Four Abrahams

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The Four Abrahams A Philosophical Discourse on Heavy Metal and Modernity Text and photographs®Lutz Alexander Keferstein Loyola University Chicago June 2004. Preface: Thy Kingdom Will Come Tortured souls have been set free taunting he who sits on high pray thy kingdom come… Morbid Angel “Thy Kingdom Come” In his Fear and Tremor Kierkegaard illustrates the three proposed stages of the individual by means of the biblical story of Abraham. Since the method used in his
    The Four Abrahams A Philosophical Discourseon Heavy Metal and Modernity Text and photographs®Lutz Alexander KefersteinLoyola University ChicagoJune   2 Preface: Thy Kingdom Will Come Tortured souls have been set freetaunting he who sits on high pray thy kingdom come…   Morbid Angel  “Thy Kingdom Come” In his Fear and Tremor Kierkegaard illustrates the three proposed stages of theindividual by means of the biblical story of Abraham. Since the method used in his textis, rather than a plain and faithful incursion in the story, a reconstruction of it through thedescription of all hypothetical scenarios, the reader cannot escape from a certain dosageof suspicion, which involves his conclusion of the leap of faith. In one way or another,Kierkegaard already knew the pious and graceful ending of the biblical narration.Abraham had surely all the possibilities of action described by Kierkegaard in front of hiseyes and inside his mind, but the laws of temporality that govern the human existencelimited him to the election of only one of them. He was limited to and by the conditionsof his own humanity. The number of possibilities does not mind at all. The decision wasmade, the action taken, and it will remain unchangeable for all eternity for it is now a partof a past long time gone, which will never come back. The effects of the otherhypothetical courses of action can as well only be hypothetical.Culture and its forms of expression are less limited than Abraham. As a sort of organic being resulting from the gathering of the works of its representatives, culture canwalk as many paths possible, simultaneously. Art and culture can live many lives at thesame time. It is actually conformed by these many lives. On the other hand, the advice of Kierkegaard’s leap of faith shows itself to be not so faithful; because it derives from factsseen in retrospective, it is easy to advice to follow the words of God from the standpointof the shelter of a certainty given by a past, whose termination is already known, and   3simply play with the “what ifs”, which will carry no further consequence than acomforting intellectual, perhaps cathartical, mental exercise. However, the developing of the decisions, actions and works of the representatives of culture, the creators, the artists,directs its eyes towards an uncertain future. In a certain way, both Abraham and the artistare in the search of immortality, of transcending the barriers of temporal and corporeallimitations; but in comparison the path of Abraham is quite secure. He follows hetero-imposed rules, furthermore, holy commands, whose obedience, in the worst case, wouldtranslate only in the rejection of society in exchange of his desired transcendence: eternallife in heaven; while the man aspiring to become an artist has to create his own laws if thegoal shall ever have any chance to be attained. The former has no responsibility beyondhis own actions, and even if he is to be negatively judged, it will only be so by thirdparties, who do not play a central role in Abraham’s life or generation of commands. Thelatter is, besides, responsible towards his nature, desires and capacities; towards theexternal and the internal; toward his self-imposed norms. He is not only the subject of more than one higher power, incarnated in the forms of art as a concept and stream as astyle; he also has to rise as a higher power himself, creating what gives him existence. Aconflict of forces impregnates the scene: the artist must reach flexibleness by offendingwithout desecration, transformation by destroying without annihilation, individualitywithin the whole.The real leap of faith is performed towards the future by the artist, in a worldconformed by art, which allows us, the public, to see the realization of all the possibilitiesin the past and the present; to witness these everlasting dialectic in the form not of a   4spiral, but rather in one of a spring, since there is no guarantee of the depurationsymbolized by the frequent recurred image of the former.* * *If Kierkegaard chose the story of Abraham to illustrate his inner tension to try toelevate it to a general state of the human, Horkheimer and Adorno chose the one of Odysseus challenging the myths as a symbol of the dialectic they saw in the culturalexistence of society. Kierkegaard proposed submission, remaining thus in the tradition of mythical thinking while modernity describes a rather evident struggle between thathetero-imposed dogmatism and the human tendency to defy it just to create his own formof dogmatic despotism under the light of reason.If metaphysical and logical principles are right, an effect has to be a reflection of the essence of its generator. Thus, if the dialectical man expresses through culture, andculture is the result of the works of man that conform it, these latter have to be a validsource of dialectical analysis; but dialectics is not as simple as two opponents facing eachother. The Ying and Yang are not plain and pure extreme sides of the reality; each one isimpregnated in its core with the seed of the other, and this seed –if there is to be themetaphysical logic necessary in such a concept – has to be its own side impregnated in itscore by the opposing side in a process that will continue ad infinitum . So in every form of art, in any stream of each of these forms, and in each work that integrate that streamdialectics has to be found.Music, thus, has to reflect that order of things, and within music each one of itsstreams. The rhythm of archaic drums was answered with the accords of sitars; thesolipsism of the instrument, with the communion of the group; basic compositions, with
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