The Death of Effort - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Death of Effort

The Death of Effort

Published August 26, 2006

I am a big fan of punk rock and punk rock values. I like the superficial sense of inclusion it promotes; the sense that you shouldn’t have to be the world’s greatest instrumentalist just to play some music, the sense that everyone can participate in some way regardless of their abilities, its sense of egalitarianism – that everyone is worth something and that every effort should be celebrated in its own right. I like punk rock and it’s mantra of “everything’s possible if you set your mind to it – so go out and do something.”
Of course, no punk rock scene works like that in reality. They are tightly knit and hierarchal elitist organizations, with leaders and followers and a plethora of rules you have to abide. But that is beside the point. I like the idea of punk rock values and how they present themselves, what they want to be. It’s probably better to at least romanticize and strive for a notion of egalitarianism than to ignore it completely.
So I subscribe to the thought that everybody should go out and do something without letting impossibly high standards, or a lack of finances or talent hinder them. And that’s kind of been the spirit of Reykjavík and even the wider world these past few years, with the advent of internet blog journalism and whatnot. And by all accounts, that should make me happy. But I am not.
There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding regarding the abandonment of some of the more exclusive and oppressive standards the world has been operating by. Even if it really is always better to do something than nothing, that does not mean that just anything will do. You still have to make an effort. The beauty lies in the effort anyway, rather than action itself.
My generation has been getting active in fields like publishing and writing recently and while I am all for that, I still feel the urge to distance myself from most of their works, mainly because they seem to suffer from taking the whole ‘let’s just go out and do something’ thing too seriously – or not seriously enough. For instance: if you want to publish a magazine, the main point of that should be what you want and have to say, rather than just the act of publishing itself. That’s really beside the point.
You probably can make a lot of money selling ads in a magazine that celebrates that anything can be said, and that’s maybe more exciting than the actual making of it. But the punk ethic is not about assuming that readers (or audiences) are idiots that will gladly swallow every piece of poorly written and ill thought out bullshit you spoon-feed them. At least grant readers and audiences a minimum of respect, the other key tenet to the punk aesthetic.

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