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How do subcultures form their relative reality?

[Question: Make a synopsis of Dick Hebdidge's "subculture the meaning of style". Simply outline his central thesis. Deadline ]

In Michel Foucault’s text, there was no differentiation between knowledge and mystification----just power and discourse. People perceive their own reality and build up different ideology. Subculture as a power of subverse, provides other possibilities of society construction. In this essay I would explore the attribute of reality and try to answer how subculture form their reality.

Foucault used Bentham’s notion of panopticon apparatus, imagine if put the foundlings in a panoptic system since born, teach them different things in different cells, even in completely different systems. Some would be taught Newtonian system while the others believed that the moon was made of cheese. When they were eighteen or twenty they would be put together to discuss the question. Also if teach children the different sorts of mathematic, some were taught two plus two makes four and others were taught two plus two don’t make four, and then we could wait until their twentieth they would be put together for discussions. In this context Foucault implied that human mind as blank slate could be inscribed by different designs. The way people were educated makes up their conscious and reality.

Carolus Linnaeus in his work Systeme Naturae observed how children raised by animals take on the social characteristics of their foster parents(wolves, bears, sheeps etc.) It gives the attest of someone nurtured by something wholly other away from human society, his behavior assumed the attributes of that society.

On 1828 teenage boy Kaspar Hauser first appeared in Nuremberg Germany with a letter from a captain of cavalry regiment, who claims "I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was". According to his memory, he was imprisoned in a small room since he born, someone provides him bread and water. Before he was released, there was a stranger came and took him to Nuremberg, he learned walking on the way and repeated this sentence without knowing the actual meaning. In a background of someone who was totally isolated from outside world since the beginning of life, in the situation of no language skill, no communication ability, his statement was shaped by his only teacher----that stranger.

Similarly, in Sparta the children were educated to realize their destiny as warriors, and Plato/Socrates believed revealing knowledge was innate, which fits “anyone could be taught anything”. Movie <Room> also gives an assumption of building up a reality. The 5 year old boy were born in a solitude room, all his recognition of reality is from his mother who were raped and imprisoned by her neighbor since she was 17. At the beginning the mother told him things in this room such as wardrobe, toilet and desk are real, the world in television is not real, with the purpose of protecting the child’s mind. In this situation the mom as a powerful discourse inculcated the child a view of reality. If we see this concept as a small vision of discourse metaphor, then in what so-called real world, it is possible that the majority people who hold a common view of reality based on the authority discourse which actually subjective and fragmental.

It is discourse constructs individual’s opinion of reality, which comes from different places and established identities and differences. The production of discourse is at once controlled, selected and redistributed. For a kid, the discourse comes from home, his primary behavior and basic knowledge are the imitation of his custodians. For a student, the discourse comes from the school, with what teachers teach and what were written in the textbook. For a worker, the discourse comes from the factory, with what leaders say, with the conversation between collegues. For a religious group, the discourse comes from the church, the popes’ explanation of the Bible and those high-grade followers. For a housewife, the discourse comes from the tv channel she watched, the website she viewed, and the husband who brought her the news. All these discourses can influence people’s mind, form a variety of filter when they perceive the situation of existence.

In summary , the attribute of reality is constructive and multiple. Reality is not only multiple on one person, it is also multiple in everyone’s perception. Reality is the projection of thoughts and imagination. For example, our society feeds us some narrative such as: If you break the law you will go to the prison, or human being is on the top of the food chain. These thoughts influence our intuition and in a way, deceipt the perception of multiple reality.

For example, there is a same carambola exists on the desk, but people standing on different angles, someone would see the shape is ellipse, someone would see it as a pentagram. Those are all realities and can’t be justified as right or wrong. People create their reality by paying attention to different things subconsciously. Also those attention and thoughts makes future become reality and that are the power of imagination. The thoughts help people to make decisions, and the future comes as the result of those decisions. In this context, reality is self-created.

Reality is not only the internal world inside individual, but also people in a same environment share and construct a common reality. People communicate between their conscious and this dimension of reality, which is intersubjective. Then in the context of subculture, how to build up their relative reality?

The function of human mind is similar to a computer, it can be input by any content. In the context of subculture, people have a common taste of music and style constructed their community, before subculture becomes a genre of culture, it was just some different ideas from mainstream value. When those individual ideas go the extreme version of individual himself and repeat for as much as you can, it will develop and finally becomes a new style. For example, punk, hiphop, were both defined as “subculture” in 1970s, punk people hold a common value of against government and break the law, which were written in their lyrics. Old punkies dress leather coat and with exaggerated Mohawk hairstyle, they show up in livehouse with a group of people all look like that. In that sense of reality, money, power, social status are not seen as the most important value, the most destructive person are the most respectful in their eyes(Sid Vicious).

For now those people seems disappear. Where are they? Most of them has turned mid-age, some died young as their expectation (Slogan: Die young in 27), Vivienne Westwood became one of the most successful designer and not live punk anymore. Rock band such as Ramones, the 3 members had died and the other one Marky Ramone is still a musician, although the new album only got few thousand listeners on Spotify. Punk was popular and it created some greatest hits in 20 century, but now punk is definitely died. In the new Billboard list, the hottest songs are mostly hiphop and electric pop. (2016.4.25)

The death of punk draws a picture of this role playing game in reality. One may get bored of being a punk forever as the society changed and age goes up, all the choice of role playing are pretty much related to who you are around with. In a bigger vision, there is always a more influential voice to make the trends of mainstream society.

Not as punk, hiphop was belonged to black culture in the past, but for now it is almost everywhere. Hiphop singers became super stars and they have fans all around the world. How does hiphop became so mainstream in recent years? Although the lyrics are still explicit, and way much related to sex and violence, they are widely accepted and get the controversial attention. Also personally, I think the most important reason is, black discrimination is less and less. When the common value of society changed, the relative reality is also changeable.

In conclusion, people perceive their reality by feeling and illusion, with the imagination of their mind. According to Bentham’s Panopticon institution, the separated kids in two towels are hard to discuss at the beginning, but I believe after they meet together, they will develop some opinions in common. The powerful discourse shapes the common accepted ideology and become the primary recognition of individual’s reality.