Four Books on Heidegger, Gurdjieff and Aletheia

Heidegger, Martin (1996/1927) Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit.Trans. Joan Stambaugh. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Staumbaugh’s 1996 translation is clearer to read than Macquarrie and Robinson’s 1962 original, although it is helpful to have both for comparison. Sein und Zeit influenced existentialist, phenomenological, deconstruction and hermeneutic philosophy, and spans a bridge to pivotal later work by Hans-Georg Gadamer (Truth and Method), Alain Badiou (Being and Event; Logic of Worlds), and Paul Ricoeur (Time and Narrative).

This opens up some potential ‘correspondences’ to compare Heidegger and Gurdjieff’s philosophies worth further exploration. Sein und Zeit may be Heidegger’s ‘legominism’; Heidegger’s hermeneutic method an attempt to recover the ‘I’; Dasein an awareness of Time as Gurdjieff’s ‘Merciless Heropass’; and Heidegger’s ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ broadly similar to Gurdjieff’s ‘Way of Golgotha’ (during the First World War and the 1917 Russian Revolution), in that both are death-aware orientations to personal conscience. Heidegger’s perspectives in Sein und Zeit about angst, falling into inauthenticity, and tradition’s role in cultural transmission are similar to Gurdjieff’s arguments. Finally, Sein und Zeit is about Aletheia in the sense of ‘unconcealment’ of being-in-life.

Faye, Emmanuel (2009) Heidegger:The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935. Trans. Michael B. Smith. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Faye’s book ignited controversy during its 2005 publication in France. Smith’s translation has done so again, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Faye makes three main arguments. (1) Heidegger embraced Nazi metaphysics in the late 1920s before he became Rector of Freiburg University, and this influence is clear in his 1933-35 seminars. (2) Heidegger’s Nazism has influenced hermeneutics, postmodernists, and radical ecologists, who may be susceptible to proto-N. ideas. (3) Heidegger’s political beliefs mean that he should be banished as a philosopher from university courses, and censored in libraries.

For many reviewers, Faye’s contribution has been to highlight the archival sources in (1), although others claim Faye has misrepresented Heidegger’s ideas to advance his arguments. (2) and (3) have ignited the debate: Who has Heidegger influenced over time, and to what effect? Under what conditions can knowledge creation be separated from its sociopolitical contexts, particularly when these contexts may change? What should be the fate of philosophers who may be brilliant in one sphere, but taint their reputation in other areas? Is it possible to be influenced subtly by ‘evil’ ideas, and how would we be ethically self-aware enough to know?

Faye’s book is best read as an ‘active exercise’ with these issues in mind, issues that highlight Lethe as the opposite of Aletheia: how knowledge may be de-manifested, fragmented or (willfully) forgotten over time. A comparison of Heiddeger’s period as Rector of Freiburg University with Gurdjieff’s Paris groups raises some intriguing questions about Aletheia and ethical self-awareness in the midst of revolution, war and societal conflict. On the Paris groups, see the Gurdjieff group transcripts in William Patrick Patterson’s Voices in the Dark: Esoteric, Occult, & Secular Voices in Nazi-Occupied Paris (Fairfax CA: Arete Communications, 2000).

De Salzmann, Jeanne. (2010) The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff. Boston: Shambhala Press.

De Salzmann (1889-1990) was the closest pupil of Gurdjieff’s during his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleu, and during the later Paris period in World War II. She was pivotal to the Gurdjieff Foundation, to the transmission of the Movements, and to Peter Brook’s film adaptation of Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979). Her publicly available writings have a directness of presence that differs from most other sources, the exceptions being Uspenskii’s In Search of the Miraculous (New York: Harcourt, 1949) and John Pentland’s Exchanges Within (New York: Continuum Publishing Company, 1997). This book compiled from De Salmann’s 40 years of private notes promises to be a watershed moment in the Gurdjieff Work.

Tamdgidi, Mohammad H. (2009) Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Robert Fripp’s DGM diary for 3rd February 2010 alerted me to Tamdgidi’s study, which has an introductory essay by noted Gurdjieff Work scholar J. Walter Driscoll. Tamdgidi contends that Gurdjieff’s expertise as a hypnotist is essential to understand his relationship with students, and the deep structure of his books, especially the ‘legominism’ Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (New York: Harcourt, 1950). In doing so, Tamdgidi demonstrates the methodological value of hermeneutics to interpret Gurdjieff’s texts and to reconstruct the hints and ‘fragments’ into a coherent whole. This book reveals some of the ‘mesoteric’ ideas on the transcultural sources of Gurdjieff’s cosmology, the appropriate use of friction in the teacher-student relationship, and the hypnotic structure of many occult ideas. Tamdgidi’s analysis however has some broader implications about the performative nature of Uttering a Word, and why the Task and Curse of a Magus involves a paradigmatic shift or conceptual distance.

The Damned United: Leadership Lessons

Tom Hooper’s The Damned United (2009) dramatises Brian Clough‘s 44-day stint as Leeds United football coach. You don’t have to be an English football film to appreciate the film which is a cautionary lesson on leadership, set in the downtrodden, rainy Northern English landscape that has become a Screen Yorkshire aesthetic.

Clough (Michael Sheen) makes several classic mistakes which self-saboages his leadership. He accepts the job because of personal animus with his predecessor Don Reavey (Colm Meaney), whose team has used dirty tactics in games with Derby County, a third league team which Clough and assistant coach/talent scout Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall) have taken into the first league. Clough’s aggressive leadership style alienates the Leeds players who still feel loyal to Reavey, and who undermine their new coach. Clough does not have a 100-day transition plan and improvises his training sessions. Nor does he brief the Leeds players on pre-game tactics, whereas Reavey compiled detailed dossiers, in advance, on Leeds’ competitors. Clough’s overconfidence and chutzpah becomes a liability to the Leeds board when he fails to deliver results, and he blows-up. Anyone who has been through an exit interview will empathise with Clough’s sad observation outside the boardroom, ‘every story ends with two words . . . the end.’

Peter Morgan’s script (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland) based on David Peace’s novel (The Red Riding Trilogy) contrasts Clough’s troubles with his earlier success with Derby County. A sub-narrative reveals how Taylor’s expertise was essential to Clough’s success, and how the assistant coach ‘grounded’ Clough’s all-consuming ambitions. The relationship frays when Clough miscalculates during a brinkmanship negotiation with Derby County’s board, which accepts Clough and Taylor’s resignation, despite them getting the club to the top of the English league. On reflection, The Leeds board suggests that their error was in the wrong hiring decision: they should have hired Clough and Taylor, rather than Clough alone. Clough’s blindspot was a lack of political savvy: as a manager he refused to negotiate with Derby County’s owner or to heed his advice, and to listen to the Leeds board.

The film’s epilogue shows Clough and Taylor’s later success with Nottingham Forest, which won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980.The Damned United alludes to a deeper reason why Clough failed at Leeds: the ‘situational fit’ of talent to strategic circumstances that may only become clear in retrospect. Clough was a gifted turnaround coach whose chutzpah was needed to energise and motivate teams. Leeds had hired Clough with a different aim, to sustain and build its high performance team. Clough was correct to see how money would redefine English football, but in this transitional period, managers did not yet have the power to out-negotiate boards and club owners.

Four Ideological Views of District 9

Critics have predominantly interpreted Neil Blomkamp’s science fiction
film District 9 (2009) as an allegory on South
Africa’s apartheid system, racism and xenophobia
. Below are four ideological views of the film’s narrative arc and plot elements. In the spirit of W. W. Warren Wagar‘s
work on alternative social futures, these also highlight how the same
media artifact can be perceived through different political
philosophies.

Continue reading “Four Ideological Views of District 9”

Frost/Nixon (2008) & Negotiation Games

Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Frost/Nixon (2008) adopts a thriller format in contrast with the Melbourne Theatre Company’s stage production which I saw several months ago.  Salvatore Totino’s cinematography turns David Frost‘s interview into a claustrophobic tit for tat whilst editors Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill linger on the emotional aftermath of Richard Nixon‘s elicited, emotional self-disclosure.

For me the MTC’s version suffered from a first act which established the interview’s circumstances, obscured the dual track negotiations between Frost and Nixon’s advisers, and veered into comedy, before ratcheting up the second act.  Howard avoids this dilemma through taut pacing that has a semi-documentary feel heightened when the characters deliver their monologues straight to the camera.

The cast needs to be stellar for this ensemble film and it delivers.  Frank Langella’s Nixon is a self-tortured leader with feet of clay; I have to now revisit Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995) for a comparison.  Michael Sheen’s Frost adopts a chutzpah mask which hides a risk-taking gambit to avoid career demise and the compromises made to financiers.  Kevin Bacon’s Jack Brennan is prepared to take the flak for Nixon.  Sam Rockwell’s James Reston Jr. evokes how research can become an all-consuming quest when your beliefs and passions are on the line, deftly counterpointed by Oliver Platt’s Bob Zelnick who zigs and zags between self-depracating humour and conscientious objector angst.  Matthew Macfayden’s John Birt updates the role he played in Spooks (aka MI5) as a nuanced political operator who must counterbalance Frost’s chutzpah and the resistance it creates for Reston Jr. and Zelnick with keeping the team together, and getting the interview planning, negotiations and logistics done.  Rebecca Hall’s Caroline Cushing and Toby Jones’ Swifty Lazar provide comic relief from the tension and function to advance the film’s plot points.  Langella gets the spotlight for his Nixon portrayal yet the rest of the cast are vital because the plot needs everyone to be a coherent whole.

Playwright and scriptwriter Peter Morgan‘s previous films have explored weighty themes: self-willed blindness to the dark side of charismatic leadership in The Last King of Scotland (2006) and leadership judgment during crisis-driven events in The Queen (2006).  Set after Watergate and Nixon’s presidential pardon, Frost/Nixon explores the commitment costs for a research group that sets out to achieve public justice and the ploys in a complex multi-party negotiation.  There’s far more beyond the heart-to-heart phone call between Nixon and Frost, and Nixon’s final self-disclosure, just as there was more to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987) than Gordon Gecko’s ‘greed is good’ sound-bite.  All sides use psychological tactics to gain momentary bargaining advantages and to leverage power imbalances, from Swifty Lazar’s late night reply on Frost’s opening bid to Birt, Reston Jr. and Brennan’s interruptions of the interview taping at strategic points that are beneficial to their teams.  Frost opts to ‘lure the tiger from the mountain’ (36 Strategies) for Nixon to self-disclose, enraging Reston Jr. and Zelnick who want a front-on attack about Watergate and the Vietnam War.  Nixon uses sleight of mouth patterns to interrupt, stall and throw Frost off guard.  Birt is caught in a position akin to a consultant or line manager: responsible for logistics and having to persuade all parties to move forward.  Anyone who has had to raise money against the odds for a project will wince with familiarity at Frost’s desparate meetings with television network chiefs and advertising agencies.  It’s this pointillism which makes Frost/Nixon even richer than the interview’s climatic revelations and why the film will be perfect for an MBA class on mergers and acquisitions, negotiation and game theory.

Now all I need to see are the Frost/Nixon original interviews . . .

Chinese Democracy

Chinese Democracy looks set to be the most delayed and expensive album in history: a rumoured $US13 million recording budget, 5 guitarists, 14 studios and a horde of Pro Tools digital editors.  I’m not exactly a Guns n’ Roses fan but I bought the album anyway for the CD booklet: a list of production credits for the massively overrun project.  For the project’s background see Wikipedia’s CD history page and Jeff Leeds’ article “The Most Expensive Album Never Made” (New York Times, 6th March 2005).

Interesting that Axl Rose augmented the Best Buy-only release with a MySpace streaming strategy and that Amazon.com’s top search today for “Chinese Democracy” is Metallica‘s Death Magnetic (Elektra, 2008) . . . Rose’s CD is ninth on the search algorithm’s list.

I’m saving most of my thoughts on Chinese Democracy for a journal article. 

Former Gn’R co-founder Slash in his autobiography Slash (HarperEntertainment, New York, 2007), co-written with Anthony Bozza, has a prescient and interesting anecdote (p. 371) on Rose’s decision to use Pro Tools in the recording studio:

There were rows and rows
of Pro Tools servers and gear.  Which was a clear indication that Axl
and I had very different ideas of how to do this record.  I was open to
using Pro Tools, to trying new things–but everyone had to be on the
same page and in the same room to explore new ideas.  The band managed
to do a little bit of jamming and come up with some things.  A couple
of the ideas I had come up with Axl apparently liked and they were
recorded onto Pro Tools and stored for him to work on later.

We’d show up at different times every evening, but by eight p.m.
generally everyone in the band would be there.  Then we’d wait for Axl,
who, when he did come, arrived much, much later.  That was the norm; it
was a dark, miserable atmosphere that lacked direction of any kind.  I
hung out for a bit; but after a few days I chose to spend my evenings
at the strip bar around the corner, with orders for the engineers to
call me if Axl decided to arrive.

15 Years In The Wilderness

Actor Mickey Rourke is an Oscar favourite for his Method role in Darren Aronofsky‘s The Wrestler (2008).  Press coverage focuses on Rourke’s rise-and-fall: how his bad boy image led to onset difficulties in the late 1980s, a bitter breakup with model Carre Otis, and living humiliated, destitute and largely forgotten by the mid-1990s.  Arrogance, self-loathing, and rejecting offers for roles in later blockbusters all played a part in Rourke’s banishment to straight-to-video films.  He has waited 15 years in the wilderness before a career turnaround.

The Guardian‘s Carole Cadwalladr captures this destructive career arc in a poignant interview in which Rourke examines his poor decisions and their impact.  It’s as if Marlon Brando had coauthored Sidney Finkelstein’s study Why Executives Fail (Portfolio, New York, 2003): see Finkelstein’s homepage, the book’s website, and a video lecture.  Rourke admits to many of the communication problems, career-blocking moves and blow-ups that Allen N. Weiner identifies in his book So Smart But . . . (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2006).
I reflected on Cadwalladr’s profile for a week: Rourke has insights about why star performers can blow-up.  And then Pat Jordan of The New York Times decided to do some fact-checking with others after an interview with Rourke.  What emerges from Jordan’s investigation is a far more nuanced view of Rourke’s anecdotes and self-narratives to Cadwalladr and other journalists.  “He has spent his entire adult life playing not fictional characters but an idealized delusional fantasy of himself,” Jordan observes.  Maybe so, but Cadwalladr and Jordan have both written detailed and emotive portraits of Rourke who now could have a fourth act: following Finkelstein and Weiner on the corporate seminar circuit on how not to make decisions that destroy careers and reputations.

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Steven Sebring’s sprawling documentary Dream of Life explores a 12-year Saturnian arc in the life of poet and musician Patti Smith.  She moves from Detroit, Michigan to New York’s Chelsea Hotel after the death of husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, and reactivates her touring band.  Sebring interweaves historical glimpses of her early recordings and encounters with Beat author William S. Burroughs with the praxis of a return to performance: late night ideation sessions, fellow musicians tuning Smith’s guitars, a meditation on Coney Island, backstage warm-ups, impromptu jams, and onstage free-form poetry.  Smith situates her search for stillness in the mundane (an angst-free visit to her parents for dinner, scenes with son Jackson and daughter Jessie), the spiritual (breaking down during a reading in memory of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg), the aesthetic (visits to the graves of Beat poet Gregory Corso and Decadent author Arthur Rimbaud), and contemporary politics (a call to arms against the Bush Administration).  Amidst the Romanticist rage for life are moments of quiet revelation: Smith tells how her brother’s death triggered a transmission of baraka (grace).

No Exit

The live shows are amazing when the band focuses on the music but things fall apart in between.

That’s the narrative arc of No Way, Get F*#ked, F*#k Off! an SBS/Beyond International documentary on the reformation of the Australian rock band The Angels after eight years of legal battles.  The documentary contrasts fan jubilation with the band’s in-group struggles: leadership battles between lead vocalist Doc Neeson and rhythm guitarist John Brewster over setlists and song arrangements; drummer Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup’s disagreements with management over the contracts for merchandise and songwriting royalties; and the weight of the past, notably an archive trip with revelations about The Angels‘ support tours at their prime with David Bowie, Cheap Trick and The Kinks.

No Way, Get F*#ked, F*#k Off! wisely steers away from The Angels’ live performances on a small club tour.  Instead, we see how subgroup coalitions form over the tour, from rehearsals to the final gig.  Neeson and John Brewster’s strong personalities act as two magnetic poles.  Neeson appears frustrated that Brewster and lead guitarist Rick Brewster use pincer-style tactics to get their way on key decisions.  John Brewster feels compelled to defend The Angels’ management which is taking on the financial risk of the tour, and the record company which offers a favourable deal.  Bidstrup is cautious because of past contracts that signed away his
legal rights during The Angels’ 1976-81 vintage period.  He also points that Brewster-Neeson-Brewster received royalties as the core songwriters, so there are incentives and power imbalances in the group that affects the decision-making process.

As the tour unfolds the group dynamics change.  Neeson extracts an early concession to have Neeson-Brewster-Brewster on the tour merchandise.  Bidstrup demands further assurances on the scale and scope of the tour contracts.  John Brewster claims Bidstrup is being “difficult” because of his business management and entrepreneurial experience outside The Angels.  Brewster and Bidstrup misinterpret eachother in meetings as Neeson withdraws.

No Way, Get F*#ked, F*#k Off! ends on an uncertain note: management refuses Bidstrup can attend a pivotal meeting, Brewster defends their decision, and Neeson counters that he is uncomfortable with excluding Bidstrup.   As the credits roll Bidstrup wonders on-camera if he will remain in The Angels or if he joined the tour just to “close the circle” on earlier events.  Bidstrup could leave, as Jason Newstead and Joey Belladonna did respectively from Metallica and Anthrax (after their Among The Living reunion in 2005-07).  Alternatively, The Angels could partly resolve Bidstrup’s concerns with songwriting credits for new songs to all band members, as Queen did on their final studio albums with Freddie Mercury.

Global Metal

York University anthropologist Sam Dunn has found a communication strategy to reach a broader audience than many academics and scholars.  Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005) combined Dunn’s fandom of heavy metal music, a taxonomy of subgenres, interviews with influential musicians and a field trip to the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.  Dunn’s follow-up documentary Global Metal (2008) travels from Wacken to three BRIC members (Brazil, India and China), China, Israel, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Global Metal has rich insights on the coevolution of nation-states in the world system, the challenges of market design, indigenous and hybrid responses to globalisation, and new voices on old debates in heavy metal subcultures.

Anthropologists need an entry point into a new culture.  Dunn achieves this by interviewing Max Cavalera the cofounder of Brazil’s Sepultura and frontman for Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy.  Cavalera explains that Sepultura emerged in the mid-1980s as Brazil evolved from a military dictatorship to a neoliberal market society.  For many heavy metal fans Sepultura’s album Roots (1996) was their first encounter with an indigenous worldview as the band included field recordings with the Xavante Indians and Brazilian percussion.  Dunn’s interview with Cavalera uses Roots to tacitly bring the anthropological models and theories of Clifford Geertz, David Horowitz, Stanley Tambiah and others to fans who are unfamiliar with these influential scholars.  In contrast to this immersive approach Global Metal ends with a more familiar event: Iron Maiden‘s concert on 1st February 2008 the first time that a major Western heavy metal band has played Mumbia, India.

A second entry point for fans is when Dunn revisits past controversies and debates in heavy metal media to include new voices and perspectives.  Does Slayer‘s song ‘Angel of Death’ about the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele promote Holocaust denial and racism?  Dunn turns to the Israeli band Orphaned Land who note that although the song was written for shock value it has been used by politicians to inform Israeli youth about the Holocaust.  Orphaned Land then talk about Jerusalem as a global city and the past religious conflicts between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Far scarier than Middle Ages imagery and occult demons is Orphaned Land’s reality of having to live daily with potential suicide bombers in crowded urban areas.

Dunn returns to this debate throughout Global Metal to show how different individuals and groups reinterpret a meme or symbol and how this can have unforseeable outcomes.  Orphaned Land recount how after playing ‘Angel of Death’ live for Israeli audiences they were sent a mail bomb by Varg Vikernes a notorious Norwegian black metal musician and Holocaust denier.  Iranian fans who are photographed next to Slayer graffiti face possible arrest and torture by religious police – which provokes Slayer’s frontman Tom Araya to comment that the fans seek a death sentence.

More disturbingly, Dunn interviews the Indonesian band Tengkorak whose song ‘Jihad Soldiers’ embraces a militant Islamist worldview.  When Tengorak’s lead singer quotes conspiracy theories from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Dunn observes his jacket has a crossed out Nazi swastika.  “We’re not against Jews,” the singer explains, “just the Jewish system.”  Dunn then visits a Muslim mosque with another Indonesian musician.  Tengorak’s context is the 1997 Asian currency crisis which sparked a wave of conspiracy theories within Indonesia due to macroeconomic destabilisation.

Many of the interviewees give examples of how heavy metal music is reinterpreted differently to Western narratives.  Japanese fans reject Western alienation as an existential motivation and instead create a more emotional and direct identity that is an alternative to their conformist work identity.  KISS had an immediate impact in Japan as the band’s makeup is comparable to Kabuki theatre.  The live improvisation which closed Deep Purple‘s first concert at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan in 1972 has sparked a subculture of ageing salarymen who reform their teenage bands to play ‘Highway Star’.  Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman explains how X-Japan and Death Panda have fused heavy metal with Japanese game shows like Rock Fujiyama and pop music to create rifts within and between subcultures.  In China heavy metal music is used as part of a Confucian state policy to give youth an outlet for aggression, even though the music is officially frowned upon.  Whilst visiting Mumbai, Dunn intercuts scenes of Indian bands playing a local bar with the Hindu wedding playing Bollywood music next door: two alternative cultures coexist.

The heavy metal subcultures that Dunn visits serve as barometers for nation-state development; freedom for religious and political views; and in a nod to Ulrich Beck, P.R. Sarkar and Amy Chua, the relationship of subcultural groups to mainstream society and sociopolitical power.  Japan has a Janus-faced subculture which has Western and indigenous elements.  India and the United Arab Emirates’ subcultures are at an infancy stage which Dunn links explicitly to democratic political institutions and modernisation: UAE hosts a festival with bands and fans who cannot perform in their home countries due to restrictions.  China, Iran and Turkey have subcultures that are underground due to religious authorities who perceive them as antinomian youth subcultures.  Beck’s concept of subpolitics from below and Sarkar’s Law of the Social Cycle provide theoretical insights here: if the fans are shudra (workers) they have coopted insights from vaeshya (entrepreneurs, merchants) and vipra (intellectuals) to create soft power which counteracts the influence of ksatriya (military).

Brazil and Indonesia are two test cases of this hypothesis.  Cavalera’s narrative of Brazil’s transition to democracy st
ands in contrast to Samuel P. Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies (1968) which warned of the gap between rapid sociopolitical change and lagging political institutions.  Instead, Cavalera argues that Sepultura’s music signified a subpolitics response by the shudra underclass to poverty and the lack of macroeconomic and sociopolitical reforms by social elites.  The flashpoint is Metallica’s concert on 11th April 1993 at Lebak Bulus Stadiam in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich explains that in order to protect a middle class area Indonesian police prevent fans from entering the stadium.  Fans retaliate by setting fire to the surrounding buildings; the smoke is visible on a bootleg concert tape.  Indonesian authorites then banned all heavy metal bands and live tours until the Suharto regime ended in 1998.  Indonesia’s heavy metal subculture have since gained greater visibility although Tengorak gives voice to subcultural fears of Western geoeconomic, cultural and religious domination.

The consensus of most fans in Global Metal is that heavy metal’s ‘identity politics’ is evolving into a transnational network with a cosmopolitan worldview.  Almost everyone in the documentary wars an Iron Maiden t-shirt – the power of Chinese sweatshops, marketing and passionbrands.  The major facilitator is the heavy metal entrepreneur, such as the cofounder of China’s Tang Dynasty who imported Western heavy metal in the late 1980s and then evolved into an indigenous worldview.  The major barrier to this cosmopolitan ideal and diffusion process is when subcultural identities are caught in Muzafer Sherif‘s assimilation-contrast effect of social judgment: Japanese purist fans who decry the fusion of pop-metal or Indian fans who are caught in a power struggle with authority figures and family traditions.

Failures in market design are one source of these infra-subcultural battles.  In order to change their financial account reporting Western conglomerates dumped their excess back catalogue such as Extreme‘s 1989 debut album as cheap CDs into India and other countries.  Third World countries were the beneficiaries of bootlegs, MP3s and illegal downloads.  Dunn coaxs an admission from Ulrich that this is a positive trend, a reversal of Metallica’s lawsuit against Napster in 2000.  Black markets emerge where demand exists yet there are no official agents and major price differentials exist.  Ironically,  Global Metal is a victim of this trend: the documentary and a soundtrack of featured bands now circulates on illegal BitTorrent networks.  Turn up the distortion to 11.