Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heilige Tod - An Introduction

“If wind brings winds of change, let it rain on us forever” – VNV Nation

And with that I’d like to introduce you to my academic/scholarly blog: Heilige Tod – The Search for Europe. I want this first entry to be an introduction of sorts. Who am I, what am I doing, a mission statement, and a foundation of expectations, and so on.

My name is Nick Diak (or Nicholas Diak, I’ll go by either) and I am attempting to solidify myself as a scholar. I graduated in 2012 from the University of Washington (Tacoma campus) with a Masters in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. I tailored my thesis to be on Italian director Antonio Margheriti and his film Castle of Blood. I also hold Bachelors in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University as well. So I am quite well rounded in both technical skills and liberal arts as well.

Italian vernacular films (to use the term coined by Mikel Koven) is my forte and one of the fields I’d like to establish myself in. I have been presenting on the subject matter at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association conference since 2009.

My other passion is my submersion in the neofolk, military pop/martial music as well. This has been an important facet of my life since roughly 2004. The music is controversial but wonderful, and through it I have met lots of friends and even asked to participate in a music project. It is with this and my fascination of Italian vernacular films that I see myself on the road to become a poor man’s “Stephen Thrower” or “Boyd Rice”, both prominent musicians and writers of exploitation cinema themselves.

This blog will be my outlet to cover these two subject matters. It will be a proving ground of sorts to keep my writing up to snuff post my school career. I am hoping to add to the on going dialog out there in a meaningful way. The blog is also at the suggestion from my girlfriend who said I needed to get out there and write!

The goals of this blog can be stated as follows:

#1 – First and foremost a primary focus on understanding and increasing the knowledge base of the neofolk and military pop genres of music. This is to be accomplished by music reviews, analysis of aesthetics, cataloging of influence or source material, and interviews.

The neofolk and military pop genres of music are barely understood. This came to evidence during the Death in June tour of the US in 2013 as various groups challenged the bands symbols and interview quotations and threatened violence and protests at music venues. My girlfriend and I attended the show at The Vex in Alhambra, and we were scared that violence would be inflicted upon us. After the show, I followed the news as best as I could, and even engaged in dialog on social media such as Reddit, but stepping back I could see there was a huge disconnect in the knowledge base in both fans of and opposers of the genre and its bands.

There have been a few attempts at trying to understand the genre, such as the compilation book/CD Looking for Europe. There are some other blogs and Facebook pages, but when it comes down to it, compared to other genres of music, from punk to synthpop, from jazz to shoegazer, the material is fleeting. What dialog does exist does not paint a positive picture of the genre either, usually trying to connect it to neo-Nazi music.

So it is my hope to do my due diligence and enter into the dialog via this blog and contribute something meaningful and helpful at contextualizing and understanding this enigmatic genre.

I also need to note before hand my biasness. One of the criticisms leveled at Michael Moynihan for his book Lords of Chaos was his lack of distance between him and the subject matter. I fear this will no doubt be a hurdle in my writing. I feel that if I am forthright and mention this up front, and also call it out during my writing, I’ll have done the honest thing.

Secondly, I need to firmly state my political stance on some issues. The problem with being an appreciator of music that flirts with taboo subject matter is the guilt by association. I have too much integrity to allow my fascination with the subject matter be turned into something ill about me. I have seen statements from bands saying they are not right wing or promote fascist things. And when I see these statements, I see detractors proclaiming the statements are not sincere or it’s a subterfuge.

I simply cannot have this for me and my writings. So I need to be crystal clear, up front, in both sincerely and humbleness, as someone who likes to think of himself as a critical thinker but also realize his closeness to the source material he is writing about, and as honest and truthful as I can be:

I am not a neo-nazi, neo-fascist, or anti-Semitic.

Let this be the first, last, and only time I ever have to bring this up.

With that in mind, I am going to take the best route possible when writing about neofolk and I hope you will be appreciative and understanding.

#2 – The secondary focus of this blog is to contribute to the Italian vernacular film knowledge base. This is secondary because, unlike neofolk music, there is already a plethora of material on Italian genre, populist, and exploitation films. However, the bulk of this material has its focus on westerns and horror films. I want to expand the knowledge and dialog on topics not really talked about. Since my thesis was on Antonio Margheriti, he will be brought up a lot. With my current writing project about Italian Eurospy films, I imagine some essays on that. I also hope to talk about the Black Emanuelle films too.

So these posts will pop up now and then.

#3 – The final focus of this blog will be to accommodate my other writing projects when they occur and any major news. I am planning a paper on the movies Hackers and Motorama at some point, so content of those may appear here. I’ll also post news such as any talking appearances I will be a part of.

My goal is to try and pen an article a week. I’ve got a lot of projects going on so I believe trying to shoot for an article a week will be a good pace to begin with.

In advance, I appreciate your readership, and look forward to see were this blog goes.

-Nick Diak

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