To make the point more clear, let's look at an example of this. Prior to the 1970s, the term industrial referred to something having to do with productive labor. Industry referred to a trade, or the way in which mankind was able to harness its power over nature. It was connected to a productive process. That changed, in a specific way, through the 1970s. “Industrial” became a genre of “music,” or perhaps anti-music. It became something to consume. Moreover, it was something arbitrary to consume.
'Where Pain Became Entertainment'
Industrial music culture was an attempt to reintroduce the same philosophy in England and the United States in the 1970s, after the economic shift was made. Timothy Leary, the Harvard professor who worked with Aldous Huxley to distribute psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, on college campuses, also worked with, and lived with, Neil Megson,3 otherwise known as Genesis P-Orridge, the founder of Industrial Records and industrial music.
Megson formed a “performance art” group called Coum Transmissions in the late 1960s. This group was comprised of Megson, a stripper named Christine Newby, who took the name Cosey Fanni Tutti (a take on a Mozart opera), and Peter Christopherson, nicknamed “Sleazy.” With the addition of Chris Carter, they became Throbbing Gristle—a slang term in Yorkshire for an erection—on Sept. 3, 1975, the anniversary of Britain's entry into World War II. Throughout the '70s, this group of people consistently pushed the limits of what was acceptable, and by doing this, transformed the standard of what is considered art to an ever more degraded notion. According to Megson, “We were interested in taboos, what the boundaries were, where the sound became noise and where noise became music and where entertainment became pain, and where pain became entertainment. All the contradictions of culture.”
The group was catalyzing an acceleration of the process of the degeneration of society. At the start of their careers they were receiving many grants from arts councils, including the British Arts Council, to enable them to work and participate in exhibitions. And the term exhibition is all too ironically appropriate. Megson called the group an embodiment of the “secret fears and neuroses” of society. He continued:
So many people repress or dismiss large areas of themselves that they find it easier to dismiss Coum, but, like dismissed and suppressed emotions and desires, Coum is never totally forgotten.... Sex is sensual, delirium, escape, key to magick, joy, excitement.... We expand ourselves to boundaries, even destroying, condemning ourselves to forms of madness and isolation, to damnation in evil forms.... We need each other, hate each other, hate is nothing.... We want people to be themselves, and the price of that is to abandon thee [sic] false ideas one has of oneself.... Coum explore their ideas and obsessions and live them out where possible.