* *


A literary conceit

Until the publishing industry began spewing out books that were supposed to be about PUNK ROCK but which, without exception, failed to define their subject, I had no interest in providing an account of this particular form of genre music. It seems extraordinary that I am unable to find evidence of anyone lifting ideas about 'genre' from film theory and applying them to PUNK ROCK (under my influence some writers took this approach up after the present book was published). As I have already pointed out, this inability to deal with the subject sensibly, or indeed, despite the fact that much of the material is humorous, with any wit, is a common failure among both 'popular' and 'academic' accounts of PUNK ROCK.

I consider the composition of lengthy books about PUNK ROCK an absurd pursuit; the subject simply doesn't warrant this kind of labour. However, while it would be gratifying if the present text could act as a coda to 'debate' on the issue, it is unlikely that I have produced anything more than a prolegomenon to any future discussion of PUNK ROCK. If this short work prevents one writer from repeating the ludicrous claims made by George Gimarc in his lousy Punk Diary: 1970 – 1979 (St. Martin's Press, New York 1994), then it will have served some purpose. Gimarc writes that what makes his book 'unlike any other rock book is that it treats the scene on a day to day basis, diary style, the way it actually happened. The only way that this tangled web can make sense.'

In fact there are many ways in which people make 'sense' of PUNK ROCK, and the present text is merely the best theoretical account of the phenomenon to date. No doubt, various clowns will attempt to dismiss the dialectic whose existence I have sketched as absurd, while in 'reality' I have done no more or less than any scientist, that is to say I've looked for a pattern amongst a particular set of phenomena and found one. I have not tinkered with the facts to make them fit my theory, the theory fits the facts and until someone like me, who possesses a modicum of intelligence, wastes a couple of weeks pursuing similar trivialities, my text will remain the only work on PUNK ROCK that is worth reading.

Since I was already immersed in the PUNK ROCK discourse and the present work merely required that I (re)orientate myself within the tradition, I was aware long before I began to compose the preceding paragraphs that it would be a mistake to approach the subject with reverence. Likewise, since I do not wish the present text to be treated as a work of reference, it would be counterproductive to include a discography, bibliography or index. I am well aware that such a stand will have an adverse effect upon the sales of this text to libraries and academic institutions, but I have already made it clear that PUNK ROCK is an evolving musical genre, with flexible parameters, and these insights would be undercut if I made compromises of this type. Besides, I deliberately operate outside the confines of the college system and therefore have no need of formal academic trappings to secure either a tenure or a promotion.

While I still derive pleasure from listening to PUNK ROCK records, I would not want to be teenage again. It's been a very long time indeed since I last felt any desire to spend every other night in a dank, crowded club watching an endless succession of no-hope bands strut their stuff. However, manic gig attendance does have its uses; if nothing else, going to PUNK ROCK concerts taught me the (psycho)geography of Greater London. And even as a fourteen year old I was smart enough to realise that PUNK ROCK wasn't profound. We change and yet remain the same. While cretins look for the meaning of life in plastic platters and morons seek it in tomes by Kierkegaard and Kant, 'intelligence' is active and knows that the culture we've inherited is something to be manipulated rather than passively consumed. Let the dead bury their dead, we will blaze a trail to new modes of being...

Stewart Home
December 1994

Previous: Chapter IX: Suck My Left One

Next: Appendix: A Cosmetic Underground

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