“In its very style, the exposition of dialectical theory is a scandal and an abomination in terms of the rules and the corresponding tastes of the dominant language, because when it uses existing concrete concepts it is simultaneously aware of their rediscovered fluidity, their necessary destruction,” states Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle. Debord, the father of Situationism, speaks to pure negation (of commodity). Punk is Returnal: the return to essence, the return to nature. Herbert Marcuse speaks of revolution, the need for and act of direct transformation as antithetical to exploitative society; punk is the same.
On Punk Authority, Pete Swanson distills punk as a generic signifer and punk as an ideation even further. No guitar, no universal commodity figure to block the punk truth, only the sine wave. Unabashed noise, bending, weaving, complex in nature and form, is utilized to show punk for what it is: a returnal, krieg, and sublime Sisyphean struggle and writhing.
Of course, the writhing is strictly fourth-wall breaking here. Unlike the antics of Suicide, the voice is the representation of the will fighting the angular and the ratchet; Punk Authority here is meta, with Swanson assaulting the listener. There is no spectacle to dive into; there is only the Self for the Self.
Punk transcends passivity, punk is domineering. Punk Authority inverts the simulation of commodity culture — the notion of being able to own something, to assign it value — and put that value on the outside. The listener is vacuous, identity uprooted by an assemblage of contorted noise.
Punk is aesthetic. Punk is drab, as is the sinewave. It is through combination that the color arises. It is through combination that the signifier of the punk commodity arises. Punk for Pete Swanson is absolute refusal. There is no Self, and there is no Other; only the struggle, only infinite expansion and contraction. The form of punk is as abstract as the name. One simply wears its affinity for immediacy, not accessibility. Even the track titles are simple truths; truth of punk and the truth after punk. Punk is not a lifestyle, but an aesthetic that you wear for the time in which you need to revolt.
To paraphrase and appropriate Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise, punk is true theater. Punk is stabbing someone in the gut and then exclaiming “Ah ha! The play is over!”