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The Music of AC/DC Expresses The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.
I am no man, I am dynamite. Also, at the end I talk about the flip side of the archetype.
I’ve already said most of this in other articles, but let me try to organize this as best I can. Most of this will just be quotes from Friedrich Nietzsche juxtaposed with the music of AC/DC. At the end of the post I will go in a different direction.
What must be understood is that both Nietzsche and AC/DC are participating in an archetype. Carl Jung would call that archetype “Wotan”, also known as the Norse God Odin.
His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex. Odin is… associated with war, battle, victory, and death, but also wisdom, shamanism, magic, poetry, prophecy, and hunting.
Wotan is a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic. He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night. In the Middle Ages the role of the restless wanderer was taken over by Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, which is not a Jewish but a Christian legend. The motif of the wanderer who has not accepted Christ was projected on the Jews, in the same way as we always rediscover our unconscious psychic contents in other people. At any rate the coincidence of anti-Semitism with the reawakening of Wotan is a psychological subtlety that may perhaps be worth mentioning.
Wotan, at least when he is not completely understood, represents everything that Christians call “devil” or “Satan”. This is partly why Christian societies have so often persecuted Jews, who the Wotan archetype was projected onto. It is also why there is a deep mistrust between Nietzsche and Christianity. Nietzsche’s philosophy is basically incarnating the “spirit of Wotan” and Christians have a very hard time understanding it. They look at Nietzsche and can only see somebody who is evil or a liar. In fact, Nietzsche was among the most intellectually honest men to ever have lived. That made him, in his own words, “beyond good and evil”, at least from the perspective of conventional morality. For the most part, Christianity can’t accept that.
Carl Jung writes about Wotan in his commentary on “Thus Spake Zarathustra”.
Wotan is the noise in the wood, the rushing waters, the one who causes natural catastrophes, and wars among human beings. He is the great sorcerer. Quite rightly, the Romans identified him with Mercury—of course not as the god of merchants, but of sorcerers, of the people who go in the dark, who are surreptitious in a way, who are moved by dark purposes; and he is also the psychopompos, the leader of souls, the one that carries the souls into the ghostland, the god of revelation. Therefore one can say he is very similar to the Thracian Dionysos, the god of orgiastic enthusiasm.
In his essay on the subject, Jung says of Wotan:
He is the god of storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover he is a superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature.
My claim is that both Nietzsche and AC/DC are participating in this archetype, and that is why we see so many “synchronicities” between them.
I am also participating in this archetype, which is why I relate to a large extent with some of the music of AC/DC and the philosophy of Nietzsche.
For example, when I first started posting in my new style, I had to make a decision. It was a choice, but it didn’t feel like a choice. Or maybe it was. It’s hard to say.
Either way, I made the choice. And it felt exactly like this:
I was caught in the middle of a railroad track.
I looked 'round and I knew there was no turning back.
My mind raced and I thought, what could I do?
And I knew there was no help, no help from you.
Sound of the drums, beating in my heart.
The thunder of guns, tore me apart.
In fact, I feel a lot like Nietzsche did. He said:
I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous—a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.
I am no man, I am dynamite. That feels like this.
I said earlier that the “Wotan” archetype has been projected by Christians onto “the devil” or “Satan”. Nietzsche, too, understood that his ideal, which was the archetype of Wotan, would be called “devil” by most religious types:
Verily, you who are good and just, there is much about you that is laughable, and especially your fear of that which has hitherto been called devil. What is great is so alien to your souls that the overman would be awesome to you in his kindness. And you who are wise and knowing, you would flee from the burning sun of that wisdom in which the overman joyously bathes his nakedness. You highest men whom my eyes have seen, this is my doubt concerning you and my secret laughter: I guess that you would call my overman—devil.
Why did Nietzsche believe this? Because he knew that current world religions were all devoted to the “ascetic ideal”, in one way or another. The ascetic ideal is what “good and evil” look like from the perspective of conventional religion.
It looks something like this:
The ascetic ideal is a lie. Nietzsche knew it, and I know it. It is unlivable for pretty much everyone. Living according to its strictures will produce a weak, fragile human being incapable of withstanding the chaos of life.
Nietzsche was the “adversary” of the ascetic ideal. So am I. Adversary just means “Satan”, literally translated. It is literally the case that Nietzsche was the “Satan” of the ascetic ideal. So is AC/DC. And so am I.
Remember that Carl Jung called Wotan the god of “storm and frenzy”.
Nietzsche described his “overman” like this too.
“Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue? Where is the frenzy with which you should be inoculated?
“Behold, I teach you the overman: he is this lightning, he is this frenzy.
That sounds like this:
I'm a rolling thunder, pouring rain
I'm coming on like a hurricane
White lightning's flashing across the sky
You're only young, but you're gonna die
I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives
Nobody's putting up a fight
I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell
I'm gonna get you, Satan get you
'Cause if good's on the left, then I'm sticking to the right.
When I sat out on this “journey” that I am now on, I read a passage from Nietzsche that helped with my “decision”:
Thus spoke Zarathustra to himself as he was climbing, comforting his heart with hard maxims; for his heart was sore as never before. And when he reached the height of the ridge, behold, the other sea lay spread out before him; and he stood still and remained silent a long time. But the night was cold at this height, and clear and starry bright.
I recognize my lot, he finally said sorrowfully. Well, I am ready. Now my ultimate loneliness has begun.
Alas, this black sorrowful sea below me! Alas, this pregnant nocturnal dismay! Alas, destiny and sea! To you I must now go down! Before my highest mountain I stand and before my longest wandering; to that end I must first go down deeper than ever I descended—deeper into pain than ever I descended, down into its blackest flood. Thus my destiny wants it. Well, I am ready.
I knew that the decision I had to make would lead me deeper into pain than I have ever been. My life has had its fair share of pain, not that I’m complaining about that.
Alas, this black sorrowful sea below me! Alas, this pregnant nocturnal dismay! Alas, destiny and sea! To you I must now go down!
Down to the promised land.
Nietzsche called his ideal the “Caesar with the soul of Christ”.
In an unpublished note, he said that:
The will to power appears… among the strongest, richest, most independent, most courageous, as “love of mankind,” of “the people,” of the gospel, of truth, God; as sympathy; “self-sacrifice,” etc… as instinctive self-involvement with a great quantum of power to which one is able to give direction: the hero, the prophet, the Caesar, the savior, the shepherd… (Will to Power 776)
For Nietzsche, the hero, the prophet, the Caesar, the savior, and the shepherd share an identity. It is also clear that they share an identity in his ideal of the “overman”.
Caesar with the soul of Christ. The Caesar part sounds like this:
Properly understood, Wotan is just the “Great Father” archetype as it appeared in Norse mythology. “Furor” is the German word for “Father”.
That means the overman will also be a “furor”.
The Wotan archetype is, at least on the surface, antithetical to everything Western culture currently believes in. It is, for example, the spirit that drove the Nazis to commit their atrocities. This is one reason why Nietzsche is often associated with Nazi ideology, despite the fact that he would have despised the Nazis (as he despised all anti-Semites). I, too, despise Nazis, just as I despise all anti-semites.
Nietzsche said that his ideal was “Caesar with the soul of Christ”.
The “Christ” part is just as important as the “Caesar” part. Hitler was possessed by the spirit of Wotan, but not by the spirit of Christ. Nietzsche’s ideal was the synthesis of those “spirits”. The Nazis were anti-Semitic dominators who wanted to take over the world in order to promote the interests of their “race”.
At least at the moment, I would prefer that people of all races flourish. I would prefer that people not try to kill all the Jews. Nietzsche was the same way, although he was certainly not shy about talking about differences between racial and ethnic groups (and neither am I).
Nietzsche’s ideal was the synthesis of fascism and democracy, as strange as that sounds. His ideal was, truly, the “Caesar with the soul of Christ” and both parts of that ideal are important.
Anyways, that’s me. I’ve already made the claim publicly. I understand the consequences of making that claim. I understand that it can only be perceived as insane (or a lie), from the perspective of conventional assumptions.
But what can I do? I said in the fourth installment of my Nietzsche series that the best narrative representation of “overman” was William Wallace in Braveheart.
As he put it, I may be a savage, but I never lie.
Too bad I don’t have Mel Gibson’s luscious locks.
You can see me make the same claim in video form here:
Nietzsche was my prophet.
“I love all those who are as heavy drops, falling one by one out of the dark cloud that hangs over men: they herald the advent of lightning, and, as heralds, they perish.
“Behold, I am a herald of the lightning and a heavy drop from the cloud; but this lightning is called overman.
What a strange claim to make, huh? Like I said, the decision to make it was tough. But it wasn’t even a decision at all. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I still am.
I’ve chilled out a little bit since then though. Now it’s more like this:
If you can’t find something to laugh at in the absurdity of it all, you’ll never get it.
I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity—through him all things fall.
I am not solemn.
The “Great Father” archetype has been suppressed for a long time, but now I’m back.
That sounds like this:
Moving on, I want to talk about the “Great Father” archetype as it manifests in Christian mythology. In Christian mythology, that archetype is Jehovah.
Jehovah is, properly understood, the same as the Wotan archetype. In its “positive” guise, it is the archetype of the wise old man. In its “negative” guise, it is the archetype of the tyrant.
I want to use some narrative representations to make my point.
The wise old man appears in almost every hero story. It’s Old Ben in Star Wars.
It is Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.
It is Dumbledore in Harry Potter.
I think you get the point. It is also Wotan, in his guise as “the wanderer”.
It is also Jehovah, in his relatively early days.
It is also me. I’m just a young version of that archetype.
In that role, the artist Kid Cudi speaks for me. That’s not a joke or a metaphor.
It is literally the case that the music of Kid Cudi is speaking to me, for me, and about me. And I do mean me in particular, that is, Brett Andersen of Harrison, AR.
I actually believe that. Weird, right?
Let me show you what I mean.
The chorus of this song is precisely how it sounds in my mind.
The verses aren’t that far off either.
King Wizard. That’s the archetype.
Jehovah. That’s the archetype.
And from that perspective, you can call this:
And these are my rules.
From the old perspective, I am chaos incarnate. From the new perspective, I am Order incarnate. AKA The Great Father. Protective and Tyrannical.
Quoting from a blog post that did a good job of summarizing the archetype:
As with the Great Mother, the Great Father is a bivalent symbol. Positively, the Great Father represents structure and order. These are vital and adaptive accomplishments, personally and collectively. We need structure for both safety and security. We need norms and habits to regulate our lives.
And yet, if order and structure becomes totalizing the effect can be stifling, stultifying, and repressive. The Great Father can be a benevolent protector or a dominating tyrant.
-Flannery O’Connor, The Great Father as Protector or Tyrant
My benevolent, protecting side sounds like this.
My dominating, tyrannical side sounds like this.
In reality, I am simple. Tell the truth (within obvious limits) and don’t do anything you wouldn’t be willing to tell the truth about. Simple, right?
That sounds like this:
Don’t believe me? Right. I get it. It’s too unbelievable.
It’s not meant for everyone. In fact, I know that most people won’t really get it.
I’m not unrealistic in that way. Nietzsche wasn’t either. There are some, however, who will be able to understand. They probably know who they are.
Wake and listen, you that are lonely! From the future come winds with secret wing-beats; and good tidings are proclaimed to delicate ears. You that are lonely today, you that are withdrawing, you shall one day be the people: out of you, who have chosen yourselves, there shall grow a chosen people—and out of them, the overman. Verily, the earth shall yet become a site of recovery. And even now a new fragrance surrounds it, bringing salvation—and a new hope.
Like I said in recent articles, I am everything the left cerebral hemisphere fears. From its perspective, I am the dragon of chaos.
From the perspective of the right cerebral hemisphere, I am the new Order.
AKA Jehovah. AKA The “director of music”. Like a DJ.
You can read about me in the book of Psalms. My favorite number growing up was 4, mostly because Brett Favre was my favorite football player.
Not a coincidence.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
3 Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
4 Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the Lord.
6 Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us.
7 Fill my heart with joy
when their grain and new wine abound.
8 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
I am the Lord of the Sad and Lonely.
I can feel those lames, they love to speak my name.
As discussed above, Wotan was also a God of war. Jehovah, too, was a God of war.
Mars is the God of War.
Embrace the Martian.
See I must tell you all now. You keep on acting funny.
Who am me? I am here to change that.
This is how it sounds in my mind:
This is how it sounds in my mind:
You don’t like my music? You don’t like what I have to say?
Who cares what you think?
I never gave a fuck. Not really.
I guess if I was boring, they would love me more. I guess if I was simple in the mind, everything would be fine. Right?
Who cares what you think. In the end you’ll judge me anyways, so whatever.