Distortion Sufficient

This Cold Black icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 (track 09 from the All Hope is Gone LP by Slipknot icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 )

Slipknot's "All Hope is Gone" album cover. [Formatted]

Welcome home

Mother Nature is a coward/Mother Nature is a whore
No more presence and no more power
I pray for death by the hour
Cut another smile into me/Cut into me is all that you are
My artifice won’t recognize me
You won’t find me anymore

Post-traumatic war machines
The pessimists still won’t believe
Throw away my past mistakes
It’s all I can do to feel

Let my weapons be your children
Let my armies be your damned
Try to suffer on in silence
Try to stop me if you can

Pneumatic destroyer, pathetic seducer
Distortion sufficient
Some day—one day—we will live our lives again

My ghosts have found their way back home
I have every right to kill my own/Every right to kill my own
I am something now that never could exist
My anguish conquers all

Pay the price and watch me fall
My only key is broken
My broken key is only me

Pneumatic destroyer, pathetic seducer
Distortion sufficient
Some day—one day—we will live our lives again

You’re an utter waste of tired flesh
It doesn’t matter if you can’t progress
Even now they still create me
Give me your ignorance and irritate me

I am made of the same debris
You want it all but you didn’t want me
A hypocrite with no real use
I’m alive, what’s your excuse?

Pneumatic destroyer
Pathetic seducer
Distortion sufficient
Some day—one day—we’ll live our lives again

My Hell is Wasted Potential

This Will Outlive Us icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 (track 03 from the Undoing Ruin LP by Darkest Hour icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 )

Darkest Hour's "Undoing Ruin" album art. [Formatted]

Gone are the days of evasion
Existence is how you create it
Whatever compels you to keep on—fucking embrace it

Say so long to the missing piece of the puzzle
We are split down the middle
We had better prepare ourselves for perpetual winter

Why do we do this to ourselves?
Continuous escape is a living hell
Like those other lovers hidden under the covers: it’s so empty in the arms of another

See what you’ve done
You’re irresistible with your sordid stories
The morbid glory of it all
Remember when times were worth celebrating
Pour the wine for the fallen friends and foes singing in unison

My hell is a blank piece of paper staring back at me
My hell is wasted potential, haunting me

Why do we do this to ourselves?
Continuous escape is a living hell

Why do we do this to ourselves?
It’s so fucking empty in the arms of another

Drop Out of the Privileged Middle Class and Make Trouble

Excerpt from the novel The Making of a Counter Culture icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 by Theodore Roszak icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12

Theodore Roszak's "The Making of a Counter Culture" book cover. [Formatted]


     In fact, it seems to me quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before he was extinguished. And that this is the beginning of the rest of the future, and that from now on there will simply be all these robots walking around, feeling nothing, thinking nothing. And there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there was once a species called human being, with feelings and thoughts. And that history and memory are right now being erased, and that soon no one will really remember that life existed on the planet.

Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory,
My Dinner With Andre (1981)

     History is not sensibly measured out in decades. The period of upheaval we conventionally call “the sixties” is more appropriately seen within a broader setting that stretches from 1942 to 1972. These dates too are arbitrary, but they define with somewhat greater accuracy a remarkable period in American history. Let us call it the Age of Affluence.
     The year 1942 marks the point at which the United States finally emerged from the Great Depression. That transition was embodied in Franklin Roosevelt’s landmark announcement of the new wartime economic order. “Dr. New Deal has retired,” FDR proclaimed. “He has been replaced by Dr. Win the War.” In the brief three and a half years that followed, all the grim antagonisms and oppressive necessities of the depression rapidly melted from the scene. Corporate leaders who had spent the past dozen years vilifying FDR as a “traitor to his class” now flocked to Washington as “dollar-a-year men” in return for bulging, cost-plus military contracts. By the time the war was over, the entire industrial plant of the United States had been rebuilt from the ground up to become the world’s only state-of-the-art technological establishment. A new skilled workforce had been trained and booming new industries (electronics, chemicals, plastics, aerospace) had been born. Unscathed by the damage that other nations had suffered in the war, the United States had no economic rivals. It had emerged from the war as king of the world industrial mountain, so vastly wealthy that it could afford to export the capital needed to revive the European and Japanese economies that would one day become its major competitors.
     Move forward a generation to 1972 and we find ourselves in the midst of the oil shortages that hit America where it hurt the most—in the pocketbook via the gas tank. However it was engineered, the gasoline-pump crisis represented the first sighting by the general public of any advanced industrial society of a serious ecological constraint. An unsettling lesson was about to be learned: Things deplete. You can’t have it all. The sky is not the limit; the earth is.
     What I have called “the counter culture” took shape between these two points in time as a protest that was grounded paradoxically not in the failure, but in the success of a high industrial economy. It arose not out of misery but out of plenty; its role was to explore a new range of issues raised by an unprecedented increase in the standard of living. For a period of some twenty years the world’s most prosperous industrial society became an arena of raucous and challenging moral inquiry the likes of which we may never see again—at least not if those whose wealth, power, and authority are at stake have anything to say about it.
     During the mid to late sixties, I was living in England editing a small, radical pacifist journal. The publication was closely connected with the great Aldermaston disarmament marches that were calling for an end to the arms race, which most European protesters were prepared to blame primarily on the United States. The early sections of this book were written and sent home as articles for The Nation while I participated in a characteristic experiment of the period: the founding of a turbulent, short-lived “Antiuniversity of London” where transient students arrived with little more to their names than guitars, begging bowls, and a stash a magic mushrooms to study the teachings of Timothy Leary, anarchist politics, and Tantric sex. I mention this as a reminder that the upheaval of those years was more than an American phenomenon; it extended to western Europe. Living abroad in so intense and often anti-American a political ambience offered me an odd, distancing perspective on all I saw transpiring in my own country. I became aware of nuances between protest in America and abroad. I could not help but become more severely critical of the way the United States abused its prodigious power around the world, but at the same time I became more sympathetically appreciative of the strange new significance that the American protest movement had assumed in our time. Youthful insurgents in Europe tended to fall back on a long-established left-wing tradition that was all but nonexistent in this country. At first I was inclined to agree that this was a sign of America’s political immaturity. But before this book was completed, perhaps because I felt so stung by the somewhat smug remarks my European colleagues often made about the ideological naiveté of the United States, I had concluded that the very weakness of conventional ideological politics in the United States lent the counter culture its unique insight. Questions about the quality and purpose of life, about experience and consciousness, about the rationality and permanence of industrial growth, about our long-term relations with the natural environment arose more readily in America than in the older industrial societies. The United States was closer to the postindustrial horizon where issues of an unusual kind were coming into view.
     Oddly enough, many of those issues could be traced to pre-industrial origins. They stemmed from a dissenting sensibility as old as the lament that the Romantic poets had once raised against the Dark Satanic Mills. But as a factor in the political arena of the modern world, that cry of the heart was distinctly new—so new, in fact, that it was difficult to imagine it being successfully communicated to society at large. And, of course, it wasn’t. Little more than the sensational surface of the protest filtered through the mass media: gestures of irreverent disaffiliation that had to do with drugs and sex, jarring new styles of music and dress, obscene language and bizarre alternative lifestyles. Nevertheless, matters of remarkable philosophical substance did come to be hotly debated by a larger public than had ever participated in the serious political deliberations of any modern society. Members of a rising, college-educated generation—the “new class” as some commentators called them—were using their well-trained wits not to bolster the system in which they were meant to find their fortunes but to shake it to its foundations. Of course, most members of the new class were on the fast track into the technocratic elite, the regime of expertise that has since emerged in every advanced industrial society. More of them would become button-down junior executives at IBM and ITT than mangy hippies. But it was those who elected to drop out of the privileged middle class and make trouble who would stamp the era with its special character. The ingratitude of these malcontents could not help but attract concerned attention. Even the spectators who stood by bewildered before this thankless outburst could not fail to register this much of the message: Something isn’t right here. Something has gone desperately wrong. And those in charge cannot be trusted to fix it.
     Or words and music to that effect.

Nothing Was Your Own Except the Few Cubic Centimetres Inside Your Skull

Excerpt from the novel 1984 icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 by George Orwell icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12

George Orwell's "1984" book cover. [Formatted]

     The voice from the telescreen paused. A trumpet call, clear and beautiful, floated into the stagnant air. The voice continued raspingly:
     ‘Attention! Your attention, please! A newsflash has this moment arrived from the Malabar front. Our forces in South India have won a glorious victory. I am authorised to say that the action we are now reporting may well bring the war within measurable distance of its end. Here is the newsflash—‘
     Bad news coming, thought Winston. And sure enough, following on a gory description of the annihilation of a Eurasian army, with stupendous figures of killed and prisoners, came the announcement that, as from next week, the chocolate ration would be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty.
     Winston belched again. The gin was wearing off, leaving a deflated feeling. The telescreen—perhaps to celebrate the victory, perhaps to drown the memory of the lost chocolate—crashed into ‘Oceania, ’tis for thee’. You were supposed to stand to attention. However, in his present position he was invisible.
     ‘Oceania, ’tis for thee’ gave way to lighter music. Winston walked over to the window, keeping his back to the telescreen. The day was still cold and clear. Somewhere far away a rocket bomb exploded with a dull, reverberating roar. About twenty or thirty of them a week were falling on London at present.
     Down in the street the wind flapped the torn poster to and fro, and the word INGSOC fitfully appeared and vanished. Ingsoc. The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past. He felt as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side? And what way of knowing that the dominion of the Party would not endure for ever? Like an answer, the three slogans on the white face of the Ministry of Truth came back at him:


He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There, too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters and on the wrapping of a cigarette packet—everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.
     The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of the Ministry of Truth, with the light no longer shining on them, looked grim as the loopholes of a fortress. His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too strong, it could not be stormed. A thousand rocket bombs would not batter it down. He wondered again for whom he was writing the diary. For the future, for the past—for an age that might be imaginary. And in front of him there lay not death but annihilation. The diary would be reduced to ashes and himself to vapour. Only the Thought Police would read what he had written, before they wiped it out of existence and out of memory. How could you make appeal to the future when not a trace of you, not even an anonymous word scribbled on a piece of paper, could physically survive?
     The telescreen struck fourteen. He must leave in ten minutes. He had to be back at work by fourteen-thirty.
     Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put new heart into him. He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote:

     To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone—to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone:
     From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink—greetings!

     He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step. The consequences of every act are included in the act itself. He wrote:

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.

     Now that he had recognised himself as a dead man it became important to stay alive as long as possible. Two fingers of his right hand were inkstained. It was exactly the kind of detail that might betray you. Some nosing zealot in the Ministry (a woman, probably: someone like the little sandy-haired woman or the dark-haired girl from the Fiction Department) might start wondering why he had been writing during the lunch interval, why he had used an old-fashioned pen, what he had been writing—and then drop a hint in the appropriate quarter. He went to the bathroom and carefully scrubbed the ink away with the gritty dark-brown soap, which rasped your skin like sandpaper and was therefore well adapted for this purpose.
     He put the diary away in the drawer. It was quite useless to think of hiding it, but he could at least make sure whether or not its existence had been discovered. A hair laid across the page-ends was too obvious. With the tip of his finger he picked up an identifiable grain of whitish dust and deposited it on the corner of the cover, where it was bound to be shaken off if the book was moved.