Posts Tagged self-destruction

Dissecting CARCASS’ “Heartwork” – Second Incision…Carnal Forge

This is the second in a series of articles analyzing the lyrics from the 1993 Carcass album “Heartwork”.

The second song on the record “Carnal Forge” is one of the more lyrically challenging songs I’ve encountered.  When I first got a copy of the record, I sat there with a dictionary for an hour trying to figure out what on earth Carcass was talking about.  Jeff Walker is known for having a remarkable vocabulary and this song proves it. Unless you scored in the top one percentile on your college boards, you are going to need help with a few of the words he uses.  As a service to our readership with IQs below 160, I took the lyrics and clarified them a bit.

“Carnal Forge”

Multifarious carnage
(A massacre that takes many different forms)
Meretriciously internecine
(A vulgar, disgusting display of death)
Sublime enmangling steelbath
(A glorious, destructive bath)
Of escheated atrocities
(Of things lost to the State through terrible acts)

Enigmatic longanimity of ruminent mass graves
(Quiet graves that show a mysterious ability to suffer without sound)
Meritorious victory, into body-bags now scraped…
(A great win worthy of recognition that is shown by a high body count)

Regnant fleshpiles
(The authority and power of piles of dead bodies)
The dead regorged
(The dead shot out of their graves)
Osculatory majestic wrath
(A union of beautiful anger)
This carnal forge
(Human forms beaten and molded like a blacksmith working with metal)

Desensitized – to perspicuous horror
(No longer able to feel the awfulness of horror)
Dehumanized – fresh cannon fodder…
(Humans reduced to objects and killed on the battlefield)

Meritorious horror
(Something awful being praised for its greatness)
Perspicuous onslaught
(An obvious massacre)
Dehumanized – cannon fodder

Killing sanitized
(Murder in a way that is clean and neat)
Slaughter sanctified
(Murder made holy)
Desensitized – to genocide
(No longer capable of feeling what is wrong with mass murder)

Reigning corpsepiles
(Piles of dead bodies ruling over the land)
Death regorged
(Death shot upwards)
Sousing bloodbath
(Being drenched with blood)
Carnage forged…
(Bloodshed and death turned into something else)

In the cold, callous dignity of the mass grave…
(Respectful mass graves without feeling)

Multiferocious carnage
(Violence taking different forms and leading to a massacre)
Cruel, mendacious creed
(Evil, lying system of belief)
Sublime, murderous bloodbath
(Glorious massacre)
Of fiscal atrocities
(A massacre having to do with money)

Inexorable mettle in redolent consommé
(Unstoppable courage blended into a pleasant smelling soup)
An opprobious crucible of molten human waste…
(A disgraceful furnace of melting bodies)

Priapismic deathpiles
(Bodies piled up to the sky)
Infinitely regorged
(Endlessly shot upwards)
The smelting butchery
(A process of separating metals, a process of slaughtering animals)
Of the carnal forge

Desensitized – to pragmatic murder
(No longer feeling the horror of murder which is committed for practical purposes)
Dehumanized – into cannon fodder…
(Turned into non-human form and destroyed without feeling)

“Carnal Forge” is a searing study of the horrific nature of war.  The whole “war is bad” theme has been done to death in heavy metal, but through the use of clever language and Joycean puns, Carcass is able to breathe life into a hackneyed lyrical concept. The major motif in the song is the monstrous merger between mechanized and human form.  The effect is that the listener has a difficult time distinguishing between the two.  This melding of forms stresses the concept of dehumanization in an even more immediate way.  When Walker sings of “inexorable mettle in redolent consommé” he is giving the image of a soup made from mettle (courage) but also a soup made from metal (the human form turned into scrap).  “Fiscal atrocities” means the destruction of capital, but also is meant to imply physical atrocity (the destruction of the human form).  In these puns, we see a world where the lines blur between the animate and inanimate.  When this line is obliterated, so are we.  Our willingness to see humans as objects makes it possible for us to murder those who share our likeness.  It is in the Carnal Forge of war that our human characteristics are lost.

The ultimate irony of this destruction through desensitization is that it is so engrained in some circles that it is not greeted with horror.  Instead, it is celebrated.  Soldiers who return are feted with parades; those who do not are given dignified, stately memorials.  The dead do not care about these things.  They do not care about the flags that cover their caskets, they are not interested in the soldiers firing skyward in their honor, and they do not gaze proudly at their names etched into stone walls.  They cease to feel anything in the name of country or God or safety or resources or land or whatever-reason-was-given-to-them as they take their final journey into endless night.

There is no honor in death.  The dead only know coldness and silence.  Yet through a stroke of pure madness, many believe that the great wrongs that have been committed can be righted through ceremony.  The louder we shout our love for the soldiers, the easier it is to forget the great waste of life that has been sacrificed in our names.  Even the veneration of the dead is an act of objectification that makes future suffering more possible and even more likely.

Remembrance of their anguish does not wipe the slate clean.  It is not for them; it is for us.  A genuine act of contrition would be to create a world where massacres are entirely unacceptable, no matter who commits them.  We do not live in that world.  Instead, we live in a world where idle actions and traditions absolve us of our responsibility to stop the madness of war.

(Special thanks to Metal Matt Longo for his brilliant edit of this.  Thanks to his fine work this article is being simulcast by the good folks over at MindOverMetal.org.  Stop on by.  Tell’em Keith sent ya!)

To get to part 3 click here

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If I Never Hear It Again It Will Be Soon Enough: Clichés that Push Me Over the Edge

I've Got An Idea...Why Don't I Put An Attention Catching Photo That Has Nothing to Do With The Article On Top

“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.” –Salvador Dali

There are simply too many clichés in the world.   The language is filled with them.  It is hard to get through a conversation without hearing one or saying one.  Most of them started out as colorful ways to describe an experience and have, through years of endless repetition, become mildly annoying, harmless platitudes that move conversation along.  For some strange reason certain clichés make me extremely angry.  Most float through my mental filters without much of a struggle, but every once and a while there is one that disturbs me.  Since the chances of me actually getting legislation past to outlaw these incipit expressions are remote at best I have decided to address them in a constructive way, instead of quietly fuming about them day after day.  I have been compiling a list over the past few months of these along with descriptions of why they bother me in the hopes of understanding the pain that they cause me and hopefully inflicting this pain on others.  I have also included helpful sarcastic responses to confuse the cliché user and possibly prevent the offending expression from being used again.   So, as they say, away we go….

Cliché:  “Throwing the Baby Out With The Bathwater”

What kind of sick freak thought this one up?  As a parent of two small children, I find the idea that I might actually forget one of them and toss them into the river with dirt-ridden water to be entirely preposterous.  I get that the creator of this one is trying to make the point that whatever the person is doing is a really ridiculous thing, but what sort of lunatic would toss a baby out with bathwater?!?!  They are certainly tiny, but not nearly small enough to accidentally thrown away.  Maybe the person is an evil, malicious hater of babies, but this is far from the most efficient way of getting rid of them.

Appropriate Response:  Look down at your shoes shaking your head for one dramatic moment, then look up and shout “Well, it’s better than shooting it!”  Turn and walk off.

Cliché:  “I wear many hats”

AGHHGGHHHH!!!  I can’t even think about this one without seething.  Yes, I know it means doing more one role, but the metaphor confuses me.  Do they mean at the same time?  What kind of fool would wear 3 or 4 hats at once?  It would be stupid looking.  There have been a lot of asinine fashion trends throughout history, but I cannot recall a single fad that had anything to do with the person wearing a lot of hats at once.  Is the point that the person has multiple heads?  Am I meant to imagine the person in front of me morphing into a giant hydra like beast wearing a prefaded Red Sox cap, a turban and a Michael Coreleone style fedora?  More than likely, the person who said it wants me to see them as a beaming icon of capitalism and industry, efficiently moving from task to task, a vaunted leader one moment, a regular lunch pail working stiff the next, a person who can be all things to all people, a technocratic “renaissance man”, a proud beacon of all that can be achieved in a 24 hour day with a little know-how and a fist full of gumption.  I think I’d prefer the hydra.

Appropriate Response:  Vomiting on the persons shoes

Cliché:  “Give it 110 percent”

I am well aware that the test scores of American students in math and science have declined over the last 30 years, but the fact that Americans have no qualms about repeatedly asking each other to violate common sense and mathematical reason in this way is alarming.  As if this wasn’t troubling enough, the cliché inflation that has taken place is now taking place is insane.  During the 2010 baseball season, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said that pitcher Gavin Floyd would only pitch if he were at “200 percent”. 1972 Democratic Presidential Candidate George McGovern, the Godfather of Cliché Inflation, started this madness when he said he was “1000 percent behind” his Vice Presidential Candidate Thomas Eagleton seconds before he tossed him kicking and screaming off of the Presidential ticket.  Of course, none of this compares to the all-time Cliché Inflation champion Atlanta Attorney George Lawson who asserted that he was “a million percent certain” that his client, Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton, did not take money.  Where does it end?

Appropriate Response:  Give an overly loud, awkward pretend laugh, and then shout, “If I ever see you again, I’ll break both of your legs!” Turn and walk off.

Cliché:  “Too many Indians, Not Enough Chiefs

This one has started to fade into cliché obscurity for everyone except people who write those grotesque books that quote Vince Lombardi a lot and compare great managers to Ghandi and Napoleon.  It doesn’t get play in the real world anymore mostly because “too many indigenous peoples and not enough chiefs” really doesn’t have a great ring.  Here’s the larger problem…Chiefs ARE Indians.

Appropriate Response:  Look deeply offended and reply, “Are you trying to say that there are too many Indians?  What kind of idiot racist would make a claim like that!”?

I’ve got a ton more of these but I’ll save them for a rainy day.

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Reflections of a Wayward Blogger

Get to know the man behind the mask!

I’ve been doing this for three months and I decided, since the point of this blog for me is to better understand the mess in between my ears, to do a quick inventory of what I have learned in doing this. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this sort of exercise, but I figure I can indulge my narcissistic tendencies for a few lines.  If you are not one for eavesdropping on the self-reflections of a stranger, this is probably the column to skip.  In fact, this column is probably of no practical purpose to anyone except me.  I’m sure I could think of something to say where it could make it seem like I’m trying to present something of value to the human race and how we’re all the same in some ways and all of that, but it would be highly disingenuous and I haven’t the time or interest to bother.  If you can find something worthwhile in the next 900 or so words, more power to you.  Away we go:

1.  I really enjoy talking to strangers. I get a genuine buzz out of the reply part of the column.  I am really excited to see what people think of what I wrote and I like trying to synthesize their ideas with mine. I’m like a 17 year old waiting for the limo to show up on prom night every time I see one of those “Please Moderate Comment” messages in my email inbox. Getting a reply never fails to make my day.

2.  I’m a heck of a lot meaner than I thought. For a good number of years, I have functioned under the assumption that I was over the whole “being evil to people” thing.  I spent a good portion of my teen years and some of my twenties being downright cruel to others because I liked how the words I was saying sounded.  I had a notion that this was gone, but I have had a few moments where I felt bad blood boiling up to the surface again.  Sometimes, I get hooked into the rhythm of how things sound and forget that I am talking about another human being.   There are moments where I think I would probably throw my grandmother off a speeding train just to see if she’d bounce.  I’m not particularly proud of this aspect of my character, but it’s real.

3.  Sarcasm reads different than it sounds. I check in with a few of my friends who know me off of here to get a sense of how things came across on the page.  What is astonishing is that points I make that I think are obviously sarcastic do not always translate how I think they do.  How it sounds in my head is not always how it sounds in other people’s minds.

4. I have no idea what the reader is thinking. This could really be 3B, but I felt like it deserved its own number. There is a weird calculus that must be considered when writing to an audience.  You aren’t just thinking of the idea, but also what people will think when they read the idea.  Throw in the fact that I don’t really know a lot of the people who are reading my stuff and I get a sense that I am never really going to understand how things are going to be perceived, but I can’t help but to try to figure out what the reader is going to see in my words.  The stuff I’ve written that I liked the best is usually way different than the stuff other people have said they liked.  It’s a heck of a mystery.  What makes it somewhat frustrating for me is that in person, I’m halfway decent at reading a persons response and flowing off of that. In writing, I really am not sure how to do that yet and I’m not sure I’ll ever know or if it is even possible.

5.  I am terrified of repeating myself or writing a boring column. There are several things of written that I read and thought, “Wow!  This is horrendously bad.”  Mercifully, I have not included most of them on the blog (but there have been a few that made it).  The worst thing I feel like I could ever do to a reader is bore them.  I also worry that I am going forget that I used a line and repeat it in another column.  The second one is an odd thing to be worried about, but it wakes me up sometimes in a sweat.

6.  Speaking of blinding fear and panic…I am frightened I will run out of ideas. I don’t even want to write about this one because I’m afraid that the god of ideas will decide that to punish me for some earlier, unnamed transgression and the part of my brain that produces creative ideas will seize up like the engine in most any Ford that gets over 125,000 miles.  I now have even more respect for people who do this for a living on deadline.  I try to imagine doing this and attempting to be interesting for 300 or so days during the year.  The thought terrifies me.  I think I would sleep about 20 minutes a night and would probably end up in a padded cell scrawling the lyrics from some Beach Boys song in mustard on the wall.  Grantland Rice wrote constantly for over 50 years and barely ever wasted anyone’s time.  Isaac Asimov managed to knock out over 400 books.  I’m only three months in and I’m already doing the hackneyed “talk about myself and what I’ve learned” column.

7.  Commas are infuriating. I never know when to use them and they always seem like they are in the wrong place.

8.  Spell check will not catch sentences that are just plain awful. It only manages to catch spelling and grammar mistakes.  I have snuck some genuine garbage past its watchful eye without a hint of a squiggly green line.

9.  I am even more obsessive about this than I thought I’d be. I stayed away from doing this for a while because I have the type of personality where I get very, very into things.  I knew this would be an issue going in, but wow.  If my wife has to endure another dinner table discussion about potential blog ideas, I’ll shoot me for her.

Enough of this already.  I’ll try to get back to something interesting next time.  Maybe I can write about what I did on my summer vacation or an exciting tell-all piece about my favorite flavor of ice cream.

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Down With CMOBD: A Survivor’s Story

Digging my way out from mega despair

“You can watch them all day and never know why…”

-The Mighty Machines Theme Song

I’ve spent the last 43 hours and 12 minutes with a song from my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine video in my head.  The song is called “Accidents Can Happen” and, needless to say, it’s not very good. They tell you about a lot of things before you have a child, but they never seem to mention the debilitating effects of children’s music on the functioning of your mind.  There was a point in my life where I was able to have a normal flow of thought.  That time is over.  In less than four years, my mind has turned into a Ringling Brothers sideshow act.

There was a song on a Blues Clues DVD called “Bebop A”.  My 2 year old daughter spent the entire car trip from New Jersey to Atlanta screaming “BEBOP A…HEY, HEY…BEBOP A…HEY HEY!!!”  Once or twice is very cute.  Heck, 50 or 60 times isn’t bad.  But after a while, the stuff gets into your blood.  You can’t go anywhere or do anything without thinking of it.  It’s like graffiti on your cerebral cortex.  You zone out for a minute and there it is.  Over and over.  When you lay down and close your eyes in a 30 dollar a night Motel 6 somewhere in Southern Virginia and you see Steve from Blues Clues staring at you with that smug, goofy look shouting “BEBOP A!!!!” you really get how far gone you are.

There are three stages of CMOBD (Children’s Music on the Brain Disorder).  The first is a general acceptance of the song.  You hear the Clifford the Big Red Dog theme and you don’t think much about it.  You go about your life pretty much unhindered. Occasionally, you notice that you are humming it, but you are nothing more than slightly amused that you remember it.  This is the denial stage.  Maybe you’ve been hooked before, but you think…not this time.

The second stage is where you start to lose control.  It’s when the song starts to consume you.  It runs through your mind constantly.  Sometimes it’s just the chorus, sometimes it’s a just a phrase, but it starts to take over your life.  You are driving a car. Suddenly, you realize you are headed in the wrong direction on a highway. You realize you were singing the awful Aaron Neville theme to The Little People.  Something about how Aaron says “little people and we’ll always be friends”.  Perfect.  You are lost in it.

You are an air traffic controller and someone asks you  “What runway should we land that DC-10 on?”  You reply with a blank stare.  You were thinking about the music at the beginning of Dinosaur Train.   Hundreds of lives hang in the balance and you are thinking about dear old Mrs. Pteranodon.  You have lost all orientation.  You are a CMOBD zombie headed with a one-way ticket to destruction.

Then, there is the third stage.  Complete withdrawal.  Blinding rage.  Utter confusion.  You are angry at the world because they can’t hear what you hear.  You don’t care whether they understand you or not.  You know that there is no thought that is more important than the Teletubbies theme. You close your eyes and you begin to understand that the smiling baby inside of the sun is looking at you and only you.  You crave Tubby toast.  You start to feel angry that the Tubbies have spilled things again and forced the Noo-Noo into more backbreaking labor.  You can no longer distinguish the world from your own personal CMOBD purgatory.

Many recover, but a relapse is never far away.  A CMOBD sufferer need only here a few notes and the whole vicious cycle starts again.  The confusion.  The hysteria.  The shame.  There is no known cure for CMOBD but we as parents must be vigilant.  I have spent three and a half long years suffering from repeated bouts of CMOBD, but I have not lost hope.  I know that a brighter tomorrow is just around the corner.  Won’t you be, won’t you be, won’t you be…my neighbor.

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