Read Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century by Greil Marcus Online


This is a secret history of modern times, told by way of what conventional history tries to exclude. Lipstick Traces tells a story as disruptive and compelling as the century itself. Hip, metaphorical and allusive...--Gail Caldwell, Boston Sunday Globe. Full-color illustrations and halftones....

Title : Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780674535817
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 508 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century Reviews

  • Geoff
    2019-06-15 06:00

    I met Greil Marcus one weekday afternoon when I was supposed to be at work; I was leafing through sale books in the basement of Politics and Prose here in DC and he was at a table surrounded by copies of his newest book on Dylan getting ready to give a reading. I said "hi" and picked up a copy without asking and flipped through it and told him Love and Theft might be the best record of Dylan's career. Marcus didn't seem to be particularly interested in talking with me, so I put his book back down right in front of him and my greasy thumb left a big print on the shiny cover near Dylan's face that Marcus seemed to take note of with displeasure. True story.

  • Greg
    2019-06-11 05:03

    What I learned from this book is that Griel Marcus is a Sex Pistols fanboy, who placed way too much importance on this band and didn't even think to look beyond the illusion of Johnny Rotten and Co. to more authentic 'situationist' inspired moments of punk. The SI sections of this book are interesting, and as a history of the Sex Pistols this book is vaguely interesting, but really the book is a lot of over-hyped crap.

  • W.D. Clarke
    2019-06-10 12:09

    This isn't just a book about the history of punk, peeps: this traces the spirit of negation, of scandalized, moral indignation, back into the French Revolution, through surrealism and Dada and the Situationists. As academically rigorous as it is stylishly written, it is an absolute must if you are a music lover in any way, a true classic of the oft-pilloried category of Cultural Studies: it crosses disciplinary boundaries in the most intellectually fertile way imaginable, yet jettisons none of the rigor of traditional scholarship and reads like it was written by a novelist influenced by Hunter S Thompson and, say, Joseph Heller, in that it is propelled forward by a driving, irrepressible energy even as it lingers on the smallest of evocative details (such as why Jonathan Richman's "One-two-three-four-five-six" at the beginning of his classic song "Roadrunner", a paean to the imaginative power of rock n roll on the radio, changed the world forever.

  • space
    2019-06-16 03:47

    Marcus not only gets most of it WRONG, he seems intent on politicizing the expressly apolitical (early p-rock). My opinion of this book has always been colored by the fact that this guy is a clown... a fucking PRO-SITU ROCK CRITIC, someone that Debord would've punched in the fucking face (I know this cause I corresponded with Guy- and he agreed this pot-boiler is laughable... as did Jamie Reid.) No one should take this thing seriously. Fuck it off and read the original texts. Don't let this POP-CULTURE DUDE (can't be much more of a shill for the spectacle) mis-inform your opinions. A real revisionist piece of shit written for self-aggrandizement.CULTURAL WORKERS ARE THE WORST KIND OF BUREAUCRATS

  • Gaelan D'costa
    2019-06-14 12:15

    What a bastard! Greil Marcus sucked me in with 70s punk trivia and turned out to be an introductory text on Dadaism, Situationist International and the May '68 riots that shaped contemporary France.But, if this book as anything to say, it shaped punk too. By bookending philosophy with punk histories it convinced me that listening to protest music was not enough; it uncovered a philosophy that demonstrates the true danger and disruptive joy that should have informed the instruments and ears of everyone under the punk tag. Assuming, of course, that all punks were academic at heart.The book is definitely rewarding but, given its spirit, tends to gleefully confound the reader just as its focus organization once did.The question is: being not a punk but mere punk listener 20 years too late, how do I take my new understanding of SI, '68 and continue their good work in business casual and the grocery?

  • Jared Colley
    2019-05-27 09:53

    This book is so many things: (1) a non-linear history of the avant-garde, (2) a broad critique of the everyday life of mid/late capitalist society, (3) an account of punk, anarchy, and the historical/cultural roots of such phenomena, (4) a work of art perhaps?This book is not for everyone, however. It is, at times, a frustrating, incoherent read - an experiment in historical scholarship. Malcom McLaren himself states that Marcus' book "was a crazy, wild, at times almost inarticulate attempt to do something that nobody else had done before."Despite this, book is a beautiful piece of art and can serve as a great reference. For anyone interested in Punk, Situationism, and the Avant-Garde.

  • Derek
    2019-06-10 04:03

    As a scholarly work, this is some post-modern mush-brained twaddle. Dude...John of Leyden...John Lydon!...Whoa! Take a rip from the history bong!It seems to be a gateway drug to Situationism, May '68, etc. for a lot of folks, which is of value.

  • John
    2019-05-18 04:15

    this is a tedious book, almost a textbook. (i actually have seen it taught in universities.) at its best, lipstick is engaging in waves; at its worst it is mundane, bordering on inane, and repetitive in marcus' masturbatory doldrums. reading about subversive political turn-of-the-century art movements in france and central europe can be very interesting. there's a bit on dada if you're into that. of course marcus couldn't resist indulging himself - as is his m.o., i'm finding - with firsthand accounts of end of the road sex pistols shows. you need to be committed to rip through this phonebook.

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-05-24 03:55

    Dense and intellectual but worth the effort. See how popular culture subverts and exploits all shocking revolutionary movements until they become mainstream and no longer threatening. Win valuable prizes on the way.

  • Stewart Home
    2019-05-21 08:52

    A COSMETIC UNDERGROUNDThe emphasis Marcus places upon personalities ultimately nullifies any sense of individuality which his subjects might possess. The links drawn between free spirit heretics and members of the Lettriste, Situationist and PUNK movements, are forged without acknowledgement of the fact that the former lived in feudal communities while the latter were attempting to effect change within industrialised societies. Since the mental sets and social networks of individuals living under capitalism are fundamentally different to those shared by members of a feudal community, comparisons between the two are specious.The device used to link these diverse individuals and movements is the metaphor of the medium; Johnny Rotten is a passive creator whose body is taken over by what Marcus describes as 'the voice,' but which we might just as well call the muse, or God – because it's a higher authority. In his description of the last Sex Pistols concert, Marcus portrays Johnny Rotten as a puppet whose actions are controlled by an occult force:"As in other moments on the same stage on the same night, as in so many moments on the singles the Sex Pistols put out over the previous year, he seemed not to know what he was saying. He seemed not to be himself, whoever that was, once more he was less singing a song than being sung by it."With the concept of 'the voice,' a hidden authority which (dis)organises the world, Marcus abandons any need for a rational explanation of the events he describes. Such a mode of discourse has more in common with the simple faith of a priest, than the considered reflections of a critic or historian; it is a creed which, with its refusal of difference, does a gross disservice both to the post-war avant-garde and the PUNK music Marcus claims to love.Read the full review here:

  • macartain
    2019-06-06 05:09

    Nah... This is one of those books with little black-and-white reproductions of gestetnered Dadaist zines that stoned punks pored over in bedsits decades ago and thought they were into a genuine subculture... You know, like Chaos Magick and Apocalypse Culture? All this shit was mysterious back then but went out the window when the love-it-or-hate-it internet pipe got hooked up to everybody's house about a decade ago and now knowing about Situationism or Throbbing Gristle is as simple as hitting wikipedia for half an hour... Dense with awful cultural-studies type sentences which are frequently impenetrable.

  • Julie Fishkin
    2019-06-16 12:09

    Brilliant. This imperative, Benjamin Buchloh endorsed, piece of cultural history examines, re-defines and formulates the entire history of punk movement from its inception centuries ago with various revolutionary anarchists all the way up to Malcolm McLaren and, yes, the sex pistols. He understands Guy Debords fundamental contributions to punk through the inception of the Situationists during the Paris May 68 revolts and covers everything an educated kid like you needs to know to call yourself party of any fucken subculture. yeah!We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dyingof starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.

  • Fred
    2019-06-04 06:14

    This thing turned into more of a slog than I was looking for. Thought it would be a fun history of punk music or something, and it's more of a slightly academic treatise on youth revolts (sort of). Slips into some Marxist theory talk - still nobody has sufficiently explained reification to me so that I can use it in a sentence - but still better than the dreaded "unpacking" of the structuralists.My first clue it would be a little tougher was that it was from Harvard University Press - they're not publishing junk (not much anyway). Once I got some page long sentences of Marx-talk I knew I was in for a haul. Thankfully it lightens up as you go, and his basic thesis - that the Sex Pistols were the latest outpouring of a nihilist/creationist trend encompassing dada and the May '68 riots in France - is pretty solid.I did the work and wound up enjoying this immensely, and learning a good deal of art and political history to boot. If you are looking for salacious tales of Sid Vicious debauchery, this is not that. Does it stretch the point, to compare the Sex Pistols to the bohemians of Cabaret Voltaire? Nah. I think he backs it up pretty well, and makes a good case for "punk" not really existing before or after the Pistols. Fine by me - recommended.

  • Xio
    2019-06-10 09:47

    When I first read this I was so excited someone had managed to reasonably accumulate so much of this particular variety of comparative history. I recall being impressed by ideas moving through history, time and again there being such movements toward liberty of self expression.I believe recent times reflect that pattern in an oddly popular manner. Its been assimilated somehow via capitalism or something commercial. Now it seems as though the people who in past times might have been subversive, critical, are now our brand name hipsters whose goals includes the habits of an Imelda Marcos. and so on.I've been considering re-reading it because I have 2 sons entering into the pre-adolescent period of serious and deliberate consideration over their identity and the means of self expression available to them, either immediate or by proxy. They are artistic and they are kind. They don't like what they see happening around them but they enjoy taking advantage of it. I do think this is a useful book, still. I'll let you know when I set about rereading it...

  • Joaquín
    2019-05-26 06:52

    This is one of those books that discovers you that the History is written in a background that just seldom appears in the books of History. Cultural Studies? This books is History of the Culture. from the avant-gardes to the punk, through the forever-forbitten-heretical Situtionism, here is what the a pretended prty-revolutionary-professor would never avoid to you. Highly recommended for those who mistrust of the Grand Narrative

  • Steve
    2019-05-29 06:16

    Essential reading! Connects Punk rock to the Heresy of the Free Spirit, Dada and Situationism. This is a poetic history that is incredibly inspiring and, it seems, somewhat speculative. But poetically it is utterly true and on the mark. Reading this book changed my life and the way that I view (and listen to!) the world.

  • Andrew Price
    2019-06-06 07:51

    I'm not sure there's any book that's taught / opened my eyes to more things. For that reason alone has to have 5 stars. That said its hard work at times and as for the "structure" of the debate/argument/hypothesis - well there isn't one. It's more a cyclic stream of consciousness and all the more wonderful for it.

  • Mustafa Al-Laylah
    2019-05-22 05:17

    Probably one of the best books I'ver ever read from Greil Marcus The only book by Marcus that I've ever been interested enough in to finish.It links ideologically the Free Spirit movement of the European Middle Ages to the Parisian student uprisings of the late sixties to the evolution of UK punk in one surly, ill-mannered, shaggy-dog epic. Ne travaillez jamais!

  • Erin Tuzuner
    2019-05-19 09:17

    Just another book about the resonating splendor and life altering nature of rebellious teenage music. Actually, there's a bit more to that. Marcus covers Dada, Surrealism, Lettrists and the Situationist Movement through the lens of early punk rock, proving that there was an intellectual basis to the seemingly obvious nihilistic overtones in the Sex Pistols music.

  • Matt
    2019-05-29 10:53

    Marcus is not only a great scholar but a great punk and a great punk scholar. Now, to say this necessarily connects to a million other things, these arbitrary categories used for introduction and a bit of context... Point being, this whole text rages along its own margins and succeeds marvelously.

  • Tosh
    2019-06-09 05:16

    It's impossible to seperate the music from its era or what happened before hand. Marcus makes a conga line with the Situationists International and how that lead to Punk. It's a fascinating read with a lot of great visuals - and a good way to get an introduction to Guy Debord and Co.

  • Jim
    2019-06-15 08:10

    This book is how philosophy should be written. A true Glitzkrieg.

  • Tim Jones
    2019-05-24 05:17

    I haven't read this in a while, but it is, in my mind, the best work of pop culture criticism and theory ever written.

  • Samantha Everts
    2019-06-15 03:51

    Changed my life.

  • Meredith
    2019-06-12 10:00

    I did it!

  • Mark Desrosiers
    2019-06-16 08:57

    Worthless free-association historical wank. Remarkably, it still seems to act like Palmolive on the lily-soft brains of monied neo-Dadaists and grad-school semioticians alike.

  • Kat
    2019-06-09 07:11

    I was really obsessed with this book from the ages of about 18-25.

  • Alger
    2019-05-17 04:08

    A period piece written at a time of resistance looking back to moments when revolution appeared in the offing through the vehicle of radical and anarchic artistic statements. Opening with the culture bomb of the Sex Pistols and then working backwards through the twentieth century to stop a while with the original Dada movement at Cabaret Voltaire in 1917, then forward past the cheapening of Dada by the Surrealists to land in 1950 on at the feet of the Orioles and the Letterist International, then jumping forward again to get past the ossification of Rock and Roll and most of the Situationalist International to arrive back where we started. The usual suspects are trotted out, Johnny Rotten is given pride of place for his instinctual grasp of the absurdity of punk stardom. Guy Debord is allowed just enough space to demonstrate why Situationalism devolved into poitical infighting and irrelevance in the heat of the 1968 summer. Henri Lefebvre appears as the foil to and champion of the lessons of Dada, and in many ways the reason the movement is misremembered as a moment of absurdity as antidote to modernity. However, along these usual suspects are a number of rescues and rethinks: Persons lost in the shadow of these A-list rebels but who composed the only meaningful critiques to the hegemony of modernity and often collapsed under its weight. In this telling the A-list too often misunderstands or obscures the actual meaning of their own importance in a continuum of thought pushing back against the pseudo-reality supported by mass consumerism and culture. Some, like John Lydon, were largely oblivious to the cultural genealogy and meaning of what he sang ("The best rhyme I could find for anarchist was anti-Christ"), although the Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren know enough to parrot Situationalist slogans. On the other hand, the character played by Lydon, Johnny Rotten, was an embodiment of anti-modernity, with an instinctual Dadist sensibility, and was an oddly belated victory for Hugo Ball and the Isadore Isou. The impact of the Sex Pistols was to insert a sharp splinter of cynicism into the smug certainty of pop culture, first killing the soft handed idealism of the 1960s, and then later revealing the greed and aesthetic hollowness of Michael Jackson's early 1980s star turn by comparison.In an unfortunate move, the book is deconstructed is the best 1980s style, with every art school affectation imaginable (which appealed strongly to my own 1980s art school nostalgia but also made for frustrating reading at times). Like Dada and Situationalism, this book is a relic of what a post-modern aesthetic looked like from deep within the modern. Like the imaginings of space travel in the 1950s, it was easier and more fun to imagine look of the future than it was to realize the prosaic limits and banality of the reality. Now post-post-modern we are stranded in a culture without direction, with an art unable to obtain a foothold for cultural critique, with a brutal and pragmatic set of philosophic concerns. By moving from a culture obsessed with how to spend a surplus of leisure, a millennial liberation from the need to struggle to subsist, to one of obsession with limits we have lost the ability to look forward with a sense of progress and optimism. Détournement is no longer a shocking appropriation, instead it is a condition of life on the internet. Punk (and its powerful echo in early 1990's Grunge) are fully commodified, Debord is a trendy touch stone in graduate seminars everywhere, and Dada is defanged and very collectable.

  • Derek Martin
    2019-06-05 11:05

    Still reading it, but it's pretty interesting so far. I enjoy the writing style even though it does jump around a bit. The sentences are complete and coherent, but the narrative exhibits a cut-up type of technique, punctuated by headlines - it does remind me of the Aeolus chapter of Ulysses (but it is much easier reading than Joyce). It pays to re-read certain sections once you move a bit further on.This book glorifies the music and its importance a bit too much at times - but linking the poses and attitudes of early punk with the Situationists and other philosophical antecedents is a great idea that does form some real connections. I love love love the Sex Pistols, it's that dirty guitar tone that gets me most. This book has increased my respect for Malcolm McLaren, the man really was well-read, and so far seems to be the only real link between early punk and the outsider philosophers Marcus discusses. His honesty about the whole thing being a scam is great too, especially since so many people have taken the idea of punk and developed this snobby, holier-than-thou, idiotic, amateurism-glorifying, exclusive stance from it. I like breaking down boundaries and creating new ideas and connections, I like intensity, I like beautiful noise. I don't like attitudes, I don't like exclusive-ism, I am not impressed by willful amateurism. So clearly, there are a lot of things about punk that I love, and a lot of things that I hate. As I said, this book glorifies the music and the attitude of punk, as well as the stance of willful amateurism, in ways that only a partisan can. Nonetheless, Marcus does recognize that while purporting to expose and stand against the banalities and the insularity of society at large, punk adopted its own set of banalities and its own brand of insularityfrom the very beginning.Of course, now that we are living in the days of pop-punk and fashionable, so-called indie rock, it's probably worse than ever. The Harvard Press published this book in 1990, so Marcus had yet to witness to what extent there would be not just ignorant lemmings jumping on the subculture bandwagon so as to make themselves believe they were unique, but also how much the mainstream would co-opt and adopt these stances and fashions so that now you have the musical and philosophical equivalent of Britney Spears and bubblegum pop being presented as punk - pop-punk,emo and indie boy bands and girl bands and the like. Quotes from McLaren throughout this book indicate that he always envisioned his band as teen idols, that the idea of a revolution through a pop culture medium was, even if it could spread the popularity, or at least popular knowledge, of revolutionary ideas, essentially a scam. Nonetheless I would gladly take his teen idols over today's teen idols any day. Even if their cynicism was not well thought out, seeming more like a bratty, negative stance than rigorous social criticism, it was an original stance at the time and one that truly shocked the old guard (for no good reason), which is quite amusing to read about in Lipstick Traces. Also their music rocked. The crappy "punk" bands of today do sometimes get some good guitar tones I will admit - their producers, sound engineers and record company reps must be telling the kids which kinds of guitars and amps to play - but they overlay it with that crappy, sentimental radio-friendly sound, making it unlistenable, and even crappier lyrics, making it vomit-inducing. Then you have hardcore bands, a charade for the most part. There's really not much music out there nowadays calling itself punk that is good. The revolution was swallowed up, as they knew it would be. Every now and then it pops out again, but once it does, you can feel the impending doom. The moment it breaks into the consciousness of the widest set of people, in that same moment opens up the black hole that will envelope it, and before it even does, it manufactures the clones who will replace it, gradually introducing the clones to the mass consciousness, one after the other, until the original spark has been quietly removed and the mass consciousness, none the wiser, is happily sated with the clones who remove any hint of aesthetic or political revolution in the original ideas and use them as mere fashion accessories to dress up the tired, old ideas that the mass consciousness was seeking to maintain all along. I came of age in the early 90s, not too long after this book was released, so I was witness to an excellent example of this cycle playing itself out once more. I appreciate Marcus presenting me with its antecedent, which I have heard a certain previous generation harp on at great length many times (as most older generations are wont to do), and for taking it back even further to speculative antecedents that are now only remembered by devoted students of fine arts, art theory and philosophy. Thus whatever I may say about the shallowness and insularity of many counter-culture revolutions, or at least of a good number of those who take part in them, whatever the so-called practical-minded will say about the ridiculousness of presenting a new set of aesthetic ideas and ideological stances through a pop culture medium, or for that matter through any artistic medium or any medium other than the earthly plane of existence in the here and now and the political and economic structures which control it, punk rock and its descendants produced (and continue to produce, despite the claims of heritage from them laid by vast amounts of crap) a great amount of variety and interesting ideas and sonic textures. Punk, hardcore, post-punk, new wave, modern rock, alternative - all the weird variants within those. All the intelligence, politics, alluring aesthetics, experimentalism, pounding rhythm and energy that came into music since. There are so many bands and artists that took music to really cool places. They celebrated the amateur the way the amateur should be celebrated, as one who can approach the medium from a perspective free of the set tendencies that institutionalized instruction ingrains, and from that amateur perspective they developed a wholly original brand of virtuosity. I am inclined to think that in the modern world, where we are understanding through history that bloody revolution will not only mistreat vast numbers of people, but probably won't even achieve our aims, where we are still trying to work out all the snags that catch people's economic, political and psychological conditions in modern society, that perhaps pop culture and artistic culture in general - the vast entertainment industry - really is a great place to wage the war of ideas.

  • Dave Allen
    2019-05-31 12:14

    Thrilling at times, baffling at others (14th century religious cults?). Dense, thoughtful, almost endlessly multi-layered. It goes way deeper than the non-fiction I typically read. I ended up feeling as though I should know more about history than I do - I didn't know a thing about May '68 in Paris, or about the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley - but if LS reflects a sort of unrecorded or, at least, unheralded history, then I don't have to feel so bad about having missed out until now.