Hammer of the Dogs
Hammer of the Dogs
20.25 × 14.5 × 0.3 in
Dartmouth College, Rauner Library
Library of Congress (LoC)
University of California, Irvine (UCI)
University of Connecticut (UCONN)
This is the 3rd of a 5 volume set of books concerned with social and psychological (ab)uses of music in American culture. The preceding two volumes dealt with the comparatively innocuous practice of capitalist concerns employing music to manufacture emotional connections between consumer and product.
The idea came to me in the summer of 2014 to connect this mercenary idea to the military use of music to torture illegal detainees at Abu Ghraid, Guantanamo Bay, and other secret U.S. detention sites (not to mention in domestic situations, beginning at the siege of the Branch Davidian compound at Waco and continuing to the current wave of anti-police violence demonstrations).
At the end of 2014, the CIA torture report came out. The physical tortures detailed therein seemed to diminish the horror of being held in dark, solitary, filthy cells while music is looped at high volume. However, in the words of Binyam Mohamed, a detainee at Guantanamo, “Imagine you’re given a choice, lose your sight or lose your mind.”
Psychological torture is real.
While researching material for this admittedly brief volume, the obvious occurred to me: songs chosen to break the spirit of these unfortunate men were obviously chosen by under-supervised soldiers, seemingly from CDs they already had in the gloveboxes of their armored humvees. Yet the majority of the detainees couldn’t possibly understand the lyrics to all these terrible Yankee songs sung in English.
The music of Metallica, AC/DC, Matchbox 20, et al, when used in this barbaric capacity, becomes less a message to the detainee than a reinforcement of the interrogators’ aggressive, dominant self-image. For their purposes, guards at the prisons could have just as effectively blasted audio of vacuum cleaners as heavy metal anthems or dance bangers.
At this realization, this project assumed a new, possibly more grim meaning—The Hammer of the Dogs swings both ways.
— Mike Taylor, January 2015
NOTES: p. 2 “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS” by QUEEN, p 3 “BORN IN THE USA” by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, p 4 “FUCK YOUR GOD” by DEICIDE p. 5, interview w JAMES HIETFIELD of METALLICA, p 7 That’s DAVID KORESH p. 10 BRITNEY SPEARS in LAS VEGAS GET UP p 13 “DIRTY” by CHRISTINA AGUILERA p. 14 GEN. KEITEL of THE THIRD REICH, 1941 (PETERS, 124) p. 15 TOP QUOTE, JEAN PAUL SARTRE, BOTTOM, “WHITE AMERICA” by EMINEM, IMAGE is BIKYAM MOHAMED
SOURCES: TORTURE, EDWARD PETERS, THE GUARDIAN.COM/WORLD/2008/JUNE/19/USA. GUANTANAMO MOTHERJONES.COM/POLITICS/2008/02/TORTURE-PLAYLIST