 PM »
Just listening to Det Som Engang Var again, and it's amazing just how often that 0 3 2 "riff" comes up.  Tracks two, three, four, and seven have that motif (either in E or C), often for minutes at a time, while "riffs" are played on top of it which compliment it and lead on from one another.  I'm not sure whether this was intentional, or whether he simply wrote a lot of riffs which followed that 0 3 2 pattern.  Either way, it's an interesting aspect of the music, and lends to the hypnotic quality of DSEV.  Any thoughts on this?  Any similar occurrences elsewhere in the Metal universe?

Metal / "Solar Metal", "Sun Metal", or something along those lines
« on: April 24, 2011, 08:12:18 AM »
I have no idea what to call this, but it's essentially the kind of music I think I'm writing at the moment for Wiht.  It's based technically in Black Metal - tremolo picked riffs, d/blast beats, "shrieked" vocals etc. - but that's essentially where similarities end.  Black Metal evokes darkness, occasionally even melancholy, in the listener, while still, at its heights, emanating power and force.  When I first started writing Metal, this is the atmosphere I tried to create, and, probably because I'm not of a suitable disposition to do anything groundbreaking in this mood, I never quite "clicked" with it, and my compositions suffered as a result.  Now, I'm allowing myself more free reign, and I find that I tend towards melodies (important point there) and riffs which are focused almost enitrely on evoking a sense of sheer power and exuberance in the listener, a primal "joy", for want of a better word.  The feeling of having just killed three enemies on the field in quick succession, tinged with the knowledge that the battle is far from over, never mind the war; the sense of being the Cimmerian, fighting an uneven battle, with death looming over you at each second, while your companions' lives hang in the balance; ultimately, the notion of being the God, watching heroes struggle to act as best they can, faced with seemingly insurmountable horrors.

As ever, it's very hard for me to accurately describe, in writing, the emotions which I'm attempting to bring about, which is why I choose music as my medium.  So far, I've all but finished two songs in this style, and a fair amount of "transition" material between last year's purposefully "pagan" material and what I'm attempting to summon now.  I'll break down some of the important points (or, at least, the points which are, to me, important):

1.  Melodies.  Rather than sticking to the idea of "the riff" - riff A x 4, riff B x 4, riff A2 x 4, etc. - I've started writing "riffs" of sufficient length that they feel completed after being played once (or twice, for emphasis/crescendo), which, I would say, qualifies them as "melodies", albeit recurrent ones, depending on the song.  This is, in my view, the musical equivalent of moving from 16-bit to 32-bit processors.

2.  Harmonies.  I put a lot of harmony into my work (as well as counterpoint).  I use three guitars, and possibly a bass in the future, so why should all three guitars play one guitar line all the time?  One of the biggest annoyances of a lot of modern "Metal" is that the guitar work is absolutely static, and the presence of more than one guitar is so that there can be a backing riff for all of the wank-tastic solos that come after the second chorus.

3.  Expanding riffs.  This is more of a continuation of what I was doing last year, but I generally don't repeat riffs as they appeared previously, either in an earlier section of a song, or even consecutively.  I've also started considering fusing riffs to create a new riff, either one after the other, or on top of each other ("layering", as in Summoning, for example).  This can, of course, work the other way - a riff using counterpoint can be deconstructed, and each part can be played as a riff of its own, or fused with other parts.  Given that I absolutely love relating parts of (or entire) songs to others (the storyteller in me), this becomes a good method of melding and breaking apart "themes", with the possibility of the end product seeming unrelated to the original without knowledge of the journey between the two points.

(4.  Clean vocals; choral work.  I haven't (yet) put any of this into the two songs which I've written most recently for Wiht, but it's something which I'd really like to do, especially considering some of the thematic content of the songs that I've written/am writing.  Deathmetal.org made a point about "unmoving and halfhearted chants" being the "blight of heathen metal", and I absolutely agree, which is why I'm going to have any clean vocals be more reminiscent of Hansi Kürsch's choruses for Blind Guardian, or Fenriz's bellows on Isengard, than the standard lifeless warble of Heidevolk/Ensiferum/Forefather and co.)

(5.  No drums?  I'm toying with the idea of writing some guitar-only [or guitar and vocal] pieces, or at least diminishing the drumming to time-keeping toms, so as to let the actual music shine through.  The only problem with this is that quite a lot of the dramatic effect of metal riffs comes from the accentuation of the guitar parts by cymbal hits and drum rolls.  This will probably depend on whether I develop any thematic material which would make more sense without drums.)

The latter two aren't as important as the former three, which are what make this music stand out from the rest of the epic, melodic, pagan-tinged pop metal being shelved out today.

The purpose of this thread is to cement my ideas in writing, ask for criticism/questioning of the outlined ideas, and to see if anyone else can name any bands which already write music in a similar way to this who aren't Summoning or Summoning clones.

Interzone / Identity
« on: March 04, 2011, 12:42:29 AM »

Question: is this article by the same Steve Harris who writes articles for amerika.org and appears to be Conservationist?

If so, ha ha.  Also, this is now the official Badger thread.

Interzone / Rant and rave about religion etc.
« on: February 10, 2011, 04:44:22 AM »
Off-shoot from the "Connection between liberalism and environmental devestation?" thread, so that Umbrage can keep maintaining that he is, was, and always will be in the right, on all matters.

You are directly claiming that somehow "truth" is on your side.

No I'm not, I'm stating the truth.  Language works because we use the same words to mean the same things.  You used a word to mean a different thing.  This is wrong.


Christianity is a religion.  Not all religions are Christianity.  Now that you've finally understood this, revise your original statements so that they're no longer false, and then we're fine.

"absolute evidence that every single religion that has ever existed has had an adverse effect on scientific advancement throughout time, in a similar way to Christianity during the Dark Ages/Renaissance"

This is obviously what I was asking for, given my original position on the matter.  Don't pretend that you didn't understand that from what I said, but were/are too stubborn to admit that you were negligent in using the term "religion" when you didn't mean it.

I could pick apart this lovely piece of rage, and bring up a plethora of points which would categorically "win" me this "argument", but, amazingly, I have better things to do.

Why are people being so incredibly anal in this thread anyway? I have an opinion that's slightly different from yours, so the fuck what? I think I already made it clear that I'm not some "derp-religion-is-the-cause-of-all-wars-lets-try-secular-humanism-instead" type of atheist. Yet some of you are jumping up and down at every opportunity to call me one. And for what? Because you can't argue against philosophy being more versatile than religion? Because deep down you are aware that religion is based on philosophy and not the other way around? Because you can't argue that religious icons have largely been replaced with pop-icons, and the religious icons that are still prevalent in society have even been turned into pop-icons, and this in turn proves that humans don't essentially need religion, not even as a way to control the people?

I'm not calling you an atheist of any sort, personally.  That's neither here nor there.  I'm merely making a point of information, originally more for your benefit, and the benefit of others, than anything.  I haven't read other people's posts on the matter, so I wouldn't know what they say.  As far as I'm concerned, I noticed that you said something incorrect, and it was the same thing which I've seen others write, and so I commented on the fact that it is incorrect to conflate religion and Christianity, as per above.  For some reason, you took offense to this, and here we are.

Also, I follow Philosophy before I follow religion.  "Don't act like you know me because you obviously don't".

Religion is anti-intelligent by design.

Why, necessarily?

It seems to me that you dislike religion as a whole, for some bizarre reason (Judeo-Christianity being one of the most awful creations of the human race?).  If the latter is close to the mark, that's like someone disliking philosophy because they have a problem with Ayn Rand.

Metal / UK Hessiandom
« on: January 25, 2011, 05:24:29 PM »

UK Hessiandom - articles, reviews, networking, and more.  Updated relatively frequently, for the moment.

Metal / Indie Metal
« on: December 27, 2010, 10:31:39 PM »
Found the latest DLA article interesting, especially using Gojira as the example of "Indie Metal".  I have always been subtly intruigued by a fellow band of theirs, called "Manimal", who never attained the same popularity, despite writing much more interesting (though still arguably pointless and annoying) music.


Interesting song structure, no?  I like the semi-symmetry of it, anyway, even if the sheer lack of actual Metal pisses me off.

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