When your 17-year old daughter lends you a book and asks you to read it, it's crucial that you listen very careful to how the words are spoken. - It's either a discrete hint that you need to be taught. Or it's a compliment.
In this case, Miss Wintys invitation occured during a telephone conversation in the words: "- I have borrowed a book. And you shall and must read it. You will find it very interesting. - I'll bring it with me on Sunday!"
Hardly had she entered the door Sunday afternoon before she pulled the book out of her bag and put it on the dinner table. "- Please mom. I'm looking forward to hear your opinion about it."
The title of the book matched the cover image showing a portrait of a man with blood shot eyes looking as if they're about to jump out of the picture and right into your face in just a second. - The book I was holding in my hand was 'The Long and Hard Road Out Of Hell' by Marilyn Manson - with Neil Strauss.
This is one of the books I've been wanting to read for quite som time. But it was translated and given out in Swedish just a little over a year ago. - Surely I could have read it at the original language, however I've had a feeling the it's probably written in a spicy language with a lot of slang and doubble meanings, and in that case it's safer to read it in an 'own' language at first. My idea of reading a book is always that I want to understand and learn. Therefore I want to avoid misunderstandings. In particular linguistic misunderstandings.
My first perusal was over 2 nights. Then I started again. Slower and more thoroughly. Going back to specific sections, reading them again. The 3rd review was mainly to inspect the small texts which begins each chapter one more time, turning around all illustrations and their texts studying them, to make sure that I hadn't missed anything. Everything in this book is of significance. And if you want to get a grip on this person and understand this person who in Miss Wintys word basicly is "too smart to be serving is own best", then it's important to capture the whole picture.
Our perception of people can be divided into 2 categories: 'Good' and 'Bad'. The majority of the worlds population are likely to perceive Marilyn Manson as 'Bad' in their consciousness. - Roughly the same caliber as Hitler.
Unlike Hitler and other well-known hating objects such as Albert Speer, Adolf Eichmann and Frantz Stangl whose stories I also have immersed myself in, Marilyn Manson is almost too honest. His honesty shouldn't be seen as a defense. That's not his intention. He tells and tries with his story to show how he thinks and what his motives are. It's here Miss Wintys claim gets significant.
Let me make it clear that this book is not pop literatur. It's as creepy as 'Into the Darkness'. - Almost creepier. In the sense that this book is about a persons almost supernatural obsession of wanting to be and to have a mission. The price he pays is high, however sometimes I get the feeling that he feels the price is worth everything.
I recently read an article over the topics fear and phobias. A group of scientists had learned, that if you in your childhood is scared of for instans snakes, you must be treated and cured in your early years. Because untreated fear opens for more nightmares and phobias later on in life.
Fear is amplified when you are small. A microscopic earthworm might look like a cobra in a childs eyes.
Marilyn Mansons 3 fears in his childhood are his grandfather, his father and the school.
Given that none of his parents wants to socialize with his grandmother and grandfather, propably because they are aware that the grandfather commits and has commited things that are not compatible with a normal family life, it seems very strange that they actually leave their only child in the care of the grandparents.
His father is not a nice experience either. He hits his son and doesn't overall pay any interest in him. His not a very nice husband either. He threatens his wife in his sons hearing and accuses her of adultry. Despite of this, MM is a very loyal son. He excuses his fathers behaviour, blaming the discomforts he experienced while being a soldier in Vietnam. And what's even more interesting - considering that this is Marilyn Manson, the personalized immorality with a complete lack of consciense - he takes the blame. As an example to this he claims, that it is after a physical confrontation he's had with his mother that she decides not to put any more children into this world. - And that this is good. Because he is evil. A new child will probably be even more evil.
This is a family from the lower middle class. Perhaps pretending to be a little bit more than they are. - We are told, that the grandmother is loaded with cash, though stingy. - And instead of sending the boy to an ordinary school (it's shit), the non-religious parents decide to put him in a christian school. On top of that a catholic such. How they manage to think this is a good idea!?! Again MM comes to his parents rescue by excusing their act with the fact that they just wanted to provide him with the best education.
Anyone can tell themselves, that if you leave a child who doesn't exactly feel welcome into this world in the care of the type of religios environment offered by Herritage Christian School, it's bound to go wrong. - MM tries to adapt and prove that he is a believer. But he can't really say yes to the question "- Are there any real catholics present?" which is constantly thrown out amongst the class.
It's here - at this school being paid to teach the pupils to honor and love God, that MMs eternal search for death, Hell and the Earths doom and most likely also the motive to his massive drug- and alcohol abuse is founded. The schools teaching is above all based on the ability to scare. And the intimidation is a success.
The former principal at the school, Carolyn Cole, asks a question in the book – through Neil Strauss – to MM. ” – Was there anything that I could have done differently?”, she wants to know. – I don't know if MM has ever answered her question. However I would like to answer it. The best Mrs Cole could have done was to admit to the School Commission that she was incompetent as leader and as educator.
Finally MM comes to the conclusion that he must get away from the school. He attempts to persuade his parents to send him to the municipal school instead. But they are not prepared to listen. - They problably should have.
Soon MM learns the lesson that so many other children - including I - learned in school: Even negative attention is more positive than no attention.
He starts a career as a candy pusher at the school where all candy is forbidden. And as a writer and editor of a cartoon magazine with a content that matches poorly with the schools religios and moral values. His hope is that this will earn him an order to leave, but sadly enough he's made a mis-calculation. - The majority of the pupils having their lives ruined at this school are children from low income homes whose parents can't afford to pay for the education. Therefore the money for these childrens education comes from funds etc. MMs parents on the other hand can afford to pay. And the school very much wants his parents money. Which explains why he will never be kicked out, no matter how hard he tries.
It isn't a result of his own cunnings that finally manages to get him away from the school, but the fact that his father gets a new and better job in Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and 2 months into the first semester of High School, the family moves to Florida. So here we have a teenager who has all the problems teenagers can have, whose only thoughts are pretty trivial (they're about sex and nothing else), whose lived his whole life in a small dull town in Ohio, moving to the decadent and at the same time noble suburb of Miami. - He must have felt like a farmers boy who just came in with the 4:05 train from nowhere.
MM doesn't really have social competence. He finds it difficult to get friends, but since he deep down inside is a typical human being seeking to be a member of the flock, this thing about being lonely isn't really functional for him. He wants friends. No matter which and how.
During his Ohio time he has tried - by pure accident - hash and booze. He notes that hash is shit that tastes awful. Booze is better.
Here in Fort Lauderdale it works as the key to everything he has in his head (still sex and nothing else).
As long as stays on "the right side" of "morality" his reward is bruises. - But the moment he gets his acts together and becomes creative or dangerous to himself, he gets what he wants.
He gets the respect from his school mates when selling them records that he steals in the shop where he works, stealing it back again, re-selling it etc. Noone ever reports him for it.
The tale about these years doesn't mention his parents. I wonder why. I wonder if they actually knew what he was doing. And If his silence has to do with his loyalty to his parents. MM lived under his parents roof untill he was 22. How is it possible for his parents to ignore what he's doing (in particular his mother who was a house wife)?
His girl acquaintances are just as one can imagine. He has no limits what so ever. He's with girls who despises him and exploits him, and yet he makes the same mistakes over and over again. As if he never learns. As if he despises himself so much that he doesn't believe that he has the right to reject something he knows is wrong and bad. As if he has no self esteem.
Exactly the same thing happens when it comes to all the drugs he takes. He knows it's bad and wrong, and yet he does it anyway - because he doesn't care about himself. Occasionally he doesn't want to, but most of the time he allows girls to talk him into using drugs. As they talk him into other wrong doings that he knows is over the edge. He never puts his foot down.
He becomes an expert in using people - in particular weak people. - The sum of a weak person with no self discipline and self esteem meeting another weak person with no self discipline and self esteem is ofcourse A Disaster. Then add some music, a performance that will make Caligula look like a sweet boy (to get attention and to cover up for the lousy musical performance) and some chocking lyrics - and sim-sa-la-bim - you get the basic substance of something that undoubtedly will call the moral America to open a crusade.
MM uses the psychopath Nancy (fictional name - I hope) as an element in the stage performance. They terrorize each other for 2 years on stage and in private - even though she's not his girlfriend (he's got a such as well, but that's not an obstacle). Since everything goes much too further than MM actually needs and wants, he comes to the conclusion that he must get rid of Nancy. Unfortunately Nancys view is that she's the leader of the band Marilyn Manson. And not 10 wild horses can get her to vanish. As a result to his attempts (half hearted to be honest), she terrorizes him even more. MM is so furious and hates Nancy so much that he in his desperation to get her off his back in details sets up a plan to murder her. He gets himself a conspirator, but on their way to actually kill her, they're being disturbed by another psychiatric case in the shape of a homeless man who repeatedly persecutes them, and the plan is interrupted.
In true drama style Nancy finally dissapears. Frustrated MM whispers a word or two into the ears of Nancys boyfriend, and Nancy's gone forever. - Had he been smart, he'd done that from the very first beginning rather than endure her sick behaviour.
The whole story involving Nancy is completely grotesque, and clearly shows how MM in order to get publicity can get himself involved in insane and sick relationships with people who doesn't wish him well leaving him hating them. This constantly happens to him.
He tells us that he always put people on a very high horse. But something always happens that makes them fall from that horse. An exception to this is Missi, the only person in this book - except for his mom - never being critizised by MM.
Missi is being described as a very sweet girl who MM respects (within the frame of what's possible for him). They're actually together for quite a number of years before she decides to end their relationship. This in the connection with the band Marilyn Manson having their actual breakthrough.
Marilyn Mansons became famous with the assistance of Trent Reznor. He talked Nothing into publishing MMs music - however the clause was that Trent Reznor was to determine content etc. Trent Reznor himself 'owns' a very famous progressive metal band. He's rich, he's a playboy, and he's good looking. A mothers dream. During the production of the album that becomes Marilyn Mansons breakthrough over and beyond (Anti Christ Superstar), a serious fall out between the person Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor occurs. It's essentially about who'se to determine the content of Anti Christ Superstar. MM wants a more poppish sound while the record company and Trent Reznor wants more progressivity. On top of that Trent Reznor put a stick in the wheel to MMs dream to deliver the music for the very famous David Lynchs next movie.
The dispute between MM and Trent Reznor is settled. And the 2 gentlemen make peace. - Or so Trent Reznor thinks.
Today MM and Trent Reznor are as close to being death enemies as you can get.
In numerious interviews MM has announced himself completely incomprehensible to Trent Reznors hateful feelings for him.
MMs memory fails him from time to time - when it fits. It can easilly be archived under the cause alcohol and drug abuse. In this case it seems as if he completely forgot all about the less flattering chapters dealing with Trent Reznor in this book. Trent Reznor is now just an immoral and totally dishonest person in the eyes of readers.
This is obviously MMs own little private revenge for the mischief similarities Trent Reznor exposed to him in connection with the Anti-Christ Superstar and the story of David Lynch films. Trent Reznor has as far as I know never sued MM for the accusations against him written in this book. MM is manic, documenting everything. On film, photoes and on tapes. A lawsuit is not worth the risk.
As I wrote in the beginning of this review, so many people believe that MM is a very bad person. A person who stands for immorality, abuse and Satanism. A person who denies God.
When reading this book, you become a lot wiser. He is not very disciplined, but he has great inner strenght and, above all, he has a strong ability to control himself. If he feels that the use of drugs for example is an obstacle to his goal, he rejects it.
He is no God denier. He believes in God. But he interprets Christianity in his own way.
MM spends a whole chapter explaining to the reader what Satanism is. That it's not a synonymous with the Devil. He explains that the Devil and Hell doesn't exist. That it's rubbish. And he's right. The Bible doesn't say anything about the Devil or about Hell. It's something that was created in disturbed peoples minds. And which can be used to scare people to obey.
He has great self-irony. If there's anyone who does not take himself very seriously in particular it is MM. Try for example to read his life rules. And his rules on how to find out whether you are a drug addict. It is hillarious!
There are stories in this book about things I do not like. Actions I dislike. However, I respect his courage to admit what he's done. It is brave, and very few people would have dared to stand up to what they have done as MM does in this book.
As for the whole discussion about morality versus immorality which undeniable occurs in my mind while reading this book, I'm quite sure, that MM during his long journey must have consulted his conscious. He might have seeked for help in the type of literature he became familiar with in school - or because of his schooling. He has a thorough knowledge of religios literature - and philosophic books disputing thesis etc. He may very well have consulted Thomas of Aquino who summarized the jesuits moral system which deals with probability. According to this system there are very few moral descisions being unequivocally 'good' or 'bad'. Moral position is ambiguous. Whether there are reasonable grounds or reasonable authority that supports a personal opinion, then this personal view can be decisive, even if there are reasonable grounds or authorities that speak against this opinion.
So: If it serves a higher goal to commit certain acts, and this objective is in conformity with current perceptions of fairness, then it could be accepted to commit such acts. - And in America, it is no shame wanting to be famous or rich.
His view on women is abolutely abominable. Though we must not forget that he works in a business where women overall in front of and behind the stage very often show their worst sides. Furthermore MM has a suitcase full of bad experiences. - It is not surprising that he sees women as objects of use.
The Motive to become the person Marilyn Manson is partly a kind of indulgence, partly a vocation. As a kind of reversed 'Messiah'. Taking on the task to tell the hypocrites, the religious and slanderous people what they can do to themselves. And be punished for saying out loud what the rest of us are just thinking inside ourselves. One might think that a person who assumes such a role must be either mad or at least not normal, but the need for such a 'Messiah' is evident in the so-called civilized world, where you from cradle to death are being guided into a safe confidense assuring you that any own thinking will do you great harm.
There is a psycological factor in this. One can think of something so intense that it finally becomes a reality. Franz Stangl is in 'Into the Darkness' an example of this. Franz Stangl was the Commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka. He claimed, that in order to survive mentally, he convinced himself that the people who were murdered in the 2 camps were not human beings, they were packages. His assignment was transporting all these packages from A to B (from the arriving train to the final destination which was through the chemny) as fast and effectively as possible. He was in the transportation logistics business. Nothing else.
Marilyn Manson has equally convinced himself about what his job is. It is a more or less self-assumed mission of conscious obstacles which he must be overcome to prove that he really is 'Messiah'. I have no doubt that MM is sincerely convinced that he can save mankind from hypocrisy. The ultimate goal for him is to achieve recognition - not necessarily for what he does but for what he is.
MM sees himself as a performer - a kind of executive agent - in art. Art can not be determined. Art is not facts - art is something else. Here art is elevated into an art show where the practitioner is also the spectator standing outside and looking in. In this way, conscience and assessment is on 2 levels. Depending on the ultimate objective.
Let me conclude by thanking Miss Winty for giving me a reading experience beyond the ordinary. Whether you like MM or not, I recommend the book to teenage parents, to teachers and educators and to people who prefer to create their own ideas about the person MM, rather than the MM shown in the media.
The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell - By Marilyn Manson with Neil Strausse, 1999.