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Robert Taylor: "Our civilization died"
Interview with Robert Taylor. Cult band Changes, neofolk before neofolk. Enjoy.
Mindaugas Peleckis 2012 m. Rugpjūčio 30 d., 21:55 Skaityta: 1251 k.
Robert Taylor. Taken from personal Facebook profile.
What do You think/know about our country - Lithuania - and its musical scene?
I have never been to Lithuania, so anything I know or say is really second-hand knowledge. I recently viewed photos of the Festival where Blood Axis concluded their recent tour, and it appeared a real joyous and fun time. The people looked very healthy and vibrant. I do know a bit about the revival of the native religion there and ROMOVA and the things they have been doing which gladden my heart. I am not conversant with the music scene there at all. I was born and raised in Chicago and have crossed paths with many ethnic groups there. Of the Lithuanians that I personally have met and known, I have always had a very high opinion of them. They seem very pure as Indo-Europeans and exhibit very Indo-European values and ways. I know that the language is the closest of the European tongues to Vedic Sanskrit. That in itself says much to me of the people. I am also aware of the history of Lithuania and how they maintained their native beliefs longer than any other European nation did. I think that is to their credit.
I’ve recently heard from your website that you and your partner have recently had a child. I believe congratulations are in order. What kind of values do you hope to teach him? How do you feel he will cope in the modern world considering your more traditionalist viewpoint?
Values identical to those I have encouraged my other children to cultivate: Courage, honesty, self-reliance, perseverance, loyalty and things of that order. As for the state of the world today or at any given time, one must adjust their ways and means in light of them without, however, losing one’s essential soul or selling out to what is antithetical to one’s deeper self. One must learn to ride the tiger, so to speak.
Can you tell me some of your favourite European cities and areas? I know you have visited Germany. Are there any other countries that you have enjoyed?
I personally have always liked the look of Eastern European cities which are aesthetically far more pleasing than many British cites (which still have some areas of beauty - the trick is to look up). Although having said this of many British cities, some are of great aesthetic beauty, such as certain parts of my hometown Hereford, York, Oxford, Edinburgh all being beautiful places and I’ve heard about Cambridge and Canterbury being very beautiful.
Edinburgh, Scotland would be one of my favorites. It is an old city with much history, architecture and soul as a city. In Edinburgh I always have the feeling I am in a novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson. The older sectors of the city remind me of the descriptions in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There is also a very nice tribute to Sir Walter Scott in one of the parks along a main avenue. I read a lot of Scott in my youth - not just the Waverly novels, but his poetic romances as well. I learned a lot from him on versification. Two chapters of his book Tales of a Grandfather, which is a personal history of Scotland, provided the basis for Changes’ “The Ballad Of Robert De Bruce” which we hope to release in the near future. Speaking of Scotland and cities, my least favorite city is there also: Inverness. Rainy, gloomy, grungy and unfriendly.
Vienna, Austria is one of my favorite places. Rich in history, architectural splendor and other cultural treasures. The pastry, breads, beer, wine and food there are excellent. I very much like the people I have met there and would like to spend years living there.
Sintra, Portugal, though not on a scale of the aforementioned cities, is one of the most beautiful and scenic places I have been. I also like the people I have met there very much. They are very generous, warm and human. Great hosts.
Leipzig seemed a great introduction to Germany when we did a show at the Treffin Wave Goth Festival. Being in Eastern Germany meant that it had not yet been overwhelmed with American fast food and culture. Of course we were there at an exciting time of the year with the Fest in full swing, so I cannot say I know the city in its normal state of being.
I did not see a great deal of Budapest. We stayed in an old part of town. The food and wine were grand as were the people who hosted us. I very much liked the Hungarian people.
Russia was the greatest surprise of all places I have visited. Previous to our visit, I had a very unflattering perception of the country - something akin to an old black and white movie with starving people and decrepitude everywhere. Nothing was further from my illusion when I actually was there. Moscow was a very bright and clean city, bustling with busy people. The expressways in Moscow were very well-kept. The municipal works such as their subway system and parks were impressive. With some eighteen million residents living there, it was huge - but I never got the feeling it was crowded. So much for 50-plus years of Cold War propaganda. St. Petersburg was a jewel of a city. Beautifully laid out with many sights of interest. In both cities, the people we worked with and encountered were very good and generous people. I was very struck by the natural beauty of the Russian women. It was like watching a veritable fashion parade on the streets. The men acted like men and the women were very feminine. I got a feeling of vibrancy and healthiness. Russia is a great and epic nation. I have a feeling they have an important destiny yet to fulfill. I would very much like to visit there again and see more of the country at large. We happened to be in Moscow for the first snowfall of the year. It is an event the Russian people love, as I also do. I like winter and love snow. I am native to it and have experienced it for most of my life. I felt a real bond with the Russians in that sense and in many other ways as well. Russia is one European nation that still exhibits a vibrant soul. As for American cities, I love Portland most of all and there is little left to say for the rest of them.
What are among your favourite musicians both past and present? This can be from any genre you appreciate.
Certainly Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner and Orff. I have recently been exploring the symphonies of Buckner - a friend in Portugal gifted me a set of them.
In the past, I listened to a lot of early King Crimson, ELP, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Strawbs, Steeleye Span, various Celtic groups like the Chieftains, Horse Lips, 5 Hand Reel, Planxty , Pentangle, and groups of that sort.
Currently I listen mostly to the music of friends and associates. There is enough of this industrial and Folk Noir music to fill my listening time. I seldom listen to anything on radio or television.
Are there any publications/books which have impressed you recently? For me personally I have journals such as Tyr and Hex to be something I’d recommend (I believe you recommended the former to me a while back).
Tyr, of course [and the current (#3) issue is really great]. Hex is a wonderful publication for families and hearth. It fills a gap in that sense as Tyr does as an intellectual journal. I recommend both highly. Of recent I have been studying all I can find on glass, mirrors, optics, light and related subjects. I have a project in the works which connects to all of these. I often binge on a given subject and read everything relevant I can. Sacred geometry is another area I continue to read on and practice. The subject of optics and illusion is another interest I have presently. Most of this relates in some way or form to my pursuit of art. Reading poetry is also an ongoing thing that I have been doing all of my adult life. Every now and then I read works of fiction for pleasure (as opposed to knowledge). In this area I prefer classic literature as opposed to simply fiction.
How did you meet Michael Moynihan in the first place? Had you previously been an admirer of his work?
I became aware of Michael through his advertisements for runic t-shirts and such under the aegis of Storm Productions, and also by our mutual connections with Robert Ward and The Fifth Path magazine. We corresponded for a while and one day he wrote or called and said he would be in my state and requested visiting me with several friends. We had a short but excellent visit. We discovered many similitudes in our thoughts and interests. Michael was young (in his very early twenties), yet I denoted a quick intelligence and the obvious fact that he was very well-read and had a grasp for the arcane and complex. We hit it off as kindred spirits and became very good friends and continue to be such. He also is a very polite and dignified individual with very good character traits. He has never changed my opinion of any of these things but has consistently remained the same as when I met him (save that he matured, as did his writing and other creative work).
What is Your belief/religion/worldview?
A heathen Asatruar. I am a traditionalist in my social philosophy. On America, I would hope for a return to a traditional republican form of government. My own beliefs correspond with those of Thomas Jefferson and I am a Libertarian in most ways.
How did you come across the Asatru religion and what was it about this spiritual path that attracted you more than, for example, Christianity.
I’m not sure the word attraction is exactly applicable. I was one of the three main people to begin Asatru groups in North America. Elsa Christenson was the founder of the Odinist Fellowship, Steve McNallen was the founder of the Asatru Free Assembly, and my former wife (Karen) and I founded the Northernway. All three groups differed in the main. The Odinist Fellowship was primarily philosophic with a leaning toward the political. The AFA was more of a true spiritual organization which strove to organize nationally. The Northernway was less of a mail-order organization and was centered in the Midwest. Eventually the Northernway split into two groups. We then changed our name to the Wulfing Kindred. Not long after this change, we threw in with the AFA and became a member group of that organization until its demise. Then the Wulfings and the Arizona Kindred (of Valgard Murray), along with the Vinland Kindred, formed the Asatru Alliance of Independent Kindreds. It was formed as a result of the AFA disbanding. About ten years ago, the Wulfings voted to withdraw from the Asatru Alliance over differences and have been independent since that time.
Of the three founders, it is worth mentioning that Steve McNallen had the greatest effect in generating the movement and setting its course.
The Wulfings are no longer very active in the general sense as an organization. We still do marriages, name fastenings and other rites of passage, but the members have largely taken off on their own projects. Music, writing and such. Tyr is an outgrowth of that process, as are a number of musical projects and other creative activities. As for Christianity, I was never raised as a Christian but as a heathen, so that is a moot point. In my early teens I recognized that the primary problem facing the Western world was indeed a spiritual crisis and that Christianity was no answer to that crisis but was, instead, a big part of the problem leading to that crisis.
Can you tell me how you discovered it, are you more folkish or universalist in your views? Also why would you back universalism or folkish ideals?
Absolutely folkish. It is an Indo-European spiritual path and nothing else in that sense. All this universalism stuff was the product of those who wished to cripple the movement, to pull its teeth and distort its meaning. I am sure there are those who followed the original introduction of this nonsense who have actually fallen for this line innocently enough. I recall one of the first proponents of this distortion later checked out to be a very active member of a Masonic lodge, and others of his ilk joined into Asatru and formed the core of this so-called Universalist creed. All of the real founders and early adherents are folkish. The Universalists all came into it after it was already firmly established. I feel their actions to be entirely subversive, divisive, and contrary to that which Asatru stands for.
Have you heard of any of the other spiritual revivals such as the revival of Slavic, Finnish, Estonian, Celtic and other traditionalist thought? What do you think of this revival?
Yes, all of them I think were in some manner inspired by the initial resurrection of Asatru. We salute and support their efforts.
Do you think it is realistic for Europe to go through a revival of ancient traditions considering over a thousand years of Christianity or Islam in many European countries, the loss of many religious practices and ceremonies as well and industrialization?
Yes, I do think it is very realistic. One might have equally stated, “After 500 years of Buddhism, do you really think it was realistic to return to the Hindu faith in India?” That is what largely occurred, you know. There are no Buddhists to speak of in India. It came and it went elsewhere, but the true native faith of India remains, despite the fact that Buddhism had supplanted it for a longtime. As for rituals and beliefs, we are our ancestors in reality. There is no reason we cannot reconstruct what was lost out of the crucibles of our own souls and spirits. It’s always been there, if only in a nascent state, if only waiting to emerge once again. And it has. So mote it be.
I have heard that you managed to build an Asatru temple and are planning to build others which I consider to be good. The Icelanders have been attempting to build a temple for years but seem to be restricted by the Catholic church.
Yes, I did and so have several other parties in North America. I can’t imagine why the Icelanders have not built one. My advice is that they purchase some land, get the necessary lumber and hammers and nails and start building. I say this partly in jest. They are probably asking the state to pick up the tab for it and provide the land or something. They also might entertain grandiose plans of some huge building. I don’t know this for certain, but these would be reasons why the Lutheran church (which is the primary Christian religion there) would have anything to say about it.
My own vision on Hofs (a name we adopted in North America for Asatru temples, or more precisely, Giest Hof, meaning “spirit house”) was that we should built small chapel-like buildings, not grandiose cathedrals. I was thinking of something more akin to the many small temples that dot the landscape of Japan. Each one being unique and worthy of pilgrimage or travel from one temple to another, not intended to impress with grandeur but more to impress with the spiritual place and fact that they were built by individuals or small groups of individuals whose spirituality was so great that they expressed it in the humble resources available to them as common folk. What is of greater spiritual import: a monster cathedral built by hired workers and paid for by masses of people, or something that is the expression of truly spiritual individuals paying for it out of their own pockets?
When the idea for building the Hof was in the offing, a lot of strange occurrences began to happen.
We were about to begin building a log garage, stable and tack room. A semi brought the materials. Whoever had loaded the truck did it backwards, so a sizable load of two-by-four studs had been stacked on top of what was intended for us. In order for the driver to get our stuff unloaded, the two-by-fours had to be taken off firstly. After that had been done, the driver did not want to have to hand-load them all back on the truck. I am sure it was another order to deliver. He said he was leaving them and would be back for them. He never came back for them. Since he had to come by a ferry boat to deliver them, the cost of returning for them was probably greater then the studs were worth to his company. After about six months or more had elapsed, I figured (and figured correctly) that they would never come back to get them. That provided all the wall studs for the Hof plus a forge house I later built. After the garage and stables were completed, there were a lot of log pieces left over. This, plus what was left after building the main house, was sufficient for the entire outside of the Hof. The entire interior of the Hof was done in knotty pine tongue-and-groove boards. It is pretty expensive material. I purchased it at a lumber yard and hauled it back in the bed of my pick-up truck. Several days later, the lumber yard called and asked me when I was going to pick up my lumber order. Apparently, someone had not notated the fact that I had already done so. We had to go through a checkpoint gate and have the payment slip stamped, etc., so I went back and got a second load for the price of one load. These two loads more than covered the entire interior walls and ceiling both. Then it was time to get cedar shake shingles for the roof, along with the tarpaper felt for underneath. It was hard to believe, but it happened again the same way, and I got two loads for the price of one. The same did not happen with the pine floorboards, unfortunately, or for the plywood sub-flooring or sub-roofing, trusses or other materials. But all in all, it seemed as though fates were lending a helping hand to the enterprise. It took several years before the basic building was completed and closed in.
I was very satisfied with the Hof after it had been essentially completed. There was a lot of carving I had planned for the eaves and corners as well as some interior work. Divorce and separation suspended all work on the project as I moved a great distance from where it is situated. There had been an agreement with my ex-wife as to maintaining it as an accessible Hof for Asatruars, but she pretty much broke her word on all of that and it has simply lain dormant since then. When it was dedicated, there were nine individual blots (a term for ritual in Asatru that literally means blooding). In this case, nine members of the Wulfings did a blood sacrifice and the blood from each of us was put into a large blood drop at the center of a sun motif on the floor which was not varnished like the rest of the floor was. Every time I entered the Hof, I could feel the holiness of the space. When I would go there to meditate, once I stepped inside it was like hitting a switch from the prose of everyday life to poetry and a feeling of the sacred.
As to whether another Hof will be constructed, I cannot at this time say for certain, but it is often something in the back of my mind .
What do you think of New-Age and Wiccan ideas?
Both terms cover a lot of territory. New-Age seems to be a market place for entrepreneurs who have found a way to make a quick dollar from victims of the present spiritual crisis who are looking for something to believe in - even the most outrageous propositions (such as healing cancer with rock crystals and so forth). In that sense, it is a fool’s paradise. As for Wicca, there are a lot of profiteers in that area as well, but not quite as bad. Wicca is an outgrowth or new name for witchcraft. The word craft implies “power.” Witch power is less a religion then it is a technique for exercising control and power over the world around one. I do not believe it was ever a religion, per se’. That there were witches, I am sure - some good and some bad, some who served the interests of the tribe and others who served their own ends. I think at best that the witch coven was a product of the post-Christian period. It was witches (who were also pagans) resisting the new religion and dominance of Christianity. But witchcraft within a pagan context has no meaning as a religion in itself. Witches either worked for the good of the people or they did not, but were not ever considered as members of a religion in themselves - just an auxiliary at best.
I would also like to ask your opinion of intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, etc. Also what do you think about evolution, etc?
They were and are products of the age of rationalism. Sigmund Freud was a man raised in the traditions of Judaism. He judged European man from the perspective of Judaism and all of its foibles of sex. From his perspective, heroism and self-sacrifice were a death wish. Such was the take of one reared in a tradition that sees anything that is not profitable in a tangible material sense as something perverse.
Darwin I think was a sincere scientist attempting to find answers to questions, and he theorized when he ran out of evidence. In his later life he had grave regrets of having introduced his ideas and saw them in the larger context of whether they were good or bad overall for society and a stable world view. He had never intended to subvert religion, morality and such. But nevertheless, it had that effect. As for present-day advocates of social Darwinism, I can only suggest that their “utopia” already largely exists. It’s called prison, the ultimate dog-eat-dog world where one inmate preys upon the other. I can’t imagine anyone wishing for such a world to emerge in the larger context save for felons, murderers and other criminal elements.
I have read some of Freud as well as Darwin’s Origin Of Species and Descent Of Man but have not really studied Dawkins. I have some of his books but have not gotten around to reading them.
And remaining with other spiritualities/thoughts, what do you think of religious beliefs such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity (Catholicism is probably the most fascinating branch)? Are you against these religions or in favour? Why?
I am neither in favor of them nor against them. They are superfluous to my own thoughts and spirituality. Judaism to me translates basically as a tribal religion that elevates its adherents as better than everyone else - chosen, if you will. From my overall study of it, I would epitomize it as being a philosophy of pragmatic materialism. Christianity conversely speaks of a kingdom beyond this sensate reality, yet generally spends all of its efforts on raising capital for various excuses centered in the profane realm of Mammon. It keeps its adherents dumbed down and subservient to its goals and control over their lives. Islam is perhaps the best of the three, at least in its admonition against usurpers and finance-type capitalism. It is far more worldly than Christianity and teaches an acceptance of fate. It is less materialistic than Judaism and far more manly than Christianity. All three religions are intolerant of other religions and most intolerant to one another. They all have their origins in the Levant. It’s a shame they all didn’t stay there and keep it to themselves. Overall, the main conflicts in the world today are the result of these three religions. Take all three religions out of the picture and it would be a much more peaceful world, I think, as well as much more sane.
One project I heard about you working on was a book with your past interviews, possibly prints, poetry. I also heard about other possible books in the pipeline. How are these coming along as they do look as if they would be of interest to me, especially as you seem to be a rather enlightened individual and your interviews are always fascinating to read. There was also a book that was never released by the name of Primal Markings as well as another on the swastika. Will these ever see the light of day?
As to if any of these projects will come to fruition, I cannot say for certain. Nothing is until it is. As for the interview book, I began editing previous interviews. There is so much that becomes redundant - not because I want to repeat what I say, but the questions often are the same or similar. Down through the years I have tried to be creative when faced with the same questions over and gain. I tried to answer from a slightly different vantage point or give greater depth or breadth to my answers. It’s not always easy to do so. Then there are answers I have given which, in retrospect, I could have justifiably enlarged or expanded upon. If I were to get the interview book together, I would probably have to add a lot of things not originally stated. Overall, it would call for a lot of thought on what to leave in, what to take out, and what needs to be added for clarification on certain things. Then there is the task of consolidating what I have written, or rewriting it to include things said in one place but not another. Still, I started on the project and hope sometime to complete it.
I have also thought of doing a book of straight chronicles on my various adventures and misadventures down the years. That is actually an easier task since it is straight narrative in chronological order. I have begun this task of recent, starting with narrating my early life in street gangs and such.
Another work I have started would be thematic pieces that deal with a given theme where none of the tales by themselves are worthy of a book but can in short form fit with a larger theme. I have a number of those done, and there are other ideas I have on future works.
As for Primal Markings, I kind of lost the impetus on that years ago. I did farm some of the chapters
(mostly graphics) out to a number of magazines like Outlaw Biker Tattoo Review, Exit and other places. Getting the graphic parts done would be easy, but it is the text itself which I feel would be most important. Most all the books I have read on the subject of symbols are either full of erroneous assumptions or in some way incomplete. You cannot deal with symbols without dealing with geometry and math. History also plays a big part as do many other subjects. I would not want to write a book on this subject that is anything less than original thinking and a comprehensive survey of the subject. I would want to write something original, definitive, and conclusive. Anything less would be to simply repeat what is already available.
In an interview I read with you online, you mentioned that you thought that the American government was looking more like a one party system. This is something that is not exclusive to your nation as English politicians are also more interested in votes these days than truly believing in anything if you ask me, but claiming they can do the same thing but better rather than a party being truly Conservative or another being truly Labour, so we have no true freedom while we are constantly told that we are a ‘free’ nation. The situation doesn’t seem much different from the US. What do you think?
The situation is exactly the same in America, Britain and most of the Western nations today, and the problems and issues are pretty much the same. Yes, I did say that the two-party system here in the U.S. seems to actually be a one-party system with two heads. It was truly enlightening to hear President Bush endorse the candidate of the opposing party, Hilary Clinton. She in turn spoke of a plan for having her husband and Bush as a diplomatic team if she is elected. My, what a cozy menage-a-trois they present.
What was your opinion of John Kerry, the last Democratic candidate? Also what do you think of the other potential Democratic candidates at the moment, such as Hillary Clinton (I‘ve forgotten the name of the rest but she’s more of a celebrity, so to speak)?
They all seem to be pretty much the same overall with slight variances on this or that issue. The only truly independent candidates are Ron Paul, a Libertarian, and Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat. Of the two, I favor Ron Paul. He is the only one talking about downsizing the government of expanding our shrunken liberties and such. In both of their cases, they are being roundly ignored by the media and not invited to debates or given any exposure to speak of, except that which is detrimental to them. That speaks for itself. All the rest of them seem to be puppets attached to the same purse strings. With any of them we can bet on a continuing policy like the one that exists: Federalism at home and war abroad. As for Kerry, he is just one more of the cartel with a slightly different mask on. They do try to preempt all possible positions of the spectrum.
How did you feel about the Iraq war? Although constantly the US government keeps saying that the Iraq war was fought for the freedom of the local population, it is obvious that it’s all about expanding the American empire. Of course most Americans seem to know what it was really about now. Also what are your feelings on war and conflict in general?
The war in Iraq came on the heels of 9/11 and that catastrophe. Iraq was blamed for that and was said to have nuclear weapons. Neither were true, but that won’t restore the lives of the dead Americans and Iraqis. What surprises me is that we are hearing the same lame reasons for now attacking Iran. You’d think they’d think of something new as a rationale. That other countries should have nuclear weapons is supposed to be a crime, but the U.S. has more than anyone and no one calls them to task for that.
As for fighting for the freedom of the Iraqi people, that sounds so idealistic, yet here on the home front, they have usurped all of our civil safeguards in the guise of habeas corpus and warrantless arrests, secret military tribunals, torture and all the sort of things you expect in some South American dictatorship or in Israel. I’m sure that government-instigated death squads are not far off. Maybe Blackwater mercenaries can serve those ends here. So it was a really great trade-off to do away with veils on the Iraqi women. All it cost us Americans is our Bill of Rights.
From what I can gather, you are very proud of your American heritage; however, unlike the impression I get of many Americans, you seem to know why you are proud, acknowledging the heroes of the past as well as having a knowledge of American history. I have never been to America but I get the impression you have proud Americans who know nothing of this sort of thing. Would you agree and why are you proud to be American?
It’s less a case of personal pride than it is a sense of duty and loyalty to the principles that this nation was founded upon. My great grandfathers fought in the American Revolution so as to establish this republic. Two of them died at Bunker Hill in the hand-to-hand combat that the battle degenerated into. Others were at Lexington and Concord when the struggle began. I am related to the Adams family and others who partook of establishing this nation. I am their descendent. I am them composite. I am the vehicle of their spirits and my eyes are the windows from which their collective souls look out from in this time and this place. They are me and I am them. That is what ancestry truly is.
Yes, often people wave flags and engage in jingoistic patriotism. That and three dollars will get you a good cup of coffee. For some simpletons, patriotism is much the same as cheering for a football or baseball team in some spectator sport. And it is usually loud, obnoxious and altogether superficial. Ever since America’s defeat in Viet Nam, Americans have yearned to feel proud again about their country. So when 9/11 occurred and our invasion of Iraq was launched, there was instant response and patriotic fervor: flags hanging on people’s porches, bumper stickers on cars and a lot of sentiments expressed on t-shirts and baseball caps. Americans were starved for something to be proud of again and they were taken advantage of as a result. The bottom line is that waving a flag in a parade is not a heroic charge into the jaws of death, putting life and limb on the line. It’s more of an emotional exercise and indulgence.
You have pointed out that liberal/communist/Marxist persons don’t really leave behind works of much beauty such as poetry or truly great music that ‘speaks to future generations’ (as you have put it).
Yes, they have left behind a lot of housing projects made of badly mixed cement that collapse in the streets. Plenty of scars on the lives of those who lived under their system, and undue numbers of graves, but little in the way of creative art because they largely suppressed such creativity and persecuted it in their Gulags and prison camps. The heroic life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn attests most eloquently to this fact.
It seems things are like that as it is in this modern world as we seemingly become more controlled by capitalism (‘Money makes the world go round’ so to speak), commercialism and liberalism people are becoming less interested in real culture, turning more to videogames instead of books, or turning to big Hollywood blockbusters instead of films which are true art, which generally fail because they are seen as ‘boring’ by the masses. Poetry is seen as fusty and instead schools concentrate on modern cynical types rather than the works of Eliot, Wordsworth, Byron, Blake, Morris, so we forget our old poetry.
I agree, little of modern-day creativity is untainted by an ‘art industry.’ There is little that will last.
All has been turned into consumer goods: the Book of the Month, the novel for this summer’s reading, the movie of the season, the cult of Hollywood stardom, cheap diversions and circuses.
And instead our poetical tradition is dying. Instead we are being absorbed in mono-culture and homogenization, at least in this nation.
Yes, the commercial jingle has supplanted the poem along with music lyrics which are little more than extended jingles. The poet has been supplanted by the ad man and the spin doctors. Symbols are made profane to sell material products for profit. Subliminal messages and images pollute the subconscious
and distort the mind and soul. And yes, homogenization and a leveling of everyone to the lowest common denominator of being a consumer, tax payer and little more is the goal.
I also feel that people are forgetting their folkways because they are being forced into the city which is a process that’s been going on from the 18th and 19th century, but the folksongs are no longer sung and people are forced to work in monotonous and ugly cities. Meanwhile the rural areas are taken over by the rich who care nothing for the traditions and folk cultures. This age is creating something of little worth from this process, which are at least true of the UK. How do you feel about this and have you noticed this elsewhere?
Large cities are a Moloch which consumes the human talents and energies off the landscape until the rural areas lay abandoned and empty of worthy people. Enter the AgraCorp business that fills the void and in turn controls the production of the food and sustenance of life, leaving the common person vulnerable to them as a captive group of consumers who are helpless and beholden to powers greater than themselves.
I have looked at the artistic pieces you have produced in the past. A lot of it is in a very graphic/illustrative sort of style. In a way I have to admit some of it reminds me of a comic book artist by the name of Mike Mignola (of the original Hellboy comics which are far superior to the film in my opinion - less Hollywood and more concerned with using folklore and myth). Can you tell me about the artists and designers who have inspired you as well as artists which you enjoy?
No, I had never looked at Mike Mignola’s art or seen his Hellboy series, but since you mentioned it I went online and looked at a lot of his art. I assume you have seen the art of mine that is displayed on the two galleries, one on the Changes official website and the other on The Red Salon. Most all of that is stuff from the last five years or so. I think what prompts your comparison is the sort of reductionist
similarity. Mignola’s art breaks the pictures and images down into bold simplified forms. In a sense, this is one of the primary goals for many artists: to render the essentials of an idea or image and dispense with much of the detail. You often find this in comic art and graphic design.
I have been doing paper montage art for some years now. It consists of cutting the colored parts of a picture out of craft paper and pasting them up. You of course cannot add much detail with such a technique. It has to be pretty bold and simplified. I use this medium for that very purpose: to render a poster or graphic in a simple and starkly bold way. I end up arriving at what many comic book and graphic designers do by way of this medium. It’s a technique that grammar school children use, except I have greater skill and abilities than children do. I am still exploring this technique and trying new approaches and more ambitious works as I move from one piece to another. The dragon’s head that was a part of the heathen art show as well as the gauntlet and rose design used by Changes were both done in this medium. I just made a Claude Glass (a convex black mirror). Such mirrors were used by many painters of the Romantic era of painting. It had the ability to reduce a view to its essential parts with less detail. A painter would view a landscape, for example, and sketch from the reflection in the mirror. These devices were also used by others such as Coleridge and Ruskin for viewing landscapes and such. For the past several years I have been assiduously studying everything I can on glass, mirrors and optical devices, their manufacture, history and aesthetics. It has been quite fascinating and educational. An allied study I have been pursuing is in the realm of light and optics and visual neurology. I just built a Dreamachine and have many ideas for utilizing flicker effects for art and other purposes.
I like M.C. Escher for his technical skill and geometric virtuosity, and Dali for his techniques and imagination. I think American artists Joe Coleman and Alex Grey (in their own unique and singular ways) are the premier psychedelic artists of today. I like Leonardo da Vinci for the minimalist manner of his drawings and paintings. Never a line more than necessary. There is a sort of pureness to his art and draftsmanship. Arno Brecker as a sculptor in the classical mode. Also Gustav Vigeland. I like the stark homeliness and very American art of Andrew Wyeth. Hiroshige’s woodcuts. Durer for his very gothic art. Bilibin for his Russian folk art. Nicholas Roerich. I principally like those artists who are themselves and thereby authentic and not derivative of others. I have never wanted to paint or draw like any of them. I think art should be singular to the artist to be admired. I add Munch and a host of others as well that I may have forgotten at the moment. My list here is certainly not exhaustive by any means.
Can you tell me some of your favourite films and why they hold a particular resonance for you?
Fantasia by Walt Disney would be high on my list. That is the original one, not the newer one. I found Fight Club a totally innovative story of madness. Wickerman (the original). Blade Runner. Apocalypse Now. Of recent films, I thought 300 was a starkly beautiful movie with a very powerful message.
Apocalypto was an action film that was fast-paced with never a dull moment. The same can be said for the first two Terminator movies. How The West Was Won had an epic range to its story. The films of Fritz Lang. Angel Heart was one of the darkest noir-type movies I have seen. I recently watched the movie Perfume and thought it well done and unusual. I enjoyed The Illusionist as well as the other magician movie, The Prestige. The BBC series on Wagner was a great production - one of Richard Burton’s great roles, I think. As a boy, the movies of Errol Flynn were among my favorites. I enjoyed the Italian Westerns and their music soundtracks in the ‘70s. I do not and have not for several decades watched television, per se’ - only movies and documentaries. I have watched so many films that I could go on and on. I like French movies as they often have an artistic flair to them.
Also as your primary art you consider yourself a poet. Who are some of your favourites? I know that among them is Ezra Pound, who you were lucky enough to meet at one point.
There are many poets I like for different reasons. Pound is one of them. His poetry is extremely dense in meaning. One has to really study his Cantos in order to truly understand and appreciate them. It is not light reading by any means. Another epic poet I have a fondness for is Nikos Kazantzakis, the Cretan poet and writer. His Odyssey: A Modern Sequel is one of the great books of the last century, I think. It is another dense epic that requires reading and re-reading and studying it before you understand the significance of it as a poem. To write an epic in our age is very difficult because our world is so wide-ranging and fragmented in nature. How to encompass it in an epic sense is the problem.
I enjoy Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Kathleen Raine, Yeats, Neruda, Rumi and many others. I have a library of about one thousand poetry books, and I take the time to read poetry most every day.
Speaking personally among my favourite artists are the Germanic expressionists as well as the Jugendstil movement. I am also fond of the works of William Morris and his patterns. Aubrey Beardsley is another one I am very fond of. I am also fond of a British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy who uses nature and natural objects to create his work. And indeed there was the Heathen Art exhibition in Portland which I could only observe over the internet. This isn’t really a question, just my own thoughts.
I agree with you concerning expressionism. I have studied artists in that genre and thought it was a bold movement overall. It was prominent mostly in theatre and movie sets. I have studied both Morris and his work to a large extent as well as the other pre-Raphaelites, Hunt, Rosetti, et al. Beardsley was certainly an innovator and unique as an illustrator and designer. Unfortunately, his life was short and his work is of a relatively short period, but he did accomplish something very singular. I am unaware of the work of Goldsworthy (but not for long). Visiting London was great in the sense that I was able to visit the Tate and see much of the pre-Raphaelite art there, plus so much else. I visited Kelmscott also. I have always marveled at Morris’ book craft as well as his wallpaper designs, which are still available from Sanderson & Sons LTD, and supposedly printed from the same pear wood blocks. This isn’t really an answer, just my additions and underlining of your thoughts expressed.
Jugendstil has always struck me in the main as a bridge between Art Nouveau and Deco. I mostly like the paintings, design and interior decorations of the movement; however, I thought the clothing fashions atrocious.
Is our civilization still going down and down? Do You believe in any possible end of it? What could that be?
My personal opinion is that our civilization died, for all practical purposes, in and about 1945 with the conclusion of World War 2. What we are witnessing today is not its death but its post-mortem decomposition. The two world wars were, in effect, the Peloponnesian wars of our civilization, wars of mutual annihilation. Everyone involved in those wars, all the nations, lost. There was no real victory - just a superficial one for America and its allies. The final results are evident in our present circumstances. What evolves out of this end is yet to be seen. At the heart of our problems is the spiritual malaise, the materialism and subsequent nihilism. The West is not only bankrupted economically, but, more seriously, spiritually bankrupt.
With these things in mind, I set out to attend to the spiritual matters of our folk. As previously mentioned, I was one of the three independent founders in North America of what is known as Odinism or Asatru, the resurrected spiritual path and religion of the Germanic pre-Christian people. The other two were Elsa Christiansen who founded the Odinic Fellowship and Steve McNallen of the Asatru Folk Assembly. When and if this resurrection really becomes rooted, then we will see all of the other problems begin to resolve themselves: political, cultural, social and economic. It will not be an overnight thing. We will still have to go through some trying and difficult times to be sure before these positive factors will evolve.
I and my cousin/partner, Nicholas Tesluk, began the cultural task with the music we made in the late sixties and early seventies (now known variously as Neo-Folk, Folk Noir, Apocolyptic Folk or Uber-Folk). This form of music has become a major vehicle as a cultural appendage to the spiritual resurrection of heathenry, one of the chief voices of this spiritual outlook and insight. There are still many areas that must be attended to in our culture before this task is completed. Those of us in this current must all become doers, makers and shapers of the present and future if this task is to be finalized. That means hard work, creativity and all things on the imaginative plane of life. I think of this overall movement as the Uberground. This distinguishes what we are doing from being underground culture, though the paths of each sometimes cross and coalesce. Uberground implies not below the pop-culture of top forty music and Hollywood, but something higher, more refined and intelligent and rooted within us. This is my vision and goal for the present and future.
Religion is the hub of the axis. All other facets of a culture and civilization are the spokes that extend out from it and express its vision and views in other areas of life.
Could You please tell more about Your projects? What projects, albums, collaborations are/were the most interesting to You? What albums do You personally consider the best?
At present, Changes is sort of at a crossroads insomuch as what we will do next. We have various projects in one state or another of completion. One project is to get Fire Of Life, the original Changes release, back in circulation again. We discovered that we still had something like 72 more minutes of material from the analog tapes that what is on Fire Of Life was taken from. We would like to have a double-disc release with that additional material. We are currently trying to decide what we would include of the additional material. Another project is to get The Ballad Of Robert De Bruce done and released. It will probably be our opus, musically, bridging on the classical in instrumentation and complexity. Aside from those, there is a collection of psychedelic-oriented material. It is mostly together but I foresee several more songs recorded to complete it. Then there is A Ripple in Time which has only been released in an LP format. That was six years or so back, and it has never appeared as a CD for a larger audience. There are many songs yet unrecorded.
As to which releases I like best, I would have to say Orphan in the Storm and Lament. Lament is altogether a concept album in content, packaging, and all of its aspects.
What are Your band’s members now?
Nicholas and myself with inclusions of others from time to time on given projects. One of the things that gives Neo-Folk a distinction from other scenes is that we all help one another. We all see what we are doing in terms transcending the personal. It’s the music and its messages that count, not individual egos, personalities and vanity. Jane Elizabeth of Tesco made a cameo appearance on Lament. Albin Julius contributed percussion when we performed in Vienna. He also orchestrated my song “Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Regret.” Michael Moynihan, Annabel Lee and Bob Ferbrache have been heavily involved in some of our music, and several others have contributed their talents to the overall sound of Changes over the years.
Could You please tell about Your main influences. What music, books, films, other things impress You?
My, that is a big question. I have read so widely it is hard to draw up a list of books, and much the same with music and film. But I’ll make a stab at the question. It would become a long list of authors and thinkers, doers, makers and shapers. I have always enjoyed European cinema: Cocteau, Boorman, Kubrick, Herzog, Tim Burton, John Miliase and many more. Writers: Borges, Herbert, Tolkien, Pound, Eliot,Mishima, Kawabata, Homer, Kazanzakis, Gibbons, Wells, Steven Milhauser. The list, I suppose, could go on for pages; the same with music: Beethoven, Wagner, Strauss, Bach, Vivaldi, Rimsky-Korsakov. In popular music: Early King Crimson, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Strawbs, and many friends in the Neo-Folk scene also.
Could You please tell more about Your non-music activities?
They far outweigh and outnumber my musical activities. Primary would be my poetry writing followed by my visual arts endeavors. I have been drawing and painting most of my life, since my earliest childhood years. I have also been writing for decades.
For the past 15 years or so, I have had an intense interest in geometry. I am also involved in Alchemical studies and practice (lesser circulation). Tantrik practices; Psychonautics and Eronautics. I have a family with a 4-year-old, a house and home to maintain. I am very interested in optical art and all things concerning optics. Rune lore, scientific studies, mostly in the neurological field and much more.
What could You say about neofolk, experimental, ambient bands/creators (now we have many of them)? Which ones are the best, in Your opinion?
I like industrial, electronica and Neo-Folk. They are all loosely a part of the same culture. I call it Uber-Folk or Uberground culture (so as to distinguish it from Underground culture which is iconoclastic as opposed to positive). I don’t think we are below the pop culture of consensus, but are instead something higher and better. That is reflected in the people who are apart of this movement. They are all well-read, thinking people with a deeper spirituality. In our travels in Europe and America, the people who come out to see us perform and meet us are alike in type regardless of where we are - the same quality of human beings. Regarding Changes in particular, we have no fans. We have friends instead.
Thank You for Your answers! Last question for now – Your future plans and what do You think about music’s future?
Music is alive and generating as always in one form or another. Changes will be doing its final performance in North America at the Stella Natura fest in the California Sierras in September. There is talk and plans for a European tour in 2013, and it would be nice to see and play for friends in Europe once more. I hope to spend my time afterwards primarily with writing. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you.
Thanks a lot for taking part in this interview. Anything else you wish to add?
And thank you for this opportunity to address all these questions.
Know thyself, be true to thyself, and though the world turn into Hell on earth, transcend and maintain thyself. Stay Free!
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