A Necessary Evolution: Watch and Learn
by Thinker

Come sit by my fire. I have something to tell you.
Actually, I have a lot of things to tell you. In a perfect world, I'd like to inspire you. But I'll live if I just make you think. It's so easy . . . all you have to do is read. Maybe turn the lights down, pretend I'm talking to you. Pretend you're not reading, let yourself be open and vulnerable. No one will know. All you have to do is listen.

I want to talk to you about Marilyn Manson. Let's pretend I could have a personal talk with him. After getting over the initial thrill I would advise him, "Be aware of how far the evolution has gone. Please don't put yourself down on the next album." That might not seem very grand to you right now. You might not even know what I mean. Just wait a while, and you will be on the brink of a wondrous realization. And it won't be anything I said.

Here's my point of entry. I think the self-directed pessimism on Marilyn Manson's latest album is not necessary in the next album. I have very good reasons for this, which I will show you by talking about the message of Antichrist Superstar. (Yes, this is new. You haven't heard this before. And now we're in.)

I believe I have discovered the reality of Marilyn Manson's message. I believe he is using Social Darwinism to create a gift for humanity: an invitation to become a star. This is a different kind of star than most people think he means, however. Let me explain this. (Trust me, you'll like this . . . )

Any intelligent fan sees that Marilyn juxtaposes both sides of everything. We all know that on Antichrist Superstar, he juxtaposes pessimism against optimism. But specifically how does he do that?
Pessimism about the world is a necessary and constant part of ACS. This worldly pessimism serves as a backdrop, against which he sets the concept of the character Antichrist Superstar. This character, as many others have stated, rises to glory only to realize that he has lost the capacity to feel. As a result, he finds himself bitter and alone, but nevertheless in control of the world. This is represented in Disintegrator Rising, Cycle III of the album. The glory and control of the Antichrist Superstar in the title track, "1996," and "The Reflecting God" (tracks 12, 13, and 15) are set against his bitter loneliness in "Minute of Decay" and "Man That You Fear" (tracks 14 and 16). Even though the ACS hates himself (and by extension the world that made him), he has the power. The world is in his hands. But clearly, this is not a happy character.

Nevertheless, he is the only one who doesn't "need to choose a side." He sits at the center of the circle of life; alone, uninvolved, and dead to the world. But there is a horrible flaw in this character.
The tragedy of the album is that the glorious emergence of the Antichrist Superstar is offset by his final realization that all he has to talk about is his own evolution. Over the course of the album, he waves his arms and tells his story, hoping that it will be enough, hoping that it will make a difference. But it isn't enough, it doesn't make a difference, and he is left alone, able to do nothing except punish the non believers.

There is one quality that the ACS has, I feel, that Marilyn has moved beyond, and this is incredibly significant. The ACS has lost the capacity to feel emotions on his own terms, and I feel that he has not liberated himself from the Christian perspective. This is a phase that Marilyn Manson has passed through in what I call a necessary evolution as he moves on to something greater: the becoming of something that is absolutely necessary to our society. But for now, back to the present.

The Failure of the Antichrist Superstar

As I stated above, the failure of the ACS is that he sees himself in the way that a Christian would see him. Let me focus in on Cycle III to show you how interesting this process really is. This Cycle is composed of five songs:
12. Antichrist Superstar
13. 1996
14. Minute of Decay
15. The Reflecting God
16. Man That You Fear
The Antichrist has arrived.
Tracks 12 and 13 describe the glorious arrival of the ACS. He has his wings, and he is spreading them. I could go on for pages analyzing the lines of splendorous self-affirmation, but these lines are clear, and more effective on their own than I can make them by analysis. Instead I would like to focus on a few choice lines in these two songs that are NOT positive and explain what I think they mean.
From track 12: "Who's mistake am I anyway?" This is interesting. In the middle of this glorious song, the ACS sees himself as a mistake. Perhaps this is pangs of Tourniquet, or perhaps he is just being sarcastic. Perhaps he sees himself as a mistake because the world (which he sees as flawed) made him, and he feels that flawed can only come from flawed. At any rate, we can give him the benefit of the doubt. It is only one line, and after all, the Antichrist is only "almost here." But not yet.
Now he is here. In "1996," the ACS has a stand on everything, from politics to lifestyle to many other things. He lives up to his name; he is "anti" everything. His wings are spread, and he is throwing stones at the unsightly hypocrisies of the world. But look at the last two lines: "Anti song and anti me, I don't deserve a chance to be." He is anti himself. Why? He's clearly in a position of authority. We don't know why yet. And we really shouldn't worry. After all, the whole song was self-affirming, it was just in the last line that he got a little carried away and bashed himself. Right?
Wrong. In track 14, it becomes clear that this little comment is indicative of a serious problem underneath. His nature is to be anti everything, and when he looks at himself, he will be anti himself. "I'd love to just give in, I'd love to live this lie." the entire album, as we know, chronicles the trials and tribulations of the ACS until he emerges in full glory. And now that he emerges, he calls himself a lie, a fraud. This song is a major departure from tracks 12 and 13. Once he turns against himself in "1996," he begins to pick himself apart. "I've looked ahead and saw a world that's dead. I guess that I am too." (Ironically underscored by the whispered moan that sounds like "Oh do you see? Do you know?")
These, I feel, are the most tragic lines of the album. Throughout the album, this character has applied pessimism to the world in order to gain the courage to separate himself from it. All of a sudden, he associates himself with this same world that he decimated in "1996." This is horrible, this is a horrible, horrible problem. His nature is to be anti what he sees, and when he looks at himself, he sees an extension of the world, and is anti himself. Why? The answer is self-evident. He sees himself as bad. He sees himself as flawed, wrong, exactly as the Christian world sees him.

But let's not get too carried away yet. "The Reflecting God" shows a total transition from this bleak mindset. All of a sudden, everything is all right again. "My world is unaffected, I say it is and it's true." This is an ACS in control, creating by the power of speech like God in the book of Genesis. This leads to serious trouble, however, in "Man That You Fear." "You can kill yourself now, because you're dead in my mind." This is similar, what his mind perceives is what should be done, just like in track 15. But about halfway through the song, we find the line "I am so tangled in my sins that I cannot escape." Suddenly, he has "sinned." And what does he want to escape from? It seems as if he doesn't have the strength to stand alone anymore. And how could he? He is the Antichrist Superstar. 'Anti Christ' is simply the opposite of Christ, with Christ retained as a point-of-reference. He STILL sees himself as bad. He has sinned, which is a Christian concept. He is the opposite of Christ, and this mentality is the anchor that drags him under. This is no different than people worshipping the devil because they don't like God.

Antichrist Superstar is Marilyn Manson's progression through this mindset. This album is one step in an evolution both literal and symbolic. It provides us with a firsthand account of the difficulty of separating oneself from what one hates. The ACS tries to separate himself from the Christian perspective. But instead of effecting this separation, he turns himself into something that the Christian perspective hates. He hates himself, and he hates the Christian world that he has failed to escape from. Would Marilyn Manson end an album like this, poised on the edge of a horrible tragedy?
Yes. Why?
Why does he do this?

Basically, because he had to. He is characterizing what can be called a necessary evolution. In order to become un-Christian, he must first become anti-Christian. The ACS and Marilyn achieve this, and it is accompanied by self-hatred and pessimism. How could it not be? The ACS has become something he hates. At this point in real life, I see Marilyn Manson realizing that he can become more than this. He can move beyond Christianity and become an independently functioning entity of tremendous value. He can become separate, not opposite. Many people see the conclusion of ACS as glorious. But as I have described, he hates both himself and the world he escaped from. He is hung up on the Christian world; instead of moving beyond it he wants to punish it. This is merely reactionary, this is not true liberation. This is what I want Marilyn's fans to understand. But many do not. Why?

Marilyn Manson is a band that can be enjoyed on many levels. Their performance is very theatrical, filled with frills, like Bibles, flags, and other accessories. So many people enjoy (or hate) the band because of the way they look and what they do. I, as a fan, would much rather see someone hate Marilyn's message than the fact that he wears lipstick and shouts FUCKIT while looking you in the eye. But I must accept the difficulty that goes with being a fan of this band. People (who like and dislike him), dwell on the superficial. People only seem to care that he rips up Bibles. Some people like this, some are offended. We can learn a lot from the AFA's concocted concert accounts. Everything they created that was supposedly done at these shows was superficial. It did not even occur to them to create a message that was offensive. I used to wonder why Marilyn did these things. Didn't he know that people would dwell on these things and fail to look deeper? Is he really so idealistic that he expects people to see past the frills and get his real message? Of course not. Then why are the frills there?

I said at the beginning of this essay that Marilyn is giving us a gift. But it is a gift from a Social Darwinist. We must be WORTHY of this gift. Marilyn is not a social crusader. He is not out to save the world. He is out to save a select few. The frills are a source of great visual excitement. But they are also, in a sense, a selection process. A certain kind of person will not see past the frills. So they have fun, enjoying the frills. But they do not see the message, and he does not want THIS KIND of person to see it. Of course he wants as many people as possible to understand. But his statements to this effect, like many things he says, have been misinterpreted. The people he wants to understand are the people who have the capacity to understand. For some, it is not possible, and he conversely does not want them to understand. So he makes sure they do not. This is why he makes the message difficult; he wants to keep a certain kind of person from comprehending what he is saying. He wants as many people as possible to understand, but for some it is not possible. (He still wants them to buy the album, of course. And they do.)

The people who do understand see the controversy in a different way from the people who do not understand. The rest of this paragraph, I admit, is basically my opinion. Obviously, I cannot ascribe one point of view to every fan of Marilyn Manson. Nevertheless, I think most informed fans see controversy as an extension of Marilyn, they see him as a sort of creator. Isn't he, after all? Doesn't he in fact create the protester just as he creates this select fan? This fan will get sucked in more and more. This person can simply observe what goes on around him, detached because he knows the source. He is held fast in the knowledge that the concert never stops. He is pulled into the center of a select circle, or society, from which he is able to apply this new perspective to the world. Unlike the ACS, this fan does NOT see himself as a product of a world that he hates. Marilyn is able to give this fan the independence that the ACS lacks. Marilyn Manson, like Christ many years ago, has created a group of people who are able to see the world in a way that no one else does. They are able to work to change the world, but if they fail, they have the inner strength where it does not even bother them. Not everything in the world is an extension of Marilyn Manson, but the perspective we have, in a large way, is a result of him.

This is the essence of Social Darwinism and Satanism. Some people will get the message (if they are able) and will receive a beautiful gift. Others will not, and will hopefully enjoy the show. They are, mind you, watching a different show than we are.
We see a man who not only is going through the evolution of the ACS, but is willing to let us see it happen. We can listen to the album, and we can watch and read Marilyn himself. I have seen him growing from a person who is anti-Christian into a person who is an individual. He is unique, with a message that is slowly becoming not a reaction to the world, but his own. Little by little, he is leaving the "We are what you have made us" standpoint and sharing what he believes with the world. Nothing is wrong with making people think.

Unfortunately, most people will not even come close to understanding. I used to ask "What good is this complex, wonderful message if only 100 people get it?" But this is MY question, asked out of wanting other people to understand. This is NOT a Social Darwinist's question. The Social Darwinist would answer by telling me "Be thankful for your gift. You have been chosen. Nothing can affect a human being like their perspective on life. Yours has just been affected greatly." He would not want everyone to understand. He would want a certain kind of person who he deemed worthy to understand. And Marilyn Manson is a Social Darwinist.
These select fans who have the ability to understand are able to view the world from a new perspective. They are characterized by confidence and strength of character because they are able to brush aside the hypocrisies of the world without dismay, or if they choose, work to fix them. Marilyn preaches that strength comes from within rather than from above. By getting in touch with oneself, one can deal with the hypocrisies of the world in a positive way. One does not ignore them, one is able to see them as they are and either dismiss them or work to change them. Marilyn's hand comes in creating the new perspective.

The Big Point

This is the mental Apocalypse Marilyn speaks of; a death of the everyday point of view and a growing certainty that what one needs comes from within. Not from impersonal contacts, not from God, not from anything except oneself. This, obviously, is a huge departure from Christianity.
And this is what the ACS cannot do. The ACS, and Marilyn when in this stage, is the scapegoat. ACS ends, but the life of Marilyn Manson goes on. The ACS fails to achieve individuality, but Marilyn Manson is succeeding. The failure, and the sacrifice of the ACS brings to light the opportunity for each of us to see what he has done wrong, and become our OWN star, as Marilyn has done. Only in Christianity does the ACS not 'deserve a chance to be.'

The power comes from within YOU. Someone who rises to the pinnacle of individuality but sees himself as anti-Christian is still not seeing himself properly. There is no liberation in the ACS. He has not left Christianity behind, in fact, at the end of the album he announces his intent to punish the Christian world. He is truly wallowing in it.

The liberation is not on the album. The ACS is a sacrifice so that we may bring about the liberation in ourselves. The album inspires the liberation. We are taught that our inner passions and strengths are power, and we should not let the world take them from us. The world is in our hands, not anyone else's. And this is what Marilyn Manson is accomplishing. And we can see it if we want. All we have to do is look.

I am not suggesting that Antichrist Superstar is not autobiographical, I am simply saying Marilyn Manson has evolved beyond it. He has shown us, in epic scale, a part of his evolution into whatever he is becoming. He wants us to evolve into what he is already becoming: a sensitive person who is able to believe in himself despite being thoroughly un-Christian (un-Christian means not Christian, separate from it; not simply the opposite of it). He is right to say: "You'll understand when I'm dead." When he dies, the evolution will be over, and only then will we be able to see the complete picture.

Marilyn Manson has stated that he considers personal worth to be based on affecting the world, leaving a mark. The most shallow minded person can see that he has done this. But he has done more than this. He has enabled others to leave a mark as well. He has given personal strength to some who do not have it, and security of belief to others who do. Sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn't it? And the next album will, I am sure, bring people into what some view as religion. Most do not view it this way, but it still is quite interesting, isn't it? And in this way, he is making people think, watch, and learn. The whole world is not waiting breathlessly for the next album, but quite a few people are. How can one, regardless of personal belief, not become involved in what happens to this man? Who can not be drawn to a figure who has made his personal life public? Who can not be drawn to a figure who, unlike most people, changes, develops, regresses, and lets us see it? People actually throw stones at this man! It usually is the people who are incapable of evolving into anything, which is just flat out ridiculous. Why criticize someone who is doing something that you cannot do? I think YOU (the criticizer) have the shortcoming, not him.

And the other thing people fail to realize that as Satan has been an ally of Christianity, adding fear, effectively creating more Christians, so is Marilyn Manson. He is making people determine what they believe, and he is scaring some people, I am sure, into Christianity. So let the man perform, let him sing. He's doing a lot for everybody, causing them to affirm their beliefs. This is not a detriment to society.

Those who do not understand will see the next album as militant, and might even hide their heads in the sand because of it. But to some, it will be a sanctuary and a guide. It will be written for all of us who have the potential to become the beautiful people. All it takes is someone to touch the mind, a little inspiration. The more people knock him, the more inspiring he seems. Overcoming adversity is what inspires people, not creating it. Marilyn Manson's priorities are exactly where they should be. He doesn't want to be a crusader, a Christ, or a protester. He wants to be Marilyn Manson. I think a lot of people secretly do. How many people go into teaching or religious service because they want to inspire people, because they want to make a difference? In a sense, everyone is just like him. Except in some ways, he's better. Because he is doing it. He is getting something done. What are you doing?

(thanks to angelynx and my girlfriend for their help with this. They are doing something.)

Comments for the writer of this piece? write to thinker59@hotmail.com.

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