Monday, December 11, 2006

Just chiming in late to say how much I love this

post by Neddie Jingo!

Yeah, it's the same damn fdl tempest, but i really love this because it's applicable in so many situations, really:



Punk is deader than goddamned Vaudeville. Fuckin' get used to it.

The notion that you can shock, vilify, curse, and gob the bourgeois into recognition of their fundamental uselessness has played, kid. We're shocked, vilified, cursed and gobbed every fucking day by the slime oozing out of our TV sets. We're numb. We've been épaté'd so many times by so many lazy goddamned "revolutionaries" that the sight of some self-appointed artist's hairy moon shining out over the waistband of his dropped pleather pants provokes precisely nothing. We've seen the act, chum. It's easy. It's cheap. It's the laziest, crappiest, most slothful kind of self-indulgence a person can grant himself.

You wanna know how to be a fucking revolutionary...?

How about this: The most revolutionary act you can perform in this fell, death-infected year 2006 is to act like a goddamned adult.

To continue your metaphor, Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians played in tune, with precision, and were ashamed -- as adults, professionals, are ashamed -- when a note was clammed, a cue missed, a beat dropped. I once gloried in punk's shambolic sloppiness; but it's become the accepted norm. Now it's just fucking lazy, Bad Musicianship.

...we can do better than that.


He's got a point there, kids.

I have a whole separate, very old rant on how i used to apply that to theatre, at least of the sort i was seeing at the time. Basically just substitute "Artaud" or "Dada" for "punk" and you get the general idea.

but yeah. Here's the deal about "shock," okay:

It only serves as a "wake-up call" for a very brief window. After that, as BNJ! points out, the shocked become numb. It's a natural defense. We wouldn't be able to survive otherwise.

"Shock" for its own sake (well it never is "for its own sake" is it, it's for the self-aggrandizing thrill of the response, pace flashers and obscene phone callers) isn't "radical," and it doesn't "wake people up." Not in a world of South Park, Fox News, Times Square, ultra-violent movies in megaplexes with surround sound, piped-in-music in every public place, the constant stimulating entrancement of the TV and the Internetz (yes, me too, goddamit), the ubiquitous cell phones going off, extreme sports, talk radio...it goes on and on.

You know what happens if you blow a trumpet in someone's ear? First they jump. Then they sort of get used to it. Eventually, if you're loud and persistent enough, and assuming they don't just get fed up and clock you, they go deaf.

And so, dear trumpet-blaster, in fact, may you be, and not even know it.

23 comments:

Kai said...

Great post, belledame. I like the trumpet-in-ear. You've been on fire lately with the good stuff.

*burst of sustained applause*

Renegade Evolution said...

::big old shitting eating ear to ear grin, occuring right here, right now:::

"Show me everybody naked and disfigured, nothing's shocking"
-Jane's Addiction

Dan L-K said...

Hmmm. Well, yes - point well taken about the "shock value" aspect. But I would say this doesn't invalidate the aesthetic of punk/Dada/Theatre of the Absurd/Theatre of Cruelty entirely; I think there are often other things going on in there, once you get past the Tearing Shit Down.

(If you [generic "you"] really think punk is lazy - and I realize this runs counter to some of its purpose as the great egalitarian, "Oi, I just learned these chords yesterday" artistic mode - you should try playing some, and see what a challenge it is to get that particular sound deliberately.)

otoh, I may just be prickly about this sort of thing because of my deep and abiding love of, e.g., Marat/Sade. Apply salt to taste.

belledame222 said...

oh yeah look, i'm not saying they didn't serve a purpose, or can't be liked;

i'm saying what BNJ is saying: it's all been done before, Jake.

that said, yes, i agree that -musically- punk can be the very opposite of sloppy: the Clash are still fucking awesome.

i was presuming he was going with P's metaphor, you know, 'cause, going with it.

Guy Lombardo served his purpose, too, and some people still like him;

main point being, if you're sneering at Guy primarily because he's -so old-fashioned,- so SQUARE daddi-o, as opposed to yo' balding punkass self...that's just frigging pathetic.

belledame222 said...

anyway i agree wrt Artaud himself actually--he's far more interesting than many of his imitators, at that goes double or triple for the ones who don't even acknowledge their debt to him.

that said, i get the feeling he'd've been hard to take in more than small doses, you know...

Dan L-K said...

it's all been done before, Jake.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think the mistake is in assuming that any movement somehow has the Last Word, as though everything were not always in conversation with everything else.

Thinking about things purely from the artistic end, I see a whole lineage of aesthetic developments - Impressionism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and so on - that each in turn failed to be the tactical nuke that wiped away all other modes of creation. What they all did succeed at was to create new ways of doing and seeing - This Way, Too, but not This Way, Instead Of. I think if you're going to engage in the world as a creator (of art or just dialogue), you need to understand this; that you can open doors easier than you can shut them.

This also has me thinking about the folks who get upset when, inevitably, the Alternative Becomes the Mainstream, which strikes me as being utterly and resolutely clueless about the way things work. (Also more than a little solipsistic, or at least dreadfully self-centered.) There are lots of relevant connections there, I'm sure, but I think I'll leave them as an excercise for the reader.

nexy said...

in the immortal words from ecclesiastes, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

not that i'm a bible thumper or anything, but even 2000 years ago, there was nothing new.

Rootietoot said...

I swear to you I did not know about your post when I wrote mine. Promise!

Chuckie K said...

The elevation of form over content, perhaps? With this formalism complicated by its definition as a parody of (select, perhaps even imagined) prevailing convention?

Rootietoot said...

yeah, what chuckie said. What did chuckie say? huh...

sunrunner said...

Actually, punk never came close to reaching the level of vaudeville...which people like Tony Bennett credits for being an essential part of his artistic development.

And I LOVE Tony Bennett, esp when he sings with KD Lang. I love KD too!

Which at one time would've been thought of as a "trumpet-blasting" combo, but its not, because well, it's real. Art, I mean.

Back to the Clash--that was some great music. I'm also thinking of the Police, and well...look at Sting now, he is all grown up and defies being catagorized. He recently did a duet with Sam Moore of Sam & Dave.

Zan said...

Ahem. Punk is not dead. But putting on eyeliner and leather do not make you punk. Pretty, maybe, but not punk.

Although, I realize, that's not your point :) And it makes me absolutely insane to see a buncha idiot kids that think that screaming, playing three chords and showing their ass makes them all revolutionary. It doesn't. It really doesn't. It makes you an idiot kid who, hopefully, will be open enough to really pay attention to the world around you and grow up and have something to say/do to change or challenge the problems we've got.

The danger is getting stuck, regardless of what 'philosophy' you subscribe to. If you stop growing, you stop living, ya know? Might as well cash it in now, because if you're the same person, doing the same damn thing at 35 that you did at 17, well....Life is change and change is good, as well as inevitable.

Getting caught up in only wanting to hang with people just like you? Making fun of people who are different than you are because well, you're the badass and all, is really, really stupid and it does you a massive disservice. Plus, what kind of idiot bases their opinion of people based solely on 'hey, he's old/doesn't dress like us/he's the MAN!' bull shit? Oh wait. Most of the world. Nevermind.

jackadandy said...

As usual, belledame, THANKS! for posting this.

One of the benefits of getting older (and older, and older) is that you are released from the hamster wheel of novelty cycles and an identification with the adolescent and can finally claim your adulthood. There's power over here, if you have the courage to grow up to it.

Unfortunately, it seems a state of petulant adolescence has been adopted by the culture as a whole... :(

belledame222 said...

yeah. usually i'm loathe to say such things, on account of it's usually the right who levels such accusations. of course what -they- tend to mean by "adult" (generally among other things it tends to involve less of that perverted screwing around and indulgence in pleasure and complaining about trifles like affordable housing) and what -I- mean by "adult" (take some damn responsibility for yourself, starting with your words) are often very different...

the thing about the "consumer culture" is i think it pretty much imposes a certain adolescent mentality. Which a lot of people don't really tweak, I think: either it's "Big (Mama/Daddy) Government" or "independence;" other, arguably subtler forms of paternalism and control, aren't perceived.

that's not the only thing, i think, but it's something.

i suppose one could argue that the U.S. is collectively in a sort of state of adolescence in a more macro way: anyway we seem to have reached one of those transition points. whether we make it to a more adult way of being in the world or end up regressing further (these past six years, if not longer, but especially the Bush admin, have been about -nothing- but regression and stagnation, trumpeting about the 'Grownups are back in charge" (!!!) notwithstanding), remains to be seen...

Dan L-K said...

OTOH, a tangent earlier today at RE's has me thinking that, with the way Respectability and Propriety haven't stopped being used as weapons of class warfare, maybe the sensibility of punk isn't so passe after all.

It's still a matter of application, though. The willy-nilly flinging of poo is not subversive. But a well-timed giving of the finger to authority, under the right circumstances, can be.

belledame222 said...

sure.

i'm just finding it a tad ironic that it seems like it's the very people who glom onto "punk" who're all like, "Respect mah AUTHORITAH!" except for they're not totally copping that's what they -are- doing. but, that is what they are doing.

i am thinking this was also BNJ's point as well, given the context...

Dan L-K said...

I agree. I think it's pretty common to fall in love with the trappings of some aesthetic while missing its point entirely (and gods know I'm not immune); still, it seems like a lot of people didn't get the memo that there's no Head Anarchist.

Anonymous said...

i'm just finding it a tad ironic that it seems like it's the very people who glom onto "punk" who're all like, "Respect mah AUTHORITAH!" except for they're not totally copping that's what they -are- doing. but, that is what they are doing.

Well there's that, and there's the sheer quality problem too - there is such a thing as crappy, badly done, doesn't-get-it-all-wtf-were-they-thinking punk, and if you don't ahve the mad skillz to pull off actual good punk, you end up merely with VD's hair, which I think exists as a sort of counter cultural statement or something, possibly the fish he slapped on his head prior to shaving off everything not covered by the fish was a metaphor for the evils of feminazis or sumting.

belledame222 said...

i can't even read at that guy's site. i can't get past that pic. he SCARES ME, MOMMY

jackadandy said...

Re: ...with the way Respectability and Propriety haven't stopped being used as weapons of class warfare, maybe the sensibility of punk isn't so passe after all...

Yeah, in instinct if not necessarily in particular style, anyway. Giving of the finger to authority can not only be done in a whole variety of fashions, it's critical.

But to me, the point is that, with the erosion of the effectiveness of "shock", punk tactics in response to those class weapons actually leave one just where they want to have you; they've in essence infantilized you, and at that point, with the failure of shock, the punk is without an effective fall-back strategy. It's rebelliousness instead of revolution, if you get the distinction.

Myself, I can't help being different than the bourgeois and "shocking" them, however trivially, whether I want to or not. The power for me, then, is to simply and resolutely claim respectability, anyway - SELF-respectability, which, frankly, is the kind that really reads. BIG. I come back at them in total peer adulthood and maintain my position. It's usually they that blink first.

I assert adulthood on MY terms, not their's. Being a grown-up does not equal being a sell-out.

And belledame, yeah, you're seeing what I'm saying about the mired adolescent state of the consumer culture and our current political state, which is, yes, a refusal to accept responsibility. I'd maintain that the same above point pertains here: Don't let the Right co-opt adulthood. Yes, there's power and significance in the tactics of youth, but the Left will never again lead this country if it doesn't reclaim adulthood in its own image. Adulthood does not equal paternalism, either.

Does that make sense?

Dan L-K said...

jackadandy, that post is full of wise and sensible things.

I would only add that the things I find troubling about punk aren't infantilism or rebelliousness, but much more its tendency towards purity-obsessed show-me-your-creds fundamentalism of the sort that we've seen, well, elsewhere in these parts. And what I admire about the punk ethos has at least as much to do with its focus on DIY and community-building as with its subversiveness and anti-authoritarianism.

I should also say that actual punks I've known - which admittedly isn't a large sample - have largely been gentle, articulate, compassionate, and learned folks more focused on examining their own impact on the world than creating shock or fomenting rebellion; grownups, IOW. I understand a lot of punks are retiring from the scene and going into monasteries, and I can definitely see the connections there; lots of punks are way closer to contemplative ascetics already than to the sneering antisocial stereotype.

All of which is to say, if you're behaving atrociously and making the excuse that it's because you're Oh So Edgy and Punk: um, well, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

belledame222 said...

>Don't let the Right co-opt adulthood. Yes, there's power and significance in the tactics of youth, but the Left will never again lead this country if it doesn't reclaim adulthood in its own image. Adulthood does not equal paternalism, either.

Does that make sense?>


oh yeah.

and they so clearly aren't adults, a all, at all, at least based on these past six years, my God. Gee Dubya always seems (physically, too) like someone who went directly from little boy to old man without an in-between stage.

but, the tantrums, the blatant lying right to your face like a four year old would (hey, if I don't see it, it isn't there!), the boasting, the...

it reminds me of this, actually: "Now We Are Six."

belledame222 said...

>This also has me thinking about the folks who get upset when, inevitably, the Alternative Becomes the Mainstream, which strikes me as being utterly and resolutely clueless about the way things work. (Also more than a little solipsistic, or at least dreadfully self-centered.) >

yeh, that's kind of what i was getting at with this piece on "radical" (another worthy term that keeps getting co-opted by incredibly annoying people)