The Aesthete-Punk, Lou Reed
For the Velvets the aesthete-punk stance was a way of surviving in a world that was out to kill you; the point was not to glorify the punk, or even to say fuck you to the world, but to be honest about the strategies people adopt in a desperate situation. The Velvets were not nihilists but moralists. In their universe, nihilism regularly appears as a vivid but unholy temptation, love and its attendant vulnerability as scary and poignant imperatives. Though Lou Reed rejected optimism, he was enough of his time to crave transcendence…as “Rock & Roll” makes clear—the Velvets’ use of a mass art form was a metaphor for transcendence, for connection, for resistance to solipsism and despair.
—Ellen Willis in Beginning to See the Light