Happiness isn’t free, and it means war

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Think of this as a follow-up to my previous blog post. Let’s imagine that you have some semblance of happiness in your life now. Well, don’t think for a moment that it comes without a price. You see, you have to fight to protect that happiness, as there are numerous people who will try and take it away from you. From guilt-tripping to slander to outright sabotage, miserable and jealous people will use whatever weapons are in their arsenal to bring you down to their level. “Misery loves company” is not merely an expression; for the people who are miserable and negative, it's a declaration of war.

Paul Hudson, a writer for Elite Daily, wrote of miserable people that they are this way because “their thought processes have been molded to always see the worst of every situation. They manage to find the bad in any good you throw their way.” Moreover, “miserable people believe their lives suck, so they do their best to distract themselves from it. They drink, they do drugs. The problem is, they are trying to get away from something they can’t get away from. Reality isn’t a choice, it’s a state of existence. Trying to get away from it will only make you more miserable.”

Okay, so this tells us that miserable people are pessimistic (“glass half empty” types), and have - whether they realize or not, and whether they admit it or not - trained themselves to be this way, or in some cases, were even raised to be this way. Rather than changing their own way of thinking and their own personalities, instead they believe that there is “a secret escape hatch” from their misery, which usually results in drinking and drug abuse, or in the case of some people, sitting around like couch potatoes for hours on end, stuffing their faces with junk food and their minds with daytime television. Still, as negative as these people might be, you might ask, “well, how does that affect me?” Oh, it does affect you; they make sure of that.

According to Hudson, they “like to bring others down to their level, usually by pointing out everything they find wrong about a person. They want to see your reaction [to this], to see if your mood will be worsened in order to be up to par with theirs.”

But this goes far beyond just that. According to a separate article from LifeHack, miserable people “avoid any expressions of gratitude at all costs, and will always have something to be ungrateful about.” In other words, they will not be appreciative of anything you do for them, and in addition to trying to bring you down, they’ll add insult to injury by essentially spitting upon whatever good things you do for them - not literally, of course, but through their attitudes and actions. The article went on to say that they also “love to pick fights,” “they do things for personal gain,” and they “blame others and play the victim.” They will also “take any remark, comment, or opinion the wrong way and think the person is trying to insult or put them down. They believe that humiliation is at the forefront of most people’s intentions.” Finally, “they are envious of other people’s success.”

If you live with someone who is this way, it’s very hard to break free of the web of misery that they weave. Like the grip of a bear trap, the situation can be hurtful and inescapable. Just as with people who are narcissists, the best way to avoid the influence of someone who is miserable is to get out as soon as possible. Once you have done that, though, you could potentially be hunted. For you see, if you get away and you’re still miserable, then it’s all well and good, as far as the negative person is concerned. If anything, they’ll gloat over your misfortune, and temporarily convince themselves that “hey, now I don’t feel so bad about my own life!”

But what happens if you escape the “bear trap of misery,” and become happy? Well, that just won’t work for them. Miserable people are never happy to see others happy; they look at the prosperity of other people not from any altruistic point of view, but rather, from a bitter and jealous one. Thus, if they can, and whether they realize it or not, they declare war. It might start with passive-aggressive behavior. With social networks this is even more likely. They’ll make posts that essentially say, “Hey, look! Pay attention to me! You’re happy and I’m miserable! Feel bad about that! Feel guilty about that!” When this gets no response, they step up their tactics.

For a while, trying to get your attention will be the core of their game. In this way, they divert your focus (or at least try) from your own life, and instead get you to think about them, spreading their misery like a virus, even though you’re no longer physically near them. The pleas for attention might take on a harrassing or demanding nature, and might grow hard to avoid. Private messages, melodramatic status updates, phone calls, etc. If you succeed in rising above their agenda, watch out. This is when things turn nasty. They’ll start resorting to their old habits - vicious accusations; passive-aggressive statements like “you hurt me,” or “you don’t care about me”; cheap-shot insults and threats.
This can affect a person who is trying to be happy and positive, because by intruding upon your daily life with this barrage of assaults, they are reminding you of their own misery, and trying their best to share that misery with you, like a dirty syringe. Even the most practiced optimists and stoics might be negatively influenced by these actions. Don’t think yourself weak if you are. You’re strong, for coming even this far. Soldier on, though, because at this point, the battle is almost over.

I should add, though, that this type of scenario becomes even harder if you care about the miserable person. As someone who is both positive-minded and compassionate, your emotion could rise above your logic, and thus the temptation would arise to try and comfort this person, to make them feel better, to tell them that everything will be okay. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Don’t waste your breath. You could talk to them, console them, tell them that you care, even explain in the most careful and philosophic way why they are so miserable and spiteful, but none of it will get you anywhere. They’ll certainly enjoy the time and attention you’re giving them, because once again, you’re distracted from your own happiness and they’re the center of attention. But they won’t remember your words, they won’t learn any lessons from what you say, and they will have snared you once more in that horrible beartrap of misery. You might really want to try and help this person, but unless you’re a psychiatrist, you can’t. You have to let it go, and practice only communicating with them when they are polite, positive, and respectful to you and to your life and wishes.

And that is exactly what you do. When they say or write things that hurt you, don’t bite back. Don’t add more fuel to their tirades. Don’t keep the negative energy flowing. Instead, take away their voice. Make it so that they can’t communicate with you, can’t insult you or put you down, or inject their misery into your veins. Allow them no platform or playpen from which to spew their hatred and their jealous, resentful diatribes. Return that person’s voice to him or her only when he or she decides to play nice, and to cease being negative, attention-seeking, and manipulative.

If you can do this, or if you have done this, then congratulations. You’ve won the war. Be that much more appreciative of your own happiness and your own positive attitude, because now you know: it doesn’t come for free. You have to fight to hold onto it, and to prevent others from dragging it from your heart and breaking your spirit. Loving or caring aboout someone else does you no good if you do not love yourself. And deep down, this is the problem that lies at the core of every miserable pessimist: they don’t love themselves. A sad realization, but a harsh reality.

The architecture of comfort

Saturday, October 14, 2017

In striving for the goals of peace, happiness, and tranquility, I’ve visualized the concept of “comfort architecture,” or if you like, “comfortecture.” Here’s how it works: Think of happiness as a physical living space, with four walls and a roof. Each of those walls represents a particular element - or if you prefer, ingredient - that is necessary for the overall home to function.

The first of those walls is “necessity.” What do you need in life? This means different things for different people, as various individuals place different levels of importance upon different things. That’s totally fine. For some folks, owning furniture is not important. I literally knew someone who didn’t even own a couch! He had a few folding chairs, a small desk for a computer, and he slept on a wooden board, because he had back problems, and he believed this hard surface was better for his spine. He sort of had a bit of a “Zen Buddhist” thing going on, and I think his desire to own as few material possessions as possible was a big part of that. And you know what? That’s totally okay! Again, necessity is different, depending upon the person. Some people don’t want or need a large kitchen or cooking supplies, as they might prefer to grab fast food or go out to eat. Other people don’t consider electronic items (like TVs or computers) very important, while still others totally disregard books and have no need of a space in which to store them. To each their own!

And yet, you must have an idea of the things you do find necessary to live. There are some common denominators here. Electricity, heat, air conditioning, and even Internet access are typically regarded as life essentials. Unless you’re a homesteader or survivalist, those aforementioned utilities can be directly filed under the “necessity” category. For many other people, things like couches, beds, tables, and desks are seen as necessary. For me, it’s all of the above, though I place the first four utilities I’ve mentioned - and a soft bed to sleep in - slightly above the other things. So you’ve erected the first wall, which we’ll call Necessity. Now that you have the things you need, are you totally happy? You might be surprised to find that the answer is a resounding “No.”

Of course, it’s very possible to be happy with just that, but most people aren’t. Everyone strives for more, and I believe this is human nature. Which brings us to the second wall - “desire.” What do you want out of life? What do you crave or long for? Love, companionship, friendship, sex, and money are all common desires, but there are also myriad material wants that people have. An artist might want painting supplies, or drawing supplies, like shading pencils and a sketchbook. A musician might want various instruments, music writing resources, recording equipment, music editing programs, etc. A do-it-yourself home repairman (or woman) might want a large supply of tools and building supplies, in order to be able to construct or fix things in the home. And so on and so forth. So put up that second wall and call it Desire.
Now, what about balance? After all, you’ve got to keep yourself in check. Unlimited and unrestrained desire means spending a lot of money that you probably don’t have. Much in the same way, in terms of interpersonal relationships, being too clingy of a friend or partner, or being too sex-driven, or even being money-hungry, can become very self-destructive. That’s why you need a third wall that revolves around “balance.” This entails compromising with yourself, making smart and well-informed decisions, and not letting what you want override what you need. I’ve listed these “walls” so far in this particular order for a reason. What you need should come first, followed by things you desire, and then, that should be tempered with Balance.

So, if you’ve got those three things going for you, what more could you possibly still require in order to be happy? It’s called “stability,” and it actually doesn’t occur to most people; furthermore, some people never even get it. What does stability represent? Just as with necessity, it means different things to different folks. Basically, though, stability is that element in your life that gives you a sense of normalcy; the feeling of being able to function, be yourself, and not be under stress. It can be boiled down to the statement, “This is the environment, and these are the conditions, that I want to live in. This feels alright!” For some people, that means not being alone, or of always having some comforting or familiar sounds. For obsessive-compulsive people, it has to be much more specific than that, and for autistic people, even moreso. For myself, in order to feel “stable,” I need quiet, solitude, access to woods and/or nature, and a small space into which I can retreat and concentrate on things like reading, writing, listening to music, etc. So put up that fourth and final wall and name it Stability.

Necessity. Desire. Balance. Stability. We’re all finished now, right? Not quite. You’ve got your four walls, but with neither a roof nor a foundation, it’s not really a home, is it? So what might a roof represent? Well, let’s think about it. If you don’t have a roof over your head, you’re not protected from rain and storms, or the cold. Birds and bugs would just fly in and out of your home. The lack of a roof symbolizes a lack of safety. So let’s talk about “security.” I view this as being different from necessity, as total security is never a guarantee in life, nor is it a requirement in order to keep living - though it does help.

If you’ve ever lived in a rough neighborhood, say, with gangs and shootings (I have), then you know it is not really conducive to happiness. Your comfort might be infrequent at best. This also goes for living in an area where there is abject poverty, or which is prone to natural disasters, or where there’s a lot of organized crime occurring. I feel that in order to be totally happy, you have to find yourself an area to live that is not fraught with danger. I’m not suggesting that you sequester yourself in some little out-of-the-way neighborhood or village and cloister yourself from other people and the rest of the world (unless that’s what would make you happy!). Rather, I’m saying that having a feeling of safety plays a very important role in one’s overall satisfaction in life. So take those walls, put a big old roof on it and call it Security.
And finally, we have our foundation, what I consider the bedrock of any joyous and fulfilling life, and I call that “appreciation.” Some might also call this “gratefulness,” but to whom would you be grateful? If someone helped you out, that’s fine, but what I’m discussing here is simply being appreciative of what you have in life. This applies to everything I just mentioned above: having a warm bed to sleep in, or a light to turn on (necessities); having a good friend or partner, or a nice record collection or a SmartTV (desire); having the wisdom and foresight to be fiscally responsible and make good decisions (balance); feeling comfortable or at peace with where you’re living (stability); and not being the victim of violence or some terrible disaster (security). Appreciate all of these things. I believe that if you fail to do that, these things will feel hollow or empty to you. Having an honest appraisal of what you have - and a respect for it - gives everything else meaning. So stand upon that foundation and name it “Appreciation,” and now you have your house.

There’s your comfortecture. Everything in equal amounts, in perfect equilibrium with everything else. Happiness is never an absolute; there’s no assurance that you’ll have it, or that it will be whole. But if you have the opportunity, you should do what it takes to acquire the things that I mentioned, in whatever form they may appear to you. It may take struggle, it may involve getting through problems or pushing through hardships, but I also find that struggle begets wisdom, strength, and - once again - appreciation. In this world we live in, we are all builders, whether metaphorically or literally. People build relationships, they construct plans, they craft ideas. Although we might not know it, we are constantly constructing. The blueprints differ for each of us, but they are drawn and mapped out in our hearts and minds. In the end, we’re all just carpenters, waiting for the right tools to truly put our lives together. I’m trying to design mine the way that I want it, and so should you.

Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” turns 22

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I know that I’m a few days late of the 22-year anniversary, but on October 8, 1996, Marilyn Manson released Antichrist Superstar. This album, arguably the first - and some might say the last - true rock ‘n’ roll album of the 90’s, was more than just industrial metal, or as the media dubbed it, “shock rock.” It was a release that inflamed the conservative Christian community in the U.S., drew mass picketing from religious organizations, and incited politicians to actually try and ban sales of the album and performances by the artist. But while the history behind the album is important, these elements don’t come close to explaining why Antichrist was such a masterpiece.

The height of the Satanic Panic

That being said, before I discuss the actual album, background is important. For those of you who didn’t grow up in this time period, you’ve got to remember that the 90s represented the height of the Satanic Panic. This was before the recession, before the country was divided by race and politics, before extremism became normality, and during a period where warfare, terrorism, and privacy were not hot button issues on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Average middle-class American families were primarily concerned with dark rumors of Satanic cults, violent music, and the slow but sure death of religion as majority amongst the U.S. populace. This was all bolstered, of course, by the many televangelists who sought to drive up their ratings, back when daytime talk shows and religious programs were still taken seriously. When Manson emerged as the self-described “All-American Antichrist,” he made himself the prime target and scapegoat - intentionally so, but nonetheless, a mass religious and moral panic ensued.

Of course, Satanic music was nothing new. As a black metal fan, I can tell you that bands like Bathory and Mayhem were releasing music much more blasphemous than Manson’s as far back as the early 80’s, not to mention thrash bands like Slayer, with albums like Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood released during the same decade. And sure, Slayer achieved huge success during those years, with fans in NYC getting so into the music during a show in 1988 that they literally rioted. But Manson did what no bands had previously done, and brought Satan into middle-class homes, courtesy of TV screens and channels like MTV, where the song “The Beautiful People” was nominated for three awards. Antichrist Superstar also crawled to the number 3 spot on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell almost 2 million copies - in the U.S. alone. This was different; this was not like before. The All-American Antichrist, the God of Fuck, was topping the same charts as Phil Collins and Madonna. Unlike black metal, unlike even Slayer, Manson was firmly planting himself in the minds of parents, churchgoers, and politicians.

Picture it: Endorsed by the Church of Satan. Headlining the Dead to the World Tour - the most controversial of its time, when burning a bible onstage was still considered a shocking - sometimes even criminal - act. Tearing the Catholic Church a new one with the first song off the album, “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” with lyrics like: “I am so all-American, I’d sell you suicide. I am totalitarian, I’ve got abortions in my eyes. I hate the hater, I’d rape the raper. I am the animal who will not be himself.” It wasn’t only shocking to outsiders because of the lyrical content; it was all the more powerful because Manson was intelligent, philosophical with an eye for the occult, and most importantly, he was dead serious.
The album itself will never be topped or recreated, both in terms of musical quality and lyrical genius, especially due to the conditions under which it was recorded. Antichrist Superstar was recorded in New Orleans, a city notorious for its occult history (and I can attest that there is some dark energy in that place). The recording process included sleep deprivation, hallucinogenic experiments, drug use, necromancy, and self-mutilation, with Manson himself pushing sewing needles into his fingers to put himself into a perpetual mindset of pain and suffering.

Occult symbology and numerology

That torment is mirrored in the sonic carnage of songs like “Little Horn” and “The Reflecting God.” I’m a huge fan of all Manson’s works, but I’ve never heard any songs that topped the ones on this album, at least not in brutality or darkness. But the imagery of the album might even be deeper than the music. It is absolutely laden with occult symbology and numerology, as well as military references, sociopolitical critiques, and Biblical references (often perversions of Christian symbols or ideas).

The shock symbol, for instance (see image on right), contains Hebrew letters that spell “Leviathan,” a demonic name, and the red shock bolt in the center actually has a triple meaning (there’s no doubt in my mind that this was intentional by Manson, as multi-sociocultural commentary as well as a mockery of the Holy Trinity). First, the symbol is extremely evocative of the “SS” symbol used by the Nazis - this is an example of Manson exploiting people’s own fears and using the very aesthetics of fascism to criticize what he saw as “the fascism of Christianity.” Second, the symbol actually represents an electric shock warning sign used in some countries; in other words, Manson is saying that like an electrical device, this symbol has the ability to harm those who would not approach it with caution. And third, Manson is literally poking fun at the media having nicknamed him a “shock rocker.” Well, Manson says, here, quite literally, is your “shock” symbol!

Meanwhile, let’s talk about the numerology side of things. The roman numerals that appear on the back of the album (see above image) are IX (9), VI (6), III (3), and VII (7). When those numbers are multiplied by themselves, they equal 1134. When 1134 is read upside-down, it looks like the word “4311,” or “Hell.” The number 15 is also frequently used, which represents the 15th tarot card, “The Devil.” And the year in which the album was released, 1996, and the song of the same name, can be rearranged to look like 1666 - a significant year in and of itself. It was the year of the Great Fire of London, and it was also believed by some scholars that the “number of the beast,” 666, actually referred to the year 1666. It all amounts to fire, destruction, and rumors of the devil walking the earth. Manson knew this, and the lyrics to the song “1996” are a dead giveaway (no pun intended):

“Light a candle for the sinners, set the world on fire. ... This is where your faith is - 1996.”

Worm into angel

Beyond the symbolism of the work, Antichrist is also a concept album. The backstory focuses on a person called “The Worm,” who begins a transformation - represented by the metamorphosis of caterpillar into butterfly, here represented by “worm into angel” - of an abused and insignificant being into an epicurean demagogue who is nihilistic and disgusted with humanity. He begins a genocidal extermination of the human race, and the album ends with such Nietzschean statements as “when you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you,” and “when all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”  Note the lyrics to the track “Minute of Decay”:

“I’m on my way down now, I’d like to take you with me. A lack of pain, a lack of hope, a lack of anything to say.”

Antichrist Superstar is so powerful not just because it challenged the Church and organized religion in a more artistically powerful and intellectual way than any other musical work ever has (or will), but also because of the pure, unfettered, nihilistic, misanthropic apathy that is literally bleeding from the album. The utter blackness and hopelessness of Antichrist awakens something emotional inside the listener - and also within the performer. Manson himself broke down and cried while recording the vocals to the above song. Manson was not only an artistic, lyrical, and philosophic genius, he was also a prophet. Look around, and you can see that modern America, in the year 2017, represents that “Minute of Decay.” Our time is defined by nihilism and apathy, by self-hatred and self-destruction, and we are reaping what we have sown. In this age of technological advancement, equality, and “enlightenment,” we are truly learning, just as Manson said, that “when all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.” Antichrist not only predicted - and precipitated - the fall of Christianity, it also foresaw the death of America, and the transformation of the American Dream into a nightmare.
Music is always ahead of its time. Elvis was. The Rolling Stones were. Black metal was ahead of its time by regressing to an ancient time and an old way of thinking, but it was still ahead of its time. So, too, was Marilyn Manson and, specifically, this album. Spin writer Ann Powers once noted of the album, “So-called morality has repressed the human spirit to such an extent that only hate remains. Rock ‘n’ roll can metamorphose its practitioners into the embodiment of that hate, freeing them from the lie of a good society.”

A very happy birthday to Antichrist Superstar, the album that delivered irresponsible hate anthems to us, and thrust a middle finger in the face of Christ, just when we needed it most.

“Time has come it is quite clear, our Antichrist is almost here.”

Negative energy, (over)emotion and stoicism

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Though I did not realize it, I’ve unconsciously been practicing stoicism in my daily life for the past several years. Going forward, I’ll be practicing it intentionally. But what is stoicism? It’s a philosophy of personal ethics that was practiced by the Greeks and Romans, teaching that happiness is achieved when one lives in the moment, accepting things for how they are, and not being emotionally driven by things you can’t change. It also teaches to live in accordance with nature, rather than the overzealous passions and technological dependency that seems to drive our modern culture.

Let me put things more simply. Stoicism breaks down things that happen in life into two categories: that which depends on us, and that which does not. Things that depend on us might demand that we take action in order to change or fix them. However, most things in life do not depend on us, and these things should be accepted as they are, without triggering an emotional response. For example, we should not become annoyed or miserable if it rains and cancels some plans we had made, because we cannot control the weather.
Marcus Aurelius, bust from the Metropolitan
Museum of Art.

I believe the following quote is attributed to Marcus Aurelius*: “The stormy sea upsets my mind. Is it the stormy sea that upsets me? No, it is my judgment on it. It is not something that depends on me, therefore it is neither a good nor an evil. The stormy sea is only the stormy sea.” What Aurelius is telling us is that he has no control over the raging sea. It is entirely a product of nature, which shall do whatever it will, regardless of how some person feels about it. If he is upset about it, he must criticize himself, as essentially, the problem lies solely with him and his emotional response to this matter. Aurelius’s quote is good allegory for life, which brings me to my next point.

There are so many negative people in the world today. I mean this not as an insult, but rather, a critique of how people deal with issues in their own lives. Compare, for instance, these two people: Person #1 steps in a puddle, and is immediately upset. He or she complains about how they ruined their nice shoes and/or pants, and now considers his or her day to be thoroughly ruined. Person #2 steps in the same puddle, but simply shrugs and continues with his or her walk, pausing only to contemplate stepping in the puddle as a generally unpleasant experience, but not having any melodramatic emotional reaction beyond that. He or she enjoys the rest of the day. Person #1 is a negative person. Person #2 is a positive one.

The latter solution (that of Person #2) is rather a simple one, but you’d be surprised how many people will have the former reaction. It is increasingly common in today’s world for people to moan, groan, and complain, pulling in negative energy, which, if you believe in the law of attraction, makes them even more miserable in turn. And as you know, misery loves company.

I offered the example about the puddle because it’s based on a lesson that I myself learned one day. I was living in West Milford, New Jersey, a rural town with rather spotty bus service, and there was a pretty big rain storm going on. I was all the way up on the mountain at a friend’s house, and I missed the last bus going back “downtown.” So I had to walk back in the rain, on the side of a road with no sidewalks, where there was minor flooding. Water was soaking my sneakers and pants, and I really wasn’t having it. I was cursing, yelling, complaining, etc. My friend happened to be with me, and he told me that there was no point complaining; I couldn’t control how the buses ran, could I? And I certainly couldn’t control the weather. Better to make the most of the experience, rather than get emotional and grumble and be a negative person. And he was right.

As Epictetus** said, “What is to be done? To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it naturally happens.” People today are often generally unhappy because they do not follow this principle. One can see how the road to madness is paved with a lack of acceptance. You can drive yourself crazy when you’re stuck in a less than desirable situation, and you keep asking yourself, “What if I had done this differently? What if this didn’t happen? Why did this have to happen?” Similarly, you can ask yourself questions that I feel many working class and middle class people ask, such as, “Why can’t I have/make more money?” or “Why don’t I have more friends?” or “Why don’t I have more free time?” Meanwhile, these people are not accepting their present situations, and thus, not taking notice of all the positive elements they do have in their lives. Thus, through lack of acceptance, comes lack of appreciation.
I love animals. They’re natural stoics. Take the white-tailed deer - the ones you see here in America. They don’t know or care that their natural food sources are being depleted, due to the presence of invasive plants, or that many of them are starving due to overpopulation, because their natural predators, the wolves, have been purged from U.S. forests over the course of a hundred years. They don’t stop living or being mastered by their instincts because one of their own dies or is killed by a hunter. They don’t change their behavior because they have less food for this winter than they did during the previous one. Often, what is instinctual and intuitive for the animal, is also correct for the human being.

The second big part of stoicism is to not be driven by your emotions. It is about making the choice to exercise logic and reason over the kind of needy, overemotional actions that drive children and immature people. While I don’t believe that people should fully rid themselves of their passions (as that would not be in line with my other belief, Satanism), I do believe that this should not be the driving force in one’s life.

Look at people today - almost everyone you see is acting emotionally and making choices based on those emotions. You see folks on Facebook, or even in work places, who are literally maddened over what is happening in the political world, getting red-faced and delving into heated debates with others, pounding their chests and emphasizing their emotional need to make their point or express a belief in some current issue. These people are, to use a more earthy term, getting their panties in a bunch over a political matter that is likely beyond their (individual) control, and which will not change, no matter how angry or frustrated they get, or how much they cry over it. Politics is just one example, but it’s the best one.

It's not psychologically healthy for people to act this way, and it’s no coincidence that the rate of mental illness and dependency on pharmaceuticals is increasing in America. It’s also no coincidence that intellectualism is vanishing in today’s society. People are letting themselves be driven by emotion, as well as a lack of acceptance. The minute that the slightest thing goes awry in their lives, they flip out. Stoicism is something few people today have the patience, the will, or the intellect to put into practice, but those who can and/or are willing, should. Stoicism is very conducive to moral and ethical behavior, virtuous and courageous approaches to everyday problems, and perhaps even more importantly, patience and appreciation. Those are two things our modern world needs more of, don’t you think?

* Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor. His writing, commonly called "Meditations," includes an excellent series of quotations on Stoicism, of which Aurelius was a practitioner.

** Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher and slave in Rome, whose teachings were passed down and published by his pupil.

Technology is a chain around society’s neck

Friday, September 8, 2017

Much of our modern technology is destroying civilization, and harming the world. “But wait,” you might say; “Aren’t you a hypocrite? You’re using technology (a laptop and Internet) to make this blog post! In fact, you live using technology just like everyone else!” It’s true that I’m just as dependent upon “modern tech” as the next guy. I have come to rely on my computer for writing, researching, browsing the Internet, and even for watching films and playing music. I need my smartphone for my job, and I’ve grown rather attached to the camera and some of the apps; I really like being able to “check in” on Facebook from wherever I am, or immediately share a photo or post something about an experience I’m having somewhere.

But am I hypocrite? No. I reject such criticism. A lot of technology is harmful to us, but I - just like you - depend upon it in some way. And because of how modern society is dependent upon technology, and because it has become the artistic, communicative, and informational medium of our time, I must use this technology in order to convey ideas, express beliefs, or say anything that I would like people all over the world to be able to read. Hence, this website. But blakedeppe.com is not a thing of nature, or something organic.

I created this website using a service provided by a corporation (Google). I accessed that service by having Internet, which, currently, is provided to me by an Internet company (Optimum). I am able to access that Internet because I own a computer, which I did not build, but rather, which I purchased on Amazon, and which was made by Dell, and physically manufactured by people whom I will never meet. I am able to use the computer whenever I choose because it is powered by electricity, which is provided to me by the electric company. I’m able to enjoy the benefits of that electrical service because I live in an apartment that is not owned by me, in a building that has been built on property that I also do not own.

There are at least eight degrees of separation - probably many more - between myself and blakedeppe.com. I’m using this as an example because I find it to be a good representation of society as a whole; we are separated by numerous degrees from everything we do in life. Most people are not autonomous anymore. Technology is not inherently synonymous with the fall of autonomy, but it has played an enormous role. We no longer know how to hunt/catch or cook our own food, or how to build weapons (or even simple tools). Most cannot even tell time without access to a clock, watch, or phone. People have forgotten the histories of their own towns and communities, fallen away from the culture and practices of their ancestors, and lost their connection with the organic world around them, now experiencing nature only through degrees of separation - and often vicariously, through photos or videos on social media. Technology has withdrawn our creative spirit, erased our individual self-sustainability, and, in many ways, bound us hand and foot to the Great Machine, a catchall term I use for social networks, corporations, and those in the shadows who pull the strings.

Industrial farming has replaced hunting in all but the most rural of areas, making entire nations dependent upon the mass torture and slaughter of livestock and unlinking our once-interpersonal relationship with the meat that ends up on our plates. As such, a man or woman no longer requires the hunting skills of his or her forebears; those traits which a hunter-gatherer lifestyle had once deemed necessary, like bravery, discernment, and patience, are diminished at best, and banished altogether at worst. Thus, modern man becomes that much weaker.

Online websites - and let me just preface this by saying that I love being able to order things from Amazon at the click of a button - are now replacing physical stores. Physical stores themselves were once independent family-owned shops, which then were bought out by larger stores owned by corporations, which then were themselves assimilated into larger store-chains owned by megacorporations, slowly severing our relationships with merchants and manufacturers, degree by degree, over the course of time.
Now this process has reached its logical conclusion: we buy physical items from a mass aggregator of megastores that exists somewhere in cyberspace, delivering payment facilitated by intermediary digital services like Paypal. And, by the way, Paypal is connected to your bank account, to which your credit card is connected; that’s three degrees of separation from the very manner in which you pay for something! To say nothing of the actual digital currencies that have popped up now, like Bitcoin. Accordingly, one can no longer physically touch or examine an item before purchasing it, or speak directly to a merchant. Elements of our true natures, like curiosity, analysis, and personal interaction, go out the window. Modern man becomes that much weaker.

These are two glaring examples, and I can list many more, but will refrain from doing so for the sake of brevity. But you can see the problem. As we take part in the great “march of progress,” and “advance, technologically,” we are regressing as a civilization and as a species. This downward spiral continues on its trajectory, ironically enough, the more we “move forward,” technology-wise. In the long run, a human being with great potential dwells in a sub-human state of dependency, ignorance, ungratefulness, and laziness, dumbed down as modern tech does the working and thinking for him or her, and motivated only by greed, boredom, an increasingly shortened attention span, and a desperate need for instant gratification (in the case of social networks like Facebook, this need often manifests itself as a plea for attention). We have made ourselves sick - physically, psychologically, and, if you believe in this sort of thing, spiritually.

But don’t worry, Apple is going to come out with the new iPhone 8!

It isn’t fair of me to criticize all this, however, without also humbling myself and letting you all know that I honestly have no idea how to correct any of this, or how to heal people or the world. I’m just a human being, who was born into a modern era, and who in many ways must simply make do with things as they are. I have to admit, also, that I like a lot of it. I like being able to grab an Uber and instantly get somewhere. I like being able to message anyone in any part of the world online; to have that kind of connection at my fingertips. But I recognize the problems with these and other aspects of modern life.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ascribe to any sort of cynical or defeatist philosophy. I just know, pragmatically speaking, that there are things in this technological age that we can change, and things that we cannot. I don’t foresee myself breaking free of the Great Machine’s “chain” any time soon, but there are also things I can do to ensure that I do not completely forsake my autonomy. I can create things; I can write a book, or draw or paint a picture, or take a photo, or learn how to build something. I can exercise my mind and my imaginative and innovative nature, and nurture those traits that are so often diminished in today’s society. You should too. Don’t sit idly by while humanity sinks lower and lower. Exercise your brain like you would any other muscle - and don’t forget to exercise your body, too! Smartphones, Uber, and Amazon should not be used as excuses for laziness and apathy! Sometimes, a simple walk can be enough to lift you out of a sour mood and make you feel as though you are in control - because in that instance, you are.

There are so many things in this life, now more than ever, that we have no control over. As for those aspects of your life that you can change . . . make sure that you do.

Everything we are doing is wrong

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I’m disappointed. Annoyed. Slightly apathetic. A little angry, even. I currently live in a small town in New Jersey, right near the Lincoln Tunnel into New York. This state is, in many ways, much better than Illinois, and in every way, better than Chicago, where I lived for about 6 years. But I still live in America, and this country is falling apart; slipping into an abyss of immorality, degeneracy, stupidity, ignorance, cynicism, and narcissism. It’s at once both Orwellian and Fahrenheit 451; it’s the logical conclusion to a volatile mixture of Christian dominance, capitalism, environmental destruction, intellect-shaming, and unrestrained liberalism. But America is just a symptom. The sickness itself is modern society.

I’m tired. I’m tired of an education system built solely on preparation for college - an institution no longer based around education but focused on political indoctrination and forced adherence to the popular social sentiments of our time, resulting in nothing but unemployment, debt, and levels of brainwashing that would put MK-Ultra to shame. The years leading up to college, meanwhile, give this new generation nothing beyond socialization and participation in sports (often by peer pressure, whether one likes it or not). It isn’t only this generation. My own generation, the “Millennials,” includes people who can’t hold a pen or pencil properly; who can’t sign their names in cursive; who can’t or who are too lazy to discern the difference between “then” and “than,” or “too” and “to”; who know nothing about world history, or, for that matter, the history of their own country; who can’t point out a state on a map or tell you where the Panama Canal is; who know the latest pop and hip-hop artists but know nothing of classical composers; who are taught to do everything via technology, and nothing that involves getting out into the world and seeing and physically doing things.

I’m tired of more homes, and condos, and skyscrapers being built - cities continuously expanding and encroaching upon the lands that Nature called home first. (This is particularly awful when there are empty homes already throughout the country, while the homeless population grows.) I’m tired of oil drilling wreaking havoc on the lands that Native Americans knew how to respect and preserve, and which the animals, and birds, and trees, and insects, call home. Tired of our rivers and lakes and oceans being poisoned with oil and other forms of pollution. I’m tired of everything in this sick civilization being centered around technology and “progress.” It only takes eyes to see that our need to be attached constantly to our phones, and always near city streets and strip malls and highways, is regressive, not progressive. It is damaging us deep within. It’s ruining our ability to be one with the natural world and the natural way of things. We are spreading our filth and our ignorance across the planet.

I’m tired of people sitting on Facebook, feeling false senses of moral outrage over problems they contribute to, or acts that they perceive as injustices because the lack of modern morals inhibits their abilities to discern between right and wrong. People arguing with one another merely to pass the time, or to force-feed their opinions - often by way of mob mentality - to others who hold minority views or beliefs. People desperately looking for validation via angry or provocative status updates, because they themselves are self-hating and doubtful of their own beliefs. People snapping selfies in bedrooms or trolling people from their basements out of sheer boredom. People desperately waiting to know what the latest celebrity gossip is because they need to vicariously experience life through actors and musicians, rather than go out and make something of their own lives.

I’m tired of people dismissing out of hand the old world religions that our ancestors believed to be valid, while monstrosity religions like Christianity continue to hold this country in a vice-like grip of hypocrisy and false morality. Catholic churches continue to be useless, repeatedly violating the separation of Church and State, and lacking any responsibility to pay taxes and at least contribute to the economy.

Friends, I am surrounded by enemies. My enemy is the man or woman who tells me that I must pay $60+ per month for service on my cellphone, just to stay connected and preserve my place within my job and society. My enemy is the Christian who looks down his nose at me and mocks Satanism, while he himself worships a symbol of death. My enemy is the government that makes it very difficult to get close to nature, the woods, or the wilderness unless I can afford to own or drive a car, leaving me trapped in filthy, degenerate, violent and ignorance-ridden cities. My enemies are the trendsetters, who tell people what is “hip,” and “cool,” rather than what music, or film, or book comes as natural inclination and enjoyment to the consumer. My enemy is the Presidential administration that won’t pay workers decent wages, creating stagnation, misery, and poor service, and further contributing to homelessness. My enemy is the system that censors free speech, encourages witch-hunts of those who express unpopular ideas, and polices the Internet.

Everything we are doing is wrong. We should be banding together and bonding over our differences. Instead, we’re at each other’s throats because we hold different political views, have different beliefs (or lack thereof), and we belong to different cultures or subcultures. We should be getting back to nature and doing our best to help it grow, and to undo the environmental destruction we have caused. Instead, we’re all spilling into the cities en masse, squabbling with one another, filling up trains and buses, spreading our litter all over the streets, creating disease, engaging in shallow activities that don’t contribute to our intellectual or spiritual growth, and building more and more walls between us and the natural world.
Most everyone you’d meet today can tell you how to use Snapchat, or where the nearest Apple store is (I don’t mean fruit). They can point you to a Starbucks, they can download apps, they can call Ubers, they can name the latest Nicki Minaj songs. They can describe the latest drama developing between this or that celebrity. They can joke about the newest memes or popular catchphrases (“cash me outside, how bow dah” and other such treasures of the English language). They can bellyache over the latest perceived societal injustice, or contribute to the slander of some person or celebrity who said or did something not in line with the status quo. They can ask Google anything!

They cannot build a fire. They cannot tell you where a certain star constellation is in the sky. They cannot tell the time based on the direction of the sun. For that matter, some cannot tell the time on an old (pre-digital) clock. They can’t write in script. They can’t tell you what type of bird it is that you see in that tree over there. They can’t tell one country from another on a map. Some can’t even point out their own home state on a map. They can’t understand the meanings of basic words like “indignance” or “empathy.” They misuse other words, like “ignorance” (it doesn’t mean “stupidity”), or “discrimination” (which simply means making a distinction between two or more things). They can’t use a gun, or catch a fish. They can’t go to a library and properly research a subject, in order to form an educated opinion about a historical, moral, or societal matter; instead, they Google something, read a few paragraphs from a multitude of sites that don’t cite credible or academic sources, and spout off poorly-formed opinions based on presumption and ignorance.

Nothing is going to change if we keep moving “forward.” Because our compass is broken (moral and otherwise). We think South is North, and North is South. And most people no longer know how to use a compass, anyway! Look, the only way to move forward is by holding on to values and knowledge. When you go on a trip, you don’t drop things out of your backpack along the way to lighten the load. You carry it with you. We haven’t done that. As a society, we’ve dropped things on our respective paths, replacing it with trash we find along the way. No one can heal this civilization, this country, or this planet overnight.

For the time being, the best thing I can tell you to do is to be a better human being yourself. Inform yourself, connect yourself to nature, honor your forebears, enrich your life, and expand your mind. This is what I try and do. Don’t try and be like everyone else. Do what you in your heart know is right. I’m tired and I’m irritated with what is happening in this world. But I’m not giving up. Neither should you.

Black metal, witch hunts, and crybabies

Thursday, August 31, 2017

If you, like myself, are a metalhead, and moreover, a member of the black metal “scene” (for lack of a better term), then I’m sure you’ve heard all about the MetalSucks v. Hells Headbangers drama by now. If you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher: MetalSucks, an ironically named tabloid-esque site that covers mainstream metal and crackpot gossip, accused Hells Headbangers, an extreme underground metal record label/distro, of releasing and distributing “Nazi propaganda.” MetalSucks said this “is unacceptable to us,” as if their opinion on the matter is somehow law, or as if anyone of consequence actually cares about said opinion.

The Right and Wrong Things

This is in line with what MS has done in the past: exploit real social or political issues in order to draw more visitors to their site and make themselves seem relevant. In this case, they used the recent events in Charlottesville (i.e. drama between neo-Nazis and Antifa, etc.) to do so. It’s not surprising. MS, like many news publications, groups, organizations, companies, and people in general, are trying very hard to say The Right Things, support The Right People, and send The Right Messages, up to and including The Right Jargon and The Right Popular Social Sentiments of Our Time. In an age where, if you say the wrong thing, infringe on someone’s “safe space,” accidentally let slip a “microaggression,” or “trigger” someone, you could get blacklisted, lose financial support, be publically denounced as The Wrong Thing, and essentially have your life ruined. Welcome to 2017, folks.

Let me clear a few things up. I don’t support Nazism in any of its forms (neo- or otherwise). My grandparents lived in what is now Slovakia, in a small farming community that was invaded by Nazis during World War II. An old castle there was obliterated by them (indeed the ruins are still there), and my grandfather was put to work by the Nazis, being forced to do things like haul dead bodies around. Nazism as a philosophy, political ideology, or even as a teenage “rebellion phase” is repugnant and wrong, and should stay in the past where it belongs, along with KKK violence and similar prejudicial bullshit. That being said, black metal is not inherently connected with Nazism in any way whatsoever.

This is a matter that is very confusing for those on the Outside. I capitalize the word “outside” because black metal, as a music genre, is by nature exclusivist, isolationist, and esoteric. It’s not exclusivist on any gender or racial basis, mind you, despite it facing a lot of criticism by Outsiders as “white people music.” If you don’t believe me, go check out the black metal “scenes” all across South America, and in Japan.

But I digress. Black metal confuses people, particularly because of its aesthetics, which include militarism. Thing is, though, most of that militarism is based around the music, which itself has a militant, battering, almost disciplinary type of sound. Unless a band actually declares itself to be NSBM (National Socialist Black Metal), chances are that military aesthetic is not connected to any real-world or political ideology. In fact, the majority of black metal is apolitical - inherently, if not deliberately. It has more to do with spirituality, occultism, nature, and sometimes fantasy, than any sociopolitical matter. NSBM, by the way, is a certain small subset of black metal, just like there is white power punk music, or whatever it’s officially called. I don’t support it.
Opposed to Right-Hand-Path religions

Black metal is also controversial because it is critical of Judaism. It’s import to discern that this does not stem from anything racial, but rather, the fact that black metallers are opposed to Right-Hand-Path religions, like Christianity, like Judaism, like Islam, and accordingly, it challenges those beliefs on a spiritual level. If there is a coherent ideology that a black metal band espouses, it is a religious one (that of Satanism), not a social or political one, and there are neither inherent nor deliberate racial implications involved. Phrases like “fuck your God” can apply to any one or all of those aforementioned religions. Don’t like it? Don’t listen to black metal. It isn’t intended for those who cannot stomach the controversial, the violent, or the chaotic.

MetalSucks further demonstrated its ignorance of black metal when it called for Hells Headbangers to “stop participating in the spread of hate.” Almost all black metal is in some way connected with hatred in some form. Black metal is hateful. It is hateful toward white-light religions, toward modern society, and especially toward Christian “values,” like martyrdom, “turning the other cheek,” and, perhaps most importantly, hypocrisy. You can’t have horror films without blood and killing, and you can’t have black metal without hate and violence. It is a part of the art form. And it is art - not a manual for real life. Or would the naysayers lead us to believe that because Friday the 13th features killing and butchery, the viewers are supposed to go out into the world and hurt people? Go to a black metal show and take a look around. You’ll see people supporting the bands, supporting one another, and generally enjoying the show. A baseball game is probably more violent than a black metal show/ritual.

This shouldn’t require an explanation, nor should it require justification, particularly in defense against the people criticizing it - from a place of ignorance, to boot. I don’t think people would really have given that MetalSucks article the time of day, had it not been for the ripple effect it’s been having. Recently, Lucky 13 Saloon, a goth/metal-themed bar in Brooklyn, cancelled an appearance by the band Nyogthaeblisz, on the basis that they would be “offensive.” Peste Noire were prevented from appearing at Blastfest in Norway and the Sinister Howling Fest in Germany. Bands like Inquisition and Marduk have repeatedly been attacked, their appearances and their fans attacked, criticized, and discriminated against out of some delusional belief that they are remotely connected to fascism or neo-Nazism - which they are not. This is rapidly escalating from a small metal site whining about a record label, to a full-blown witch hunt, the likes of which we haven’t seen amongst the metal community since the Satanic Panic back in the 90s.

Thought crimes and demands

Back to my original point, though, which is that MS should not be attacking Hells Headbangers in the first place. As a business, HH reserve the right to support and sell whatever bands, artists, and labels that they want. Bear in mind also that some bands or music projects whose artists might have discriminatory ideologies, like Burzum’s Varg Vikernes, are not themselves NSBM. (If you think Burzum is NSBM, or that Varg’s lyrics are in any way directly promotional of NSBM, you’re woefully misinformed.) But really, no defense is needed here. HH is a company that is trying to promote underground artists and sell their merch. They don’t care about what ideologies a particular band may have, and that’s their right.

If you don’t like something that a band is espousing, don’t give that band, or its members, or its label, your money. And don’t give them attention, share them, or recommend them to anyone. It’s that simple. People have the power and the right to do that. But you don’t have the right to accuse bands, record labels, distros, or even people of “thought crimes,” and tell them what they can and cannot believe - even if it is something hateful, and even if it is unjustifiably hateful. There’s an old saying that goes, “The freedom to swing your arms ends where my face begins.” And what that means is, you can openly criticize someone (non-violently), but you cannot demand or command them to do as you say or to agree with your worldview(s). That’s not just legal advice, it’s a fact of life.

Furthermore, dragging the names of bands through the mud, when those bands have put years of blood and sweat into what they do, and especially when those bands aren’t even remotely connected to the neo-Nazism or fascism you’re attacking them for, is beyond ignorant, and is, ironically, in itself hateful (again, hypocrisy). I’ll also add that approaching something, or even criticizing it, from a thoughtful or analytical perspective is all well and good, but simply complaining about it and demanding that things go exactly the way you want them to, makes you look like a big old crybaby. Most of the people contributing to this anti-black metal shitstorm are self-proclaimed “activists” posting angry Facebook comments from the comfort of their parents’ basements. Soldier on, you brave keyboard warriors!
The wrong genre to attack

Now, let’s talk about real lines of defense. Black metal fans are just that - music fans. However, in choosing to throw stones at black metal, the Facebook “activists” and thought-police have chosen the wrong genre to attack. Black metal has a long and brutal history that includes murder, suicide, church burnings, and rituals. Black metal will not bend or bow, it will not conform to your standards, it will not align itself with the policies or social norms of modern times. Black metal is ugly, violent, chaotic, anti-modernist, dark, and conducive to those frayed minds that exist on the very edges of society.

If you want fun, if you want something catchy, if you want something hip and modern and cool (whatever that means), stick with your mainstream music - your pop and rap and hip-hop and club music. If you want something with important social messages, with songs about life problems, and lyrics about challenging “the establishment” and other political issues, or even about dressing or acting a certain way, or being against “conformity,” listen to mainstream metal - there are plenty of good bands out there that cater to what you’re looking for. But black metal isn’t it. It’s something else entirely.

In closing, I’ll include a paragraph from a very thoughtful and well-written article on Decibel, which partly inspired me to pen this blog entry: “Metal doesn’t owe us allegiance to our viewpoints. What metal is to each person is unique. It is we that owe allegiance to metal for all that it’s given us - amazing music, a great community, and cool t-shirts with the devil and shit on them.” When it comes to metal, “we’ll never agree on everything, and we never should. But we should all agree that metal rules because it has no rules. Let’s keep it that way.”

Welcome (back) to my blog

Sunday, August 6, 2017

So, I’ve had this blog for about three and a half years now. I’ve since deleted all my old posts, as I felt that it was time to start fresh. Without further ado, let me introduce myself for those who might not know me.

I’m Blake Deppe, a writer who also uses the pen names Blake X and Blake Skylar. I’m originally from Jersey, and after spending about five years living in Chicago, I’ve moved back to my home state, where I now live with my girlfriend and two cats in the town of Weehawken. I’m an introvert who enjoys the Great Indoors, I have heritage that includes Slovak, Italian, Austrian, and Circassian, and as of this past Friday, I’m 28 years old.

I’m a Satanist and a self-designated student of the occult, and yes, that aforementioned belief is a religious one, so don’t mistake me for an atheist (nothing against them). I’m really fond of nature, to the point where I really wish I lived closer to the sticks. Forests, nature, hiking - I get immense joy from all those things. I’m a cat person, not a dog person, but the canines are alright, too.

I’m a writer who is currently working on an epic fantasy novel, the first in a series. No pressure, right? In the meantime, I also write professionally for an online news publication, but my main job there lately is that of production management - basically, I help put up the home page each day. This includes editing and proofreading articles written by others, and then posting and promoting them on the website. It’s a big duty and a lot to be in charge of, but I take it in stride and I strive to be dedicated and efficient. While I wouldn’t say that journalism is my calling by any means (I want to write fictional stories), I would say that it’s taught me a bit, and won me two awards. With article writing, I primarily focus on the environment and culture (movie reviews, mostly).

I also love a good drink. It started out with an enthusiasm for wine, which I still have! Beer is great, too. And Jack and Coke. My girl has since turned me on to a bunch of different mixed drinks, so that trying a bunch of new things and even preparing drinks are both really appealing to me. I highly recommend the Irish Trash Can - ½ oz of gin, ½ oz of vodka, ½ oz of light rum, ½ oz of peach schnapps, ½ oz of blue curả«ao, ½ oz of triple sec, and an 8 oz can of Red Bull. I like to substitute the plain vodka for peach-flavored (Three Olives is good), and I leave out the rum altogether, since that’s the only thing that I don’t really drink.

I’m also really big on music. Black metal, first and foremost. You’ve got your classics (Bathory, Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, etc.), you’ve got your vicious spiritual black metal like Watain, modern USBM (local bands like Lord of Depression [Illinois], Goat’s Grave [New York], Infernal Sacrament [Illinois], and Gamaliel [Massachusetts]), so on and so forth. Black metal is a huge part of my life, and for me, it goes hand in hand with occultism and spirituality. But that’s not the only music I enjoy. I can also appreciate many other genres of metal, as well as classic rock, alternative rock, southern rock, folk music, some country and bluegrass, some electronic music, and classical music.

I like movies, particularly horror films, mob/crime films, and superhero movies (I lean toward Marvel). My top 5 favorites are The Devil’s Rejects, Pulp Fiction, American Psycho, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, and From Dusk ‘Till Dawn. A few close runner-ups are Goodfellas, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

I try and keep myself busy with things that expand my mind and represent good usage of my time. I have plenty of hobbies including reading, writing, drawing/sketching, having/making drinks, watching movies or shows (especially Game of Thrones), going for walks or hikes, traveling (when I can afford to), listening to music, and spending time with my partner and our cats. I also want to take up painting and go deeper into my occult studies. I collect good books, black metal tapes, and band shirts, though my girl and I have also agreed to start a DVD collection.

So now you know a little bit about me. I intend to write blog posts on many of the subjects that interest me, and which I’ve listed above. Though I can’t promise I will write on a super-regular basis, I will definitely try and get something fresh up here as often as possible. Also, don’t be surprised if certain entries take on a more philosophic, complex, or intentionally professional manner of writing, as opposed to the casual approach I’m taking now. Different topics demand different writing styles, and changing up my style now and then helps me grow as a writer.

Watch this space. There’s more to come.