On the Notion of Support 1
For a system of musical styles, an interrelated combination and array of musical movements, it is interesting how often these phrases regarding “support” arise in the traditional discourse. They occur often enough that one who has more than even than the most rudimentary curiosity (indeed, a sludgy, sloth-like, swamp curiosity that, hopefully, can raise its head from the mire and look around itself – prepare for evolution!) must indeed reflect upon (or pretend to, for the benefit of one’s illusory ego and the mock appreciation of one’s friends/enemies) the various appearances of this motif and its meaning – if it has any – within the greater transfers of vague postures and vain arrogations, aggrandizements usually apportioned to be the common conversation of metal’s disciples.
Notice that this phrase and idea (if it is even that, and not just an empty sack, a black hole, lacunae in various forms of conversation, sound and fury, etc.) also appears in the punk world, and it may have actually originated there. It is certainly an “underground” idea in that it appeals to a popular (democratic, mass movement, minorities masquerading as majorities with power) ideal of aesthetic or musical, creative control through the willful apportionment of extra-economic maintenance. “Support” in its various forms, of course, always seems to be reducible to the economic, even as it pretends to appear in a social context or as an index of emotional or philosophical underpinning or joint structuring. Its appeal is the approbation of the group – that most democratic of all indexes of “excellence” – or the maintenance of singular pursuits through the well-wishes of those left behind, the “support” of those who fail to arrive at similar aesthetic conclusions and who yet remain in the rear, supposedly admiring.
One must not forget that their admiration is appended to the unspoken assumption that the “supported” flight of fancy of the isolated, independent artist will eventually be deconstructed and assimilated into the majority. The consensus supports only what is useful – either for its own pleasure, or in the creation of a self-willed image of itself, a display of pretense which metamorphoses its identity and allows it to become what it desires to be, if only in dreams. As in anything else, the motivation of the mass is utility, although that efficacy and, or base usefulness may appear only in the transcendent realm of illusions.
What does “support” mean, then, external to the directly economic? At its most basic one can consider that the notion is of course a focus of genre identity, with the list of musicians or collectives one “supports” being proffered as a badge of identification, a label, a category in which to place one’s self, a symbol of group affiliation. By “supporting” bands x or musicians y not z, the external, the “other”, the exiled, one claims membership in a group that – more often than not – pretends to exclusivity. Group A only supports x, Group B only supports y, and never the twain shall meet. By “supporting” one pleasure over another, one “taste” or aesthetic variant, one allies oneself with a group that is desirable to be a part of. This group, A or B or whatever, may claim qualities in its members which one finds advantageous, enviable, productive, or effective (never forget utility!), and one of the easiest ways to then claim membership in this group (and so assume, as a badge, a signifier of identity – problematic in itself) is to bring one’s aesthetic tastes and/or priorities in league with the group’s states preferences. By conforming with the group’s assumed tastes one assumes, in turn, the group’s illusory characteristics.
This is “support” as tribal identification. Most of the normal social interactions of tribal groups then apply, then…those of social cohesion, internal and external dynamics, the function of rebellion and/or exile, the identities of prophets, leaders, mass movements, pariahs, sacrifices, scapegoats, etc.