Culture Club 2
Once upon a time there was a young man who dreamed of becoming a rock star. He learned to play the guitar, pulled on a pair of shiny pants, had a hit record, and suddenly his wish had come true. For a couple of years he had a great time, having sex, doing drugs, throwing TVs into swimming pools. Then one night after a party he passed out on the floor, choked on his own vomit and died. This is the end of the story, so we all clap and cheer and punch the air. Why?
Some say it started at a Rites of Spring show in the eighties, others trace its roots back to Weezer’s Pinkerton or Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. But Emo as we know it actually began when a teenage J.W. Von Goethe broke up with his girlfriend in 1774. Young Goethe combed his fringe down over his eyes and went for a walk in the forest in the middle of a thunderstorm. “You’ll catch a cold!” warned his mum. “You’ve NEVER understood me!” he replied.
High School. A brutal, unforgiving world where only those capable of swift, spontaneous action have a hope of surviving – let alone getting picked for the football team or getting a date for the formal. What hope does a bespectacled, socially awkward, Dungeons and Dragons loving dweeb have here? Fortunately for our geeky friend – there is another world, a world far away from this high-school-hell; a world… underground.
”There’s a thousand you’s, there’s only one of me”, declared Kanye West in 2008. This is what the philosophers call extreme subjectivity, and it can lead to a profound feeling of alienation from other human beings – or to the belief that you are Jesus Christ – depending on how much Kristal you’ve had to drink.
Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ is an instantly recognisable symbol of France in revolt, and one of the greatest paintings of the 19th century. Or at least, it was – until Chris Martin from Coldplay snuck a can of spray-paint into the Louvre and wrote ‘Viva La Vida’ all over it.
If you really want to come to grips with modern philosophy, there’s two ways to go about it. You could take a year off from your life and read the collected works of Hegel, Kant, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Sartre and Heidegger. Or you could do what I did and spend and afternoon listening to Depeche Mode’s Greatest Hits.
Goths. In the last days of the Roman Empire they were Barabrians from the East who sacked the city and stole all your stuff. Today, they’re the spooky kids at the bus stop covered in pancake and mascara and Marilyn Manson merch. What does the one have to do with the other? Follow your neighbourhood goths on one of their frequent architectural pilgramages to the crumbling neo-gothic cemetary down the road, and the answer is within your grasp…
Read more about Nick Cave and the Gothic imagination in this excerpt from Hey! Nietzsche!, published by Mess and Noise.
The Chemical Bothers’ The Salmon Dance is a dance craze record presented by MC Fatlip and a fish named Sammy. The fact that the salmon gets a turn on the mic is something fairly new in the world of verse, but the idea of poets talking to animals is not.