Key to deconstructing C Eddy/ S Reynolds

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I buy the superword idea, I think (I've direct experience of contesting both punk and pop from time to time). How many are there at the moment? Or are superwords like the weather, everywhere all at once, but only exciting / violent in certain places at certain times? (Place here meaning situation I suppose).

Has 'rock' lost its superword currency? Has it stopped being contested?

Sorry for the dumb questions. Also trying to map the model onto reggae, which seems to have an opposite thing going on, but I probably need to think about it some more.

Tim (Tim), Monday, 11 November 2002 13:07 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Well, in regards to social category and punk, here's a big one. Is punk the apocalypse or the idealists built to survive it? Iggy Pop or Jello Biafra? Johnny Rotten or Ian MacKaye. If the interview from Popped still stands, then Kogan would vote for the nihilists. But Joe Strummer said in SPIN that nobody's punker than Fugazi, so there's one strong vote for the other side. Since I personally prefer broad definitions, I tend to think of punk basically means someone ACTIVELY outside of the mainstream who takes pride in the middle finger and/or the electric guitar.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 00:17 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I dunno, for me pop is basically everything that crosses over into the mainstream. And if it has sonic or social similarities to subgenres, in come the hypens. Dance-pop, pop-punk, etc. And personally, getting pop put next to your name means you MADE IT! Good job!

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 00:30 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Is punk the apocalypse or the idealists built to survive it?

Just diferent ways of dealing with Whoa, This Shit Is Fucked Up, I always figured- "whoa, this shit is fucked up, aaaargh!" (Johnny Rotten), "whoa, this shit is fucked up, let's make it so damn cartoony that it loses its menace" (The Ramones), "whoa, this shit is fucked up, let's change it!" (The Clash)

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 01:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I agree with ya, Daniel. If you're actively outside the mainstream, you likely assume its fucked up. Though if you read the Frank Kogan interview on he gives a more personal take of Iggy-Rotten punk as being as muched fucked up shit as a reaction to it. You don't search to destroy and destroy passerby and not be part of the problem. I'm not sure I agree with this take on pure punk (though I definitely agree that punk cliques are pretty skewed, punk at its purest does imply you don't fit in ANYWHERE), but I wanted to see if others do.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 01:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I don't think it does any good to assign punk bands into "idealist" and "nihilist" slots, were it even possible; a lot of punk sort of predicated itself on making precisely this dichotomy a non-starter. Ditto any concept of "pure" punk. If you're driving at something though, bring it, by all means.

I wore a Zep t-shirt to my first day at Doyle High School, in August of 1989. I didn't know anybody, so at lunch I sat by myself. Eventually two girls sat down across from me, taking no notice of me whatsoever. Then they twigged my t-shirt. "Zeppelin, wow! You're a freshman?" "Yeah" "You're pretty cool for a freshman!" I have no idea what relevance this story has but I thought I'd share it.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 02:03 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(1st graf is directed to Mssrs Daniel_Rf and Anthony Miccio)

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 02:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I don't understand your statement "a lot of punk sort of predicated itself on making precisely this dichotomy a non-starter."

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 02:14 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Taking one example - is "no future" a warning or a condemnation? I think it allows itself to be both. Metal could conceivably be more ably contained within the glass-half-full/glass-half-empty categories you describe - Whitesnake vs Celtic Frost, for instance? - but what would be gained?

I think one of the curses of being a superword is that your niche is never fixed, you have to keep packing stuff back into boxes and moving to a new place, even if it's just down the street. Sometimes you get to stay in the same apartment but the walls all have to move like 2 inches to the left. What a pain in the ass!

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

All pop genres have vague slogany lyrics, so I don't think gets off the hook in regards to classification. What's gained is just a sense of why we say one band is or isn't punk. Like any superword, it would be meaningless if it had NO boundaries and definition. So laying down some ground rules like "all punks assume shit is fucked up" is harmless.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

b-but some of them don't!

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

what punk doesn't assume shit is fucked up?

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"shit" = too broad to define = gives the superword its power.

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:33 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(but, if you really want albums: eater - all of eater; beenie man - "who am i?"; pil - "theme"; klf - "doctorin the tardis")

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:36 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Jess, I am so confused. Are you saying PIL doesn't think shit is fucked up. Shit being the world at large? I can't think of a band that is considered punk that has a "don't worry be happy" outlook on things. Frustration or fightin' seems a given. plus is Beenie Man or KLF called punk by anybody?

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(how can the children of chuck eddy be such goddamned literalists?)

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

well, see, Chuck would say HOW they're punk. For those who don't know.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:48 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

heh, sorry anthony, i didn't mean for that to come off as snotty as it probably seemed. (do i ever?)

as i understand the superword concept (and if i'm misinterpreting then i'm merely freeing it from the tyranny of frank's fixed defn...haha "superword" is a superword), it's the exact UNreliability of the word itself which gives it its power. attempting to fix any defn to it is what stimulates the debate, arguments, pissing contests, whatever. to say that punk "takes shit as fucked up" is to affix a defn to punk is taking PART in the superword idea, but fairly useless in deconstructing/understanding the idea of the concept itself. likewise, me calling beenie man or the klf punks (which i wholly believe btw) is another way to take part in the superword idea, but again, fairly useless in defining the concept, which slips in and around artists/scenes/sounds with frustrating (or wonderful, depending on yr take) ease.

jess (dubplatestyle), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 18:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

See, I would say you need a DAMN wide net to harness a superword, but if literally meant ANYTHING, than why would you say it at all? Punk definitely falls under either bohemianism or cynicism or adolesencent anger, all of which certainly believe that shit is fucked up. I know KLF does.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:02 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Keep in mind I think the overwhelming majority of post-modern thought is complete and utterly worthless bullshit.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:03 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

But doesn't that answer your own question, Anthony? At least about if the KLF are called punk by anybody -- they could just as easily say it about themselves and probably do (I'm not up on my KLF mythology in general).

For what it's worth I'm listening to the Poison Girls right now and they're one of the best punk groups ever from what I'm thinking, and half the songs are gentle ballads sung by a woman who rivals Marianne Faithful for general expression!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm fine with people believing unobviously punk bands are punk, if they give a reason. Chuck Eddy's got a wide view of what metal is, but he does provide what that view is in the front of his book. However, I don't think Superwords are undefinable. They may have multiple definitions, but there are definitions.

I've never heard the Poison Girls, but you say they're punk from what you're thinking. Well, you must be thinking something that we can comprehend and you feel is a viable definition of punk or else you wouldn't have said that word to us.

So yeah, I can see why the KLF are punk conceptually (they poop on rules and all that). But the point remains that there's good reason to attempt to define punk, otherwise it would be worthless superword to throw around. Superword means we debate, not that there's no answers.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:36 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I've never heard the Poison Girls, but you say they're punk from what you're thinking. Well, you must be thinking something that we can comprehend and you feel is a viable definition of punk or else you wouldn't have said that word to us.

It's certainly contextual (friends/labelmates of Crass, noted anarchists, etc.). But then again Crass themselves tried all sorts of styles and approaches under the rubric and anarchism doesn't have to mean sounding like the Sex Pistols (or whoever).

Superwords are fun (hey! that word!) to throw around. That's why I'm bemused by the fact that apparently Avril Lavigne is hated because she claims she's punk. Is that really a reason to hate?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Man do I have a crush on her. Especially after reading the RS interview where she says she's not punk but likes Dillinger Four! If was 18 I would be so endeared to her openness to sounds and styles.

Actually, wait. When I was 18 I was a bitter music-nazi who would have hated her punk co-option and been trying to make myself like free jazz. I was so stupid then.

Anthony Miccio, Tuesday, 12 November 2002 19:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like Tracer's "No Future" example. Even better would be the dual readings of Richard Hell's "Blank Generation".

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 20:12 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Anthony I'm not saying "no definitions, all is permitted, give it up and stop trying" I'm precisely defining punk as both a tying-together and exploding of the twin concepts of optimism and apocalypse in order to flee the stagnancy caused by the relentless categorization of people as either no-hopers or go-getters, of music as idealistic or nihilistic, even of kids as "punks" and "non-punks". It's not that I have a problem with "definitions", I just have a problem with YOUR definitions.

I suggested that metal's project may have been different. The Led Zeppelin t-shirt story illustrated part of the difference, at least as I saw it in high school. Then again, that exact dialogue might just as easily have occurred if I'd been wearing a Bad Brains t-shirt (given the right girls). But it would have worked differently. The subtext would have changed.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Tuesday, 12 November 2002 21:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hmmm. Definitions. What do I think of definitions? Well, I don't think that definitions are ever adequate to all the uses of any word, not just of a Superword. But then, I don't think it's a definition's job to - as it were - define the use of a term, but rather to aid people in using the term better. Dictionary definitions often do a good job of this. Or they can aid in helping to understand how someone else is using a term - "what do you mean by 'pop' in this instance?" But lack of a good definition doesn't make a word meaningless, obviously, and often enough people will use examples rather than definitions when trying to explain a term (which is basically what I did in my "brief sketch of what I mean[t] by Superword"). Things get interesting, though, when differences in usage are related to social category and to social differentiation ("social differentiation" includes both defining yourself as an individual different from other individuals ["unlike Tracer, Anthony thinks of punk as..."] and defining yourself as belonging to a different category from other people ["unlike people such as Tracer, Anthony is one of those people who thinks of punk as..."]). (Aaargh: I don't take any responsibility for the use of the word "defining" in that last parenthesis.) Anyway, then your definitions might put you at odds with other people's. The job description for "definition" would change from "aiding people to use [or understand my use of] the term better" to "differentiating me from him" (though the definition might well help people to understand the differentiation better).

This thread still hasn't gotten into social category.

So here goes. There are two types of people in the world, Pseudointellectuals and Real Intellectuals. Pseudointellectuals talk about Chuck Eddy's motives, while Real Intellectuals talk about Chuck Eddy's ideas. OK, I'm being rough, and Jody and Dave Q probably will talk about both. And I certainly don't think that discussion of motives should be taken off the intellectual table. But come on. Most people who talk about Chuck's motives do so as a way of evading his ideas. [More to come.]

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Monday, 18 November 2002 08:59 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

How to separate 'motives' from 'social categoricalness' tho?

dave q, Monday, 18 November 2002 15:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I don't have anything to add, but I'm really enjoying this thread.

J (Jay), Monday, 18 November 2002 19:14 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Dude, Frank, you're lucky everybody digs your posts. I don't think many could get away with putting [More to come] at the end of their post.

As far as social category goes though, I'm usually not comfortable with them. People who define themselves as part of a group usually feel the need to live up to some outside standard, and therefore might ignore their personal tastes. The only times I don't flinch are when people say it with some humor (i.e., "oh god, look at my record collection. I am SO emo.") or when their definition is rather broad.
I know we all do it, but it's dangerous to get hung up on it. I think most of the time Chuck uses it to explain why people's tastes get messed up.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 00:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

punk rock /= punk

wittgenstenisms flounder like lenored blouses in a warm breeze

but i like this superword thing

a-33 (CDT GCSE only), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 01:10 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"People who define themselves as part of a group usually feel the need to live up to some outside standard, and therefore might ignore their personal tastes"

Anthony this is the worst thing I have ever heard you say. Mainly because it is philosophically either indefensible or trivial depending on how you approach it. What does it mean for a person to have taste except as it relates to the taste of others? Furthermore, who here doesn't need to live up to some outside standard (many, usually)? I wear nice clothes to work and speak to people in a certain way and address friends a different way and cut my hair so I look fresh and etc.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 06:32 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'What does it mean for a person to have taste except as it relates to the taste of others?'

But what if one's taste in PEOPLE is predicated on THEIR taste in (x)?

dave q, Tuesday, 19 November 2002 07:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

well that's the inversion of the relationship, yes.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 07:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

What I'm saying is, why elevate the 'other' over their 'taste' when depending on the individual the value of each is fluid

dave q, Tuesday, 19 November 2002 07:46 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Thus: Long live subjectivity!

Yancey (ystrickler), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 15:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hey, a statement I can fully get behind!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Interpretation according to biography=gossip.

Ben Williams, Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Basically, Sterling I was complaining about the rules of subcultures that, if taken too seriously, will force them to ignore the pleasures their subculture doesn't appreciate. When I was heavy into indie rock in high school, I never bothered listening to Led Zeppelin because every rag I read told me not to bother. Lots of people overrate media they don't enjoy simply because everyone else in their clique do. There are plenty more examples of this all over. Maybe I'm too much of an individualist for you, but the older one gets, the less I feel they should live their lives (and base their tastes) according to what "social category" they're in.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

arguing for the definition of a word = placing yourself in a social category

mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Of lexicographers?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yeah. right. I used to hang out with all the word definers in high school and we used to whip eggs at those who didn't and only liked movies about word definers. Got me.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

haha yes of course "indie" that nebulous free-form word that can happily include everything from britney to ECM — you got me

mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


Ben Williams, Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

mark, strike word and replace "genre" and you got it.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


mark s (mark s), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 16:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Please remember I think that a definition of a superword must be extremely broad.

I mean, we can safely assume indie rock is not a pastry or an interesting new way to whittle. There for the definition of indie rock must exist, lest people think we're talking about pastries. However, if someone thinks ECM is indie-rock, there's logic to it. And if somebody is trying to say "Britney" is indie for some god-unknown reason, there might be logic to that too. But since no logic would define Millard Fillmore as "indie rock" we can assume the definition of Indie Rock would exclude Millard Fillmore.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 17:07 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

my other point is just that I don't trust people obsessed with social category because social category can hinder individuality. I believe that's all I'm arguing here.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 17:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Individuality only means something in relation to social category is what my point is.

If there were no social categories, then everyone wouldn't all be individuals, rather we would all be the same, or at least unable to distinguish if we were individuals.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Tuesday, 19 November 2002 17:14 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Kogan yr. great! (Do you know anything about Levi-Strauss? -- post to my thread on ILE)

Have you encountered my relating of superword to supersounds theory cf. Reynolds on the "Amen" break in Energy Flash? I forgot where I posted it.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Saturday, 11 January 2003 04:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

wowsers. Sweet post, Kogan. I haven't read much aside from music reviews and Pauline Kael books these days (sad, I'll admit, but I have pretty much no idea where to begin literary-wise so I've stuck to my bread'n'butter movies'n'music) so I did indeed appreciate the hefty Slim Wittgy sample.

It's been so long since I read this thread that I can't really remember what's being argued though.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 11 January 2003 17:32 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Frank's former roommate Elizabeth once reported that no matter how when she dressed for a date, and asked, "Well? What do you think you think?" he would *always* reply, "Not slutty enough." Superword has spoke. ilx is thee superpost.

Don Allred, Tuesday, 14 January 2003 02:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

But this field is not so super. Again: Frank Kogan's former roomie Elizabeth once reported that when she dressed for a date, and asked "Well? What do you think?" his verdict was *always* "Not slutty enough." Superword has spoke,ilx is thee superpost.

Don Allred, Tuesday, 14 January 2003 02:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
Ben Williams emailed me this comment: "In that thread where I brought up Hebdige, and you mentioned the Protestant Ethic, I didn't get the bit about the Protestant Ethic at all. I understand the Protestant Ethic to mean the virtues which thriftiness, hard work etc. supposedly hold in the eyes of god, which according to Max Weber were translated to the service of Mammon. This is pretty much the opposite of Hebdige, who is all about rebel boys on the streets undermining the capitalist system."

My response:

Protestant Ethic = through the grace of God, if you're one of the elect, your actions, including your leisure-time pursuits, will serve a useful social and moral purpose.

rebel boys on the streets = the elect
undermining the capitalist system = serving a useful social and moral purpose

By the way, I have nothing against art or Frank serving useful social and moral purposes. I just don't like the clampdown that comes into effect when "serving a social and moral purpose" is tied to a vision in which (1) the capitalist world is fundamentally corrupt and all-engulfing (= puritan conception that worldliness is fundamentally corrupt); (2) if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem, so if you're not actively undermining capitalism, you're reinforcing it; (3) since your actions should serve a useful social and moral purpose, and since your actions - every single one of them - either undermine or reinforce capitalism, you should endeavor to make all your actions undermine capitalism; so (4) these people wouldn't play what they couldn't justify, and they have to justify their playtime and that of the people they champion by saying it undermines capitalism. So if some gutter punks are getting fucked up and going wild, and this rocks, by golly it better undermine capitalism too.

However, in r'n'r, the Protestant Ethic isn't so much the committed leftist's attempt to undermine capitalism as it is the hipster-freak-punk's attempt to maintain his vision of himself as outside of the mainstream; the ethic in full effect tells him that any action moves you either towards or away from the mainstream. Of course, not all punks buy into this (as a matter of fact, before punk became a movement, one thing that distinguished proto-punk-types from the freaks was that the punks didn't buy into the counterculture's vision of itself as a counterculture; but that was back in the days when punk = intelligent), just as not all leftists buy into the idea of capitalism as an all-engulfing system, or the idea that if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

The r'n'r Prot Ethic has interesting permutations: e.g. a full-time sex-drugs-and-r'n'r funster is still a puritan (undermining the prot ethic = serving a useful social and moral purpose); if he's attempting to purify rock'n'roll, cure it of its social pretensions and make it full fun like in the nonexistent good old days, he's still only playing what he can justify, even if he's flip-flopped the terms so that full-time morality = seven-day weekend.

A little bit of Prot Ethic is better than none, I think; it can be useful for pushing words into Superwords. If to be a freak or a punk you have to be outside of society, then "freak" and "punk" will always keep slipping from your grasp, will dart on ahead while you try to chase them. Any and every freak/punk will potentially fall short, will always be playing catch-up.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Monday, 10 February 2003 17:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(sorry to interrupt: kogan i need yr deathless elven memory on my silly "qua" thread)

mark s (mark s), Monday, 10 February 2003 17:29 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Has anyone actually seen this Protestant Ethic person walking around in the last, say, twenty years? I gather that Hebdige actually exists, but then he resides within the cryogenic realm of the academy, where any number of extinct creatures feed and defecate. Even so, P. E. is by now something of a straw opponent, yes? And the rebel boy on the street is about as lively a figure as the embattled worker. Relative to this, Frank, would you care to enumerate those aspects of life that fall outside the capitalist world?

Luc S., Monday, 10 February 2003 19:33 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(Is evil a superword?)

Cozen (Cozen), Monday, 10 February 2003 21:56 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Praps by defining yrs elf as solution you become part of the prob-lem, probb-lemm oops my old vinyl Bollocks got stuck again sorry(examples of such ID might icl George W, and the (original, West-Endorsed)Saddam, and anysaviour really. Mark: "qua" comes from reading Ayn Rand's version of Aristotle while you should be listening to your 9th grade Latin teacher (at least in my case). Don't know which "form" 9th grade equivalates but obv. formative years (aint they all)

Don Allred, Tuesday, 11 February 2003 03:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 9 May 2006 16:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I smoked pot with Chuck Eddy's kid

Cee Bee (Cee Bee), Tuesday, 9 May 2006 16:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

seven years pass...

this thread is the best

caulk the wagon and float it, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 19:43 (four years ago) Permalink

i desire an anthology of the ancient posts with as wonderful a thoughtful content : jokes/trolls/insults ratio as this one

caulk the wagon and float it, Wednesday, 22 May 2013 19:44 (four years ago) Permalink

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