Monday, August 8, 2011

Putting the rock-occult connection into context

I have mentioned before in passing the connection documented between popular music and occult practice. I have come to the tentative conclusion that this is a subset of the general connection between occult movements and economic elites, and how this relates to leisure-class societies.

Most of us spend a large portion of our time working. It is anomalous to have large quantities of leisure time prior to old age, but there has been a leisure class since at least the establishment of Eridug more than six thousand years ago. The leisure class is defined not by not working, but instead by not needing to work (and thus having their occupation driven by interest rather than economic factors). My thesis about leisure class occupation is that there are three primary categories of popular leisure-class occupation, one of which is dominated by mysticism.

Those classes of occupation available only or mostly to those who are not viscerally and mortally concerned with the accumulation of money are: physical philosophy, abstract philosophy, and time-wasting. Physical philosophy contains such things as tinkering, home improvement, small-scale engineering, painting, sculpting, scientific experimentation, electronics, model trains, and computer programming -- things that are ostensibly potentially profitable but whose potential for profit is a gamble. Abstract philosophy has potentially higher stakes and a lower success rate, and contains both those things we think of as philosophy today, mysticism, the occult, and more rigorous practices like mathematics. Time-wasting contains things like casual golfing -- things that are done to fill leisure time but not done in such a way that money could be gained from them.

A rock star is not initiated into the occult by some record-company-sponsored ritual. A rock star, when he or she makes it big, no longer has to work day and night to make it big; there is more leisure time (though I am not implying that rock stars are slackers; a self-made band, as opposed to a group manufactured by a record company, must generate enormous quantities of flukes before managing to get signed -- Radiohead sent out demos for years under the name On A Friday before they managed to push out Pablo Honey -- and an established artist can have those flukes published rather than sending demos to yet another company). If you no longer have money woes and you can get away with putting in a third of the work you have for years, you can either maintain your current effort (and potentially burn out) or you can take up those things that you could not before. As a result, The Beatles made Crowley and Hare Krishna references, and Bowie writes songs about the Sephiroth. It is easier to get into the occult in a group already saturated with occultists and ex-occultists, and the popular music scene is such a group. But, other notable successful musical artists have taken up building instruments or painting or piloting commercial aircraft.

1 comment:

  1. An artist's life could be potentially more draining than a regular white collar or blue collar's life. They often have to portray themselves in absolute pristine condition, they have concerns about what their focus should be i.e. humanitarian or philanthropic or merely to entertain, they may face feelings of purposelessness to a greater extent than the average person, they must constantly go to concerts and maintain their social status, lest they fall into the background, their lives and careers are necessarily intermingled and inseparable, etc.

    Albeit, it's a narcissistic way of life but it still has its more difficult periods.