Tag Archives: Gothic

More on punk

I’ve long considered myself a punk, but I’ve never really been into punk rock. The seeming incompatability of this never bothered me, still doesn’t.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot more since getting involved in steampunk. A handful of us had been holding the torch for “keeping the punk in steampunk” for a number of years, which is finally starting to catch on, I think, but there was always this question: what the hell is punk then? It’s not music. Cyberpunk and steampunk actually seem like really useful lenses with which to understand punk, because they are so completely divorced from the rest of punk culture and certainly from the music.

People always talk shit on anarchists, or punks, for being critical without offering solutions. Laying aside the well documented fact that anarchists have been offering solutions for 150 years now… so what? Why is there anything wrong with saying “everything here is fucked” without trying to lay down some blueprint for what you would put in its place? Maybe rejection of the status quo is enough. As for what we want to put in its place, the answer is simply: “whatever we want.” A bit of foresight is useful, of course (and here I would suggest fiction as a good vehicle), but claiming to know what is good for everyone and everything sure sounds a bit vanguardist to me.

Aragorn! put up a good post about punk and anger a bit ago, cleverly disguised as part of a book review:

Punk rock was the perfect milieu for anger, because within punk rock anger went without question. If you were a punk (in the mid eighties) you were pissed off. You came from some variation of a shitty background and/or were so fucking intelligent that you suffered the mediocrity of public education prison life. When punk dried up (for me) it seemed like I suddenly had to justify my dissatisfaction in a way that I never did in punk. Being pissed off wasn’t considered appropriate behavior, in particular in the let’s change the world crowd. I didn’t understand this at the time and I don’t understand it today. I want to destroy the world because of the horrors that it has turned beautiful people into, because of the pain I see around me, and because of the constraints everywhere. (The desire for) social transformation does not come out of the end of an intellectual process by which I have determined the best approach by which to create the ideal form. I do not use logic to express my motivation. I use anger.

In anarchist circles this punk approach is hard to find. While you can find people dressed in the right clothes (punk, neo-punk, gothic punk, crusty punk, hardcore punk, ad nauseum) and people who come out of the “punk scene” their fashion and music tastes usually come out of a really different set of motivations than their politics. Usually these punk rockers (which I will differentiate from a punk aesthetic or value) take on anarchist politics as an expression of seriousness. “I might look like this (threatening) and use this (anarchist) word to describe my political philosophy but that actually means this (direct democracy, sharing, caring, lots of meetings, etc).” This becomes a cipher, only comprehensible through the process of participation…

I’m almost certainly guilty of this last bit.

I’m also not a very angry person. I can get riled up about injustice, and authority makes me kind of stabby, but I think what drives me is actually more of an aesthetic displeasure with the homogenity of the world. Maybe this is what makes me more of a goth than a punk anyhow. I don’t want to destroy the world, I just want to destroy the status quo. Even the way it oppresses people is trite.


video isn’t really a video, just a song, a cover of John Lennon’s Imagine by A Perfect Circle.

When I was younger, in high school, I kind of hated the Beatles, and had no interest in this song (the original of it). I don’t remember exactly what part annoyed my fairly libertarian younger self. Probably the “no possessions” part. Now that I’ve been exposed to the more nuanced ideas of anti-capitalism, it doesn’t bother me anymore.

Reading the wikipedia article on the song is fascinating, thinking about how intensely popular the song became. Two presidents have referenced or sung it, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. This, despite the song’s fairly clear anti-capitalism, anti-nationalism, and antitheism. Personally, I feel like that just adds to the usual hypocrisy of politicians, the willingness of politicians to adopt popular symbols that are clearly in opposition to their actions.

And apparently anarchist MMA wrestler Jeff Monson uses the original as his entrance song.

I hadn’t really thought about this song in a decade, and I hadn’t really thought about A Perfect Circle or Tool in nearly as long. I think I have a innate rejection of things that are popular or mainstream, and I think I thought that because Tool is aboveground, it’s somehow a less worthwhile band. This is of course, bullshit. Thinking outside the box means you’re still being constrained by the limits of the box.

For me, one of the easiest ways to get clear of cultural assumptions about what’s worthwhile and not is to hang out with foreign radicals. I remember how shocked I was when my squatmates in Amsterdam listened to nu-metal, played dungeons and dragons, and fought nazis. (not shocked by that last thing, just putting it in for contrast… american anarchists by and large think fighting nazis is cool but d&d and nu-metal suck. I still don’t like nu-metal.)

so… I don’t know. I’m posting that song because I like it. I like maynard’s voice, and Tool was a really important band to me pretty much the whole time I was in school. And because I’m rather interested in learning more about radical gothic.

turns out APC has covered a bunch of anti-war songs.
I really like their cover of What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. It’s got some post-rock goodness in there.

Photos – Wave Gotik Treffen 2010

This last weekend I was at the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. It was a fascinating experience. I’m so used to being around camera-shy punks that I honestly was overwhelmed and felt out of place in the runway atmosphere of the festival. But still, I shot some photos. I’ve also become a bit obsessed with photoshop’s “photomerge” capability to automatically make panoramas. So some of these pictures, if you click on them, will give you a much larger version.

Many of the pictures are from the Neo-Victorian picnic, which if you asked me needs a bunch of neo-victorian paupers and punks as well. Maybe next year. Other photos are of Leipzig itself. I found, for example, the perfect park: it has a river (or is it a giant canal?) and it has ruins of old columns, weeping willows, graffiti, empty wading pools, flowers… seriously, it has it all. I’ve only posted one picture of the place I stayed, but I’ll have more photos of that house and its awesome project posted up eventually.

The grainier photos are mostly of the house party I went to the final night, which is the kind of place that even the people who live there don’t seem certain if it’s squatted or not.

And finally, there’s a photo of my friend Courtney, who was one of the only black people in attendance. She was excited about finding a nazi to pose with her, so she could send the picture back to her mom. “Greetings from Germany!”

I’m under the impression that the nazi-looking folks are into it from a kink point of view, not actually as being fascists. But it’s hell of creepy.

Continue reading Photos – Wave Gotik Treffen 2010

Wave Gotik Treffen

tonight was the last night of Wave Gotik Treffen. certainly, like nothing i’ve seen before. rather than holding the festival on a single fairground, they turn the entire city of leipzig into the festival. goths wander everywhere, their armbands being a free ticket for the city’s public transit. in fact, they set up an extra tram line, number 31, just to accommodate our late night habits.

easily the finest thing for me was to see Jarboe, of Swans, perform. punks sing angrily about what we’re doing to the earth, hippies sing love songs to the earth. goths sing mournful songs about what we’ve done, the seeds we’ve sewn. definitely more my style. and then William Faith, of faith and the muse, joined her on stage and they played Swans songs. imagine me swooning. only instead of swooning i was looking all surly and cool or something.

tonight i went to a rowhome owned or squatted, it’s hard to tell which, and there i witnessed the finest gothic party i could imagine, full of costumed people dancing, torches and candles, but all set in a house that is entirely diy. extravagant needs to be tempered with decay, if you ask me.

and the most frustrating thing of all is that i can’t post the stupid pictures because i shoot in RAW and need to process my images with a computer, a computer that i left in the states.

Wave Gotik Treffen – woo! going to giant goth festival

This weekend I’ll be headed to Leipzig Germany, not to do any talks about anarchism, but to go to a goth festival called Wave Gotik Treffen. I’m working (so far, in my head) on a photo series related to guttergoth/crudgoth, and I’m hoping to meet folks there. And to listen to Legendary Pink Dots, see Faith & The Muse again, and finally be somewhere where I can dance.

Anyhow, I’m also going alone because all my friends are stupid punks who don’t go to giant goth festivals in Germany. So if anyone out there in internets land is also going to WGT, please let me know!