In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Scrappy John Lydon

Mr. Rotten's Scrapbook won the first Best Book Award of the 2011 NME (New Music Express) Awards last night.
In an interview, John Lydon remarked that "it's a scrapbook, but it's not just scraps. It's more like a roadmap." The distinction is worth considering. Scrapbooks are nostalgic attempts to fix events and noteworthy items into a book that reifies its maker's identity for posterity; roadmaps are forward trajectories. Lydon assumes that people will want to imitate him, so the scrapbook (retailing at $724.50) also becomes a how-to guide. Right now in the lit crit biz there is a surge of interest in scrapbooks as cultural markers and historical bricolage, the work of amateurs creating themselves through collections of key moments in their lives, windows onto historical eras, specific cultural loci, and individual sensibilities as they are socially framed. See, for example, poetry-and-popular-culture tzar Mike Chasar's Poetry Scrapbooks: An Online Archive. So, as usual, Lydon has his finger on the pulse of the times.

Lydon also paid tribute to Ari-Up, his step-daughter who died some months ago.

Lydon was known in the 1970s for his breakthrough sartorial style (based, according to some books, on Malcolm McLaren's perception of Richard Hell's style), which included dishevelment, elegantly tattered clothing, layers of tornness upon tornness, and so forth–what became known as punk style. He has written that he was positively impressed by the dress of street people, the homeless, they had a certain style. So did he, consisting of a rageful working-class sensibility crossed with killer fashion instincts.

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