The French cinema critic Andre Bazin said that when reviewing a film one must ask whether it was “made for the cinema or the audience”. I think this is an excellent statement of the punk view of music. Is it made for the cash, or because the artist/band is “honoring the music” as Kristin Hersh has said. It is also why so many punks seem to have turned to Buddhism and other ‘alternative lifestyles’, such as organic farming and homesteading. One of my favorite new Facebook pages is ‘Punk Rock Homesteading’. Life is about authenticity, which really has become some a cliche. If not that, then what?
Maybe honesty is a better word. Believing that we are in it together, all together, and living in such a way that improves everyone’s lives without regard to reward. Or at least doesn’t make them worse. It seems strange that such a thing would be an alternative movement, but such is the nature of things these days.
What brought this thought on was a letter posted on the “Letters of Note” blog written by Sinclair Lewis. He was turning down the Pulitzer Prize, and explained to the committee why. The letter is linked above. One of my favorite quotes:
“All prizes, like all titles, are dangerous. The seekers for prizes tend to labor not for inherent excellence but for alien rewards: they tend to write this, or timorously to avoid writing that, in order to tickle the prejudices of a haphazard committee.”
I think that is an excellent statement of the punk ethic in regards to music. I think it can also be applied to life. Don’t live like you need the praise of others. Live the best way you can; do what makes you happy, not others. Live honestly.
Speaking of Kristin Hersh (which seems to be inevitable to me), I wanted to share her latest blog post as well. Amazing writing.
Also; Cat and Girl seems apropos.