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 What is punk? 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post What is punk?
I've been thinking about the -punk part of Biopunk. To me it's an attitude. The attitude James Watson showed when he looked through Rosalind Frankins papers. The attitude of Kary Mullis when he spent his youth lying on his back, high on LSD, looking at molecules passing before him. The attitude of Craig Venter when he sees the time frame of the human genome project and goes: Fuck this, I don't have time to wait for these guys.

Much of the hacker ethic is punk in this sense. Like the “hands on imperative”: If you want something done - don't complain about it - do it yourself. And no one has the right to say you can't open it up and tinker with it.

The hacker culture has many aspects. Two of the lesser known ones are lock-picking and social hacking(Mitnick was the master of this).

Especially the social hacking feels like an integral part of Biopunk to me. The human behavior and idea space is something I'm interested in understanding and hacking.

Sometimes this kind of hacking doesn't feel like one would expect punk to feel like. It's not standing on the barricades waving flags. But doing that is not hacking, it's missing an opportunity to exercise the art of social hacking. At least it feels that way to me. Either one doesn't care about the outcome in which case one can fail and do the hacking as a learning experience. Or it's something important that needs to be hacked in which case the people involved have no idea they just were hacked. There is no room for ego.

This is Biopunk to me.

Just wanted to write this down somewhere.

-Splicer

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Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:22 am
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Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:26 am
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Post Re: What is punk?
I've always associated punk with having a rebellious nature towards towards authority and mainstream culture (certain aspects anyway). While I wouldn't say that the nature of biopunk is rebellious, deciding that you're going to do experiments on your own in your house certainly shares some of those qualities.


Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:51 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Re: What is punk?
rallodc45 wrote:
I've always associated punk with having a rebellious nature towards towards authority and mainstream culture (certain aspects anyway).

That's well put I think. Punk is subversive, nonconformist.

I do like artful subversiveness though. Like when Daniel Dennet asks religious leaders if they are ok with all kids taking a test on the bare basics of all major religions. That would entail how many followers, where they live and what they believe.

As Daniel Dennet explained “They(the religious leaders) are all for it, but they know they hate it”. He also said it doesn't matter if they tell the kid this is the devils work and the only reason he/she has to learn is because they will be tested on it. It will work anyway.

This is being artfully subversive.

On one of Henry Rollins spoken word albums('Human butt' maybe?) there is a talk called 'The Decorator'. The Henry Rollins decorator is a person who doesn't get what he wants, doesn't really leave a mark on the world around him but makes a lot of noise while passing through it. He in a sense decorates the world around him with anger and attitude without accomplishing anything. Except decoration.

I think sometimes people confuse being subversive with being a decorator.

Loud decorating action is wonderful in it's own right though.

Darwin gave it to us to use as a drug.

- Splicer

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- Raoul Duke


Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:50 pm
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Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:35 am
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Post Re: What is punk?
For me, aside from attitude, punk was/is also about production values (or lack of them...). Stripped down to the basics, and with D.I.Y. inventiveness to obtain your goal.

I am totally down with characterizing Watson and Vetner as "punk", but the b.s. and denialism of Kary Mullis just makes him an intellectually dishonest old hippy/yuppie douchebag that needs to be destroyed, not celebrated.



And you were correct about "Human Butt", Splicer.


Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:07 am
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Re: What is punk?
simplexity: Thank you for the clip. It's simply brilliant.

I like Venter a lot. He understands his context and knows how to hack it. Not only is he usually right with his ideas, but he also knows how hack reality - to draft the resources to express the ideas.
Venter is good at this form of hacking. Mendel wasn't.

simplexity wrote:
I am totally down with characterizing Watson and Vetner as "punk", but the b.s. and denialism of Kary Mullis just makes him an intellectually dishonest old hippy/yuppie douchebag that needs to be destroyed, not celebrated.

I kind of knew Mullis probably was a bad example of the biopunk attitude. Mullis is punkish in the 'fuck you' sort of way. But - as you say – biopunk needs the intellectual honesty. Without it there is nothing.

I'm not sure about Mullis intellectual honesty or respect for the scientific method. I don't know if he still thinks that HIV doesn't cause aids, or if this was a valid objection at the time. I do think he chose strange forums to present his hypothesis. And that this hypothesis was testable, that instead of arguing about it he could have been looking for the black swan: The patient with aids but no HIV. These are my thoughts, maybe I don't have the full picture.

I've seen him come off looking like a grumpy drug addict in interviews. His inability to hack or sometimes even understand his context in itself makes him a bad example of biopunk.

-Splicer

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- Raoul Duke


Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:58 pm
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Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:27 am
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Post Re: What is punk?
In its original meaning, "punk" was a derogative prison culture term, meaning a weak convict who had been "turned out" by others to submit to their will, sexually and otherwise. It was taken up as a term of pride by musicians (and most probably, rock "journalists") as a positive term, emphasizing its marginal or "outsider" connotations. There is also a bit of madness associated with this genre's use of the term "punk." If you watch the Sex Pistols documentary THE FILTH AND THE FURY and listen to Johnny Rotten explain his cinematic onstage inspiration, you will see what I mean.

I have always thought of "punk" as meaning someone who--though not physically strong, is fearless and will get directly in the face of power, asserting authority through techniques of surprise, shock and awe, contempt for authority, and audaciousness.

The biopunk task is at hand, though, we shouldn't worry about symbology, but about results.


Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:05 pm
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