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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 selfthe gothic, the grotesque, and the carnivalesqueMark 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 a generalist’s guilty pleasure in an age of nanospecialization and niche marketing. From Menckenesque polemics on American society and deft deconstructions of pop culture to unflinching personal essays in which Dery turns his scalpel-sharp wit on himself, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts is a head-spinning intellectual ride through American dreams and American nightmares.
|Publisher:||University of Minnesota Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Mark Dery is a cultural critic and journalist whose writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Wired, Cabinet, Bookforum, and Boing Boing, among other publications. His books include Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture; The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink; and the widely republished pamphlet Culture Jamming. He is writing a biography of Edward Gorey.
Bruce Sterling is a science fiction author whose novels include Distraction, Zeitgeist, Holy Fire, and The Caryatids.
Table of Contents
Foreword: I Must Not Read Bad Thoughts Bruce Sterling
Part I. American Magic, American Dread
Dead Man Walking: What Do Zombies Mean?
Gun Play: An American Tragedy in Three Acts
Mysterious Stranger: Grandpa Twain’s Dark Side
Aladdin Sane Called. He Wants His Lightning Bolt Back: On Lady Gaga
Jocko Homo: How Gay Is the Super Bowl?
Wimps, Wussies, and W.: Masculinity, American Style
Stardust Memories: How David Bowie Killed the ’60s and Ushered in the ’70s and, for
One Brief Shining Moment, Made the Mullet Hip
When Animals Attack! An Aesop’s Fable about Anthropomorphism
Toe Fou: How I Was Subliminally Seduced by Madonna’s Big Toe
The Triumph of the Shill: Fascist Branding
Endtime for Hitler: On the Downfall Parodies and the Inglorious Return of Der Führer
Part II. Myths of the Near Future: Making Sense of the Digital Age
World Wide Wonder Closet: On Blogging
(Face)Book of the Dead
Straight, Gay, or Binary? HAL Comes out of the Cybernetic Closet
Word Salad Surgery: Spam, Deconstructed
Slashing the Borg: Resistance Is Fertile
Things to Come: Xtreme Kink and the Future of Porn
Part III. Tripe Soup for the Soul: Religion and All Its Works and Ways
Tripe Soup for the Soul: The Daily Affirmation
Pontification: On the Death of the Pope
The Prophet Margin: Jack Chick’s Comic-Book Apocalypse
2012: Carnival of Bunkum
The Vast Santanic Conspiracy
Part IV. Anatomy Lesson: The Grotesque, the Gothic, and Other Dark Matters
Open Wide: Dental Horror
Gray Matter: The Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Severed Head
Been There, Pierced That: Apocalypse Culture and the Escalation of Subcultural
Death to All Humans! The Church of Euthanasia’s Modest Proposal
Great Caesar’s Ghost: On the Crypt of the Capuchins
Aphrodites of the Operating Theater: On La Specola’s Anatomical Venuses
Goodbye, Cruel Words: On the Suicide Note as a Literary Genre
Cortex Envy: Bringing Up Baby Einstein