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1. Aarni's music has been described as "Lovecraftian-Jungian Kalevala Avantgarde". Lovecraft most of us know, but what about Carl Jung, to the uninitiated? What connection do his theories have to Aarni, and to you personally?
MM: I think it is a shame if Lovecraft should be more widely known than Jung. I am under the impression that a basic familiarity with Jung's theories and contributions is a matter of common knowledge - for example the concept of archetypical images of the individual & collective unconscious, their expression via dreams, Jung's categorisation of personality types, the concepts 'introverted' and 'extraverted', his studies of various "paranormal" phenomena, synchronicity etc. etc. To people unfamiliar with Jung's theories I recommend the introductory book Man And His Symbols. It has also been translated to many languages besides English and should be available in most libraries. My connection with Jung's theories is one of practical application...I have come to accept many of his concepts as viable through personal experimentation & experience. The same naturally goes for Aarni, as the band is a manifestation of my psyche. Of course, it is always unwise to limit oneself to just one model, therefore I have also tested & currently entertain Wilhelm Reich's and even some of Freud's concepts. But as a whole my current reality-tunnel is constructed of many things beyond psychological theories. I am also not interested in preaching about anything in Aarni's music or lyrics. I would rather just provide the pointing finger, so to speak, and let the listeners see the moon for themselves...
2. Carl Jung believed that an artist is able to tap into the collective unconscious in ways that other beings cannot. Please correct me if I am wrong. He claimed that, from what I understand, the artist, as opposed to an ordinary human being, call him homo consumens for example (I take this construction from Erich Fromm), has no "free will" when he is creating, but rather becomes a "conduit" of this force, so to speak. This is interesting to me since, in my experiences with interviewing various musicians, I have heard these words repeated from their mouths many times: "it is not as if I am 'speaking' the music," they say, "but that the music is speaking through me". Is this applicable to you also?
MM: Well, to (mis)quote Nietzsche, I think everyone is an artist and a better
one than they think...it seems just a question of finding a suitable medium for
your creative expression. For some people it may be a rich inner fantasy world or
something similar that does not leave concrete "artwork" behind for others
to inspect and label you as an artist.
But to answer your question: Yes, this appears applicable to me in the sense that I usually do not consciously compose or "think out" my material...I do not value rationality or logic very much and try not to resort to them unless absolutely necessary. So I guess I rely almost solely on intuition & my material has so far been perhaps 70% inspiration and 30% perspiration. The music indeed seems to be "speaking through me" or perhaps expressed more accurately as flowing from my un/sub/superconscious into the conscious parts of my mind - creating the impression of having arrived from somewhere "outside" me. I think that nobody should take the concept of "Free Will" seriously anymore, not after the discovery of psychology as science. It's just another outdated & primitive "spook" or meme (mental virus) like the concepts of "sin" and "fate" and such. If one would like to "explain" artistic creativity in Jungian terms, she would likely say that the contents of an inspired vision are indeed archetypal images from the personal and/or collective unconscious. For my part I am not that keen on "dissecting" and explaining art away...besides, this kind of theory seems more easily applicable to visual art than music. I like to experience a sense of "irrational" awe and numinosity in the presence of what I regard as good art...I do not need any "rational" explanation for my feelings, at least not at the time. I think everyone will do the biggest possible service to themselves by studying psychology and exploring their life & mind (and all aspects of existence in general) with the tools it provides, but there remains the danger of overanalysis - in my opinion it is sometimes better to shut off your brain's reasoning apparatus and just sit back & enjoy the show.
3. Do you believe that lucid dreaming is a real process? There are some people who say they are able to steer their dreams almost like in a video game. Since I have never been able to do this, I remain mildly skeptical of the process. Master Warjomaa?
MM: Funny you should bring this up, as I have been recently discussing the matter
with my friends & collegues. Synchronicity, perhaps? I have seen lucid dreams
frequently for as long as I can remember, maybe a few times every month. I have
also collected instructionary material for the process, but have not yet had the
opportunity to study it. In my case it seems that a dream naturally becomes lucid
when my period of rest nears its end and my consciousness begins to "wake up".
It appears to start doing so in slow stages, usually especially if my body's sleeping
position is uncomfortable and/or very much at odds with the activity of my "dreambody".
I speculate that at this stage my dawning consciousness dimly senses that I have
"two different bodies" - this leads to a sensation of falling. In my dream
this seems to manifest as the sudden realisation of being able to fly. Usually at
this point I also become aware that I am in fact dreaming and can steer the dream-events
by willed effort. I think "will" is very much the operative word here
- it pays to systematically train your will, especially with various "occult"
techniques such as visualisation in a meditation/yoga or ritual magick context.
Jung's psychoanalytical technique of Active Imagination can also be helpful in this
manner, besides of course serving its main function of dream-interpretation.
On the other hand, why should you strive to control/tamper with your dreams - especially if you adhere to the Jungian theory that the dream-content represents a more or less encrypted, valuable & urgent message from your superconscious/higher self? Intentional lucid dreaming could be seen as downright harmful to your individuation process in this sense. Another thing entirely is the widely reported & somewhat studied phenomenon of "astral" travel in a lucid dreaming state. The difference here is that you are not operating in a "subjective" dream, but rather in the "real" waking world or on some plane close to it - with people who are awake to potentially verify your experiences. I may have some personal experience of this, but I regard the evidence I have so far presented myself as being inconclusive. I however have friends who apparently have had rather convincing OOBEs. But I digress.
4. What is the most recent dream you've had that you can remember, a dream that has left some deep emotional impact on you? Do you often remember your dreams? Do you believe, like Carl Jung, that dreams can spell premonitions?
MM: I am in the habit of keeping a dream diary and do often experience/remember what I consider intense & "unusual" dreams. I do occasionally dream of events that actually happen in the following day(s), but I regard these dreams as being useless although amusing. Jung explained the mechanic behind this kind of "prophecies" by the collective unconscious/synchronicity hypothesis. I do not wish to discuss my dreams in public, as I believe they are at least in part personal messages to me from my unconscious, and mere pointless phantasmagoria to everyone else.
5. Do you prefer dreams to reality, assuming there is a difference?
MM: I hope there is a difference (in a sense) and so far I do not think I have confused the two...dreams can easily be more intense & numinous than everyday waking existence, but I think it would be pathetic escapism to prefer dreams to "reality". Yet I do not believe the matter is so dualistic & clear-cut...with certain mental techniques you can meld these two seemingly different worlds of perception nearer to each other. This can result in your existence becoming more meaningful and rich - in all senses of these words.
6. What is your opinion of so-called mental or conscious expansion through drug use? Is this something you do?
MM: If the word "drug" is defined as meaning a conscious-altering substance,
nearly everything falls under this category: for example eating a potato alters
your consciousness, although less radically than, say, LSD. Drinking coffee or alcohol
or smoking a cigarette alters your perception noticeably, all in different ways
- but the most potent drugs change your whole outlook on life drastically...these
drugs include ideologies, religions and every sort of spurious convictions. I think
these are the worst drugs in existence and their effect lasts a lifetime in extreme
cases of stupidity. Compared to these, mere chemical substances are as nothing...
Consciousness expansion is a thing I wish every sentient being would practice - in the sense of exploring your mindbody, discovering the way your personal psyche is constructed. This seems to me like the most useful thing anyone can do, and also the most difficult & rewarding task imaginable. All other activities in life seem mere cowardly attempts to escape from yourself. But you do not need any chemicals to explore your mind - the same effects can be achieved via various techniques of meditation...these cost nothing but time & effort and do not pose a risk to your health, quite the opposite.
Yoga is perhaps the most widely-known tool of consciousness exploration, but I think it contains unnecessary dogmatic baggage. Far better to use techniques stripped of religious and metaphysical content. I recommend two books as starting points to anyone interested: Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson and Undoing Yourself With Energized Meditation And Other Devices by Christopher Hyatt.
7. It's interesting to me that you have mentioned once that computer games have influenced your tastes. Between you and I, and everyone reading this, I have never really listened to any music seriously before I started playing video games, whose music always captured me, in particular the plunky, MIDI classical selections a lot of the older games employed on the old Atari, Commodore, and then Nintendo and Sega game systems, progressing onward to the PC and Mac - this is in my experience. People do not take this music or the people that make it very seriously, which is a shame, in my opinion, and their loss, really. Do you still like video game music? Do you have any favorites? Perhaps Aarni will write a soundtrack to a video game in the future, is this a possibility?
MM: Yes, I still listen to video game music frequently. My favourite composers include Rob Hubbard (Auf Wiedersehen Monty, Master Of Magic etc.) and Michael Land (nearly all the classic Lucasarts games). I would definitely be interested in writing a game soundtrack...in fact I have recently toyed with the idea of a side project, where I (and perhaps certain other musicians) would make music to imaginary 1980/90's computer games. There already are of course bands (such as Press Play On Tape) that exclusively do cover versions of classic computer game music. Playing similar metal/progressive style covers would also interest me...I guess time will tell.
8. I know that you enjoy nature and hiking in the woods. What are some of the things that make hiking and spending time outdoors such an important experience for us, you think? Do you find that bringing music along enhances the experience? Describe a day for you in the Finnish woods, if possible.
MM: I think spending time in the wilderness makes for a marked contrast with typical
banal urban life...the quiet solitude of nature puts you in a special mindset and
alters (heals?) your psyche in a definite way. I guess many factors contribute to
this, such as autosuggestion and being free from the constant bombardment on your
senses by different propaganda-pushers (advertisements, TV, too large a human society)
that make up "civilisation". We seem psychophysically still just a species
of ape, and the recent invention of language, agriculture and industrial revolution
with its rapid technological & sociological innovations has happened way too
quick for us to really adapt to without feeling alienated from existence itself.
The eventual adaptation will probably take at least centuries and until then I think
we will continue to suffer from various forms of culture shock & other ills
of the artificial urban habitat. So the countryside still remains our "true"
mental home. I feel that bringing music along actually detracts from the immediate
(=instant and non-mediated) experience...after all we listen to music (consciously
or unconsciously) in the city in order to remind ourselves what being in a state
of wild(er)ness was/is like - as a tool to escape from the surrounding tedious artificiality.
I like to bring wilderness into music, not the other way around.
My day in the woods would be soothing, refreshing and invigorating. I guess details like getting bitten by insects, snakes, predators or frost are not that important...
9. In a night of sublime cold, winds like acid scalding, the stars above screaming in pain, the world is frozen dry, covered in a scaly, flaky skin. Time ceases its movements and the earth slows down, the creatures at its surface hibernating in deep, dreamless sleep, while, over above, the moon bleeds its light into pools of blackened ice. Speckled vanilla snow glitters like fallen comets over a faceless white void. Everything is quiet. All life is incapacitated. With enough force the earth itself feels like in its brittleness it can break in two and drift away into oblivion. Meanwhile, cosmic gusts brush violently against petrified, snow-covered spaces, bare to the bones. Only glass skeletons are left cracking at the seams on the barren tundra, dead husks of a past long forgotten. This is how I imagine Northern Finland is like, where you live. How far away am I from the truth, Markus?
MM: I do not know what is (the) truth, but as splendidly romantic & poetic image
I think that is great. As an objective description it feels pretty far off the mark,
however. This geographical region of the planet is blessed or cursed with having
very distinct seasons...although nowadays global warming seems to be changing that.
Around the time of the winter solstice it is 'kaamos' time here: the sun does not
rise for many weeks. It has distinctive effects on the psyche of humans living here
- and it is not all pretty. The same can be said of the time around the summer solstice,
when the sun does not set for many weeks. Times of prolonged darkness or light can
fuck up the unwary mind real good...
It is winter here now, but I do not feel like I am living inside some Black Metal song. Rather the (mild) coldness, snowcover and receding darkness give nature a beautiful glimmering appearance. A great time to do a skiing excursion into wilderness - no pesky insects, the bears are asleep and only your face is likely to get sunburned. In the summer it is usually unbearably hot here, especially in recent years - apparently due to global warming. For mainly that reason I prefer winter to summer...I cannot get any physical or mental work done during a heat wave, I just try to keep out of the sun & complementary skin cancer and take constant cold showers to wash off all the sweat...
10. I've read a book recently that offers the developed conjecture, based on scientific data gleaned from various disciplines - archaeology, biology, geology, physics, cosmology - that the chances of advanced life existing on other planets is exceedingly small owing to the extraordinary circumstances and conditions of stability in the evolution of our planet over time, its position, its climate, its composition, its neighbors in the solar system, its sun, the suns surrounding our sun, and on and on. But this is only when taking into mind relatively small distances in the Universe, of course. When we span out and focus our attention on far vaster astronomical spaces, the possibility of advanced life increases proportionately, and given the purported size of the universe (a factor of its age), it seems certain, at least to me, that we are not alone. Do you believe in the existence of alien life? What do you think your reaction would be if you had seen or were greeted by an alien? What would you do? Who would you call?
MM: Well...like you said, mathematically speaking the existence of "aliens" seems nearly certain. There also appears to be some material evidence supporting this in our own solar system, so yes, I do believe. As for your second question, there is the difficulty of ascertaining if what I saw was really an alien. If I witnessed a spaceship descending & landing and something resembling a shoggoth's wet dream coming out, there would be a number of alternative explanations for this event. To number a few: an extraterrestrial, a hitherto undiscovered earthly entity, a hallucination, a hoax or a denizen of some "astral" realm. I guess my reaction would in all cases be one of curiosity...I would try to observe the situation & maybe even try to communicate with the entity in some way to discover its nature. I would perhaps call a friend or two about the event.
11. You record with digital equipment exclusively, from what I understand. Don't you believe the sound of analog is far richer, more dynamic and much deeper than the dry, barren, flat world of digital?
MM: Not really, perhaps I cannot tell the difference :)
Digital recording in my case means simply recording to a computer's hard disk, just like many (most of?) professional studios do these days. Apart from the keyboards, the instruments I use are authentic...I do not think the end result sounds clinical or barren in any noticeable way.
12. Aarni has two releases out right now, a split and a full-length album. I will leave you with the most cliché question I can imagine: for the readers who are unfamiliar with your band, can you give them a little idea of what they can expect and, more importantly, why? Where can they find them? Thanks for your time, Master Warjomaa!
MM: Listeners can expect a feeling of "was that it?". Or maybe to hear an ingenious mixture of metal, folk, progressive, "avant-garde" etc. elements. The split cd is perhaps more schizoid & heavy, while Bathos is somewhat mellower & better produced. Those albums can be obtained directly from me or found at well-stocked stores distributing Firebox Records...there is a list of distros on the Firebox website, for example. And thanks yourself for this bantering opportunity!