📼 Bricolage, Remixing, Constructionism, and Pastiche: Behind Our Punk Rock Research-Storytelling

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Worn audio cassette tape labeled PUNK with a black marker and masking tape
PUNK mixed tape.

According to French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the artist “shapes the beautiful and useful out of the dump heap of human life.” Lévi-Strauss compared this artistic process to the work of a handyman who solves technical or mechanical problems with whatever materials are available. He referred to that process of making do as bricolage, a term derived from the French verb bricoler (meaning “to putter about”) and related to bricoleur, the French name for a jack-of-all-trades. Bricolage made its way from French to English during the 1960s, and it is now used for everything from the creative uses of leftovers (“culinary bricolage”) to the cobbling together of disparate computer parts (“technical bricolage”).

bricolage: construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand

Bricolage Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

What do you get when monotropic bricolage thinkers write about monotropism and neurodiversity using the bricolage-friendly tools of the open web? This website.

In the tradition of punk and disabled communities, we use bricolage and pastiche to roll our own.

Next in a punk sensibility was its love affair with pastiche. As the true postmoderns they were, punks drew freely from highbrow culture, lowbrow culture, and places in between, picking and choosing as they went, bound by no formal ideology.

In practice, however, punks consciously or unconsciously drew on previous youth cultures, with methodologies and ideologies marked by pastiche and bricolage. In other words, punks borrowed freely from previous youth cultures and dominant society, melding these elements into a new form of expression.

“We Accept You, One of Us?”: Punk Rock, Community, and Individualism in an Uncertain Era, 1974-1985

DIY or Die

Neurodivergent and disabled people have to do it ourselves, or we go without. We bricolage from “a diverse range of things that happen to be available“.

People with disabilities are the original life hackers because our motivation is so high. If we don’t hack we often go without.

Liz Jackson: Designing for Inclusivity – 99U

In the arts, bricolage (French for “DIY” or “do-it-yourself projects”) is the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work constructed using mixed media.

The term bricolage has also been used in many other fields, including anthropology, philosophy, critical theory, education, computer software, and business.

Bricolage is a French loanword that means the process of improvisation in a human endeavor. The word is derived from the French verb bricoler (“to tinker”), with the English term DIY (“Do-it-yourself”) being the closest equivalent of the contemporary French usage. In both languages, bricolage also denotes any works or products of DIY endeavors.

Bricolage – Wikipedia

The most important message I got from punk, was the DIY ethos. The DIY ethic. It’s inherently part of surviving.

Don Letts, SHOWstudio: Stussy – Talking Punk with Don Letts and John Ingham

Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s described the early Masque scene: “Everyone was kind of into the whole homemade thing, ‘cause … you couldn’t buy real punk clothes like they could in London.”

“We Accept You, One of Us?”: Punk Rock, Community, and Individualism in an Uncertain Era, 1974-1985

Identity Bricolage

Many of us think via bricolage and form and express identity via bricolage.

The appropriation of pre-existing materials that are ready-to-hand to create something new (Lévi-Strauss). This creation both reflects and constructs the bricoleur’s identity. The term is widely used to refer to the intertextual authorial practice of adopting and adapting fragments from other texts and to the ways in which consumers make use of commercial products and/or their advertising for their own purposes, making them their own by giving them new meanings. The American sociologist Sherry Turkle (b.1948) uses the term to refer to the way people use objects to think with. See also juxtaposition; recontextualization; compare counterbricolage.

Bricolage – Oxford Reference

Scripts, Commonplaces, Canned Monologues

Like many autistic people, we script and can.

I often think of my life, of my speech, as a database of words: Scripts, commonplaces, canned monologues that I recall, sometimes at will, sometimes by force. I am invoking the network not to stereotype me or my kind as computers, but to invoke the database as ordered fuckery. I mean that much of my spoken words are preceded. I mean that they are borrowed grammars, the rote and ritual that are both prized and demonized by shrinks and third grade teachers. I long for the parallel: the rhythm of the fingers against keys, the thoughts forged outside the grip of the other, tempoed lines that never meet.

Let us abstract together.

Talk and type as you will. Will the words. Hammer the rest.

Typed Words, Loud Voices: A Collection – Autonomous Press

Let us abstract together.

I remember how I learned to talk. When I say “learned to talk,” I mean “learned to shut up.” Words fill the air, but filled air does not always = meaning. Hammer, pustule, grey matter in a saucepan, dilatory arrangement. Parents who are not my parents or maybe not anyone’s parents puzzle me with words. As a child, I found patterns: books with cryptographic lines that carried seemingly intrinsic rhythms, synaesthetic soundscapes and eyescrapes and armscrapes, pustules artfully arranged. With my tongue I popped them, word guts everywhere. Talking is like mad libs. I find the pattern. I find the rhythm. I horde parallel sentence structures. What is there to communicate when the tongue gels?

My third grade teacher, a parent who was not my parent, convenes frequent parental conferences, presumably to address the State of My Silence. “But she talks at home,” my parents plead. There are shrinks involved. One has copious amounts of arm hair. The other’s arm hair status, I can’t remember. This puzzles me, but not in an anthropomorphic way. “But she talks at home,” I repeat to myself, as if I’m in situ, but in reality, I’m thinking about arm hair. The shrink’s arm hair is usually parallel, like my favorite paragraphs. I wonder what it would look like at a science museum, should the shrink stick her hands on the floating electricity orb.

Let us abstract together.

Episodic memory needs to be explicitly stated, according to Google, and maybe some academic somewhere. Who knows. But episodic memory is about time and events, and narrating those times and events. And I am impaired, so how to tell my telling when my telling can’t be told? I want to presume my competence, but then I remember my wrist, and its puzzle imprint: Who wants to solve the competency of the competent? When the competent are bored, they claim someone else as their inferiors. Then I think, quite punningly: It is hammer time.

This is a true story.

There are narratives on repeat. Sometimes they emerge from fingers. Sometimes they emerge from eyes that divert or bodies that rock and wrench. Sometimes they escape the mouth. Performance acts, much like actions perform.

Typed Words, Loud Voices: A Collection – Autonomous Press

Filling Our Databases With Serendipity

The created serendipity of streams offers bricolage thinkers a bounty to feed our databases.

It runs on software, the hacker ethos, and soft networks that wire up the planet in ever-richer, non-exclusive, non-zero-sum ways. Its structure is based on streams like Twitter: open, non-hierarchical flows of real-time information from multiple overlapping networks. In this order of things, everything from banal household gadgets to space probes becomes part of a frontier for ceaseless innovation through bricolage. It is a computer designed for rapid, disorderly and serendipitous evolution, within which innovation, far from being a bug, is the primary feature.

A Tale of Two Computers

Pastiche: Celebrating Our Influences

Stimpunks.org is pastiche. We celebrate the work of the many authors and artists we incorporate into our storytelling. We encourage our learners to build and iterate via bricolage, pastiche, and celebration of their influences.

A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, music, or architecture that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates the work it imitates, rather than mocking it.

The word pastiche is a French cognate of the Italian noun pasticcio, which is a pâté or pie-filling mixed from diverse ingredients. Metaphorically, pastiche and pasticcio describe works that are either composed by several authors, or that incorporate stylistic elements of other artists’ work. Pastiche is an example of eclecticism in art.

Pastiche – Wikipedia

…punks viewed the pedestrian actions of everyday life as potential expressions of art and ideology.

“We Accept You, One of Us?”: Punk Rock, Community, and Individualism in an Uncertain Era, 1974-1985

In punk and metal tradition, Stimpunk Diego made their own battle vest in celebration of their influences.

Anti-libraries and Knowledge

We read and strategically skim lots of books and research. A lot can be learned from the introduction and opening chapters of a book, so we habitually download, search, and read samples from eBook stores. Highlights and notes from all this reading go into DEVONthink and Ulysses and ReadWise and Raindrop.io.

PDFs, ebooks, and web archives also go in DEVONthink and Raindrop, where we tag everything. DEVONthink’s AI augmented search helps us find connections among sources, including ones we haven’t read yet.

All of the partially read and unread text we collect and curate form an anti-library, one that has been useful in our writing and research on neurodiversity, disability, tech ethics, and education.

Ulysses and DEVONthink are our zettelkasten, anti-library, research database, cognitive net, and thinking space. No, we haven’t read everything that they and our bookshelves hold, but we’re constantly discovering, rediscovering, and connecting ideas while creating the conditions for serendipity.

Someone walks into your house and sees your many books on your many bookshelves. Have you really read all these? they ask. This person does not understand knowledge. A good library is comprised in large part by books you haven’t read, making it something you can turn to when you don’t know something. He calls it: the Anti-Library.

I remember once in college, the pride I felt about being able to write an entire research paper with stuff from my own anti-library. We all have books and papers that we haven’t read yet. Instead of feeling guilty, you should see them as an opportunity: know they’re available to you if you ever need them.

This is the mark you must aim for as a researcher, to not only have enough material - and to know where the rest of what you haven’t read will be located - on hand to do your work. You must build a library and an anti-library now… before you have an emergency presentation or a shot at a popular guest post.

The 5-Step Research Method I Used For Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene, and Tucker Max

Some questions are only asked by people with a fundamental misunderstanding. The friends who walk into my office and ask, “have you read all of these” miss the point of books.

In his book, The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb describes our relationship between books and knowledge using the legendary Italian writer Umberto Eco (1932-2016).

The writer Umberro Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have. How many of these books have you read?” and the others—a very small minority—who get the point is that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendages but a research tool. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means … allow you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

Taleb adds:

We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations. People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did. Just as we need to stand library logic on its head, we will work on standing knowledge itself on its head.

A good library is filled with mostly unread books. That’s the point. Our relationship with the unknown causes the very problem Taleb is famous for contextualizing: the black swan. Because we underestimate the value of what we don’t know and overvalue what we do know, we fundamentally misunderstand the likelihood of surprises.

The antidote to this overconfidence boils down to our relationship with knowledge. The anti-scholar, as Taleb refers to it, is “someone who focuses on the unread books, and makes an attempt not to treat his knowledge as a treasure, or even a possession, or even a self-esteem enhancement device — a skeptical empiricist.”

My library serves as a visual reminder of what I don’t know.

The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are The Most Important

Everything Is a Remix

Remixing is key to progress.

Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work

Creation requires influence. Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives, and the lives of others.

Everything is a Remix Remastered (2015 HD) – YouTube

From our libraries and anti-libraries, we remix.

Remixing is key to progress, and good user interfaces encourage remixing, especially by newcomers who might have fabulous ideas.

And there is a diverse and growing community of users whose projects are available for remixing (as in Scratch and Snap!).

Kids all over the world are sharing projects and remixing and extending them.

Plus, by observing how organizers design and facilitate the experience, we discover interesting activity prompts, design principles, and facilitation strategies that we can remix and apply with our students.

Even when students engage in individual projects, they can learn from each other by sharing their work. For example, we often encourage students to have a look at what others are working on to get ideas and inspiration. Children and teachers are often surprised because this is usually forbidden in schools. Instead of creating a competitive environment, we try to promote a culture of cooperation in which students are happy to see their ideas being appreciated and remixed by others.

The social aspect of musical performance also parallels the perspective that computing is both collaborative and creative (Brennan & Resnick, 2012). An analog can be built between the way programmers work together, building communities around sharing and remixing code, and the way in which musicians build communities of interest through performance, sharing, and debating best practices. Programmers review code and musicians critique performances. Both musicians and programmers modify, improvise, and derive inspiration from the work of peers and mentors.

Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work

Bricolage Fuels Constructionism

Imagine an educational technology ecosystem in which children build their own computer with something like the Raspberry Pi, create a server out of another, automate classroom or home appliances, program videogames on their personal computer, post programs online for others to download to their handheld gaming systems or remix, control robots they invent, 3D print toys, make films including musical scores they compose, share experimental data with scientists, sell their poetry anthology, and oh yeah, do some schoolwork too. One of the biggest ideas of Twenty Things is that we can do so much (more) with just a few good constructive materials.

For fifty years, those of us on the Solomon/Papert team have been dismissed as reckless utopians for advocating the outrageous notion that every student should own a personal laptop. Providing something of value to “other people’s children” is particularly controversial with affluent parents whose own kids have multiple phones, tablets, and smartphones. Providing reasonable access had been a long hard slog until 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and schools were forced to move online, laptops magically rained down from the sky into the waiting arms of students. Imagine how much better and less instructionist “Zoom School” might have been if the educational leaders who miraculously found sufficient funds to purchase computers during a crisis had an educational philosophy ready to support their use? Any coherent vision and accompanying pedagogical strategy would have been welcome.

Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work

The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning.


In many schools today, the phrase “computer-aided instruction” means making the computer teach the child. One might say the computer is being used to program the child. In my vision, the child programs the computer and, in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intimate contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.

Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas

For me, constructionism lies at the heart of what I want to study—how do students construct music knowledge in a school makerspace? My hypothesis is if students make music artifacts in a makerspace, they will construct music knowledge. At this proposal stage of my dissertation, prior to any research, I am using a constructivist/constructionist definition of music knowledge: meaning derived from an experience with aural phenomena (Shively, 1995). A music artifact would be a representation of this constructed music knowledge through performance, creation, or description (Shively, 1995Wiggins, 2015).

Constructionism is being practiced anywhere where people are making artifacts to represent their knowledge constructions.

On Constructionism, Makerspaces, and Music Education

That Could Be Me: Inspiring Constructionism

For her 19th Birthday, she took a chance on seeing a London band with a provocative name.

That band was the Sex Pistols.

At the time, The Pistols were merely support for obscure Welsh metal outfit Budgie, they were mostly playing ramshackle rock’n’roll covers and there was barely anyone there.

They were just a bunch of kids playing music with no pretensions of professionalism.

But that was key: Like many others after first seeing the Sex Pistols, Elliot was hooked and realised that she could do this too. “That’s why I formed X-Ray Spex.”

Before Riot Grrrl: X-Ray Spex & “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” | New British Canon – YouTube

Pretty much immediately Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex’s influence was felt. Just like seeing the Sex Pistols had convinced Styrene that getting onstage without much musical grounding was possible, a generation of punk and new wave women saw X-Ray Spex and thought “That could be me.” Her left of centre look also helped in that, not being the traditional male fantasy of many other women that had appeared on Top of the Pops. “The idea that just anyone could (start a band) was really big to me. That people in your neighbourhood could start a cassette label or a record label, that you could see people who were making records walking down the street. And they didn’t necessarily have to be in a glossy magazine, and they didn’t have to weigh 90 pounds and have blonde hair down to their ankles or whatever was the fashion of the day.”

Before Riot Grrrl: X-Ray Spex & “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” | New British Canon – YouTube

I would argue that the ability young women and girls now have to embrace the DIY approach to music would not be as prevalent as it is now had Riot Grrrl not busted down the door back in the 90s.

The 90s DIY feminist art punk scene in the Pacific Northwest gave us Kurt Cobain, Ian MacKaye, and Sleater Kinney. And the list of bands in the Riot Grrrl legacy goes on.

Riot Grrrl: The Story of Feminist DIY Punk
I can fix my bike up (Do it yourself)
I can grow a salad (Do it yourself)
I can start a punk band (Do it yourself)
Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it yourself
I can make peanut butter (Do it yourself)
I can walk myself home (Do it yourself)
I can make the rain come (Do it yourself)
Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it yourself

Do it do it yeah x3
I can make the first move (Do it yourself)
I can fight my own corner (Do it yourself)
I can put it back together (Do it yourself)
Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it yourself
I can put shelves up (Do it yourself)
I can give a hair cut (Do it yourself)
I can heal a broken heart (Do it yourself)
Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it yourself

Do it do it yeah x6

You are good enough (Do it yourself)
You are strong enough (Do it yourself)
You are smart enough (Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it, Do it yourself)  x3

You are good enough (Do it, do it, do it)
You are strong enough (Do it, do it, do it)
You are smart enough (Do it, do it, do it)  x2

Do it yourself

DIY by Dream Nails

Re-create and Rewrite Ideas

In the face of market notion of school reform in the United States, many liberal and neoliberal educators have rediscovered Freire’s ideas as an alternative to the conservative domestication of education that equates freemarket ideology with democracy. However, part of the problem with some of these pseudocritical educators is that in the name of liberation pedagogy, they reduce Freire’s leading ideas to a method. According to Stanley Aronowitz, the North American fetish for method has allowed Freire’s philosophical ideas to be “assimilated to the prevailing obsession of North American education, following a tendency in all human and social sciences, with methods—of verifying knowledge and, in schools, of teaching that is, transmitting knowledge to otherwise unprepared students.”

This fetish for method works insidiously against the ability to adhere to Freire’s own pronouncement against importing and exporting methodology. In a long conversation Paulo had with Donaldo Macedo about this issue, he said: “Donaldo, I don’t want to be imported or exported. It is impossible to export pedagogical practices without reinventing them. Please tell your fellow American educators not to import me. Ask them to re-create and rewrite my ideas.

Teachers As Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach

Appropriate Space

The spaces where we belong do not exist. We build them with radical love and revolutionary liberation.

Gayatri Sethi, Unbelonging

Two of the most important developments that began in the 1990s, and continue to thrive today, are the staging of house shows and the establishment of volunteer-run community spaces. Both materialize DIY in important ways, but each has a unique historical trajectory.

In the face of such struggles, the creation of house spaces, volunteer-run spaces, and other punk- specific locations truly materialize DIY in powerful ways that also model what it means and feels like to do DIY together.

The emergence of the house as a DIY venue explicitly and implicitly challenges conceptions of the home as cut off from public life. Houses are transformed from somewhat isolated private spheres to pseudo-public spaces when punks decide to host shows in their homes. House show spaces are now standard locations for punk shows and are considered important options for DIY punk bands touring the U.S.; however, this contemporary awareness among punks that houses can function as venues did not develop uniformly. The contemporary DIY touring network is very much a product of efforts made in the 1980s but shifted and changed throughout the 1990s because of some limitations with the more common spaces used for shows during the ‘80s. Punk bands have played at houses since the music began.

Underground: The Subterranean Culture of DIY Punk Shows | Microcosm Publishing

There is, however, a major difference between these other uses of the home for collective music experiences and punk house shows. The people who live in the house and book the shows are enacting a DIY philosophy and politics, as are the bands that play and many of the people in attendance. The home space has in effect been appropriated to shift from a container for standard domestic practices to a pseudo-public place that offers an alternative venue option for many DIY punk bands that are often excluded from more official (or legitimate) live music venues.

Underground: The Subterranean Culture of DIY Punk Shows | Microcosm Publishing
Do you ever feel unsafe?
Do you wanna take up space?

Do you (Take up space)
Wanna? (Take up space)
Do you
Oh, do you wanna?
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh

--Take Up Space by Dream Nails

I think the key here is space.

“It’s Not Rocket Science” – NDTi

Adapt, Subvert, and Extend

Discoveries made in the field of anthropology are helpful here. In particular, the concept of bricolage can be used to explain how subcultural styles are constructed.

These magical systems of connection have a common feature: they are capable of infinite extension because basic elements can be used in a variety of improvised combinations to generate new meanings within them. Bricolage has thus been described as a ‘science of the concrete’ in a recent definition which clarifies the original anthropological meaning of the term Bricolage refers to the means by which the non-literate, non-technical mind of so-called ‘primitive’ man responds to the world around him. The process involves a ‘science of the concrete’ (as opposed to our ‘civilised’ science of the ‘abstract’) which far from lacking logic, in fact carefully and precisely orders, classifies and arranges into structures the minutiae of the physical world in all their profusion by means of a ‘logic’ which is not our own. The structures, ‘improvised’ or made up (these are rough translations of the process of bricoler) as ad hoc responses to an environment, then serve to establish homologies and analogies between the ordering of nature and that of society, and so satisfactorily ‘explain’ the world and make it able to be lived in. (Hawkes, 1977)).

Subculture: The Meaning of Style

The implications of the structured improvisations of bricolage for a theory of spectacular subculture as a system of communication have already been explored. For instance, John Clarke has stressed the way in which prominent forms of discourse (particularly fashion) are radically adapted, subverted and extended by the subcultural bricoleur: Together, object and meaning constitute a sign, and, within any one culture, such signs are assembled, repeatedly, into characteristic forms of discourse. However, when the bricoleur re-locates the significant object in a different position within that discourse, using the same overall repertoire of signs, or when that object is placed within a different total ensemble, a new discourse is constituted, a different message conveyed. (Clarke, 1976)

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, we could use Umberto Eco’s phrase ‘semiotic guerilla warfare’ (Eco, 1972) to describe these subversive practices. The war may be conducted at a level beneath the consciousness of the individual members of a spectacular subculture (though the subculture is still, at another level, an intentional communication (see pp. 100–2)) but with the emergence of such a group, ‘war–and it is Surrealism’s war–is declared on a world of surfaces’ (Annette Michelson, quoted Lippard, 1970).

In The Crisis of the Object, Breton further theorized this ‘collage aesthetic’, arguing rather optimistically that an assault on the syntax of everyday life which dictates the ways in which the most mundane objects are used, would instigate … a total revolution of the object: acting to divert the object from its ends by coupling it to a new name and signing it…. Perturbation and deformation are in demand here for their own sakes…. Objects thus reassembled have in common the fact that they derive from and yet succeed in differing from the objects which surround us, by simple change of role. (Breton, 1936) Max Ernst (1948) puts the same point more cryptically: ‘He who says collage says the irrational’. Obviously, these practices have their corollary in bricolage. The subcultural bricoleur, like the ‘author’ of a surrealist collage, typically ‘juxtaposes two apparently incompatible realities (i.e. “flag”: “jacket”; “hole”: “teeshirt”; “comb: weapon”) on an apparently unsuitable scale … and … it is there that the explosive junction occurs’ (Ernst, 1948). Punk exemplifies most clearly the subcultural uses of these anarchic modes. It too attempted through ‘perturbation and deformation’ to disrupt and reorganize meaning. It, too, sought the ‘explosive junction’. But what, if anything, were these subversive practices being used to signify? How do we ‘read’ them? By singling out punk for special attention, we can look more closely at some of the problems raised in a reading of style.

In Resistance Through Rituals, Hall et al. crossed the concepts of homology and bricolage to provide a systematic explanation of why a particular subcultural style should appeal to a particular group of people. The authors asked the question: ‘What specifically does a subcultural style signify to the members of the subculture themselves?’ The answer was that the appropriated objects reassembled in the distinctive subcultural ensembles were ‘made to reflect, express and resonate … aspects of group life’ (Hall et al., 1976b). The objects chosen were, either intrinsically or in their adapted forms, homologous with the focal concerns, activities, group structure and collective self-image of the subculture. They were ‘objects in which (the subcultural members) could see their central values held and reflected’ (Hall et al., 1976b).

…self-consciously subversive bricolage…

Subculture: The Meaning of Style

Copia Provides a Strategy of Invention

The sources considered here imply not a binary model (masculine=feminine) or even a view of gender as a continuum, but something more like a copia, the rhetorical term Erasmus used to describe the practice of selecting ‘‘certain expressions and mak[ing] as many variations of them as possible’’ (17). Copia provides a strategy of invention, a rhetorical term for the process of generating ideas. To be specific, copia involves proliferation, multiplying possibilities so as to locate the range of persuasive options available to a rhetor. I find the concept of invention fitting to describe the kind of rhetoric in which many autistic individuals engage when they discuss sex and gender, a rhetoric we might consider, following Mary Hawkesworth, a feminist rhetoric, insofar as it seeks to ‘‘call worlds into being, inscribe new orders of possibility, validate frames of reference and forms of explanation, and reconstitute histories serviceable for present and future projects’’ (1988).

Individuals who find themselves engaged in this rhetorical search for terms with which to understand themselves can draw on a wide array of terms or representations, such as genderqueer, transgendered, femme, butch, boi, neutrois, androgyne, bi- or tri-gender, third gender, and even geek.

Gender Copia: Feminist Rhetorical Perspectives on an Autistic Concept of Sex/Gender: Women’s Studies in Communication: Vol 35, No 1

Bricolage is a Living Thing

Oh bondage, up yours
Oh bondage, no more
Oh bondage, up yours
Oh bondage, no more

The punks wore clothes which were the sartorial equivalent of swear words, and they swore as they dressed–with calculated effect, lacing obscenities into record notes and publicity releases, interviews and love songs. Clothed in chaos, they produced Noise in the calmly orchestrated Crisis of everyday life in the late 1970s–a noise which made (no) sense in exactly the same way and to exactly the same extent as a piece of avant-garde music. If we were to write an epitaph for the punk subculture, we could do no better than repeat Poly Styrene’s famous dictum: ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours!’, or somewhat more concisely: the forbidden is permitted, but by the same token, nothing, not even these forbidden signifiers (bondage, safety pins, chains, hair-dye, etc.) is sacred and fixed.

Subculture: The Meaning of Style

Everything that was normally supposed to be hidden was brought to the front.


Punk rock is a living thing.

It’s about turning problems into assets.

Don Letts, Rebel Dread
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