High school: the triumph of the utilitarian over the soul, with teenagers herded scared into dealing with subjects they barely understand. They do like dogs watching the needle of euthanasia know they will inherit this adult world and be forced to understand it.
Cut to the news: bombs falling, riots burning, dissidents kneel blindfolded before the crash. Mythical numbers jet up and down a stock market manic depression, and if it's not the Reds, it could be the drug users, the hackers, the Satanists or the Nazis under the bed.
A supercomputer under such circumstances would assume it was doomed.
Teenagers do the same, but try to carry on as best they can.
I didn't enjoy popular music. For me, another 10,000 love or sex songs had no relevance (for most of my teenage career, anything more than incompetent heavy petting was impossibly implausible). I didn't really like the music my friends liked, although I thought it could be OK, it just didn't grab me enough to make me want to save up for it, buy it and take it home, to make it part of my adult identity.
I had always hoped that someone would make music for declaring war against the utilitarian and adult, but do it in some way that like a good golf swing got under the topic, giving some lift to its opposition. I didn't want teenage rebellion; I wanted an apocalyptic vision of how all this reality-denying utilitarianism would play out.
I found it in Slayer, through an album called "South of Heaven," which like the book of Revelations revealed what my inner eye saw that I was afraid to admit: a society adrift without a goal, people terrified of death and as a result shocked by reality, and a culture of deferential euphemism which suffocated us all. And on the horizon, fire and hatred, as inexorable as the sunrise.
If you ever find yourself becalmed in hopelessness, sometimes what you need is not an assurance that it will all turn out OK. You might instead need a battle call, an affirmation of what you see, and a commitment to at least in your heart fight it, and possibly to branch out more.
This year, on June 6, I'll be celebrating the proposed "International Day of Slayer," a holiday for listening to Slayer (in theory). What I'm really celebrating is the mental freedom to tell the truth, to face the darkness and instead of fumbling blindly for denial or a band-aid, to draw a sword and charge in screaming.