Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The Quest For European Identity

 I've long been a secret fan of the spectacular soundtrack to the famous video game known as ''Skyrim''. I no longer have the time to fritter away endless hours on video games, but I often find myself returning to the music of Skyrim when writing or reading. Based on my listening habits YouTube suggested that I might be interested in listening to a new full album of orchestral arrangement's by Jeremy Soule, the composer of Skyrim's soundtrack.

Soule's style is heavily influenced by Wagner, Sibelius, Mozart and Debussy. As can be seen by the titles to his ''The Northerner Diaries'' Soule, an American from Idaho, has a longing for the frozen north of Scandinavia and it shows in every melody he writes. Grandiose vocal arrangements contrast with delicate piano pieces, it's ethereal, epic and an ode to high adventure and the heroic spirit.

 And yet, for all that, Jeremy Soule writes music for video games. He has just 10,000 Followers on Twitter and had to use a ''Kick-Starter'' campaign to help fund his Northerner Diaries project.

 When I sent a friend The Northerner Diaries it was with the caveat of: ''Yeah, it's video game music but it's pretty good''

And yet my snobbishness was totally unwarranted because there's hardly anything at all within the mainstream of western culture today which speaks to Europeans as Soule's music does. That is not to suggest that Soule is the second incarnation of Wagner or Brahms, but rather that in order to find something which could be seen as spiritually European we now have to venture out into subcultures within subcultures.

Having clicked on one YouTube video game related soundtrack I then found myself bombarded with more suggestions. One video entitled ''RPG Playlist - Peaceful/Travel Music'' had 1,396,953 views and the tracks themselves were listed:
Small wonder that so many young white men sink literally thousands of hours into submerging themselves in these fantasy worlds. Indeed, the more conspiratorial among us might suggest that these avenues were deliberately left open to them. Though then again the ''Gamergate'' controversy was an attempt by leftist forces to subvert video games which seems to have been beaten back to some degree.

 Nevertheless, the postmodern culture of the West is one in which themes and ideas speaking directly to European people exist as pockets of rain-forest surrounded on all sides by fields of grazing McDonald's cattle burgers.

 Of course, it's easy to take pot-shots at the grown man who spends hours ''role playing'' as a Nordic warrior while the world around him burns and he's steadily eradicated. However, of interest here is not so much the games, which are simply the medium, but the fantasy package as a whole which they platform. 

The music and artwork, and the typically European trait of creating open worlds to be explored, is emerging wherever it can because it has been purged from the rest of the cultural arena. To strive to disappear within these fantastical lands is an implicit rejection of what modernity has to offer. 

 The irony is further compounded by the fact that the technology which hosts these epic sagas is state of the art, the very best modernity can conjure, and yet the European uses it for depicting vast sprawling landscapes and warriors, princesses which actually deserve to be saved and of course, sadistic sorcerers plotting from within hidden tombs and fortresses while swarms of orcs and goblins defile the land.

 Something within us yearns for romance and heroism, adventure and wonder, a metaphysical reality where the codes and morals are set, and reflect the European spirit.

 The fantasy genre differs dramatically to the far more Jewish arena of comic books when it comes to the nature of evil. In comic books and the endless, dull Hollywood productions based on them, evil is usually nothing more than a physically powerful foe which must be defeated. In fantasy, whether Robert E Howard's Conan, or Tolkien or the Elder Scrolls or the World of Warcraft sagas, evil is something intangible propagated by something unseen or difficult to understand. 

 JK Rowling may well be an irritating SJW who's mind is addled with feel-good lefty slogans, but Harry Potter spent his entire youth fighting against a myth, a ghost, Voldemort only actually appeared for the final battle but spent years driving Potter mad. In stark contrast Marvel's ''Avenger'' series of movies simply repeat themselves ad nauseum. Each new addition is simply a regurgitation of the previous installment but the villain will have a bigger laser/axe/hammer/spaceship etc. 

 The fantasy archetype of the European hero knows what he must do when he is faced with evil and has the physical power to win, the problem is overcoming self doubt and moral confusion.

 In the end it's that moral confusion and self doubt which has resulted in depictions of European myth and heroism being relegated to subcultures within subcultures, purged from mainstream discourse. 

It's almost as if a tricksy sorcerer was at work, but we can't be sure...... 

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