Category Archives: culture

>Know thyself! – The criticism of life


Matthew Arnold, author of Culture and Anarchy, claimed that art is the criticism of life.

In our society people are viewed through a lens which magnifies wealth, power and bloodlines, where instead it should magnify the moral qualities of character. We tend to praise those who perform great deeds, but neglect those who aren’t that very explicit or ”successful”, the ones who lead their ”hidden lives”. The world only cares about status, and is completely blind to the worlds within us. This dependency on status is all we read and hear about wherever we go.
Art, literature and music may help us notice, understand and appreciate those hidden lives that are waiting to be born. Most of the times, the hidden values being offered through culture are those of most interest to the ones interested in moral qualities. This is where we find philosophy and radical ideas rarely talked about in the mainstream arena. This is where spirit and man collide, as opposed to society where spirit and man collapse.
Society teaches us to judge a book by its cover, to depend on status for credibility and to look up to the rich and famous. Culture might help as a cure to society’s sickness.

I do not wish to see men of culture asking to be entrusted with power; and, indeed, I have freely said, that in my opinion the speech most proper, at present, for a man of culture to make to a body of his fellow-countrymen who get him into a committee-room, is Socrates’: Know thyself! and this is not a speech to be made by men wanting to be entrusted with power.
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1882)

Earlier posts related to this subject:
Intelligent misanthropy – Part 1
Intelligent misanthropy – Part 2

>Engravings of symbolism into flesh

>Originally posted May 19, 2007.

Look at these tattoos. They surely represent more than just something nice and cool to look at. These engravings speak of something that matters to the one wearing them. They represent death, life and the madness of it all. That ugly truth staring you right in the face.

For me, to have a tattoo inked forever in the flesh should definitely mean something more than wanting to show it in front of your buddies, looking at yourself in the mirror, wearing that tank top wife beater…
The more shit you show off with, the more unsatisfied you are with your miserable life and looks. If you’re happy sporting the latest fashion tattoo, then fine. It’s your choice and you’ll have to live with it. If you’re in it for looks only then you’re just vain. Nothing wrong with that as long as you’re aware of your vanity and lack of confidence.
That’s how I see it. Or rather, that’s how I’d look upon myself if I had tattoos that meant nothing to me.

The tattoos I have are for me, not for somebody else. They represent something I truly believe in. As cliche as it may sound, that’s what matters. Still, to each his own, as they say.

The Public Enemy symbol

First and foremost, I got this made because Fear of A Black Planet by Public Enemy is one of my top five albums of all times, all genres included. It means so much to me for so many reasons, I’ll probably dedicate a whole post to this amazing work of art someday (the album – not the tattoo), even though it deserves an essay, maybe even a book. It’s that good. But it needs to be remastered! The levels are way too low and it bugs the hell out of me everytime I listen to it.
But anyway…

The symbol pictures a man in a classic hip-hop pose, arms folded, caught in the sniper’s crosshairs. This man is about to be taken down by the people in power, because he’s a public enemy and thus automatically an enemy of the state. (Actually, the man is apparently E Love, L.L. Cool J.’s sidekick at the time, and the symbol is drawn by Chuck D. himself, but that’s another story…)

To me this symbol represents rebellion, courage and the will to power – power to the people, to the individual and to the true folk soul, the spirit in man. To never deny your convictions. No comply!
As for the “will to power” concept, as coined by Nietzsche, it does not mean “a desire for and of power” as – for example – the Nazis interpreted it, but rather a display of creative energy put to use. And a whole lot more. Also, Nietzsche’s Will to Power manuscript was extensively manipulated and falsely edited by his fanatically anti-Semitic sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Go figure.

Nietzsche says:
I do not speak to the weak: they want to obey and generally lapse into slavery quickly. In the face of merciless nature, let us still feel ourselves as merciless nature! But I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak.

It’s about respect – a word that’s been extremely worn out and lost its meaning a long time ago in the hip-hop community, where it is commonly used, thanks to soulless, mindless fucks praising the shit that flows on MTV.
Respect and rebellion. Evolution of the mind.

The PE symbol was engraved into my right arm by Mange at Evil Eye Tattoo, in 2001, I think.

To be continued…

>American Splendor

>Originally posted March 24, 2007.

Comics, that’s kids stuff, right?
Well, that’s what I thought as well for quite some time.
As a kid I was kind of obsessed with Spider-Man for some years, but by the time he’d went black I was out there riding my skateboard and listening to records instead. I guess I wasn’t into comics that much after all. I still find Spider-Man among the coolest of superheroes, though. He’s metal, you know, the way he shoots his net making the sign of Satan:

However, I didn’t quite realize that there were “adult” comics (except for the crappy “erotic” shit) until I got hold of some anime movies (which I bought from the drummer in Sator, by the way! This was in 1990…). Those movies made me rediscover comics in a way. But since the style still was that wild and crazy shit it didn’t make any lasting impressions. It was fun for the moment and then forgotten about.

In 2003 I saw American Splendor. Yeah, I’m one of those late losers who discovered Harvey Pekar through that movie. I really loved the film, so I bought Our Cancer Year, one of his and his wife’s comic books that they based the movie upon. And it fucking touched my soul, I tell you!

American Splendor is all about life, death and the things that matters – things and thoughts that at first may seem pointless, but after some consideration may turn into mindbending visions. It did for me.
I spent a lot of time thinking after reading Our Cancer Year, the same kind of thinking that may occur after reading a really thick, good book or seeing a mindfucking movie. I just love the way that a few strokes and a few lines can get your thoughts going.

Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff
. That’s probably the best and most accurate summarization ever, even though it’s become quite a tiresome cliché since the movie hit the charts.

Harvey’s life is drawn by a lot of different artists (Our Cancer Year excluded, which is fully drawn by Frank Stack), and that in itself makes this comic really interesting. Here’s just a few examples of how some artists perceive our man:

And of course I identify with Harvey. He’s just an honest and literate guy with a sense for politics and music. Him being a Jew and just being so goddamn tired of the exploitation of the Holocaust is a revelation. This strip is from 1994:

And the cover of The New American Splendor Anthology has the coolest quote:

When I was younger I thought about women constantly… I was always running around looking for a good time… Now I’ve matured, my priorities have changed. I’m aware of what’s really important: CRUSHING MY ENEMIES.

The fact that I discovered American Splendor so late bugs me. I’ve missed so much. Harvey’s been doing his comics since 1976! Bah…

Harvey Pekar – homepage and blog
American Splendor – The movie
A list of some of his comics

Other adult comics that’s touched my soul lately:

>The return……

>Originally posted March 08, 2007.

It’s been a long while since B-Girls got down.
T-Love said it, and she said it ten years ago. So where the fuck are all the ladies at? Being a woman in the rap scene is definitely not the easiest of tasks, but every once in a while it’s time for one of them to step up and shine.
I’m talking about MC’s who can rock the mic and spit lyrics that kill, and who’s got skilled producers to back them up.
We’ve got Lady Luck, What What, Sonja Blade, Leila K (!) and sadly not that many more (in my opinion and to my knowledge). Sure, there’s always underground female MC’s ready to pop, but they rarely show their skills. Too bad.
And please, don’t give me crap like Missy Elliot. She’s just super wack.
Lady Sovereign? Eh… Well, for fun maybe.
Lil’Kim? Hmm… Every once in a while. At least she’s portrayed really cool in this photo:

There’s probably some really cool female grime artists as well, but that’s not my kind of rap really, so I can’t speak about that.

So it was back in ´97 that T-Love made this super dope track Return of The B-Girl. She was supported by Kool Keith, one of the most sexist dudes in the whole rap industry, but also one of the very best. How awesome then that this amazing collaboration turned into one of the fattest hip hop joints ever.
Listen to the song and fall to your knees pissing. It’s that good.
Download the Return of The B-Girl mp3 here! Do it. Now.

And listen to the lyrics:

There’s a lot of girls rhymin on the mic with no direction
Don’t know why they flexin, forgot rules and lessons
The essence: beats and rhymes and shit
I’m about to show these bitches that I’ll die for this

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Sorry for the wack shit you slept through

Yeah, it’s been ten years of wack shit. Where are you now? Please, I’d love a re-return of the B-Girl. Hear me now, T-Love.


And get this book: