Richey Edwards and the Punk Ethic

Dalrymple has a new post at the Social Affairs Unit inspired by recent news involving a former punk rocker.

The punk ethic, as far as I can tell from my brief researches, consists of the following: an utterly conformist non-conformity and an insensate individualism without individuality, allied to brutal and deliberate bad taste – ugliness, be thou my beauty. Commitment to non-conformity is, of course, a conformity of its own; and bad taste requires no discipline, or hardly any, to achieve. To be accused of lack of commitment to these “values” therefore seems to me to be a compliment rather than the reverse, and not something to feel insulted by.

Read the post here

5 thoughts on “Richey Edwards and the Punk Ethic

  1. Augustine

    Brilliant, and so very true. We’ve seen it a thousand times. The “individuals” among today’s countless herds of “individuals” can often be identified by the presence of a brand – a tattoo. On this, google for TD’s great book review/essay called “Exposing Shallowness.”

    By the way, if anyone knows where the allusion (“ugliness, be thou my beauty”) is adapted from, please point it out. I’m betting Shakespeare.

  2. Steve

    I found the following in Dalrymple’s 1998 essay Trash, Violence, and Versace: But Is It Art?:

    The artists of “Sensation,” however, have not so much expressed an interest in punk and grunge as surrendered to them. With Milton’s Satan, they have exclaimed, “Evil, be thou my good”; and they have added, “Ugliness, be thou my beauty.”

    Paradise Lost
    By John Milton
    Book IV
    Lines 108-113:

    So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;
    Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;
    Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least
    Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold,
    By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
    As Man ere long, and this new world, shall know.

    Link here

    I believe this is when Satan is on his way to Eden to tempt Adam and Eve and, after expressing self-doubt, “confirms himself in evil”.

    For the record, I would have guessed Shakespeare, too.


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