Archive for September, 2005

Lung Leg

I was thinking about Lung Leg and her strange stroy today. She rose to fame (if you can call it that) in Richard Kern films, appeared on the cover of Sonic Youth’s, EVOL, and then disappeared off the face of the Earth.
There are lot’s of rumours about what happened to her. Nick Zedd said that she took too much LSD and went mad, and thought she was being pursued by a German called ‘Ninny’. And Richard Kern said she moved to L.A and started dressing like a witch. Who knows.
But what does strike me, is that in the modern world, Lung Leg’s story reveals a hidden (almost mythical) World that has since passed. The eighties were the first big hurrah for neo-liberal post Keynsian economics I guess, and as such they only had to trumpet the mainstream of yuppy idealism to watch the pennies role in. It was later, in the nineties, when companies realsied that ‘cool’ sold. So today we have a situation where seemingly all culture is just kindling for the cool hunters fire; where if you have the money and the time you can buy anything off ebay; where people chatter away about transgressing boundaries, difficult music and political dissent, critical theory and identity politics – but when all they’re really talking about is themself. They don’t actually care about Vorticism or Post-Structualism, they probably don’t even understand it – it’s just another prop in a boring game.
I’m wary of harking back to some golden-era (it’s too reactionary and simple – also this could all just be the effect of legislated nostalgia) but there is something to be said for a time when people weren’t so insincere. When, for good or ill, everything didn’t just appear on a tick-list of must-haves, before you sold-out, got a job in sales, moved to the country and played house.
Whatever happened to Lung Leg, and I expect she probably is living somewhere dressing like a Witch, in my mind she’s come to represent a kind of integrity that, nowadays is just a paisley grey ego hoping to look like a fashion spread in Dazed and Confused – with plenty of cash stuffed in the back pocket.
…And she was pretty ‘cool’ in Fingered too.

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So I Was Thinking…

So I was thinking (dangerous, I know) about ideological dead-ends and how people work themselves into them.

When you’re in your teens you don’t think you’ll ever change, not really, not the way people actually do. And this is something that’s confirmed by your early twenties, where you have more of a concept of time having passed but nothing to suggest that it won’t carry on as it always has done.

The things that don’t change, what are they? Interests, curiosity, mischief, what we expect of ourselves and other people – definitely our tolerance.

Then suddenly something happens. A cultural anxiety sets in. Maybe it’s when you finish uni (or full-time education generally). You come out with all these great ideas, your head full of the ideas of histories accumulated thinkers and a confidence in your own abilities. Then you run smack-bang into the indifference of the market. Because consumerism doesn’t run on nothing it requires souls (the bodies follow).

You can just about sustain an adolescent identity in call centre or shop (for a while anyway) but the combined effects of low wages (leaving you living a pinched little existence) and dehumanisation (making you feel cranky most days, and a bit mad) will fuck you up eventually. Even if you have a good external life.

So you try for something better, a job that’s going to make you happy, that’s creative, that’s beneficial to you and maybe even good for society (or so you hope/think/feel). But of course jobs like this aren’t easy to coming by; everyone wants to have a work life they enjoy, that’s filled with value. Capitalism of course isn’t about anything of these things so the few jobs like this that are available are hard to get, thus candidates fight over them to such an extent that they are open mainly to the lowest common denominator applicants. Social relations and approaches to the job become formalised in ridiculous minutiae, like how a CV looks and how someone performs in a completely arbitrary interview, with any possible attempts at radicalism formalised and co-opted through hr and marketing speak (i.e. think outside the box).

So you have to change yourself to do well and get a job you want. It requires sacrifices. Little by little you jettison those elements of identity that are going to hold you back. At first it’s only the bits you think you can do without, but gradually you sacrifice more and more till you wonder why you started this quest in the first place as you’ve sacrificed all autonomy and now your just some commuter with a sensible (yet expensive) haircut wearing shirt and tie.

Then rather ironically when you reach a certain level of income, having sacrificed your whole life for it, you can buy back a bastardised and re-packaged version of culture you were once an active participant in at a vastly inflated price. Hooray for the market!

Of course, you can fuck it all to begin with and give up on any lofty ideals, shedding your politics like a snake sheds it’s skin and go straight for the money. Somehow though I get the feeling that one day you’ll wake up wondering just what the hell your life is about, wondering what you’ve done and achieved. Depressed and desperate because when you had he chance to work who you were and what you could do, when you had the chance t do something fulfilling and useful you copped out. You blew it!

At this point (unless you’re religious in which case you’re sorted for life) people generally start popping out the sprogs. Because having kids is a way of saying: “I give up, I surrender”. Parents don’t need a life; they have children to live it for them. Thus any meaning they’re after is deferred.

Being queer of course you don’t have the same option and are forced to confront your life to look it in the face (Unless you want to be assimilated into pink pound culture of course.) Of course in many ways this can be a burden, you don’t have the same methods of escape as those in the straight world, but in other ways it is beneficial. And after all the narrowly defined identity politics I’m rambling on about here – even if you are the most hardcore straightedger, are at the end of the day simply products of the culture industry, they’re all parts of the spectacle…

Here I shall stop as I’ve quite lost the point about what I was going on about…