From the cultural critic Wired called provocative and cuttingly humorous comes a viciously funny, joltingly insightful collection of drive by critiques of contemporary America where chaos is the new normal Exploring the darkest corners of the national psyche and the nethermost regions of the self the gothic, the grotesque, and the carnivalesque Mark Dery makes sense ofFrom the cultural critic Wired called provocative and cuttingly humorous comes a viciously funny, joltingly insightful collection of drive by critiques of contemporary America where chaos is the new normal Exploring the darkest corners of the national psyche and the nethermost regions of the self the gothic, the grotesque, and the carnivalesque Mark Dery makes sense of the cultural dynamics of the American madhouse early in the twenty first century.Here are essays on the pornographic fantasies of Star Trek fans, Facebook as Limbo of the Lost, George W Bush s fear of his inner queer, the theme parking of the Holocaust, the homoerotic subtext of the Super Bowl, the hidden agendas of IQ tests, Santa s secret kinship with Satan, the sadism of dentists, Hitler s afterlife on YouTube, the sexual identity of 2001 s HAL, the suicide note considered as a literary genre, the surrealist poetry of robot spam, the zombie apocalypse, Lady Gaga, the Church of Euthanasia, toy guns in the dream lives of American boys, and the polymorphous perversity of Madonna s big toe.Dery casts a critical eye on the accepted order of things, boldly crossing into the intellectual no fly zones demarcated by cultural warriors on both sides of America s ideological divide controversy phobic corporate media, blinkered academic elites, and middlebrow tastemakers Intellectually omnivorous and promiscuously interdisciplinary, Dery s writing is
I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts Drive by Essays on American Dread American Dreams From the cultural critic Wired called provocative and cuttingly humorous comes a viciously funny joltingly insightful collection of drive by critiques of contemporary America where chaos is the new n
Remember when Gozer the Gozerian tells Venkman and the boys that the form of the Destructor will be determined by the first meme that pops into their noodle So empty your heads Don t think of anything Dr Venkman exhorts.In perhaps my favorite comic philosophical scene from the 80s, the would be Gozer slayers attempt an on the fly Buddhist purge of the ego, fumigating their Cartesian theaters I still remember the prickly chill in my 8 year old gut at the thought of Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston h [...]
I find it impossible to discuss Mark Dery s I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts in anything other than the first person The book speaks so eloquently of its time that, uncannily, I can t help but feel it speaks of me So many of my own interests and obsessions rise from its pages death, deviance, intellect I recognize my iTunes library in Dery s tours de force on David Bowie and Lady Gaga I recognize my bookshelf in Dery s essay on Amok Books, whose productions were once textbooks in the ducation senti [...]
Voluptuously lustrous and uncannily lifelike, the antique mannequin on the cover of Mark Dery s latest essay collection, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, glows, if not with life, with a robust undeath Her skin is so perfect you could eat off the surface of it Her eye, unbowed, is cracked and bruised, maybe from an injury sustained in the dumpster where they found her before bringing her back to present glory Reading the book over the last week, she s had a special place on my pillow, an intellectu [...]
While browsing in Garrison Keillor s book store Common Good Books in St Paul , I came across this volume of contemporary essays and instantly knew I had found a riveting read It s possible that other writers are producing this sort of material, but because I haven t plumbed the depths of metafilter or BoingBoing or neatorama or a hundred other cool websites out there, I m not finding them I was so glad to find these essays anthologized in a hard cover Most had been published elsewhere, primarily [...]
Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegally To be clear, I rather liked a lot this newest book of essays by subversive Gladwellesque philosopher columnist Mark Dery, which is actually the first work of his I ve ever read, because of seeing a plethora of fantastic things about it online from places like Boing Boing and people like Warren Ellis and so why I was [...]
Transgressive cultural critic opines on everything from Lady Gaga to Santa Claus and necrophylia.
See my review here jimzovichvejournal pos
Ludovico D AThe Ludovico Technique is a form of compulsory deprogramming featured in both the book and film A Clockwork Orange It consists of forcing a patient to watch horribly graphic murders, rapes, and other severe brutality while under the influence of an addictive, nausea causing drug The therapy s intent is to train the patient to reflexively respond to violent impulses, acts even thoughts by undergoing debilitating nausea, thereby discouraging antisocial behavior.In the title sequence of [...]
This book is, much like its description, a carnival ride through a whole bunch of relatively topical subjects on blogging, the nauseating 1 popularity of zombies in recent popular culture, the dark underbelly of the concept of IQ, Holocaust as a multi billion industry, the disputed history of Santa, the also nauseating 2 2012 eschatology fad, America s gun obsession, American masculinity, and so on.It s not a totally smooth ride, of course I found most of the essays extremely informative, many r [...]
A book the politics of which stand foursquare against the faux populist demagogues, brownshirt punditAnd against the Stalinist though police of the left at its most inquisitional this is a snappy and entertaining read by a well rounded intelligence, familiar with art, history and current events seen with an open though squinted eye Fun.About Madonna, fashion and Versace, the boundary pushing edginess of couture linked to sexual perversions and fashion as the ultimate commodity fetish, existing i [...]
I picked this up due to the title, not having heard of Dery before He s a cultural critic, described in the foreword by Bruce Sterling as the intellectual equivalent of a shock jock, puncturing the trite politeness of cryptofascist conservatism and boring political correctness paraphrasing, of course I was expecting to find Dery a grim libertarian the answer must be somewhere in the middle bore.In actuality, he s a rather excellent writer, whose politics are much interesting than promised He do [...]
You know where you are with this collection from the dedication it s a paean to the late J G Ballard Dery shares Ballard s fascination with poking into what we consider the darker side of the human psyche, the dark and nasty undercurrents that lurk beneath the veneer of civilisation, waiting for a chance to rise to the surface It means this is an intoxicating dark mix of queer theory, religion, twisted sexuality and body parts The first section is the shady side of conventional, covering guns, M [...]
I loved this book At one point, while reading the book s second essay Gun Play An American Tragedy in Three Acts I laughed so long and hard that I was sure my neighbor would call the cops It was the laughter of a bitter cynic, you must understand This is what they mean by cuttingly humorous it s only funny if you have the ability to laugh at the worst stupidity of your fellow man.The first section opens with a pondering of zombies and what they mean to us now in post econ meltdown days He had me [...]
The drive by description is apt Dery doesn t get bogged down in deep analysis but instead serves as a sharp tongued tour guide for some memorable curiosities and bizarre themes hungry tourists stuffing their faces in an Auschwitz cafeteria, the subconscious reasons we re scared of teeth, the relationship between Santa and Satan, fan fiction, various fetishes, Facebook weirdness and lots He could stand to add a few new reference points seriously, sir, step away from the Bowie albums and J.G Ball [...]
its a little bit jumbled and jivey maybe its supposed to be like a poem, where the author just sort of throws out stuff and you sort of make connections between ideas in your head Its heady, and its crass, and hes just calling it like he sees it or its just a bunch of pretentious garbage that looks like intellectual honesty because the subject matter and approach seem so keepin it real Reminds me of Jim Goad stuff, I guess I just dont have the intellectual stamina for it, or is it a poets heart [...]
Because Mark Dery is obviously having fun with the language and content and it is contagious I agree with most of his assertions, which makes us both right The span of topics is insightful, off kilter and amusing Hal the computer may be gay A literary critique of suicide notes and on and on Even at his most self masterbatory playing the unapologetic vocabularian in the final essay , you can tell he s getting his kicks and it s funny Bold, argumentative, confrontational and over the top fun of th [...]
Fascinating, provocative and compared with books of this type funny and remarkably jargon free Particular stand outs include a deconstruction of faux weirdo Lady Gaga and the symbolism of teeth.Also, a really interesting take on Man VS Beast, discussing anthropomorphism and the bear ly legal attack on Timothy Treadwell Grizzly Man.Half a star off for the somewhat grotesque cover, which makes this one a tough subway public read and for a couple of shorter essays Madonna s Big Toe that missed the [...]
Some good essays, some bad essays, some middling Overall they re largely fairly good but rather than getting the sense that the author is indeed exploring brave new territory heretofore uncharted is somewhat dulled by the whole pop music was better in my day essay which seems to be a prerequisite amongst every writer on Earth Had Tolstoy a shelf of shellac recordings of his youth, I m certain we d get essays on Glinka is better than Klannikov.
Exploring the darkest corners of the national psyche and the nethermost regions of the self If the scariest stuff found within these cultural forbidden zones is a is he or isn t he expose of 2001 s HAL, an anti Lady Gaga rant, and a meditation on the lost souls on Facebook, I d say the most unsettling thing about our national psyche is not its darkness or depth, but rather how painfully well lit it is.
In this second decade of the 21st Century, I MUST NOT THINK BAD THOUGHTS is the book for me A veritable cluster munition of commentary and erudite ranting A series of illumination rounds lighting up disparate blasted patches of America s cultural landscape War reporting from the front lines and back alleys of modernity.
Like any book of pop culture essays, some are bound to be compelling than others according to the interests of the reader In my case I was particularly drawn to the pieces on Twain and Bowie, and the wonderful Jocko Homo, a brilliant piece on why American sports culture sucks balls At his best, Dery is that rarest of two legged unicorns, an American intellectual with a sense of humor.
A really great read for anyone who wants to think about American cultures, subcultures, fringe cultures etc in interesting and sometimes bizarre ways I love it when writers make explicit the politics of all cultural manifestations and expose the constructedness of our everyday realities and society at large.
Dery builds sentences of overwhelming length bearing incredible payoffs if you can cruise through some some real linguistic quagmires for the payoff A must read for the discerning logophile in your life But maybe not for the frustrated writer they re likely to drown themselves in the bathtub after reading, if prone to jealousy Not speaking from experience or anything
Dery is best when he is playing critic and most boring when he is guiding the reader through a sidestep history lesson Only downside to his essays in anthology form is the occasional repeat reference.
Very occasionally picking this up and reading an essay or two His style doesn t seem to be one I want to immerse myself in for very long, though all the pieces are interesting, and the essay on Lady Gaga is hilarious.
Not as insightful or clever as I was hoping The subtitle is somewhat misleading IMO Though individually as a series of news column style articles, quite fun I was just hoping for a little substance and engagement with the title.
Highly recommended Weirdness perversity under a microscope.
Acidic, humorous, intolerant of bullshit A little nerdiness verging on academia in parts, but never detracting from how enjoyable this is.
An amazing book covering a vast range of topics in a fun an pretty interesting way From David Bowie to severed heads, this book is truly captivates the mind.
I had hoped for deeper insight into the American psyche.