Celebrating the Death of Blake Day
A confession about existential death, transformation and rebirth by Michael Achim
Blake Day – Who? What? Why?
Celebrating the Death of Blake Day
A confession about existential death, transformation and rebirth by Michael Achim
Blake Day – Who? What? Why?
Around 14 years ago, I made an important realisation about myself: if I didn’t write a poem for a long time, I would become unhappy. What ‘long’ actually meant was dependent on the circumstances of my day-to-day life. Sometimes ‘long’ meant a few days, sometimes a few weeks, but never more than that. And every single time, I had the same experience: as soon as I wrote the last word of a poem or the last verse of a song lyric – which to me, were and still are usually one and the same thing –, any unhappiness or pain or sorrow that had piled up would just vanish into thin air and resolve itself into a satisfying feeling of ease. I had been writing poems from the age of 14 – pretty bad ones at first – but it wasn’t until around
14 years ago that I realised that for me, writing has the power to alleviate and often completely cure any pain. It was – and still is – similar to the relief that consuming other works of art could give me but it was also different in that I could be the source of my own relief; administer by my own hand my own balm onto my open wounds; sing myself to sleep with my own lullaby; basically get out of any trouble by writing. I discovered writing was – and still is – a protective force that came from a place deep down within, or way up above, or hiding timidly in silent retreats, or being so wide out in the open and all around us that sometimes we cannot even see it – like not seeing the forest for the trees. I’m less concerned with where it comes from as long as I can trust that it’s there. And this trust cannot be shaken by anything.
It was around 14 years ago that I made writing a regular activity. It may have started for self-centred reasons but I have always had a feeling that something bigger was at play, bubbling under the surface, although it wouldn’t be until much later that I got a better look at what that was. Growing up with both music and literature, I would not only write poems but also songs – again, pretty bad ones at first. My poems acted as lyrics for my songs, something which they still do. With music and literature having been an essential part of my life from an early age, I would make writing music and literature a regular activity in my life; at least to the extent that my day job and my day-to-day life allowed me to.
But one day, I had to publish some of my music. And this came with a big artistic question that would occupy my head with no intention to leave until it was resolved: was I able to publish and at some point possibly even perform under my real name, as what I thought was myself at that time? I realised that there was a big gap between my desired life and my actual day-to-day life because looking at my daily routines and my day job, this was not what I wanted to be doing in life; this was not what I was put here on this planet for. I felt that I couldn’t publish and perform under my real name, so I invented an artistic persona, an alter ego, and I called him “Blake Day”. This would be my artistic self, and I felt more comfortable approaching the public with this name – with this mask. This suited me fine for a while, and I wrote a lot of poems and music as Blake Day, and even published some of it. But in the last 3 years, my life has taken on a new and truer direction. I have been increasingly finding new paths that have all converged into a brightly lit road that is leading me towards my true self. For the last 3 years, I’ve been on a highway to myself. Every person’s journey should lead them towards their true self. And for every person, this is necessarily a solitary drive with no passenger seat next to them. It’s a road that you can only walk by yourself so at some point, I had to kick Blake Day off my back and leave him behind, blowing him kisses of thanks; because he has been a necessary part of me, a bridge towards the next rung on my personal and artistic evolutionary ladder. In my new life, my new consciousness, my new artistic world, there is no place for him anymore. And with him, I had to leave his name behind as well.
As I keep noticing how myself and others write and create their own evolution, and how inextricably interlinked one’s life and one’s writing are, it is not at all unlikely that when I created Blake Day I had already felt, on a subconscious level, that one day he would have to die in order for my true authentic self to live. And so the time had come.
Connecting the cognitive dots
Once I realised that Blake Day had to die, I tried to wrap my head around these developments or evolutions, trying to cognitively make sense in my brain of something that had long happened in a state of order and coherence on an emotional level, void of the need for cognitive reasoning. The gut knows, and the mind thinks it knows; or put differently: feeling and intuition and subconsciousness rule over cognitive reasoning and consciousness. If we are connected to ourselves and to the universe enough, we intuitively know things, although the cognitive resolution might happen much later, if at all. But time isn’t linear, after all. To me, everything that happened (not only but mainly) on the artistic front in the last few years makes sense in hindsight, and it is a perfectly logical development for Blake Day to die now. But how should I explain this to others – especially the millions and millions of loyal fans hungry for more Blake Day? Should I even bother?
I had started to work on this album before any of this was clear to my conscious mind. And at some point, I knew that I had to call the growing album “Axolotl”. This made instant sense to me, even though I didn’t know why yet because I was still too involved in the evolutionary process and I didn’t have a conscious explanation for what was happening yet. And then I knew that Blake Day had to die. So what would this mean for the album? I was concerned about what it would look like if I simply announced that there would be drastic changes (i.e. a different artist). It was troubling me because when doing this album, or any album or anything really, there is only one true criterion: it has to mean something. I could feel the meaning of the album and everything around it on a very intuitive, subconscious level. Usually, that’s enough for me, and I don’t even go any further than that. But this time it wasn’t enough. I had to make cognitive sense of it to be able to explain it to others, and probably even to myself. Luckily, I managed to cognitively connect the dots that had been firing up in deceptive isolation on the peripheries between the subconscious and the conscious. Now, the mind – constantly desperate for rationalising every little magical mystery out of every little thing – is satisfied as well. It’s okay. This time, I don’t mind.
So here it goes:
The Axolotl is an amphibian but it is special: it doesn’t evolve from water to land, which is typical for its amphibian species. This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t, because it could. But normally, the Axolotl simply doesn’t do what is expected of it. Instead of metamorphosing like its peers, it reaches adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis, and remains in a semi-larval stage throughout its life, though it is fully capable of reproducing. Moreover, it is also capable of re-growing almost any part of its body, including half of its brain. The Axolotl, for me, is a metaphor for defying predestination, defying conditioning, defying the past – and becoming what you want to become. It is a living symbol of possibilities and a metaphor for what we are capable of as human beings, and that we can and should take our future into our own hands. But if you want to step into the future, you have to leave behind your past.
For a long time, the assumption prevailed that human beings were determined by their genes; that, for example, having a certain genetic disposition was a sure and straight road towards developing the corresponding disease – because it was in keeping with nature. However, this assumption has meanwhile been proven wrong. It is not the gene that ultimately decides over what’s happening to us but it is the cell membrane around the gene that signals to the gene how to behave. And the cell membrane is in turn controlled by external influences. These external influences are manifold: next to our individual diet as well as other environmental influences such as toxins and everything we experience through our senses, our inner life plays a decisive role. How we think and feel (and consequently act) has a significant effect on the cell membrane around the gene and, as a result, on the behaviour of the corresponding gene – just like it has a significant effect on our material reality around us. In short: we can control our health and our body and our entire life by the way we think and feel (and consequently act). Therefore, we are the masters of our own destiny and by no means slaves to our nature. We can defy nature – just like the Axolotl. And human beings benefit from a major advantage which is the capacity for abstract thought and an increased awareness.
The Axolotl is a prime example of the predominance of voluntarism over determinism or fatalism – meaning that things are not predetermined but that their course can be influenced and changed. It doesn’t follow its genetic predisposition like its fellow members of its species, but instead does its own thing. It is, however, fair to assume that the Axolotl is lacking the capacity for abstract thought and awareness, which defines human beings. But it is precisely us human beings that, thanks to our increased awareness, have a much greater power available to us: the power to decide over our own fate. We can become aware of our thoughts and feelings (and consequent actions) and influence it as we please. Unfortunately, human beings are conditioned to such an extent that it is probably virtually impossible for a lot of human beings to take their fate into their own hands, to grow beyond themselves and their nature, and to create the life they want for themselves. Most human beings are not aware of how god-like they are and could be. But there is an increasing awareness of this. As far as I’m concerned, I’m observing this process with utmost excitement. And it is of course a prerequisite of any evolution that the old must first perish in order for the new to come into existence.
Blake Day becomes Michael Achim
Everything dies and is reborn constantly. Body cells, for example, are always created and destroyed and created again in the human body. About 300 million cells die every minute in our bodies. Life itself is a constant process of death and transformation and rebirth, and we’re all creative creatures with an insatiable need to create. Against this background, the Axolotl for me is a metaphor that we don’t have to be a slave to nature and that these processes are not predetermined, but that they can instead be controlled and directed into different directions – in other words, that we can become what we want to become. And so, my old artistic self ‘Blake Day’ has become a victim of my own evolution: it had to die so that I could be reborn as my new and true self. The means with which the old self would die were already part of this evolution from the very start so that the new self could kill off the old self. When I invented ‘Blake Day’ around 8 years ago, this alter ego was necessary for me to be able to publish and perform my words and music. But as I evolved and changed myself, I eventually outgrew my alter ego; and at some point I could no longer identify myself with it – also in an artistic sense. In the last few years, I found myself more and more so that now I can finally do what used to be impossible: to call myself by my own name: Michael Achim. These are my two first names and they now serve as my artistic self. I had never used or even liked ‘Achim’ – until now. It is as if it has been biding its time.
In such a long process, the timing can get a bit out of hand, of course; especially since working on a music album can turn into a long-drawn-out process. This also happened to my current album – much to the disappointment of the creator in me who is most interested in creating stuff, rather than spending years on bringing something to its completion. But these processes must be completed. In for a penny, in for a pound. Literally. Make that two pounds. This record started off as a Blake Day record and received the title ‘Axolotl’ at an early stage of development. But by the time the record had been finished and mastered, but not published yet, my evolution had already progressed, and it became clear that Blake Day needed to go. The timing seemed a bit off but in hindsight, it made perfect sense: everything was fitting exactly to my own personal developments. And the musical result of this whole process is this: ‘Axolotl – The Death of Blake Day. An album by Michael Achim.’ Musically speaking, it is still Blake Day but at the end there is Michael Achim who – with love and thanks – has laid the former to his metaphysical rest so that, as a new human being and artist, he is able to live out his true self more and more, also in an artistic sense.
Where to go from here?
After one of my books got published by a publishing company, this dream, too, has found its resting place in the vault of dreams, and this existential duty, too, has been fulfilled. And now, with my own music album and my own book published, I am finally free. Free to do what I feel like I have to do, and want to do: to assist humanity. You know how they say that on an airplane, if the cabin loses pressure and oxygen masks drop from the overhead area, you should put on your own mask first before assisting others. In an airplane, this seemingly egocentric deed is vital because without that mask, we will quickly lose consciousness. So if we don’t make putting on our own mask our first priority, we will very likely not be able to help anyone at all. This is what it feels like to me: I had to look after my own music album and my own book first, I had to attend to my own needs first, I had to put my own oxygen mask on first – before assisting others. I still claim that even art we create predominantly for ourselves can have a positive effect on others – luckily so, because otherwise, we’d be doomed. But I’m eager to find out how my artistry will change and evolve now.
I’ve been one of those writers who almost exclusively write in a more or less autobiographical way. Not because I want to but because I cannot write in any other way. I don’t feel comfortable or even authorised writing about something I don’t know anything about through experience. And besides, how else could it be authentic? Take my love poems, for example. Almost all of them are derived from personal experiences. A by-product of this writing style is that I sometimes wonder if it may get too self-centred. But no artist should fall prey to the ill notion that to express their creativity and to give a voice to the ideas in their heads and hearts and souls was a selfish act. It is quite the opposite, in fact: an artist has the duty to express the messages sent to them – and only them – by a higher force with words or music or paintings or whatever other form works for them. And often, this kind of personal writing is how other people connect to these artistic expressions because they see themselves in them. It only gets suspicious if artists speak only about themselves without any relevance to anybody else. So a writer like me should neither underrate nor overrate themselves. I am no less significant or insignificant than any other human being in this world, and we’re all one and all connected anyway. The important thing is to understand one’s place in the bigger picture. And the bigger picture must always be to help humanity survive and evolve while ideally enjoying this unique existence. Because despite its necessary flaws, I love humanity, and I love its potential; which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try harder and do better.
Although the topics in my literary and musical works possess a strong relevance to any person, not just to me personally, as they mostly address Love, which is the core of existence and all things, I was probably predominantly pursuing selfish goals when I wanted my own album and my own book published. The easiest assumption would be that I wanted to please my own ego. I cannot fully dismiss this. However, it is more likely that I needed a reason to justify my existence to myself. And with an album and a book, I now feel that my existence is justified. It would be easy for me now to give up writing and making music in order to … I don’t know … plant a real tree? Or focus on a more profitable career path? But every true artist knows that this is not an option, as making art is a matter of survival of the soul (both of the soul of an individual person and the soul of humanity as a whole); and it is not an artist’s choice to discontinue with their art. And besides, the situation is a quite different one: now, the actual work has only just begun. Only now do I feel truly authentic and free to leave behind my own (predominantly artistic) needs and dreams – as they have been fulfilled – and focus on the bigger picture, which is – and this cannot be repeated often enough – assisting humanity as a whole by assisting every individual person in their own spiritual evolution. It is crucial to start on an individual level as humanity consists of individual human beings forming an entity. So all my future artistic life will concentrate on serving humanity, promoting the ‘good’ in the world, promoting personal growth and evolutions of the mind, helping to save this planet and this human race from the inside out – by means of what I can do best: by means of words and music. Artistically speaking, I have overcome myself in order to, from now on, be of better service to the world, which is everybody’s duty. Satisfying my own personal needs first was an important step forward on this evolutionary path, but it is important to not get stuck on that path – neither by taking your entire life to fulfil those personal needs (or worse, by never fulfilling them at all) nor by exclusively fulfilling only your personal needs and never becoming greater than your ego; because we have to serve not only ourselves but also others.
Friedrich Nietzsche said in ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ that human beings must overcome themselves in order to become a bigger and better version of themselves; Jesus Christ said, as reported in the Bible, that human beings must deny themselves. And like that, I have always felt embedded in a greater existential framework, and that my life is not only about me but that I am a part of a bigger picture. Now, after assisting myself enough, I feel ready to pay my other existential duty and assist humanity. And I hope I can count on your help with that. It begins on a personal level. It begins with every individual human being. It begins with me, and it begins with you.
With love and thanks,