Content Warning: Suicide. Death stuff. But I end on a positive note, I swear.
“Sweet lovely Death, I’m just waiting for your breath. Come sweet Death, one last caress.” That’s Glenn Danzig lyrics in the Misfits song “Last Caress” – at least, it’s every lyric that isn’t an admission to terrible crimes committed in pursuit of a violent end. I’m no music expert, but there’s something exultant in the sound, the way it’s sung, that just makes me want to sing. Is it in a major chord, contrasting with the descending punk rock ghost vocal style? Some scholar could easily explain it, I’m sure.
But besides the music, there’s the message. Singing of death as a thing of desire, like the central theme of Grave Pleasures / Beastmilk‘s oeuvre. “Death is beautiful, death is the meaning of life.” What do I find appealing in this? I suspect it’s the blasphemy.
Blasphemy is one of my earliest passions. Christianity got my motherfucken goat at a very young age, and as soon as I discovered hollywood-flavored satanisms at a later age (early double digits, and think it was the Tom Hanks Dragnet movie), I fell in love with it. To insult god and jesus, this is my highest sacrament. See that? I just heresied in my blasphemy. Fantastic.
The appeal there is complex and multi-layered. There’s iconoclasm – the joy of hating on something other people love, which is the primary appeal of Neil Cicieraga hits like Baby. There’s taboo – violating boundaries that others have set as “sacred.” But those are all negative and I don’t think my joy in blasphemy comes from a purely negative place. There’s something positive in staking out a place for godlessness in the oppressive atmosphere created by ameriKKKan xtianity. Blasphemy is absolutely as important to me as prayer is to jeezis people. I need it.
Back to the thesis, blasphemy is to xtianity as death is to life. There’s an obvious difference between jeezyism and life itself. One has intrinsic value and desirability, the other is an abject waste. So why would it feel pleasing to blaspheme against something that is actually good? Life has its downsides and they are pretty egregious. Danzig has another song from his solo career called “When I’m Tired of Being Alive.” That’s a thing that can happen. Everybody who is born will experience pain, suffering, disability, and a bitter end. Better to have never been born in the first place, for many of us.
But antinatalism – the rejection of procreation – can rouse jumped-up fearful reactions, even from otherwise reasonable people. It’s an ethically perfect proposition – create no humans, create no human suffering – but logic flies out the window when people are confronted with it. For the record, I don’t agree with antinatalism, because I don’t think logic should dictate everything we do, and I have a fanciful dream of the human species living and loving its way into some kind of golden future (after the millennia of unimaginable horror capitalism has guaranteed to us). But I can’t argue against its logic, and I understand that its most heartfelt proponents are people who have experienced far worse things than I have in life.
People have a similar reaction when somebody commits suicide. The rejection of the gift of life is personally terrifying. Some react with anger. I think that was part of my own process when Kurt Cobain did himself in. I was young. Suicide is sad, but to take it as a personal offense, or some kind of harrowing existential experience for yourself as a bystander? It’s irrational nonsense. It’s letting the fear of death make a fool of you.
Unlike crustyannity, life has great self-evident value, to the point one could argue it is truly sacred. When something is sacred, part of me just wants to thumb my nose at it. I’m not suicidal. I love being alive. But in a moment of embarrassment or humiliation, you may catch me saying “kill me fam” or similar things. In times of prolonged stress and difficulty, I may long for some kind of annihilation of the self, perhaps through drugs, or just getting knocked into a coma. But those are passing fancies, nothing in the face of my lust for life. Still, there’s something in it. A grain of a death urge.
There is a black hole at the center of the galaxy. There is a spinning cosmic abyss promising the end of everything, dragging us with invisible arms thousands of light years long. Step inside, lose all thought and all pain. It is inarguably cool, like a skeleton on a motorcycle with a sword in its teeth. Die. It’s fun and easy.
When you see people defending morbid interests, like true crime buffs, they sometimes invoke another idea – that looking upon death unvarnished can give you a greater appreciation for life. Maybe it’s something like that. Howling at the moon. I don’t know, but it does feel good.
At least until I’m looking at the real thing. I’m not one of those murderpedia/faces of death -type motherfuckers, or even a true crime bitch, because this shit only works at the level of the aesthetic. I’m an enemy of death in any way I can be, at the end of the day. It’s rather impertinent of me – death will ultimately take away everything that ever bothered me about life, and I should be more grateful. But I’m not.
I’ve been watching that Superman & Lois Lane TV show, and this season is about Lois Lane having cancer. Perhaps because I’m watching it in the middle of the night when my emotional defenses are worn down, I have gotten close to tears a few times. Why? Last year I had stage one colon cancer. Picked up several new abdominal scars, but never had to do chemo. Just had the followup colonoscopy and no new polyps. Fantastic. But I got to look at that motorcycle skeleton, and the real thing was not so fun.
Like Michael Hutchence said in New Sensation, “there’s nothing better we can do, than live forever.” Live forever, kids. And in the meantime, if you wanna howl in a graveyard at midnight from time to time, I won’t tell.