One of the most divisive acts in metal, Burzum set a high water mark for the musical and artistic side of the genre, and brought to the surface the philosophy underlying it. As a result, Varg Vikernes – the sole member of Burzum – remains controversial, and with controversy, comes an unwillingness to understand what he actually believes.
As with many intelligent people, it's not clear that what he believes is what he wants to believe. If I hear a bang when I'm driving, and look over my shoulder to see my car's axle bouncing down the freeway, I may not want to believe I'm due for major repairs. It may even remain my opinion that it is not so. However, if a clear-eyed look at the facts implies that such is the case, I have to stop worrying about what I believe and start looking at the reality of the situation.
Whatever the case, when we talk about Burzum we are speaking of one of the bands that renovated black metal from amateurish banging noise to an elegant and transcendental artistic movement. We are also talking about the band that raised the bar so much that most new bands, seeing they could not compete, reverted to the hack 'n' slash mentality of early punk and rock bands. Clearly Burzum is not only an artistic, and philosophical, but psychological watershed for metal.
Modern black metal, starting in about 1990, had its roots in both death metal and the black metal of the early 1980s – namely, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer and Bathory. Since modern black metal sounds a bit like Bathory and Hellhammer crossed with some kind of short avantgarde classical piece, we turn to Varg for enlightenment:
HM... main inspiration must be Waffen SS. Influence is classical, barokk, folkmusic, romantic music (Wagners "Der Ring Des Nibelungen" for example) and techno. – Interview with Genocide Zine, 1997
I am able to see the link between classical music and some metal music. – Interview with Doomish.com, 2004
I listened a lot to Bach, Grieg and Beethoven at the time, and put in some old Bathory as well, and I think I have mentioned them all. – Interview with Scream Magazine, 1996
He has other influences as well, most notably Dead Can Dance and Kraftwerk:
When it comes to music I can recom- mend Software, Das Ich, Der Todes King (soundtrack), Goetes Erben, Hlidskjalf (Lidskjalw), Nacht und Nebel, Thule, When's Death in the Blue Lake and The Black Death, Coil's Hellraiser and so on. Darkthrone, Im- mortal and Burzum should be obvious. – Interview with Sounds of Death Magazine, 1995
If I could listen to music now I would have listened to Das Ich ("Die Propheten"), Tchaikovskij (especially "The Nutcracker" and "The Swan Lake") and other classical music, Dead Can Dance ("Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun"), The Uppsala Jesters (that is; "Juculatores Uppsaliensis" or something like that), Goethes Erben, different house- and rave music, Jean Michelle Jarre, Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Russian folk music, old German and Soviet marches, some opera and possibly some metal music that I have an "emotional time" to - like Paradise Lost (some songs on "Lost Paradise" and their demo tape from 1989 or 1990) and Burzum. – Interview with Doomish.com, 2004
If I could listen to music though, I would listen to - apart from folk music and classical music bands like 'Das Ich ', 'Goethes Erben', old 'Kraftwerk', and some other electronic music I guess. – Interview with Burzum.com, 1998
On the metal side of things, Varg's tastes are varied but not many, at least that he mentions.
"For sure Bathory were important, but I wouldn't say the same for Venom. I never enjoyed them very much. Still, I have to quote Celtic Frost, but only the 'Morbid Tales' album, since their other LPs don't appeal to my taste like this one. You should know that when both Burzum and Immortal began to play, their main goal was to compose very simple music, disregarding the trends of time, the pseudo Techno-Death Metal bands. Therefore Destruction were a perfect example to follow. Another great influence for us was Bathory's 'Blood, Fire, Death'. They were actually the very first extreme Metal act I used to listen to after the Thrash Metal boom." – Interview with Terrorizer Magazine, 1996
But what's really revealing is his source of artistic inspiration – and direction:
My source of inspiration comes mainly from dark woods, caves, magic and sorcery, but of course Mayhem, Thorns, Darkthrone, all of Bathory, Hellhammer, old Kreator, Celtic...etc. influences me alot either I want it or not! – Interview with Orcustus Zine, 1992
"I must say I'm not at all interested in any modern form of art, I hate contemporary art, besides a certain kind of Norwegian nationalist and romantic painting with wonderful and sad nature subjects." – Interview with Terrorizer Magazine, 1996
None of the above are shocking. In fact, Bathory also had a root in classical music:
I began to listen to classical music shortly after forming BATHORY, and from 1985-1986 it was all I would listen to. I had been playing various types of rock in various constellations since 1975, so picking up Wagner, Beethoven, Haydn and others really broadened my musical awareness extensively. The motif signature naturally comes from the world of opera. – Interview with Quorthon
This gives us an interesting view of this music that combines metal, progressive rock, electronica and classical in its list of influences. Even more is that the classical artists listed are from the Romantic period for the most part (with some modernist and Baroque), that Varg idealizes "Norwegian nationalist and romantic" art, and that inspiration is from typical European Romantic sources such as "dark woods, caves."
We live in a time when discussing the ideas that Varg routinely speaks of in interviews can be dangerous. If we get labeled as anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian or worse yet, racist, we could find it hard to get jobs, have friends, meet girls or may even get in trouble with our local police or have violent political groups coming after us! So we simply observe and see what Varg has actually said, versus what the media has paraphrased him as saying:
I think the growing disregard for the environment, culture and heritage is a natural consequence of capitalism. When people care more about profit than the world they live in that is what happens. Capitalism in the "Western" world in turn is just a natural consequence of Christianity, because Christianity created a spiritual void when it ousted Paganism, and all that is left is materialism and a religion with no meaningful contents. The Christians often kept the Pagan festivals, rituals and symbols, but they no longer have any real meaning....All of this has been lost with Christianity, and without any contact with the spiritual reality and our divine origin, so to speak, we are left with only the base physical world. We no longer have any purpose in life, other than to wander randomly on Earth and become (physically) wealthy and live comfortable lives, and I don't think all that many men or women really find that very satisfying - save perhaps the extremely shallow and egoistic people.
This spiritual void has become an even bigger problem due to the fact that there are six billion people living on this planet, and almost all of them are doing their best to accumulate as much goods they can possibly get their filthy hands on. Also we see that the "Western" capitalists try to export their wealth and system to poorer countries. Not to help these countries, but to create a new market for their own goods. They basically just want more consumers.
This will be an even bigger catastrophe to the environment the moment China and India become wealthy, because our planet cannot take another 2.4 billion capitalist pigs driving polluting cars and buying essentially meaningless consumer goods all day long, seven days a week. We have problems enough with the I billion capitalist pigs we already have (mainly in the USA, Europe and Japan). And what will happen when the world population reaches 9 or even 10 billion and the majority are capitalist consumers?
Ironically, the only thing that can save mankind is a stream of pandemics, natural disasters and other human catastrophes, wiping out most of us. In fact, I think the catastrophe is inevitable -- unless something drastic happens very soon -- , and to be honest I even welcome it. The sooner this world order collapses the better. We don't even need to do anything for it to collapse in chaos. The best and only thing we can do is to get away from the tidal wave, and make sure the best amongst us survive, along with our Pagan culture. – Interview with Chris Mitchell, 2005
This particular passage could come straight from the pen of Pentti Linkola or Garrett Hardin. Vikernes is motivated beyond anything else by a simultaneous disregard for nature, culture and heritage, and he sees this disregard as having a common philosophical root.
This leads to the most controversial part of what he espouses, which is racial segregation and ethnic-cultural isolation (Nationalism), and recognition of evolutionary differences between populations. In addition, there is some blatant racism and Vikernes endorses racism by that name.
We saw what happened to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire when they started to let other cultures influence their own culture, and the same is happening to the rest of Europe today. On the other hand we cannot be so conservative that we want to keep inferior systems and ideas no matter what, if there are better alternatives. I think we should be open to everything that is in accordance with our blood and our collective meaning of life, and reject the rest. On the other hand, I have never heard a good idea from outside Europe (and by Europe I mean "the European [Nordic] race"), so I don't think this will be much of a problem to Europe.
The concept of multiculturalism is just brain-dead crap, as one culture will eventually prevail at the expense of the other cultures in the same area, so if we wish to see our own culture survive we have to be intolerant and conservative, and reject - and even destroy -- alien influences.
We need to embrace our own culture and we need to have a culture of our own, or else we will all become like the average American (and other capitalists too), who spend more money even on chewing gum than books. We will become disgusting and ultra-egoistic, capitalistic and materialistic, hypocritical and stupid, incompetent and lazy, without any sense of aesthetics or taste, racially indefinable and religiously retarded subhuman scum. Fortunately we have a culture that is our own, and that is our Pagan culture. – Interview with Chris Mitchell, 2005
If you mix a negro and a German, you don't get the developed organisational skills from the German and the strength of a negro you get a weaker result of the two. Besides, we are created different, so why should we destroy the order of nature? It is the differences which create energy. Black and white is not a colourful friendship. It turns out to be grey. I have a problems when my people who are originally exclusively blonde or red-haired with blue eyes cease to exist. In 100 years time the Norwegians will look like the Greeks do today if we don't segregate." – Interview with Metal Hammer UK, 1996
However, his goal does not appear to be denigration or genocide of other races, only separation:
The Celts and Romans are just allies, not one of us, just like I am not one of them because I am Norse-Germanic and not Celt nor Roman. This is racial paganism. The blood- axis.
So one goal is to segregate all the peoples. The Celts shall worship their gods, the Negroes shall worship their gods, the Romans shall worship their gods and so on with all the races and peoples. – Interview with Sounds of Death Magazine, 1995
At the same time, he is unflinching in his condemnation of "alien" cultures:
I think the metal culture is nigger culture, in the sense that the traditional metal people look like, behave like and think like a bunch of "white niggers". It's (at least often) an extremely primitive, unintelligent and pointless subculture, like all rock 'n roll subcultures are. I too listened to metal music, but I never behaved like a nigger just because of that, and I don't understand what the point with this metal subculture is. Smoking pot or getting drunk, sleeping around and giving each other venereal diseases, partying all the time, going to concerts to meet other vacuum-heads, and so forth. What's the point? – Interview with Chris Mitchell, 2005
However, we have to remember that this is in the context of a worldview where most people are dysfunctional and destructive and nature needs to be liberated from them:
The most constructive thing that could happen to the world , the most positive, that would have to be that 99% of the population would have been gassed. – Norwegian phone interview, 1992
The source of our decline, he argues, is a morality based in defense of the individual against reality which encourages us to be cut off from nature, and cut off from culture, having only materialism and convenient pleasure to define ourselves:
Our society is built up so that the immoral thrive, so that the cynical thrive, so that the greedy thrive. That is the "strongest" in our society. You have to be willing to lie, cheat, backstab others, pretend, and so on to get anywhere in our world. This leads to what they call "individualism". Also everything is measured after its value in hard cash.
Individualism is all fine, however only one type of individualism. The "advanced" world we live in have a tendency so over-simplify everything - of course because of their "humanism" and their "humanistic" and "caring" will to make comprehensible for the retarded idiots they breed as well. Instead of saying "positive individualism" (i.e. artistic creativity, courage, initiative, the ability to lead others, inventiveness etc) and "negative individualism" (i.e. egoism, the strong desire to only care for what is best for oneself etc) they just say individualism. This means that they let negative individualism thrive as well, if not exclusively.
All this is interconnected; the Judeo-Christianity, Capitalism, Humanism, Communism, and so on. – Interview with Burzum.com, 1998
The reason that you do not mean this is because you are a victim of normal 'nice-ism' propaganda! Both on the TV, in the newspapers and radio and.. parrents and school, The whole bunch, are running around telling you that you should care about others and that you should.. you should only care about others and you should feel sorry for the children in Africa because they are dying like flies. Why the hell should we care about them? There is no point what so ever. You gain nothing by doing that. The only thing you accomplish is to walk around caring for others and be anxious for all the skin and bone down in Africa. – Norwegian phone interview, 1992
Nietzsche gives us some insights on the type of morality that defends the weak against the strong and in doing so, divorces us from nature:
You will have already guessed how easily the priestly way of evaluating could split from the knightly-aristocratic and then continue to develop into its opposite. Such a development receives a special stimulus every time the priest caste and the warrior caste confront each other jealously and are not willing to agree about the winner. The knightly-aristocratic judgments of value have as their basic assumption a powerful physicality, a blooming, rich, even overflowing health, together with those things which are required to maintain these qualitieswar, adventure, hunting, dancing, war games, and in general everything which involves strong, free, happy action. The priestly-noble method of evaluating has, as we saw, other preconditions: these make it difficult enough for them when it comes to war!
As is well known, priests are the most evil of enemiesbut why? Because they are the most powerless. From their powerlessness, their hate grows into something immense and terrifying, to the most spiritual and most poisonous manifestations. Those who have been the greatest haters in world history and the most spiritually rich haters have always been the priestsin comparison with the spirit of priestly revenge all the remaining spirits are hardly worth considering. Human history would be a really stupid affair without that spirit which entered it from the powerless.
Let us quickly consider the greatest example. Everything on earth which has been done against "the nobility," "the powerful," "the masters," "the possessors of power" is not worth mentioning in comparison with what the Jews have done against themthe Jews, that priestly people who knew how to get final satisfaction from their enemies and conquerors through a radical transformation of their values, that is, through an act of the most spiritual revenge. This was appropriate only to a priestly people with the most deeply rooted priestly desire for revenge.
In opposition to the aristocratic value equations (good = noble = powerful = beautiful = fortunate = loved by god), the Jews successfully and with a fearsome consistency dared to reverse it and to hang on to that with the teeth of the most profound hatred (the hatred of the powerless), that is, to "only those who suffer are good; only the poor, the powerless, the low are good; only the suffering, those in need, the sick, the ugly are the pious; only they are blessed by God; for them alone there is salvation. By contrast, you privileged and powerful people, you are for all eternity the evil, the cruel, the lecherous, insatiable, the godlessyou will also be the unblessed, the cursed, and the damned for all eternity!" We know who inherited this Judaic transformation of values . . .
In connection with that huge and immeasurably disastrous initiative which the Jews launched with this most fundamental of all declarations of war, I recall the sentence I wrote at another time (in Beyond Good and Evil, p. 118)namely, that with the Jews the slave condition in morality begins: that condition which has a two-thousand-year-old history behind it and which we nowadays no longer notice because, well, because it has triumphed.
But you fail to understand that? You have no eye for something that needed two millennia to emerge victorious? . . . That's nothing to wonder at: all lengthy things are hard to see, to assess. However, that's what took place: out of the trunk of that tree of vengeance and hatred, Jewish hatred, the deepest and most sublime hatred, that is, a hatred which creates ideals and transforms valuessomething whose like has never been seen on earthfrom that grew something just as incomparable, a new love, the deepest and most sublime of all the forms of love. From what other trunk could that have grown? . . .
However, you must not make the mistake of thinking that this love arose essentially as the denial of that thirst for vengeance, as the opposite of Jewish hatred. No. The reverse is the truth! This love grew out of that hatred, as its crown, as the victorious crown extending itself wider and wider in the purest brightness and sunshine, which, so to speak, was seeking for the kingdom of light and height, the goal of that hateaiming for victory, trophies, seductionwith the same urgency with which the roots of that hatred were sinking down ever deeper and more greedily into everything deep and evil.
Take this Jesus of Nazareth, the bodily evangelist of love, the "Saviour," who brought holiness and victory to the poor, to the sick, to the sinners. Was he not in fact seduction in its most terrible and irresistible form, the seduction and detour to exactly those Judaic values and new ideals? Didn't Israel in fact attain, with the detour of this "Saviour," with this apparent enemy to and dissolver of Israel, the final goal of its sublime thirst for vengeance? Isn't it part of the secret black art of a truly great politics of vengeance, a far-sighted, underground, slowly expropriating, and premeditated revenge, that Israel itself had to disown and nail to the cross the tool essential to its revenge before all the world, so that "all the world," that is, all Israel's enemies, could then swallow this bait?
On the other hand, could anyone, using the full subtlety of his mind, imagine a more dangerous bait? Something to match the enticing, intoxicating, narcotizing, corrupting power of that symbol of the "holy cross," that ghastly paradox of a "god on the cross," that mystery of an unimaginable and ultimate cruelty and self-crucifixion of god for the salvation of mankind? . . . At least it is certain that sub hoc signo [under this sign] Israel, with its vengeance and revaluation of the worth of all other previous values, has triumphed again and again over all other ideals, over all nobler ideals.
"But what are you doing still talking about more noble ideals! Let's look at the facts: the people have triumphedor 'the slaves,' or 'the rabble,' or 'the herd,' or whatever you want to call themif this has taken place because of the Jews, then good for them! No people had a more world-historical mission. 'The masters' have been disposed of. The morality of the common man has won. We may take this victory as a blood poisoning (it did mix the races up)I don't deny that. But this intoxication has undoubtedly been successful. The 'Salvation' of the human race (namely, from 'the masters') is well under way. Everything is turning Jewish or Christian or plebeian (what do the words matter!).
The progress of this poison through the entire body of humanity seems irresistiblealthough its tempo and pace may seem from now on constantly slower, more delicate, less audible, more circumspectwell, we have time enough. . . From this point of view, does the church today still have necessary work to do, does it really have a right to exist? Or could we dispense with it? Quaeritur. [That's a question to be asked]. It seems that it obstructs and hinders the progress of this poison, instead of speeding it up? Well, that might even be what makes the church useful . . . Certainly the church is something positively gross and vulgar, which a more delicate intelligence, a truly modern taste resists. Should the church at least not be something more sophisticated? . . . Today the church alienates more than it seduces. . . Who among us would really be a free spirit if the church were not there? The church repels us, not its poison. . . . Apart from the church, we love the poison. . . "
This is the epilogue of a "free thinker" to my speech, an honest animal, who has revealed himself welland he's a democrat. He listened to me up that that point and couldn't stand to hear my silence. But for me at this point there is much to be silent about.
The slave revolt in morality begins when the resentment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values: the resentment of those beings who are prevented from a genuinely active reaction and who compensate for that with a merely imaginary vengeance. While all noble morality grows out of a triumphant self-affirmation, slave morality from the start says No to what is "outside," "other," "a non-self". And this No is its creative act. This transformation of the glance which confers valuethis necessary projection towards what is outer instead of back into itselfthat is inherent in resentment. In order to arise, slave morality always requires first an opposing world, a world outside itself. Psychologically speaking, it needs external stimuli in order to act at all. Its action is basically reaction.
The reverse is the case with the noble method of valuing: it acts and grows spontaneously. It seeks its opposite only to affirm itself even more thankfully, with even more rejoicing. Its negative concept of "low," "common," "bad" is only a pale contrasting image after the fact in relation to its positive basic concept, intoxicated with life and passion, "We are noble, good, beautiful, and happy!" When the noble way of evaluating makes a mistake and abuses reality, that happens with reference to the sphere which it does not know well enough, indeed, the sphere it has strongly resisted learning the truth about: under certain circumstances it misjudges the sphere it despisesthe sphere of the common man, the low people.
On the other hand, we should consider that even assuming that the effect of contempt, of looking down or looking superior, falsifies the image of the person despised, such distortion will fall short by a long way of the distortion with which the repressed hatred and vengeance of the powerless man mistakenly assault his opponentnaturally, in effigy. In fact, in contempt there is too much negligence, too much dismissiveness, too much looking away and impatience, all mixed together, even too much feeling of joy, for it to be capable of converting its object into a truly distorted monster.
We should not fail to hear the almost benevolent nuances which for a Greek noble, for example, lay in all the words with which he set himself above the lower peoplehow a constant type of pity, consideration, and forbearance is mixed in there, sweetening the words, to the point where almost all words which refer to the common man finally remain as expressions for "unhappy," "worthy of pity" (compare deilos [cowardly], deilaios [lowly, mean], poneros [oppressed by toil, wretched], mochtheros [suffering, wretched]the last two basically designating the common man as a slave worker and beast of burden). On the other hand, for the Greek ear the words "bad," "low," "unhappy" have never stopped echoing a single note, one tone colour, in which "unhappy" predominates. That is the inheritance of the old, noble, aristocratic way of evaluating, which does not betray its principles even in contempt.
(Philologists might recall the sense in which oizuros [miserable], anolbos [unblessed], tlemon [wretched], dustychein [unfortunate], xymfora [misfortune] were used). The "well born" felt that they were "the happy ones"; they did not have to construct their happiness artificially first by looking at their enemies, or in some circumstance to talk themselves into it, to lie to themselves (the way all men of resentment habitually do). Similarly they knew, as complete men, overloaded with power and thus necessarily active, they must not separate action from happiness. They considered being active necessarily associated with happiness (that's where the phrase eu prattein [do well, succeed] derives its origin)all this is very much the opposite of "happiness" at the level of the powerless, the oppressed, those festering with poisonous and hostile feelings, among whom happiness comes out essentially as a narcotic, an anesthetic, quiet, peace, "Sabbath", relaxing the soul, stretching one's limbs, in short, as something passive.
While the noble man lives for himself with trust and candour (gennaios, meaning "of noble birth" stresses the nuance "upright" and also probably "naïve"), the man of resentment is neither upright nor naïve, nor honest and direct with himself. His soul squints. His spirit loves hiding places, secret paths, and back doors. Everything furtive attracts him as his world, his security, his refreshment. He understands about remaining silent, not forgetting, waiting, temporarily diminishing himself, humiliating himself. A race of such men will necessarily end up cleverer than any noble race. It will value cleverness to a very different extent, that is, as a condition of existence of the utmost importance; whereas, cleverness among noble men easily acquires a delicate aftertaste of luxury and sophistication about it. Here it is not nearly so important as the complete certainly of the ruling unconscious instincts or even a certain lack of cleverness, something like brave recklessness, whether in the face of danger or of an enemy, or wildly enthusiastic, sudden fits of anger, love, reverence, thankfulness, and vengefulness, by which in all ages noble souls have recognized each other.
The resentment of the noble man himself, if it comes over him, consumes and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction and therefore does not poison. On the other hand, in countless cases it just does not appear, whereas in the case of all weak and powerless people it is unavoidable. The noble man cannot take his enemies, his misfortunes, even his bad deeds seriously for very longthat is the mark of a strong, complete nature, in whom there is a surplus of plastic, creative, healing power, which also can make one forget (a good example for that from the modern world is Mirabeau, who had no memory of the insults and maliciousness people directed at him, and who therefore could not forgive, because he just forgot). Such a man with one shrug throws off him all those worms which eat into other men. Only here is possible (provided that it is at all possible on earth) the real "love for one's enemy." How much respect a noble man already has for his enemies! And such a respect is already a bridge to love . . . In fact, he demands his enemy for himself, as his mark of honour. Indeed, he has no enemy other than one who has nothing to despise and a great deal to respect! By contrast, imagine for yourself "the enemy" as a man of resentment conceives himand right here we have his action, his creation: he has conceptualized "the evil enemy,: "the evil one," and as a fundamental ideaand from that he now thinks his way to an opposite image and counterpart, a "good man"himself.
Friedrich Nietzsche – On the Genealogy of Morals, sections 7-10. Translation by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC
In this we see the dual origin of Vikernes' ideas: paganism and pre-1945 conservatism. He is not a spiritualist, as much as someone who wants to reconnect us to reverence of nature, for which the gods are symbols:
I don't consider myself religious in any way really. I have never participated in any religious ritual (except toasting Odin at Julafton of course) - and I am not even baptised, or confirmed for that sake. I do have a "livssyn" (a philosophy of life) though, which is the traditional Germanic philosophy of life! To put a long story short, you can say they match the philosophical views of the Vikings. The traditional Viking mythology is somewhat perverted by Christians, so I don't really identify too much with them. You cannot trust the mythology and more than you can trust the records of history.
Generally it is good when people prefer Pagan traditions to the Jewish faiths (all forms of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.), but I do find it a bit sad really that Germanic women start to participate in Celt groups - the Wicca! We are no more Celts that we are any other people; we are Germanic! Also, there is a lot of misinterpretation and naïve feminism and the like in the "Neo-Pagan" groups, like in the Wicca where they worship only three of the four faces of the Moon. That's like jumping over every fourth number, and still claim you count to hundred! You don't, and it ruins all mathematic rules! – Interview with Bjorn Hallberg, 1998
'Nature' and 'the Gods (and Goddesses)' are two sides of the same thing. The Gods are forces in nature, and with that I mean forces in our human nature as well. Which of course is just another reason to keep the blood pure, as if we destroy the pureness of our blood we also destroy our Gods and everything they stand for. All their wisdom is stored in our pure blood, and it will be lost if we interbreed with others.
The Gods are symbolic, spiritual, parts of our nature (genes), as well as being physical beings. I can give You an example of a physical manifestation of Thórr (Juppiter, Zevs, Perun etc). As You (hopefully) know Thórr is the defender of our race, he protects us from the Jotuns (i. e. the 'giants', which is a metaphor for 'uncontrollable forces of the universe' in this context). – Interview with Burzum.com, 1998
In this, Varg is both a classic conservative and a Romantic, in that he embraces the struggle of life as the means to transcendental awareness:
When it comes to spirit and mind, I think the worse the situation you're in, the better it is for the spiritual evolution. Artists are at their most creative when they suffer the most. Torment is the origin of artistic creativity. Humans have the ability, but we never really think unless we're forced to (in one way or the other). It is an unpleasant fact for some, but still a fact. On the other hand, if you first start to think and if you have the courage to continue thinking, I believe you shall never stop thinking "actively". I have been privileged in this way by being given plenty of time to think as well. I doubt the development at this point would have been anything close to this, if I had still been "free". In a way, prison is like a monastery: primitive conditions with a lot of time for contemplation. – Interview with Metal Hammer Greece, 1997
What others call light I call darkness. Seek the darkness and hell and you will find nothing but evolution. – Interview with Deprived Zine, 1995
A brief note on his influences:
I have read Jenseits von Gut und Böse and parts of Antichrist but I have not read other books by Nietzsche. – Interview with Aorta Zine, 1995
For half a decade, before the year 1992 A.Y.P.S., when my main interest was Satanism, I have been involved with Norse activity. Like I was a National Socialist and a skinhead until I was sixteen years old, this includes study - or let us call it "interest in" - Norse mythology, genealogical research, and Norse-Germanic traditions. Both "Norsedom" and occultism have been my interests since I was only 12-13 years old. – Interview with Sounds of Death Magazine, 1995
F.W Nietzshe, A Hitler, Goethe, Snorre Sturlason and more authors worth honouring. Fave literature is norse mytology. – Interview with Pure Fucking Hell Zine, 1995
What is Your modern political worldview based upon?
Intuition... – Interview with Doomish.com, 2004
For someone who never went to college, he picked up quite a bit early on and internalized it. He reads Romantics like Goethe, and Romanticism-inspired philosophers such as Nietzsche, but trusts history and his own intuition – also a Romantic concept – at the core of it all. This resembles another Nietzschean concept:
There are ages in which the rational man and the intuitive man stand side by side, the one in fear of intuition, the other with scorn for abstraction. The latter is just as irrational as the former is inartistic. They both desire to rule over life: the former, by knowing how to meet his principle needs by means of foresight, prudence, and regularity; the latter, by disregarding these needs and, as an "overjoyed hero," counting as real only that life which has been disguised as illusion and beauty. Whenever, as was perhaps the case in ancient Greece, the intuitive man handles his weapons more authoritatively and victoriously than his opponent, then, under favorable circumstances, a culture can take shape and art's mastery over life can be established. All the manifestations of such a life will be accompanied by this dissimulation, this disavowal of indigence, this glitter of metaphorical intuitions, and, in general, this immediacy of deception: neither the house, nor the gait, nor the clothes, nor the clay jugs give evidence of having been invented because of a pressing need. – Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense
What Nietzsche suggests is not just a different type of thought, but a different way of thinking. Instead of trying to derive meaning from the world, which ends up with us projecting ourselves onto it, we should treat it as an extension of our minds where science and imagination meet; others, notably Joseph Campbell, have called this "mythic imagination" – and it is a concept firmly founded in European Romantic art, poetry and literature. We close with two verses:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
– The World is Too Much With Us, William Wordsworth (1789)
When night falls
she cloaks the world
in impenetrable darkness.
A chill rises
from the soil
and contaminates the air
life has new meaning.
– Dunkelheit, Burzum (from Filosofem)
Founding bands like Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Darkthrone, Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Ildjarn and Mayhem upheld a Romantic vision of a more primal time: the meaning found in conflict, the beauty of nature, the secondary importance of comfort toward epic achievement and conflict, a desire for a less plastic and democratic time, a reverence for nature and ancient things. They unconsciously expressed what many in modern society feel, which is that humanity has domesticated itself and is comfortably breeding idiots and parasites through the wealth of its technology and fossil fuels.
In its most primitive formulation, metal is a worship of power and the beauty that can be found in darkness, as exemplified by its distorted chords strung together in melodies which rise from chaos to order. It is esoteric and occult in that it does not believe the world can be neatly divided into public categories of good and evil (consonant/clean versus dissonant/distorted), and instead pursues the course of what is right in meaning as defined by a symbiosis between humans and nature.
This collaboration occurs both in practical terms, and in that most amorphous of descriptions that covers "spirit," meaning that we feel healthiest when our thoughts are arranged in patterns that are coherent with those in nature. This sense of well-being is based upon having both a realistic view of the world, and a sense of striving for an ideal regardless of the costs (suffering/mortality), in contrast to the modern state ideal and the Judeo-Christian ideal which holds that avoiding suffering and death for the greatest number of people is the greatest good.
Romantic art sidesteps moral questions in favor of a worship of power and beauty and the satisfaction of the individual in intangible and ephemeral achievements, like moments of contemplating natural or ancient beauty. Romantic artists turned from the control structures of Church and State to look inward for meaning, seeking a correspondence between their feelings and the mechanism of nature. They were heretics, at first, but over time their words took on new meaning as the continuing degradation of European/American culture turned these societies into industrialized nightmares of ugly cities, boring jobs serving mass tastes, void culture and directionless, anti-creative "consumers" who poured into any new region with no regard for natural beauty, tore down the trees and left concrete and endless stores catering to the lowest tastes imaginable.
In this black metal was a further development of the ideas that had followed metal since its inception with Black Sabbath as a revolution against the idea that hippie ethics could make society "safe" through love and peace, and redirect us from our path to doom. Hippie idealism was after all mostly a restatement of the liberal democratic principles that engendered revolutions in America and France and Russia, albeit from the viewpoint of bored middle class kids who saw a future of corporate jobs and suit-wearing obeisance as not only tedious but destructive. However, they failed to out-think the philosophy that brought about this existence, and instead repeated its dogma in a new form, which explains why so many embraced the corporate lifestyle after a token decade of protest.
The Romantic sense of finding meaning in life through of striving for transcendental goals, and the warlike but sensitive value behind it that corresponds to the ancient European concept of vir, or the virtue of having intuition that knows when to nurture and when to prune both plants in nature and human beings, burst forth in the form of black metal after years of lying dormant under the influence of the Cold War, civil rights and myriad political fears.
Like his influence Tolkien, Kristian Vikernes desired to create art that "awakened the fantasy of mortals" and joined the ancient spirit of vir with modern knowledge. Artists in European society emerged from historians who coded their verses so as to both remember the past and warn of present dangers by making that wisdom "poetic," or appealing to the emotional state in humanity which loves life and wants a meaningful experience; art does not just warn, but it portrays the path between dangers as a great adventure which can culminate in even higher satisfaction.