Monday, July 9, 2018

Critical Mass For The Envelope

Since the dawn of music, movies, and film,  people have been trying to get to the extreme edge of expression.  

Society itself usually provides the method of reigning it in, whether it be mild watchfulness or censorship, it doesn’t matter. The outside layers get pushed further and further out over time.

I think we may have reached critical mass.

Maybe I’m talking about the door that was opened by punk in the 70’s and the metal and grind core blacksmiths that wandered through it that have brought us to the brink with black metal. 

Perhaps I mean the dark corners probed by cyberpunk and splatter authors that exacerbated and maybe even blasphemed the pathways laid by Stephen King?

Of course there’s the awful rough edges of film created by filmmakers I won’t mention by name here.  Their stuff is not the material of mass marketing, but I know who they are and what they’ve done and cannot understand them.  It seems as though they want to drag the awful into the light so you can stare at it like Malcolm McDowell at the end of “A Clockwork Orange”, while they grin at the hideousness they have wrought.

What is the purpose of the exposed flesh these musicians, writers, and filmmakers have birthed?

It’s possible to flash the dark angles of the soul to express your anger, your pain, your frustration.  Those pieces of night, when bared, are definitely supposed to let folks know that there’s a layer to you that they should be sad for, feel the anger associated with, perhaps even be wary of. 

Those moments that the author, the creator, allows to flicker, do indeed shock because they are of themselves and by nature limited. It’s painful because its unsustainable. The expression of sadness, anger, sorrow, yes, even hatred can be beautiful when its measured. When you prolong it, it becomes something else. 

It becomes ugly. 

It becomes cruel.

It becomes Evil.

The raw, ripping music of The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Misfits.  The words of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, and Joe R. Lansdale.  The filmed brush strokes of John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George A. Romero.  These were the extremities of my youth, my roots, where I came from.  These were the hard edges that kept me up at night….

Yes, there are numerous moments in all of their accomplishments that are disturbing, disgusting, and painful to behold.  Those moments are surrounded by great beauty however, even if its just in the way the works are constructed or machined.  When the darkness comes, it tears at your heart, makes you leap, perhaps even reel back on your heels in shock.  The reason for that effect is because they are layered among the existence of other possibilities, and therein lies the art, shining is the beauty. 

I do love how I’ve seen all of these creators of legend being a direct influence on many artists today, so perhaps the apocalypse is not near.  That being said, I also see an outpouring of music that is 100% shock value, with vocals that sound like someone belching into a drive-thru speaker, writers that only merely sprinkle plot among the bloodshed, filmmakers that seek only to exploit the very base vile actions that humanity can perpetrate.  Like Stephen King himself said about one of his own short stories, they have "no redeeming social value".

Yes, it is a sort of critical mass.  Due to the pure monstrous id of what these folks have created, the others with a story to tell, a song to sing, a visual painting to create, can no longer be seen as “the edge”.  It's because the envelope the true artists pushed has been set alight by those who want to only disgust.  The edge hasn’t been pushed, it’s been leapt over, screaming and flailing, without a parachute.

It’s a shame, really.  I’m one of the lucky ones, having done enough research to know where those that dwell in the dark have displayed their work and choose to avoid it.  The world is dark enough on its own. Especially in these awful, multi-level monstrous days.  The true shocks, the startling moments of the soul, are best experienced when what exists around them actually provides them the strength and meaning they possess. 

I choose to take my darkness where it actually accomplishes what it’s supposed to. 

In the light.

And sometimes, in well designed darkness, the light has power too.

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