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Guest Column: Three Books You Need To Read By Life Against Death’s Norm O. Brown

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Guest Column
Guest Column

In our undying efforts to bring you engaging columns you won’t find anywhere else, we’ve reached out to the metal world, seeking submissions for a new subject: Three amazing books you have to pick up.

Seeing as you read this blog everyday, we went out on a limb and assumed you’d maybe want to get some book suggestions from your favorite bands, too. So today, we continue this series on rad, must-reads with an entry from the drummer for thrash outfit Life Against Death, Norm O. Brown.

I read a lot, so cutting this down to three books wasn’t easy. To limit myself, I focused only on books published in the last fifty years. Here’s what I came up with.

Frantz Fanon, “The Wretched of the Earth” (1961)
Why should everyone read this? Because it is a foundational work of anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and decolonial theory.

Not to get all Propagandhi on your asses — but Fanon does not fuck around. He also puts his money where his mouth is, renouncing his French citizenship (he was born and raised in colonial Martinique) in order to join the FLN in their struggle for Algerian independence.

White liberals sometimes give Fanon shit because they say he advocates violence. This book influenced Ali Shariati, Steve Biko, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara. Maybe it should influence you, too.

Guy Debord, “The Society of the Spectacle” (1967)
Marxists are not only the best writers, they’re often the funniest as well. Check out this typical zinger from Debord: “Young people everywhere have been allowed to choose between love and a garbage disposal unit. Everywhere they have chosen the garbage disposal unit.”

Like the Marxist spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre, Debord liked to drink a lot, party, and fuck shit up (the theoretical terms for this are la dérive and détournement). To my knowledge, however, Debord is the only Marxist theorist of stature to have committed suicide. Shot through the heart and commodity capitalism is to blame.

“Behind the masks of total choice, different forms of the same alienation confront each other.”

Judith Butler, “Gender Trouble” (1990)
Idiots like Denis Dutton like to complain that Butler’s prose style is unnecessarily dense and thus elitist. But then, how do we explain the fact that Butler is the only major critical theorist to have had a punk rock fanzine named after her?

More likely the reason some people don’t like Judy is that her work radically fucks with their ability to claim “male” and “female” as universally absolute and ontologically-stable identity categories. Shit, Butler’s theory of gender performativity is so influential that even the Pope had to say something bad about it.

Don’t be an idiot like Denis Dutton and the Pope!

Have a look at Butler’s hugely important book or you might make a fool of yourself the next time someone asks you if gender is essential and given or rather merely citational and reiterative.