So I’ve finished Lords of Chaos. I’d been lusting after this book since it came out about 15 years ago and finally got it! Waiting that long also got me the revised and expanded edition, which is a good thing, I guess. Additions are several appendices, including an interesting essay by Kadmos on the folk tales of the “Wild Hunt” and updated and new interviews. It’s funny, I do remember back in the 1990s when Vikernes got arrested and even more so the media response to the killings by the guys from ABSURD and the Nazi-connections that came later, because the German press was all over it.
The book itself is interesting and if anything I learned that I probably would not have gotten along with those guys up North, not the least because of their utter lack of humor, but also because their perception of Satanism is, in my opinion, incredibly primitive (“being evil for the sake of being evil”-blablabla) and very tied up in a binary framework with Christianity on the one side and Satanism on the other. The first third of the book consists of interviews with the main characters (Vikernes, Metallion, etc) and is very close to a ‘true crime’ book. The research is very meticulous and you’d probably have problems finding anything comparable about these particular events somewhere else. The level of access is probably due to Moynihan’s reputation.
However, there is one point where I feel the book oversteps the boundaries of journalistic integrity — when the authors try to interpret the emergence and crimes of the so-called ‘Black Circle’ in particular and the Black Metal scene as an ‘atavistic resurgence’ based on C.G. Jung‘s notorious ‘Wotan’ essay. I think that smells too much like trying to legitimize their actions by framing them as a resurgence of an atavistic force, a stirring in the soul that somehow makes this ‘right’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problems seeing reality, personal actions and personal agency in magickal terms and I do think that there is an outside force (for lack of a better term) that can be tapped into and which at the same time taps into us. However, I do have a problem with legitimizing violence, hate, and destruction by framing it within something that goes beyond personal responsibility and accountability — like a Wotan archetype that ‘awakes’ and wreaks havoc. Like the Duke said: “buy the ticket, take the ride.” Responsibility for your own actions is krieg.
It’s good that the book didn’t continue along those lines and the chapter called ‘Their Satanic Majesties’, which consists of interviews with academics and more mature Satanists and which is truly a great compendium of different voices on the phenomenon of Norwegian Black Metal / Satanism in the context of Satanism as a positive force. And it stays on that level in the following chapters, so the Wotan issue stands out even more as a suspicious hiccup.
Overall it’s a great book and if you are just a teeny-weeny bit into Black Metal, Satanism, and True Crime this book is a must. It’s well written, the authors have a high level of access, and it’s a fun read, especially if you’ve been into the black metalz back when it all began.
PS: Wow, and they are even making a movie out of that book…!