Counterculture punk

Break on thru to the other side…

After blogging away in greengalloway for nearly three years now, the speed at which KYPP moves is disconcerting. Instead of one or two occasional comments, there are hundreds here and it can be difficult to keep up. (Must be old age, will be 50 this year).

So I am trying to step back for an hour or so (assuming Callum has fallen asleep and Elizabeth and AL junior are busy playing World of Warcraft) before I slip into unconsciousness…

The Making of a Counter-Culture

Looking back at stuff I was posting on greengalloway in 2005 like this I was trying to find ways to move ‘anarcho-goth-punk’ as I called it out from under the shadow of Crass by looking at ‘it’ from the bigger picture of the counter-culture. That the reason Crass cast such a large shadow is that they injected a whole wodge of counter-culturalness into punk. This had a dramatic effect because it effectively undid Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood’s attempt to present punk as something brand new and unique – undid the 1976 as Year Zero myth.

For the 76/77 generation of punks, this myth was always a necessary lie. They knew their own histories, knew they were re-inventing themselves as punks . Only someone who already has a Pink Floyd t-shirt can scrawl ‘I hate…’ on it. As we now know, John Lydon also liked Captain Beefheart and Van Der Graaf Generator

Punk’s rejection of musicianship, artistry, and complexity might have appeared diametrically opposed to Van der Graaf Generator’s core characteristics, which were the very things the class of ’76 supposedly sought to purge. However, something in their aesthetic definitely resonated with figures like Mark E. Smith, Howard Devoto, John Lydon, and Nick Cave, all of whom have expressed admiration for the band. Most famously, during a July 1977 Capitol Radio show, Lydon treated listeners to some of his favorite tunes: alongside surprising inclusions like Captain Beefheart and Tim Buckley, Lydon included a track from Peter Hammill’s 1975 solo album Nadir’s Big Chance, recorded with Banton, Jackson and Evans.
But for the next generation of punks, the ones who were at most 12 or 13 when they first heard punk, the pre-punk counter-culture was an absolute unknown and so Crass’ powerful mix of punk and pre-punk (‘hippy’) counter-culture references were a revolutionary revelation. Thus 1978 , the year of ‘feeding the 5000’ became another year zero. As Debord put it in 1967 (Society of the Spectacle : 157)

The lack of general historical life also means that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events that vie for attention in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those who are informed about them; and in any case they are soon forgotten due to their increasingly frenetic replacement at every pulsation of the spectacular machinery. Conversely, what is really lived has no relation to the society’s official version of irreversible time, and conflicts with the pseudocyclical rhythm of that time’s consumable by-products. This individual experience of a disconnected everyday life remains without language, without concepts, and without critical access to its own past, which has nowhere been recorded. Uncommunicated, misunderstood and forgotten, it is smothered by the spectacle’s false memory of the unmemorable.

The Situationists were not part of ( and refused to be/ hated) the counter-culture, but through slow osmosis their critique of the spectacle/ the fetishisation of commodities became part of it.

To conclude briefly and abruptly – since it s now time for me to go to bed – rather than ‘anarcho-punk’, we should say ‘counterculture-punk’. Counterculture-punk is big enough to embrace (if not resolve) the contradictions and confusions which still adhere to ‘anarcho-punk’ . If ‘hippy’ is the thesis to which ‘punk’ was the antithesis, then ‘counterculture punk’ was, and still is, the synthesis.

Don’t you just love dialecticism?

  1. JASKA
    February 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    okay…. i like this essay, even tho i didnt read the whole thing… i have a pet puppy if you wanna kill him… give me a call sexyman

  2. sean
    February 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I rather think the idea is to kill your own puppy,rather than send them in the editors to despatch.I could be wrong…..

  3. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    February 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    No puppies were harmed in the production of this website and/ or fanzine. Fact: no puppies were involved at all, unless you count Hank, who was a bit old to be called a puppy.

    There were a lot of cute kittens (which rapidly mutated into not so cute cats). Especially at 103 Grosvenor Avenue. Feeding time was …interesting.

  4. simon
    February 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    … You mean we weren’t meant to take it literally and weren’t meant to actually kill the cute, furry little mutts?! Damn, now you tell us!!

    … Next you’ll be telling us Eastenders isn’t real, jeez.

    I never had a puppy personally, had a Tortoise, cute but not quite the same thing.

  5. sean
    February 15, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    hard bastards, tortoises, but real softies on the inside. They are veetarians you know….

  6. luggy
    February 15, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I remember leaping down the stairs at New North Rd on my way out somewhere and squashing one of Nicky’s kittens. Not a pleasant memory.

  7. alistairliv
    alistairliv • Post Author •
    February 16, 2008 at 1:08 am

    I think we should stop now before someone starts calling us ‘Kill Your Pet Kitten’ .

  8. Val
    May 13, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Josef recently sent me part of the cat feeding chart! I’ll see if I can add it in sometime

  9. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    May 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Oh – you mean I got it wrong for all those years when I thought the mag was called ‘Killy – Our Pet Puppy’??

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