Shamanism / Pseudo-religious Worship: Part VI
Fandom, unlike mainstream popularity, is in direct response to quality rather than quantity: a collective manifestation of adulation and respect. It knows no restriction. Other than monetarily supporting an artist – either through purchasing their merchandise or attending their performances – fandom is our way of physically showing our appreciation towards the music. And our degrees of fanaticism range from the appreciative to the obsessive: both positive and negative impacts of idolisation through pseudo-religious worship. The why is as complex as the how; primordially, an artist’s immaterial talent is otherwise nutritionally valuable to us. It is food for the soul, in other words – it makes us feel good, and we humans do love our pleasure…
But there’s more to it than simply feeling good. In response to a Mars Volta concert, I had this to say about Cedric Bixlar-Zavala and his vocal performance:
“Cedric comes between the rails and the people, he reaches out, like some forsaken angel teasing us mortals for sheer pleasure. At this, the crowd becomes dangerous – people push in front of each other, squeeze between the legs, as hands reach up, out, over, below, behind, all for famous-touch… He is like a shaman, the first to be entranced, and we are his followers, waiting for divinity.”
Music’s shamanistic approach is a cathartic alleviation of reality, a dispossession of the self. We aren’t ourselves because we are all Bixlar, or Morrison, or Presley. Musicians tap into society’s non-identity, our willingness to substitute the self for ersatz-stardom. Why? An exchange, albeit temporary, of reality for fantasy – but perhaps an unconscious yearning for the same reciprocation which we are in turn giving. A symbiotic giving-receiving, then. If anything, individuality is exorcised within an audience: it acts as a whole, comprised of individuals, becoming a multi-vidual unto itself.
It is only when a plebe (or person of similar status) wishes to (ineffectively) replace the shaman – almost tribalistically – that the aforementioned appreciation shifts into obsession, obsession into jealousy, jealousy into retribution, retribution into Lennon. It is only when an individual dismembers itself from the collective unconscious of fandom that they become a dangerous representation of oft-misguided idolatry.