Friday, November 28, 2008

KILL YOUR IDOLS put words in my mouth

Let me set-up my thoughts for you....

Today I watched a movie called Kill Your Idols. It spans 30 years of music, 13 bands, and 1 city--New York. The music is solely art-punk, which has been the rhythm of my heart essence since I was very young. It's funny because now that I'm in SF and have been immersing myself deep in mysticism, I find fewer and fewer people who understand my love for such aggressive music. Blame it on my Detroit/NY roots. I mean I love a good kirtan, but when a scream that could curdle my blood combines with a transcendent chord progression, I feel light and free and cathartic.

The movie shows live footage and interviews with bands like Suicide, Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, The Swans, Liars and Gogol Bordello. All of whom are refreshingly chill answering their questions, and all of whom seem to be fairly pissy about the co-opting of underground music. (And fashion, literature, language, get the point.)

In any case as I was watching this and getting more and more angst-ridden, (as this subject is one I obsess over as well,) I realized something. Maybe Millennials don't suck per se, maybe their just freakin CONFUSED as to what to rebel against.

If that's the case, then there's still hope in a new kind of nihilism. One that is a joyful nihilism. One that can see emptiness as potential. One that isn't afraid of nothingness.

It's interesting then, that I've been so intuitively drawn to Tantric dharma lately. If emptiness is form as our teacher shows us, than the bark of old school nihilism loses its bite. I would love to know how other people cope with this current state of zero integrity.

Do tell....

Click the "read more" link here to watch the trailer for Kill Your Idols.

read more | digg story


Slinky Redfoot said...

i wish i knew what integrity meant

Rufus Xevious said...

Hi JC,

So your post has mad me trip out on two basic things: time and language. How they are in conversation with one another. First thought is about the phrase you used, "joyful nihilism". I look up "nihilism" in the dictionary and it spits out a few different meanings. One: the total rejection of established laws and institutions. Pretty extreme, right? Two: annihilation of the individual consciousness as an aspect of mystical experience. Pretty interesting contrast, huh? Many potential meanings in this word, with contradictions in them at that. So, now thinking of joyful nihilism that you see as a potential flavor for Millenial rebellion, I go back in time to the sixties counterculture. It was often described at the time as nihilistic, in both of the meanings described above. Both a rejection, repudiation of established laws AND a desire to annihilate the individual consciousness, yes through drugs but I think more importantly through group experience, communion. Quite a contradiction when you think about it. Repudiation as an act of individual agency against the collective, but mystical experience as an act of connecting. I find this paradox actually pretty amusing. Like, which am I doing, rejecting or connecting? Um, gee, not sure. And I wonder if folks in the counterculture got the joke, too. After all, think about how humorous some of the antics really were, how self-consciously absurd and humorous was some of this rebellion! Like trying to levitate the Pentagon, opening a FREE store, dressing in costume, creating the Merry Pranksters, and doing it all together. Sounds a lot like "joyful nihilism" to me, how about you? You see the same combinations in punk rock and no wave. A desire to smash established rules AND a desire to commune, to have group catharsis (ah, those screams, those chords, that slam dancing and pogo-ing). The acts of individual repudiation may seem more extreme, and the acts of communion darker, but these poles of nihilism are still interacting. Time collapses, the language of rebellion speaks with itself. So my point is that in the modern world, I reckon every generation has the same nihilistic elements driving rebellion: hatred of hypocrisy, control, repression, of a life sucked dry of its inherent fecundity and strangeness by mass consumer culture. That's it. The style of the rebellion changes across time but the underlying shit is terribly similar. So, I wouldn't worry about Millenials when it comes to rebellion. Their style of it is still taking shape. The rub, thought, the sad ephemeral thing about each generation's rebellions is that they will necessarily be co-opted and changed. One, by mass consumer culture itself. Two, by new artists who must kill their idols to become their own. But even this is not ultimately depressing to me because at the end of the day, it's not the joyful nihilism of the rebellion that is defeated, but merely the style, the look and feel, its real-world manifestation. The underlying impulses driving the rebellion remain stubbornly intact and prone to continual recurrence. And the subsuming of the rebellion is never complete or absolute. This uncontrollable shit always leaves its mark. The physical manifestations of no wave or punk rock or whatever you want to call it may get co-opted by the Borg of consumer culture, but society still changes because of its impact. A band like Sonic Youth may start out rejecting what came before, but goddamn if that hippie influence didn't work its way into the jammy, psychedelic punk/no wave/noise they've developed over the years. A better phrase for all of this should be, Eat Yr Idols, for they will give you sustenance to go forward.
So, please. Turn up the stereo and contort yourself to your favorite screams. Then sit quietly and meditate upon the nothingness at the center of existence. Everything is everything.

rufus xevious