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greengalloway

As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Feeding 5000 arty wankers



The owl of Minerva flies at dusk…you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.



In a Comment on the Jamie Reid in Croydon exhibition - blogged below - noisy sphinx said...

More than a decade later in 1989, Jamie Reid, the so called Situationist artist at the finale of the opening night of the exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris turned on the picket outside the exhibition protesting at this shameless recuperation with a snarling: “Fuck off you arty wankers”. The truth must always be inverted. After all aren’t Vermorel, Mclaren and Reid the arty wankers?
http://www.revoltagainstplenty.com/archive/local/kingmob.html


But was the Steve Ignorant/ Feeding 5000 event a similar spectacular recuperation of punk ? If…. "One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it... When philosophy paints its grey in grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey in grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." -- Hegel. Then … here is an adventure in cut-ups - which cut right through the pages of any book or webpage... lengthwise, for example, and shuffle the columns of text. Put them together at hazard and read the newly constituted message. Do it for yourself. Use any system which suggests itself to you. Take your own words or the words said to be "the very own words" of anyone else living or dead. You'll soon see that words don't belong to anyone. Words have a vitality of their own and you or anybody else can make them gush into action. Sources cut -up : Miltant Esthetics, Conflict forum, Crass forum and Revolt against Plenty.


Debord talks of radical subjectivity, but never addresses the impact of music. It wasn't just its American provenance that made Debord ignore Hendrix and Coltrane, it was also his failure to admit impulses below the level of verbal communication, his Lukácsian rationalism. What is missing in Debord is any understanding of the social subjectivity of abstract art, a subjectivity whose last refuge is music. The 60s established music as the preeminent pre-echo of a potential new society. Going on about anti-art is a waste of time. To talk about pleasure and vandalism in 1956 without mentioning Elvis is just the sort of blindspot that invites the penetrating insight of a spiv like Malcolm McLaren.

Steve Ignorant and friends, and all of the people who assembled to be a part of what was a celebration of the music and everything it has meant and continues to mean were all magnificent. In the words of the man himself: it wasn't about a revival or about nostalgia - it was a celebration! It was exciting, it was heart warming, and it was beautiful.

I have mixed feelings not just about the gig but about the anarcho/politico movement in general. What is more important at the end of the day - the price of a T-shirt or another slaughtered animal, another dead family in Iraq, another ecological catastrophe? If there was as much feeling put into issues that actually mattered maybe we could actually be something more than a club for purist record collectors or a hiding place for people who refuse to examine their own beliefs or a haven for moaners who parasitize off the efforts of others in order to hide their own shortcomings?

Quite quickly the nascent King Mob began to gather a fair amount of attention and individuals started appearing from nowhere to contact a group that didn’t basically exist. If anything it was a kind of personalised, magnetic force of attraction immediately sending waves out over then coming back to source. This arena that was to become King Mob was the first revolt in Britain against the total colonisation of everyday life by capitalism. Therefore any corner of this totality was deemed a fit place for spreading subversion…

it would be great to raise the debate beyond the rather crass (ha ha, see what I did there??) level of "it's all a rip off!" My unease is on a feel a deeper level - as I said it was great rock and roll and an entertaining show, even if I did get the feeling that I was at some historical re-enactment society event at times to me Crass weren't about that (and said as much), they were about ideas, communication and doing something radical, revolutionary even, which that gig wasn't. Just things like that fundamental disconnection between 'performers' and 'audience', which never existed at Crass gigs, there was never any seperation. At the end I went down to the front as I wanted to say hi to the brass section, who I know through the Southend jazz club, but there was no way of reaching them, just a load of bouncers who didn't give a fuck and no way they were letting me go backstage. Back in the day we'd all be drinking tea and sweeping up together.

Debord talks of radical subjectivity, but never addresses the impact of music. It wasn't just its American provenance that made Debord ignore Hendrix and Coltrane, it was also his failure to admit impulses below the level of verbal communication, his Lukácsian rationalism. What is missing in Debord is any understanding of the social subjectivity of abstract art, a subjectivity whose last refuge is music. The 60s established music as the preeminent pre-echo of a potential new society. Going on about anti-art is a waste of time. To talk about pleasure and vandalism in 1956 without mentioning Elvis is just the sort of blindspot that invites the penetrating insight of a spiv like Malcolm McLaren.

I look at the weekend as nothing more than a celebration to what CRASS achieved. A lot of people are saying it should never have happened, I disagree. I think it SHOULD have happened. “Anarcho punk” has all but been erased form any history of punk. 5000 must surely have gone gold by now so if we, the people involved, cannot celebrate all that was achieved, who will? Would you have preferred it if the whole thing was just brushed under the carpet and forgotten about?


Because he was blind to the class conflict that flaws consumer culture - seeing only the monolith of the Spectacle - Debord missed rock'n'roll. However, it was precisely rock'n'roll that solved technical problems encountered by the Parisian avantgarde: the retreat of poetic discourse into the actuality of the speaking voice, the replacement of individualistic, bourgeois expression by collective play, a confrontation with the spectacle unmediated by class concepts of high culture. Rock'n'roll was a form of urban poetry Debord could only see as an American trick as philosophically vacuous as Coca Cola.

The groups that could be loosely grouped under the term 'Anarchist Punk' produced art which may be located within the extended tradition of 'Protest Music' (in the widest sense): it's very raison-d'etre is as a medium for protest and expression, and this attracted groups who EXPLICITLY founded their position within the flow of Anarchist thought and - by proxy - created a thinking space between themselves and the excesses of 4th and 5th generation Punk bands...In the light of this position, the more recent information that some of the people in the groups wanted to be popstars and make money like entertainers is generally irrelevant (although understandable as they are only human beings, and consequently open to the same pressures and influences as anyone else)...I think that the most disheartening thing about this whole concert is the way in which a vociferous section of those in favour of the concert seem to want to reduce the content of Crass to a couple of contextless shouts of 'Fuck Thatcher' over a beat to be played straight after 'Have You Got 10p?' down at the Punk Revival disco at the Rugby Club...It hapopened 'back then' but it would have been nice to see it had evaporated by now..

There is a disturbing parallel to be drawn between Debord and the Beats: in the early 60s, William Burroughs and Timothy Leary also speculated about the "death of poetry". The Situationists found it hard to counter the Beats, and harder still to critique the hippies, punks and ravers who came later, because they had virtually nothing serious to say about music. Serious application of Situationist ideas must entail looking at all technical forces at the disposal of a critique of capitalism. Only sectarian cretins [ author is an SWP member] could maintain that using punk and reggae gigs as weapons against the National Front was capitulation to the spectacle, or that The KLF are inferior to those who place pamphlets to languish on the shelves of Compendium Books.

But wasn't punk ALWAYS like that? Sex, Seditionaries... the 1977 Zandra Rhodes 'Punk Collection' ? Lots of the original punks came out of that scene and were no more than peacocks; the Leigh Boweries of their day, albeit to a better musical soundtrack. At least some of those original punk clothes looked good, unlike those of the most slavish fashion victims - the worthless crusty/'brew crew' types whose whole ethos seemed to be contriving to look like Stig Of The Dump and acting like Rab C. Nesbitt.

What does DIY, in terms of punk, mean to you? Punk seemed to me, at a young age, to be about living against a system that was wrong, unjust, greedy and oppressive. I was suddenly exposed to a global network of people making music, records, zines, starting up social centres, writing political diatribes that were honest and real, where people shared a set of goals, and many other things to boot. I thought if these people can do it, so can I, so I did. Bands like Crass, Conflict, Chumbawamba, Flux, Subhumans etc etc were all at the forefront of this generation of ‘do it because you believe in it’ people. Principled and honest, but not devoid of humour or willingness to adapt where necessary to keep thing on a positive onward journey. Onwards and upwards….there is no authority but yourself etc etc etc


Those of us who know about black music and its extensions in rock'n'roll know that mass culture is not a monolith, it's a site of class conflict. As long as collective, proletarian art is pursued, it will come into conflict with the mechanisms of capitalist market relations. The very survival of rock bands playing collective improvisations is a blow against the bourgeois idea of creativity as the achievement of the single genius. Futurism, James Joyce, Punk, Free Improvisation, No Wave Jazz, Jungle - all these are avantgardes which want mass involvement without the dead-hand of commodity production. The avantgarde is the vision of a new society struggling to be born along the faultlines of capitalism: to declare it dead is to say that capitalism is uncontradictory, a statement that can only make sense to the rich.

Just changing tack a bit. The thing I liked about the punk scene in the eighties was that it was small and for the most part friendly. I loved the fact that I could visit any town or city in the UK and within a few hours meet up with some like minded people have a few pints and if necessary find a place to crash for the night. If I went on a demo or to a gig it would not be long before the punks had got together. It was great to have the phone numbers of any of the bands and with a few weeks notice be able to put on a gig to raise funds for something or other. That’s the DIY bit that we talk about I guess - no promoters, record companies, publishers and bosses. That part of it is what I do miss a bit. Didn’t like being chased for being different or certain parties trying to smash our gigs though.

You need to learn from the trials of rock'n'roll to realize the violence and degradation wrought by the money-relation on utopian aspirations. We wanted a revolution, and we got capitalism.

http://www.militantesthetix.co.uk/situationist/popsicle.htm

1 Comments:

Anonymous noisy sphinx said...

We wanted a revolution. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it. To talk about Reid the single genius is just the sort of blindspot that invites the falling of dusk. Going on about anti-art wasn't about a revival or about nostalgia - it was a celebration!If anything it was a kind of personalised, magnetic force of attraction immediately sending waves out over then coming back to source. What is missing in Elvis is any understanding of the social subjectivity whose last refuge is revolt against the total colonisation of everyday life by capitalism. Do it yourself. Use any system which suggests itself to you.

7:33 pm  

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