Tag Archive: literary theory

After a long and occasionally ambivalent experience with Death Grips, seeing them live at Webster Hall on July 7th added only more thoughts and ideas to a long list from which I can derive no cohesive position of “like” or “dislike,” other than, “if it’s Zach, I need it.”

I have a fairly unique relationship with Zach Hill, Death Grips’ drummer. My old band, Rocket Surgery, opened for Zach at the Knitting Factory when he was guest-drumming with Marnie Stern on July 8, 2007. Here is a video of a piece of Rocket Surgery’s performance.

Additionally, here is an article written about that night from a blog called Don’t Quit Your Dayjob. It says some very nice things about me.

During Zach’s performance, “my mind was completely blown,” as the saying goes. I met Zach afterward and he and I discussed drumming and Plato. He was immensely down-to-earth, warm, and personable. He was the same way towards me when I saw him next, at his solo show (with Nick Reinhart) at Death By Audio a few years later. (He remembered me.) That night changed my life.

And that Marnie Stern show was also a turning point in my life in a way. Suddenly, my perception of greatness moved beyond John Bonham, beyond Jack DeJohnette, beyond Jaki Leibezeit, beyond Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Cobham and Bill Ward, beyond Mitch Mitchell and Tony Williams and Rashied Ali (okay, maybe not quite beyond Rashied). These drummers would always be with me. But now there was a new essence, a new ideal, a new incomprehensible.

If you have not heard Zach, imagine drumming wherein the individual notes are played so fast and intricately, they almost constitute a “solid” sound. He essentially embodies the idea of a musician who is COMPLETELY a musician, who doesn’t give up his life to music but instead merges with music itself, his body becoming an instrument of orderly chaos or chaotic order, depending how you see the universe. You know what? It is easier to just look him up on YouTube.

So naturally, being that I believe no band on earth or in heaven could actually put his godly skills to adequate and complete use, I am both adoring and critical of everything he does. It is difficult to believe that anything happening around him could be as “good” as he is. He is Bobby Fischer, Harriet Tubman, Loki the Norse god of mischief, Rashied Ali, Orson Welles, Alexander the Great, Jackson Pollock, Serena Williams, and of course Jesus Christ, all rolled into one. I simply cannot be ebullient and gushing enough, because his level of skill—the degree to which he has tapped into the infinite—is simply so great. It starts to revive the now-dying Platonist in me, somewhat, and makes life seem, for a few moments at a time, intrinsically meaningful simply because such things as his drumming exist.

As you can probably guess, I am apt to involve my own prejudices and insecurities in any such critique of his music. For instance, I feel his solo album, Astrological Straits, of a few years ago was over-produced and overdone, at least compared to his work with Hella (the band for which he is most well-known other than Death Grips). I would have been much happier listening only to the tracks of his drumming, without all of the layers of synths, sequencers, processed voices, guest guitarists, and audio ephemera.

Part of me guesses that he includes all of those layers of sound out of some inferiority complex, as if to say to the world, with its narrow concept of what a “song” is, “I am a musician too, dammit, not just a drummer! I can make song songs, not just rhythms!” I probably assume that because that’s what I might feel, as a drummer, if I was making an expansive solo album.

He might very well bear no insecurity about his solo offerings. Similarly, he may not hold any misgivings about Death Grips, about whether or not it is “good” in any objective sense but rather that he is able to express himself in it and does his best at doing so. And that’s what gives it its value, its purpose, as far as he is concerned. Or perhaps he thinks it is of excellent quality; perhaps it fulfills him in every way. I suppose he wouldn’t participate in it if he didn’t. (Staying in something on principle? Again, that’s something I would do.)

What we do know is that Death Grips seems to be, by a large margin, Zach’s most popular act to date. Is this partly because of the extreme technological savvy with which they mount their publicity efforts? Is it because of a growing hiphop audience among young white males? Is it a sign that the indie rock circuit is indeed growing stale and boring and music-listeners are looking for a new “underground” sound? Does it have anything to do with the producer Andy Morin’s ear-crunching electronics that give shows a fun, dancey feel, despite Zach’s trillion-notes-per-second lines? Is it that “rock” truly is dead and must be merged with other sounds to relate to “the youth”? Or is it just that Hella’s fans, and fans of acts like Lightning Bolt, Melt Banana, Ahleuchatistas, Black Pus, and other “mathy” organizations, are simply swarming to yet another incarnation of what they like, namely machine-gun drumming and frenzied psychedelia?

I just don’t know. It doesn’t really matter a whole lot, but it’s something I wonder about. I’m not a music critic so I can’t really say with certainty.

Death Grips is nothing if not distinctive. I once read an interview with Zach in Modern Drummer where he says, “don’t try to sound like anyone else.” It is bold advice that he seems to embody to the fullest. Yet he is also highly collaborative, having participated in a long list of bands, ensembles, and guest appearances. I think there are many more artists who don’t think this way when it comes to sounding like other people; “lifting” and “borrowing” is as acceptable in “rock” music as giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day, or flowers on Mother’s Day. Which is largely fine.

“Great artists don’t imitate; they steal,” said Stravinsky. If Death Grips “steals” certain musical conventions—rapping, thumping dance beats, sexually charged lyrics, psychedelic feels—it does so in a brash, forceful, graphic way that directly engages the imagination of the audience, alongside Zach’s otherworldly, beyond-rational-interpretation drumming, to give everything a primal, almost destructive power.

And destruction is what it reminds me of, somewhat. Is it a grand musical statement, separate from “society,” or is it a tearing down of conventions, expectations, genres, AND society? Is it really a worthwhile use of my time trying to understand the artist’s intent?

Generally, I’m not a big concertgoer. I tend to think too much at shows. Also, I don’t like standing still for hours at a time, listening to opening bands that I didn’t come there to see, unable to move or leave (although I admit, I have discovered some life-changing music through opening acts. Plus, I know opening’s value to up-and-coming bands [like Rocket Surgery was]). I’m also not a big fan of encore songs. When the show’s over, I like it to be over. I’m that kind of guy.

The Death Grips show was ideal for me then; even though it started a half-hour late, there were no openers and no encores. It ruled. Also, I was not standing in one place the whole time. I was there in Webster Hall, bouncing, moshing, and shrieking my head off—letting out ALL the aggression—pretty much the whole time, along with everyone else. But the words, “what is this?” were constantly present in my head.

So what is it? The show is somewhere between psychedelic freakout, death-metal moshpit, and some of the most aggressive and fearlessly delivered rapping imaginable, from a guy who is super-jacked; Stefan Burnett reminds me of Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Pucciato with regard to stage presence: power, force, sweat. What it all adds up to is beyond comprehension, all right.

Maybe I spend too much time wondering if I like something before I can be fully “into” it. The complication is that I am very likely to like anything that Zach does, although I will often feel as I felt about his solo album; I could do without all of the ornamentation and just listen to his drumming. This is why I’d make a terrible music critic.

Anyway, I sometimes listen to Death Grips In spite of its lyrics. I’m not big on sexually graphic lyrics such as:

Ass clappin, dick suckin, lock the door to the bathroom – quick fuckin/
Find a whore and it could happen/


We could do this like an orgy/
In the bowels of hell/
Where every Lucy’s hella horny/
And their pussies don’t smell/

Both of those excerpts are from the same song, “I Want It I Need It (Death Heated).” Basically male fantasy painted with burnt-bright colors. I also have a problem with “I Want It” because it uses Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive” as its primary instrumentation. It is not simply that they sampled Pink Floyd that bothers me; rather, it is that they used a song by a guy who had drug problems (Syd Barrett) to make a song about drug abuse.

I guess this kind of problem with a song makes me “sensitive,” “critical,” “old-fashioned,” or, god forbid, just “old.” I don’t like sexually graphic lyrics because they make me uncomfortable. Part of the reason is that, when I hear them, I am forced to ask, “is this misogynistic?”

I don’t like men talking about women as whores. And you just never know what the artist will say if you ask them what they “meant” by something like that. “Irony” is the deflector shield of all critique that might seek to reveal a prejudicial inclination. I give Zach and Stefan the benefit of the doubt, and I say, “okay, this is art, and art is what it is.” But my own tastes do not have to morph to find their rhetoric agreeable to me, no matter how much I love Zach. I don’t think compromising one’s principles just to be accepted into the “cool club”—people who act like they have no ethical compunctions (whether that is actually the case, or they have just learned to ignore them) and doesn’t cringe at violent fantasy against women or anyone else, because “free speech,” Georges Bataille, or whatever—does much to raise the quality of a person’s character.

I also listen to N.W.A. with regularity. And I don’t like when they’re misogynistic either. But N.W.A.’s music is, in my opinion, socially and culturally rich and by extension politically loaded because it illustrates a social and cultural experience caused by racism and capitalism, and demonstrates an emotionally rewarding “fuck the system” kind of mentality as an added bonus. I like that about it. Of course, it falls to me to infer that context upon listening, allowing me to see through the surface of misogyny and violence and bear witness to the “musical statement” (whether intended or unintended) that lies beneath. So maybe I just don’t understand the greater context within Death Grips’ lyrical content.

The question is, then, does Death Grips provide any similar context in which potentially problematic statements serve to illustrate a social and cultural experience? Possibly, and I just haven’t dug deeply enough. It definitely has a “fuck the system” feel to it, just by being so disruptive in its sound: Stefan’s relentlessly delivered lyrics, Andy Morin’s crunching, spiraling synthesizers, Zach’s superhuman drumming….although there are familiar aspects to it, in its totality, it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard. The performance-art component registered by the likes of Bjork is not lost on me. Just the ability to express such raw feeling musically, outside of lyrical content, is admirable and something I try to do in my own music.

Glamorizing drug abuse is another thing I don’t like. If you read this blog, you know I’ve had my own struggles with drugs, and you know somewhat my feelings about drugs in general: ideally they would all be legal, and no one would use them because their lives would consist of enough support, purpose, and fulfillment to preclude the need for artificial stimulation, depression, or escape.

However, I don’t want to fixate on the societal implications of music to the negation of the individual experience. As described on Genius.com, “[Stefan’s] violent lyrics match his attitude and he focuses on struggle both versus himself and versus the world for inspiration.” Perhaps Death Grips’ message is located here: the description of a life which doesn’t afford him much in the way of support, purpose, or fulfillment necessary to cultivate respect for women or others or himself.

This is a state of mind with which many people can certainly relate. In a world in which the individual is relatively powerless, drug-induced oblivion, sexual domination, and basic destructive nihilism appear in men’s/people’s minds (and are placed there) as outlets for their frustration at feeling powerless.

99% of the people at the show I went to were male, and 95% of that group were white. So are THESE the people—white males—to whom society is most disempowering, most frustrating? Of course there’s nothing wrong with the white man liking the Black man’s music, but my next question becomes painfully obvious: does the white man’s “relating” to such frustration have anything to do with addressing or rectifying its source? Does it affect his outlooks, his prejudices, his proclivities, the ones that may very well contribute to the state of disempowerment that Blacks and other non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual people face?

My beloved Zach made a statement  about Death Grips’ 2012 album “No Love Deep Web,” whose cover image was a photograph of his erect penis with the album title written on it in magic marker (this link contains the image). “[The cover image is] also a spiritual thing; it’s fearlessness…it represents pushing past everything that makes people slaves without even knowing it.”

So an image of a white man’s genitalia represents fearlessness and pushing against slavery. I’m certain I’m not the first person to point this out, and it is difficult for me to even broach the subject because I am such a fan of Zach’s, but should we all seek to emulate the aforementioned phallus? Should we let it form our sensibilities, our values, our role in the world? I mean, a white member used for good would be a good thing. Maybe Zach meant that the white man, being the most socially privileged, possesses great power to overcome society’s ills but he must use his privilege to help others.

So the liberation of others—so they can stop being “slaves”—is dependent on the white man’s help, help which ultimately benefits him because it allows him potentially to maintain his privilege rather than relinquish it. Hm. That seems problematic.

So the white man must relinquish his privilege then? But then a white male member becomes, not a symbol of pushing, but of relinquishing. And IN SO RELINQUISHING, the white male is indeed PUSHING against the unjust system! Is that it? It might be it. I’m not saying it’s not it. I try to avoid absolute judgments as to a statement’s meaning, just as I try to avoid essentialist definitions of male and female and other binaries. I have a feeling this isn’t its intended meaning, though.

Never mind the intended meaning for now. I don’t know what’s in Zach and Stefan’s heads. What is the meaning that we can draw from it, based on what we have seen? Based on the image, on Zach’s statement, on the lyrics, and on the prevalence of white males at the Death Grips show, the “slavery” being fought against is some perceived slavery of white men (within, admittedly, a disempowering, de-individualizing system of neoliberal corporate capitalism), to be fought by whites, against…whom? Non-whites and non-males, NOT against those who perpetuate the disempowering system I just outlined: capitalist white men. So basically, let’s “fight the system” by swallowing our moral responsibility and completely assimilating to it: the oppression of non-whites and non-males by whites and males. Yay for the status quo.

I’m the first to admit that my deriving more political meaning from N.W.A. and less from Death Grips is based on my own interpretation. I hear N.W.A.’s music being about “creating respect within conditions of no respect,” as Ralph Cintron puts it: in impoverished, overlooked ghettoes and slums, the Black man does what he can to get ahead, including criminal acts, objectifying women, and saying “fuck the police” the entire time, knowing from experience that the white power structure is the real enemy. Maybe Death Grips could be heard in a similar way. Stefan seems to exhibit signs of self-disgust, perhaps caused by that structure.

Someone else might hear what Stefan says and interpret it in that way, indicating its subversive intent as opposed to the status quo intent I ascribe above. There comes a point, though, when saying anything at all—outright racism, sexism, and the like—could be interpreted by SOMEONE as liberatory in nature and defended by them no matter how violent, offensive, or retrograde the actual rhetoric might be. I am apt to put a limit on such overly liberal “interpretationism”; at a certain point, the artist must be judged by what is actually said. There aren’t infinite interpretations of words. There are only two: literal, and figurative.

There are those who will tirelessly defend the value of the figurative over the literal, and try to convince others that words can be used to mean whatever they want, whenever they want, and that if you are offended by the literal meaning of a word, you’re oversensitive and oppressive. It is usually easy to see, however, that those who regularly fight against literal interpretations in art generally have their interests tied to those interpretations. The white man might defend a figurative interpretation of the lyrics I quote above—find a whore and it could happen, for example—saying “never mind what Stefan is actually saying,” and asserting that a figurative interpretation can yield a liberatory meaning, something like, “when a woman becomes a whore, she is liberated to use her body and get what she wants from men! It’s SO freeing.” Just so happens that the LITERAL interpretation defends his privilege: that of being able to buy a woman’s body, to take out his anger and frustration on.

Being the person who looks for the “socially redeeming” qualities of art is not a role that I relish. I try not to let my thinking get one-sided or reductionist; I try to keep an open mind and not be dictatorial and absolute. Still, it’s hard not to be that person, at least to some extent, having studied the effects of racism, sexism, drug abuse, poverty, war, and other phenomena on levels of human suffering and disempowerment, and having been directly affected by them to varying degrees, yet remaining sensitive and angry that they exist instead of inured and desensitized.

At that level of concurrent awareness and sensitivity, it is easy to see that such mentalities pervade our society and are prevalent, and it is frustrating to see cutting-edge artists—including my musical gods—perpetuating them, whether out of irony or nihilism, whether out of “we’re just commenting on society by reflecting its prejudices,” or, “boys will be boys; whatever, it’s just a song,” when it just so happens be the case that the easiest way to really “get ahead” in music is to suit culturally prevalent modes of thinking instead of challenging them.

I get it; supposedly, it’s better and more democratic for art to reflect our reality than to try to shape it. People don’t like getting beaten over the head with a “message;” it’s easier for us to enjoy something when we can “relate” to it, when it “shows us ourselves” and how life “really is,” rather than trying to dictate to us how it should be. And people “really are” prejudiced: they really are racist, they really are misogynistic, they really are frustrated, etc.

I certainly don’t favor whitewashing and pretending injustice doesn’t exist. God no. It’s just that I think art can (and does) do both: it CAN reflect reality while pushing it to become better, as opposed to reflecting it in such a way (intentionally or unintentionally on the part of the author) that everything stays the same. It’s just frustrating.

It’s not that I want every band to be a “political band” (and not many things rhyme with “proletariat.” Lariat, I guess. Secretariat. Luke Perry’s hat.) It’s more that I feel every statement carries a political weight, and it would be nice if that weight was openly used for liberation and fighting against oppression, which I believe N.W.A. does, even while it expresses a lot of other bad intents.

I’ll still listen to Death Grips, still love Zach like an older drum-brother. I am very happy for him that Death Grips is bringing his art to a larger audience. I’m happy for Stefan and Andy too, because they are also deeply talented. Raw talent and distinctiveness should be appreciated more in our society, like they were when progressive rock and fusion jazz were becoming popular in the early 70s. In a way, Zach’s art is so technically advanced, expressing emotions so elusive and unsung, that to me it already signifies a positive threat to society’s complacency and conventions. I guess that’s another reason why no band is good enough for him, in my eyes: other artists dilute his message of absolute rhythmic expression with conventionality in various forms: lyrical content, guitar licks, structure….

Okay, so I’m biased. In the same interview I mentioned above, which is from 2006, Zach also says,

I want to change the world of my instrument in a large way. I want to get to the highest place with my instrument that I can possibly get and change the instrument for the better. I want to innovate. That’s what I set out to do, and that’s what I’m going to do, whether anybody’s paying attention or not.

Now, nine years after he said that, Zach does care if anyone’s paying attention, and he should care. He doesn’t want to remain obscure and avant-gardeist forever. I’m sure he’s got bills, he’s got obligations, he’s got hopes and dreams, he’s got to put food on the table. He wants the recognition damn well due a prodigious figure in the world of music, and he’s getting it. Death Grips plays to sell-out crowds; people are paying attention now. I’m sure Zach is proud of how far he’s come. He has succeeded spectacularly at innovating and is only succeeding more with each new album, each new project.

Maybe I just wish a person of Zach’s caliber could truly succeed in our society, and receive the deserved recognition and financial rewards, without needing to appeal to the masses, and the act of spurning that need and instead expressing the means for achieving greater freedom were what achieved mass appeal. Is that so much to ask?

And maybe it’s up to me to learn more about the musical visions of his collaborators, and determine that they, too, possess singular visions of greatness, as yet misunderstood by me. And then I might hear them playing together with him, instead of fragmentedly, “Zach, and everyone else.” I’ll work on that. But right now, if it was up to me, the sound would just be his drumming: standing as a statement on its own, leading the world forward and away from the mundane and oppressive, leaving “relate-ability” for others to concern themselves with, far behind.

Thank you for reading.

Since the way one lives is defined in large part by one’s governmental system, it follows that the presence of government is in every expression of how one lives. What one can do or is not allowed to do is demonstrated in actions such as walking in public, sleeping soundly at night, ordering something online, going to a restaurant, and giving money to charity. The more one defines one’s way of living by means that conform to the prevalent governmental system, the greater is the government aware of how a person lives. Freedoms under a certain form of government, therefore, serve the purpose of shaping the lifestyles of those who live under that government, and the purpose of those lifestyles is to inform the government which freedoms those who live under it choose to utilize.

The freedoms, and the corresponding expression to which they are put to use, allow the government to know how people are living, and it is the choices of government that inform those lifestyles: whether they are introduced or discontinued, narrowed or expanded. So the more freedoms we are allowed, the fewer forms of authentic revolt (i.e. freedom against authority) exist. Or rather, the way that freedoms are allowed is to limit and calculate the power of the individual or group to self-determine, outside of accepted norms of freedom.

Put yet another way, when freedom is “allowed,” it is inauthenticated.

For example, we are allowed the freedoms to marry, to work, and to be secure from harm. However, if we choose to exercise our freedom to marry outside of government’s definition of marriage, to set our own terms for our work, or to secure ourselves from harm by way of self-defense measures, certain elements of these “unconventional” lifestyle choices inform the government that we are attempting to self-determine the ways in which these freedoms are manifested. By extension, a lack of unconventionality (a subjective term, of course) in our choices informs the government that we accept the definitions of freedom that have been presented to us.

In effect, this acceptance constitutes acceptance of the entire governmental system. By contrast, those who take issue with marriage laws, labor laws, and gun laws are often at variance with one or another fundamental way that that entire government functions, whether they are aware of it or not. In a democracy, they are against the attitudes of those political demographics that contradict their beliefs. Those who make no distinction between bourgeois and proletarian democracy conceptualize democracy’s main failing as that element of it that allows for a plurality of voices. Those who DO make that distinction will blame their grievance on the failings of whatever group controls the democracy: bourgeoisie or proletariat.

In a totalitarian state as opposed to a democratic one, such unconventional folks as described above are against the individuals who shape public policy; therefore they resent the concept of a government based on a tiny group that controls the freedoms of an entire population. Apt propaganda models necessary for the maintenance of that totalitarian state may succeed in redirecting that individual’s resentment toward herself and at her desire for change, sometimes manifested in the promotion of victim-blaming that characterizes highly hierarchical societies, along with a “that’s just the way it is” and a “strength is acceptance” mentality. That is part of this subject, but worthy of entirely separate discussion.

In a hybrid of democratic and totalitarian, unconventional folks are against both the majority and individuals “at the top.” They are in one way or another against the demographics who accept the state as it is, who assent to it, and who continue to democratically return it to power. And, they are against the small group of individuals who control the government, from within and/or from without.

The demographics who assent to it, however, are always of greater number and constitute “the majority,” otherwise, the system of government as it is or the contentious tenets of it would come to an end. Assent and acceptance manifests itself in every prevailing function of that society: cost and price, culture, work schedules, tax rates, legal systems, social services, labor laws, regulations, education systems, public transportation systems, prison systems, defense spending, all forms of legislation, et cetera. That is to say, if a bus runs late, a prison is overfilled, or a war is being fought abroad, it is because the majority of the population has consented to it or allowed it to reach its current state of function or malfunction. And the voluntary use of any function of that society–as part of one’s lifestyle–represents tacit endorsement of that function.

This applies to elements of society at every level of functionality. Societal elements functioning at a high level, such as America’s system of obtaining lines of credit, its friendliness to business big and small, and its preponderance of low-cost luxury goods, possess an equal level of public consent as those societal elements that function at a low level, such as its “broken” healthcare system, debt-ridden public education system, and police-instigated violence. Efforts to legally reform these elements are welcomed as exercises in democracy; however, attempting to correct these issues in unconventional ways–for example, practicing lay medicine, self-educating or providing education for free, or forming a people’s police force “to police the police”–are widely seen as invalid means of correcting the problem. In fact, they are often viewed as self-serving and counterproductive by those who hold the actions of politicians, not the actions of the people (beyond voting), as the deciding force in the formation of society itself.

The freedoms, then, are aimed at those segments of society that fully accept the governmental system. Altering, expanding, or self-determining freedom (including but not limited to a criminal sense) constitutes rejection of the system. That is the purpose of these freedoms and their use: to demonstrate to what extent each individual consents to her governmental system, and to what extent she disagrees with it, based on her use of them and on which freedoms she uses without compromising either the letter or spirit of their legality.

Those with limited access to freedoms, therefore, are immediately assumed to be less consenting to the governmental system because they use fewer of its freedoms. In truth, some element of “against society-ness” is intrinsic to a person’s ability to take advantage of the benefits of that society. Put in plain English, if a person cannot enjoy the freedoms of a society, that person is against it, either consciously or unconsciously. And the society is against that person. To use a controversial example, a transgender woman of color who lacks the social resources and personal security seemingly reserved for a cisgender white male will necessarily be against those aspects of the society (laws, prejudices, cultural artifacts, et cetera) that create the conditions in which she is deprived of those resources and security.

To draw on our totalitarian example above, it falls on the shoulders of the government to create the ideological conditions by which she blames herself rather than her governmental system. By this means, it can maintain both her inability to access freedom (because it is never demanded) and her status as an aberration or “other” within “mainstream” society.

In countries with absent, inefficient, or in-transition governments, the way people live is determined by the prevalent conflicts of the time. Inaccessibility to public services informs the individual’s “decision” to tighten her financial belt, while street violence in the midst of armed conflict informs her “decision” to keep her children home from school. In this way, it is the form of government (a government of austerity, or a lack of government entirely) that defines (read: controls) her lifestyle choices.

Armed conflict is the conflict between two groups or forces of the populace, whether advocating for the liberation of one segment of society or death to another (Left-wing or Right-wing). Both sides believe “their way” (which is really the way of the leaders and firstly of the ideology itself) is better and more just, or will lead to more power, influence, and personal security, or a confluence of these two motivating factors.

To get back to our original idea: to notice what’s not there is to feel aware of the presence of government in a purchase, an object, a decision, a piece of culture, an outlook, an alliance, a prejudice, or a hope/despair–in a freedom–and though that presence can’t be proven or seen to be an objective force, to know that it wouldn’t have been made or exist without the influence and contrivances of government, and that the government knows about it because if couldn’t know about it, it would not allow it.

As a hermeneutic device, this noticing provides us with the ability to identify by counterexample those aspects of our ideas, possessions, and behaviors that are self-manifested and that challenge the intended definitions of freedom, constituting a self-manifested freedom, existing outside the view of the government, until the noun reaches that point when no governmental presence can be noticed by looking at it or experiencing it. And then we will know we have a true freedom transcending all possible rules of allowance by any governmental system or any aspiring one. We must be ready to defend it immediately from the government and its civilian agents, whatever its form or forum, for it is at this point that the communication runs in the opposite direction, and in the direction it must run: instead of the government dictating to us the ways in which we can live our lives to the end, WE will be dictating to THEM the manner in which their rule will come to an end. The only type of freedom that can destroy both the totalitarian oligarchy and the chokehold of manufactured majoritarian consent and create the world we want—where the purpose of government is to protect our ability to self-manifest our freedoms and concomitant lifestyles—is that which is not an allowance on the part of the government, but a demand on the part of the people for freedoms that are their own ends, not means by which to control us, unnoticed.