Eat or Be Eaten

The Conformists make music that travels way down the brain stem

In the Conformist strange attractor, each instrument is dependent on the others for continuing the system. The individual exists only as the others feed its existence. By interacting so, a dimension between the second and the third is created. Science may be able to explain and chart the mechanics of this interaction, but it cannot explain what exactly this interstitial dimension is. To do that, you need to drop reason and embrace emotion.

Engaging Snake-Brain,
Living in the Moracula

"Three hundred sixty degrees of horizon. You can't get that in the city." -- The last words of a Conformist before leaping from a 30-foot heap of gravel

Wrapped around the base of the human spinal cord is a lump of brain stem similar in appearance and structure to the brain of a snake. This wad of gray matter is 500 million years old, and it controls the most basic survival functions. Snake-brain is alert, vital and unreasoning. The snake-brain knows eat or be eaten. Be quick or be dead. Kill or be killed. The sounds Chris Dee's guitar make resonate in snake-brain, awakening long-dormant instincts.

Chris' guitar is the predominant shaping force for the Conformists. It is not the lead instrument in the traditional rock & roll sense; he does not use it to play conventional melody lines that carry the tune or deliver the fluid leads of a brilliant soloist. Chris' guitar is a noisemaker. His riffs are strange dark clusters of protean sound that writhe and bristle with malicious glee. His guitar is wobbly, steady, driving, drifting, nauseating, spine-stiffening; it is a biomechanical tool he uses to agitate snake-brain in the other Conformists. Snake-brain makes Tom hit his drums at times when a human brain would not think to strike. His rhythms are twisting and off-kilter, punctuated by the Clank. Jim's snake-brain listens to the guitar and plays behind and beyond it, dogging Chris' steps but never falling in line. Jim's bass becomes the echo to and the prophecy of what Chris' guitar plays. Mike's snake-brain hears the noise of the other Conformists and awakens. Snake-brain controls Mike entirely, shutting off his mammal brain and transforming Mike into a hissing, shouting, roaring conduit of raw nerve endings that stretch back across untold eons.

It is that moment when all four of the Conformists have given themselves over to snake-brain that the dimension between the second and third is forged. Medieval Christian theologian Peter Lombard postulated that there was a tiny sliver of a moment in time between Lucifer's creation and fall. Lombard called this moment the "moracula." During the moracula, Lucifer recognized his own limited nature as opposed to God's nature and freely chose to disobey his master, thereby absolving God of creating evil (He made Lucifer good; Lucifer just chose not to be) and guaranteeing Lucifer the starring role he desired ("renegade angel"). Lombard's moracula is that dimension between the second and the third. That moment in "Hatch-it" when the tape counter hits 42 and there is the tiniest sliver of a pause before Chris Dee's guitar summons snake-brain, all of the Conformists recognize their limited nature: They can ease off, let Chris lay down four bars of solo and become just another punk band, or they can freely choose to disobey. Conformity or Conformist? Two lifetimes are balanced on the tremulous curve of that moment, and one of them shall exist only in dreams of what might have been.

When their moracula ends, the Conformists begin. The sound of "Hatch-it" rotating on its axis, spinning out of control and into something Other is the sound of free will beating out obedience, and it feels as good and wicked as your first fight, only this time you win. It is no accident that the answer to life, according to Douglas Adams, is "42." The question, it seems, is, when will you start living your own?

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