They told me that the classics never go out of style but, they do, they do.
Somehow baby, I never thought that we do too.
– “Worms of the Senses”, Refused
In style or not, you’d have to be pampered, tone-deaf guinea pig living in a sheltered hamster-ball-topia with giant wads of cotton stuffed in your ears to not hear the incredible, revolutionary force of the album The Shape of Punk to Come by the Swedish group Refused.
If you were trying to organize your record collection by putting them in labelled boxes sorted by genre, I don’t think you could do it. Listening to The Shape of Punk to Come, it’s pretty obviously punk, but there’s more. It’s got the angsty, blood-curdling, empowering screams and heavy, rhythmic power chords that every good hardcore band should have, but there’s also flavors of experimentalism that I usually associate with the art rock style of Pink Floyd (did I just commit punk heresy by saying that? Maybe the Velvet Underground instead), taking the listener down from the angry pedestal of rebellion to introspectively reflect upon the same revolutionary, anti-commercial themes through a more level, sober lens. The album features spoken-word poetry, sounds from the streets, electronic music, Eastern European folk, and even some accordion. It seems that the band thought up every musical rhetorical strategy they could use in order to get their message across to the listener on every level possible, appealing to both the radical vigilante and reflective philosopher found in the minds of many music lovers. Continue reading
“I don’t mind stealing bread
From the mouth of decadents
But I can’t feed on the powerless
When my cup’s already over-filled…
I’m going hungry.”
– Temple of the Dog, Hunger Strike
There is nothing in this world today that has not been touched by the culture of mass consumption. There’s over seven billion people out there today and every single one of their lives revolves around a system built to provide demanded products to those who can afford them. Those who can’t afford the goods to survive must serve their wealthy direct or indirect employers until they, their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, or their distant descendants of a distant future can eventually claw their way up the social ladder to join the ranks of the consuming elite. If someone wants something, someone else will do whatever needs to be done to provide for the consumer. The consumer wants more, so no matter what the cost, they are going to get more. Because the world is measured in quantity, the quality of production, the quality of labor conditions, the quality of food, the quality of animal enclosures, the quality of air, the quality of water, the quality of life is all sacrificed. Nearly every major problem the world faces today — deforestation, human trafficking, pollution, homelessness, loss of biodiversity, urban slums, abuses of large agribusinesses — all boils down to one thing: the demands of an oversized consumer population. Continue reading
Most people think of the relationship between the individual and the community as one of struggle — the nonconformist rebelling against social injustice while the community oppresses the rebel’s voice in an attempt to keep the peace. But that is just one phase of the cyclical, symbiotic relationship shared between the community and the individual. They need each other like how clownfish need anemones and anemones need clownfish. One without the other would lead to the death of both.
What happens when a community discriminates, ostracizes, or condemns an individual and what is the impact on society as a whole? Continue reading
Likes. Retweets. Followers. Trends. Fads. There is no doubt that the media commands a massive influence on modern society. Not only that, but it is a media that was born with the potential for the sharing of expression, art, knowledge, wisdom, and original ideas with the world but has become increasingly driven and corrupted by money and profit. We attempt to escape from the drab of day to day life only to find that what we watch on TV, hear on the radio, and see on the Internet is all too often no more interesting than our own lives. We spend all of our time lost, in search of something greater than our everyday routines or what the media offers to sedate us, when really, greatness is not something that can be found. It’s something we have to create for ourselves. Continue reading