ASCETIC | Exegesis (Song Premiere)

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]scetic’s second album, Everything is Becoming has a title that sounds like a line from Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, possibly uttered by the insane Francis Dolarhyde. The quote however, is actually from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus:

“Nothing is, everything is becoming.”

This means that nothing is permanent, and everything changes.

August Skipper elaborates on the theme of change, that begins with track number 2 off of Everything is Becoming, the Philip K Dick inspired Exegesis:

For me Exegesis is the beginning of the album narrative arc, Utterings is more of an introduction and an outlier, it’s a preview and a summation of the entire record, it hints at a lot of themes which are later revealed in the way the record unfolds. I wrote the lyrics to Exegesis while I was living in Melbourne at Montsalvat, and later at a family friend’s who had just passed away, it was a beautiful property with waterfalls and native Australian gardens, there were a few deaths around me during this period, some elders approaching their time but some other unexpected ones also, I was coming out of a period of grounding after experiencing some heavy psychological/existential trauma induced by psychedelics, I was essentially living sober, getting up early, drinking coffee, working on songs and reading, mostly between Phillip K. Dick’s ‘Exegesis’ and the New Testament to which Dick greatly refers to in his work, this was something of an ascetic phase for me, and a period that came to influence the naming of the band, I felt as though I was living out my own ‘Walden’ though it seemed to have a greater sense of tragedy surrounding it.

Dick’s ‘Exegesis’ is the edited publication of some 8000 pages of typed notes he had written regarding what would best be described as his ‘awakening to the true nature of reality’ which occurred at the later period of his life, it is an immense and confounding work, a labyrinth of references to the entirety of his writings, to the canon of Western religious writings and history and it became the experience that would come to influence his later novels although he began to feel as though his fiction had become something more akin to spiritual insights or even prophecy, I won’t go into too much detail about the book here as there is enough about it already available, for me his book was an exploration of truth, the battle between internal and external reality, when the internal experience is so powerful that it seems to want to usurp the outer though it knows at what cost this arrives.

I was turned on to Dick’s ‘Exegesis’ by a writer friend who unfortunately passed away in tragic circumstances during my first year in Berlin, I ordered the book online and after reading it for a few weeks we spoke again, he told me that some of Dick’s observations were in fact true to some of his own esoteric experiences, visions of ‘the pink hive’ and stories of being followed by agents, men in cars trailing and observing him etc, I can only say that this was an episode of paranoid severity and nothing he had ever shared with me before, though I was somewhat shocked at how delusional he sounded I knew him as an extreme character and someone who perhaps gained inspiration from exploring his more manic side, I just tried to be supportive of his ideas without giving them too much credence. Our communication became broken as this was during the period of preparing to leave Australia to tour Europe for ‘Self-Initiation’, I don’t remember seeing him before I left. We spoke online occasionally but had a falling out and severed ties for a period, I later find out of his passing, he had been assaulted in an alleyway in Melbourne and later died in hospital from injuries to his head.

It is strange how with a song, or with any work of art, the way the creator of the piece perceives the work is effected long after it is finished, the contents and the ideas become something less immediately relevant but remain something to be reflected upon as time progresses, one writes in the moment, often with more insight than one realizes and only comes to find out later just how much one was consciously aware of.

Exegesis is the beginning of the ascent in Everything Is Becoming, it is an exploration of the transcendence of the individual as one moves into the stream of change, it is the story of someone grappling with a realization that they feel might destroy them, and though it is at times paranoid, violent and morbid there is a shift in mood toward the end of the song where one feels the protagonist has achieved this realization, though it is unclear whether it is some ultimate truth or merely the succumbing to delusion.

Everything is Becoming is out December 17th on Manic Depression Records

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