Tuesday, July 14, 2009

8 Deadly Years Of New Sins

8 years have passed since the publication of "The New Sins" by David Byrne. The book which was initially released in May, 2001 has proven to be the seminal book of the decade and is sure to be ranked as one of the 21st century classics.
"The New Sins" was released only 4 months before September 11 and the subsequent events since and the book has prescience. David Byrne has mistakingly been labelled as a "Post-Modern" artist. It would be more correct to call him a Post-Modern critic. That is a critic of Post-Modernism. The New Sins is a scathing critique of Western Post-Modern society. Let's review it.

The book starts off with a hilarious description of its function. It is "a laptop for the soul' which, 'like a porno magazine, a home-cooked meal or a strand of DNA' can be used at any time. David Byrne replaces the money-lenders and whores of Babylon with 'graphic designers, website managers... women who have married stupid, well-endowed but ridiculous men and Nobel Prize winners'.

The premise of The New Sins starts:
"What was evil, despised and abhorrent yesterday is admirable and cheered today. The wealthy were once looked upon with suspicion, with the assumption that unusual wealth implied some unethical activity, the gains probably ill-gotten. But now this is a mark of virtue. The rich, the ostentatious, the loud, the crass and the indifferent are looked up to as models to be emulated. Only the old fogey would hold fast to childhood and traditional values.”

From there David Byrne begins his thesis:

"One may be tempted to laugh at the suggestion that one's most treasured virtues are indeed sins... One may, however, upon reflection, come to accept this fact and then find a strange, calm center, a new model, a place of Astonishment and Peace."

He describes Hell which is basically Western post-modernist society.

"The levels of hell are filled with the virtuous, the nice, the smart and the gregarious. Here they suffer for their sins, especially the hubris of thinking that they have never committed any at all... Here we can see, on the upper levels, graphic designers, website managers and humanitarian relief workers. Their crime? Hubris. Their punishment? Equality. Everyone looks cool, fashionable and absolutely identical... Everything is perfect and unbearable." The text also includes a revised map of The Inferno, which includes public announcement speakers in the top tiers, with human rights activists and missionaries near the bottom. (Journalists fall somewhere in them idle of the eighth circle of Hell, just below market researchers, while serious pop musicians like Byrne reside in the fifth circle.)

So what are the New Sins according to David Byrne? They are: Charity, Sense of humour, Beauty, Thrift, Ambition, Hope, Intelligence/Knowledge, Contentment, Sweetness, Honesty and Cleanliness.

Charity is a means of exerting 'not-so-subtle control over another party'. People like Bill Gates "trample on the poor and weak with money." "If sins can be bought and sold, where does it end? Can anyone buy his way out of a cosmic jam? Do all rich men and women, or those who at least inherit their daddy's money, go to heaven? Is God an entrepreneur?" This is the most devastating critique of capitalist mentality since Trotsky.

Sense of humour is a sin because "humour is the snap, the breaking point, the straw that breaks the camel's back and allows us to turn misery into something else. What is that something else? A cackling, ape-like non-verbal noise." Obama has confirmed this by going on late night TV comedy programs telling jokes to as Byrne says "keep a keeps a hapless population in stitches."

Beauty is a sin because it 'creates the illusion that all is well'. Therein lies the deception.

Thrift s a sin because it denies people goods and pleasures that they want. Saving money for a rainy day is such an example of Anglo-Saxon capitalist society. Serbs don't save money and are notorious spendthrifts which I believe is a good thing.

Ambition is an obvious sin as exemplified by Wall Street financiers and bankers who have caused the current economic depression.

Hope which holds more weight than all the others put together, is essentially empty wishing for order in a chaotic, unfeeling universe. Hope is the most deadly, for it 'is for the cowardly... it deceives us into thinking that there IS narrative, linearity, and not chaos, chance and luck'. This is how the masses can remain optimistic that all is well with the world. The reality is that Hope is "a way of keeping people blinded, ignorant and servile, ignorant of the true and mystical beauty of the universe, a universe which is meaningless and amoral."

Intelligence/Knowledge, of which I am one of the worst offenders is a sin. Why? Because the more you know, the more you know what you don't know. Self-knowledge is dangerous, the more one knows oneself, the smaller one's opinion of oneself.

Contentment is a feeling which comes about because of three conditions.

1. One has completed a task successfully.
2. One has been flattered by an associate.
3. One has finished a large meal.

In other words, Contentment is self congratulatory. Americans suffer most from this. Americans believe they live in the best country in the world but based on being content of putting men on the moon and electing a Black President. But does this make it the best country in the world? Why are Americans so content with their rotten society?

Sweetness is a sin because it conceals the bitter reality of life. Politicians try to be sweet when they run. McDonald's hamburgers are fake food full of toxins but are tasty because they mostly contain sugar. In the West, politicians offer the population candy in order to pacify them as they proceed to rob and enslave them. Byrne writes: "One would do well to be suspicious of all things sweet and cuddly"

Honesty is a sin because it presumes that there is an essential truth. Love is a lie. "Our loved ones demand honesty, but what they really want is better fiction"

Cleanliness "is not next to godliness." In fact, vaccines, excessive bathing, clean fingers have done to spread more disease than prevent them. "Impurities create natural immunities. (Post)Modern life in its sterile bubble is truly a sin against nature."

The book concludes by declaring that "Words are no good," the text states, "They're unreliable. Untrustworthy. It should be obvious by now that they won't stay put."He then launches a blistering attack on "Spin Doctors, Hype Merchants, TV Pundits and Talk Show Experts" Because of them the world has been "beguiled, bewitched, enchanted, charmed, entertained, enthralled, delighted and captivated". With unusual perception Byrne lashes against those who say "Shopping is Democracy." In the weeks after 9/11 former New York Mayor Guiliani urged city residents to "keep on shopping to preserve democracy." His successor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to go out Christmas shopping in spite of one of the worst blizzards in New York history rather than advising them to stay home.

As this nightmare of a decade closes with a less promising one ahead, "The New Sins" is a must read book for those feeling isolated, frustrated and helpless in the current social and political environment.

There is a positive message of the book. There is good news for people like me. As things get worse and the plastic Disneyland of society melts, the very same people who are against me, those under Thought Control, the ones who ridicule me, tell me that I am negative, mad, pessimistic, loser and blah, blah will come crawling to grovel at my feet.

Take heart comrades that are not under Thought Control, we are isolated and shunned for now but mark my words, we will be viewed with awe and wonder.

The best way to order "The New Sins" is to go to David Byrne's web page which is posted on the upper right hand side of the screen.


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Anonymous Petar said...

I must read this book, the half of review was enough to realize that. But I don't see how will that book make anyone feel better. I think that all the people who look through the fake utopia of modern western neo liberal capital (whatever...) society want to commit suicide or at least reconsoliate with the current situation and admit that evertything is coming to an nuclear disaster/self-destruct end and live their lives with a bubble around them. At least that's my point of view. Sorry for my bad english. I will surely read the book. Greetings from Serbia!

P.S. Are you the one "Der Kosmonaut" artist that's coming to Novi Sad?

Sunday, August 23, 2009  

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