So here we are. Barring some kind of self-serious and constricting mission statement, my goals for this site are to write on political and cultural topics outside my academic work and post things that are awesome. I had (very briefly) tried “blogging” (still the worst word in the language) before, and it wasn’t my scene. It seemed to me that the way blogs distinguished themselves was by either commenting on events moments after they have occurred (I do not have time for this) or by out-snarking one another, which can feel forced. I have found hat while I still enjoy reading blogs like Wonkette or Gawker, especially as breaks from academic reading, I have also been trying to read more long-form pieces that have a bit more depth and polish. While that is not exactly the format I am going for here, I do endeavor to post pieces that have been subject to more thought and revision than the standard write-about-this-topic-as-quickly-as-possible-before-the-news-cycle-moves-on sort of internet posting.
Nonetheless, as I begin working on such a piece, I am feeling increasingly anxious about the blank page that is this site. So much pressure! I thought I would alleviate that by posting something. As I was thinking of how to start, the beginning of the text below popped in my head. It appears in the liner notes for the album Survival Sickness by The (International) Noise Conspiracy, in place of the lyrics for the song “Smash It Up.” I don’t know if you would call it a poem, a manifesto, or what but I have always appreciated its free-form, sprawling call to arms. It is a pretty lengthy and meandering, and there are some things here that do not resonate with me or that I find naive, but at the same time I have always appreciated it and still find reading it inspiring. Strangely or perhaps tellingly I could not find the text anywhere on the internet besides a couple myspace pages, but awhile ago I did re-type the text while borrowing the album from a friend. There are probably some parts that I copied incorrectly but I don’t think that is inconsistent with the spirit of the whole thing. Here it is:
This is a start. Cover the bathroom with pictures of my friends. Write letters to people you haven’t seen in ages and invite them to stay at your place. Redecorate the street signs so that all the traffic will end up in the water. Steal a map of the city and try your hardest not to follow it. Borrow someone’s heart for just an hour. Change your identity with someone for a week or two. Play soccer with three goals and no referee. Cross out words like truth, oppression, and boredom in every dictionary. Steal books and distribute them to strangers. Shop for free. Rob a bank and burn the money. Money Sucks! Organize a wildcat strike at your job or at your school. Drop everything and go to the one place in the world you have always wanted to go regardless of bullshit considerations and excuses. Go to art museums and sneak your own work into displays. Play acoustic versions of Angry Samoan’s songs at posh cafes. Run for every public election in your town and stress qualifications you don’t have. Give library cards to all your friends as a gift. Get all of your friends to go into Burger King, order water and take as many seats as possible for as long as possible. Do this every day right before lunch time. Change time on all clocks that you encounter, at people’s houses, in public places, etc. Alter all of the street signs in your town/area with names of places in the world which are currently in a state of war, scene of atrocity, or subject to violent oppression. Stuff the suggestion box in your local video store demanding that all of the DeBord films be available for rental. Recommend that Henry Miller be required reading in all high schools. Write “THIS WILL BE YOUR DEATH” on every piece of money that passes through your hands. Spend more time naked. Call every crappy radio station and demand that they play more GG Allin. If you are in a band, never play the same place twice until you have played everywhere once. On any first date, make it the mission to get you both arrested for something embarrassing and stupid. Don’t let your date in on this plan. If you see people chasing pigeons, chase and pretend to kick them. Laugh a lot more. If you have something stupid to say, make sure it gets said loud. Celebrate every holiday from all countries and cultures. Bathe in public fountains, especially ones in front of commercial or municipal buildings. Falsify invitations to art exhibitions and give them to homeless people. Reinvent and make up new and exciting games. Drift. Squat in a church. EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN CATHEDRAL.
The last line neatly characterizes the simultaneous appeal and solipsism of sites like this very one, further convincing me to go with this as a means of getting the first post out of the way. Below is the video for “Smash It Up,” the song that this piece accompanies in the liner notes for Survival Sickness. (Interestingly, this piece actually appears in lieu of the actual song lyrics.) I first came across this video back in high school, in a long since forgotten pre-Youtube era in which an adolescent version of me would tape episodes of “120 Minutes” on MTV in order to find videos of bands I liked. I remember this video seemed jarring but at the same time exciting, especially since I was only beginning to become politically conscious and so much of my political socialization came from pretty mainstream sources like the evening news or the local paper. (I wonder what I thought neoliberalism meant at the time, other than this group of Swedish post punks wanted it smashed for some reason.) Anyway, the last bit of text in this video is also something that I still find inspiring, and serves as a fitting start to place where I hope to do more writing:
“Much more can be said on these matters. Go ahead.”