AESTHETICS OF HATE: R.I.P. DIMEBAG ABBOTT, & GOOD RIDDANCE
-- Time For Conservative Imagination!
by William Grim, Iconoclast Contributing Editor
You've undoubtedly heard by now that a demented fan last week killed heavy metal guitarist Dimebag Abbott at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. While I am extremely happy to hear that the assassin was shot to death by a brave Columbus policeman and I in no way want to engage in a blaming the victim scenario, I cannot deny that there much in Mr. Abbott's demise of one being hoisted on one's petard. The squalor, inhumanity, filth (both in the metaphorical and hygienic senses), depravity, ugliness and ignorance of everything that heavy metal represents (Like rap, I cannot use the noble term music in a description of heavy metal) creates a mindset among its devotees in which Mr. Abbott's assassination was an event that was all but waiting to happen.
It was highly amusing, and also terribly sad, to watch on television fans conducting a "vigil" for the slain Mr. Abbott outside of the Alrosa Villa. It was an assemblage of ignorant, semi-human barbarians who were filthy in attire and manner, intellectually incoherent and above all else, hideously ugly to the point of physical deformity. Here is a definite case in which the outer appearance of these "fans" accurately represented the hideousness of their souls. That the physical deformity of their ugliness was self-inflicted makes the spiritual tragedy of their misspent lives all the more tragic.
But one can see why the heavy metal fans so closely identified with Mr. Abbott. He was an ignorant, barbaric, untalented possessor of a guitar and large amplifier system. Freakish in appearance, more simian than human, he was the performer of a type of "entertainment" that can be likened only to a gorilla on PCP. Lacking subtlety, wit, style, emotional range and anything approaching even the smallest iota of intellectual or musical interest, Mr. Abbott was part of a generation that has confused sputum with art and involuntary reflex actions with emotion.
De gustibus non disputandem est. Matters of taste are not subject to argument. That has been a general principle of aesthetics for some time, and when we are talking about the visceral preference for Mozart or Haydn or Beethoven among civilized human beings we are on pretty safe ground. I do not understand exactly why I prefer Haydn to my good friend who prefers Beethoven. But we both agree (as do all civilized human beings) that both Messrs. Haydn and Beethoven are numerous steps further along the evolutionary trail than Dimebag Abbott.
Here is one area in which conservatives have failed and failed miserably. Whether it is out of a lack of interest or despair, conservatives for too long have ceded the entire field of aesthetics to the trust fund red babies of the blue states. And look at what this has brought us. So-called heavy metal music, so-called rap music, operas and stage plays in which modern "stagings" reduce Verdi and Shakespeare to the condition of a schizophrenic's finger paintings. Leftist domination in the visual arts has made a mockery of the aesthetic greatness of modernism and replaced it with the turd encased in Lucite. And the grammatically-challenged racist rantings of Amiri Baraka now pass for poetry.
However, we conservatives should not confuse family values with aesthetics. In the realm of art, our evangelical brethren have many crimes to answer for. When a church replaces Bach with Bacharach it has engaged in the aesthetic rape of the liturgy. Just because one has good intentions and approaches the numinous with "sincerity" and "authenticity" (the latter term ironically being a buzzword among the Marxist aestheticians of the Frankfurt School), that does not absolve one from aesthetic responsibility.
As far as I am concerned, those who advocate a dumbed-down liturgy and schlocky pop music substitutes for Bach, Handel and the masses of the Renaissance, are as offensive as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and his perverse sexual politics.
Part of the hard work of civilization is teaching young to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad in all aspects of life. If we teach our young children to obey the 10 Commandments and to obey the laws of the land, but don't teach them to realize that Johann Sebastian Bach is superior to Dimebag Abbott, we have failed as parents and mentors. If a person has gone through 12 or 13 years of education and has not developed an appreciation for the greatest artistic achievements of mankind, that education has been an utter failure.
While laissez-faire is the correct approach to economics it has no place in the realm of aesthetics or morality. A confidant civilization imposes its morality and aesthetics on it young people. Yes, you heard it right. We impose. The Rousseauian noble savage is a myth. Left unchecked and untutored the savage will never attain nobility.
There are those who will accuse me of elitism. And I admit it. I am a conservative elitist. I want the very best. The very best form of government, the very best of civilizations, the very best educational system, the very best literature and art, the very best music, the very best way of life. If I need open heart surgery I want to go to an elite heart surgeon.
Mediocrity is the goal of socialism. Americans should aspire to greatness.
In the past forty years, conservatives have won great victories in the political, economic and moral realms, but we stand to throw all our gains away if we do not reclaim ascendancy in the aesthetic realm as well.
And while the murder of even a semi-human barbarian like Mr. Abbott is tragic and to be lamented, it would be wrong to ignore Mr. Abbott's complicity in contributing to the soul-deadening culture of death, ugliness, depravity and inhumanity that spawned his killer.
Hugo von Hofmannsthal once remarked that "all powerful imaginations are conservative." It is time for conservatives to utilize their imaginations and reclaim the field of aesthetics from the left-that is, while there is still something left in the aesthetic realm worth reclaiming.
(Iconoclast contributing editor William E. Grim is a writer who lives in Germany and is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Please, voice your opinion and email that address. We can't let people sit here and stereotype all of us just because of one mentalcase with problems.