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|One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche|
May 5, 2013
Jeff Hanneman was birthed from the void with a curious spirit that sought to understand and then communicate. He took a wide look at what was going on, sensed its motion, denial, and darkness, gained an understanding of its subtle aspects, and cast compact and jarring stories into a terrifying musical language.
He learned of war in his childhood, a truth that rendered both placid humanitarianism and indulgent hedonism as absurd responses to life. Like a battle hardened soldier, you can never really return to comfortable bubble once you know certain facts about the world.
His career developed quickly. To accomplish anything, you have to go out quick, casting forth your best ideas, and constantly refine and expand your efforts with clarity. He founded Slayer along with guitarist Kerry King, and filled out the rest of the band with a unified conception that kept them on track for a long voyage instead of fighting against one another like a dysfunctional nation with diverse and contradictory ideals.
Lives are short, death is forever. We escape nothingness only briefly and make our best efforts to put something together before we are snuffed.
As a guitarist, he evolved guitar tones and solos by building a sonic landscape sculpted by squeals, howls, atonal assemblages, and wailing cries that evoked alluring horror. His solos went beyond Greg Ginn's influence, making wild use of the whammy bar to paint a visage of hell, often unconfined by measured notes and conventional composition, crafting tones that compelled as much as frightened, too intriguing and original to ignore, despite the expansive hellish images they consistently delivered.
His lyrics were a rich wine and smokey whiskey with cave aged cheese and Cuban cigars, devoid of moral propaganda, instead choosing to tell plainly what something was with clean distinction, respectful of other conscious beings instead of promoting obedience to customary slander and oversimplification found in bleating media babble.
Everything that exists in the world is part of the world, thus to talk about the world presupposed that we first fully accept its parts as existing. Further, once we acknowledge the existence of all constituent entities, we should judge their characteristics, relations, value, and results in order to weigh and measure them -- and to withhold judgment is dishonest, deliberately ignorant, and cowardly.
In Hardening of the Arteries, Hanneman writes about the orientation of humanity that makes life miserable and undesirable as a consequences of destroying everything healthy and natural. He accuses modern society of teaching a cruel sadism that inclines youth to follow a path that despoils mankind's bounty. Born full of possibility, humanity has become cut short by the tendency to drive everything valuable into extinction. He artistically avoids getting into the politics of good intentions or proposing an easy brain-dead solution, instead telling about the situation in a way that reminds of what has already been recognized, but perhaps not framed into a picture of our existence.
Postmortem goes a step farther, making a psychological diagnosis for the long decline of civilization. It opens with a chilling assessment worthy of personal exegetical study.
Funeral held for the depression of man
Man is depressed, and from this follows all his uncaring wreckage. Nor are we innocents -- nothing was done to us, but we have done everything to ourselves, and sometimes blame scapegoats. The lyrics tell of incipient death, an utter pointlessness and renunciation contrasted with its undeniably physical essence and corporality as the visceral body at war with abstract conceptions often commandeered for delusion and crippling ideologies.
Hanneman poses the bursting, explosive desires for life against the snuffing mental constructions of spiritual death, suggesting that dominating fatal attitudes and looming social collapse indicates a loss of collective direction away from aspiration.
We must strike quickly to make our mark, and Hanneman made the best of his opportunity to honor his discoveries in the universe with a brilliant take on the world he candidly observed, calmly digested, and found an evocative way to present. His effort enriches us and its greater consideration is a victory for the heroic warriors who flash into this world at the most uncanny moments and raise the spirits and quality of life for all, no matter now small their reward.
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