Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heilige Tod - An Introduction

This blog was originally started in September of 2013 as a writing outlet for me to explore the post-industrial, neofolk, and military pop genres of music. All these underground genres of music (along with others) have fascinated me since I was a teen. Since completing my education years ago, I set out to become a pop culture scholar, and in many aspects – I have! My journey took me from Italian spy films, to space horror, to H. P. Lovecraft, to sword and sandal films, to synthwave, to tiki culture, and so on. I had hopes that maybe during this time I would be able to establish myself as a scholar of these underground music genres as well. However, my blog became less updated as I pursued other avenues and eventually my writing here was replaced by me writing for the Heathen Harvest magazine, which I wrote for from 2015 to 2017. 

Now in 2020, I find myself back at my blog, and I am not liking what I’m seeing. I’ve changed in the seven years starting it, and the world has changed. I’ve become much more sensitive and opened eyed about many things that I was ignorant on before. Trump becoming president was a big shift, and with the rise of the alt-right and real Fascism, I’ve started to reflect on a lot of things. I was at a writer’s conference last year talking to a revered scholar of folk horror and the dialogue shifted to neofolk music. They told me something which stuck with me: “Folk horror has a neofolk problem, and neofolk has a Nazi problem.”

I like the aesthetics of neofolk, post-industrial, military pop and other genres. As a whole, I see these music genres as just that, music genres. But there is no mistaken the fact that there are quite a few (influential) bad apples in the genre. And that is something I do not like. However, I run into a quandary: how does one enjoy listening to neofolk music when some of its foundational elements is built on dubious politics? It flirts with the same questions such as, can you watch a Woody Allen or Roman Polanski film? Artist versus the Art? Even if you proclaim to loathe what these directors do, but enjoy their films, do you, in a way, condone their transgressions? In this globalized world, arn’t we all guilty anyways of supporting unsavory regimes, sweatshops, cruelty, and so on just via the things we buy and consume? As a person fascinated by how connected we all are, this both fascinates and frightens me. As a pop culture scholar, it does as well!

Back on track to the neofolk question: as a fringe element at the borders of pop culture, neofolk, martial-industrial, and related genres of music continue to fascinate me and I continue to derive aural pleasure from listening to them. As a genre of music, they intrinsically have importance: there is production and consumption, there is being influenced and influencing. Some acts have even made small forays into a modicum of mainstream success and notoriety. 

But the political ghost lingers in the background, and it’s not going away. It must be addressed. And the scary thing is, I know (at least right now), I am NOT the man for the job. 7+ years on my path to being pop culture scholar and I still feel like I lack some of the necessary tools to tackle neofolk.

But I still want to. I want to add something positive to the canon out there. But I also want to walk the line correctly, much like what folks do with HP Lovecraft studies: recognize his racism and xenophobia, and then take it to something positive.

That is what I plan to do. I’ve got a library of blog entries here that need massive editing and re-adjusting: to reflect better scholarship, and to reflect better mindfulness. With the collapse of Heathen Harvest, I may move some of my writings from there to here as well. There’s a lot to work to be done, and I’m still juggling lots of other projects as well, so I’ll see what I can do to right the course on this blog.

I definitely need to look at doing a name change, that’s for sure.

- Nicholas Diak
2020-03-08 

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