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The Rat King

Live, now, at Boing Boing, “The Rat King: On the Fascinations (and Repulsions) of Rattus.” Click here to read. Teaser: In what he calls “an Experiment in Controlled Digression,” Mark Dery touches on xenogastronomy, ortolan, Edible Dormouse, Victor Hugo’s fondness for rat pâté, rat-baiting as a betting sport in Victorian times, the rat as New […]

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Inspector Magritte is on the Case

“Pipe Dreams: The Curious Case of Rene Magritte,” the latest in my ongoing series, “Self-Help for Surrealists,” is live at Thought Catalog. Teaser: The method Magritte used to solve his philosophical “problems,” as he called them, is a Surrealist’s idea of CSI, a combination of free association, semiotic codebreaking, and Hegelian dialectic. Bridging dream logic […]

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“Permission To Laugh: Isa Genzken’s Exceedingly Unsmiling Art”

So I was at MoMA, having just seen Magritte and, at the Morgan, Poe, when I stumbled on the Isa Genzken retrospective, a reeking midden of craptastic art-school self-indulgence. My thoughts turned to that quote from Poe’s contemporary, the critic James Russell Lowell, who called EAP “the most discriminating, philosophical, and fearless critic upon imaginative […]

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Blinded!

File under COSMIC WHIMSY: Late Thursday night, an Inbox ping alerted me to a mail from my friend Blake Leyh (@EarlOfEdgecombe), composer, sound designer, music supervisor for the HBO series Treme, and live Foley (radio play-style sound effects) artist. Would I join him onstage with THOMAS DOLBY (!), in Albany, New York, in a theater […]

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Dean Martin Existentialism: Bobby Darin’s “Beautiful Things”

“Why the Nightingale Sings: On Bobby Darin’s ‘Beautiful Things’”: HERE. Attention-Conservation Keywords: Dr. Dolittle, “Dean Martin existentialism,” memento mori in the cocktail lounge, lovers with wings, the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, Roland Barthes’s concept of the “punctum,” the nightingale as symbol, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, […]

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The Obscure Pleasures Of Medical Libraries—Tomorrow, Live!

This Saturday, at the extraordinary New York Academy of Medicine Library, I’ll be speaking from 12:30-1 PM on “Gray Matter: The Obscure Pleasures of Medical Libraries,” at a conference brilliantly curated by Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy and featuring, among others, Oliver Sacks, Lawrence Weschler, Michael Sappol, Amy Herzog, and Salvador Olguin. WHAT: Festival of […]

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The Politics Of Style: Reading T Magazine

Men’s fashion mags make my left knee jerk. Then again, why should fascists have the best boots? The Politics Of Style: Reading T Magazine. Historically, the Left, in postwar America, has sneered at fashion as frivolous, fatuous, and irredeemably bourgeois, embracing body hair, B.O., Salvation Army schmatte-wear, and a determined frumpiness as tokens of anti-establishment authenticity, […]

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