Chaos Magick and Punk Rock

Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 10:48:50 -0700 (PDT)
From: Joseph Maxx.555
cc: AutonomatriX e-list
Subject: Re: chaos wicca (was i saw your add in...)

On Tue, 11 May 1999, Lauranz Again wrote: > HineNuit wrote, "Of course, as those of us who have been chaotes for > many years can attest, the whole meaning of chaos magick has been > completely lost in the last couple of years." > > Hello, Hine...would you be willing to expand upon this? It's only been a > little more than two years ago (I don't think it's been three years, > jeez, so much has happened in two years) that I discovered Chaos Magick. > And my contact with chaotes has been through these e-mail lists, rather > than in the physical world here in Bumpkins County. > > Would you be willing to talk about what has changed and what has been > lost? I'll take a swing at that...

Hine is correct, to a point. In one sense, Chaos Magic has suffered the same fate as "witchcraft" and "satanism" has in the last few years: the arrival of the "bumpkins" from the suburbs (present company excluded, ofcourse) much to the chagrin of the "old hands" who have been at it for awhile.

Here's an analogy I like: Back when I was in the nascent punk-rock scene (like around 1976-78) it was a cutting-edge underground genre completely shunned by the mainstream -- in fact, it was UNKNOWN by the mainstream. And punk had a lot of similarities to chaos magic; it could be said it was the "chaos magic" of rock music. It was visceral, dark and forbidding; it dealt with people and concepts on the edge of modern culture; it deconstructed the paradigm of rock music and in the process found itself closer to the genre's actual roots; it was persued by rugged, individualistic do-it-yourself-ers; it held the "mainstream" in clear contempt; it allowed for a incredible range of personal expression, from the Sex Pistols to Devo. And it was INEVITABLE, given the state of the"art" and the cultural milleau of the times.

Then our postmodern culture began to assimilate what seemed to be un-assimilatable. Punk rock became "chic" and the culture vultures arrived to feast on its body. The "kids from the suburbs" started showing up at the shows that used to be the exclusive playground of the "real punks". Safety-pinned clothes on the rack at Macy's. Calvin Klein heroin-chic magazine ads. Spikey hairdos at Vidal Sassoon's. PUNK ROCK HALLMARK GREETING CARDS!

All this, of course, has the effect of driving the originators of the"genre" out of the loop, and led to the expected announcements that the"movement is dead" and so forth. The rise and "fall" of Chaos Magic has followed a similar pattern. At first it was undefinable. Me and my fellow punk rockers used to ride the buses in San Francisco back around 1977 withour black leather, safety pins and purple hair, and people looked at uslike we were from another planet. They didn't call us "punks" because they didn't know WHAT to call us. If anyone tried to ask us to "explain" whatwe were doing we would laugh -- either you just "got it" or you would NEVER get it. We were utterly alien to their cultural paradigm -- true antinomianism. Then people came along who felt it had to be qualified and quantified. Books were published "explaining" punk to non-punks. We saw "punk politics" and "punk philosophy" arise. Major record companies signed the most popular bands and they were assimlated into the mainstream. The clubs were overrun by posers and "weekend punks".

Now it's happened to Chaos Magic. Even sheer iconclasts like we AXions have a working group that meets at an OTO LODGE fercrissake! (Talk aboutgetting signed to a major label...) Ten years ago the OTO considered usthe most disgusting of heretics, now we're teaching THEM how to rediscover what they lost long ago. We've now entered the "post-punk" period of Chaos Magic, with youngsters like yourself representing the Nirvanas and Pearl Jams of the latter times.

So in that sense, "chaos is dead" -- but it's not, not really. We will never recapture the halcyon days of yore, but that does not invalidate itas a culture. As long as anyone can pick up a guitar (wand), put together a band (working group), write their own songs (rituals), make music (magic) their own way and not give a fuck if anyone else thinks it's "valid", the spirit that was punk (chaos) will never die.

I've said it before, and I'll say it agin: it's the ATTITUDE thatmatters.

- J:.M:.555 ---------------------------------------------------------- Blow up the Earth??? Man, I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff! -- The Tick ----------------------------------------------------------