Thursday, April 6, 2017

Punk Not Dead

Image result for mick farrenMick Farren writes books in the same specific style with which he crafts opinion editorials. They are uninviting to the extreme. If one has had the gaul to have had a relatively happy life, to find oneself content with things as they are, to be happily in love, to hope for the least in human affairs and the best on a Friday night - one will never really understand what he was writing about.

Armegeddon Crazy was a book I discovered as a teenager. Even then, I found it difficult to read. There is a species of political animal called the partisan; he is the stupidest of all animals. He sees human beings in simple shades, and human events in only two colors: black or white. He has a twin brother - he must. These twins seem to say the opposite things all of the time, but really they speak one language: the language of the football hooligan.

The football hooligan is one of my favorite foils. I have overused him to the point of abuse. He fascinates me because of his capacity to risk life and limb for something so ridiculous and abstract as the perceived honor of his team. It is not, mind you, that I am an opponent of honor and sports: I am not. What I find mildly amusing and odd is the spectacle of drunken idiots ransacking people and places, often at great personal risk and cost, for no particular reason, while doing all of this in the name of a football team.

The only other arena of human life in which I have observed this idiotic behavior is in politics. Farren, to be clear, is not in this class; he does have something to say, and it may well be true or important - but I couldn't care less because it is ultimately self-defeating. If Anglo-American civilization has really declined to the point where the characters of Armegeddon Crazy are fair representations, then contrary to Mr. Farren - I do not think we should rock our way to salvation, I think the whole thing should be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Yet I also know that it cannot be as bad as Mr. Farren thinks. This gets us back to the point about partisan twins. The self-congratulatory pompously pious protestant Christian, lording over Stupid America, is just as ugly as the smug liberal long-hair strumming his guitar or bashing his drums in the hopes that his hypnotic chords will incite a world revolution resulting in universal peace and love. The whole clown cart - and that is what it is - is an outgrowth of the same malaise common to all democratic and individualistic societies.

I do not mean to complain about Mr. Farren as the conservative critics might be wont to. I will not say that I am shocked or disgusted by his treatment of Christianity. Nor am I very impressed with the even-handedness that he has displayed by having "true" Christians and Catholics as victims of Fundamentalist oppression. Nor am I going to defend the Fundamentalists. Naturally, if they are the enemy in our over-simplified dualistic universe full of free-loving rockers who like to drink and smoke and Midwestern fascists who throw people into concentration camps, then sign me up for drinking and smoking. Yet the real world - thank God - is not the Hell of this sad dualism.

Where I draw the line is caring one way or another about a world remotely close to the one Mr. Farren seems so intent on saving. I suppose in that sense I am on the side of the characters who "flee to Canada" - though who would ever want to go there? I just find the whole conflict boring. The country that Mr. Farren describes is so utterly ridiculous that I would just as soon let it rot than "save it." Or, if you prefer - I have a better way of saving it: let it rot. Perhaps this is the Ayn Rand in me (again!?), but sometimes if civilizations are corrupt enough one really does have to let them fall apart.

If I have to deal with the spectacle of a Fundamentalist take-over of the United States, I would rather laugh about it the way Bill Maher does in religulous than to read a 200+ page dystopia about it. And yet - and yet - I still read the 200+ page dystopia. Quite possibly because I have some old fangled notion about respecting the author enough to finish his book before criticizing him. I will then, in due course, write a proper review of Armageddon Crazy and may even venture to say something serious about punk music.

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