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1 PUNK ROCK PUJA: (MIS)APPROPRIATION, (RE)INTERPRET ATION, AND DISSE MINATION OF HINDU RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS IN THE NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN UNDERGROUND MUSIC SCENE(S) By JAMES ANDREW JIMI WILSON A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008
2 2008 James Andrew Wilson
3 To Lynn, my Sustenance and my Muse. And, in the words of Jim Carroll, to the people who died: Carroll Ray Wilson, Carma Leah Isbelle Currie, Steven Donny the Punk Donaldson, Donald Big Don Hawley. The world is a little smalle r and colder without you.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For their love and encouragem ent, I wish to thank my wife, Lynn Paluga; my parents, Colonel (U.S. Army-Retired) Carroll Ray Wilson and Patricia Allen Wilson; my stepmother Emma Jean Wilson; my siblings, Lieutenant Colonel (U.S. Army-Retir ed) Thomas Christian Wilson, Cary Allen Wilson, and Jeanne Elizabet h Wilson Dees. I also wish to thank my esteemed committee (Vasudha Narayanan, Milagros Pena, and A. Whitney Sanford); the many other mentors and colleagues who have aided and/ or encouraged my researchincluding but not limited to Steven W. Ramey, Michael J. Gresse tt, Sarah M. Pike, Manuel A. Vsquez, Anita Anantharam, Travis Smith, Jason Neelis, Gwynn Kessler, Anna Peterson, Mario Poceski, Luke Johnston, Chungwhan Sung, Carly Dwyer, Phillip Green, the wonderful scholars and RISA-L, and all of my former instructors at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. I also wish to acknowledge the important role that the many frie nds that I have made in the underground music scene, and with whom I have shar ed much of my life, has played in shaping me into the person and scholar I am todayespecially Tim Mars hall, Crystal Zurat-Marshall, Donny the Punk, Ingrid Inki Snyder-Nordby, Samb Hicks, and a ll of my friends from the North Carolina underground. I also wish to thank my military comradesthose with whom I served in the United States Armyand particularly David Rhiel. Finally, I wish to thank all of the informants who participated in my research. Aum Namah Sivayah!
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... ...............7 CHAP TER 1 INTRODUCTION: RELIGION, (POS T-)SUBCULT URE, AND MUSIC ............................. 9Crossings ................................................................................................................... .............9In Defense of Social Facts ...................................................................................................16Using the Family Resemblance Model of Ludwig Wittgenstein ......................................... 21(Post-)Subcultures, Cults, and Resistance ..............................................................................23Establishing a Genealogy of the Punk and Post-Punk Movements ........................................26Punks New York Roots .........................................................................................................352 PUNK ROCK HOMO RELIGIOSUS: PUNK/POST-PUNK AND RELI GION .................. 38What Do I Mean by Religion? ............................................................................................. 38Underground Music as Religion ............................................................................................. 38Rock of Ages: The Retur n of Religious Discourse to Punk/ Post-Punk Alternative Music ...................................................................................................................................40The Most Jewish of Rock Movements: Steven Beeber on Judaism and Jewish Cultural Identity in Punk ..................................................................................................... 41Rock for Light: Rastafar ianism and Punk/Post-punk ..........................................................42From Bad Religion to Positive Spirituality: Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity in Punk and Post-Punk Music .......................................................................................................... 44Archaic Revival: New Age, Neo-pagan, Occu lt, Tribal and Parody Religions in PostPunk Genres ........................................................................................................................473 HINDUISM AND PUNK/POST-PUNK: NEGOTIATED IDENTITIES OF UNDE RGROUND MUSIC .................................................................................................... 51Hindu Punk ..........................................................................................................................51Oi! Get Your air Cut!: Skinheads .......................................................................................52N[on]-R[ocking] I[ndian]s: I ndigenous Hindus and South Asian Immigrants in British and American Contexts ....................................................................................................... 53From Hey Ram to Gabba Gabba Hey and Back: Hinduisms Inroad into (Post)subcultures ..........................................................................................................................56Dont Get Me Wrong: Chrissie Hynde, Authentic Pretender .............................................. 58Identity: The Appearance of Formal Hi ndu-Punk Consciousness with X-Ray Spex's Polly Styrene and Lora Logic ............................................................................................. 61The Coming Night: Gothic (Punk) Rock ................................................................................ 64Meat is Murder: Vegetarianism, Veganism, and Animal Rights .........................................66Punks Not Dead!: Hardcore Punk ........................................................................................70
6 Out of Step with the World: The Straightedge Movement .................................................. 71I Still Believe: Yout h Crew Posi-Core .............................................................................. 74Hardcore Devotion: The Birth of Krishnacore .................................................................... 74Late Hindu Conversion of First-Generation Punks ..............................................................79The Return of the Mother: Nina Hagen and the Kriya Yoga of Haidakan Babaji ...............82From Dick to Yoni : Gary Floyd and Devotion to Kali M ..................................................86Indopaganism: Negotiation of Hin du and (Neo-)Pagan Identities .......................................88Being Feminist by Being Hindu .............................................................................................89Invented Identities: Negotiating Gender and Sexual Identity Through Hindu-Punk Hybridity ..................................................................................................................... ........91Loving a Difficult Woman: Punk, Transg ression, and the Dark Mother ...............................93Strange Folk: Hinduism and the Mainstr eam Brit-Pop Alternative of Kula Shaker ........ 95Rave, Techno, and the Asian Underground .......................................................................100The Emergence of the Asian Underground ........................................................................ 102Whose Hinduism? When is Appropriation Mis appropriation? ............................................ 1034 CONCLUSION: REFLECTIONS ON PUNK ROCK PUJA ..............................................106A Breakout Movement? On Hindu-Punk Cultures Long-Term Survival and Dissemination ................................................................................................................. ...106Whose Religion(s), Whose Music, Whose (Sub-)Culture(s)? .............................................. 107Escaping to, or from, Freedom? The Te nsion Between Hindu and Punk Worldviews ....... 108Breakout of Hindu-Punk Negotiated Identities ..................................................................110LIST OF REFERENCES .............................................................................................................112BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................118
7 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts PUNK ROCK PUJA: (MIS)APPROPRIATION, (RE)INTERPRET ATION, AND DISSE MINATION OF HINDU RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS IN THE NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN UNDERGROUND MUSIC SCENE(S) By James Andrew Jimi Wilson December 2008 Chair: Vasudha Narayanan Major: Religion Although there has been a great deal of acad emic analysis of both the punk/alternative subculture(s) and western (re)interpretation of Hindu religious trad itions, to date no major work has delved at length into the intersection of these stra ins of thought and practice save the recent analysis of one element of the Hindu-orie nted punk and post-punk subculture(s), the Krishnacore phenomenon, currently being carried out by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Sarah Pike, at Californi a State University at Chico. The notion of punk and post-punk as (a) revolutionary postmodern social movement(s) supported by Curry Mallott and Milagros Pea, among othersprovides a template for understanding the negotiatory tactics employed by adherents to punk ethos. This thesis, then, will explore one of those tactics the attempt to synthesize oste nsibly Hindu elements and punk identity/iesalong the way illustrating punk/altern ative subcultural modalitiespractical and ideologicalwhich have coalesced in such wa ys as to dovetail with existing, negotiated, or perceived Hindu religious worldviews. In so doing, th is thesis will further support extant theories regarding postmodern approaches to religion via illustration of (re)negotiation of identity via
8 religious tropes, and expose the practices and ideologies of a small but vibrant, religious subculture.
9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: RELIGION, (POST-)SUBCULTURE, AND MUSIC Crossings The t rt ha or crossing, is a common South Asia n religio-cultural concept. Employed with varying degrees of interpretation by all of the major religious traditions that sprang from the Indian subcontinentBuddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduismthis Sanskrit term refers, in its most immediate and materialistic uses, to a river crossing or ford. More broadly, it is used to identify pilgrimage sites that in the South Asia n context are traditionally situated at fords, confluences, or on riverbanks deemed particularly auspicious. But like many Sanskrit words, t rtha is a multivalent term, implying far more than its most utilitarian meanings might convey. As a religious concept, it also signals a larger metaphysical and/or metaphorical reality, a place and/or time wher e and when the physical realm comes closest to meeting with the spiritual realm. This hierophany is manife st at the point where the banks of the profane, or at least the mundane world, come closest to the banks of the holy, sacred, orsome pilgrims would saythe trans cendent or actual world beyond the illusory, everyday world. Regardless of the manner in wh ich these claims are expressed, a critical component of the t rtha is the presence of rivers or other aquatic formationsthat is, water sustainer of both spiritual and material life; fl uid and yielding yet, given enough time, able to overcome all resistance. I speak of the concept of t rtha because I believe it is an especially appropriate metaphor for the task at hand. In this thes is I will be investigating a type of crossing, a meeting of the worldlyand often aggressively Marxian materialistpunk and post-pu nk alternative music subculture(s) with Hindu religious and spiritual elements. In spite of their many differences, the individuals I investigate herein are often engaged in their own journeyspilgrimages of sorts
10 in search of meaning, self-discovery, or simply because it feels right. Like the pilgrims of South Asia, their philosophies a nd their approaches vary widel y, but those who seek to bring these two worldsworlds that seem to many outsi ders and insiders alike, radically opposeddo so where their banks come closest, negotia ting their religious and subcultural identities carefully, consciously, fluidly as if they are, themselves, the t rtha which brings together these two worlds. As noted previously, in this thesis I will explore some of the ways in which Hinduism and Hindu concepts have been appropriated1 and/or expressed in punk and post-punk underground subculture(s). It is in a way, an examination of t rthascrossings between cultures and identities, crossings between the erstwhile prof ane world of punk rock and some of its myriad spin-off subcultures with the sacred world of the family of religions and practices we generally call Hinduism. As odd a pairing as punk and Hinduism may se em, their relationship is one that is growing, and its growth seems to me to be consistent with a patte rns of growth in a number of other previously inv isible underground phenom ena I had observed over the years that eventually broke out, so to speak, and became fairly widespread in popular culture. Study of these phenomena of course requires an understanding of both the religious and the music subculture elements. A more comple te dissertation on the genealogy of punk and postpunk music and subcultures appears later in this chapter, but br iefly, I would like to provide some working definitions of the terms punk, post-punk, and alternative as I use them in relation to the music forms and subcultures being described. By punk I mean the music and 1 Note that I use the terms appropriated and appropriation ambivalently. Not only am I aware that all appropriation of elements of other cultures is open to criticismespecially in a postcolonial contextbut I will more fully explore the issue later in this thesis. Although I will dispense with the parenthetical mis- before these terms, please note that all of these appropriations are potential misappropriations.
11 (sub)culture spawned by the various mid-1970s ba nds and their fan bases which rejected the progressive rock (or prog rock), Top 40 pop, a nd (especially) soft rock dominant at the time. Disco would later be added to this list. (Later I will discuss why, although this is certainly an aesthetic choice, there are some deeper soci o-political reasons for this move.) The punk revolution peaked in 1976-1979, but its associated (post)subcultures(s) has/have continued to this day. It is difficult to define punk using one clea r paradigm, but in general it developed from a philosophy that emphasized spectacle in a Debordian2 sense, but also emphasizedin stark contrast to the craft appro ach (and many punks would argue pret ension) of progressive rock energy and enthusiasm over talent, a do-it-yourself (DIY ) ethic. Punk is often hard, fast music but the music and the subcultures should not be confused with th at of prog rocks progeny, heavy metal. Post-punk includes any number of musical forms that have descended in one way or another from the original punk revo lution. Its most direct descenda nt is generally recognized as hardcore (punk), a more aggressive form of th e music with a strong cultish fan base. The term new wave has sometimes been applied (often retroflexively) to early post-punk music or punk bands which werent as hard and/or whose musi c relied more on electronic instruments, but ultimately these bandsmany of whom were undeserving of their peers derisionwere rejected as sellouts by more orthodox punk fans Indeed, many new wave bands did get radio airplay at a time when punk bands rarely could. As a result of the desire to be more experimental but still keep a distance between themselves a nd the oft-maligned label new wave, some artists 2See: Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Zone Books, 1995.
12 adopted the moniker no wave; however the term was even mo re ambiguous and short-lived than its predecessor. Although they are often clearl y performed by those who part ook of the punk revolutions aesthetics and ethics, the decisi ons of the various bands and th eir fans to explore different musical avenues often resulted in musical variants that (re-)inc orporated aesthetics other musical forms, and which resulted in forms which were no longer recognizable as typically punk. Some of these forms even fraternized with the en emy, so to speak, incor porating elements of progressive rock and disco. Especi ally in post-punk variations labe led alternative, these forms are not even necessarily rock or pop.3 Post-punk bands, then, run the gamut, but the predominant gene they have inherited from punk is its DIY attitude. Forms of post-punk include, but are not limited to gothic, industrial, grunge, and various forms of music which pre-dated the punk revolution but which were incorporated into, and transformed, by the punk movement including ska, mod rock and No rthern soul, and rockabilly. As noted, alternative is a term that often l eaves the rock family completely. As a term it may simply mean music other than typical Top 40 popthat is, a musical alternative to standard pop farebut the term is problematic when one considers that much of the music topping the pop music charts is deemed alternative. 3 This trend was well illustrated in a satirical skit by the Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall during the first season of their eponymously-titled HBO show. A high school teacher, Mr. Gor gonchuck [Dave Foley] confronts his student Bobbys [Bruce McCulloch] mistaken assumption that You and I are mortal, but rock and roll will never die! Mr. Gorgonchuck : Let's see if I can't put this into terms you'll understand. Say you had 12 beers. Bobby : Oh, okay all right! Mr. Gorgonchuck : All right! Now let's say that four of those beers represent the Pogues, another six represent the Gypsy Kings, and one beer is shared by The Chieftains and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Bobby: Hold itthat only leaves one beer. I'll never get drunk on one beer! Mr. Gorgonchuck : Exactly Bob. But learn to nurse that beer and before you know it, you'll be loving jazz! Bobby : Jazz!? Never!! Mr. Gorgonchuck : Tests don't lie Bob. Bobby : How long...has rock got? Mr. Gorgonchuck : According to a computer model, three years. About the time you'll be graduating. Bobby : Then I'll live each day like my rockin' last! Mr. Gorgonchuck : Whereas I will look forward to the dominance of jazz! Bobby : Then you, sir, are my nemesis!
13 As a matter of full disclosure and to explain my interest in the subject: I grew up listening to punk, hardcore, and various other underground musi c forms, and I identified myself, first as a punk from the early 1980s-1988, and then later as a non-racist unity skinhead 1988-onward. My interest in Hinduism developed in large part because of my exposure to appropriated Hindu identities and Hindu cultural markers within the underground music sceneprimarily, but not limited to, the Hare Krishna movement. My fi rst exposure to the hybrid punk-Hindu identity occurred when I was a freshman at Appalachia n State University in 1986. On speculation I purchased the album Age of Quarrel by New York Citys Cro-Mags, one of a few up-andcoming hardcore punk bands whose crossover s ounds blended heavy metal-style guitar riffs with punk sensibilities and lyri cs inspired by the bands centr al members Hare Krishna devotional beliefs. They were the first of what would later become known as Krishnacore bands. (I will discuss the Cro-Mags and Krishnaco re in greater detail in the third chapter.) Later, through an advertisement for pen pals that Id placed in a punk-interest magazine (or zine) I met the legendary New York sceneste r, Stephen Donaldson (n ee Robert Martin, Jr.), better known through his nom de plume Donny the Punk. A South India-trained V ra aiva p jari and part-time instructor of Sans krit who wrote for literally hundr eds of zines in his lifetime, Donny was the first to expose me to some of th e more substantial and intricate thinking of Hinduism and other eastern religious traditions and, especially, aivism. (I will also discuss Donaldsons case in the next chapter.) This thesis is meant, first and foremost, to be a work of (primarily qualitative) religious ethnography with an emphasis on a humanities-orie nted breakdown of sociological theories of religiosity. The purpose of this re search is to track uses of Hindu religious traditionseither appropriation of elements or wholesale adoption of Hindu identitywithin punk and post-punk
14 subculture(s). I will examine ways in which thes e elements/identities are idealized, incorporated, and lived among western subcultural actors and/or fans of alternative forms of music. In the conclusion of this thesis I will propose a theory of the origins and likely gr owing influence of the punk and post-punk musical undergr ound as a source of susten ance for Hindu-oriented and other New Religious Movements, as well a source of inspiration for other diverse religious permutations, in ostensibly secular liberal democracies. Subjects of research include high-profile figures in the world of alternative music such as members of well-known punk and post-punk bands but in keeping with the ethnographic cant, more anonymously representativea nd therefore potentially more statistically characteristic punk and post-punk subculture adherents will also be interviewed or otherwise discussed. My theoretical basis is grounded the basic prem ises of modern and/or analytic social theorists, such as Karl Marx, mile Durkheim, a nd Max Weber, as they relate to both religion and more ostensibly secular social phenomena. However, I will still question some of these theorists ideas and augment their claims with elements of postmodern and/or continental theoryrelying on, in particular, Mi chel de Certeaus strategy-tactic dialectic, Pierre Bourdieus concept of habitus, Michele Foucaults understandings of power relationships, and Jean Beaudrillards notion of simulation/simulacra. Finally, I will also consider th e (post)subculture st udies theories that found their genesis in Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, and which were fo rmalized by sociologists associated with the Birmingham, UK, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies such as Dick Hebdige; and critiqued and reformulated under the auspices of post-subculture theory via postmodern sociologists such as the self-professed neo-Web erian, David Muggleton. To wit, although I will still label groups of people dedicated to particul ar practices, beliefs, and aesthetics (style) who
15 tend to associate with one anothe r to resist dominant social para digms to a considerable degree as subcultures, it woul d be a mistake to believe that th is thesis rests on a wholehearted acceptance of the modernist subcultural studies approach. Since this is a work on appropriation of elemen ts from religious trad itions of subalterns by a predominantly affluent, white population, I will also consider cultural and ethnic issues, in light of postcolonial theory, via a variety of theo rists. I will also cons ider elements of New Religious Movement (NRM) theory that I will augment, again, w ith postmodern powerautonomy discourses. I will also take into consid eration the strong influence the growth of New Age/(neo-)paganism has exerted upon punk and pos t-punk subcultural habitus. Finally, I will consider the considerable roles women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gendered, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals play in Hinduism, punk and post-punk subculture(s), and hybrid Hindupunk identities. Throughout this work I will refer to a process I refer to as negotiation, a term which is meant to imply a level of autonomy on the part of social actors in the face of pressures to conform to social norms includi ng those of their subc ultural peers. This resistance is best explained as a tactical reacti on to strategic circumstancesand on this point I appeal to de Certeaus understandings of the tactic-strategy dialectic Although the idea of negotiation represents an endorsement of the (neo-)Weber ian model which emphasizes autonomy, however broad or limited that autonomy might be, it should be underst ood that the Durkheimian concept of social facts is also tacit, in direct conflict with the critic ism of Weber and his neo-Weberian progeny against the Durkheimian social mode la challenge which I will explain shortly. Although I do take seriously many of the neo-We berian chargesparticul arly those of David
16 Muggletonagainst the Durkheimian model, I believe rejection of the concept of social facts is unwarranted. In Defense of Social Facts Weber and others were perhaps correct to po int out that Durkheim never fully substantiated his idea of social facts even though they were a cruc ial element of his social theory. Yet since the 1970s we have been able to be tter account for the pressures Durkheim labeled under the auspices of social facts in at least two ways. One way they can be demonstrated empirically is through habitus a concept that Bourdieu demons trated in his landmark study of French tastes, Distinction (Bourdieu, 2006), and which I will further explain in subsequent chapters of this thesis. Yet another way that we might account for so cial facts is through meme theory, first proposed by the neo-Darwinian evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene (192), and later expanded upon by ps ychologist Susan Blackmore in The Meme Machine, published in 1999. The meme theory, in esse nce, maintains that social pressure is exerted by dominant mnemonic systemsparticularly ideas or sets of id easthat are propagated particularly well by humans and which are often evolutionarily advantageous. They are passed down analogously to genes and, like genes, can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending upon circumstances/environment. Humans are loathe to abandon cherished memes, however, and may often maintain faith in a meme ev en when that meme appears to be ill-adapted to current circumstances as is illustrated, for ex ample, by the failure of Nordic immigrants to Iceland to abandon their traditional agrarian me thods for methods employed by natives that had demonstrably superior survival valu e in their new environment. It is the tactic-strategy elements, however, th at are of greatest interest to me here, however, especially since they ar e critical to an unde rstanding of the dynamics of punk social
17 discoursethe ongoing attempts to tactical ly wrest a living space from strategic circumstancesand the ways in which older, ov ersimplified rational choice theoretical models of religion and other social con cerns might best be modified to explain choices made against a social facts-laden milieu. More to the point, borrowing from the thinking of both Foucault and de Certeau: when overt choices do not work due to the social costs of challenging the strategic panopticon, there are always tactic al blind spots which one can (c overtly) exploit. These choices are made incrementally, and when successful tactics are discovered they may become incorporated into strategic plansthat is, they may become social facts. As noted, I will be relying to a large extent upon to the theories and analytic tools pioneered by the Centre for Contemporary Cult ural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham (U.K.)known colloquia lly as the Birmingham Schooland modified to account for a post-modern accounting of some subcul tural phenomena which orthodox CCCS views may have overlooked. CCCS theories ar e largely Marxian, although the sociological perspectives of Emile Durkheim and Claude Levi-Strauss, amon g others, have also played pivotal roles. However, I will counter-balance CCCS theoretical perspectives with the neo-Weberian social science approach of David Muggleton, which emphasizes, as he puts it, the need for sociological explanations to r ecognize the subjective goals, valu es, and motivations of social actors (Muggleton, 2000: 5). In attempting to accomplish this mission, then, I will attempt to draw together two areas of interest to social scien tistsstudy of religion and cultura l studies. Let me be clear in acknowledging that the academic st udy of religion necessarily entails the study of cultures, but in the sense in which I am consideri ng my subject matter, and in the sense in which cultural studies has been identified with a certa in strain of ethnology, further distinctions have been made
18 between these academic pursuits. To a large extent, I wish to blur these distinctions, but first it is necessary to acknowledge where th e differences lay. In particular I point to that concept of cultural studies most closely iden tified with the CCCS. Each of these domains has its specialists who, although in dialogue with sp ecialists in other disciplines/fields, nonetheless subscribe to theories and methods that often are particular to their own area of study. Thus, in order to proceed responsibly with my project, it becomes n ecessary to reconcile ce rtain aspects of these fields, while acknowledging that other core theories and methods to which the bulk of the respective fields/disciplines may not be bridged. In this thesis I will use the term cult to refer to certain religious groups and subcultural groups. However, these terms are employed in different ways, depending upon context, even within religious studies and sociology discourses, so I must take care to clarify what qualifies as a cult. Common pejorative usage aside, I am partic ularly concerned with cl arity due to the fact that, although both religious studi es and cultural studies are th e progeny of sociology, they tend to employ the term to describe related but different sociological phenomena. Often these disciplines/fields draw from the very same taxonomic sourcessuch as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Rodney Starkefor their understandings of what qualifies as a cult, yet scholars of religion will perhaps view with suspicion ethnologists appropriation of the term in cultural studies. Furthermore, while British use of the term in both academic and non-academic discourse has long since established the use of cult to desc ribe a group of adherent s to various subcultures as acceptable particularly youth cults such as mods, rockers, skinheads, punks, etc.the term has not been as comfortably accommoda ted in its non-pejora tive and non-religious connotations in the United States either popularly or, to a large extent, academically. Thus, in order to avoid potentially equivocal usage, I will attempt to define these terms now, and to not
19 only distinguish what I mean by these usages, bu t also to distinguish when and how they are employed in their different implications. Contemporary scholars of religion will recognize that groups designate d as cults are an integral part of Webers (hie rarchal) taxonomy of religious so cial systemslater augmented by theorists such as Starkewhich are distinguishabl e from church and sect due to their tactical employment of doxa and/or praxis in consistent opposition to the la rger society/ies of which they are a part, or from which they wish to disti nguish themselves. Furtherm ore as in the case of Catholic cults of saintsadherents generally focus on figures to such a degree that their influence/authority may arguably overshadow the figure(s) consid ered central by the church(es) from which cults can be disti nguished. And although these figures may generally be considered marginal to churches and sects, one can read ily identify cultic groups not by their emphasis on these figures alone, but often by adherence to part icular ideological stan ces or by a series of practicesalthough this is often a di stinguishing characteristic of s ects as well. Indeed, it is the case that sociologists identify as cu lt groups that are not only secular, but which are also focused almost exclusively on ideology and practice. Having associated with punk, its underground a nd mainstream forerunners, and its (postpunk) progeny for much of my youth and all of my adult life, and having shared views and cultural hallmarks of those most closely identified with the punk and post-punk rock subculture(s), I have made some of the same observations about the pote ntial problems classic CCCS-style subculture theories present. One of the points upon which these theoristseven post-subcultural theoristsgenera lly agree is the self-defining nature of cults by their own adherents, but the emphasis of Marx and, especia lly Durkheim, is a top-down view that often robs the social actor of autonom y. My etically-derived observations have led me to favor the
20 neo-Weberian perspective somewhat, but this approach does not necessarily equate to a rejection of some of the more salient points of Marx and Durkheim. Let me be clear, however: what I am describing is neither a purely e tic approach, nor is it a purely phenomenological one. Rather, I am attemp ting to bring to bear a more robust theory regarding the autonomy of social actors that moves beyond even deep socio-anthropological methods. This I will attempt to accomplish by c ounter-balancing more conventional approaches with previously emic perspectives viewed through an etic lens. This is precisely the approach that neo-Weberian researchers have generally advocated, and of ten for the selfsame reasons: social actors who have been involved with group sparticularly those which engage in social tacticsoften provide valid testim ony to their activities and mo tivations which are in keeping with responsible, non-phenomenological etic scholarship, but which otherwise might be squelchedintentionally or notby scholars misinterpretation of those factors. Another potential problem with modernist subculture theory is its tendency to reify cults and to fail to take into consid eration individual part icipants perspectives, particularly in a postmodern context. Consequently, not only may the nuances and subtleties of the views and practices of those who are otherw ise self-defined adherents or members actively participating in subcultures be overlooked, but those whose inte rests/activities are more passive, or who seek more hybridized understandings of their use of s ubcultural markers or patronage of various bands and other subculturally-oriented expression s, may be too readily viewed as either purely inside or outside of an esse ntially-defined group. And while it is true that members of many of these subcultural groups do, themselves, enforce these essentialized di stinctions of who is inside or outside of their peer group, it is also true th at in actual practice th ese idealized essences are often less rigid than even their most stalwart s upporters might recognize or want to admit.
21 Thus, the essentialized and modernis t notions of subculture potentially do injustice to the richly hybridized environment of the subcultural m ilieu in which these markers are present. This brings me to my next point about the value of viewing all of the social phenomena from more of a Wittgensteinian family relations hip-based perspective than from an essentialdefinition one. Using the Family Resemblance Model of Ludwig Wittgenstein As noted, essential definitions, while precise, often do injustice to the often porous and contingent boundaries of those things they atte mpt to define. This is especially true where normative human social systems such as religion a nd subcultures are concerned, but it is likewise problematic in cases where attempts are made to bring precision to such fuzzy taxonomic categories as alive, etc. (For ex ample, is a viru s alive or not?) In attempting to understand the differen ces between the family resemblances ( Familienhnlichkeit ) pattern of Ludwig Wittgenstein (31-34 ) further promoted by the likes of George Lakoff in discussions of linguistic logic versus essential definitions, it is helpful to think of the difference between the strike of a single bullet and the scat tering of buckshot in a shotgun blast. In this analogy I will use the taxon religion, but this model applies to subculture as well. Essential definitions are like bullets hitting a target. The bullet strike s and leaves a clear and precise hole. There is little doubt as to what is inside and what is outside that profile. Something either is or isn't within the strike zone. Likewise, using essential definitions, something is, or isn't a religion, or a subculture, period. But the problem is twofold: first, it is assumed that essences exist or, at least, that essences are structured by humans in a consistent, unequivocal manner.
22 Second, essential definitions pr esent problems in their scope Over-definition results from the attempt to make a definition large enough to include all the sy stems we want to call religion. This is like employing an artill ery round against a squirrel: one is likely to vaporize the poor creature and take a lot of its ne ighbors with it. In other words, one might employ a definition that encompasses all religions (the squirrel), but one also encompasses systems (or groups, or individuals) one doesn't want to call religion (the squirrels neighbors), such as philosophies, cultural traditions, and even secular humanism. For example, this is the source of the problem of taking functional equiva lents to religion as de facto religions. On the other hand, under-definition results fr om the attempt to make a more concise definition. This is like shooting an elephant w ith a low-caliber pistol round. The shooterand not the elephantis likely to wind up dead. With these under-definitions one ends up rejecting systems or traditions (the parts of the elephant unaffected by the small gun) that one definitely wants to call religion (the entire elephant, who is now entirely irritated). Family resemblance-based definitions are more like a shotgun's buckshot blast, which spreads tiny lead pellets across the area targeted. The center of the shot profile tends to be concentrated, but as the profile spreads out, the impressions are more diffu se. Clearly, anything in the center is shot or reli gion, or outside and not shot or not religion. Eventually it is clear one has no impressions at allone is no lo nger dealing with the family relationship of shot or, by analogy, religion. But those areas of the profile in between are where one can make fine distinctions, and one can do so by c onsidering the distribution of the pellets. Each pellet-mark can be thought of as representing a specific point we associate with religionssay, supernatural concepts, cosmology/cosmogony, ritual soteriology, cultural markers, etc. Enough of these pellet points together, under certain cond itions, may mark something as a religion. If one
23 critical pellet-mark is missing, one may no longer wish to call something a religion but, perhaps, a philosophy, ritual, a functiona l equivalent of religion, a culture, or what have you. Now let me be clear here: family resembla nce-based definitions still do rely on some essential elements. They have to do so if one is to apply them in any linguistically coherent manner. (And after all, pellets are still like small, finite bullets.) But in the family relationshipbased definition context these elements are used in a different way, in order to increase their punch where the target is religi on while still defining their ove rlap into not religion, but closely related territory. So, one can note that the shotgun blast radiates outward and that candidates for the label religion may fall in various places. They're all related in some way, but not all get the label religion under all circumstances only those toward the taxonomic center get this distinction universally. The family resemblance model works not only to contextually define what is or isn't to be considered a religion, it also helps define relationships among those things one does label religion. Thus, Samaritans may be included in th e family of traditions we call Judaism under some circumstances, but not under othersprobably not under most conditions. But their family relationship is clearly esta blished as being close. (Post-)Subcultures, Cults, and Resistance As previously noted, the term youth cult ha s been routinely applie d by cultural theorists to a number of groups, not least of which are of adherents to punk and its derivative musicallyoriented subcultures. Theorists acknowledge that groups that can be defined as subcultures have existed for millennia, and I generally agree. However, subcultures such as the pre-World War II Swingjugend (Swing Kids) of Berlin and Hamburg asid e, it is also generally acknowledged that the proliferation of musically-oriented youth styles and subcultures are an explicitly post-World
24 War II capitalist phenomenon. These groups, al though often loosely-knit and by no means centrally organized, exist in collusion with, and in opposition to, the dominant socio-economic paradigm. The term subculture came into use as ear ly as 1950 when sociologist David Reisman, author of the watershed The Lonely Crowd4, distinguished certain groups of social actors from mainstream social groups. In Listening to P opular Music, an article he published the same year, Reisman made explicit the role music plays in subcultures tactical approach toward the mainstream. In that article he notes that the (mainstream-oriente d) music industry seems to be able to mold popular taste and to eliminate fr ee choice by consumers. But he also adds, Even in the field of popular music, there is always a minority channel over which less popular tastes get a hearing, eventually perhaps to become majority tastes (Riesman, 1950: 361). This is precisely what has occurred, for example, in the case where alternative bands came to dominate popular Top 40 radio and music video venues. For, although much of what is labeled as alternative music is still relatively obscure a nd resistant to mainstreaming in the classical Certeauian sense, a great deal of alternative mu sic has become the de facto mainstream popular music of today. While it is clear that the term subculture ha s been applied to a much larger demographic range, the postwar context of subculture is primarily one of teenand young adult-oriented groups, as that demographic emerged as a more or less distinct population with what is recognized a definable voice, based upon values such as aesth etic style and philosophy, and which in some way sets them apart from dominant social paradigms. This increased autonomy of both of the groups, and of the individual actors of whom the groups are comprised, hinges upon 4 Riesman, David, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character revised edition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001 ).
25 their increased access to expendabl e capital in the years since th e war. Indeed, the very terms youth and teen are post-war constructs wh ich reflect the unprecedented socio-economic empowerment of the demographic they are mean t to representgenerally adolescents, or minors, and post-adolescent adults in their early twenties.5 Again, however, this demographic is by no means exhaustive in respect to the youth cults and especially in resp ect to subcultures in general. This point is important to bear in mi nd when I turn to the et hnographic element of my research and introduce respondents who actively engage in subculturally-oriented beliefs and practices, and who are well into thei r thirties, forties and fifties. Although there were musically -oriented subcultu res prior to the postwar erafor example the previously mentioned Swing Kidst he age of the youth cults blossomed beginning in the late 1950s and lasted into the postmodern period when the idea of a monolithic mainstream culture with unified subcultural resist ance came to be seen as less and less tenable. Prior to the punk revolution, highprofile cults such as Britains Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, and Skinheads; Jamaicas Rude Boys and (religiously-oriented) Rastafarians; and Americas Beats and Hippies, came of age. Many of these cu lts continue to existsometimes may even be seen to thrivealthough the level to which they ca n still be described in purely subcultural ways may vary depending upon how many of the elemen ts of their cult/movement have been (re)integrated into more or less mainstream culture. This latter pointthe (re-)i ntegration of subcultural elementsphilosophy, styles, musicinto mainstream cu lture is in keeping with Riesmans pr ediction. It is also a reflection of 5 Of course the term youth previously existed, but with different connotations. The adjectival application of the term was common enough prior to the war, but its use as noun to refer to individuals of a specifically (empowered) age group was explicit only following the war. Teenage r and, especially, teen as applied to a specific demographic, were virtually unheard.
26 the classic de Certeau tactic-strategy dynamic6, although it is critical th at one understands that tactics are not the sole purview of some, while strategies the purview of ot hers, but that they are combined and utilized in fluid situations. (Fur thermore, post-subculturalists point out that to propose a pure mainstream-subculture dichotom y is misleading, if not entirely false.) At any rate, acceptance by mainstream audiences is fatal to many subcultures, often robbing the subculture s of their very raison d'tre This is especially tr ue of those subcultures which are the most mainstream-culture resistant, such as is the case of punk, to which I will now draw my readers attention Establishing a Genealogy of the Punk and Post-Punk Movements To clarify, the original punk revoluti on spanned, roughly, the years 1974-1979, as the hippie m ovement ebbed and/or mainstream appropr iation of its myriad values. As the original punk movement waned, it fragmented into a number of post-punk movements and styles, most of which were explicitly musically oriented. The first generation of the post-punk scene was made up mostly of the very same musicians and fans that had been involved w ith the original punk movement. What exactly qualifies as post-punk varies depend ing upon who uses the term, and in what context it is used. For the purposes of this thesis, however, postpunk is defined fairly broadly as all music movements following, and periphera l to, the original punk movement and those that generally conform to the primary punk values which emphas ize a do-it-yourself ethic; accessibility of 6 See: de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life translated by Steven Rendall. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). De Certeaus argument was that tactics are used, particularly by subalterns, against overarching constructed social strategies where those strategies are unable to fully permeate. He wrote, The space of a tactic is the space of the other. Thus it must play on and with a terrain imposed on it and organized by the law of a foreign power (36-7). This accords with both military and social sciences uses of the term, but unlike the military use of the term, social t actics are not meant to overcome and replace strategiesalthough they may eventually do so. Strategists, on the other hand, intentionally incorporate successful tactics in both the military and social sciences uses of the term. It should also be understood that although the tactic-strategy paradigm is particularly appropriate to subaltern contexts, it is applicable to virtually any power-d ifferential dynamic, real or perceived, and it has thusly laid the foundations for punk (and other [post-]subcultural)an applied tactic ethos.
27 musical and lyrical content and styles over hi gh-profile musicianship, obsequious lyrics, and expensive, highly-commoditized styles; egalitariani sm and removal of rock star status; smaller and more intimate performance spaces. Some or all of these elements may be present. Ultimately, purely aesthetic elementsconstructi on of the actual musicalso marks post-punk styles. Although it is misleading to pin the original punk scene to one specific place or time, music historians and social scien tists generally agree that what came to be known as the original punk scene developed in New York City, circa 1974, where musicians and fans found fertile ground in which they could experi ment with, promote, and expor t their artistic, social, and political manifestos. Indeed, the use of the term punk in associ ation with the nascent genre and movement is generally believed to have begun there also, often creditedwith some protestto Punk magazine co-founders Roderick Edward Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom (Heylin, 1993: 242), although it was previously used by Creem magazines Lester Bangs (1970), and Dave Marsh (Shapiro, 2006: 492), andeven earlie r, by Ed Saunders of the New York protopunk band the Fugs. Evidence of the negotiatory as pects intrinsic to punk are palpable in an interview by media historian Clinton Heylin, in which Holmstrom described the genesis and evolution of the term in the early scene: Punk was rock & roll, like [Iggy Pop and] the Stooges and garage-rock. Basically any hard rock & roll. But the term got very narrowly defined. We thought that it was a general term for anything that wa s hard rock & roll. Then it became the Sex Pistols and everybody who sounded lik e the Sex Pistols (Heylin, 1993: 242). Holmstrom highlights the transformation of the music culture that coalesced into the punk cult (and subsequently punkand post-punk subgenres and s ubcultures), and he notes punks morphing definition as its meaning is ne gotiated by those who applied it to different bands, music, and cultural phenomena, to varying degrees of acceptance.
28 There were constituent elements that were central to punk in its inception, however, and they have remained fairly consistentmemetic features which spread and, although mutating, still resembled their myriad forebears, especial ly in terms of practices and their aesthetic underpinnings. Indeed, the very policy of negotiati on is a feature implicit in these permutations, as the notion that ones social status and the status of ones su bcultural peers can and should be open to re-definition by the indivi dual and the subcultu re through the applic ation of tactical means in the face of dominant cultural strategi c paradigms. In other words, punks generally assume that in a quest for personal authenti city and autonomy, identity can and should be negotiated and authority, a codeword for dominant paradigm(s), should be questioned and opposedhence the philosophical emphasis on anarch ism and not Marx (who is often perceived as being too establishment despite the multip le Marxian elements embraced by punk and postpunk music movements). This tactical philosophy, I will later illustrate, has impacted both the decision of some involved in thes e subcultures to look outside dominant western paradigms with their often explicit or implicit Christian assump tions, and the actual proc ess of incorporating traditional religio-cultural elements, in cluding those associat ed with Hinduism. Although many punks do not necessarily recognize them as such, the punk movement and its associated subcultures operate on some basic Marxian assumptions. As Craig OHara correctly pointed out in his manifesto The Philosophy of Punk, most adherents of the various punk ethics identify, to one extent or another, with anarchism and/ or social libertarianism, while few promote the continuation of any form of capitalism or communism (OHara 1999: 71). But the class-related dialogues one enc ounters throughout the punk and hardcore music scenes are Marxian to one extent or another. Furthermore, the Marxian notion of alienation of workers from the commoditized fruits of thei r labor is also central to the genesis and
29 continuation of punk as a movement, and not merely a style or music distinguishable purely in terms of its aesthetic elements. The production and consumption of music subculture-related goods is probably more important to insiders wher e, at the very least, services are concerned. This has been the hallmark of punk and post-punk music and movements as well. Many of the original musicians who formed the nascent punk scene drew from radically different musical influences, but they shared an outsider status alienated from mainst ream music that they generally regarded as tripe, major record labe ls, and most paying venues. Turning to their own resources, these musicians built a following, begi nning, or at least developing most rapidly, in New York City. Their tactical gambit paid off. Many did accept contracts with major record labels, but others, particularly as the movement spread, resisted the Big Six major labels, preferring to control their own means of production. (Thompson, 2004: 23-24). The idea that small is beautiful was also a driving factor, and punks tended to prefer th eir venues small even when large venues were available. Punks usually tend to organize their own gigs and create their own press via zines, negotiating their way through the capitalist maze, particularly as the punk scene, and the scenes it spawned, became more es tablished with cooperative schema and lines of communication. Although one could draw upon any number of strands of Euro-American culture as seminal to the development of punk rock and the punk movement/subculture and its antecedents, the beat, or beatnik, subculture is probably the most logical choice as an early forerunner of many of the strains of thought that coalesced in the ethos of later subcultures, including the yippie, hippie, punk, and many post-punk movements. In choosing this emphasis, in no way do I intend to dismiss earlier precedents, such as the Da da and Situationalist movements, which have
30 been highlighted as influences on punk, most notably by Greil Marcus7, but I wish to emphasize fully-developed subcultures, and not merely movements and, the cases where I do wish to discuss movements, I will emphasize those which are most closely associated with the post-war youth cults or Hinduism when discussing religious precedents, or both. However, the most direct, widespread and specifically AngloAmerican of punk and post-punk movements (and after all, punk developed first in the United States, and then spread to and mutated in the United Kingdom where its more spectacular elements were emphasized) owe much of their existence, practices, and philosophies, to one extent or another, to the post -war Beat movement (which was also a subculture in its own right) and its imme diate successor in the form of the hippie (or hippy) subculture. A number of genealogical an d analogous connections do make it clear that punk subculture developed from the ashes, as it were of these precedents. But more telling is the large number of early punks of the mid-to-late-70 seither self-defined or defined through their proximity to punk subculturewho we re previously involved in th e hippie subculture and who later became disillusioned with th at movement or simply fell away as its popularity waned and punk became the next big thing. Additionally, the lesserknown and spectacle-oriented Yi ppiesmore of a movement and an informal organization than a subculture, per sewere also a strong influence. Their name is derived from the Youth Internati onal Party, the brainchild of Paul Krassner and Anita and Abbie Hoffman. The Yippie movement was conceived to be a more politically radical alternative to the mainstream hippie subculture. I will prorogue disc ussion of the direct li nk between Yippies and punks for the time being, but do I wish to note he re that when one compares the punk movement 7 See: Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces: A Secret Hist ory of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989).
31 in its most politically activist aspects with the Yippie movement, it bears a greater philosophical resemblance to the punk than its beat and hippie forebears. As the punk movement has long been an explicit rejection of hippie values, embrace of the influence of hippies on punks mi ght strike observers as ironic in light of the realization that for many self-defined punks the line never trust a hippie is pract ically a mantra, engendering in the punk ethosso far as one can call any pers pective in the contex t of punk and post-punk singular dogmaa deeply-engrained suspicion of, if not outright hostility toward, the hippie generation and its real or perceived failings. This is not so unusual, however, when one reflects on numerous other encounters of hostile rejectio n of genealogical precedents despite a shared history and a number of values in common, such as the hi storical antagonism between Protestants and Catholics. And indulging in a measure of blatant reification, the more amiable relationship between punk subcultu re and Beat subculture, desp ite open antagonism toward the interim hippie generation is not unreasonably an alogous to the stereotypi cal close relationship between a child and his or her grandparents at the expense of the childs parent. I will later address how actors in the punk and post-punk subculture broach the tab oo of the perceived hippie-like nature of Hinduism, and the hipp ies subcultural embrace of Hinduism and other eastern religious tradi tions, vis--vis emphasis/de-emphasis of the punk paradigm particularly engendered in post-punk subcultures (or alternat ely, according to many neo-Weberian theorists, post-subculture) and/or emphasis of Beat elements still extant in punk subculture. So to clarify, there are two salient points he re. First, a large numb er of individuals who made up what eventually became identified as th e punk subculture were reacting not only against dominant social norms (however they may have s een them as defined and expressed), they were also reacting against other subcul tural normsparticularly those of the hippiesor at least the
32 failure of adherents to precedent subcultures to live up to their own presumed aims and value systems. Second, despite stated rejection of norms of both the dominant mainstream and other counter-cultures/subcultures, even the punk subculture accepted many of its nemesis assumptions including (the) modernist paradigm(s), often revealing itself as a negative reflection of those values. Situated though it was on the cusp of the postmodern era and self-consciously testing many theories held in common with postmodernism(s), punk subculture has nonetheless historically reflected a predominantly modernis t worldview. In its most politically-oriented expressions, this perspective is fundamentally rooted in modernist (and western) notions of political liberalism, but with a radically liberta rian twist. Although much of its central impetus hinges on Marxian or neo-Marxian di alectical interpretations of cla ss, race and gender, as Pea and Malott (2004) observe punks, like their hippie precedents, have executed this pedagogy imperfectly, and this failure is rooted, in pa rt, in punks emphasis on independence of thought and action. Orthodox Marxists in punk are generally rare, howeve r, and the overt emphasis of most actors in the punk and hardcore scenes has b een on anarchism as the so cio-political ideal. Straightforward histories of the 1960s wh ich use a strict 1960-1969 decade-based chronologies as their basis asid e, many historians who have focused on the social history aspects of the era have suggested that alternat e chronological breakdowns might be better suited to explain the post-liberal socio-political and cu ltural shift from the c onsciousness and events of that time. One traditional ch ronology traces this era only as far as 1968, yet some histories the most notable being recent revisions being supplied by Philip Jenkins (2006) and Mark Lytle (2006)have questioned the usefulness of such a tim eline. They argue that the sixties era is better understood if one extends it well into the seventies. Fo r example, Jenkins, author of Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Si xties and the Making of Eighties America, rightly
33 declares that while these distinct ions are fairly arbitrary since h istory is a continuum, if one is to assign such benchmarks it is more useful to mark the end of th e sixties circa 1974-75 because any timeline which omits such critical ev ents as the Woodstock festival of 1969 and the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War, with the Vietnamization of the War occurring 1973-75, is bound to seem incomplete. Furthermore, he notes that the Watergate scandal and other events of the ear lyto mid-seventies are better understood in reference to their extension from the Vietnam war and the sixties, and that the years and events following the Watergate era took on a markedly different tenor, one in which political and social conservativism, pervaded by a growing sense of cynicism, (re-)established their dominance. Jenkins adds, Political rhetoric was permeated by th emes of external threat, national vulnerability, subversion, and internal decadence. These concerns focused on a number of outside enemies, most obvious ly the Soviet Union, but there were countless enemies within. In th e political rhetoric of th e time, these diverse groups personified the morality and outright evil th at had arisen in consequence of the moral and political decadence of recent years. Conditions were bad, it seemed, because sixties values had let them get so bad (11). Adding to the sense of diso rientation and lack of groundi ng many Americans felt was the shock and disappointment of the loss of the long and unpopular war in Indochina. Culturally, then, the post-Vietnam United States (and by proxy North Amer ica in general) underwent a cooling period following the socio-political radi calism, scandals, and stagflation of the midsixties to mid-seventies. While it is clear th at increasing post-World War II liberalization of American society continuedand in many respects the social engi neering s a nd s civil rights radicalism had advocated had only just begun to gain momentuma general attitude which was particularly palpable in the growi ng conservative and neoconservative political movements that took root.
34 Meanwhile, the other major center of punk, Great Britain, had been subject to a long bout of economic recession, and record levels of unemployment and citizens on the dole. Labours approach to Keynsian democratic socialism, it se emed, had failed the British. Added to this mix were race riots involving newly immigrated West Indians and South Asians (to which I will later refer in Chapters 2 and 3). Although thinking of punk as monolithically anti-racist is problematicas Roger Sabin (1999, 120-39), Pea and Mallott (2004, 80-1), and othe rs have illustratedthere was a marked lack of overt patriotism and race consciousne ss among the bulk of those who would later make up Britains burgeoning punk movement other than the case of much of the working-classoriented Oi! punk subgenre popular among skinh eads and some punks. Particularly in the case with punk identity, sympathy for, and identification with, subaltern populations sometimes was markedly strong. Indeed, West Indian immi grant contributionsthrough either bilateral exchange or cultural appropriati onhave contributed much to the music and styles of punk and other British cults, and many i nvolved in these cults were keenly aware of that fact. While beats more explicitly identified with African-Americans in term s of their aesthetic values, including their name, derived from African-Americans sla ng for downtrodden (although also communicating a quasi-rel igious, sanctified tone, as in beatified ) and the hippies drew upon an idea of universal brotherhood, punks, too, tend to identify with those disenfranchised and alienated elements at the social margins, albeit with a less explicitly raciallyframed and more postmodern take on the human condition. Their ideals tend to focus on liberal notions of freedom, although these notions are of ten couched in apocalyptic and/or nihilistic terms.
35 Punks New York Roots Most of the early New York punk scene cen tered on a club with the ungainly nam e Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers, but shortened on its awning as CBGB & OMFUG and better known to its patrons simply as CBGB. Eulogizing CBGB founder Hilly Kristal who died in Augus t 2007, musician and acto r Little Steven Van Zandt acknowledged the central role the club pl ayed in the formation and dissemination of punk music and subcultural id entity, simultaneously acknowledging the sometimes disparate genres and aesthetic strains which we re grouped in its domain. He loved Country music, Bluegrass, a nd Blues, you know as in CBGB, and had no interest whatsoever in young tattered misfits playing bad Rock and Roll but that's what he got. There must have been some pride later on, knowing on your little stage, in your little joint, in th e sleaziest part of town, Richard Hell, Television, and Patti Smith would invent Indie-Art-Punk. Blondie and Talking Heads would invent Pop-Art-Punk, and The Ramones would invent Punk. But in the beginning the club's clientele pretty much matched its [sic] talent. Junkies, drunks, transvestite hookers, th e homeless, the tired, the poor (Little Steven [Van Zandt], 2007). In the same eulogy Van Zandt went on to tie the early punk bands to their subsequent post-punk relatives. Anyone who digs Green Day, P earl Jam, Arcade Fire or U2 owes him a lot. We all owe him a lot (Ibid.) The first wave of punk spread from the Un ited States to the United Kingdom, where many of is most archetypal stylis tic features developed, aided by th e active imagination of such art school graduates as Malcolm McLaren and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. McLaren had been so inspired by the U.S. punk movement he resolved to import it to the U.K. via managing a European tour of the (early/proto -) punk band New York Dolls, but when the tour fell apart, he began to promote a local band, the Sex Pistols, whose style he carefully cultivated for the British context. It wa s the Sex Pistols who became the emblematic punk band. McLarens and others obvious commoditization of the bands and other elements aside, the movement was
36 strikingly successful in terms of its ability to reclaim a music industry which had failed to appreciate their aesthetic tastes and socio-political sensitivities. The original punk movement, although never ho mogenous, eventually fragmented even more into new styles and subcultures. The earli est breakaway sects often incorporated the punk descriptor and so, for example, such postpunk forms as hardcore (punk) and gothic (punk) acknowledged their roots. Some, especially the secondand thir d-generation permutations, did not necessarily make explicit their roots and, fu rthermore, often borrowed heavily from styles both in terms of the music and other subcultural elementsof the very trends against which most punks claimed to be reacting, such as progressive and even disco. (Some of the highest-profile post-punk alternative music came in the form of hardcore, gothic and industrial, emo, grunge, and the Riot Grrl movement, but it is the hardcore scenearguabl y punks most direct descendentthat I am most interested in as a first generatio n post-punk movement.) Hardcore developed primarily in the United St ates, as a harder, faster, more aggressive form of the punk popular in the la te 1970s. The hardcore scene is generally agreed to have arisen just as the original punk scene ebbed in about 1978 or 1979, only to later ebb in the midto late-1980s. However, vibrant hardcore punk scen es still exist in every major U.S. city and across the globe, and furthermore, hardcore spaw ned other major movements, one of which is the basis for most of the so-called Krishnaco re phenomenon, a major source of dissemination of Hindu religious identit y in the post-punk era. Other post-punk movements, however, also promoted Hindu elements. Dance music whichinexplicably as far as early punks would have been c oncernedmixed disco and other dance styles with alternative beats, hip-hop, a nd, often, with indigenous world music sounds developed a cult following in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, spread globally, and
37 remains very popular today. Generally termed rave house music, or t echno, and associated with raves and raver culture, this music appealed to Sout h Asian immigrants who often performed it. Most of this new music, far fr om merely expressing (t oken) solidarity with subalterns, actually actively incorporated ethnic and religious minorities, including Hindus.
38 CHAPTER 2 PUNK ROCK HOMO RELIGIOSUS: PUNK/P OST-PUNK AND RELIGION What Do I Mean by Religion? Before m oving on to incorporation of Hinduism and/or Hindu-related elements into punk and postpunk genres by performers1 and fanswho, typically in the DIY-oriented (post)subcultural milieu, are performers as wellI will address the presence, or lack thereof, of religious elements in punk a nd post-punk (sub)genres and (post-)subcultures. Before embarking on this task however, it is necessary to address how I use the term religion and to note the problems that inherent in this, and other, uses of the term. As I observed in the previous chapter, the music and subculture of the punk revolution of the late 1970s reflected a largely atheistic and non-religious, if not actively anti-religious, worldview. Throughout the bulk of this thesis I w ill generally approach the term religion from a more or less traditional sense that relies on a comparative world religions taxonomy and hermeneutic, and which distinguishes religion clearly from secular. First, however, I will discuss one of many critiques of this usagein this case a functi onal oneand later in this thesis I will return to some of the claims of this a nd other challenges to the world religions taxonomy and consider some of the more salient points raised in opposition to this universalistic breakdown. Underground Music as Religion What, precisely, is m eant by the terms religion and religious is open to interpretation. If one subscribes to, say, a sociological theory of religion as broad as th at of David Chidester, 1 By performers I mean to include no t only musicians and singers but also artists such as those who create much of the techno and other electroni ca and spoken word performan ce artists. In the case of much of techno-electronica, the clarification is made as many of these artists do not sing or play instruments in the more conventional sense as the frequent monikers used to identify them, deejay/ d.j. (from disc jockey) or emcee/m.c. (master or ceremonies), indicate
39 one might extend common sense notions of the domain of religion and re ligious expression and resituate the question of what is authentic religion. As Ch idester noted, What counts as religion is the focus of the problem of authen ticity in religion and American popular culture (Chidester, 2005: 9). Religious au thenticity is a sticky and often ambiguous classification. Based upon this ambiguity, Chidester has constructed a case for the religious nature of, among other things, rock n rollor at le ast some forms of itposing the idea that fetishization and other transcendent impulses within popular culture should be considered synonymous with religiosity. Indeed, a social constructivist case may be proposed for the transcendent nature of rock n roll, although perhap s Chidester, channeling Marcel Mauss2 and taking Dave Marshs thesis3 on the potlatch nature of the song Louie Louie in his history of that song too much to heart. Indeed, the entire title of the book hints at Marshs tongue-in-chee k intentions: Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock'n'Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at th e Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, fo r the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics. While it is important to acknow ledge that Mauss discussed th e concept of potlatch as a religious actthat is, an act whic h is an extension of a religious cultureit is important to make a distinction between the celebrati on of potlatch and the religion of those Nort hwestern tribes for whom it was a ritual. Furthermore, Marshs po int about the potlatch, while accurate, still does not reflect religiosity per se. Indeed, Marshs point about the potlatch-like tendencies in rock 2 See: discussions of potlatch ritual in Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies (New York: Routledge, 2005 ). 3 See: Marsh, Dave. Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock'n'Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics (New York: Hyperion, 1993).
40 genres is a recurring theme to which Greil Ma rcus and Simon Frith return in their books, respectively, Lipstick Traces4 and Performing Rites5. None of these writers, Marsh, Marcus, or Frith, makes an explicitly religious claim on the part of rock, however; in stead they highlight a philosophical and performative aspect of ro ck genresespecially punk and its antecedents which emphasizes a narcissistic and potentially transformative pro cess. This does not necessarily a religion make, and forced to defend this asserti on, I again point to the la ck of certain elements typical of those practices and doc trines categorically deemed reli gion within the context of their multiple shared family resemblances, including, but not limited to, supernatural and continuity aspects. Rock of Ages: The Return of Relig ious Discourse to Punk/ Post-Punk Alternative Music Despite Chidesters point that one should ta ke some forms of rock that correspondas does much of the punk genre whose performers a nd fans consciously cul tivated potlatch-style spectacleone should still note that 1970s punks rejected forms of religions generally and popularly recognized as suchpartic ularly institutionalized forms. Chidester may be correct that the distinction between religion a nd its functional equivalent is a illusory one but I am most interested in forms of religions popularly recognized as such by their adherents, and I observe punks early ambivalence or hostil ity toward religion as they ha ve generally recognized itthat is, religion in its more institutionalized forms whic h include beliefs in the sacred (anathema to the many punks who have tended to declare that nothing is sacred), god(s), and the supernatural. While punks may have been entirely engaged in a type of relig ious ritual as defined by 4 See: Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces: A Secret Hist ory of the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990). 5 See: Frith, Simon. Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996)
41 Chidester, again, in the past th eir embrace of more cla ssically-defined constructions of religion and spiritualitythe primary focus of my search for religiosity in general, and Hinduism in particular, in the punk and post-punk milieuhas been a rarity. Yet religions are persistent a nd pernicious social phenomena. It is perhaps unsurprising that, as punk at its most nihilistic took its toll on a generation of performe rs and fans, the already disparate form spawned subgenres and sub-subg enres, and a new generation of music fans applied the aesthetics and ethos of the punk revolution to thei r own circumstances; religion would again become an acceptable source of insp iration and form of expression within the domain of punk and post-punk worldview. The Most Jewish of Rock Movements: Steven Beeber on Judaism and Jew ish Cultural Identity in Punk Like the term Hindu, the term Jew presen ts a problem to scholars of the sociology of religion in the sense that it is widely used to de scribe adherents to a sp ecific religious worldview, and members of a specific ethnic community w hose ancestors are trace able to a specific geographic location, but not necessarily both simu ltaneously. Like the Hindu distinction, the problem of distinguishing where re ligious worldview and ethnic community diverge is rife with problems, even when approached from a family relationship perspective. Particularly if one considers the wider functional definitions of religion which consider sets of rituals and beliefs that focus on ethnic identity as, at the ve ry least, functional equivalentsif not de facto religion, the distinction between a religious and secular Jew is indeed difficult to draw. If the latter is the case, then the or igins of the punk movement in its New York context were decidedly Jewish and religious. As Steven Beeber (2006) illustrates in The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGBs: A Secret History of Jewish Punk, although the majority of the figures central to the preor proto-punk and punk
42 music and subcultures have overwhelmingly defi ned themselves as secular (and atheist), a significant share of them have been ethnically-defined Jews who brought to bear cultural assumptions of a sense of Jewish identity that has often been overlooke d by not only gentiles involved in these movements but by punk s Jewish originators themselves. Although Beeber views punks Jewishness as on e of the decisive factors in its jump across the pond to the United Kingdomespecially in the hands of one of British punks central promoters, Malcolm McLaren (himself Jewish)its roots became more obscured as it began to be adapted to the United Kingdoms social context. In a ch apter entitled Write Yiddish, Cast British: How England Stole Je wish Punk, Beeber not es that, despite the appropriation of American punk styles into a U. K. movement that was developing in tandem, Jewish punks faced greater hostility there (196). (However, Beeber and others have also noted that Jewish punks in Britain often forged allianc es with the Rastafarians, who will be discussed in the next section, as their re ligious idioms are similarly dr awn from Torah.) According to Beeber, by the time the punk revolution waned and the post-punk era emerged, the wider spread of punk music and (sub)culture a nd their adaptation to ideas, ge ographic locations, and cultural contexts had robbed punk of its original Jew ishness. Historical revisionism and Jewish punks lack of vocal promotion of their ethnic identities did the rest. Rock for Light: Rastafarianism and Punk/Post-punk Again, despite the outward re jection of religion, there wa s, from the very beginning, a certain level of tolerance for the religions of outsider communitiestha t of Rastafarians in particular. This was especially true in the United Kingdom, but to a large extent in North America as well, where punk white minority cons ciousness was often empha sized; as it was in
43 the case of beats and hippies philosophies, identificati on with the racial other6 was commonly promoted and idealized. Rastafarians culture, an d particularly their reggae music, inspired many other youth cults/subcultures, and sharing of a scenethe space in which social actors engage in social interaction specific to subcultures. Two major Rastafarians influences, revolvi ng around men of African descent, emerged in the punk and hardcore (post-)punk context. Don Letts, a disc jockey at the legendary London punk venue, the Roxy, played (Rasta farian) reggae music between ba nds sets there, and he and his music won the admiration of a great many punk fans who often covered reggae songs or incorporated reggae rhythms and some Rastafarian messages into their own original works. Letts eventually went on to manage Englands first majo r all-woman band, the Slits, to direct and star in punk-related films, and to perform in Clash guitarist Mick Jones post-punk band Big Audio Dynamite. In Washington, D.C., the punk and hardcore ( post-)punk band Bad Brains was formed in 1977 by Paul H.R. Hudson, his brother Earl H udson, Darryl Jenifer, and Gary Dr. Know Millerall African-Americans who adhered, to one degree or anothe r, to Rastafarian religious beliefs and practices. In 1979, due to alleged blacklisting by D.C. area clubs, the band relocated to their current home in New York City. As it turns out, the band, whose members still perform together today, strongly inspired the growth of Hindu-punk hybridity, as I shall illustrate in Chapter 3. Despite the Rastafarian religiosity of these figures, however, punks have rarely ever taken to heart the orthodox cosmological, theological, a nd soteriological claims of Rastafarians. In 6 As noted in my previous chapter, this identification with a racial or cultural other did not necessarily equate to shared subcultural space, for a variety of reasons. Despite its Marxia n critiques, much of punk and its ostensibly non-racist (post-)subcultural antecedents rarely broke free of its classand race-based origins, although many adherents made noble attempts to expand its reach.
44 keeping with their general anti-religion traject ory, punks generally eschewed Rastafarianism even as they appropriated Jama ican/Rastafarian rhythms and patois and, occasionally, employing the Babylon metaphor in a more Marxian sense. Pe rhaps the greatest poten tial exception to this may be seen in post-punk fusion reggae and in the Two Tone ska revival of 1979-1982; but those engaged in the former still rarely accepted Rast afarian religious claims unless they were of African descent, and those engage d in the latter were still primar ily white youths who tended to prefer their music danceable, withou t all of the religious trappings. Although a few adherents did eventually join the bredren the community of Rastafariansit never became a major religi ous draw for any of the punk or post-punk movements, particularly if they were as most werepredominantly white. While Rastafarianism has become a more acceptable re ligious alternative in the (post-)subcultures associated with some later techno/rave genres, it never fully caught on as the default religious perspective in any major genre or subgenre of punk or post-punk music. From Bad Religion to Po s itive Spirituality: Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity in Punk and Post-Punk Music Other religious perspectives and discour ses emerged in the post-punk milieu, however, and I will briefly address them here and late r, in Chapter 3, I will expand upon those which are of more immediate relevance to the presence of Hinduism, or elements thereof, in post-punk (sub)genres. More recent punk (paradoxically, post-punk punk) and hardcore (post-)punk bands and fans have embraced Buddhism and Islam. Even explicitly Christian perspectives have been promoted. Punks embrace of Buddhism, or elements of Buddhism, has not been as rare as many other religious traditions, perhaps due to the combination of its l eftover influence via the Beats and its reputation, either actual or perceived, as more of a (n on-theistic) philosophy than a
45 religion. Two adherents to hardcore (post-) punk subcultureBrad Warn er, of the Ohio band Zero Defex and an adherent of the Japanese St Zen promulgated by D gen Kigen, and Noah Levine, son of the beat-Buddhist author St even Levine and adherent of Indian vipa yan (insight) Buddhismhave established meditation centers, lectured, produced documentaries on Buddhism and their (post-)subcultures, and have written books detailing the development of their Buddhist identities. Levines Dharma Punx: A Memoir7 and Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries8, and Warners Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth About Reality9 and Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogens Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye 10 have gained the authors additional followers for their respective schools from their (post-)subcultural peers, as well as promoted greate r cultural lite racy among Buddhists outside of their (post-)subcultural orientations. It is significant that, like many (post-)subculturists who identify with Hindu religious traditions, and whose cases will be discussed in the following chapters, Levine and Warner both cite, to one extent or another, both th e chaos of the punk lifestyle and the oft-cited punk ethic of pursuit of truth as play ing a pivotal role in th eir decision to pursue their religious practices. Punk and post-punk (post-)subcultures eventu ally spread into tr aditionally Muslim countries. Even in the 1980s I had a Lebanese Muslim punk friend in my native North Carolina scene who often kept the company of the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, skinhead boot crew. 7 See: Levine, Noah. Dharma Punx: A Memoir (New York: HarperCollins, 2003). 8 See: Levine, Noah. Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries (New York: HarperCollins, 2007). 9 See: Warner, Brad. Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, and the Truth About Reality (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003). 10 See: Warner, Brad. Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye (Novato, California: New World Library, 2007).
46 However, explicitly Islamic punkoften called Taqwacoreis a recent American development arising from within the hardcore su bgenre. In a case of life mirroring fiction, Islamoriented punk bands began to spring up fo llowing the publication of Michael Muhammad Knights 2002 novel The Taqwacores11, which details the lives of Muslim adherents to a Muslim-punk underground scene which had yet to be established. Inspired by Knights vision, a San Antonio, Texas, punk named Kourosh Poursalchi established his one-man band, Vote Hezbollah by recording a poem from Knights novel, Mohammad was a Punk Rocker, and posting it to MySpace.com where it attracted the attention of like -minded fans of punk music, some of whom formed their own bands. Thus, the actual Taqwacore scene emerged and grew to include other bands such as Kominas, Face Full of Shotgun, and Secret Trial Five, to name a few. Taqwacore performers and fans, similarly to many of those who negotiate a Hindu-punk identity, often draw upon what might be seen as disparate and even conflicting influences especially if one assumes a default orthodox defi nition of either the religions or the (post)subcultures from which they have taken those in fluences. Unlike many of the cases I will detail (prior to the emergence of South Asian techno and dub) who identify as Hindus or practitioners of Sanatana Dharma or appropriate from Hindu religious traditions, the vast majority of Taqwacore musicians and fans come from Muslim families. They can be seen negotiating their religio-cultural ident ities through their (post)subcultural identities, rather than, as tends to be the case with the non-South Asian Hi ndu-oriented (post-)subculturist s who tend to negotiate their (post-)subcultural identities thr ough a western religio-cultural lens. 11 Knight, Michael Muhammad. The Taqwacores (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2002).
47 Christianity, too, has returned to postpunk music and subcultures. Of course many punks came from Christian families and surely so me of them accepted doctrines and engaged in Christian religious practices but, again, explic itly Christian messages and public embrace of Christianity were rare or even non-existent in the music of the early punk revolution and it was more often the caseas it still is, frequentlythat Christianity is subject to hostility in punk and post-punk (post-)subcultures. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of a hardcore (post-)punk band making their religious beliefs explicit is the New York ba nd Warzone, whose lead singer, Raymond Raybeez Barbieri often sang about his fai th keeping him alive on the stre ets of New Yorks Lower East Side. Much of the emergence of Christian-oriented bands is the result of the habitus promoted by Warzone and other posi-core and straightedge bands that overlap the ethical philosophies of many contemporary Christians. Today, Christia n bands and fans have formed their own subgenreswithin hardcore, pop punk, and thrid-w ave (neo-)ska music s cenes, in particular. Archaic Revival: Ne w Age, Neo-pagan, Occult, Tribal and Parody Religions in Post-Punk Genres New Age and neo-pagan religions are ofte n associated with hippie subcultureand rightly so given that particular subcultures ro le in propagating thembut their presence in postpunk (post-)subcultural contexts as well should not be especially su rprising given these religions frequently (re)negotiated status. These religious practices and beliefs have had a cross-cultural appealalthough the regional focus that they take is often reflective of the ethnic heritage of the practitionersand by no means are they limited to a specific subculture let alone a postsubcultural context. Much of the popularity of neo-pagan and new age religion(s) has been achieved through their promotion via magazines, often run on a DIY basis; through books such as those by the Minneapolis-based publishers, Llewellyn publishi ng; and through the distribution
48 and use of tarot cards, runes, and other pa raphernalia. Wicca and other neo-pagan religions which draw inspiration from ancient European or Egyptian sources, and which frequently incorporate ecological, feminist/womanist, and GLBTQ perspectives, have been popular among some in post-punk (post-)subcultures/(sub)genrese specially among fans of gothic, industrial, and some rave/techno and worldbeat music. So-called tribal religionstha t is, diverse religions that ar e generally of rural and/or third world regionshave also be en of interest to some in the post-punk (sub)genres, although it is also frequently the case that appropriated tr ibal-related practices are used to augment styles with little or no reflection on their former religious significance. These religious practices/perspectives received a promoti onal boost with the publication, in 1989, of Modern Primitives12, by V. Vales San Francisco-based count erculture publishing company, RE/Search Publications. Although chronicling an alrea dy growing modern primitiveor neo-tribal movement, the anthology of interviews, artic les, and photos detail s tribal practices, contemporary occult movements and figures popular in post-punk subculture, and body modification such as tattooing, piercing, and scarification. Additionally, modern primitivism has been augmented by religio-cultural elements previously associated with the New Age and hippie subcultures. This has particularly been the case with fans of techno/rave and worldbeat whose consumption of psychoactive and/or hallucinogenic drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy), and LSD, and interest in psychedelic spirituality, has led to a resurgence of intere st in, and experimentation with, the works of Timothy Leary, Terrence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, and Ken Wilberjust to name a few. 12 Vale, V. Modern Primitives. RE/Search no. 12 (San Francisco: RE/Search Publications, 1989).
49 An ethic developed within Rave culture that emphasized Peace, Love, Unity, Respectoften expressed as an acronym, PLUR. Occult religions and the religious convictions of esoteric orde rs, often engaged in ritual magic(k) along the lines of the Hermetic Or der of the Golden Dawn (OGD) and Aleister Crowleys Ordo Templi Orientalis (OTO). An ton LaVeys Church of Satan, which both lampoons Christian ethics, cosmology, and ritual while espousing Druidic-derived esoteric practices and beliefs, is also popul ar, as are self-styled negotiate d approaches to the doctrines and rituals of these groups. These approaches ha ve been particularly popular in Gothic and Industrial (post-)subculture even to the extent that new orders such as the Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY)established by Genesis P. Orridge13, whose band Throbbing Gristle is often considered to be the firs t Industrial band and whose interv iew was one of those featured in Modern Primitives have emerged. Satirical groups who often consciously cross the line between parody/satire and authentic religiongroups such as the Texas-based Church of the Subgenius and the San Franscisco-based Discordian movement, both of which began in the 1970s, and more recently the anti-Creationism/Intelligent Design theo ry group known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monsterhave avid followers among the punk and post-punk (post-)subcultures through which their authentically fake Chideste r-esque approach to religion is frequently disseminated. Finally, African diasporic religionsparticularly those hybridized versions extending from West African Yoruba tradit ions, have had some influence. Although David Byrne, of one CBGBs early avant-garde punk/new wave house bands Talking Heads, has not considered 13 Although the polygenderous P-Orridge was born Neil Andrew Megson, s/he had his/her name legally changed in 1971.
50 himself a member of their relig ious communityin fact, he is a Subgenii, a member of the Church of the Subgeniushis interest in world religions and world music led to his production of an album of regional worship music of, and direction/production of Il Aiy (The House of Life)14, a film on the Brazilian Cando mbl community. Interest in Vodou, Santera, Candombl, and other Afro-Caribbean religions is a fairly uncommon, but not unheard-of, phenomenon. Indeed, my best friendan African-American who, like me, spent most of his young adult life associated with the punk and skinhead scenesi s a practitioner of the Yoruba religion. Although it is a tradition that apparently was passed down through his family in Georgia, and not something with which he came into contact th rough any (post-)subcultura l scene, in a tacit acknowledgement of the power of habitus, he also points out that accepta nce of Afro-Caribbean religion(s) by many in the heterogeneous and expe rimental/negotiatory religious atmosphere of the musical underground made his coming out much easier. It definitely also influenced his wife, a post-punk visual ar tist who incorporates Orisha (deities) and other Yoruban themes into her work and her re ligious worldview. I will return to some of the elements discusse d in this section in the following chapter due to their relevance to specific (sub)genres and trends which affect th e dissemination of Hindu religiosity and Hindu-related elements within (post-)subcultural contexts. 14 Il Aiy (The House of Life) DVD, directed by David Byrne (1989; Brooklyn NY: Plexifilm 2004).
51 CHAPTER 3 HINDUISM AND PUNK/POST-PUNK: NEGOTIAT ED IDENTITIES OF UNDERGROUND MUSIC Hindu Punk In the first chapter I prim arily addressed th e theoretical underpinn ings of the study of religions as social systems, in both general and specific (post-)subcu ltural contexts. I also briefly discussed the origins an d characteristics of punk and post-pu nk music and their relationship, or lack thereof, with systems of beliefs and practices that are typically identified as religious. Although I have touched upon some of the hi story of punk and postpunk (sub)genres and movements, the present chapter represents an e ffort to further expand upon their histories as I attempt to track the development of Hindu consci ousness within the alternative music (post)subcultural milieu. In this chapter I will also provide a more detailed discussion of the development of genres and subgenres relevant to th e emergence of these Hindu-friendly elements/phenomenahighlighting developments in both mainstream and subcultural milieu which have influenced both the development of those (sub-)genresand demonstrate through case examples how these developments provided a more fertile habitus in which social actors have become more amenable to incorporation of Hinduism and Hindu-oriented elements into their cultural identities and worldviews. Before moving on with the punk and post-punk (pos t-)subcultures, I want to address the important influence that a pre-punkalthough not necessarily proto-punksubculture has exerted upon punk, post-punk, and Hindu-punk hybridity. While generally distinct from the punk cult, this cult has become an integral part of most punk and post-punk music scenes. Indeed, it is one of the CCCSs classically-defined cultss kinheads. Although a fulle r exploration of the skinhead movement falls somewhat outside the ausp ices of this thesis, it is helpful to briefly
52 discuss this subculture as it is embedded in the matrix of punk and pos t-punk (post-)subcultural scene(s) and because a number of the social act or-subjects of this thesis, the author included, have identified with the movement, eith er in the past or currently. Oi! Get Your air Cut!: Skinheads The well-pu blicized links between skinheads and racism and even the neo-Nazi movement are valid and I do not wish to dismiss them. However, media coverage and even some academic studies have often disproportionately focused on racist elements of the skinhead movement, sometimes even outright denying that non-racist skinheads exis t orin contradiction to the origins of the movement and the lived ex periences of skinheadsthat they can stake the authenticity of their existence on (ostensibly) non-racist precedents. What is true of the skinhead subculture is th at it developed in Britain in the midto late1960s, primarily as the English mod scene splint ered between the more effete smooth and hard mod cliques, the latter being more exp licitly working class/lumpen proletarian in orientation and who were more frequently invol ved in hooliganism. Over time these hard mods were variously by the terms lem onheads, peanuts, or the current ly preferred term, skinhead, due to their habit of keeping their hair cut closely croppedalthough not completely shaven as some skinheads do today (Marshall 1991, 17).Then, as is often the case today, skinheads embraced Jamaican cultureparticularly that of the rude boys with whom they shared subcultural spacemuch as did the punks of a d ecade later with the rude boys more religious Rastafarian antecedents (Marshall 1991, 18). Simplistic anti-/non-racist or racist labels belie a complicated relationship between skinheads and Britains ethnic minorities. While it is not uncommon to see white youths appropriate elements of minority cultures on one hand and discriminate against and/or persecute members of those cultures on the otherand indeed there clearly are cases where this occurred
53 even early on between the white skinheads and black Jamaican rude boysthere has often been a good deal of racial harmony to the extent that members of groups of skinheadsknown as crewswere, and are, of African descent (Ibid). However, even prior the radical racist poli tics that later characte rized a good portion of skinhead subculture, the same so rt of cultural appreciation was not extended to British South Asians. Paki, a term applied indiscriminate ly to any South Asian, has been frequently employed as an ethnic slur, and Paki Bashing random ethnically-motivated violence against South Asianswas, and still is, a common activity carried out by skinheads, black or white, who ironically sometimes often cons ider themselves non-racist. N[on]-R[ocking] I[ndian]s: Indigenous Hindus and South Asian Immigran ts in British and American Contexts Despite the shared legacies of the United Kingdom and the United States, to read the context of socio-economic dynamics and immigrant experiences as equivale nt is a mistake, and regardless of their appeals to the authenticity of the movement, American skinheads are subject to a different habitus matrix. The same holds tr ue for Hindus in the Unit ed Kingdom versus those in the United Stateseven in the case where diaspora/immigrant populations come from the same region(s) and socio-economic background(s), ev idence tends to suggest that religio-cultural practices and beliefs are ultimately impacted differently dependent upon the variables in the new environment(s). In contrast to the situation in the United States, South Asian immigrant communities and their (white) counterparts are fairly distinctly segregated. No British laws mandate this, but British social stratification and racial-ethnic ha bitus tends to reinforce the cloistering of communities. The tendency to settle in self-c ontained communities, as evidenced by the disproportionate, often ghettoized, numbers of South Asians in sp ecific boroughs, is reinforced
54 by the desire on the part of South Asians to ma intain support networks an d preserve a sense of their original indigenous communities. As the U.K. immigration organization Moving Here notes in its history of South Asian Migration, Most people who came from India, Pakist an and later Bangladesh were aided by chain migration. The early pioneers who had found accommodation and employment in England then sponsored other men, usually from the same family group or village to join them. This pa ttern of chain migration led to large numbers of South Asians settling in particular areas (movinghere.org). Additionally, the seeding of communities by the gradua l immigration of expanding circles of family and/or caste/ j ti members via chain migrationparticularly among the relatively unskilled laborers who made up the bulk of the earliest immigrantshas tended to be focused in particular occupations and even at specific (industrial) worksites which have generally been a short commute from self-c ontained communities. What this amounts to is a stronger sense of not only Indian identity but more specifically, regional identity. This tends to pan out in terms of Hindu religious practices as well. And while this is often true of other major recently immigrated populations in United Kingdom, it has been especially so of South Asians whose insular lifestyles and more pronounced lack of habitus shared in common with their white, predominantly Christian neighbors marked them as alien in the eyes of not only whites but even other immigrant populations such as East Asia ns who tended to more re adily assimilate into British society. Britain had already long been suffering from ethnic tensions by the time two weeks of bloody riots erupted in the pr imarily immigrant community-ar ea of Notting Hill, London, in 1958. The riots were primarily due to black-white tensions and involved wh ite Britons and those of the Afro-Caribbean immigrant co mmunity, but it would be a mistake to believe that they were
55 not a reflection of a general wave of anti-immigrant feelings among British and that Asians were not also targeted. In the British context it would be a mistake to interpret the British use of the term black as an ethnic descriptor to mean onl y those of African descent, as it generally does in the United States. Indeed, the term is frequently intended to apply equa lly to all dark-skinned peoples, including South Asians. South Asians have certainly seen their share of racial-cultural discrimination. On 20 April, 1968, British Conservative Member of Parliament for the Wolverhampton borough of southwest London, Enoch Powell, made an infamous, racially inflammatory speech before Parliament. In what came to be known as the Rivers of Blood Speech, Powell claimed that a constituent, a decent, or dinary fellow-Englishman, had b itterly complained to him that In this country in 15 or 20 years [sic] time the black many have the whip hand over the white man (Powell 1968). He went on, saying: We must be mad, literally mad, as a nati on to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended populat ion. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate fo r the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiances whom they have never seen (Powell 1968) The latter point was clearly a reference not to West Indians, but to Asians for who arranged marriages are common. Although Powells comments made him a virtual pariah in Parliament, many shared his view. Immigration laws became stricter follo wing his speech. The Commonwealth Immigrants act of 1962 was Amended in 1968, and further re stricted under the I mmigration Act of 1971. Also, as a result of tensions over immigration, Sout h Asians have been targeted in the form of
56 Paki Bashing and intimidation. This has had a clear impact on Hindus and, thus, has impacted practices as well. As observed in the pages of the popular magazine Hinduism Today in 1993, All Hindu activity in Britain is under the sh adow of the volatil e racial situation. The well-publicized Dot-B uster attacks against Hindus in the eastern USA are isolated incidents by comparison. Britai n's temples are regular targets of vandalism. Hindus are harassed on the street and often brutally for no reason. All Asians are lumped together in the white Britisher's mind, so that anger at the Muslims over the Salman Rushdie affair, for example, can just as well be taken out on a Hindu Indian as a real Muslim (Hinduism Today 1993). What the article fails to not e is that U.K. violence is seldom based upon the mistaken assumption that its victims are Muslims when, in fact, they might be Hindu; the distinction is frequently irrelevant to the minds of perpet rators. However, although discrimination and/or violence is still a concern of Indian immigrants in either context, even in post-9/11 America, South Asians are targeted for overt discrimination and violence far less often than they are in the United Kingdom. All of this points toward a British skinhead habitus which is hostile toward South Asians and has not been particularly amenable to inco rporation of Hindu religio us elements. However, this is not the case with American skinheads, who, while often Anglophilic and eager to replicate much of British skinhead habitus, lost the H induphobia and antagonism against South Asians of their European counterparts. As a result, Am erican non-racist skinheads were open to embrace of Hinduism. From Hey Ram to Gabba Gabba Hey and Back: Hinduisms Inroad into (Post)-subcultures I wish to address one m ore important subcultural development before moving on to the more specifically (post-)punk incorporation of Hinduism and Hi ndu-related religious elements. The growing phenomenon, while not necessarily qualifying as new religious movements in their own right, incorporates many of the elements wh ich are characteristic of NRMs. Perhaps more
57 relevant to NRM theory, this phenomenon incorporates movements, in whole or in part, which are recognized as such. One of these is the Hare Krishna movement. In particular it was the first form of Hinduism to emerge in the post-punk milieu, eventually becoming the primary religious tradition of at least one ma jor subgenre, Krishnacore, and one among a handful of Hindu religious traditions in many other (later) subgenres. Since this movement is critical to the first appearances of a Hindu-related tradition in punk and post-punk contexts, I briefly address its origins and spread as well as its relationship to counter-cultures and, henc e, (post-)subcultures. As Judah Stilson (1974), E. Burke Rochford, Jr. (1985), and others illustrated early on, the International Society for Krishna Consci ousness (ISKCON)whose followers are popularly known as Hare Krishnas after the famous Ka Mahmantra chanted by devoteesbecame popular with hippies and members of other countercultu res. The Hare Krishna movement grew in leaps and bounds to become one of the most dominant, and fastest-growing, Hindu-oriented movements to significantly appe al to non-South Asians in th e west. Although it skipped the (first) punk generation, it eventually won relatively wide acceptance among secondand thirdgeneration adherents to post-punk (sub) genres and (post-)subcultures. Despite its designation as a new religious movement, howev er, ISKCON boasts old, deep roots in the Gauiya1 samprad ya (school/initiatory system) of the Ka Bhakti (Krishna devotion) tradition which began under the Vaiava 2 ascetic Caitanya Mah prabhu (14861533), and which had since been passed via succe ssive guru-to-student relationship known as parampar The final link in Caitanyas samprad ya before it emerged in the west is a man born 1 Literally meaning Land of Sugar, Gauiya a is a dual reference to the schools origins in the sugar-producing Bengal region of India and the sweet heavenly abode of Krsnanot entirely dissimilar from the reference to the Land of Milk and Honey popular in the Abrahami c religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 Vaiava are Hindu devotees of Viu (Vishnu) and his various forms, or avat ra (avatars, or descents)the most popular of which are which are Krishna and Rama (or R ma of R m yaa fame).
58 Abhay Charan De, known to his followers as Hi s Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhup da, the founder and c rya (spiritual leader) of ISKCON. Prabhup da brought his system of teachings to the United States in 1965, and initiated and ta ught devotees Caitanyas Gauiya Vaiavism until his death in 1977, at the age of 81. A charismatic religious leader in the Weberian mold, Prabhup das death left the postcharismatic ISKCON movement foundering because, like the Buddha, he was reticent to name a single successor; nevertheless the commun ity of devotees have managed to recover and more or less democratically establish comm unal rule(s), drawing upon the voluminous books and recordings of Prabhup das teachings for inspiration ever since. Chaitanyas Gauiya Vaiavism is a system of intense focus on a personal relationship with Krishna as Supreme Godhead. Its primary inspirations are the Bhagavad G t and Bh gavad Pura texts from whence it derives its theo logical and ethical framework and chanting of mantras of praise to Krishna and his primary divine consort, the gop (milkmaid) Radh Hare Krishnas passionate advocacy of ahis or non-harmthrough pacifism and, especially, vegetarianism and animal rights, beca me a part of the habitus shared with post-punk (post-)subcultures in the Euro-American context. This shared praxis-oriented platform made ISKCONs approachif not a logica l lifestyle choice, then that of a natural allyin the eyes of some in the various (post-)subcultural scenes although resistance to the group as a dangerous cult and/or its rejection simply due to its religious nature has always been strong as well. Dont Get Me Wrong: Chrissie Hynde, Authentic Pretender Although I have already addre ssed the virtual absence of Hinduism and Hinduor Hinduderived influences on the musi c and lifestyles associated w ith the punk revolution of 1974-1979, there is one exception: Chrissie Hynde, lead singer and guitarist of the Pretenders. It should be noted that calling Hynde a punk rock er, and the Pretenders a punk band, is misleading even using
59 classic subculture theory, and it is perhaps doub ly problematic if one subscribes to postsubculture theories which question the validity of the labels to begin with. Those familiar with the history of punk, early punk bands, and punk ethos and musical aesthetics, might particularly reject bringing Hynde into this discussion, and so further explanation of Hyndes relationship to the punk revolution, and why she is releva nt to the discussion, is warranted. Although the Pretenders share much in the way of family resemblances with bands more commonly identified with punk they are not, as noted, generally recognized as a punk band. Music historians and critics most often describe the band with which Hynde released her first album (on a major label), as either post-punk ro ck at most and, more likely, simply as a pop rockalbeit of a style for which rock critic s have had a longstanding admiration. Hynde has called their music straightahead rock (Sal ewicz 1982: 54)although the terms new music and even new wave were often applied to th e bands music. Indeed, by the time Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders had achieved fame, the punk revolution had already begun to wane and give way to new music, new subcultures, and a musi c industry that was keen to meet punks tactics with radio-friendly strategic alternatives. Hynde herself, however, played a central role in the London punk revolution. During the late 1970s the Akron, Ohio, native traveled to London specifically with th e intention of starting a band. During her time in London prior to forming The Pretenders, Hynde, who holds a BA in Fine Arts from Kent State, wa s hired as a music critic for the punk-friendly music magazine New Music Express. As an insider to Londons nascent punk s cene, she used the magazines pages to support and influence punk bands. She also be friended and worked with a number of punk musicians such as John Johnny Rotten Lydon of the Sex Pistols and Rat Scabies of the Damned, the latter with whom she had attempted to form a punk band prior to forming the
60 Pretenders. Hynde also worked for a brief time at designer Vivienne Westwoods punk boutique Sex, out of which Westwood designed many of th e clothes and styles that would come to symbolize punk for years to come. (The boutiques co-owner, Malcolm McLaren would help to engineer the careers of the Sex Pistolsfr onted by Hyndes good friend John Johnny Rotten Lydonperhaps the punk revolutions most definitive and notorious band.) Hynde is neither an atheist nor has she made a secret of the central role spirituality has played in her life. She has been candid in regard to her stated belief in (a universal/nondenominational con ception of) God as a source of inspiration and sustenance. Despite her frequently profane la nguage, penchant for heavy cons umption of alcohol (early in her career), and antisocial beha vior both on and off stage, Hynde is well-read in the worlds religious texts, from which she claims have dr awn inspiration since her teens. Hynde biographer Chris Salewicz described Hynde as a Metaphysicia n, who believed there to be little difference between Christian teachings or t hose of Buddhism, or even the writ ings of a Rudolf Steiner or an Edgar Cayce (Salewicz 1982: 60). Among those texts most influential to Hynde is the Bhagavad G t Although, again, she does not identify herself as a Hindu, she does look to the Bhagavad G t and other Hindu texts as source of wisdom, eventually adopting a vegetari an diet, eschewing her trademark leather pants and jacket, and becoming an animal rights activ ist. Hynde has also coordinated much of her animal rights activism with followers of the Ha re Krishna movement, even lending a preface to ISKCON author Steven J. Rosens book Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights3. More recently, Hynde has begun making annual pilgrimages 3 See: Rosen, Steven J. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights (Herndon, VA: Lantern Books, 2004).
61 to India to study Vaiava Hinduism, although she has remained stalwart in her nondenominational and universal ist position on religion. So, while Hyndes influence is perhaps a st ep toward the promotion of Hinduism in punk and post-punk music, one musician, no matter how influential, does not a movement make. And given Hyndes nondenominational approach and the la ck of explicit referen ce to Hinduism in her lyrics or, even for that matter, Indic influences on her music, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders could hardly be thought of as en thusiastic proponents of Hindus through their art. Perhaps Hynde has wielded some influence over the trajectory of Hinduism as a force in underground music, but it is more likely her embrace of vegetarianism as a spiritual ethic, rather than a qualified embrace of Hinduism, has affected fans looking to her for cues as a role model. This embrace of vegetarianism, and how she appr oaches it is significant, howev era single drop in the bucket that is the punk and post-punk habitus, to be su re, but when considered alongside the increased number of drops falling into that bucket, a substantial one. I will return to the issue of vegetarianisms role in furthering the shared habitus of Hinduism and punk/post-punk music later in this chapter. Identity: The Appearance of Formal Hindu-Punk Consciousn ess w ith X-Ray Spex's Polly Styrene and Lora Logic One of the punk revolutions most poplua r bands was the mixed-gendered London quintet X-Ray Spex, which formed in 1976 and featured Poly Styrene (Marian Joan Elliott) on vocals and Lora Logic (Susan Whitby) on saxophone. Early on during her time with X-Ray Spex, one can recognize in the ph ilosophy of Poly Styrene some elements in common with the Hare Krishna movement with which she would later identify. Her songs were often satirical send-ups critical of capitalism, materialism, conspicuous consumption, and commoditization.
62 Commenting on Styrenes lyrical messages for the British television documentary The Punk Years biographer of women in rock music Lucy OBrian remarked Interesting thing about Polys lyrics is, I think, she was ahead of her time in that she was dealing with eco-issues a good, sort of, fifteen, twenty years before it became really, sort of, mainstream how were sort of driven by advertising and driven by consumerism (OBrian 2002). On the same program Styrene added, The co mmerciality of the c ity, the brightness and the garishness of it, reallyand the plastic-ness of itreally hit me in a strong way (Styrene 2002). Eventually, the two frontwomen became ISKC ON members. Lora Logic had already joined when Styrene followed suit. In Cinderellas Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground, music journalist Maria Raha writes of Poly Styrene and her X-Ray Spex cohort, After a mystical breakdown/vision in 1978, twenty-one year old Poly Styrene decided to quit punk in favor of a spiritual path, and eventually joined a Hare Krishna sect, as Lora Logic had also done when she was eighteen. As Logic recounts, I had a close school friend who had given up her rock and roll life, and moved into a temple on Soho Street. I saw an amazing change in her for the better, and so I also started visiting the temple. I was very attracted by their motto, simple living, high thinking. Getting up early and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra helped me give up drinking, sm oking, and drugsthings I had wanted to give up before, but could never find th e inner strength to leave behind (Raha 2005: 90-91). Logic was replaced in X-Ray Spex, and the ba nd broke up a few months later, at about the same time that Styrene began he r spiritual quest, a lthough she denies asser tions that she left the band specifically over a breakdown or to join ISKCON (Styrene 2005). Both Logic and Styrene began other music projects with Styrene performing as a solo singer and Logic forming her ill-fated but critically acclaimed new wave post-punk band, Essential Logic. Although the latter never substantially inco rporated Krishna Consciousness -oriented lyrics nor did Poly Styrenes first solo album, TranslucenceStyren e stepped up her previous lyrical critiques of
63 popular culture and on 1 January, 1986, she released the benchmark Gods and Goddesses [sic], the first major appearance in the post-punk milieu of an album and an artist specifically advocating the teachings and lifestyle of a Hindu religious tradition. Recorded at a London ISKCON temple studio, the albums tracks featured quasi-Indian musical elements such as mdanga, sitar, and log drum4, and lyrically expressed some of the fears and frustrations that had driven her lyrics during her days with X-Ra y Spex but which were shared by adherents to her adopted religious tradition as well. Subjects such as consumerism/commoditization, ecological irresponsibility, and wa rfare are addressed in songs with titles such as Sacred Temple and, below, Paramatma: Talk about religion I say dont do no thing no harmno, no. Talk about religion I say Im vegetarian. Talk about divisions Nations, creed, and class. Talk about divisions Im just planetarian. Im earthly darling Earthly, Earthly girl. (Styrene 1986) Neither of Styrenes post-X-Ray Spex albums sold well, however. I remember reading a letter to the editor descri bing one of Styrenes performances in the punk zine Maximum RocknRoll shortly after Gods and Goddesses was released. The writer, a former fan of X-Ray Spex, expressed disappointment that Styrene had sold out and was playing a style of ambient electro-synth pop music which had lost favor wi th punks who had generally transitioned over to the more aggressive styles of punk and post-pun kand which had come too late to reap the benefit of new wave crowds who, at any rate, tended to be more interested in dance music. That 4 The latter two instruments were electronically simulatedperhaps an ironic twist given Styrenes quest for authenticity and ecological holismbut that quest never ex tended to an eschewal of electronic music, which she enthusiastically promoted.
64 Styrene had fallen prey to a cultpresumabl y used in the pejorative sensewas underscored by the unimpressed author. Styrene and Logic continue to perform and are still widely cited both as important figures central to early punk, as well as feminist icons and early proponents of environmentalism in a genre that, while frequently pol itical, rarely addressed envir onmental issues on square terms. Yet their promotion of ISKCON and, by extensio n, Hinduism in generalparticularly on the part of Styrenerarely earned them accolades. While their influence cannot be completely discounted, their music did not spawn anything appr oaching a revolution. By the end of the year that Gods and Goddesses was released, this would begin to change in a punk subgenreor alternately a post-punk genreknown as hardcore. The Coming Night: Gothic (Punk) Rock Before moving on into a discussion of hard core punk and the Hindu-oriented music that grew out of it, I would like to briefly digre ss into another punk subgenre/post-punk genre that began to develop within punk duri ng its heyday. As this thesis exploration of Hinduism and underground music movements is laid out in roughly chronological terms respective to development of the musical genre/subcultural movementand not necessarily in order of the emergence of strong signs of Hindu identity a nd/or appropriation of Hindu religious practices and beliefsI will now address gothic music a nd subculture. Later I will address how these elements have led to hybrid iden tities as the idea of a Hindu-frie ndly gothic subculture, but that discussion is somewhat premature along a roughl y chronological scale. For now I will merely discuss its development and some important a nd interesting trends it brought to underground musicdevelopments which provided a fertile en vironment for aspects of Hinduism, albeit in forms that tend to be more highly appropriated/ reformulated than in most subcultures where Hindu identity is less hybridized.
65 Gothic rockearly on called gothic punk and, later, more frequently simply called gothis one of the earliest and most direct subgenres to evolve out of the punk movement. Early performers looked to everything from Gothic horror books and films, to flourishes of the Romanticists, Dadaist, Absurdists, and avant-garde theater and music for influence. If one individual can be credited with creating the genre, it would pr obably be Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Ballion), a member of the so-called Bromley Contingent of influential London punks. Her band, Siouxsie and the Banshees, would shortly become one among many, spawning a subculture that would outlive and overshadow its original punk roots to be joined by its twin genre, the more aggressive elec tronic music known as industrial5 to achieve near-mainstream popularity. Even early on in the development of gothi c subculture, certain elements signaled an approval of religion and religi ous discourse, although the earliest rumblings of the gothic movement seem to have taken on religion in only th e most ironic or twisted of senses. This genre is one which in some ways (re-)opened reli gious discourse among its fansparticularly Catholicism viewed through a dark lens, as the term gothic impliesneo-paganism, spiritualism, and New Age or esoteric magic( k) along the lines of the O.G.D. and O.T.O. mentioned in the previous chapter. Interest in magic and the occult was, and continues to be, widespread in Gothic and Industr ial subculture(s). As the genre was oriented toward dance music and more commodifiable styles, it quickly won favor with a wider audience than that which embraced punkalthough, like heavy metal, it has ha rdly been the musically-oriented culture parents would want their kids to embrace. 5 Fans of industrial are known as riv etheads, after the frequent appearance of rivet gun and other industrial sound effects in their music.
66 While few punk bands won radio airplay orperh aps more importantly in the earlyand mid-eighties, considerable airtime on MTVgothi c bands were able to find a niche. Gothic bands such as Bauhaus appeared in such film s as The Hunger (1983) and by the late 1980s, goth artist and film director Tim Burton began to have hits with such movies as Pee-Wees Big Adventure, (1985) Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands, (1990) in which particularly in the latter twohe inscribed his gothic sensibilitie s, thereby extendi ng the reach of gothic habitus far into the mainstream. The hi ghly successful mainstream film The Craft (1996), a gothic-oriented movie about Wicca and othe r forms of witchcraft further clinched the connection between gothic subc ulture and minority neo-paga n religion. The popularity of gothic/industrial post-punk performers such as Nine Inch Nails, and hybrid gothic/industrialheavy metal bands such as Marilyn Manson and Type O Negative helped to further propel to gothic/industrial subculture and its elements into the mainstream. I will later revisit why this subcultureparticularly in a post-subcultural settingis an important addition to Hindu-orie nted habitus and negotiation. Meat is Murder: Vegetarianism, Veganism, and Animal Rights Vegetarianism, veganism, and the anim als rights movement had already gained a foothold in the other countercu lture movements in the west, a nd even in some forms of postpunk alternative music, by the time they became a widespread and significant part of many postpunk (post-)subcultures and (sub-)genres. Based partly upon their vigorous promotion by ISKCON, as well their presence in other (mainstream) Hindu sects and within orthodox Brahma nism, it is often the presumption in the west that the twovegetarianism/animal ri ghts and Hinduism(s)go hand in hand. The South Asian case is actually more complicated than a simple Hindus-must-be-vegetarian formula, but based upon western stereotypical presumptions about Hindus and Hinduism(s) and the
67 considerable presence of the vegetarianism/animal rights praxis-ethic, it has become a de facto habitus-oriented recruitment tool when it is embraced. It is perhaps helpfu l, then, to explore the presence of the vegetarianism/animal rights praxis -ethic in the west in general, and in the postpunk (post-)subcultural milieu specifically. Vegetarianism became popular in the U.S. late in the 1800s and early 1900s, via American transcendentalist and ut ilitarian philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and religious groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists, who promoted a vegetarian diet based upon ethical reasoning. Break fast cereal magnate Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, himself once a Seventh Day Adventist, promoted it as a sure route to l ongevity as well. These influences remained a part of the pos twar subcultural/count ercultural movements, but additionally, elements of Eastern spirit uality in the form of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain teachingsinitially filtered through American transcendentalists and, later, through Hindu missionaries to the west such as Swami Vivek nanda and esoteric orders such as the International Theosophical Societywere picked up and re-contextualized, first by beats and then by hippies. Eastern vegetarianism and ahimsa ethics were appropriated, either as part of a hybridized New Age package, part of a fuller adop tion of teachings of a specific school such as Chinese Chn Buddhism or a group such as ISKCON, or simply because they made sense as part of a pragmatic program of beliefs and practicesspiritual or not. Additionally, in 1975right around the time th at the punk revolution began to grow the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer published Animal Liberation6, consequently providing the foundational philosophy for the Animal liberation movement and the radical, direct action group Animal Liberation Front, or ALF. As I noted previously, many in the punk movement 6 See: Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation New York: Ecco, 2002.
68 were critical of hippies not because of their activism but because, among other reasons, they were perceived as nave and overly idealistic or because their movement had allegedly became a parody of itself. (Some of these criticisms coul d just as easily be applied to punk and post-punk movements as they gained in popularity, however .) Embrace of social activismoften of the very same liberal individualist stripe as that which was endorse d by hippieswas not, and is not, uncommon among punks and (other) adherents to post-punk (post-)subcultural ideals. In a chapter of The Philosophy of Punk tellingly entitled Envi ronmentalism and Ecological Concerns: The Ideas and Techniques of Earth Fi rst, ALF and Others Have Found a Comfortable Home in the Punk Scene, Craig OHara observes that Vegetarianism and animal rights are two subjects which were first popularized by the European Punk community. English bands particularly thos e with anarchist messages, often included in their records information and images on the horrors of animal use and abuse. Politically minded [sic] punks have viewed our treatment of animals as a nother of the many existing forms of oppression (OHara 1999: 134). A number of adherents to punk and post-punk (post-)subcultures had already adopted a pro-animal rights and vegetarian/vegan agenda when, in 1985, the Manchester, England, band the Smiths released their album Meat is Murder which reached number 1 on the U.K. charts and a respectable 110 in the United Stat es. Lead singer [Steven Patrick] Morrissey, who penned the albums title track has been a passionate vegetarian and an advocate the animal rights movement (as well as an openly gay man who has remained ce libate for most of his adult life). In the song Meat is Murder, Morrissey sings in his trademark melancholy style: Heifer whines could be human cries Closer comes the screaming knife This beautiful creature must die This beautiful creature must die A death for no reason And death for no reason is murder (The Smiths 1985).
69 Often, when I am asked what influenced me to become a vegetarian (long before I became interested in Hinduism or Buddhism) I will c ite personal-ethics reasons and, to be sure, I had read the occasional ISKCON treatise and ha d spoken to animal rights-oriented punks and had read some of their literatu re on the virtues of vegetarianis m. However, those were rational reasons. The inspiration for adoption of a vegetarian diet and ethic, howeverthe emotional tipping point, so to speakwas the Smiths Meat is Murder.7 This prior addition to the subcultural milieu of a vegetarian praxis-ethic via Morrisseys appeal was likely an inducement to others as well and with the a ddition of the greater pr oliferation of reinforcing influences of subcultural peers, bands who a dvocated vegetarian or vegan diet, or a reading of Singers Animal Liberation these praxis-ethic elements would eventual ly coalesce into a strongly present habitus that provides a social fact reinforcement ag ainst a dominant mainstream omnivorous praxisethic American culture. My case is not particularly unique in the (post-)subcultural context. Indeed, the first vegans I ever metbefore I even understood what the term meantwere punks. When I first began to cook as a vegetarian I picked up The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking8 and cookbooks written by mainstream or hippie moveme nt-oriented authors. Today, many of those vegetarian and vegan cookbooks are written by my subcultural p eersfor example, New Yorks public access television show and cooperative the Post-Punk Kitchen, has spawned a popular 7 In fact, I had been sneaking alternative and mainstream pop music in violation of the social codes of my adopted skinhead subculture in a fairly post-subcultural way. As I sometimes observed then, and have increasingly observed in subsequent years, so were many other subcultural adherents. It is due to this and other challenges the orthodox received CCCS wisdom regarding the atomistic and the stro nger Hypodermic Needle/Mag ic Bullet Theory-oriented propositions of the Frankfurt School about the impact of s ocial facts and the nature of subcultural social groups. This occurred commonly enough thatespec ially in view of the social actor-so cial group dynamic after the advent of globalization and the internet eraI began to embr ace neo-Weberian objections to their model and accept elements of post-subcultural theory. 8 See: Dasa, Adiraja. The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking (Alachua, Florida: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1989).
70 website and vegan cookbooks such as Vegan With A Vengeance9, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the Wor ld10, and the Veganomicon11. However, in order to see how punk and postpunk embrace of the vegetarianism/animal rights praxis-ethic was achieved and further became a reinforcing habitus element, it is necessary to address the role they played in the increm ental steps toward the first definitively Hinduoriented movement within the post-punk milieu. Before moving on to that first definitively Hindu movement within the pantheon of punk and post-punk genres, it is necessary to discuss hardcore punkor hardcoreand th e straightedge movement. Punks Not Dead!: Hardcore Punk12 Hardcore is generally regarded by both its fa ns and music historians as the most direct descendent of the original punk revolution and, indeed, many of its bands were part of the original punk revolution. Members of its associated subculture tend to identify themselves simply as punks, and they generally listen to both earlier -era punk ba nds and later hardcore punk bands without bias. The term hardcore implies both the intensity of the following the subculture has generated in its music and lifesty le, and the intensity of the musicusually much harder and faster than older punk musicand sh ows, which typically include slam dancing, mosh pits, and stage diving. Hardcore began to develop in several cities simultaneously, but it 9 See: Moskowitz, Isa Chandra. Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock (New York: Da Capo Press, 2005). 10 See: Moskowitz, Isa Chandra. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule ((New York: Da Capo Press, 2006). 11 See: Moskowitz, Isa Chandra and Terry Hope Romero. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (New York: Da Capo Press, 2007). 12 Sic: Grammarians note: the standard rendering by pu nks preserves the punctuation error of a British graffito immortalized by the U.K. band the Exploited. Indeed, correc tion of the error is seen as a dead giveaway that one is not an insider.
71 is generally argued that the American West coas tand particularly Los A ngelesis the area in which it took root most deeply, quickly spread ing to eventually become a global phenomenon. Two closely connected subgenres of hardco reor perhaps, more accurately, perhaps, hardcore-oriented movementsthat developed more or less simultaneously and in tandem, are important elements of the Hindu-oriented Krishnacore post-punk phenomenon I will later address. The first of these influences is Stra ightedge, quasi-ascetic m ovement which developed in reaction to the general nihilism and common (ab)use of drugs among punk fans. The second is the positive hardcore or posi-core movement led by bands such as Reno, Nevadas 7 Seconds and the Washington, D.C./Los Angeles combo the Youth Brigade. I will address the importance of Straightedge first. Out of Step with the World: The Straightedge Movement One especially fertile ground for post-punk developm ents was the Washington, D.C., hardcore scene. Of particular noteespecia lly as it relates to the spread of the Gauiya Vaiava Hinduism of the Krishna Consciousness, or Hare Krishna movementare the efforts of a pair of Georgetown friends named Ian McKaye a nd Jeff Nelson. The pair co-founded the Dischord record label, as well as esta blishing the band Minor Threat, through which they promoted a philosophy they called straightedge as an alternative to the nihilism and conspicuous alcohol and drug abuse they blamed for destroying the live s of many of their fr iends and idols in the punk scene. Although, as noted, punk and most post-punk movements de-emphasize the rock star status accorded to musicians of other popular genres, certain musicians and high-profile scenesters such as McKaye are accorded a modicum of celebrit y, and their influence is often disproportionately high given the relativel y smallalthough globall y-distributedpunk and post-punk scenes. In addition to inaugurating the fi rst straightedge band and scene, McKaye also
72 supported a stable of D.C.-area bands, many of whom did not share his straightedge philosophy. Among this group of artists was a singer (and er stwhile white Rastafaria n) named Tomas Squip who was instrumental in launching Dischord s second hardcore subgenre emo, which, like straightedge, would become a worldwide musical phenomenon. A social activist and early adopter of the vegetarian a nd animal rights praxis-ethic, Squipwho was only straightedge in the Rastafaria n sense of the word that excludes, as a drug abuse violation of straightedge praxis-eth ic, the religiously-pre scribed smoking of ganja (marijuana)encouraged McKay to emphasize vegetarianism as an element of straightedge philosophy and as a direction of the social act ivism in which Dischord bands and their fans some of whom lived together in the Dischord House on Bleech er Street in Georgetownwere often involved. Music historians Mark Anderson and Mark Jenkins write, At Dischord House, Squip began to badge r MacKaye about one of his pet issues: vegetarianism. It was not the first time MacKaye had discussed this subject. He parried the playful yet persistent digs, but he also took Squip s ideas seriously and appreciated the challe nge (Andersen 2003: 163). Straightedge took hold, particular ly in the Northeast, and soon its quasi-ascetic elements became more emphasized. It should be noted th at neither McKaye nor Nelson professed or openly advocated Gauiya Vaiava or any other school of Hi nduism. Yet even if McKaye hadnt planned on promoting straightedge as a more or less purely ascet ic movementmuch less a delivery system for the Krishna Consciousness movementothers had different ideas. The eventual addition of the vegetarian /animal rights praxis-ethic to the extant quasi-ascetic elements of straightedge philosophy would further link the shared ha bitus of the two movements. Successive waves in the straightedge scen e became increasingly focused less on simply avoiding or moderating habits deemed harmful, and more on a type of total renunciation of
73 practices deemed hedonistic/nihilistic, to the exte nt that they became func tionally equivalent to many of the practices of religious ascetics. Thus, the (quasi-)ascetic ethic embraced by straightedgers has proven to be fertile ground for the Krishna Consciousness movement. Many straightedgersincludi ng its own originatorsev entually abandoned the movement. Proponents had not only become preachy but even violent against those who did not share their philosophyas OHara (1999: 14 2) and Robert T. Wood (2006: 35-39) attest although this has been rejected as uncharacterist ic by others such as Ross Haenfler (2006: 10001). Because of this behavior and a few other mitigating factors, McKaye eventually renounced the straightedge scene that he createdalthough he has st ill maintained a quasi -ascetic lifestyle that he has since expanded to include the vegetarianism that his friend Tomas Squip and subsequent waves of strai ghtedgers have advocated. In his band Minor Threats swan song Sal ad Days, McKaye explains his sense of frustration with the direction that his baby, the straightedge movement, took: Wishing for the days When I first wore this suit Baby has grown older; Its no longer cute. Too many voices Theyve made me mute. Baby has grown ugly; It's no longer cute (Minor Threat 2005). Regradless of McKayes perspective, the st raightedge movement has remains a potent force in underground music scenesnot just in hardcore but in other post-punk scenes as well and it is still strongly represen ted by both religious and non-religi ous performers and fans who adhere to its codes, many of whom have attemp ted to root out the negative aspects that McKaye and others blame for its degeneration.
74 I Still Believe: Y outh Crew Posi-Core Like straightedge, posi-core was, and is, more of a philosophy than an aesthetic approach to music. And like straightedge, posi-core adherents stress scene uni ty, and eschew drugs. Indeed, there is considerable overlap between straightedge an d posi-core philosophy, with the primary distinction being one of emphasis. While straightedgers emphasize drugand alcoholfree living, adherents have often been cliquish an d violent. The major focus of posi-core is on inter-scene respect and co-operation. So, while al so usually eschewing drugs and alcohol, posicore adherents also promote and sing about unity amongst the various subcultural cliques, such as punks and skins, who make up many scenes. Knowing about th ese two subcultural philosophies is important to knowing engaged is important to understandi ng the development of the Krishnacore phenomenon, to which I will next turn. Hardcore Devotion: The Birth of Krishnacore Perhaps the most visib ly unifi ed, cohesive, parampara-base d approach to integrating Hinduism into punk/post-punk alternative music is the phenomenon known best by the portmanteau Krishnacore. The term is applied retrof lexively to the first hardcore bands to begin singing about Krishna Consciousness in the mi d-1980s, the Cro-Mags, an d to a lesser extent, Cause for Alarm, but the term wasnt actually coined until the early 1990s, when it was used by to describe the now-growing phenomenon of hardco re straightedge bands whose members were Ka devotees. Although it began as a subgenre within the hardcore punk rock movement, the term Krishnacore has been applied more widely to a family of bandsin the Wittgensteinian sensewhose music does not always necessarily fit into the same general hardcore genre. All of these bands are clearly Krishna Consciousness oriented, but many perform in musical styles and genres that bear little resemblance to hardco re. Thus, for the purposes of clarity, I will
75 acknowledge that the term has been applied to bands that do not play varian ts of hardcore such as Baby Gopal and Sri Kesavabands whose highly melodic musical style is best described as emo or alternative rock. In the context of this thesis I will address Krishnacore as a specifically hardcore or crossover heavy metal-hardcore hy brid musical form and will then later address those bands associated with the term but whose music draws more specifically from genres that developed later than hardcore. The first of the Krishna Consciousness-oriented were two bands from New York City, the Cro-Mags, and Cause for Alarm. The Cro-Mags wa s formed by two friends who were interested in practicing and propagating the teachings of ISKCON, John Joseph (McGowan) and Harley Flanagan, along with guitarist Parris M itchell Mayhew. In his autobiography, The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, lead singer John Joseph notes that his conversion to the Gauiya Vaiava Hinduism endorsed by ISCKON was gradual and increm ental. He writes that he first adopted a vegetarian diet as a matter of necessity while he was poor and living with the hardcore band Bad Brains whose band members, as noted in the previous chapter, are Rastafarian (and thus vegetarian). Bad Brains lead singer, H.R., had long discussions about religion and spirituality with Joseph, and Joseph notes th at these discussions made a strong impact and inspired a spiritual quest, yet he was reluctant to adopt Ra stafarianism. While John Jo seph is white, and it is true that Rastafarian talk of de feating Babylon is code for topp ling white privilege, plenty of whites identify with Rastafarianism. But Joseph wr ites that there was a deeper reason he passed over the Rastafarian religion in his spiritual quest: I was moved by H.R.s revolutionary spir it and devotion to God, but something was missing. That something was a philos ophical understanding as to why he did the things he did on his path. Religions without philosophy is [sic] fanaticism and when I would ask questions about certai n matters like reincarnation, or how the soul fell into the material world in th e first place I would get an answer like, Dont worry about all that. Its just Jah [God] you know (Joseph 2007: 240).
76 Following a great deal of reading, which included such works as those by George Gurdjieff, Ram Dass, Krishnamurti, and Y ogananda, Joseph came across the works of Prabhup da. In typical punk anti-author itarian fashion he writes, If you ever read any of Srila Prabhup adas books youll find out that whats contained in their pages is revolutionar y, because the real revolution is all bout throwing up the middle finger to this fucked up way of life and getting back to our original, blissful spiritua l nature (Joseph 2007: 243). Other factors also conspired to funnel Jose ph toward Krishna Consciousness. He took a job working in a local vegeta rian/health food store and rest aurant where other hardcore musicians worked. His manager was an ISKCON member, and the two often had discussions about Krishna Consciousness. Another influenc e was Larry Puglisi, a punk turned devotee who established a house in near by northern New Jersey for fellow devotees to live in, and sponsored food and clothing drives as well as concerts for the punks and skinheads hanging out in the New York's rough Lower East Side. Early devotees that he had influenced included John Jo seph and Harley Flanagan of the band Cro-Mags (krishnacore.com). Also, unbeknownst to most of his friends, Jo seph was AWOL from the Navy for several years (which is why, to avoid be ing identified, he used only hi s first and middle names). When he fell on hard times, he sought out an ISKCON temple for a place to stay and food to eat. During that time he began taking formal instruc tion. His Cro-Mags co-fou nder, Harley Flanagan, eventually followed suit and also took instructio n. It is unlikely that either was completely celibate or completely eschewed drugs for an extended period however. Lyrics to the Cro-Mags songs, particularly on the bands first album, are often brooding andwhile addressing key concepts like rein carnation, devotional yoga, and vegetarianism
77 they also speak of a social Da rwinian struggle to survive on the streets. Clearly, these messages were not the kind of sermon one might expe ct to hear at an ISKCON temple. Furthermore, Joseph and the Cro-Mags never ex plicitly rejected drugs alcohol, or sex in their music, an omission that was telling terms of their adherence to ISKCON ascetic values. Much of Josephs memoir focuses on his battle with drug addiction even while he was involved with ISKCON and despite the Krishna Consciousness movements rejection of use of drugs even, in some cases, for more purely medicinal purposes. But while the Cro-Mags certainly, in ma ny ways, stood in contraposition to ISKCON orthodoxy, later bands of the Krishnacore move ment were less antinomian. Beginning with bands such as Shelter and 108, both of which we re formed in the U.S. Northeast in 1991, ISKCON orthodoxy began being paired with elements of the straightedge and posi-core identity. Where the Cro-Mags were aggressive and intimidating despite their ostensibly hippie-esque religious identities, the new ba tch of Krishna Consciousness-o riented bands were positively peace-loving tree huggers by those standards. As is observed in the history page of Krishnacore.com: Whereas the Cro-Mags were known to be Hare Krishna devotees, the spiritual aspect was more covert than [that of] their succesors[sic] Shelter and 108, who put the Vedic teachings in a nutshell a nd effectively conveye d it to a specific audience. This was done by singing songs with direct reference to it's [sic] philosophy, speaking onstage about the cu lture, including interviews and quotes on album lyric-sheets, and speaking to the press openly both within the alternative music scene and also the greater musi c press worldwide (krishnacore.com). The more explicit emphasis on straightedge philosophy of these bands drew more straightedge adherents into the ISKCON fold and exposed even non-straightedge fans that might have bypassed the Cro-Mags more macho, takeno-prisoners approach to Hinduism. As Eric Davis reported in his 1995 feat ure article on Krishnacore in Spin magazine,
78 Unlike the nice suburban jocks in Shelter, the Cro-Mags were ferocious skinheads. It wasn't like we were up on stage in dhotis and chanting, Joseph says. It was all-out assault. Even in the Vedic philosophy, there are different kinds of people. Not everyone is meant to be a monk and live in the temple. There's the kshatriyas who were meant to be warriors. I would chant and meditate before I went onstage, and get into this mystical-type warrior mentality. We didn't promote violence, but sometimes things happened (Davis 1995) It should be noted that by employing the term skinhead Davis is not referring merely to band members shave-headed appearance, but is act ually tying them to the skinhead subculture that I previously addressed. Beyond the case of the two members of the Cro-Mags associated one somewhat erroneouslywith the skinhead su bculture, it does figure into the cases of numerous subjects who spread Hindu consciousness in punk and post-punk subcultural movements. Ray Cappo came to the Hare Krishna movement from a different angle. A veteran of the straightedge hardcore scene, his practices and be liefs made for a slightly more smooth transition from the role of punk to monk. Although it is not always an explicitly religious approach to hardcore punk music and lifestyles, the renunciate qualities have often led its followers to embrace monastic forms of Hinduism, while from its sideunlike many other renunciate forms imported to the westKrishna Consciousness shares punks embrace of music, dancing, and singing as a primary religious practice. As is noted on Krishnacore.com: many followers of the straight-edge lifestyle were attracted to the principles and philosophy of the Hare Kr ishna movement, and spirituality became almost the next step to take in self-improvement after having renounced alcohol and other drugs, meat and other animal products, and sometimes illicit-sex or at least casual sexual relations outside of established re lationships. Already being accustomed to saying no to many 'pleasures of the flesh' made it easier to appreciate and practice the 4 regulative principles of the Vedas; no meat-eating, no int oxication, no illicitsex and no gambling (krishnacore.com) Eschewing drugs was Cappos raison detre as a straightedge mu sician, and his lyrics tend to speak more of commonly he ld ethics than those practices and beliefs specific to Gauiya
79 Vaiavism while, at the same time, being more e xplicit in terms of thei r affiliation. The bands with which he has been involved have become more pop-music oriented over the years and, given the addition of the ecumenical messages of the lyrics, they are potentially more accessible to the tastes of a wider audi ence than that of Cro-Mags. Whatever the internal problems of the Krishna movement, the folks I talked to were not dogmatic robots but thoughtf ul people negotiati ng the conflicting demands of traditional religious practice and the chaos of a modern world they do not entirely want to reject. When I aske d Cappo to describe his devotional day, it was clear that he spent less time memorizi ng Sanskrit sastras than he did working on music business or developing Civilizati on, his cruelty-free line of skateboard sneakers (Davis 1995). Krishnacore bands reversed some of the male domination so characteristic of straightedge bands. Despite the macho demeanor of the Cro-Ma gs and many bands of the bands in their wake, Krishnacores cross-(sub)genre reach and Cappos early incorporation of ostensibly feminist not just boys fun posi-core youth cr ew messages, womens voices we re better represented. Thus, woman Krishnacore singers like Sri Kesava (K im Shopov) of Baby Gopal and Natalia Tatalia Wegrzyn of the Polish Krishnacore band Omkara have been important co ntributors and role models for male and female fans alike. Today, most of the members of these bands continue to perform music that propagates elements of Prabhupadas teachings, other Hindu schools, or in some cases, Buddhism. Krishnacore spread as a global phenomenon and is especially popular in South America and in former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe. Late Hindu Conversion of First-Generation Punks While this thesis has heretofore painted a picture of a sort of Gauiya Vaiava revolution within punk and post-pun k genres, this is only part of the picture. ISKCONinfluenced perspectives were cl early the earliest do minant form of ostensibly Hindu-oriented religious traditions to be imported, in whol e or in part, into punk and post-punk music
80 subculture(s), where they a rema in vibrant, visible component. Mo re recently, however, there has been an embrace of non-Vaiava devotional Hinduism akti and aiva Hinduism in particularby first-generati on punks and (other) post-punk (post-)subcultural adherents. As noted in the first chapter, my own me ntor, Donny the Punk (Steven Donaldson) was involved in the original punk revolution in New York City and then later became an initiated Li gayat (V ra aiva) P j ri while maintaining his punk subcultu ral identity. Indeed, any aspect of his lifestyle and his lifes work that he thought was amenable with Hindu and/or Buddhist teachings was often viewed through those lenses a negotiated relationship from which he drew much comfort. Despite his acceptance into the fold of the traditional Indian V ra aiva community, his is a highly unorthodox approach to Hinduism and a telling one with regard to the ways in which Hindu identities are negotiated in some unusual ways. Donaldson, who died in 1995, was a 1970 gradua te of Columbia Universitys School of Journalism and a gay and (later) bisexual rights activist who co-founded Colombia Universitys Student Homophile League (Donaldson 1991, 31-45) However, he is probably best known for his advocacy on the part of victims of prison ra pe through the organizatio ns People Organized to Stop the Rape of Imprisoned Persons (POSRIP) a nd Stop Prison Rape (SPR), the latter for which he served as president. As his experiences as a gay/bisexual male and as a survivor of rape are relevant to how he approached Hinduism, I will briefly explain them. Donaldson had been arrested and imprisoned several times over the years either for the civil disobedience that often ch aracterized his activism, or for possession of small amounts of marijuana (that, even before his conversion to Hinduism, he considered a part of his religious
81 practices).13 His first arrest was on August 14, 1973, while engaging in a Quaker-sponsored pray-in protest, at the White House, agains t the United States ille gal secret bombing of Cambodia (Brownmiller 1975: 286). While incarcer ated, Donaldson was repeatedly gang-raped, in a(n) (in)famous and welldocumented incident, by an esti mated 45 of his fellow inmates (Ibid.). On a subsequent arrest for possession of marijuana in 1976, Donaldson accepted the role that initially earned him his nickname, Donny the Punk, not due to his (later) love of punk music, but as a jailhouse punkone who trad ed consensual or semi-consensual sex for protection against rape. Not wishing to repeat the battering I got in the D.C. Jail, I capitulated.... I considered myself lucky that the blocks were so small.... The next day the four white marines came up to me and said, You're moving in with us! and so I became the fifth occupant of the four-bunk cell.... I had become the Punk of these four lads, who in jail lingo became my Men .... They provided me with protection and such things as stamps and snacks, in return wanting blowjobs (from three) and ass (in jail called pussy) from one. (Donaldson 1982: 62-63). Donaldson had previously taken training in a Theravada Buddhist order, and his approaches continued to fuse perspectives gene rally attributed the Buddhism with those of the Hindu sect with which he later associated. (Indeed, heas have I, and a great many South Asian Hindus, for that matterpreferred to identify more with a sectar ian label such as aiva than a general Hindu label.) However, he was u ltimately won over by the more Hindu-oriented V ra aiva sect due to its veneration of the aniconic representation of iva as the cosmic force of 13 I will again touch on this subject later in the present chapter; for now I wish merely to acknowledge that for some Hindusparticularly, but not limited to those of aiva sectsmarijuana ( ganjika or ganja) consumption either by smoking it in chillum pipes or in yogurt-based drinks known as bhang is not entirely uncommon. However, it is also the case that it is usually reserved for sadhu ascetics and in contemporary India, while sadhus are seldom harassed for possessing or consum ing marijuana, lay Hindus are likely to face stiffer penalties for marijuana possession than their American counterparts.
82 creation, maintenance, and destruction, the iva ligaa focus that for him was lacking in his Buddhist studies and practices. Often the liga is identified as a phallus14, a correlation with wh ich Donaldson readily agreed and a concept to whic h he related. Unlike many other aiva orders, V ra aiva adherents carry the liga with them as a form known as Ialigaoften worn on a chainand so he need not worry about access to temples liga. Donaldson related his expe riences as a homosexual and as a victim of rape to the qualities of the iva liga as the phallus had, for him, became a highly personal symbol of the tripartite creative, nourishing, and de structive qualities of the Cosmos, which for him was equivalently identified as iva. In an interview, tying his religion to his prison experiences, he acknowledged that he reali zed that his approach was unorthodox. Yet he defended it as driving to the heart of the matter of what, from hi s perspective, it means to be religious and to experience the sacred firsthand: I know how atypical, in a sense, my jail experience has been. I'm more sophisticated and more adaptable, y ou know, more mentally flexible. And by spiritualizing the whole thing. For example, I've gotten into Shiva Hinduism from Buddhism, in part because there's a very strong phallic-worship tradition there. And I can relate to that. I can relate to th e phallus as the symbol of total power, of creativity, and see how it emanates a sense of awe, which is the basic feeling of religion. You know, the uncanny. The awesom e. The hallowed. All the feelings that have nothing to do with good and evil ....Just this sense of incredible power, this overwhelming energy that is so other, so totally other, and yet it touches you so closely inside. That's religion. (Goad 1994: 29). The Return of the Mother: Nina Hagen and the Kriya Yoga of Haidakan Babaji Nina Hagen had long been a fixture of the avant-garde punk scene when she m ade what would become the first of many trips to the village of Haidakhan in the Himalayan Kumoa 14 This interpretation has been challenged by many Hindus as putting the care before the horse in that the phallus is a reflection of the universal creative force of the li ga, and not the other way around. Nevertheless, even such respected contemporary scholars of Hinduism as Gavin Flood argue that The linga represents a phallus.[Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996), 151]
83 foothills. The village is the site of the ashram of the late guru known as Haidakhan Babaji, often called Bole Baba or simply Babaji by his followe rs. A reputed avatar of the combined form of iva and akti (Parvati), Haidakhan Babaji is thought to return periodically to bring messages of peace. Particularly in the wake of the promotion of the guru by New Age author Leonard Orr15, the claim is often made that Baba ji was/is the reputedly immortal yogi Mahavatar Babaji to whom Paramahansa Yogananda refers in his Autobiography of a Yogi. However, although the existence of Mahavatar Babajiwho wa s allegedly active in the late 19th and early 20th centuriesis debatable as a single, corporeal hi storical figure, Haida khan Babajis material existence is undeniable and well documented. Haidakhan Babaji is known to have promoted the claim that he was Mahavatar, but more problematic is the claim of his material immortality, to which he never apparently laid literal claim and which was further complicated by hi s death in 1984. Followi ng Haidakhan Babajis death, his close disciple Sri Muniraji overtook the responsibiliti es of managing the Haidakhan ashram and it is he who is Hagens most im mediate spiritual mentor, and who bequeathed upon Hagen her devotional name, Rashmi Jaya Radhe. Hagen adopted Babajis motto tru th, simplicity, and love and the nama japa practice of recitation of the iva Mah mantra ( Aum namah iv ya ) which Babaji prescribed not merely as part of yogic discipline but also as a method to deflect the effects of an unspecified coming world disaster of apocalyptic proportions. An eccentric but charismatic singer known for her deep, Teutonic voice and quirky operatic style vocals, Hagen came from a family who had the rare distinction of being deported from their native East Germany during the height of the Cold War. In a 2003 interview she 15 See: Orr, Leonard. Babaji: The Angel of the Lord (Staunton VA: Inspiration University, 1995).
84 described her religious viewpoint, which had al ready begun to develop prior to her familys deportation: Well, everybody said there was no God when I was little. I was going, like escaping, Sunday mornings when my parents were sleeping and I just went to the church on the corner and they were singing some good songs. My father was upset that I went there and that made me start questioning and they all said there is no God. All the people who said there is no God had bitter faces, they looked so ugly and they looked so stressed out. A nd I thought I want to search for God myself. Which I apparently did, and I found. This I try to show in my documentary film about my teacher in India (Robinson 2003). Over the years Hagen has consistently claimed that this search for God and religious truth was radically vindicated during a near-death ex perience she had after ingesting LSD when she was nineteen, a story which she reiterated in an interview with Michael Roche of Chatter magazine: After I took it, I felt like I have to die, but I couldn't. And this was going on forever and like being in hell. And then I was calling God because I remembered all these stories about LSD. I remember ed that I took LSD and that brought me into those circumstances. So now I know wh at people, like nature people, they don't take LSD, but they take awaska16 in the rain forest. So it's like a way of being initiated to all the other worlds a nd dimensions out there. And eventually, finally, to the dimension wh ere God resides (Roche 1995). Like many other non-Vaiava-oriented post-punk (post-)s ubculture sources with whom I have spoken, Hagen rejects the idea that drugs cannot be an acceptable (potential) pathway to divinity and/or re ligious/spiritual enlight enment, although she also mirrors the use common sense ethic of many of those who do approve of the use of certain drugsparticularly hallucination-inducing onesto achieve these en ds. And, ultimately, she also mirrors the similarly repeated claim that drugs are not the only, or even the best, method for achieving these states. 16 Although Hagen and/or someone transcribing her interview has used the term for the traditional homespun cloth of the Incas, awaska it is apparent that she was referring to mind-altering drugs such as peyote, psilocybin, or dimethyltryptamine (DMT)the latter often consumed via beverages such as Ayahuasca
85 many years later in 1987, I found like those books and stories and things about Babaji and Kriya-Yoga. I know that you do not have to even take a drug or an herb or peyote or kreyote or whatever, to go out of whatever-you-might-callit. You can do it through so-called breathing techniques. You can really go out of your body and experience Nirvana. Everyday (Roche 1995). Since becoming a devotee of Babaji, she be gan appropriating Indian/Hindu dress modes and iconography into her styleeven appearing on album covers and in promotional photos as iva, or Parvati, Kali, or another form of Mah dev the Great Goddessand incorporating Hindu-oriented messages into her music. Hers is a not merely a pan-Hindu, but a univers alistic conception of th e divine. I follow the Sanatana Dharma: The Teachings of Christ & Babaji, she writes to me (Hagen 2008). Indeed, she betrays no discomfort with, or ambivalen ce toward, this view, which is consistent with the views of Babaji and his followers in Sout h Asia as well as those in the west. She is at ease speaking of Mary, mother of Jesus, as th e divine goddess, and Hagen equates Marys name with that of Mah dev as easily as those of the (oth er) more individuated aspects of dev (the more specifically individuated [and regional form ] of the goddess), as is illustrated in the title track of her 1999 album R eturn of the Mother: Come to me! Hail Mary! Come to me! Hail Mary! Hail Mary! Those who have awakened to the Mother Have given birth to the Divi ne Child within themselves. They have all a cert ain look like no other Like the dog that died next to my hotel. The return of the Mother! The return of the Goddess of Love! Every soul turns towards the Mother! Every soul turns to the G oddess of Love! (Hagen 2000).
86 Hagen has also expanded her punk and pos t-punk repertoire to include Hindu k rtana and bhajana music. In the aforementioned documentary Om Gottes WillenOm Namah Shivay she promotes Babajis pan-Hindu teachings, and she uses her personal websites17 to promote the Babaji mission as well as vegetarianism/animal rights, human rights issues, and civil liberties. Hagens following in more recent years seems to be increasing based upon her appearance in films and television, her work in fashion (she is co-designer and part owner of Mother of Punk, a fashions-lifestyle company), and her internet presence. Reflecting on Hagens September, 2002, visit to New York City, in which she performed with her band and premiered her film, Robert Lund of the zine New York Waste observed, Whether or not you subscribe to the teachi ngs of the master [Babaji], or to any religion at all, it is uplif ting to see the joy it has brought Ms. Hagen to have found such enlightenment and purpose through her experience. It is not as though she has found the one way as some religious people seem to think they have. Hindu and Christian gods are revered alike, and it was fascinating to s ee Nina in the film doing a Christmas play with little Hindu children. In the sc enes showing Nina with no make-up and a freshly shaven scalp, she looks a lo t more like a monk than a punk, the peace and joy radiati ng from her beautiful face (Lund 2002). From Dick to Yon i: Gary Floyd and Devotion to Kali M Another old school punk who has embraced devotional Hinduism is Gary Floyd, lead singer of the Austin, Texas, Commie Faggot Band,18 the Dicks. The openly gay Floyd, a committed Marxist since his late teens, altered his political views and opted for the teachings of Ramakrishna, but remains a left-of-center adhere nt for whom skepticism of even his professed beliefs is a healthy option. In a 1998 interview with the punk zine Suburban Voice, he said you have other people like Rama Krishna who are very good teachers that have never done anything for their sexual or economic lifestyles to improve. They have no reason to do anything. They're just good. They stay busy helping people. 17 See: http://www.beepworld.de/m embers77/ninahagendas/ and http ://www.myspace.com/whymeohlord. 18See: http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/usa/dicks_main.html.
87 There's a lot of people like that. Why not follow them? I'm not talking about follow them like sheep, because they don't teach that. They teach strength in your own self. That's why I like these people. I'm not going to follow anybody blindly. I didn't do that with communism, I'm not going to do that with religion. I don't do that with anything, but I also do whatever I think is right, without thinking of the repercussions in the punk rock community. Fuck that shit ( Suburban Voice 2005). A quick glance at Floyds homepage reveal s a deep and abiding devotion to Kali M however, and friends and visitors to the site leave messages in praise of the dark Bengali goddess. A band which he started after dissolution of the Dicks, Dark Kali Ma, similarly honors his benefactor. Kalis Thugs: The Case of Edward and Karene Stapleton Yet another first-generation punk musician w ho, like Nina Hagen, is better known for his experimental and avant-garde approach to his mu sic is Edward Stapleton of the San Francisco queercore band Nervous Gender. Stapleton, too, is a Kali devotee. His most recent band project (he still performs and records with Nervous Gender) is Kalis Thugsthe bands name an apparent attempt to re-appropriate Kali devo tion while acknowledging the darker aspects associated, historically, with he r worship and an ironic play on the term thug as synonymous with punk. The band describe their work as a collection of Industrial, Hindi, electroni c sound and wordscapes woven together to create an eclectic view of contemporary society. Subject matter ranges from Hindi/Tibetan chants to Americas cu ltural obsession with John Lennon, violence and murder (Kalis Thugs web page). Describing their initial interest in Hinduism bandmate Karene Stapleton points toward translations of Hindu te xts by Eknath Easwaran: Four years ago I picked out a book for Edwa rd as a birthday present, it was called the End of Sorrow. It was by an author I knew very little about, although I had read his book Dialogue with Death a di scussion of the Katha Upanishad. When I inscribed the book I wrote that it was for th e both of us. Those words proved to be prophetic.
88 I began to read a couple of pages a day and my life changed. Edward began reading and we both found that what he ha d to say resonated through our being. It started small, how we treat ourselves and our immediate family. But then it began to extend out to our immediate neighborhood and then the world. It was one passage of Easwaran that led us to decide not to eat animals. He said I don't eat my friends (Ibid.). The pair became drawn toward Kali. Their religious convictions eventually overflowed into their music and the band was born. As Karene explains their particular advaita soteriology: Life is suffering and non-suffering. We move from one to the other like a metronome. That is life, imp ermanence. Nothing good or ba d lasts forever. Kali is a visual representation of that constant motion, that non-linear view of our place in the universe. From birth to death to birth, from suffering to non-suffering to suffering, it is all circles. Kali represen ts our ability to break the bonds of ignorance that keep us in those circles. We are not la mbs to the slaughter and we are not the center of the universe. We ar e universal. That is why Kali's Thugs exists. We want to break through the boundaries of our preconceived notions about our place in the world. We do it th rough music and art, but most of all through our belief that ignorance kills and knowledge saves [emphasis original] (Ibid.). Indopaganism: Negotiation of Hindu and (Neo-)Pagan Identities A growing minority within the otherwise Europeanand/or African -oriented neo-pagan community, Indopagans are those devotees of (o stensibly) Hindu deities who resist acceptance of a Hindu identity and who merge Wicca and othe r neo-pagan practices and beliefs with their Hindu devotional practices. PaganWikia sort of pagan-friendly Wikipediadefines Indopaganism as an umbrella-term which describes the path followed by an ever-increasing number of NeoPagans, who derive the majo rity of their spiritual inspiration from the Hinduism and other Indo-origin spirit ual paths, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. The term can also be exte nded to those of a Hindu or Indo-tradition background who choose to incorporate el ements of NeoPaganism into their practice (paganwiki.org). While neo-pagans generally worship gods centr al to dead religions such as those of Greco-Roman, Nordic, Celtic, or Egyptian antiq uity, Indopagans appropriate deities from Hinduism, a living, non-European tradition, and as such are far more vulnerable to charges of
89 cultural imperialism and of pillaging culturesin a word mis appropriation. Danielle Meierhenry, a Canadian Indopagan who is better known in pa gan circles by her devotional names, Devi Spring or Prana Devi, explains the conundrum and the reason she ul timately decided to stake out her negotiated status: When it became apparent that the Hindu gods were calling, I was told that my only option was to convert to Hinduism So I did alot [sic] of study and contemplation towards that aim, but it never, ever felt right. I was sick and tired of feeling that I was pissing everyone offthe Wiccans were upset I wasn't worshipping Western gods, the Hindus were upset that I didn't want to completely embrace the Eastern lifestyle and culture in order to convert (or were of the opinion that one can only be born a Hindu, so there was no coming into the tradition for me at all). No one thoug ht blending the two had any merit. Well, for me it did. When I started blending everything clicked, and my life started to turn around and everything began to fall into place. I'm eternally greatful [sic] that Durga-Kali gave me the courage to just do what felt right! I had the greatest respect for both traditions, but each in its regular forms did not work for me (Meierhenry Yahoo! 2008). Meierhenrywho hosts a Yahoo internet-based support group for Indopagans scattered across the United States, Canada, and Europe grew up listening to th e grunge, industrial, gothic, and other post-punk alternative music form s. As noted previously the gothic subculture, in particular, became a part of the habitus web of neo-paganism. Of those involved in Meierhenrys Yahoo group, a disproportionate numb er appear to have been involved in postpunk music subcultures/scenes, and of those a la rge number indicate their preferenceor a past involvement withgothic music. The vast majorit y, in fact, consider themselves Kali devotees. Being Feminist by Being Hindu Depending upon the scene, it is clear from th e public discourse of performers and fans that various understandings of (post-)feminism or womanism19 play a large role in their lives. 19 The term womanism was coined by Alice Walker in he r essay, In Search of Our Mothers Gardens. A variant of philosophical pragmatism, womanism is meant to more specifically address the empowerment needs of women particularly those of colorill-addressed by the trad itional approaches to feminism which developed in a
90 The role that these philosophies play is reinforced by the privat e dialogue of fans with whom I have engaged over the years and through the comments of respondents directly to the interviews conducted to facilitate the research for this thesis. Previously I cited lyrics from the title s ong from Nina Hagens 2000 album The Return of the Mother. In addition to its immediate allusion to the re turn of Hagenthe Mother of Punkto recording and touring after a hiatusits title also alludes to the 1999 book of the same name by Steven Harvey, former spokesman for the German-based woman guru Mother Meera. Harveys book, in turn, took inspirati on from an observation Harvey claims Swami Aurobindo is thought to have made regard ing the soteriologic al necessity of akti as a universal, feminine quality: Toward the end of his life, the great Indian mystic Aurobindo is said to have said, If there is to be a future, it will wear a crown of feminine design. Unless we awaken to the mystery of the sacred fe minine, of the feminine as sacred, and allow it to grow into, irradiate, illumina te, and penetrate ever y area of our activity and to create in them all harmony, justice, peace, love, ecstasy, and balance, we will die out and take nature, or a larg e part of it, with us (Harvey 1995, I). The universalistic and feminist impulse prom oted by this perspective, as well as the responsibility for ecological stew ardship it enfolds into those im pulses, is in keeping with Hagens philosophyand indeed the philosophies of a number of the subjects of my research. That is to say: embrace of a universal mother/femininesometimes addressed via thealogy is the only grace by which humanity an d the planet can be saved. Yet for some, questions about feminist perspectives/influences a nd their Hindu-oriented religiosity are loaded. When asked Is Hinduism an expression of feminism or feminist beliefs for you? or Do you see the Goddess as empoweri ng to/for women? respondants, while often dominantly Euro-American middle class context. According to womanists, when feminist models of empowerment are extended to address cross-cultural, multi-class, and global contexts, they often dis-empower women outside of the original contexts that they address. This critique has also been proposed by post-feminists.
91 replying with a qualified yes, also tacitly or explicitly expressed concerns similar to those raised by womanists and/or post-fe minists that (western) feminist constructions are constrained. Furthermore, some point out that corres pondence between Goddess aspects and womens roles on Earth are only casually related. Desp ite prominently featuring messages promoting womens activist groups, and feministand women s issues-oriented material and links, on her website even Nina Hagen objected to the fram ing of questions about feminisms role in akti (or other forms of) Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma. In he r typically eclectic approach, Hagen responds in poetic form, utilizing Rastafarian phrases such thanks and praises, expressing her objections to characterizing her religious worldview as feminist (or specifically Hindu): what is femminism hinn-du-ism i dont buy no isms !! I follow the Great Sanatan Dharma, wher e all Religions have its origin and place therein ... The Female and Male Aspects of God what is being worshipped as GODDESS is GOD in HER FEMALE FORM ... so to be grateful and in awe and giving thanks and praises for all that amazes, for that ecstatic energy of lifes existance is the great power that sustains all beings that great great ENERGY OF LiFE & CONSTANT RENEWAL!! THE MOTHER THE FA THER THE CHiLD WHOOOOOOOOOOH OOOOOOOOO HERE COMES THE SOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU UL_TRRRRRRRRAiNNNNNNN (Hagen 2008). Invented Identities: Negotiating Gender and Sexual Iden tity Through Hindu-Punk Hybridity It should be abundantly clea r by now that many of the i ndividuals I have described especially those of aiva, akti, Indopagan and/or Tantra orie ntationsare LBGQT and/or view these genderand sexual ident ities as acceptable a lternatives to the predominant sexual
92 paradigms. This is somewhat consistent w ith the doctrines of many major Hindu sects and samprad ya/parampar but simplistic descriptions of Hinduism(s)/Sanatana Dharma as monolithically LBGQT-friendly are highly problema tic. Hinduism(s), Santatana Dharma, and/or Indopaganism is/are frequently ca st as being (an) LBGQ T-friendly religious perspective(s), or at least as having no position against such alternativ e paradigms, and there have been appeals to everything from the implication of sas ra the doctrine of transmigration of souls through reincarnationthat gender/sexual identity, wh ether heterosexual or LBGQT, is transitory, especially when viewed through an advaita non-d ualist lens. Appeals are also often made to the pr esence of androgynous de ities, gender-blurring bhakti practices, and such third-sex Hindu sects/j ti as the Hijra Aravani Jogappa, and SakhiBekhi. For example, as a bisexual, Stephen Donaldson identified with Ardhan r (or Ardhan r vara), the androgynous combined form of iva and akti, and his attitude is mirrored by others to whom I have spoken. It is sometimes countered that gods are gods and that humans who engage in such radical challenges to ort hodox (patriarchal) gender roles violate authentic Hindu/Vedic teachings. Yet these counter-challenges to negotiati on of gender roles and sexual orientation have done little to discourage th e growth of a Hindu-punk habitus which maintains that there is plenty of room for LBGQT persons in Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, if not outright claiming that Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma is, de facto an LBGQT-friendly religious worldview. Indeed, the many westerners and South Asians who have maintained that Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma is LBGQT friendly, or at least non-judg mental, have had some support from relatively conservative traditional Hindu groups such as the aiva Siddh nta Yoga Order of the Himalayan Academy: Intensely personal matters of sex as they affect the family or individual are not legislated, but left to the judgment of t hose involved, subject to community laws
93 and customs. Hinduism neither cond ones nor condemns birth control, sterilization, masturbati on, homosexuality, petting, polygamy or pornography. It does not exclude or draw harsh conclusi ons against any part of human nature, though scripture prohibits adultery and forb ids abortion except to save a mother's life (Subramuniyaswami, Satguru Sivaya 2003: 217). Although my method of analysis was more qual itative than quantitative, and my samples are not sufficiently large and random enough for reliab le statistical inferences to be drawn from them, initial anecdotal indications are that LBGQT orientations/identities are disproportionately present in the Hindu-punk context. Subjects who identified themselves as Indopagan, or who had passed through a phase of neopagan identi ty/experimentation, frequently listed bisexual/bisexuality or another LBGQT orientati on as their sexual prefer ence in numbers that appear to be roughly consistent with thei r (other) neopagan peer s (Berger 2003, 75-79, 93-98, 120). Once again, however, those who are members of, or who identify with, a more orthodox samprad ya/parampar or sectarian approachsuch as Steven Donaldsonstill frequently define their sexual orientation unde r the auspices of LBGQT descri ption at rates far higher than those of the general public. Loving a Difficult Woman: Punk, Transgress ion, and the Dark Mother The observation by Vasudha Narayanan that th e dark, fierce Bengali goddess Kali never gets a visa to join the multitude of deities present on the buffet of gods and goddesses that altars of Hindu temples in the West have tended to become is true enough.20 At worst, Kali is deemed demonic (or demoniac) by both westerners and South Asians. More often, perhaps, she is viewed with suspicion and contempt by west erners, and with embarrassment by South Asian immigrants who wish to distance themselves from a goddess with a dubious reputation. Her association with degraded (t ribal) Hinduism, Left-Hand Ta ntra, the infamous murderous 20 Narayanan, Vasudha in lecture comments for the course Hinduism in America, University of Florida, JanuaryApril 2008.
94 Thuggee Phansigar cultalleged to have been Kali devotees21and even (inexplicably) Satanism and black magicis certainly enough to chase off most South Asians and westerners who might be drawn to forms of Hinduism. As noted, however, a number of those involved in post-punk alternative subcultu res/genres are drawn to akti Hindu traditions, a nd the majority of those tend to embrace Kali. A few factors seem to coalesce to make Kali seem a natural choice for these people. Free of familial deities and parampar or samprad ya that traditional (Indian) Hindus have guiding if not outright dictatingtheir choices, non-Hindu westerners often feel free to pick and choose among the Hindu pantheon those deities they believe are most appropriate to them or, alternately, claim that those deities most a ppropriate to their spiritual ne eds choose them, as was the case made by Meierhenry (2008). While often challenged on their characteri zation by traditional Hindus and scholars alike, many western Hindu aktas and Indopagan Kali devotees view the goddess as embodying feminist or womanist principles. She is seen as empowering as she has dominance iconographically, at leasteven over the Lord of the Cosmos, iva. As 41-year-old Robin Rene, a (rare) lifelong African -American fan of hardcore pu nk, industrial, and gothic music states, I think that the presence of the Goddess(es) of Hinduism bring [sic] balance to the religious world that is often patriarchal. I dont know that it is an expression of feminism, but it is wonderful for those seeking to connect with the powerfully 21 Scholars have recently challenged the accuracy, either in whol e or in part, of this claim. See, for example, Martine Van Woerkens, The Strangled Traveller: Colonial Imaginings and the Thugs of India translated by Catherine Tihanyi, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002; Parama Roy, Discovering India, Imagining Thuggee in Indian Traffic: Identities in Question in Colonial and Postcolonial India Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998; Kim Wagner, The Deconstructed St ranglers: A Reassessment of Thuggee in Modern Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (October 2004) ; Cynthia Ann Humes, Wrestling with Kali from Encountering Kali in the Margins, at the Center, in the West, edited by Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Krip al, 145-68, (Berkeley: Un iversity of California, 2003), 160-61;
95 feminine and/or are viewing the world th rough a feminist perspective. Worship of the Goddess helps further the overall visi on of feminism and it is empowering for women to see their own faces in th e face of the Divine (Rene 2008). Renes comments reflect the perspective of a lot of de votees to the Goddessher in many formsboth Hindu and Indopagan. Finally, Kali is a logical choice for those whose stock and trade, so to speak, is transgression. This would, of course, be a good description of much of the very impulse that lay at the heart of the punk revolution: breaching bounda ries and rejecting sacrosanct social mores. This explanation might at first seem to conform to a stereotypical depict ion of those subcultural actors who engage in Kali devotion, or deploy he r as a symbol, as merely relying upon the dark goddess for shock value. But this would belie the tantric use of th e transgression and the goddess. Transgression of borders, particularly in advaita Hindu tradition, is a serious and necessary business, and many of those who have appropriated her in the West seem keenly aware of this fact. And perhaps a littl e punk rock-style shock value apparently doesnt hurt the mix when it comes to scaring the neighbors, Hindu and non-Hindu alike. Strange Folk: Hinduism and the Mainstream Bri t-Pop Alternative of Kula Shaker I have more or less skipped the grunge ro ck movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the development and proliferation of more mainstream and forms of post-punk rock and post-rock music generally cate gorized under the auspices of the term alternative. Despite the Sanskrit religio-philosophic or igins of the name of the grunge movement/(post-)subcultures preeminent originating band, Nirvana, and the a lternative nu metal band Tantra, plus the presence of song titles such as the Smashing Pumpkins Shivaall of which do potentially lend a certain level of literacy, however potentially misinformedand/or habitus legitimacy to experimentation with Hindu religiou s practices and themes, few of these bands were interested in
96 anything more than a cosmetic treatment or allusion to their s ubjects. Although highly controversial, one alternative band di d, however, diverge from this pattern. The English band Kula Shaker has blende d the styles and some of the ethos of contemporary post-punk (sub)genres and (post-)subcultures with retro 1960s and 1970s sounds as do many of the alternative ro ck bands of the Britpop movement. Popular in the U.K. and Europe, they are relatively obscure in the U.S ., where their albums and singles have never charted. In the case of Kula Shaker, its choice of retro influences, rather than being drawn from, say, the mod rock that has influenced bands such as Pulp, Oasis, Blur, a nd Ocean Colour Scene, drew more specifically on the B eatles India pilgrima ge-influenced pychedelia. This choice was logical for the bands front man, Crispian Mills, who is a second generation Ka devotee. As the son of actress and ISKCON devotee Haley Mills, he grew up in the presence of European Ka devotees who fairly worshiped th e Beatles side by side with Ka himself. Although he distanced himself from this music at the time songs such as Tattva clearly have been influenced by the Beatles music of that era. While the bands lyrics rarely, if ever, contain specifically Vedic/Vedantic reli gio-ethical pronouncements, their music has also drawn from Indian Hindustani and Kar aka sang ta music elements to an extentalbeit via possibly secondor third-generation si mulacraand their album cover imagery has often drawn upon Indian mythological motifs for inspiration. In a 1997 interview with the Br itish popular music magazine Q Mills claims he had an epiphanya realization of his ow n mortality at the age of elev enand following this experience he began readings his mothers Mah bh rata and adopted her vege tarian dietalthough he conceded the latter was done more to impr ess a young woman in whom he had a romantic interest in at the time (Sutcliffe 1997).
97 While most of the bands I have previously discussed, albeit bei ng non-South Asians who self-identify as either Hindus or as adherents to a Hindu-oriented religious tradition, have seldom appropriated Hindu-related religio-cu ltural elements in quite the same way as Kula Shaker has. Most of the Krisnacore bands, for example, play specifically hardcore music. Even Nina Hagen, since adopting a Sanatana Dharma religious ident ity, has maintained that identity resolutely, distinguishing and separating her performance of kirtana from her secular rock with very explicit acknowledgement of its (sacred) Indian-ness, while Kula Shaker seldom makes the distinction clear. Furthermore, i ndividuals and bands heretofore di scussed in the thesis have not been as well-known and/or as controversial as Crispian Mills and Kula Shakersave, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders who, as previously no ted, is/are not explici tly Hindu-oriented. Both Kula Shakers appropriation of Hindu religious and Indian cultural tr appings and Mills illadvised public statements have received sharp criticism, however. The charge in The Independent that Mills had dabbled with Nazism and its most potent symbol, the swastika (Kalman 1997), is a gross misr epresentation of Mills use of the symbol in its traditional Hindu contextalthough Mill did himself no favors when, while explaining the Indic origins of the symbol, he digressed into a discussion of the brillia nce of the magic(k) in which some Nazis reputedly dabbled.22 On another occasion Mills restated the old colonialist (and sometimes Orientalist) saw about Indians happy acceptance of poverty as being good for the soul, a misstep for which he was rightly condemned. One anonymous South Asia n British woman told me via a LiveJournal group for Hindus: 22 Mills later clarified his position after seeing his words in print. Recognizing the effect the digression had in blurring his overall point about his attitude toward the repreh ensible ideology and actions of the Nazis, he issued an apology.
98 I hated kula shaker because of something crispian mills said in an interview once that indians dont mind being poor because they are spiritual. What a load of rubbish! To me he just sounded like so me posh public school-educated clueless prat, possibly trying to make himself feel better for being so wealthy or something. I could never believe that his interest in hinduism, if he had one, was genuine (Bengrrl Tiger 2008). To this, another group member responded th at she had heard the same pronouncement come from the mouth of a Hindu guru. Does it make a difference wh ether Crispian mills says it or the Guru? she asked. (While it may make a difference who says it, it seems nonetheless universally condemnable to me.) Additionally, as a popular white British band whose music is predominantly embraced by white fans whose ancestors have had an uncomfortable and exploitative colonialist-subaltern relationship with the South Asian population from whom these elements are being appropriated, the ethnic and religious tensions Mills and Kula Shaker have in spired is palpable. Noting the trend, Keith Cameron, a New Music Express columnist quipped, He is singing a song which he says came from India and he can only be Crispian Mills from Kula Shaker. It is surely significant that no-one from India has asked for their song back (Cameron 1997) Postcolonial theorists speci alizing in ethnomusicology and po st-subcultural studies such as Virinder S. Kalra, John Hutnyk, and Rupa H uq, prefer to characterize Kula Shaker as specifically mainstreamin opposition to my own, broader breakdownand not, therefore alternative or (post-)subculturally post-punk.23 There are some good reasons for taking seriously the sources of this tension as it relates to allegations of appropriation a nd the charges that their mainstream successindeed the very reason that success was achievedundermines some of 23 I concede that Kula Shaker is far toward the periphery of the post-punk alternative familyespecially where the D.I.Y. elements are concerned, although I still include them as they follow, roughly, in the mold of a number of bands widely considered genuine post-punk alternative.
99 the most important tactical reasoning of punk/ post-punk music. I will address these charges in turn. Significantly, at the time the Beatles were e ngaged in their spiri tual quest at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, some voices were raised in protest that they were raiding other cultures and a ppropriating elements from them, but it was especially with the emergence of postcolonial studie s that these critiques reached a fevered pitch. Kalra and Hutnyk argue, for example, that the Beatles followed in an already-long line of westerners who mythologized/Orientalized South Asiathat Like so many other imperial travelers, most of the Beatles and their fans soon found this adventure becoming tiresome and uncomfortable (Kalra 2001). They continue: Kula Shakers inspirations are less to do with the music of South Asia, then or now, than reversions of the Beatles and the essence of a timeless, mythologized ancient India. Indeed, ever since the B eatles made their magical tour, recurrent phases of interest in the mystical East have been prevalent in Britains popular music (Ibid.). Kalra and Hutnyk observe that A hint of Asian-ness has become the authentic reference point for a whole series of music-cult ure adventures into eastern terrain, which is commoditized and resold to mainstream audien ces. Pointing toward the Marxian alienation problem this might pose, they ask, if this media and artistic exposure has a ffected the social and political status of a racialised minority group, or whether th e birth of Asian Ko ol, or even Asian being Kool, signifies the e nd of racial violence, disc rimination or Orientalist visions of the Asian other, must our answers always be negative? (Ibid.). While they ultimately answer this question in th e negative, it is not entirely clear how far this commoditization-alienation paradigm extends into the more ort hodox (post-)subcultural contexts which are definitively outside of th e mainstream. In fact, Kalra and Hutnyk pit a specific (post)subcultu reAsian dubagainst the case of Kula Shaker and other white
100 performers to suggest why those white performers are inauthentic and play a roleintentional or notin alienating Asians from their authentic cu lture and in denying auth entic artists a voice. I will now turn to the musical source of that voice. Rave, Techno, and the Asian Underground The term rave is associated with certain types of music, and it is certainly true that when one uses the terms rave music or house music one implies a fairly specific stable of artists who share in common certa in aesthetic and ethical values that shape the production and consumption of their music. More formally, however, raves are cultural events large parties organized around dancenot necessarily the music associated with them. Although there isnt a single (sub)genre of music associ ated with the various rave-ori ented (post-)subcultures, their music has overwhelmingly fallen under the auspices of techno (electronic dance music), to which I referred earlier in this chapter. Those w ho attend these dance events are typically called ravers. (Although the term ravefrom rave up first began being ap plied in the United Kingdom, the acid house dance party culture from which they developed actually began in tandem with certain industrial music strains in U.S. Midwest cities such as Chicago and Detroit.) Unlike those of the previous scenes, th ese alternative post-punk dance music forms became popular among British Asians (generally of South Asian ancestry) who began to take a more active role in the (post-)subcultures associ ated with them, and who created their own (post)subcultures and musical (sub)genres. Simultane ously dismissing the CCCS claim that Asians were/are problematic others who have never engaged in the punk and early post-punk subcultures that they catalogued on the one ha nd, and noting the upswing in British Asian (post)subcultural activities on the othe r, Rupa Huq observes that while it is true that few British Asians were engaged in the formal punk subc ulture and most of the major post-punk (post)subcultures, she still contends th at the British Asians who were i nvisible to the lens of CCCS
101 theoristsexcept when they were hapless, passive victims of Paki-bashing (Huq 2005:16, 3435)were still present and that, furthermore, they were creating their own (post-)subcultures. Further, she writes, By the mid-1980s, however, this state of invisibility appeared to be altering, in no small part due to the emergence and me dia reporting of bhangra, defined as a dance style which originates from the region of Punjab, performed when celebrating the harvest Its raw traditional sound is often supplemented with contemporary musical styles from the UK (Huq 2005: 68). Clearlyand self-defined South Asian-orient ed alternative music scenes developed by the midto late-1991s. Although there was, and is, a pan-South Asian or, especially, a pan-British South Asian identity emphasized even by the artist s and fans themselves, it is important to note thatwhile I am focusing more specifically on Asian dance musicartists of the so-called Asian Underground differ radically in their genr es and subgenres. As Kalra and Hutnyk observe, these cultural products are re-b randed as Asian Kool, and people (sometimes) rebranded from Pakis and other slurs to applauded participants in national creativity and British ingenuity. In this process Asian folk are collectivised even though their music, interests and styles cross multiple genres (Kalra 2001). I am, in fact, interested in collectivizing one specific f acetHinduismto an extent, and so this is one reason that I w ill discuss certain of the Asian U nderground artists to the exclusion of others. To this extent, a lternative Britpop bands such as Cornershopwhose music and means of production have a much closer family resemb lance to punk than does, generally, techno dance music but whose members, as British South As ians of Sikh ancestry who sing about Indianness but not Hindu religious culturegenerally fall outside the auspices of Hindu-punk. However, Asian techno dance did develop acts with Hindu-specific themes. Some artists, such as DJ Cheb I Sabbah, an Algerian Jew of Be rber descent, began remixing mantras, kirtanas,
102 and other Hindu sacred utterances with the help of fellow scenesters of South Asian descent such as Karsh Kale. The Emergence of the Asian Underground This ra ises an interesting point: there are tendencies which differentiate South Asiandescended Hindus approaches to religiosity in alternative music forms and (post-)subcultures from those of those of westerners who adopt Hindu/Sanatana Dharma religious identities. Westerners still tend to approach th ese religio-cultural systems from a doxa -oriented frame of mindwhat one might call an echo, or the fossil, of Protestant Christianity and its dominant role in defining the parameters of religion and religious discourse. Religion is not merely performed, it is talked about ormor e specifically in the bands cases sung about. Ethical ideas are discussed and problems-solving is attempte d. This is, in fact, the main role that music plays for the majority of these artists. On the other hand, South Asian (diaspora) ar tists whom I have discussed are far less likely to discuss soteriological and ethical de tails. Occasionally songs will briefly touch upon such elements, but they are rarely the primary subject. More often the songs, themselves, are performed religiosity, if subtly so. Hinduism is nt something one believes and teachesit is something one experiences. One doesnt profess Hinduismone simply is a Hindu. While it would be a mistake to take this bifur cation as a hard, fast rule, I think it bears up under enough scrutiny that tends to highlight a relatively common difference in worldview between the predominantly Christian doxa-focused west and a more praxis-oriented South Asian Hindu context. In terms of Asian techno dance, performers such as Asian Dub Foundation, Apache Indian, Bally Sagoo, and others rose to such prominence in their scenes that even mainstream record companies in Britain began to ta ke notice. As Kalra and Hutnyk note,
103 At the beginning of the 1990s a certain sophistication entered into the record industry with the appearance of Apache Indian, followed by the million pound signing of Bally Sagoo with Sony Records, heralding what could have been the emergence of a new dance music genre. But in the high profile bracket, what cant be controlled is often not kept on, an d with both Apache and Sagoo falling out from the flavour of the month club, the major companies withdrew support (Kalra 2001). Whether it is specifically colonialist/orient alist or not, I think a good case can be built that the use of cultu ral elements used by record companies is mis appropriation based upon the throwaway role that these performers played in their attempt to exploit a potential market, and I think Kalra, Hutnyk, and Huq have correctly id entified disempowering and dehumanizing power that these capitalist ventures bring to bear when they commoditize music in such a culturallyinsensitive manner. Once again, when thinking about these issues, the idea of what is authentic religious cultureespecially in term s of ownership of the term Hindu and the question of who has an authentic claim to systems of symbols, beliefs and practices becomes salient. Does a South Asian Hindu by birth, such as Karsh Kale, have th e right to remix mantras, let alone a white middle class kid like Ray Cappo have the right to claim a Hindu identity and sing them in punk rock songs? Who owns Hinduism? Whose Hinduism? When is Appropriation Mis appropriation? While one can easily see the tendency of the capitalist m usic industry to alienate South Asians from South Asian culture productsand one neednt look further than the nearest white racist hip-hop fan to see the fr uition of some of Kalras and Hutnyks fearsthey seem to buy into some of the individual liberty-denying co mmunitarian ideas that (neo-)Weberians find so troubling among the old-line CCCS Marxian theorists.
104 I accept their claims about the disempowerme nt of subaltern populations throughin at least some cases, genuinely misappropriated cultu ral elements and alienation of members of those cultures from their own le gacyvia strategies of the musi c industry, among others forces, However, I also think that they too readily dism iss the idea that negotiated hybridity can play an important role in bridging cultural gaps, even in cases where the performers have been nonIndian whites. Kalra and Hutnyk so strongly rely upon communitarian principles that they appear to reject hybridity unless it is internal to s ubaltern communitiesa troubling position, as it is as explicitly unjust in te rms of potentially ghettoizing and aliena ting the race, culture, and rights of individuals that it seeks to liberate. Rupa Huq writes, There should be more role s available to Asian cultural practitioners than simply appearing as ethnic court jester for white audiences or adding exotic trimmings to white cultural products (Huq 2005: 71), but she also acknowledges that many of the British Asian musicians/performers to whom she has spoken do not want their music to be politicized or to stop theiror anyone else sexperimentation with hybrid ity. In cases where hybridity appears to be central to a persons or groups id entitywhether that mixing comes in the form of musical elements, adopting a religious iden tity, singing about certain ideological themes, and/or incorporating art and other themesthe y may do so not because they believe there is cultural capital to be gained by doing so, as one angry anonymous South Asian-American complained because they are White hipsters us ing Hindu elements in their music (Fire Fly 2008)but because they believe it is their religious/ethical prerogative or duty. Ultimately, it may be impossible to find an an swer to the authenticity issue, and I am frustrated by discussions of a ppropriation that tend to focus on post-colonialist discourses alone which while particularly helpful where they have challenged the constructed notions of East
105 and Westare, I find, increasingly shrill in some quarters. Despite th e authors and others intentions to distance themselves from such positions, these postcolonial cr itiques have served to emboldened manifestly unjust apologist pos itions of movements such as Hindutva.
106 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION: REFLECTIONS ON PUNK ROCK PUJA A Breakout Movement? On Hindu-Punk Cultures Long-T erm Survival and Dissemination This thes is has presented the approaches to Hindu religious tr aditions as they are negotiated and lived by social actors who find m eaning in both those traditions and in the popular punk and post-punk cultures w ith which they are engaged, a nd it has explored the ways in which these actorsboth as individuals and as groupshave negotiated hybrid Hindu-punk identities. The cases in this thesis are not intend ed to provide a template for the broad future of Hindu religious traditions as they are approach ed in the westalthough th is could conceivably turn out to be the casebut to highlight just one way that Hinduism(s) is/are adapted, for better or for worse, to the (postmodern) contex t of contemporary west ern popular culture. Although being far from the dominant approach in the (post-)subcultural milieu(s) that led to its emergence, the negotiated Hindu-punk id entity nonetheless represents a present and growing phenomenon whichlike that of the go thic punk subculturecould far transcend its roots as a humble minority sub-subculture to grow into a powerfully influential post-subcultural force that influences the practices and beliefs (and styles) of many of those who do not immediately associate themselves with the subcultures from which their inspiration came. Indeed, it may be the case that, although Krishna core appears at first glance to be a more formally organized movement which is poten tially better adapted to long-term survival especially as an extension of the more optimally-positioned Hare Krishna new religious movementit might be the more actively femini st/womanist and neopagan-friendly Indopagan movement that gains wider acc eptance and proliferation/disse mination as a post-subcultural force. The tendency has been to accept more narrowlyand orthodoxica lly-, and essentiallydefined religious traditions as t hose which stand the test of time (in terms of their survival and
107 growth), but as Diana Eck (2002) and others have illustrated, this is not necessarily the case. Indeed, as an expression of th e strength in diversity approac h, neopaganism in general is a much more dominantly self-defined religious approach among westerners than the more doctrinally-orthodox ISKCON, and it is quite possible th at, with the growth of Indopaganism as a valid neopagan option, Indopagansalong with aiva and akti sectarians who tend to mirror many of their attitudes and practicesc ould represent the more substantial breakout source for Hindu-punk hybridity. Whose Religion(s), Whose Mu sic, Whose (Sub-)Culture(s)? In ending chapter 3 with a discussion of vi ews of orthodox Hindus a nd/or South Asians who are stakeholders in the (m is)use and (re)presentations of Hindu religious traditions in a largely western popular culture context, I have intr oduced one of the more controversial issues to be addressed when one considers how, why, to what extent, and to what end negotiated Hindupunk hybrid practices and identiti es are engaged. The idea of a uthenticity and its implied privilege of rights to ownership to those to whom it belongs are critical to how these questions are answered. The acceptance and/ or negotiation of Hindu religious traditions, or elements of them, has/have been a source of both tension and fellowship between South Asians and westerners who embrace these practices and beliefs. This will continue to be a contentious issue, and I do not seek to resolve it here. Yet the qu estion of who is a valid stakeholder in Hindu communities, and what is authentically Hindu, is relevant to all involved, and how these questions are approached and answered will di ctate how, and to what extent, Hindu religious traditions are incorporated as part of a negotiated tactical approach to religious/spiritual identity. I have attempted to highlight some of these tensions, both inside and outside of Hinduoriented religiosity and the et hno-cultural identity of South As ians and South Asian immigrant communities.
108 Escaping to, or from, Freedom? The Tension Betw een Hindu and Punk Worldviews Another concept that I have highlighted in this thesis is the r eturn of religious worldview and backlash against the extreme (existentialist) freedom embraced by the early punks. While this could be seen as a strategic (re-)incorpo ration of tactics, the reverse might just as well be said of an overarching punk strategy being challenged by, for example straightedge asceticism or other (ostensibly) religiously-oriented ta ctics. Punk nihilism did come at a cost. However, the hardcore ascetic a pproach of straightedge brought with it trouble, tootrouble that in the eyes of many within and without the fold of straightedge was as problematic as the social ills they sought to alleviate. Despite straightedgers professed oppositi on to sexism, racism, and homophobia, women were marginalized within [the stra ightedge scene] (Tho mpson, 2004: 50). Mirroring asceticism in the formally religious context, women were relegated to supporting rolesin the straightedge context as girl friend, fan, club worker, label work er, or photographer. Women also performed the majority of the work of recordin g the scenes history (Ib id). Ironically, despite the reputation of ISKCON as a regression from feminist ideals1, Krishnacore has arguably provided more leadership roles to women than the non-ISKCON-oriented straightedge scene(s). Perhaps it is worth reflecting on Craig OHa ras critique of the direction that the straightedge movement has taken in general, and the role of Krishnacore specifically, in the chapter of The Philosophy of Punk entitled Strai ght Edge: A Movement that Went from Being a Minor Threat to a Conservative, Conformist No Threat: 1 See: The Guru, Mayavadins, and Women: Tracing the Orig ins of Selected Polemical St atements in the Work of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami by Ekkehard Lorentz (112-27), Healing the Heart of ISKCON: The Place of Women, by Kim Knott (291-311), Life as a Woman on Watseka Avenue by Nori J. Muster in (312-320), and Race, Monarchy, and Gender: Bhaktivedanta Swami's Social Experiment Ekkehard Lorentz (357-90) in The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant, Edwin Bryant and Maria Eckstrand. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).
109 Young kids had blindly emulated Youth of Today and when [singer] Ray [Cappo] turned [to the Hare] Krishna [movement], many followed. It is not rare to see [Hare] Krishna Straight Edge bands and records. The [Hare] Krishnas could not have asked for a better spokesperson to recruit new followers. This trend has contrasted sharply with Punks rejection of organized religion (e specially cults) as being oppressive, escapist, anti-individuali stic, and just plain dumb (OHara, 1999: 149). Setting aside OHaras understanding, not to mention his ironic use, of the term cult which he appears to utilize only in its popular media sensehis observations mirror the critiques by many of his punk and post-punk peers regarding the ascetic tendenc ies present in most of the Krishnacore movement and in other straightedge -oriented movements. While the Hindu-oriented (and other) ascetic movements embraced by many within punk and post-punk scenes do appear give adherents a sense of purpose and empowerment, the extreme freedoms that the punk revolution promoted, constructed though they ma y be, are still often radically constrained. In his landmark 1941 treatise on the psychology behind the growth and popularity of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, Escape from Freedom the philosopher Erich Fromm noted that individuals in contemporar y societies are often paralyzed in the face of freedom and so attempt to flee from it. They cannot go on bearing the burden of fr eedom from; they must try to escape from freedom altogether unless the ca n progress from nega tive to positive freedom. The principle social avenues of escape in our time are the submission to a leader, as has happened in Fascist count ries, and the compulsive conforming as is prevalent in our own demo cracy. (Fromm, 1965 : 133). Rather than deal with the aloneness, fear, a nd bewilderment (Ibid.) of a life lived in the type of existentialist freedom th at punks and others strive for theoretically, at leastmany opt to surrender that freedom for the comfort that comes from a ordered and controlled existence. Humans tend to give up the independence of ones own individual self and to fuse ones self with somebody or something outside oneself in or der to acquire the strength which the individual self is lacking (Ibid, 140).
110 While this critique is, again, very much in keeping with those anarchistic and existentialist claims promoted by many punks, it stri kes at the very heart of the soteriology of the bhakti yoga (devotional discipline) approach advo cated in many Hindu religio-philosophical systems, such as that of ISKCON. Indeed, the term dsa often incorporated into the ritual names of devotees of Gau iya Vaiavism and other forms of devo tional Hinduism, is variously translated as slave or ser vant, making explicit the surre nder, no matter how voluntary, of personal freedom. Devotional Hindus often counter this by observing that personal freedom is an illusion, that despite ones perceived freedom in any situation one is always hindered and controlledthat servitude to the divine is still the greatest free dombut this doesnt wash with many non-Hindus who are more likely to take their cu es from thinkers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, Fromm, or Chomsky than a kara or Prabhup da. However, OHara is correct in his observ ation that the more ascetic shift of the straightedge movement has carried with it some rather unpleasant conservative, sexist, and antiintellectual baggage, although whethe r these tendencies are a neces sary result of the ascetic tendency is another matter. Inde ed, as I noted in chapter 3, th e ascetic tradition promoted by Krishnacore movement adherents tends to have re versed, somewhat, the ge nder bias so strongly present in the mainstream straightedge movement. Breakout of Hindu-Punk Negotiated Identities I have already highlighted the fact th at Hindu-punk/post-punk negotiation departs radically from Hinduism(s) as understood and pr acticed by the bulk of South Asian Hindus. I have also already suggested that the negotiated Hindu-Punk identities of th e actors w hose cases I have discussed are not necessari ly intended to be a template for the future of Hinduism. But Hindu-punk hybridity is clearly present in the western popular culture context, and it appears to be a growing phenomenon. Even the growing South As ian voices in techno, rave, and world beat
111 rhythms and subcultures have re -contextualized their approaches to Hinduism(s). However, the post-punk mix is the growing South Asian voice in techno, rave, and world beat rhythms and subculture which often not only counters some of the messages and forms of primarily white, middle class genres of prior punk and post-punk musi c, but which also provides inspiration for those audiences. Added to the problem of assuming that appropriation is, de facto mis appropriation is the long use of appropriation to the general bene fit of the worlds popul ation. While separating practices and beliefs from the specific cultures in which they have had a long developmental history often does a certain level of violence and injustice to the host cultures and the beliefs and practices themselvesespecially if the separations are carried out in a way that entirely alienates those cultures and the beliefs/practicesthe idea of the power issues re vealed by investigating the (ab)use of elements (mis)appropriated from cultures does not necessarily imply a normative ethic that forbids such approaches. Rather, it implies acknowledgment of the cultural origins of said beliefs/practices and recognitio n of how those beliefs/practices were applied in their original cultural context versus how they are (re-)applied in their new context. To this extent, both deep socio-anthropology and post-colonial critiques provide a valuable service wh en it comes to this reconciliation.
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118 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH I was born in Russellville, Arkansas, in 1967, the la st of four children to be born to Carroll Ray W ilson, a U.S. Army Infantry officer, and Patricia Allen Wilson, a homemaker who would later become a journalist and newspaper editor. I grew up primarily in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where I graduated from Westover Seni or High School in June 1986, joining the U.S. Army Engineer Corps Reserves. After spending a la rgely unproductive year as a History major at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, I returned to Fayetteville where I completed an Associate degree in general education studies at Fa yetteville Technical Community College in June 1990. I worked a va riety of jobs for nearly a decad e before re-enlisting in the Army, this time as an active-duty Signal Corps communications speci alist in October 1998. Shortly after completion of that four-year enlis tment, I returned to academics, simultaneously completing a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications with a concentration in journalism and a Bachelor of Ar ts degree in religion and philos ophy at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Other autobiographica l details are included in this thesis.