Bit by Greg Graffin...worth a read. (1 Viewer)

Cormy

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A PUNK MANIFESTO
by Greg Graffin
Bad Times, 12/98
I have never owned a record label, nor directed a successful
merchandise company, so I don't pretend to be an expert on marketing. I have
evolved through my craft as a songwriter, but others have labeled it and
marketed it and made it neat for consumption.

Although I have made money from Punk, it is a modest amount when one
considers the bounty that has been bestowed on the companies that promote
Punk as some sort of a product to be ingested. It has always been my
way to de-value the fashionable, light-hearted, impulsive traits that
people associate with Punk, because Punk is more than that, so much more
that those elements become trivial in the light of human experience that
all punkers share.
Since it has been a part of me for over half of my life, I think the
time has come to attempt a definition, and in the process defend, this
persistent social phenomenon known as Punk. It is astounding that
something with so much emotional and trans- cultural depth has gone without
definition for so long, for the roots of Punk run deeper, and go back in
history farther than imagined.

Even in the last two decades, it is difficult to find any analysis of
the influential effect that Punk Rock had on Pop Music and youth
culture. And rarer still are essays detailing the emotional and intellectual
undercurrents that drive the more overt fashion statements that most
people attribute to Punk.
These are some of the wants that compelled me to write this. If my
attempt offends the purists, collapses the secrecy of a closed society,
promotes confidence in skeptical inquiry, provokes deeper thought, and
decodes irony, then I have done my job and those who feel slighted might
recognize the triviality of their position. For I have nothing to
promote but my observations on a sub-culture that has grown to global
proportions, and through visiting much of it, I have found threads of common
thought everywhere.
Common thought processes are what determine the ideology that binds
people together into a community. There is desire among Punks to be a
community, but there needs to be some shape imparted on the foundations of
the punk ideology, and where it comes from. The current Punk stereotype
is scarred by mass-marketing and an unfortunate emphasis on style over
substance.
But these ills don't destroy the Punk sentiment, they merely confound
the education of the new generations of people who know they are punk,
but don't know what it means. It is a long road to understand what it
means. This essay is part of the process.

PUNKS ARE NOT BEASTS
Punk is a reflection of what it means to be human. What separates us
from other animals? Our ability to recognize ourselves and express our
own genetic uniqueness. Ironically, the commonly held view, among the
marketeers and publicity engines, stresses the "animalistic", "primitive"
nature of punks and their music.
They assume that violence is a key ingredient in punk music, and this
assumption is easily perpetuated because it is easy to market violence
and news items about violence always get column space. This focus on
violence misses a key element of what Punk is all about:
PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the
experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask
questions.
Violence is neither common in, nor unique to punk. When it does
manifest itself it is due to things unrelated to the punk ideal. Consider for
example the common story of a fight at a high school between a punk and
a jock football player. The football player and his cohort do not
accept or value the punk as a real person. Rather, they use him as a vitriol
receptacle, daily taunting, provoking, and embarrassing him, which of
course is no more than a reflection of their own insecurities.
One day, the punk has had enough and he clobbers the football captain
in the hallway. The teachers of course expell the punk and cite his poor
hairstyle and shabby clothing as evidence that he is a violent,
uncontrollable no-good. The community newspaper reads "Hallway Beating
Re-affirms that Violence is a Way of Life Among Punk Rockers".
Spontaneous anger at not being accepted as a real person is not unique
to punkers. This reaction is due to being human, and anybody would
react in anger regardless of their sub- cultural, or social affiliation if
they felt de- valued and useless. Sadly, there are plenty of examples
of violence among punks. There are glaring examples of misguided people
who call themselves punks too. But anger and violence are not punk
traits, in fact, they have no place in the punk ideal. Anger and violence
are not the glue that holds the punk community together.

IN UNIQUENESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF MANKIND
Nature bestowed on us the genetic backbone of what punk is all about.
There are roughly 80,000 genes in the human genome, and there are
roughly 6 billion people carrying that genetic compliment. The chances of two
people carrying the same genome are so small as to be almost beyond
comprehension (the odds are essentially ? 80,000 times the number of
possible people you can meet and mate with in a lifetime! A practical
impossibility)
The genes we carry play a major role in determining our behavior and
outlook on life. That is why we have the gift of uniqueness, because no
one else has the same set of genes controlling their view of the world.
Of course cultural factors play the other major role, and these can
have a more homogenizing effect on behavior and world-view.
For example, an entire working-class town might have 15,000 residents
who are raised with the same ideals, work at the same factories, go to
the same schools, shop at the same stores, and like the same sports
teams. As their children develop, there is a constant interaction of
opposite forces between the social imprinting their culture imparts and the
genetic expression of uniqueness.
Those who lose touch with their nature become society's robots, whereas
those who denounce their social development become vagrant animals.
Punk stands for a desire to walk the line in between these two extremes
with masterful precision. Punks want to express their own unique nature,
while at the same time want to embrace the communal aspects of their
cookie-cutter upbringing.
The social connection they have is based on a desire to understand each
other's unique view of the world. Punk "scenes" are social places where
those views are accepted, sometimes adopted, sometimes discarded, but
always tolerated and respected.
PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have
been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.
Because it depends on tolerance and shuns denial, Punk is open to all
humans. There is an elegant parallel between Punk's dependence on unique
views and behaviors and our own natural genetic predisposition toward
uniqueness.

cont. in next message...
 

Cormy

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cont...

THE BATTLE OF FEAR AND RATIONALITY
The compulsion to conform is a powerful side-effect of civilized life.
We are all taught to respect the views of our elders, and later when we
realize that they are just dogmatic opinions, we are taught not to make
a commotion by asking difficult questions. Many just go along with the
prevailing notions and never express their own views, which is
analogous to a premature death of the individual.
Our species is unique in the ability to recognize and express the self,
and not exercising this biological function goes against the natural
selection gradient that created it in the first place. This complacency
combats a fear of failure.
It is easy to assume that if everyone else is doing something, then
there is no way to fail if you just go along with it. Cattle and flocks of
geese can probably recognize this advantage. But the entire human race
could fail because of this mentality.
Thinking and acting in a direction against the current of popular
opinion is critical to human advancement, and a potent manifestation of
Punk. If an issue or phenomenon is found to be true only because other
people say it is so, then it is a Punk's job to look for a better solution,
or at least find an independent variable that confirms the held view
(sometimes the popular view is just a reflection of human nature, Punks
don't live in denial of this).
This ability to go against the grain was a major part of the greatest
advances in human thinking throughout history. The entire Enlightenment
period was characterized by ideas that shunned the dogma of the time,
only to reveal truths in nature and human existence that all people can
observe, and that are still with us today.
Galileo fought the church, the church won the battle, by putting him in
jail for life, but ultimately lost the war; few people today believe
that the sun orbits around the earth, and thus God didn't create the
earth as the center of the universe. Francis Bacon insisted that human
destiny is equal to understanding. If we deny this fundamental principle of
what it means to be human, he reasoned, then we descend into the depths
of mere barbarism.
Charles Darwin, wrote after the heyday of the Enlightenment, he
nonetheless was directly influenced by its tradition, was trained as a
theologian and yet still was driven to understand the underlying order that
connected biological species he observed in his travels. His views threw
into question many of the Bible's tenets, yet his reasoning was sound,
and through a process of self-improvement (the struggle in his own mind
to understand) he improved mankind by establishing a new benchmark of
human knowledge.
The dogma of the church was further marginalized. The fear of
repercussion from the church was overshadowed by the wave of understanding that
his views created in people, and by the truth to his observations.
The modern-day Punk thought process, driven by this desire to
understand, is a carbon-copy of the Enlightenment tradition. The fact that so
many historical examples exist that reveal a will to destroy dogma leads
to a powerful tenet: It is a natural trait of civilized humans to be
original. The fact that uniqueness is so rare reveals that our nature is
stifled by an equally potent opposing force: fear.
PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that
results in self-progress, and by extrapolation, could lead to social
progress.
If enough people feel free, and are encouraged to use their skills of
observation and reason, grand truths will emerge. These truths are
acknowledged and accepted not because they were force-fed by some
totalitarian entity, but because everyone has a similar experience when observing
them.
The fact that Punks can relate to one another on issues of prejudice
comes from a shared experience of being treated poorly by people who
don't want them around. Each has his/her own experience of being shunned,
and each can relate to another's story of alienation without some kind
of adherence to a code of behavior.
The truth of prejudice is derived from the experience they all share,
not from a written formula or constitution they have to abide by. Punks
learn from this experience that prejudice is wrong, it is a principle
they live by; they didn't learn it from a textbook. Without striving to
understand, and provoking the held beliefs, the truth remains shrouded
behind custom, inactivity, and prescriptive ideology.

WHAT IS TRUTH?
Philosophers distinguish between capital "T" truth and truth with a
small "t". Punks deny the former.
Truth with a capital "T" assumes that there is an order prescribed by
some transcendental being. That is to say that truth comes ultimately
from God, who had a plan for everything when he created the universe.
Little "t" truth is that which we figure out for ourselves, and which
we all can agree upon due to similar experience and observations of the
world. It is also known as objective truth, from within ourselves,
revealed here on this earth; as opposed to big T truth, which comes from
outside and is projected down to us, specifically for us to follow.
Morality need not be thought of as a product only of big "T" truth.
Objective truth lends itself just as readily to a moralistic, spiritual
culture.
PUNK IS: a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes
from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind
adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.
Punk's dependence on objective truth comes from the shared experience
of going against the grain. Anyone who has stood out in a crowd feels
the truth of the experience. No one had to write a doctrine in order for
the outcast to understand what it meant to be different. The truth was
plain enough, and that truth could be understood and agreed upon by all
those who shared a common experience.

and more...
 

Cormy

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WHAT IS FEAR?
The fears that drive people to conform have caused dismal periods in
human history. The so-called Dark Ages, were tranquil and without
upheaval, but also dismally quiet and pestilent, nary a contrasting view to be
found. The pseudo-comfort and tranquility that the people of the Dark
Ages experienced, by conforming to a rigidly enforced bureaucracy
enforced by the king and church, was masked entirely by the misery they had
to endure in their day to day life.
Life is easy as a peasant, no direction, no purpose, just produce more
goods and offspring for the benefit of the king. But using fear to
control peasants (or modern-day blue-collar workers for that matter) is
just a short-term foul exercise, because peasants have the same mental
equipment as the royalty.
The deeply ingrained biological traits of self-recognition and the
desire to express the self cannot be quashed for long. Eventually peasants
realize that life without the practice of reason is as good as being a
farm animal. Being controlled by fear is the same as being biologically
inert, unable to take part in the human drama, merely wasting away.
The fear that controls human behavior is learned. It is different from
the immediate, reflexive, run-away-from-the- nasty-stimulus response
that other creatures employ to stay alive. We have motor reflexes like
these as well, but fear of failure, and fear of speaking out come from
the limbic system.
The limbic system is a network of neurons in our brain that control our
most deep-seated emotions. It connects two parts of the brain together:
the midbrain, where sensory information is sent (i.e. sight and hearing
stimuli) and the forebrain, where that information is processed.
Although the forebrain has been around for at least 480 million years (it was
present in the earliest vertebrates), it evolved special functions with
the advent of humankind.
A specialized portion of the forebrain, called the cerebral cortex, is
highly developed in humans. 95% of our cerebral cortex is responsible
for associative mental activities like contemplation and planning. The
other 5% is responsible for processing motor and sensory information.
By comparison, a mouse (also considered a higher vertebrate), has a
cerebral cortex with only 5% of its neurons devoted to associative
functions, while 95% are devoted to motor and sensory fuctions.
The highly developed limbic system is at the core of what it means to
be human. We differ from other animals in the amount of time we spend
planning, contemplating, and expressing ourselves. Our limbic system is
very powerful. It can over-ride primitive emotions, and suppress deep
desires.
Anyone who has ever seen a sad movie with friends, and willfully held
back tears because they didn't want their friends to see them crying,
employed the power of their limbic system. They contemplated the
repercussions of their friends reaction to crying, and shut off the emotional
cascade that would have brought the tears.
In the same way that rationality is the product of the limbic system,
fear is also centered in the same neurons of the limbic system. Fear is
usually rational behavior, based on irrational thoughts, and it can
freeze the processing power of the cerebral cortex. Denial and fear go
hand in hand, and both are examples of how our limbic system can suppress
obvious stimuli and promote behavior that is safe and conforming.
The limbic system is like any other organ in the sense that it can
operate unchecked to produce detrimental results. Being in touch with our
bodies leads to overall general health, and the limbic system needs
constant attention in order to master it. To overcome fear, one needs to be
in touch with their limbic system, and recognize when it is suppressing
the obvious.
Etiquette and "being nice" are forms of limbic-system repression,
necessary at times, but ultimately demeaning of human originality. Lying is
the ultimate form of limbic-system repression. It is a denial of the
obvious. Truth-tellers, those who are authentic and trustworthy, have
learned to master their limbic system. They recognize the desire to lie,
but rationalize the futility of advocating something that is not true.
Liars, on the other hand, are slaves to their limbic system, out of
touch with their most basic mental capacities. Their behavior is guarded
and shifty because they let their flawed reasoning, to cover up the
obvious, control their entire makeup. They eventually have to give in to
the truth and concede defeat, but only after every possible avenue of
deception and twisted logic has been advocated in the interest of hiding
their fear.
Politicians, Clergymen, Business leaders, and Judges are masters of
twisted logic and promotion of fear. They make good intellectual targets
for Punkers because they don't respect people who have learned to master
their limbic systems. And Punkers are not afraid to point out that
which is obvious, even if it means their social status might be
jeopardized.
PUNK IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.

final part...
 

Cormy

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Argh, deleted final part, fuck it, if you wanna read it, it's onthe messag board at www.hardcore-times.com/whi

Is there anyway you can make it so that it's easier to post ling messages Pete...?
 

Hector Grey

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jeez, what a yawn fest.

shouldn't you be doing your homework, gormy. isn't the junior cert on today?
 

path

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Cormy (05 Jun, 2001 08:33 p.m.):


Is there anyway you can make it so that it's easier to post ling messages Pete...?

If you had just posted a small snippet of it, sort of like a taster, and then put a web link to it, more people would probably read it instead of switching off instantly at a big glut of text on a message board.

regards
 

silo

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and with regards to weblinks mr. path, perhaps you should make your one in your signature actually go to your page? :)
 

anon

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PRETTY GOOD ARTICLE, AND NO I'M NOT BEING CYNICAL. IT'S A LITTLE OVER AMBITIOUS AND WAY TO LONG BUT THE BOTTOM LINE THAT "PUNK" IS A STATE OF MIND AND NOT SOMETHING CREATED BY VIVIANN WESTWOOD OR THE GAP IS SOMETHING I AGREE WITH. I HAVE HUGE RESEPECT FOR THE ETHOS OF THE 80'S US HARDCORE SCENE BLACK FLAG, MINOR TREAT, FUGAZI, ECT.... THE WHOLE DIY THING IS WHAT IT SHOULD BE ABOUT REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE MUSIC SOUNDS LIKE, SOMETHING I TRIED TO GET ACROSS IN THE NOTES ON THE UNDERGROUND PIECE. I ALWAYS LIKE THE DIY IDEA, IT'S JUST MOST OF THE MUSIC THAT COMES OUT OF IT DOSEN'T DO MUCH FOR ME. TO PARAPHRASE EDISON MOST "PUNK" IS 99% PERSPERATION, 1% INSPIRATION..................
 

Spudmonkey999

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i agree with anon in that the diy ethic within punk is what really keeps me intersetd. Whether or not i eventually dislike the music or just not attend many gigs anymore doesnt matter in my mind, i will always hold the auld diy ethic close to my heart. The first time i realised that pat ingoldsby publihsed all his won books of poems i realised that diy is an important and significant movement. Its part of manymovements not just punk but i my mind the attidtude of punk (whatever that is) is well suited to diy and vice versa, arghh im getin confused ere but basically all i can say is that diy and the mentality of actual giving a shit about what goes on in the world are teh two things which attracted me to punk and keep me interested.
 

path

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silo (06 Jun, 2001 06:17 p.m.):
and with regards to weblinks mr. path, perhaps you should make your one in your signature actually go to your page? :)

Yeah sorry about that realised afterwards when I saw the post. Here's the real URL (and I think I changed it in the config..)

http://thumped.com/thepath

coming up in the next week or so: more guest articles! "The Philosophy of the Pint" by Dr Groove, loads of stuff from Scrawl! zine from Belfast (racism, photomontage, may day) and also some photos from the may day globalise resistance march in Dublin.

hopefully.

regards
 

Keeror

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Isn't it possible to be DIY *and* produce good music?
Like Fugazi, for example.
Shouldn't we all be aiming for that, and not settling for "any old shit so long as its punk"?
 

Hector Grey

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i heard madonnas new look described as "punk" on the wireless today. punk is just a word. there's loads of bands who have released their own crap before and it doesn't nekacelary need to be punk music.

as for diy? i did the shelves t'other day and i'm not punk.
 

anon

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Keeror (07 Jun, 2001 11:04 a.m.):
Isn't it possible to be DIY *and* produce good music?
Like Fugazi, for example.
Shouldn't we all be aiming for that, and not settling for "any old shit so long as its punk"?



well (WOOPS) SAID KERROR. YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OFF MY KEYBOARD.

were lost in music
caught in a trap
no turning back
were lost in music
 

Florian Fricked

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That article, my friends, was a perfectly pompous piece of work. What in the name of Christ have Charles Darwin or Galileo got to do with punk (or Punk, as Graffin insists)? The guy is deluded if he believes punk is anything more than a type of music/hairstyle. If you disagree with me, name me one person/group who you would deem punk who does/do not play that type of music, or at least someone who doesn't keep banging on about what punk is, like some defecating shit-arse. Go on big boy, just one. Take this example:
Minor Threat - they were punk 'cos they played aggressive loud music with social comment in the 80's. Great work ethic too.
REM (in the 80's)- Played thoughtful pop with social comment. Great work ethic.

What's the difference? REM didn't sound or look like a punk band, so they weren't punk.
Many of REM's ideals would certainly have fitted in comfortably with any bunch of punks. Intelligent young men playing to like minded intelligent young people.....
ahh fuck this, I'm beginning to bore myself with this bullshit.

Just stop yizzer whining about punk. All punks seem to do nowadays is bang on about being punk, and it's terribly fucking tedious.
 

cyclotron

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There's not enough focus on what is essentially different about punk in Graffin's piece. He makes some general conclusions in his "Punk is" summaries but take a look at these and you can see (as Florian's touched on above) that these conclusions can apply to any free-thinking, intelligent, limbic-happy spud around anywhere now. Things he should have touched on (e.g, the whole notion of anarchy, the nihilistic humour, the communal approach to living) embodied in the punk ethos, are missing.

I've never considered myself a punk, but I love a lot of punk music and have gotten into other forms of music I would never have conceived of listening to had it not been for reading about what the people made *punk* music were actually influenced by. I grew up listening to it..so if listening to punk alone doesn't make you punk , then what does...if anything ? Personally, I don't care but a lot of people must !!
 

anon

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IT IS REALLY A HARD THING TO ADMIT THAT SOMETHING THAT ALMOST DEFINE'S WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE IS AS MUCH A MARKETING DEVICE AS ANY OTHER "YOUTH CULTURE" IDEAL. BUT UNFORTUNATELY THE BOTTOM LINE IE. £££££$$$$$$ IS THE BASIS OF MOST EVERYTHING.
IT'S A BUMMER DUDE
 

Keeror

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anon (08 Jun, 2001 06:38 p.m.):
BUT UNFORTUNATELY THE BOTTOM LINE IE. £££££$$$$$$ IS THE BASIS OF MOST EVERYTHING.

I presume you see the irony of stating this on Thumped? (OR SHOULD I SAY THUMPED?)
 

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