Full text of “Hideous Gnosis Black Metal Theory Symposium I” —Nicola Masciandaro 1 Copyrighted material HIDEOUS GNOSIS The great luxury of the genre. Ben Ratliff of The New York Times reports that “Hideous Gnosis”, a six-hour theory symposium on black-metal music, was held this past. Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory Symposium () ed. by Nicola Masciandaro.

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Preview — Hideous Gnosis by Nicola Masciandaro. Essays and documents related to Hideous Gnosis, a symposium on black metal theory, which took place on December 12, in Brooklyn, NY.

Blackened Notes from Schelling’s Underground. Remarks on the Politics of Black Metal. Black Metal and Ritual Renewal. E, Murder Devour I. Paperbackpages.

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Published first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Hideous Gnosisplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Dec 27, Patrick Sprunger rated it liked it Shelves: Hideous Gnosis does what is feared most: While it shouldn’t be hard to analyze black metal, justifying its more out of control elements is a huge challenge simply not met by this anthology of essayists trying to outdo each other with impenetrable analysis.

Naming the endless permutations of nihilism within the genre is as farcical here as the flagpole scene in A Christmas Story why not just comm Hideous Gnosis does what is feared most: Naming the endless permutations of nihilism within the genre is as farcical here as the flagpole scene in A Christmas Story why not just commit the social faux pas and say black metal is “triple dog nihilism” and end the farce? Trying to define “transcendent” versus “hyperborean” schools is nothing more than a way to help North Americans overcome their inferiority complexes.

Whatever the true reason North Americans are not the Norwegians’ peers when it comes to black metal is not explained, elaborate charts and technical diagrams notwithstanding. Predictably, there’s not a definitive answer. But thankfully, the theory that black metal is a pagan movement and not a weak excuse to be disrespectful toward others’ convictions remains a possibility and isn’t refuted by all the bad philosophy.

What Hideous Gnosis doesn’t tackle head on are the problems those of us who became interested in black metal as an aesthetic or artistic thing found when we investigated the substance beneath. Racism is the biggest problem in black metal. Cruelty to animals and misogyny come in close seconds and thirds.

The really violent escalatory spiral of one-upsmanship ended in the 90s; black metal musicians burn fewer churches and kill each other far less often today. But the danger of such a tensely ratcheted purity standard requires that new atrocious acts will be committed in the name of black metal. The cycle doesn’t just need to be slowed or arrested, it needs to be stopped. An it needs to be stopped affirmatively, not by atrophy.

Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory Symposium 1 by Nicola Masciandaro

Obviously a symposium cannot do this any more than a UN summit can stop acts of state sponsored atrocity – but a symposium is assumed to represent a meeting of the minds.


Even without the possibility of saving the world, a think tank is supposed to at least discuss what symposimu would do if given a magic wand. Alas, Hideous Gnosis doesn’t thsory so much of its collective powers of reasoning.

That’s not to say there aren’t solid points and good writing in Hideous Gnosis. Unfortunately there’s also really bad writing that thinks it can overwhelm with obscure citation where clear observation would suffice. Hideous Gnosis is like an anthology for an enigmatic fanzine, only the fanzine never existed, did not run a course, and didn’t change lives on its own merit.

Hideous Gnosis is publicity for a few serious thinkers and their Internet associates. It will not be standard reading for music or art students. America is far too much of a melting pot. We’ve all had a pagan tradition stripped from us somewhere back there.

And we’ve all had a foreign monotheistic religion imposed on us. But the actual pagan blacj is too far lost and too diluted to legitimately feel in ghost form. And even the way we experienced organized religion varies depending on where a person’s ancestry hails from. Most people in Scandinavia can trace themselves back to the pre-Christian people. Few people in North America can. That’s why we aren’t as mad at the Pope as the Norwegians and why we put deer antlers and owl feathers on everything.

The deer antlers are an abstraction where a mehal devotional icon is quite literal. For some reason, John K Samson did the same. But is it all a coincidence? Did all three sympozium come across the same writers through independent graduate study – or did Blacl stumble on a transparent pane in all this haute intellectualism? Did the metal guys read about Foucault and Derrida because of the same Weakerthans song?

Apr 11, Mike Keirsbilck rated it it was ok Shelves: The premiss of the book piqued my interest: A genre that has indeed some depth to it, but is always regarded as the retarded kid uideous the musical family. I hoped to gain some insights and to be able to recommend a good book when one of my favorite hldeous is mocked again. Hideuos enough, this won’t be that book. This book is supposedly the recap of a symposium on black metal, but it must have been conducted by some r The premiss of the book piqued my interest: This book is supposedly the recap of a symposium on black metal, but it must have been conducted by some retarded undergrads.

This is just appalling. Poor academic skills would even be an overstatement for the “research” conducted by the “scholars” in this book. One goes even so far as to alter quotes in order to prove his point. This is falsification and immediately absolves the entire symposium of any credibility whatsoever.

I’ve ended up giving it two stars because there are some less retarded kids talking too, and it contains the Liturgy manifesto. It has zero academic merit, and it’s very easily debunked, but if you like the band you might learn a thing or two about the band’s approach. Apart from that, this book is best off ritually burned. Apr 07, Gnome Books rated it really liked it. Part noble gesture towards the dark sublime peaks of ‘black gnoxis theory’, part academic foolery. For the idea of black metal theory to succeed, the prose hldeous theoretical thought will have to be actually infected with black metal lyricism, which occasionally happens in this text.


Aug 12, Gary Donnelly rated it it was ok Shelves: Firstly, I think that this tome was deliberately dense. I am a philosopher myself and I believe wholly in making things as simple as possible in order to make my writing accessible. Some of these papers seemed a tad too ‘ivory-tower’ for me, and, given the difficulties I had in ascertaining what some writers were going on about, I shudder to think of the struggles your average metalhead should face in trying to interact with this publication.

Secondly, the proof-reading and editing was seriously Firstly, I think that this tome was deliberately dense. Secondly, the proof-reading and editing was seriously substandard. I cringed at some of the mistakes and omissions. Not befitting of an academic collection.

That said, I find some of the reviews here a tad harsh. There hideoux a couple of articles that I read and dismissed as ridiculous the Hendrix article springs to mindbut the general aim of the Symposium I think is worthwhile – there is a cultural aspect to this music, on that we can all agree. Holding that thought, I particularly enjoyed the comparison of BM as a confessional or as an act of confession, the portrayal of depravity and the evils blak the human condition in some theoru of cathartic brutality played out in the live arena.

I am intrigued by this notion and will likely gnosix about it further. I actually didn’t know what to expect when I read it, but I guess if I had to hedge a bet, I thought gnsis would at least be some discussion around these controversial and contentious themes. All in all, some worthwhile endeavours here, but few and far between, and too oft sandwiched or buried beneath obscurities and assertions to bring any obvious meaningful discussion to the fore.

May 24, Katrin rated it liked it Shelves: By now I have read quite a lot about black metal theory, if that can even be called a thing. I must say that once again I did enjoy it, although some essays were really far from the main subject and again others really interesting and highly informative.

Academics have such a different approach to this. Some lose themselves sypmosium philosophical nonsense that – in my opinion ghosis misses the idea completely and again others really want to find a way to explain the black metal phenomenon.

Some essays capt By now I have read quite sympksium lot about black metal theory, if that can even be called a b,ack.

Some essays captured so well the essence of black metal and indeed found ways to give academic meaning to this art form, which is so much more than what meets the eye.

Dec 24, Headsink headsink rated it did not like it Shelves: Metal for me is like Zen, you must listen, headbang and the experience is Metal. Come on its a joke. Liturgy with ‘burst beat’ and high pitched guitar sucks! Their hipster image loathed me even worse. If Transcendental was double nihilism and they had inverse for the typical black metal ideas then why don’t thsory it White Metal?

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