‘Punking In The Emerging Quantum Mainstream
To 'punk: To creatively express the aesthetic sensibilities of a particular genre, era or epoch (or combination thereof) in any artistic medium, be it fashion, music, the written word, or any other emerging or established form.
What does it mean to ‘punk? What does it mean to be a ‘punk? To follow or ascribe to or enjoy a given -punk subgenre? While visions of the seventies, eighties and nineties give us images of grunge, anarchy, goths and the Sex Pistols, this is not the now of ‘punk. It is the past, it is the big bang, the violent birth of a universe, the primordial ooze from which something even more amazing has been born.
“Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.” Author Jess Nevins is quoted as having said, and few statements put the birth of the ‘punk movement into clearer terms. As an aesthetic, the root subcultures of Punk and Gothic were originally about individual expression– they were about discovering new ways to stand out creatively, constructing new fashions, art forms and music that didn’t fit with the aesthetics of mainstream society. They brought the outside into the now, and when the “now” changed to accept and commercialize the growing subculture beyond its narrow borders of acceptable experience, the drivers of the original movement moved on and returned to the shadows, creating new subcultures for people to fall into and live within.
But with the growth of the internet as a medium for constant social connection, almost every subculture has been sighted, explored and commercialized, leaving no new shadows for those who like to live on the outside of the mainstream to watch the world from. Everything is in the light now, everything is becoming imminently accessible, and people are discovering things previously abandoned in the darkness that both unify and delight. Subcultures are being created more as experience and aesthetic-oriented psychological collectives of similar ideas and attributes which define and are created by those within them as opposed to simply existing in primitive clique forms in order to separate one group of like-minded people from another. Subcultures are being created and expanded to connect people and share ideas through mediums of pure creative expression, creating the precursor streams to what I believe will become a broader, more diverse “quantum mainstream” which will effectively leave the old, monochromatic model of old versus new, hot versus not in the dust where it belongs.
In order to understand where the ‘punk movement is and where it is heading, we have to fundamentally alter our perceptions of the way reality and cultural elements flow through the greater stream of society. With the growth of the internet, we have seen the creation of a civilization-sized neural network, a global village where there is no one, concrete sense of “ordinary” or “popular” anymore. The mainstream is still there as a force, but it is breaking up, creating a more diverse central line where every subculture becomes its own river of possibility.
But this doesn’t mean that people will become more distant and separate from one another, rather it will unify individuals within the context of mutual, fluid and independent diversity. It is the heralding of what can only be called a “quantum mainstream,” an endlessly variable stream of niches that individuals can explore and jump from (or into) at their whim.
That’s where the notion of ‘punk comes in. The new Punk, the evolution of Punk, and the notion of ‘punking as it stands is to inhabit the emerging quantum mainstream preemptively. It is to discover and explore large river-niches already running through an as yet mostly unaware society, contribute to them and transcend them. It is the physical and artistic expression of a journey through a given psychological landscape defined by specific (yet bendable) aesthetic sensibilities pertaining to a given era, genre or epoch. That is ‘punking in the quantum mainstream. That is living at the beginning of a future without bounds in time, space or irreality.
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