Not to be confused with subculture (which is more about in-group identification), counterculture is a political position that rejects established social, cultural, and economic norms in an attempt to unsettle hegemonic forces. It is most closely associated with the late-1960s West (Mai ’68, Woodstock, etc) and is generally seen, today, as a cringe romantic construct. Notably, big tech (which holds the keys to today’s hegemony) can be traced back to the counter-cultural Whole Earth Catalog scene.
Carly Busta: Yeah, I was doing research for this other text I've been writing. And was listening to old interviews with Boyd Rice, old interviews with G.G. Allin and reading the Sylvere Lotringer book on David Wojnarowicz—like just reading what people were thinking who were like doing Cinema of Transgression, and other people who are like, on the more performative edge of hardcore. And like, their whole program was to just rail against this self-responsibilization of padded helmets, and like, you know, allergy attacks. I mean, and when you look at this stuff, I mean, it's so vile, you have David Wojnarowicz talking about turning tricks at age eight, going into the city by himself. And interestingly, not telling the story of pain, which obviously, there must have been one there. But being one of wonder, he's like, “it was crazy. But I have to say, like, I was scared sometimes…”
Daniel Keller: Are we going to literally talk about child trafficking every single episode of this podcast? I feel like there's probably at least 25% of the podcasts we mention it.
CB: We don't have to use that example. But I guess it's just saying that, like, I can use another example. I mean, you have G.G. Allin. He gets signed to his label in like ’87, or ’88, or whatever, and they throw a launch party for him. And he's performing. And the first thing he does, he pisses on the label owner. And I mean, just that form of engagement. That's literal counterculture. That's like using culture against itself in the most intense way.
LIL INTERNET: What about the [Viennese] actionists?
DK: What about Jackson Pollock peeing in Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace?
CB: Oh, that sounds funny. But he was probably just drunk. But yeah, exactly. I mean, that idea of using culture against itself, this used to be this, like, I mean, now I sound like I'm putting a vitrine over this practice, but like, there used to be a part of culture, some tantric part of culture where you could use culture against itself. And I know we're making a Gen X argument again, but there was like, a part of the human experience that I think we do… I mean, I guess I'm making an old argument that we make all the time. But it is, it is just like in defense of sharp scissors. You know, like, yeah, I guess my question is, where does that exist in culture now? Like, where is it? Is it in 6ix9ine’s domestic battery?
DK: No, that’s not counterculture.
CB: Right, it isn’t. But it also is this expression within culture, the desublimation of sharp scissors like where do you think it exists right now?
DK: I just think like, the closest thing to counterculture is Q. And unfortunately, it's somehow been rewired to be... Like, I mean, think about any other time in history, like paranoid schizophrenic people, they were... at least you could count on them being like anti-government. And now it's just like, now they're just not, I mean, now they have some weird schizophrenic break about something happening about imagining that they're being trafficked, or something like that. And they'll be tagging Pompeo in their tweets. I mean, that's a crazy turn. Yeah, I think that's really interesting.