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Susan Sontag states ‘Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with one another’ (Sontag 143). In The Crucible, Arthur Miller treats the history of Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee as they do the events of seventeenth-century Salem. In fact, the play’s success owes little to the political and social context in which it was written (Bigsby 159).

Shortly after the end of World War I, a “Red Scare” took hold of the nation. Named after the red flag of the U.S.S.R. (now Russia), the “Reds” were seen as a thread to the democracy of the United States. Fear, paranoia, and hysteria gripped the nation, and many innocent people were questioned and then jailed for expressing any view which was seen as anti-Democratic or anti-American. So it is impossible not to remember George Bernard Shaw’s statement ‘There is only one universal passion: fear’ (Shaw 183). The events such as witch-hunt in Salem, un-American hunt and Muslim-terrorist fear after 11 September justify his claim. So we can say history repeats itself. The faults in human nature transcend generations. Whether we’re talking the witch trials of Salem or McCarthy’s own communist-inspired witch-hunt, people have a habit of falling prey to panic during unsure times (Burnett 27).

In June of 1940, Congress passed the Alien Registration Act, which required anyone who was not a legal resident of the United States to file a statement of their occupational and personal status, which included a record of their political beliefs. The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which was established in 1938, had the job of investigating those who were suspected of overthrowing or threatening the democracy of the U.S. To criticize U.S policies or expose its faults was considered “un-American” and civil rights workers, among others, were placed under FBI surveillance. Further restrictions were added with the Internal Security Act (McCarran Act) of 1950, designed to identify and monitor communists in the United States, based on the rationale that “The agents of communism have devised clever and ruthless espionage and sabotage tactics which are carried out in many instances in form or manner successfully evasive of existing law.” The peak of the scare, perhaps, came three years later when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, having been tried and convicted of passing atomic secrets to the USSR. Many Americans who opposed communism also opposed the mentality and tactics of McCarthyism, and the Senate finally censured McCarthy in 1954 following a series of televised hearings held to investigate communism in the U.S Army. In all, thousands of people lost their jobs or were otherwise affected by the Red Scare (Eaklor 86).

In this process, HUAC saw some ‘red stains on white screen’. Artists were barred from work on the basis of their alleged membership in or sympathy toward the American Communist Party, involvement in liberal or humanitarian political causes that enforcers of the blacklist associated with communism, and/or refusal to assist investigations into Communist Party activities; some were blacklisted merely because their names came up at the wrong place and time. The Communist witch-hunt ruined the careers of hundreds, and ruined the reputation of hundreds more.

Even during the period of its strictest enforcement, the late 1940s through the late 1950s, the blacklist was rarely made explicit and verifiable, but it caused direct damage to the careers of scores of American artists, often made betrayal of friendship the price for a livelihood, and promoted ideological censorship across the entire industry. In February of 1950, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy claimed to have a list of over 200 card-carrying members of the Communist Party. By 1951, a new flourish of accusations began and believed to be Communist sympathizers. Later, the terms McCarthy Trials and McCarthyism were coined, which described the anti-Communist movement and trials of the 1950s (Bowers 18).
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953, the activities of the Committee began to be linked in Miller’s mind with witchcraft trials which had taken place in the American town of Salem two centuries before. For example, the Committee often had in its possession lists of people at various meetings, and yet it still wanted the witnesses to names. Miller saw these public confessions as parallels with the naming of names at Salem in 1692:

The political question, therefore, of whether witches and communists could be equated was no longer to the point. What was manifestly parallel was the guilt, two centuries apart, of holding illicit, suppressed feelings of alienation and hostility toward standard, daylight society as defined by its most orthodox proponents (Blakesley ix).

TENS OF BOYS WITH BEARDS, ZOOM LENSES AND RED INKS
The Hollywood Ten case stands as a landmark in the history of the abuse of civil liberties. As respected author E.B. White commented, ‘Ten men have been convicted, not of wrong-doing but of wrong thinking; that is news in this country and if I have not misread my history, it is bad news’ (Kahn 198). By setting the stage for the establishment of the blacklist, the case created a precedent for making political belief a test of employability. In refusing to accept the claims of the Ten that the First Amendment entitled them to remain silent, the House Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities caused future witnesses to plead the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid answering further questioning. Several hundred of those who were fired or banned from working were screenwriters, actors, directors, and others in film, TV, and theatre. The idea was not new, since Communist beliefs were being spread via mass media. At this time, movies were becoming more liberal, and therefore, were believed to be threat; many felt that Hollywood was attempting to propagandize Communist beliefs (Bowers 18). Movies and new medium of TV were (rightly) considered powerful tools of influence and so those who worked in them at all levels were subject to scrutiny. If Hollywood was “conquered” by communists would the citizenry be far behind? (Eaklor 87) Mississippi congressman John E. Rankin, a member of HUAC, held a press conference to declare that ‘one of the most dangerous plots ever instigated for the overthrow of this Government has its headquarters in Hollywood… the greatest hotbed of subversive activities in the United States.” So there was a red alarm for ‘alien minded Russian Jews in Hollywood’ (Murphy 17).
In September of 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed nineteen witnesses (most of whom were actors, directors, and writers) who had previously refused comment, claiming their Fifth Amendment rights. In those times, Hollywood divided into two camps: friendly and unfriendly one. Eleven of 19 were called to testify; only one actually spoke on the stand-remaining ten refused to speak and were labelled the “Hollywood Ten.” Unlike the ‘friendly’ witnesses such as studio heads Walt Disney and Jack Warner, actors Gary Cooper, Ronald Reagan, and Robert Taylor, and director Elia Kazan who asserted that communism had become rampant in Hollywood during the war, the Ten were ‘unfriendly’ witnesses before HUAC who objected to the methods of the Red Scare and refused to name their friends as possible communists. Actor Adolphe Menjou stated proudly, ‘I am a witch hunter if the witches are Communists. I am a Red-baiter. I would like to see them all back in Russia.’ Reagan, president of the Screen head Jack L. Warner, in a secret executive session, accused Miller and Kazan of subversion (Scott 338).

The nineteen were a curious mix of screenwriters (Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, Richard Collins, Gordon Kahn, Howard Koch, Ring Lardner Jr, John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Waldo Salt, and Dalton Trumbo); directors (Herbert Biberman and Robert Rossen); a writer-producer (Adrian Scott); a playwright (Bertolt Brecht), and an actor (Larry Parks). The first witness, screenwriter John Howard Lawson, proposed to read a statement, as each of the “friendly” witnesses had been permitted to do and as called for in the usual procedure of congressional committees. Chairman Thomas looked at the first line of the statement—‘For a week, this Committee has conducted an illegal and indecent trial of American citizens, whom the Committee has selected to be publicly pilloried and smeared’—and denied Lawson permission to read it. The chairman then demanded an answer to the question, ‘Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?’ ‘The question of Communism is in no way related to the inquiry, which is an attempt,’ Lawson replied, ‘to get control of the screen and to invade the basic rights of American citizens in all fields.’ The chairman responded by having a nine-page single-spaced memo on Lawson’s career, prepared by the committee’s investigators, read into the record. Lawson was given no opportunity to respond to it (Knappman 437). Repeatedly, as the questions and responses became a shouting match, Lawson was asked about Communist membership. Finally, the chairman, pounding his gavel for quiet, ordered the witness removed and cited him for contempt of Congress. In succession, writers Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornitz, Herbert Biberman, producer Adrian Scott, director Edward Dmytryk, and writers Lester Cole and Ring Lardner, Jr.—all destined to be known, along with Lawson, as ‘The Hollywood Ten’—were treated to the same questions and the same denial of permission to read their statements. All were cited for contempt of Congress. Lardner, asked repeatedly if he were a Communist, replied at last, ‘I could answer, but if I did, I would hate myself in the morning.’ The 11th witness was Bertolt Brecht. A successful German play-wright, he had been in Hollywood for six years, had taken out first citizenship papers and announced his plan to remain permanently. To date, he had but one screen credit. “I was not a member, or am not a member,” he told Chairman Thomas, “of any Communist Party.” Immediately, Brecht took a plane for Europe and settled in East Germany (Knappman 126). After these infamous ten refused to speak, Writers like Ring Lardner Jr., Samuel Ornitz, and Adrian Scott were silenced by HUAC’s tactics of intimidation and manipulation. In protest, John Huston, Gene Kelly, and Humprey Bogart organized rallies, produced radio program, and collected a thousand signatures supporting Hollywood Ten. The reaction of studios, however, proved more critical. Louis Mayer told Katharine Hepburn that he would not allow her to perform unless she cleared her name. Five of the Hollywood Ten, the writers and directors who remained hostile to the committee, lost their jobs as their studios released them from long-term contracts when the hearings ended. In April 1948, Trumbo and Lawson were tried and convicted for contempt of Congress. Two years later, in 1950, the Supreme Court, with William O. Douglas in dissent, upheld the convictions of the Hollywood Ten, who served their sentences at a Danbury, Connecticut, prison. Following his release a year later, one of the Hollywood Ten, director Edward Dmytryk, agreed to testify as a friendly witness. Dmytryk went back to work immediately. The rest would wait for more than a decade to have their names used on the credits of the films they had been required to make pseudonymously (Scott 338).
Hence, the firing of the Ten was only a prologue with a cast not of ten but of hundreds. If only ten had had been affected, the industry could easily have managed. The number was considerably higher; according to Adrian Scott’s count:
The blacklist includes some 214 motion picture craftsmen and professionals who are now barred from employment in the motion picture industry. Among them are: 106 writers, 36 actors, 3 dancers, 11 directors, 4 producers, 6 musicians, 4 cartoonists, 44 other craftsmen and professionals. They became unemployable by failing in one or more of the following ways to “cooperate” with the House Committee on Un-American Activities: (a) by invoking the First Amendment to the Constitution, protecting a witness from being required to testify against himself; (c) by not appearing before the Communist, by an informer.
The “greylist” includes hundreds of studio craftsmen and professionals who are partially unemployable; that is, whose employment in the studios is limited in varying degrees. They become “greylisted” by failing to repudiate activities such as following:

(a) support for New Deal or Independent political organizations such as the Hollywood Democratic Committee and Progressive Citizens of America; (b) support for anti-Fascist organizations such as the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the Committee to Aid Spanish Refugees; (c) support for organizations responsible for civilian war work in World War II, such as the Hollywood Writers Mobilization and the Actors Lab; (d) attending or teaching schools such as the League of American Writers School and the People’s Educational Center; (e) subscribing to left-wing publications such as the National Guardian and the People’s World, or being mentioned favorably in such publications; (f) opposing the Un-American Activities Committee by such actions as signing the Amicus Curiae brief in behalf of the Hollywood 10 and supporting the Committee for the First Amendment; (g) union activity, such as signing a nominating petition for a blacklisted person and contributing to a strike welfare fund; (h) expressing disapproval of informers, through word or deed (Dick 223).

The view that ‘the talent swept out the door by the witch hunt was unimportant’ is dangerously naive as well as historically false. If Hollywood was ‘drained of creative vitality’ and experiencing ‘intellectual stagnation and moral paralysis,’ the reason was that the source of much of its vitality and creativity had been shut off.

Two conclusions can be reached about the Ten –conclusions that some may find difficult to accept because they require an appreciation of the ironic as well as an ability to distinguish between a discriminatory action that prevented qualified personnel from working in their profession, and the unexpected revelation of talent that resulted from that action.

The witch-hunters failed to perceive that even without them, the ranks of the Hollywood radicals would have been diminished by events over which no one, much less HUAC, had control. History, as T.S. Eliot observed in ‘Gerontion,’ has ‘many cunning passages, contrived corridors.’ Even if the blacklist had not occured, the events that intensified American anti-Communism (the fall of China to the Communists, the Korean War, atomic espionage cases) would have; even if blacklist had not occurred, the same factors that changed the face of Hollywood over the next two decades would have.
A phrase in All’s Well That Ends Well (IV.iii) aptly describes the Ten: ‘a mingled yarn.’ Since strands can vary in length and texture, and range in colour from neutral to vermillion, the yarn must be disentangled and the strands separated. This method at least acknowledges individuality, although it does not resolve the insoluble art politics dilemma. These ten individuals acquired a political conscience and were then persecuted because that conscience was formed by the wrong politics, as determined by a committee whose chairman was convicted of embezzlement a year after the first session concluded and was sent to the same prison –Danbury Federal Correctional Institution- where two of Ten were serving their sentences. Whatever art the Ten were still capable of producing was hindered, curtailed, and in some instances terminated in 1947 by a committee’s attempt to investigate an area over which it had no jurisdiction. No one -not even Tacitus, who professed to write history without wrath and partisanship (sine ira ac studio)- can be dispassionate about a subject that continues to arouse the strongest of passions. Interest in the Ten will end when interest in injustice ends (Dick 10).

HOLLYWOOD TEN BLACKLIST: WRITTEN WITH BLACK THOUGHTS AGAINST ‘REDS’
 Alvah Bessie, screenwriter
 Herbert Biberman, screenwriter and director
 Lester Cole, screenwriter
 Edward Dmytryk, director
 Ring Lardner Jr., screenwriter
 John Howard Lawson, screenwriter
 Albert Maltz, screenwriter
 Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter
 Adrian Scott, producer and screenwriter
 Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter

Essay and Photo by Cansu BAYRAM

KALEM UCUNDAN SANAT ESERİ YARATMAK

Yayınlandı: Ekim 28, 2010 / Art, My works
Etiketler:,

Birçok sanatçı, kalemi sanat eseri yaratmak için kullanır. Peki kalemden minik sanat eserleri yaratmak?
David Ghetti’nin yaptığı şey tam da bu: O kalemlerin ucunda minik sanat eserleri yapıyor. Marangoz olan Dalton, 25 yıldır minik kalem uçlarıyla harikalar yaratıyor.

49 yaşındaki sanatçı, okulda kalemlerin üzerine arkadaşlarının ismini kazıyıp hediye olarak verirdi. Belki de bu “minik kalem uçları-büyük değerler” macerasının bilinçaltını oluşturuyordur. Dalton maceranın nasıl başladığını şu şekilde açıklıyor: “Daha sonra heykelciliğe girdiğimde, odun gibi malzemelerle çalışıp büyük parçalar yaptım. Ama kendime meydan okumak istiyordum; bu beni geliştirecekti. Mümkün olduğunca küçük malzemelerden bir şeyler yaratmaya karar verdim.. Tebeşir gibi farklı malzemelerle çalıştım. Ama bir gün “Evreka Evreka!” deyip kalem uçlarına şekil vermeye karar verdim”.

Dalton’un inanılmaz eserlerini yaratmak için kullandığı üç temel alet var-jilet bıçağı, dikiş iğnesi ve oyma bıçağı. Kullanmadığı alet ise; büyüteç. Temel aletlerin işlevlerini öğrenmek için Ghetti’ye kulak veriyoruz: “Dikiş iğnesini kalem uçlarına delik açmak ya da ucu kazmak için kullanıyorum. Yavaşça ucu elimde döndürerek tırnağımla çizgi çiziyorum”.
Dalton’un üzerinde en çok zaman harcadığı parça birbirine geçen zinciri olan bir kalem. Standart bir biçimi yapmak birkaç ayını alırken, bu çalışması iki buçuk yıl sürmüş.

Dalton -Connecticut, ABD- bu maceraya ilk başladığı sıralarda, aylarca üzerinde çalıştığı bir eserin daha bitmeden bir parçası kırılacak diye korkuyordu. “Birazcık sert olursam kalemin ucu kırılacak diye ödüm kopuyordu. Bazen inanılmaz sinirleniyordum -özellikle de tam bitmek üzereyken bir hata yaptığımda. Daha sonra çalışmalarıma bakış açımı değiştirmeye karar verdim. Yeni bir çalışmaya başladığımda kendi kendime Ah evet sonunda kırılacak ama nereye kadar gideceğiz bakalım diyordum. Bu şekilde yaklaşmam daha az kalem kırmamı sağladı.”

Aslen Brezilyalı olan Dalton’un, üzerinde çalışırken kırılan 100den fazla heykelle dolu bir kutusu var ve bu kutuya “mezarlık koleksiyonu” diyor. “Hatırı sayılır sayıda kırık parça var hal böyle olunca ben de iğnelere yapıştırıp bir strafor üstünde sergiliyorum. Kırık parçaları saklamam insanlara garip gelebilir ancak onlar hala ilgi çekici bana göre. Aylarca üzerinde çalıştım onların. Şimdi ölü olabilirler ama bir an bile olsa onlara hayat verdim!” diyor Ghetti.

Yaptığı bu minik ama paha biçilmez sanat eserlerine gerçekten de paha biçmiyor sanatçı. Onlardan maddi kazanç elde etmek yerine arkadaşlarına hediye ediyor. Aslında böylece eserlerinin ‘değeri artıyor!’ Ghetti’nin isteği İngiltere’de eserlerini sergileyebileceği bir galeriye sahip olmak.

Kaynak:telegraph.co.uk
Çeviri: Cansu BAYRAM

FORTIS MUTATIO

Yayınlandı: Mayıs 22, 2010 / Literature, My works
Etiketler:, , ,

How can colonialism be defined independently from colony?”

Colonialism is a relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of foreign invaders. The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of the colonized people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonized population, the colonisers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule (Osterhammel, 16).

As for the reasons and the history of colonization; By the eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was changing the meaning of power in Western world. For the conquerors of previous eras, the aim had been to amass riches such gold and silver. But wealth after Industrial Revolution was acquired by selling natural resourches and manufactured goods. The people making these goods needed more places to sell them. Their home markets just weren’t big enough.

Industrial Revolution also required more raw materials to use in manufacturing as well as more food to feed growing European population (Wolny, 23). Robert Johnson, for example, compared overcrowded countries to “plants and trees that be too frolicke, which not able to sustaine and feede their multitude of branches, doe admit an engrafting of their buds and scions into some other soile, accounting it a benefite for preservation of their kind, and a disburdening their stocke of those superfluous twigs that suck away their nourishment” (19). And John Cotton invoked an analogy from the insect world. Just as bees “when the hive is too full, seke abroad for new dwellings,” he explained in his farewell sermon to the Massachusetts Company, “so when the hive of the Commonwealth is so full, that Tradesman cannot live one by another… in this case it is lawfull to remove” (8).

It is tempting to see a connection between such analogies and the European cast of mind about colonized people. There exists European fantasies of cannibalism by describing Africans as primitive, devil worshipper, “cannibals”, “niggers” and “savages” who are little more than animals, which justifies European displacement. It is absurd to believe despite the fact that European reports about African cannibalism were highly unreliable and seldom (if ever) based on confirmed evidence. (Bressler, 220, 222). G.W.F.Hegel’s scientific/rational version of providence is probably the most important formulation of nineteenth-century narrative history. In this formulation, Hegel states that history is an inexorable movement toward the realization of an ultimate goal that is identified with God’s plan for humanity: “That world history is governed by an absolute design, that it is a rational process-whose rationality is not that of a particular subject, but a divine and absolute reason- this is a proposition whose truth we must assume” (28). Hegel’s view of the divine plan behind history leads him to the ethnocentric conclusion that his contemporary European culture is the culmination of that plan. In short, his model of history tends to provide a justification for European imperial conquest of Africa and other ’undeveloped‘ regions because it envisions Europe as closer to the fulfillment of God’s plan for all of humanity (Bressler, 213). As for Edward Said’s statements, European empires are systematic enterprises, constantly reinvested. They do not move into a country, loot it and leave. What keeps them there is not simple greed, but massively reinforced notions of civilising mission. This is the notion that imperial nations have not only the right but the obligation to rule those nations ‘lost in barbarism’. Like English philosopher John Stuart, who stated that the British were in India ‘because India requires us, that these are territories and peoples who beseech domination from us and that..without the English India would fall into ruin’ (Said 1994a, 66). Much of this sense was present in and supported by European culture, which itself came to be conceived, in Matthew Arnold’s phrase, as synonymous with ‘the best that has been thought and said’ (Ashcroft, 85). The word ‘been thought and said’ is the key word in putting out the mask showing the European colonizer’s displacement as if it was noble act.

In the process of ‘fulfilling God’s plan’, the role of culture in keeping imperialism intact cannot be overestimated, because it is through culture that the assumption of the ‘divine right’ of imperial powers to rule is vigorously and authoritately supported (Ashcroft, 85). Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism begins from this premise, that the institutional, political and economic operations of imperialism are nothing without power of the culture that maintains them. What, for instance, enabled the British in India to rule a society of hundreds of millions with no more than 100.000 people? What is it about that presence that induced identification and sometimes admiration in Indian elites despite the history of expropriation and exploitation that characterised the Raj? Edward Said’s argument is that it is culture (despite its sometimes overweening assumptions) that provides this kind of moral power, which achieves a kind of ‘ideological pacification’ (1994a: 67). Seen thus, the movement of peoples becomes not the occasion for circling the laager but the occasion for opening up to new experiences; endevoring to learn new tongues; cultivating new tastes in food, fashion, and loving; and generally absorbing fresh productive energies while discovering the essential oneness of humanity in its infinite presentations. New forms of nativitism lead away from this brave new world; seeing Africa, for example, as a continent of blighted people who will always need help leads away from this brave new world; seeking to keep current advantages in the distribution and consumption of the world’s resourches leads away from this brave new world (Táíwò, 272).

In Brave New World, we confront with a ‘created culture’ in which people are colonized even carnally. Huxley paints a dark picture of future that irrevocably changed by the production line with his black ink: procreation has been replaced by mass scientific production of test-tube babies; genetic chemistry predetermines caste; mass entertainment ans consumption replace religion and art; Henry Ford is a divine being; and above all, individualism is strictly taboo, if not possible (Earle, 94). In Huxley’s Brave New World in which human eggs are replicated or ‘bokanovskified’ eight to ninety-six times before incubation and modification on a moving assembly line at the ‘Central London Hatchery and Incubating Centre.’ (Batchelor, 106) and people are conditioned to ‘like their inescapable social destiny’ (Huxley, 12),

Standard men and women; in uniform batches. The whole of a small factory staffed with the products of a single bokanovskified egg.

“Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.” (Huxley, 6)

It is Bokanovsky’s Process that is used as to product ‘standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform Epsilons. Millions of identical twins’. The principle of mass production is at last applied to the biology (Huxley,18).
“Bokanovsky’s Process,” repeated the Director.

…One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress (Huxley, 5).

Brave New World portrays an anodyne consumer society governed by the pleasure principle, immediate gratification and the cult of youth (McMahon,453). Huxley states in his work Brave New World Revisited, ‘non-violent manipulation’ is superior to terror (Hoyles, 123). Happiness is the sole purpose of a society in which free sexuality is encouraged from a young age, and the steady consumption of material pleasures is ensured throughout life. It is happiness that is built on the ‘solid ground of daily labor and distraction’. (McMahon, 451). BNW citizens are distracted by an arts and entertainment industry “pyschological equivalents of alcoholism and morphinism” (Earle, 94) that emphazises entertainment at the expense of art; encouraged wherever possible to eradicate the unpleasant with ‘soma’ rather “learning to put up with it”; led along by the unfailing allure of prosperity, sexual satisfaction, and eternal youth; conditioned to abolish guilt and memory and regret (McMahon, 453). Huxley argues that ‘as political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase’ (Hoyles,123). In BNW, there is no place for individualism that marries solitude with sociality, for unity of mind between individuals. These individuals pursue a life of pleasure, and find satisfaction in the belief that ‘every one belongs to every one else.’ The individual is conceived in bodily terms. The reign of pleasure is dominant with the help of some media (Velásquez, 430).In BNW, there is soma, the wonder-drug with ‘all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol’ and ‘none of their defects’. Soma gives an instant relief, abolishing past and future alike (Hoyles, 124). For Karl Marx, religion is the opium of the people while for Bernard Marx and the inhabitants of BNW, the opium qua soma is the religion of the people (BNWR 115): ‘Christianity without tears –that’s what soma is’ (BNWR, 190). In addition to soma, the Feelies with simple plots and dazzling effects (Sense-around movies which is provided by highly sophisticated entertainment industry) are available to put a smile on one’s face . As for eternal youth, exercise, synthetic food, and high-tec medicine do away with old age, prolonging youth indefinitely. In this world, ‘faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good’ is unquestioned. (McMahon, 452).

European colonizers tend to ignore the history, the language of ‘colonized nations’. So, we can conclude that they displace not only their lands but also their culture, history. Language, religion and history are the chief elements uniting the members of nation. As a result of systematic work; England has gained the ground in keeping dominant in her colonies for long time. She succeed in being “Yesterday’s Tomorrow”. In Brave New World, the course to create a ‘hot-air balloon society’ is alike to “Old Blighty”. Mustafa Mond states:

“You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s: History is bunk. History,” he repeated slowly, “is bunk.” (Huxley, 15)

Alike England, World Controllers in Brave New World gives importance on ‘novelty’. In Brave New World, Mustapha Mond’s statements offer an insight to our such claims.

“Have you read it too?” The Savage asked. “I thought nobody knew about that book here, in England.”

“Almost nobody. I’m one of the very few. It’s prohibited, you see. But as I make the laws here, I can also break them. With impunity, Mr. Marx,” Mustapha Mond added, turning to Bernard. “Which I’m afraid you can’t do.”

“But why is it prohibited?” asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.

The Controller shrugged his shoulders. “Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here.”

“Even when they’re beautiful?”

“Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones.”

“But the new ones are so stupid and horrible. Those plays, where there’s nothing but helicopters flying about and you feel the people kissing.” He made a grimace. “Goats and monkeys!” Only in Othello’s word could he find an adequate vehicle for his contempt and hatred.

“Nice tame animals, anyhow,” the Controller murmured parenthetically.

“Why don’t you let them see Othello instead?”

“I’ve told you; it’s old. Besides, they couldn’t understand it.” (Huxley, 218).

We can find exemplifications about religion as well.

“Well, religion, of course,” replied the Controller. “There used to be something called God–before the Nine Years’ War. But I was forgetting; you know all about God, I suppose.”

“Well …” The Savage hesitated.

“But if you know about God, why don’t you tell them?” asked the Savage indignantly. “Why don’t you give them these books about God?”

“For the same reason as we don’t give them Othello: they’re old; they’re about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now” (Huxley, 226).

In conclusion, the colonization is a process beginning with Adam and Eve. Humankind is rather expert on reasoning this. John Smith states in Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England: “Now the reasons for plantations are many: Adam and Eve did first begin this innocent worke to plant the earth to remaine to posterity” (Evans, 30). Day by day, Men are becoming so brave that they can find courage and fictional ‘right’ reasons to invade the ‘other’s lands. There is a remarkable progress from ‘innocent’ humankind to ‘brave’ men.

© Cansu BAYRAM

Plat ‘O’

Yayınlandı: Nisan 20, 2010 / My works
Etiketler:,

Parakete hesabıyla ölçmeye çalışmak sevdiğinin sevgisini.. Zavallı insanoğlundan bencilliğin yok olmasi kadar zor ve bunu ummak kadar beyhude aslında. Elimde azurite sana sunuyorum sense ceplerini pyrite`le doldurmak istiyorsun. Mavi-yeşil mutluluga sırt cevirmiş, içi boş parıltılarla gözün kamaşmış senin.
Benimse sevgim acıyor..

© Cansu BAYRAM



Fotoğraf: Cansu Bayram

Ne hoş bir oyuncaktır insancık
Atrahasis’e ulaşacağım derken
Prometheus’un ateşini söndürür,
Ölümsüzlüğü bulacağım derken
Yedinci odada kaybolur
Mor siyah bir derinlik içinde..

© Cansu BAYRAM

STEAMLY PUNK

Yayınlandı: Nisan 20, 2010 / Art, Literature, My works
Etiketler:, ,

This is a paper prepared  for a mid-term exam. I wrote this paper for the people who succeed in being “Nobody”as I state in my paper=) Hopefully you like it..

I.i. STEAMPUNK MANIFESTO

Steampunk is a re-envisiong of the past, with the hypertechnological perceptions of the present. Unfortunately most so-called “steampunk” is simply dressed up recationary nostaligia. The stifling tea-rooms of Victorian imperialists and faded maps of colonial hubris. It is a sepia-toned yesteryear more appropriate for Disney and Grandparents than a vibrant and viable philosophy or culture. First and foremost, steampunk is a non-luddite critique of technology. It rejects the ultra-hip dystopia of the cyberpunks with their black rain and nihilistic posturings; while simulatenaously forfeiting the conceit of the noble savage fantasy of the pre-technological era. It revels in the reality of technology, its very beingness as oppossed the over anlyitical abstractness of cybernetics. Steam technology is the difference between the nerd and the mad scientist. Steampunk machines are real, breathing, coughing, struggling and rumbling parts of the world. They are not the airy intellectual fairies of alogorythmic mathematics but the hulking manifestations of muscle and mind. The progedy of sweat, blood, tears and delusions. The technology of steampunk is natural, it moves, lives, ages and even dies. It is the first real technology, just as God animated clay with breath, man animated lifeless metal with steam. Steampunk, like the mad scientist, refuses to be fenced in by the ever growing cages of specializations. Leonardo DaVincic is the steampunker touchstone, a blurring of lines between engineering and art. Fashion and function mutualing dependent like the piston and steam. Authentic steampunk seeks to take the levers of technology from the technocrates and powerful who seek to drain it of both its artistic and real qualities-turning the living monsters of technologies into the simpering servants of meaningless commodity. Authentic Steampunk is not an artistic movement but an aethestic technological movement. The machine has become liberated from effeciency and designed by desire and dreams. The sleekness of optimal engineering is replaced with the necessary ornamentation of true function. Imperfection, chaos, chance and obsolence are not to be seen as faults but as ways of allowing spontaneous liberation from predictable perfection. The factory of consciousness is overthrown by beautifully entropy. Steampunk creates a seamless paradox between the practical and the fanciful. It expands the horions of both art and technology by being freed from the maniacal control of man’s puropses. Steampunk technology is neither slave nor master but partner in the exploration of unknowable territories of both art and science. Steampunk rejects the myopic nostaligia drenched politics so common among so called “alternative” cultures. Ours is not the culture of Neo-Victorianism and stupefying etittiquette. An escape to gentlman clubs and classist dictation. It is the green fairy of delusion and passion unleashed from her bottle, stretched across the glimmering gears of our rage. We seek inspiration in the smog choked alleys of Victoria’s duskless Empire. We find solidarity and inspiration with the mad-bombers with ink stained cuffs, with whip-yielding women that yield to none, with the coughing chimney sweeps who have escaped the roofs and joined the circus, and with mutineers who have gone native and have handed the tools of the masters to those most ready to use them. We are enflamed by the dockworkers of the Doglands as they set Prince Albert’s Hall ablaze and empassioned by the dark rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis. We stand with the triators of the past as we hatch impossible treasons against our present. Too much of what passes as steampunk, denies the punk. Punk in all of its guises. Punk – the fuse used for lighting cannons. Punk – the downtrodden and dirty. Punk- the agressive do it yourself ethic. We stand on the shaky shoulders of opium-addicts, asethe dandys, inventors of perpetual motion machines, mutineers, hucksters, gamblers, explorers, madmen and bluestockings. We laugh at experts and consult moth eatten tomes of forgotten possibilities. We sneer at utopias while we await for the new ruins to reveal themselves. We count to ladies or gentlemen in our midst. We are a community of mechanical magicians enchanted by the real world and beholden to the mystery of possibility. We do not have the luxury of niceties or the possession of politeness for we are rebuilding the yesterday and ensuring our tomorrow. Our corsets are filled with safety pins and our tophats hide vicisious mohawks. We are fashion’s jackals running wild in tailorshop. It lives! Steampunk lives in the reincarnated collective past of shadows and fogotten alleys. It is a historical wunderkabinet, which promises, like Dr. Caligari, to wake the somambulist of the present to the dream-reality of the future. We are archeologists of the present, reanimating hallucinatory history (prof_calamity).

I.i. AN UNPROJECTED FUTURE Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) whose works ‘set in an alternative nineteenth century -very often in Britain, although almost all the authors involved are American- and whose works is based as much in literary images as in actual history, often mingling actual  historical persons fictitious characters’  such as H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (Stableford, 87). In a letter to the science fiction magazine Locus, printed in the April 1987 issue, Jeter wrote: Dear Locus, Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I’d appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it’s a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in “the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate” was writing in the “gonzo-historical manner” first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering. Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like “steampunks”, perhaps…

Photo by Cansu Bayram
I.ii. FORWARD-LOOKING FANTASY IN VICTORIAN CLOTHES
Steampunk is a covering term for sf implanted in imaginary past, in which tecnological inventions and discoveries that did not happen are imagined to have occurred. The vast majority of these texts are placed in the nineteenth century, when the new technoscientific phenomena stimulate alternative industrial revolutions. Where cyberpunk explores the relationship between contemporary social life saturated with high tech and the science-fictional imagination, steampunk processes the genre’s origins: the points at which both the literary form and its technological subject emerge in tandem (Landon,204). Steampunk combines, in principle, every type of sf: time-travel tales, alternative histories, revolutionary and evolutionary future histories, and extraordinary voyages, all set in hypermodernized pasts. And even though many steampunk works are dense with historically accurate details, the historical model they use is not that of classical history, but history viewed through the eyes of the genre. […] The steampunk  project is inspired by an archetypal ambivalence about origins. It returns to the historical past to discover its own determining conditions, its founding heroes and heroines, its seeds and possibilities in their nascent form -not only of its literary life, but of the technological imagination itself. But because sf is fantasy, it also wants to reimagine all this through its own image of desire, now that it has the cultural power and the concepts to do it. In quintessential sf style, it wants to recover its history-a history of imagining, after all- by colonizing and absorbing it into the fantasies of the present (Ronay,108).

I.iii. The BOOKS WRITTEN IN STEAM INK

The word `steampunk` itself brings together two contradictory terms: the steam engine -`the power of steam and the Engine` – and punk’ as in cyberpunk’ defined  as a set of revolutionary attitudes. According to Hantke `steampunk constitudes a special case among alternative histories’ a science fiction subgenre that postulates a fictional event of vast consequences in the past and extrapolates from this event a fictional though historically contingent present or future` (VanderMeer, 57). Steampunk narratives combine creative freedom with real historical facts. This relies heavily on historical detail’ the recreation of the Victorian literary rhetoric, and  the co-presentation of real-life and imaginary characters’ with technology being the main focus of attention. The association of technology with progress and its identification with a new state of knowledge marks a historical change. Historical changes deriving from technological breakthroughs lead to the transformation and reordering of culture, which is reflected in narratives based on non-linearity, instability, and disorder (Rapatzi, 168). The influence on steampunk literature goes as far back as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, but those authors can’t really be considered steampunk because they were writing about their own era. Michael Moorcock’s “The Warlord of the Air” (1971), “Lord Kelvin’s Machine” (1992) by James P. Blaylock, “The Difference Engine” (1991) by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and Di Filippo’s “Steampunk Trilogy” (1995) are often cited as the central steampunk novels (Bell,67). Following  the formula of the steampunk novel,  The Difference Engine corresponds to the idea of historical and scientific manipulation in an attempt to depict historical and scientific manipulation in an attempt to depict effectively the revolutionary moment at which new ways of knowledge were substituted for old ones (Stableford, Essays on Fantastic Literature, 96): The sky above the Hart was like nothing Mallory had ever seen, […] a lowering dome abrim with  explosive filth’ awash with obliterating dust –a sky that was the very harbinger of Catastrophe, […] the leaping machineries of Evolution were loosed in chaos, to repopulate the stricken earth with strange new orders of being (DE:215).


Photo by Cansu Bayram

II.i. CYBERPUNK MANİFESTO

We are the ELECTRONIC MINDS, a group of free-minded rebels. Cyberpunks.
We live in Cyberspace, we are everywhere, we know no boundaries.
This is our manifest. The Cyberpunks’ manifest.

I. Cyberpunk

1/ We are those, the Different. Technological rats, swimming in the ocean of information.
2/ We are the retiring, little kid at school, sitting at the last desk, in the corner of the class room. 3/ We are the teenager everybody considers strange 4/ We are the student hacking computer systems, exploring the depth of his reach. 5/ We are the grown-up in the park, sitting on a bench, laptop on his knees, programming the last virtual reality. 6/ Ours is the garage, stuffed with electronics. The soldering iron in the corner of the desk and the nearby disassembled radio- they are also ours. Ours is the cellar with computers, buzzing printers and beeping modems. 7/ We are those that see reality in a different way. Our point of view shows more than ordinary people can see. They see only what is outside, but we see what is inside. That’s what we are – realists with the glasses of dreamers. 8/ We are those strange people, almost unknown to the neighborhood. People, indulged in their own thoughts, sitting day after day before the computer, ransacking the net for something. We are not often out of home, just from time to time, only to go to the nearby radio shack, or to the usual bar to meet some of the few friends we have, or to meet a client, or to the backstreet druggist… or just for a little walk. 9/ We do not have many friends, only a few with whom we go to parties. Everybody else we know we know on the net. Our real friends are there, on the other side of the line. We know them from our favorite IRC channel, from the News-Groups, from the systems we hang-around: 10/ We are those who don’t give a shit about what people think about us, we don’t care what we look like or what people talk about us in our absence. 11/ The majority of us likes to live in hiding, being unknown to everybody except those few we must inevitably contact with. 12/ Others love publicity, they love fame. They are all known in the underground world. Their names are often heard there.
But we are all united by one thing – we are Cyberpunks.

Society does not understand us, we are “weird” and “crazy” people in the eyes of the ordinary people who live far from information and free ideas. Society denies our way of thinking – a society, living, thinking and breathing in one and only one way – a clichc. 14/ They deny us for we think like free people, and free thinking is forbidden. 15/ The Cyberpunk has outer appearance, he is no motion. Cyberpunks are people, starting from the ordinary and known to nobody person, to the artist-technomaniac, to the musician, playing electronic music, to the superficial scholar. 16/ The Cyberpunk is no literature genre anymore, not even an ordinary subculture. The Cyberpunk is a stand-alone new culture, offspring of the new age. A culture that unites our common interests and views. We are a unit. We are Cyberpunks.

II. Society

1/ The Society which surrounds us is clogged with concervacy pulling everything and everybody to itself, while it sinks slowly in the quicksands of time. 2/ However doggedly some refuse to believe it, it is obvious that we live in a sick society. The so called reforms which our governments so adeptly use to boast, are nothing else but a little step forward, when a whole jump can be done. 3/ People fear the new and unknown. They prefer the old, the known and checked truths. They are afraid of what the new can bring to them. They are afraid that they can lose what they have. 4/ Their fear is so strong that it has proclaimed the revolutional a foe and a the free idea – its weapon. That’s their fault. 5/ People must leave this fear behind and go ahead. What’s the sense to stick to the little you have now when you can have more tomorrow. Everything they must do is stretch their hands and feel for the new; give freedom to thoughts, ideas, to words: 6/ For centuries each generation has been brought up is a same pattern. Ideals is what everybody follows. Individuality is forgotten. People think in a same way, following the clichc drilled in them in childhood, the clichc-education for all children: And, when someone dares defy authority, he is punished and given as a bad example. “Here is what happens to you when you express your own opinion and deny your teacher’s one”. 7/ Our society is sick and need to be healed. The cure is a change in the system…

III. The System

1/ The System. Centuries-old, existing on principles that hang no more today. A System that has not changed much since the day of its birth. 2/ The System is wrong. 3/ The System must impose its truth upon us so that it can rule. The government needs us follow it blindly. For this reason we live in an informational eclipse. When people acquire information other that that from the government, they cannot distinguish the right from the wrong. So the lie becomes a truth – a truth, fundamental to everything else. Thus the leaders control with lies and the ordinary people have no notion of what is true and follow the government blindly, trusting it. 4/ We fight for freedom of information. We fight for freedom of speech and press. For the freedom to express our thoughts freely, without being persecuted by the system. 5/ Even in the most-developed and ‘democratic’ countries, the system imposes misinformation. Even in the countries that pretend to be the cradle of free speech. Misinformation is one of the system’s main weapon. A weapon, they use very well. 6/ It is the Net that helps us spread the information freely. The Net, with no boundaries and information limit 7/ Ours is yours, yours is ours. 8/ Everyone can share information, no restrictions. 9/ Encrypting of informattion is our weapon. Thus the words of revolution can spread uninterrupted, and the government can only guess. 10/ The Net is our realm, in the Net we are Kings.11/ Laws. The world is changing, but the laws remain the same. The System is not changing, only a few details get redressed for the new time, but everything in the concept remains the same. 12/ We need new laws. Laws, fitting the times we live in, with the world that surrounds us. Not laws build on the basis of the past. Laws, build for today, laws, that will fit tomorrow. 13/ The laws that only refrain us. Laws that badly need revision.

IV. The vision

1/ Some people do not care much about what happens globally. They care about what happens around them, in their micro-universe. 2/ These people can only see a dark future, for they can only see the life they live now. 3/ Others show some concern about the global affairs. They are interested in everything,in the future in perspective, in what is going to happen globally. 4/ They have a more optimistic view. To them the future is cleaner and more beautiful, for they can see into it and they see a more mature man, a wiser world. 5/ We are in the middle. We are interested in what happens now, but what in what’s gonna happen tomorow as well. 6/ We look in the net, and the net is growing wide and wider. 7/ Soon everything in this world will be swallowed by the net: from the military systems to the PC at home. 8/ But the net is a house of anarchy. 9/ It cannot be controlled and in this is its power. 10/ Every man will be dependent on the net. 11/ The whole information will be there, locked in the abysses of zeros and ones. 12/ Who controls the net, controls the information. 13/ We will live in a mixture of past and present. 14/ The bad come from the man, and the good comes from technology. 15/ The net will control the little man, and we will control the net. 16/ For is you do not control, you will be controlled. 17/ The Information is POWER!

V. Where are we?

1/ Where are we? 2/ We all live in a sick world, where hatred is a weapon, and freedom – a dream. 3/ The world grows so slowly. It is hard for a Cyberpunk to live in an underdeveloped world, looking the people around him, seeing how wrongly they develop. 4/ We go ahead, they pull us back again. Society suppressses us. Yes, it suppresses the freedom of thought. With its cruel education programs in schools and universities. They drill in the children their view of things and every attempt to express a different opinion is denied and punished. 5/ Our kids grow educated in this old and still unchanged system. A system that tolerates no freedom of thought and demands a strict obeyance to the reules… 6/ In what a worlds, how different from this, could we live now, if people were making jumps and not creeps. 7/ It is so hard to live in this world, Cyberpunk. 8/ It is as if time has stopped. 9/ We live on the right spot, but not in the right time. 10/ Everything is so ordinary, people are all the same, their deeds toos. As if society feels an urgent need to live back in time. 11/ Some, trying to find their own world, the world of a Cyberpunk, and finding it, build their own world. Build in their thoughts, it changes reality, lays over it and thus they live in a virtual world. The thought-up, build upon reality: 12/ Others simply get accustomed to the world as it is. They continue to live in it, although they dislike it. They have no other choice but the bare hope that the world will go out of its hollow and will go ahead.13/ What we are trying to do is change the situation. We are trying to adjust the present world to our needs and views. To use maximally what is fit and to ignore the trash. Where we can’t, we just live in this world, like Cyberpunks, no matter how hard, when society fights us we fight back.14/ We build our worlds in Cyberspace. 15/ Among the zeros and ones, among the bits of information. 16/ We build our community. The community of Cyberpunks.
Unite!

Fight for your rights!

We are the ELECTRONIC MINDS, a group of free-minded rebels. Cyberpunks.
We live in Cyberspace, we are everywhere, we know no boundaries.
This is our manifest. The Cyberpunks’ Manifest (Kirtchev,Christian As).

II.ii. REBOOT YOUR BRAIN

Cyberpunk is a science fiction genreEarth, rather than the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation or Frank Herbert‘s Dune (Cavallaro,173). The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to be marked by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its creators (Slusser,42). Much of the genre’s atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction (Gillis,75).

Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body” (Lawrence) HYPERLINK  \l “cite_note-Person-6”

Cyberpunk writers tend to use elements from the hard-boiled detective novel, film noir, and postmodernist prose to describe the often nihilistic underground side of an electronic society. The genre’s vision of a troubled future is often called the antithesis of the generally utopian visions of the future popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Gibson defined cyberpunk’s antipathy towards utopian SF in his 1981 short story “The Gernsback Continuum“, which pokes fun at and, to a certain extent, condemns utopian science fiction (James, 221). In some cyberpunk writing, much of the action takes place online, in cyberspace, blurring the border between actual and virtual reality. A typical trope in such work is a direct connection between the human brain and computer systems. Cyberpunk depicts the world as a dark, sinister place with networked computers dominating every aspect of life. Giant, multinational corporations have for the most part replaced governments as centers of political, economic, and even military power.

Protagonists in cyberpunk writing usually include computer hackers, who are often patterned on the idea of the lone hero fighting injustice, such as Robin Hood (Seal, 195). One of the cyberpunk genre’s prototype characters is Case, from Gibson’s Neuromancer (Taylor, 34). Case is a “console cowboy”, a brilliant hacker who betrays his organized criminal partners. Robbed of his talent through a crippling injury inflicted by the vengeful partners, Case unexpectedly receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be healed by expert medical care but only if he participates in another criminal enterprise with a new crew.

Like Case, many cyberpunk protagonists are manipulated, placed in situations where they have little or no choice, and although they might see things through, they do not necessarily come out any further ahead than they previously were. These anti-heroes—”criminals, outcasts, visionaries, dissenters and misfits” call to mind the private eye of detective novels. This emphasis on the misfits and the malcontents is the “punk” component of cyberpunk (Chernaik,63).

III.i. PUNK MANIFESTO

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.

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.

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.

THE PUNK MOVEMENT

I have tried to enumerate some of the factors that make Punk a movement, in the cultural sense. The typical stereotype of a feeble-minded ruffian vandalizing, destroying, stealing, fighting, or arguing in the name of some empty, short-lived cause is no more punk than the pretty-face-empty-head image of today’s pop stars.

Because it is so easy for record companies to sell images of violence, sex, and self-importance, many bands have taken the bait and portrayed themselves as Punks, without realizing that they were actually perpetuating a stereotype of conformity that is wholly un-punk.

The “come join us” attitude that seeks to attract followers, usually results in a rabble of weak people who think that their power lies in the large numbers of like-minded clones they have compiled. There is no strength in numbers however, if the people are glued together by a short-sighted, self-serving, fear-induced mantra that promotes factions and exclusionary principles.

Strong ideologies don’t require a mob, they persist through time, and never go away, because they are intimately connected to our biology. They are part of what it means to exist as Homo sapiens. Punk typifies that tradition. It is a movement of epic proportions, that transcends the immediacy of the here-and- now, because it is, was, and always will be there-and-forever, as long as humans walk the earth.

As we enter a new era in the voracious march of culture, Punks will have their day. The internet has allowed people to communicate directly once again. On the web, human behavior is interactive, like it was before the advent of mass-media.

People now focus on ideological discussions and lifestyle issues, as opposed to the classic 20th century behavior of closing oneself off from cohorts, and adhering to a network’s, or commercial’s prescriptive code of acceptable behavior. The lies, and mysteries of elitism will erode quickly as the global conversation that transpires daily on the web invades more people’s lives.

The world population will be more receptive to alternative ideologies because they will be creating them. People will be less receptive to ideologies of out- dated institutions because the holes and flaws in their logic will be ever more amplified when they are broadcast instantly around the world as they become revealed.

The “Strength-In-Understanding”, and “Knowledge-Is-Power” ethics that Punks maintain will become the norm. The rigidity, brutishness, and futility of secret agendas will be made obvious, paving the way to an appreciation of human uniqueness, and a new era of originality.

WHO IS PUNK?

Everyone has the potential to be punk. It is much harder for someone who comes from a placid, un-challenging, ignorant upbringing, because they don’t see the value in questioning or provoking the institutions that gave them such tranquility. But such examples of carefree existence are rare in today’s shrinking world.

Eternal questions still burn in the minds of most people. What it means to be human is becoming more clear every decade. Sometimes, people are trained to follow the safe path to an early grave by consuming and repeating the dogma of a fearful aristocracy.

On the other hand, the human spirit is hard to kill. Punk is a microcosm of the human spirit. Punks succeed with their minds, not their brute force. They advance society by their diversity, not their conformity. They motivate others by inclusion, not domination.

They are at the front lines of self-betterment and by extrapolation can improve the complexion of the human race. They adhere to unwritten universal principles of human emotion, obvious to anyone, and shun elitist codes of behavior, or secret agendas. They embody the hope of the future, and reveal the flaws of the past. Don’t tell them what to do, they are already leading you.

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.

PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.

PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and through repetition, flowers into social evolution.

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 IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions (Graffin).

III.ii. PUNK: NO-FUTURE

Punk, the most notorious of recent youth movements, emerged in the mid-1970s and has persisted, in varying forms, to the present day. Characterized in the popular press as depraved, sinister, and “primitive,” early punk subculture provoked widespread condemnation and instigated a sense of moral outrage. Twenty years later, punk is now being celebrated as a pivotal “cultural moment” that has influenced contemporary music, fashion, design, literature, film, and Western aesthetic trends overall (Henry,21).

The punk subculture flourished in England because it captured the mood of the the mood of the time and gave expression to many of the frustrations and concerns of urban youth, such as a high unemployment rate, dismal economic conditions, and futility.

The punk motto “no future,” a summation of the sense of hopelessness inherent in the early punk ethos, comes from the Sex Pistols’ song “God Save the Queen”(1977), which became an international punk anthem. In it, Johnny Rotten denounces the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, screaming to the alienated youth of England and Ireland (McNeil;7):

God save the queen

Her fascist regime
They made you a moron
Potential h-bomb

God save the queen
She aint no human being
There is no future
In england’s dreaming

Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future no future
No future for you

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
‘Cos tourists are money
Our figures head
Is not what she seems

Oh god save history
God save your mad parade
Oh lord god have mercy
All crimes are paid

When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in your human machine
We’re the future you’re future

God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God saves

God save the queen
We mean it man
And there is no future
In england’s dreaming

No future no future
No future for you
No future no future
No future for me.
The Sex Pistols’ condemnation of all authority, their disdain for societal conventions,  and their pessimistic appraisal of the future immediately appealed to disaffected youth around the world, and punk quickly became a global phenomenon. The grassroots character of punk is exemplified by the fact that even though “God Save the Queen” was banned  on British radio and some stores refused to sell the record, the song climbed to the number two position on the music charts in England in July, 1977 (Colegrave,Sullivan; 67).

Unlike British punk, American punk was not so much a working-class and bohemian response to economic depression and authoritarian ideology as it was a middle-class expression of alienation from and disgust with mainstream values. Like their British counterparts, however, American punk often embraced a sense of societal disintegration and futurelessness. As a former punk from New York put it: “I liked that time of decay. There was a nihilism in the atmosphere, a longing to die. Part of the feeling of New York at that time was this longing for oblivion, that you were about to disintegrate, go the way of this bankrupt, crumbling city. Yet that was something almost mystically wonderful” (Boot:133). The sentiment that society was collapsing and that there was no future pervaded American fanzines and lyrics. The well-known documentary film about punks in Los Angeles, The Decline of Western Civilization, by Penelope Spheeris, captures this sense of pessimism, epitomized by singer Darby Crash of the band the Germs, who was one of the first and most influential punk singers in Southern California. Crash performed in a state of drug- and alchohol- induced oblivion and eventually committed suicide. The destructive aspect of the punk movement became ritualized in the form of ceremonial violence, slam-dancing, drug and alcohol abuse, and other forms of actual or symbolic self-negation.

While feelings of despair and anomie have been expressed by members of numerous youth groups, many punks elevated the idea of personal and societal negation to an aesthetic. The names of various punk bands illustrate this emphasis on destruction, futility, and decay: Damage; Dead Boys; Dead Kennedys; The Last; Living Abortions; […] U.K Decay; Wasted Youth. , The pseudonyms that punks often assumed emphasized the same themes, as well as self-effacement, parody and the absurd: Johnny Rotten; […] Rat Scabies; Adam Bomb; Tequila Mockingbird[…] (Warner, 32)

Although punk punk ethos has been characterized as anarchistic and nihilistic, the frequent emphasis on doom and destruction, societal destruction, the destruction of all dominant discourses-reveals the apocalyptic themes in punk. Consistently manifested in lyrics, fanzines, posters, manifestos, and behavior, this apocalyptic aesthetic was adopted by punks as a means of expressing their sense of estrangement, futility, and anarchistic impulses. While punks called for the destruction of a corrupt and bankrupt civilization, they generally had no articulated plans for the redemption of society. Yet the emphasis on destroying the status quo suggested that through negation, perhaps change was possible. When this ethos of destruction was combined with punks ‘do-it-yourself credo, it became the source of great creativity, inspiring the development of new styles of music, art, writing, and body adornment.

The apocalyptic legacy of punk can be traced to the influence of musicians such as Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, the New York Dolls, and the Ramones. In addition to celebrating street life, urban decay, and social outcasts, these musicians frequently expressed pessimistic, fatalistic, and apocalyptic sentiments. The abusive and destructive aspects of these punk predecessors are exemplified by Iggy Pop, who cut himself with broken glass during performances, while he harassed and spit on his audiences.In his well-known song “Search and Destroy” (1973) he screams (Mcneil,21);

I’m a street walking cheetah

With a hide full of napalm
I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world’s forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys
Honey gotta help me please
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby detonates for me
Look out honey, ’cause I’m using technology !
Ain’t got time to make no apology
Soul radiation in the dead of night
Love in the middle of a fire fight
Honey gotta strike me blind
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby penetrates my mind
And I’m the world’s forgotten boy
The one who’s searchin’, searchin’ to destroy
And honey I’m the world’s forgotten boy
The one who’s searchin’, searchin’ to destroy
Forgotten boy, forgotten boy
Forgotten boy said
Hey forgotten boy.

This association of nuclear weapons and the threat of global annihilation with images of personal or societal destruction is a recurring theme in punk and proto-punk lyrics and artwork. Another source of punk doomsday imagery was reggae music, inspired by the millenarian vision of Rastafarianism, with its prophecies about the destruction of Babylon, identified as white colonialism, capitalism, and oppression in general. The music of David Bowie, who frequently addressed the theme of societal destruction and decay, also served as an inspiration for early punk apocalypticism.

Apocalyptic themes appealed to those punks who felt that contemporary society offered them no hope for the future. Envisioning their lives as “doomed,” many punks adopted an apocalyptic ethos as the basis for symbolic action, a means of articulating their cultural pessimism and genuine sense of despair. This apocalyptic aesthetic was palpable in punk concerts, which often felt like symbolic enactments, or perhaps celebrations, of the collapse of all social order, a momentary, cathartic release from societal constraints (Wojcik, 10).

Cansu BAYRAM