Book Review: Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica

Book Review: Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica by Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood – The Big Smoke

Earlier this week, Metallica announced the release of a new album, due in November, and a new single, Hardwiredwhich is available here. Metallica fans have always been a disputatious bunch, and opinion on the latest track quickly divided into two schools of thought.

The conservative faction, which has been miserable, outnumbered and out of power since the late 1980s, denounced the song as an unsuccessful raid on the group’s thrash metal roots. Unworthy of the eight-year wait, unimaginative riffs, and fatuous lyrics made up the lengthy bill of complaint.

The progressive element, which is chirpy and more numerous, greeted the new track with all the enthusiasm, head-banging and variations of “Hell yeah!” that the situation unquestionably called for. For these fans, Load is criminally underrated and Lulu, you know, is really worth a second listen.

This, of course, is a caricature, but it’s based upon a reading of the comments under the Hardwired video on YouTube, where only the most passionate and quarrelsome views find expression. This has convinced me that the vast majority of Metallica listeners fall into neither of the two camps: they are centrists and moderates who have attended a concert or two; they have their personal favourite songs and albums, but would only ever express polite disagreement with their fellow fans; they listened to Metallica in their youth and now do so irregularly, but every time they do, they find their youthful appreciation very much intact.

Read this review at The Big Smoke


Highly Educated Idiots

Highly Educated Idiots – Quadrant

I have a strong suspicion that some of the most useless people in this country have PhDs in the Humanities/Social Sciences. Of course, I don’t really mean to say that these people are unintelligent; obviously they know a good deal about Derrida, Foucault, Butler, and the rest of the gang. It’s their moral relativism that irks me, as well as the cultivated grudges against their own societies and culture. I’m thinking of the insistence that Australia was ‘invaded’, for example, or the tendency to self-blame after each attack by our Islamist enemies. In a way, one has to admire their industriousness: every day they manage to find brand new ways of hating themselves.

When it comes, then, to questions about the upkeep of Western civilisation, the university lecturer is not the person one first thinks to consult. Once upon a time, I have heard, his thoughts and recommendations were confined to the mercifully recondite and unreadable journals of the academic Left. No longer, though. This means I have to update my earlier suspicion: if I am right (and let’s face it, I am), all these useless people will appear, at some stage of their careers, on the ABC.

Read this essay at Quadrant

“Like” This Essay: The Case Against Social Media

“Like” This Essay: The Case Against Social Media – Quillette

When asked where he was from, the Greek philosopher Diogenes replied “I am a citizen of the world.” A jolly sentiment, yes, and one that is well suited for our age, when digital interconnectedness can be harnessed to a universal ethics.

At first glance, social media is a useful means to bring about such a world, but the second glance has a more disheartening effect: one can’t avoid the competitive nastiness, the cries of execration, the trolling and bullying. Diogenes, too, often sounded better in theory than in practice. Against his name there are some fairly credible charges of spirited public masturbation as well as a rumour of his urinating on philosophical detractors. He would have been great on Twitter.

A stirring cosmopolitanism must remain the goal, but I doubt that social media will take us there. It has become a swamp in which tribalism and identity politics suppurate and stink, but never die. It is where one declaims a different and sectarian kind of belonging in the world, more along the lines of “I am a citizen of the gender-bendered, panromantic-demisexual, queer-on-the-second-Tuesday-of-the-month community, ya gotta problem with that, ya fascist?”

Read this essay at Quillette

Comrades: Islamism and the Left

Comrades: Islamism and the Left – Quadrant

In the aftermath of an Islamist assault on civil society, mainstream news coverage and commentary invariably follow the same path. First, after the initial horror, there is a restriction on language: one may speak of Islam or of terror, but not in the same breath. Break this rule and expect to be charged with Islamophobia at best, rank and racist bigotry at worst. Next, the death toll of the incident is balanced against the many alleged depredations of the West which, of course, is said to be the cause of all terrorism in the first place . . .

To put it in a nutshell, the left’s response to terror is an aggressive denial borne of a civilisational self-hatred.

Read this essay at Quadrant

Book Review: Birth School Metallica Death Volume I

Book Review: Birth School Metallica Death Volume 1 by Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood – The Big Smoke

This biography reads like an extended schoolyard discourse on why Metallica is the greatest band ever and why all other bands suck . . .

If the authors had excised just some of the more congratulatory sentences, the book’s length could have been significantly reduced, rendering unnecessary Volume 2, which was released last year. I will not bother to read it. I couldn’t stand to be informed that really, honestly, after the 12th listen, St Anger isn’t all that shit. It is.

So is this book.

Read this review at The Big Smoke

The Masochists Who Defend Sadists: The Regressive Left in Theory and Practice

The Masochists Who Defend Sadists: The Regressive Left in Theory and Practice – Quillette

The regressive left is a new term that encompasses a much older way of thinking about the world, our place in it, and what to do about it. It is a brilliant and evocative term: it brings to mind a Stalinist-left that has survived the twentieth century; it cleverly subverts the progressive label that such writers usually wear; perhaps most importantly, it is a term that will always be pejorative. When the socialist intellectual Michael Harrington called some of his ex-comrades neoconservatives, it was an insult that its targets transformed into a badge of honour. There is no risk of that here. It’s unlikely that the Art of Mentoring publishing house will commission Glenn Greenwald to write Letters to a Young Regressive. And that’s a good thing. The regressive left will discredit itself.

Read this essay at Quillette

On Afghanistan and Indifference

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – Writer’s Edit

And The Mountains Echoed surpasses Hosseini’s other novels, from a literary standpoint and by its ability to illuminate and make real Afghanistan’s modern history. If you want to know Afghanistan – that is, know more than each day’s revised body count – imaginative literature might just more closely resemble real life

Read this review at Writer’s Edit