Print issue SPEX No. 375 focuses upon anger and resistance in pop culture. For this reason SPEX invited artists from all over the globe to answer the question: Is Anger An Energy? Read the full-length interviews online only. Today: Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra) from Montreal, Canada.
What does anger mean to you? And how important is resistance for you? How and against what are you protesting?
There’s a whole lot of us who got kicked to death when we were young. By parents, or by the police. By degenerate teachers or shitty bosses. And then a long series of slow sunsets, with despair and meaninglessness writ across the horizon in burning letters. We’re all stuck living in the shadow of speculative capitalism, an upside down world where material realities are never acknowledged, where decisions are made by foolish leaders and a degenerate political class, where abstracted language obscures the daily violence demanded by a rotten system that prioritises the accumulation of capital above all. There’s children, starved, drowned, and then buried in pits, and everyone knows that there’s something even more terrible waiting for us just around the corner. Our lives are controlled by an inept meritocracy that’s consumed by a profound insecurity. Their vanities and tantrums unleash calamity. The king is a fool, and stands there naked and jeering with his cock in his hand.
Meanwhile, the idea of the state as a benevolent institution tasked with protecting and feeding its citizens has been completely undone. Now the only function of the state is the infliction of violence – through military aggression, racist policing, or benign neglect. Anger and rage are reasonable reactions. But also love, pride and focus. Resistance takes many forms, but it has to be urgent, because capitalism ends with the world consumed. We won’t be saved by pragmatism or reasoned argument – there’s no point in debating a psychopath. The day has come when we all have to choose a side, the accumulation of wealth is an obscenity that justifies itself relentlessly and ends in apocalypse. Our only hope lies in the sheer numbers of us who are locked out of its gilded domain.
„Culture should leave a taste like blood in your mouth, it should leave you feeling a little uncomfortable and excited, with a ringing in your ears.”
Taking a look at the current state of the world, does your urge to take a stand, to speak out, to act get stronger?
Things don’t seem worse to me than they did 40 years ago. We were all of us born into this mess, and it’s all we’ve ever known.
Is there room for more than symbolic protest within the realm pop culture? How can pop culture bring about change, even beyond the already converted?
A healthy culture is a thing made by people, a messy fabric with frayed ends, knit through with contradictions and tension. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world – there’s stories that ring true and there are stories that are false. Right now popular culture just feels like fables to me. Aspirational fairytales engineered as ruthlessly as fighter jets – clean lines and glimmering steel. Culture should leave a taste like blood in your mouth, it should leave you feeling a little uncomfortable and excited, with a ringing in your ears. The only songs that have ever changed the world are wretched national anthems, but there are songs scattered through the history of this world like cached ammunition – proud and awkward things, caked in mud, that speak to a world that could be, or a world that was, a hopeful joy, tied to an anchor and slowly sinking.
What is the most urgent cause of your art?
The endless war against despair.
Alle Kurzinterviews mit Künstlerinnen und Künstlern aus aller Welt zum Thema Wut & Widerstand, die im Rahmen des Schwerpunkts in der Printausgabe SPEX No. 375 in gekürzter Form zu lesen sind, werden nach und nach online veröffentlicht. Das Heft kann im Onlineshop versandkostenfrei bestellt werden.