Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
|"Pop culture - the folk culture of the modern market, the culture of the instant, at once subsuming past and future and refusing to acknowledge the reality of either - began about 1948, in the United States and Great Britain." --p. 257.
"The first 125 pages of the book concern the Sex Pistols rise and rapid self destruction. Johnny Rotten's snarling first lines to "Anarchy in the UK" (I am an anti-Christ, I am an anarchist) are watchwords for this dense but beautifully written tome. So many absolutely delightful and surprising twists and turns occur in this narrative to make it an absolutely unmatched as a work of lyrical non-fiction. The book took Marcus nine years to write."
The book covers 20th century avant-garde art movements like Dadaism, Lettrist International and Situationist International and their influence on late 20th century countercultures, The Sex Pistols and the punk movement in general. Another part of the work is the tracing of the philosophical roots of the 20th century avant-garde in the medieval "heresies" of the Cathars and the anabaptists.
A "soundtrack" to Lipstick Traces, compiling many of the songs referenced in the book, was released by Rough Trade Records in 1993.
From the back cover
Greil Marcus, from the back cover:
- This book is about a single, serpentine fact: late in 1976 a record called "Anarchy in the U.K." was issued in London, and this event launched a transformation of pop music all over the world. Made by a four-man rock 'n' roll band called the Sex Pistols, and written by singer Johnny Rotten, the song distilled, in crudely poetic form, a critique of modern society once set out by a small group of Paris-based intellectuals. First organized in 1952 as the Lettrist International, and refounded in 1957 at a conference of European avant-garde artists as the Situationist International, the group gained its greatest notoriety during the French revolt of May 1968, when the premises of its critique were distilled into crudely poetic slogans and spray-painted across the walls of Paris, after which the critique was given up to history and the group disappeared. The group looked back to the surrealists of the 1920s, the dadaists who made their names during and just after the First World War, the young Karl Marx, Saint-Just, various medieval heretics, and the Knights of the Round Table.
- My conviction is that such circumstances are primarily odd. For a gnomic, gnostic critique dreamed up by a handful of Left Bank cafe prophets to reappear a quarter-century later, to make the charts, and then to come to life as a whole new set of demands on culture—this is almost transcendently odd.
Table of Contents
- Version One: The Last Sex Pistols Concert
- Version Two: A Secret History Of A Time That Passed
- Legends of Freedom
- The Art of Yesterday's Crash
- The Crash of Yesterday's Art
- The Assault on Notre-Dame
- The Attack on Charlie Chaplin
- Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette)
- Works Cited
- Sources and Credits
Partial list of illustrations
- Cover: photo of Johnny Rotten by Kevin Cummins (photographer)
- Photograph of the corpse of Rosa Luxemburg was published in King Mob Echo, and is published in Lipstick Traces.
- Guy Debord’s - The Naked City (1957) 
- “It’s that shabby old man with the tin whistle!”, “I yam an Anti-Christ!” by Ray Lowry in the the 19 May 1984 issue of the NME,
- "Storefront of Doom" comic strip, L. A. Reader (3 August 1984), copyright © 1984 by Matt Groening
- Main fields
- Names mentioned
- Peter Schneider (writer)
- Notre-Dame Affair
- Ray Lowry
- John of Leyden
- Simon Goddard
- Bascom Lamar Lunsford
- The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower
- Out of Time (The Rolling Stones song)
- Recuperation (politics)
- Roadrunner (Jonathan Richman song)
- I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground
- Dennis Morris (photographer)
- Quatermass and the Pit
- "On the Poverty of Student Life"