Sublimating Style

[Reposted, my reply on The Contrarian's blog about Library as Punk]

The powerful thing about STYLE is that when it’s approached consciously by the style leaders — i.e. with the understanding that it can and will be co-opted by corporatism at any opporunity — it can become a powerful tool for subversion. (In fact that’s how corporations do it, but I’m not going into that specifically.)

Style is not just SEEMING; it is also DOING. Humans have this interesting capacity for deciphering fakes and phonies from doers and believers. Something “feels wrong”, and it’s in that moment — a micromoment that happens all over the world a hundred times a second — that a choice is made: is part of this style an irony that encompasses NOT-doing (and so is fair-game for collection into the vast consumptive morass), or is this style one that must necessarily contain DOING?

The answer to this question comes from exemplars.

Why do we exhort our teenagers to be better examples for their younger siblings? Why do we chide fathers for not practicing what they preach? Why do we consider it the ultimate punk rock betrayal to “sell out” — i.e. to apparently give in to the commercialism that punk-ism alleged to intend to short-circuit?

Because the way you protect a style that incorporates a sort of DOING that you want to encourage is to make sure there are enough enviable persons being visible in that style and incorporating that DOING.

To bring it back to ground level, the point I’m making here is that Punk’s Not Dead, not fully dead, unless you proclaim that it’s dead and there’s no way you can be an exemplar of true punk.

So if punkness is to embody a certain DOING and not simply an ironic sort of SEEMING: take back the style.

In other words: I want to see librarians wearing spikes and sporting mohawks.

…Or flannel and ripped jeans. Or cat-eye glasses and leopard print dresses.

…Or none of the above. Because just saying “fuck off I’m a librarian” is pretty punk too.

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