May 10th, 2012 | stuff2012
|This is an absolute treasure trove of the disturbing and enlightening. Mark Dery (remember the term “culture jamming”? That was him), in this sequence of gorgeously written essays, surrounds something he conceives of as the “pathological sublime” in American culture.
A score-settling excoriation on how virulent, cackling old Mark Twain’s reputation has been given a sentimental cleanse actually stakes out Dery’s perimeters for a new American Gothic. A deceptively amiable consideration of Lady Gaga puts her permanently outside Dery’s dark velvet ropes.
And then he’s off on foot through the trees, sending off great bursts of searing tracer fire in pursuit of, not just the strange, but also of the fake weird, removing the dressing and bullshit from the stark landscape of the deeply odd American experiment. For Dery, that seems to be the real America, and he loves it dearly, in all its glorious horror.