— Nature speaks, and one has to listen.

A talk with composer Flint Juventino Beppe in connection with the music film The Holy Bigotry.



By Oddbjørn Fiskefjell




1. How would you explain the title of the film The Holy Bigotry?

— Well, it can be seen as a pun referring to "The Holy Bible", since the Bible is full of bigotry. In this film, the focus is on bigotry; how bigotry clad as religion and politics may develop into manipulation, and even lead to wars. Bigotry can take many shapes, not only on a big scale, but also in everyday situations. You will find it within families and close-knit communities. Religion can split the strongest of relationships. In its most undiluted form, religion will become fanaticism — and this is where it becomes so dangerous. When fanaticism arises within people, the zealots are convinced that their deity communicates directly with and through them. This happens because they actually believe it happens. The kind of euphoria these people experience may make a deep impression and thereby gain a strong foothold.

However, this elation is most likely only a part of man's own imagination, and what comes trailing behind when this euphoria is revealed as man-made authorship, might be substituted by the opposite; a feeling of humiliation and complete submission. Nevertheless, human beings seems to endure this earthly middle-stage euphoria as long as there is a promise of salvation in the end.

The process of making The Holy Bigotry has been extremely painful. Nevertheless, I feel this film had to be made. My intention with this film is not to prove religion wrong, because that may also be considered bigotry. Instead, I take a look back in history to show some of the dire consequences of religion and bigoted politics.

2. The film opens with a warning about the content. Is it necessary to use graphic images to make a point?

— It is not often that I use graphic images to this extent. This short film, I would say, is just as much a documentary as it is an art film. The photos and paintings are a way to document how innocence suffers when brutal politics or religion strikes: how people without much resistance get struck by the very powerful hand of the holy scripts, or the ideas of political fanatics. So in this case, it felt very natural to use graphic images, especially in relation to the very merciless music, which accompanies this narrative.
   
3. Can you explain the title of the music «Warning Zero»?

— Without revealing too much, the "Zero" in the title might be seen as something digital. In the digital world one operates with the two values 1 or 0. All or Nothing. The "Warning" in this film might be referring to how fanaticism has dire consequences — signified by "0" (nothing) – for people, given the right (or wrong) circumstances. The composition
«Warning Zero» Op.54 is as much a part of this anti-bigotry manifesto as the images are; it is the actual foundation of the film.

4. Why do you think religion becomes such a substantial part of people's lives?

— As the author Henrik Ibsen says in «The Wild Duck»: «Rob the average man of his life-illusion, and you rob him of his happiness at the same stroke.»

Tradition and culture, combined with low self-esteem, fear and mass suggestion, are keystones in what constitutes the foundation for any religious movement, I believe. When a young person grows up in a family where parents, or grown-up role models, bring religion into this person's life, this may alter his or her perception of life and living. Furthermore, it may be dramatic for such a young person to renounce the family's religion, since this indirectly also involves breaking up with the family. The whole process of losing one's religion can be demeaning and painful, and in certain parts of the world might even be life-threatening. I think many people actually choose to keep their childhood faith "up and running" to avoid a painful confrontation with what their gut instinct tells them. This again might lead people to play safe and be selective in what to believe because this is convenient for their lifestyle. For many, it is also safe to believe in an afterlife. Religious people choose to look away from the ugly realities of their religion. And such a disclaimer of liability, standing with one foot here and one foot there, is something I cannot respect. To settle with a religion is extremely selfish since one automatically supports bigotry written in "holy scripts" and thereby abandons critical thinking. Innocent people suffer because of this.
— You do not need to say "I believe"
or "I know". You can say "I do not
believe" or "I do not know" –
and settle with it.

I think religion becomes such a big part of people's lives because they develop a fear of not knowing, and of not daring to leave questions open and unanswered, without leaning towards an abstract concept of a god.

The idea of a possible afterlife is also a captivating one, simply because it is so scary not to know what will happen after you pass away. My suggestion is to wait and see; what else can we do? Did we ask to be born? If not, we can't be held responsible for having to die. What we cannot technically know about any afterlife, we cannot know. Why not just settle for this uncertainty? Because of the horrible consequences with any religious belief; it should ideally be totally avoided. You do not need to say "I believe"or "I know". You can say "I do not believe" or "I do not know" — and settle with it. Claiming with certainty that there is an afterlife is a huge attack on people's integrity and innocence, but claiming that there is nothing is also an attack, since no human can know for sure. It is probably best to settle for a 50-50 chance you will have the answer to any philosophical question. Not more. Not less. For me to cope with life, any existential question must be left 100 % open. 50 + 50 = 100. There may be no definite answers.

5. Do you think religion will ever vanish?

— The day this earth maybe is demolished, and only then, will religion vanish. Until that happens, I believe that religion has far too firm a grip on people to ever let go. If we look at how much religion has destroyed, killed and violated, and how easy it is to detect the psychological mechanisms of religion, it is very perplexing that people have not abandoned the idea altogether a long time ago. Even when millions are made homeless and masses get killed in religious conflicts, people still cling onto their faith, not daring to say: "I do not know if there is a god" or "I do not know if there is an afterlife". It is easier to fall back on a ready-made road to redemption, and believe in something abstract. As long as there is fanaticism, as long as holy scripts are presented as the "truth" for young persons, and as long as priests are allowed to preach about heaven and hell, and fear is instilled in congregations, religion will survive.

Religion will continue to be a source of paranoia, bigotry, moralism, wars and terrorism as long as there are people left, and that saddens me greatly.

6. Does one have to be a "Superman" in order to cope with religious or political narrow-mindedness in today´s society?

— Have you ever noticed how Superman suffers, and loses his power, when he comes too close to the green material Kryptonite?

I don't think I am Superman. Still, I experience similar violent reactions when I come across moralism, twisted radical (state) -isms or any religion, including those practicing barbaric "traditions" such as baptism and circumcision of the defenceless. Freedom-violating politics immediately leaves me paralysed and, even worse, makes me extremely despondent about the human race. These violations of personal freedom and the private sphere are my Kryptonite.

So, when I come too close to state-manufactured Kryptonite, the only way for me to keep afloat is to turn away in time to avoid the lunacy completely, even if it means I have to leave the country permanently: no reading of newspapers, shunning other unpredictable sources of information. Tiresome? Yes, indeed. But I have no other choice; I am not equipped with a "filter" to save me from exposure to state suppression.

Superman or not, every new day will present me with chunks of Kryptonite. I'd better stick to my music lab.

7. Is it possible for humans to live together in a society, keeping the private sphere intact?

— I don't know which is worse: a dictatorship where the leader is a fool, or a democracy where the majority is foolish. In both cases, the consequence is often a suppression of freedom. The more people behind it, the more people to blame. It seems impossible for humans to live together in respect and peace. If the human race has to be organised in a stately system, then the state must be involved as little as possible in aspects related to the private life; ideally nothing at all. The danger of being subjected to moralising politics and state suppression is overwhelming in the second bigots come to power with their "truth".

Unfortunately, democracy has its severe faults. People elect representatives that they trust to lead a country, but the pitfalls in such a system are many. To begin with, quite a few politicians have convictions — possibly very private ones — heavily saturated by religion or prejudice — and what is more, these convictions are often based on ignorance or disrespect. Politicians often have an unfaltering self-confidence, and not everyone is willing to let themselves be open-minded.

Is it tactically wise to let biased and unenlightened people form the legislative body of a country? Well, no. Simply because legislation concerns every citizen.

Do politicians for instance have to prove that they know the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are they pledged to remove any law or law proposal that breaches these? Obviously not.

Is it then tactically wise to let these people form the legislative body of a country? Well, no. Simply because legislation concerns every citizen.

Then there is the matter of the voters in a democracy. If the voters know that the candidates (and even some parties) are ignorant and prejudiced, and they still vote for them of local, emotional or family-traditional reasons, it logically follows that a majority of the ordinary men and women are to blame when bigoted legislation comes into effect. More than 50 % of the voters might actually, more or less unconsciously, support narrow-minded politics and contribute to establish bigotry. This scares me.

Is it then tactically wise to let oblivious, careless citizens vote for who shall run the country? Again, no. Simply because legislation concerns every citizen

Unfortunately, this is the nature of democracy, and this is what always strikes me as utterly senseless: an uninformed mass elects ignorant politicians who make bigoted laws, and there is obviously nothing here to prevent clearly moralising and prejudiced policies, often driven by very personal convictions and feelings, from taking effect. What is the point of having a constitution when it cannot hinder bigotry from leaving personal lives and entering legislation concerning all citizens?

To be honest, I have difficulties knowing who to trust in this democratic power-chain, including the people closest to me, never knowing if new autonomous-depriving legislation pops up out of reasons that only can be traced back to bigotry or personal agendas. Even in our contemporary, "enlightened" world, things change very quickly; people who one day accept personal freedom may the next day turn to state introduced -isms or sentiment. With the use of an elimination method, one can easily reveal that the bigot's real motive is just liking or not liking something; without any logical reason. Hence, these people in their disrespect for personal freedom must be defined as selfish (some would say evil) because they have chosen to turn a blind eye to fundamental respect. Democracy: a good system, or perhaps not?

8. Are you saying that democracy is a failure?

— I wish to answer by returning a question to you:

Picture yourself in the midst of a crowded street, together with hundreds of people. Here you find the religious priest, the mother who just has lost her child, the depressed suicidal who only can think about his own misery, the successful artist that is busy with her career, the self-appointed feminist woman that now despises men in general because of her own personal experiences, the tailor who cannot express himself in writing, the teacher that just got fired, the alcoholic that mainly care about opening hours of the pub, the bus company owner whose main concern is the petrol prices, the undisclosed murderer that still is in hiding, and finally myself with my philosophical struggles. Together we form what can be considered a mass of pathetic faces on our way to death.

Do you wish for an average of these people to decide over you, your life and your freedom?

If the answer is yes, you support democracy. If the answer is no, you do not support it.

Since democracy is a system based on foolishness in itself, how can any legislation made within a democracy ever be taken seriously? Perhaps the democratic society has a mental illness? Democracy gives everyone the feeling of having power. Well, it is just another life-lie, since only the majority has power; thus the democracy is in reality is a dictatorship named majority. Religion and politics and any -ism are therefore ludicrous in itself; it is human made, hence history is constantly repeating itself. One might as well put the names of all the political parties in a lottery drum, and draw a winner instead of wasting money on elections. This would be better, since nobody with bigoted intentions thus would manage to manipulate a mass into getting power. I think democracy is one of the biggest scams in history, giving people the fake feeling of being involved and having power.

The problem is that I cannot find democracy to be natural for animals like human beings, and I'm part of the pathetic mass myself. Human inequality cannot form a homogeneous entity, and if the average of such deficiency should reign, it becomes so little impressive and irresponsible that it triggers a feeling of unreality in myself.

This unreality feeling makes me wonder if it actually is the pharmaceutical industry (or other similar organisations) that are behind regulations, moral panic and laws that interfere with the private sphere. In order to push massive amounts of medication on people, and thereby earn tons of money, they have to ensure a constant and steady stream of users. When authorities (perhaps steered by the pharmaceutical industry) try to regulate consensual, healthy interaction between grown-ups (that being homosexuality, sex etc.) it prompts psychological reactions, and people may become mentally ill and victims of miscarriages of justice. Without the interruptions of this private sphere, there would perhaps not be such a need for medication that controls the mind. There are healthier solutions: individual freedom to interact in peace and with consent — in private or in business — without the authorities trying to regulate this with illogical state suppression.

One must never let circumstantial factors or culturally conditioned bigotry influence law-making. Because circumstantial factors are dynamic or based on fashion; constantly changing forwards and backwards all the time. If a person feels that a certain work or lifestyle is right for him / her, and not directly damages someone irrelevant, then it IS right. It is all about respecting that preferences and interests are different, and not exploiting democracy to spread bigotry based on personal or circumstantial factors. Any national law book is human-made, hence is full of bigotry just like any other religious books, and can therefore not be taken seriously.

As a consequence, I have to wonder if every thought and action for all persons are pre-decided; that no matter what we do, we are not really deciding anything. We are not really living independently. What if "death" is only a stairway to level 2 or level X of yet another stuck situation? Still, as long as it exactly a 50 % chance this might be right or wrong, I cannot believe in this either. Just playing with the thought.

9. This is very harsh criticism of a well-established political system. Do you have any better alternatives, then?

— «Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.» («The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.»). Old Latin phrase.

All right, no humans seem to be even close to perfect, and in order to be a little constructive, an obvious improvement to democracy would be to automatically reject any sentiment, religion or moral hysteria in connection with policy making, because they suffocate people that simply cannot accept this coming-and-going, fanatical straight-jacket. It would also be a huge improvement if elected representatives had to prove that they know the so-called human rights by heart, and could in some way be compelled by the constitution to consider them before even drafting or considering law proposals.

Voters should go through with a test that proves that they in fact know what they are voting for before they can get permission to something as serious as influencing all citizens of a society via voting. This in order to avoid detrimental results. Then, at least, the election would mirror a choice based on knowledge, rather than on ignorance, knowing that the electors have actually voted using their intellect, and have not just followed ingrained, populist patterns which are often controlled by emotions, family tradition and mass suggestion.

If you wish to poison your own mind with moral hysteria, twisted radical -isms or religion, please go ahead with this "drug" addiction within your own garden fence, since this is a private matter. But please don't exploit democracy to push the convictional "drug" on all the citizens in a nation via politics.

10. Then is there a way to live a "happy life", surrounded by stately introduced bigotry, without being ignorant?

— I cannot say that I have a solution to untangle this Gordian knot, and I live in an almost impossible situation where I struggle with this every day. My problem is that I cannot just close my eyes and pretend these destructive dynamics are not there, since I don't have a "filter" (read: Tightrope Walking). I have to acknowledge that I cannot hold myself responsible for all the man-made, perishable ideas that I stumble upon. Thus I should only take into account non-human presence that surpasses my intellect, like nature and starry nights.

Nevertheless, since the state is man-made, thus cannot own you and cannot be trusted, using an elimination method in my head suggests a way to go in order to not being ignorant
and at the same be active against stately organised bigotry:

Bigotry-based, perishable state oppression must be countered by suppressing the state itself with personal freedom and integrity. Always listen to your heart; never to the state. Have a look out the window and find the answer in the mountains. Should it sometimes by fluke be a concurrence between you and the state; well that is art by accident.

11. Do you sometimes feel detached from the world?


— Am I an alien? I sometimes feel like I am waiting for someone to come and take me back to "my real home".

Maybe I am waiting for a spaceship from a remote galaxy? My problem is that I cannot feel relaxed and at home with most people, and even though I'm forced to be part of society, I cannot say that I identify with society at large. Perhaps it is because I have Asperger's Syndrome.

One thing is quite clear: I cannot adapt to some human traits, those that are too dynamic and too fickle. Wickedness seems to be a well-established trait of the human race, e.g not respecting other persons sexual orientation or choice of work, no matter what it is as long as it is healthy in itself and consensual for those involved. Very often I get despondent when I see what humans are capable of and responsible for: how evilness and stupidity originating from religion or some -isms can take over society and crush individuals. How politics and other man-made decisions actually get a choke-hold on free-thinking humans, and how a large number of people cannot see this themselves before it is too late for a period. For a period, because illogical sadness like moralism and bigotry has a tendency to perish — or change form — after a time.

What make it possible for me to stay alive are what I call static elements: the genuine perfection of things that are not man-made. Luckily, a few things in my life are always exceptional — untouchable in quality, pure and timeless. These gems always generate music in my head. The beauty of a flower, the innocence of animals, the sunset. Sometimes I see those static elements inherent in some Homo sapiens: the pure innocence of a person whose integrity is still not corrupted by the mercilessness of society. Then I am filled with joy, but also feel a deep sadness, because I know that some day this innocence might be ripped away by religion or state suppression. Innocence is, as far as I know, not man-made and never can be.

Perhaps on some beautiful day in the future the spaceship will come and take me back home. In the meantime, I have to find a way to survive, avoiding the dynamic illogical elements as best I can, and, instead, surrounding myself with static timelessness.

When I manage to do this, the music automatically starts playing in my head, and I feel like a reflector of all things static, completely detached from the world.

Epilogue

This world is no matter what a stranger to me. Real borders are not between countries, but between society and nature. Between man-made and not man-made aspects of life.

The production of The Holy Bigotry was not an easy task: I felt quite disheartened throughout, however, I'm too much of a recluse by nature to be an activist and speak against the dynamic fickleness of human nature. Thus, in The Holy Bigotry and in this interview I have said what I need to say about religion and politics; man-made factors that are totally alien to me. I must instead use my effort on mirroring the art I constantly carry with me, being a humble carrier of a "naturezenship" of the High Mountains of Music.



— Did we ask to be born? If not, we can't be held responsible for having to die.
Flint Juventino Beppe, director and composer for The Holy Bigotry



Related:


The Holy Bigotry (watch the film)


«Warning Zero»


Tightrope walking

Other interviews