Sunday, 2 December 2007

Celebrity Nazis II

We first encountered the phenomenon of the 'celebrity nazi' back in September, when the much derided Victoria Beckham decided to compliment her pallid figure with a little grey number which seemed to pay tribute to the SS. And now, for the second time, the 'journalists' of the NME- whose symbiotic relationship with their quarry once saw the organ dubbed the New Morrissey Express- are trying to get the same mud to stick as was attempted fifteen years ago... with limited success. (Just for the record: I agree with every word he said.)

But whilst Morrissey is engulfed in a contrived storm of 'controversy', other artists can flirt with the iconography of the right and barely raise a murmur. The latest, least likely group to do so are the reformed Take That, whose comeback tour- which kicked off this week in Greenwich- has been described by John Aizlewood as 'part Nuremberg rally, part high school reunion.'

It demonstrates the law of decreasing returns that the last star to incorporate such candidly fascistic routines into his stage show was Marilyn Manson, whose 'Mechanical Animals'-era pomp and circumstance the TT boys have clearly been inspired by. When Manson did it, it provoked howls of outrage. Now, the public are so jaded, nobody notices.

'There's definitely ritual in music,' Manson said back then. 'It just depends if artists are smart enough to use it or not. Anything from a sporting event to a totalitarian rally to a rock concert has a lot of energy, which can be either chaotic or focused. When you focus it, it has a lot of power. A lot of people gave learned to do that over the years for evil purposes, whether it be Julius Caesar, Stalin or Hitler. Others, whether it be me, Madonna or Elvis Presley have used it for positive things.'

The symbol Manson paraded so prominently in those concerts was the international symbol for electricity; a clever decision by the singer, who could then claim- justifiably- that any offence generated was the result of significance falsely projected onto an entirely innocuous hieroglyph. Of course, Manson knew all too well its verisimilitude to the 'Sig Rune' popularised by the Austrian occultist Guido von List, one of the 18 so-called 'Armanen Runes' allegedly revealed following an 11 month state of temporary blindness after a cataract operation on both eyes in 1902. It was adopted by the SS in 1931; and the rock group KISS several years later- two of whose members are Jewish.

The resemblance is highly appropriate, because, in its early years, electricity was widely regarded as possessing occult properties, comparable to the workings of the Aether. Indeed, there is evidence that both its discovery and subsequent investiture were driven by occultism as much as by science; a matter to which we shall soon return. Theresa Duncan, the artist and reluctant conspiracist- who committed suicide earlier this year- was a student of the history of electricity in all its multi-faceted glory, as these surviving posts indicate. And interestingly enough, it was the same 'electrical rune'- or a variation of it- which the aforementioned Morrissey, used to ornament his 'Live in Earls Court' CD.


Michael said...

The electrical rune is also evocative of the lightning bolt of Zeus. Also used by the Flash - the "graphic novel" personification of Hermes, and Captain Marvel - ShaZam!

"Others, whether it be me, Madonna or Elvis Presley have used it for positive things"

Is it just me, or is the line between positive and negative (another electrical concept) being drawn ever thinner in these times?

BTB said...

Agreed Michael, the 'lightning bolt' is evocative of many things... All originating, I feel, in the descent of the kundalini: the creation of the 'God-man.'

I wholly echo your ambivalence about the 'positivity' of Manson or Madonna. (Elvis, on the other hand, I have a soft spot for.) I don't think you have to be a reactionary to dispute the achievements of a self-professed 'Antichrist Superstar.'