I’ve talked about punk off and on throughout MFR’s existence, and probably for longer, and this quote from an old (90s vintage?) Steve Jobs interview I saw as part of a recent PBS documentary seemed to crystallize something about punk that I hadn’t found words for yet.
Everything around you – that you call life – was made up by people no smarter than you. -Steve Jobs
He goes on to talk about how, once he made this realization, everything changed; he was freed to re-make life more to his liking, and was unshackled from the expectations of college –> job –> family –> house –> retirement.
I instantly heard through a DIY filter; if the people who made up life are no smarter than I am, then the life I make up for myself is as valid as theirs. And this, to me, is punk writ large. The music I make for myself is as valid as what’s on the radio.
It also shows why I’ve experienced punk as an affirming and constructive philosophy, instead of the destructive or even nihilistic stereotype it sometimes is given. Yes, there is a surface-level negation or destruction of the dominant culture as dominant or exclusive, but it’s rooted in the affirmation of the culture we make for ourselves. Punk’s critique of dominant culture isn’t necessarily annihilation of dominant culture; it just knocks it off its pedestal, down to where we can work it over and choose what bits we can use. Plus, the critique is launched from the ground we stand on, validating it against what we are critiquing.
The quote is a nice shot of energy as I try to be bold and brave in making up my life. -h