Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ian Penman reclaims pretension for/from the masses


Ian Penman, interviewed by Pat Long in his new book The History of the NME; extract published at Rock’s Back Pages:
I didn’t really like punk. It promised all of this change but soon we were just going back to the same old rock‘n’roll thing, which I had no emotional investment in. I knew next to nothing about rock music history. If you’d quizzed me about the Byrds or Iggy or the Velvet Underground, I’d be lost. I knew nothing. I’d never read Lester Bangs... Compendium Books in Camden had a great section of French philosophy and I just started getting into all of these great writers. I didn't understand half of it at the time, but I remember opening a book of Jacques Derrida and it just looked amazing: all this playfulness with the layout and white space. Roland Barthes was the same. It was wonderful writing but it was laid out and played games with the reader. It was immensely pleasurable and refreshing when everyone else was trying to write like Martin Amis, which was just stale and airless and like something from 1964... The cliché that grew up at the time around me and Paul [Morley] was that we were pretentious, which I’m not ashamed of. Pretentious is just another word for aspiring to something, for trying something out. There was this idea that we were these grey long-coated Echo and the Bunnymen fans sitting in darkened rooms reading French philosophy. It wasn’t like that at all. We were having fun. Because I didn’t know about rock‘n’roll history and rock‘n’roll writing I didn’t realise that you had to write in a certain way about things. In the middle of a singles column once I started writing about Marks and Spencer’s mayonnaise, recommending this mayo instead of some single. It was supposed to be funny...

1 comment:

el hombre invisible said...

That, I like.
I also like your blog, Tim, even though it's too post-modern for me to really understand...
;>)