The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink
From the far left to the far right, on talk radio and the op-ed page, more and more Americans believe that the social fabric is unraveling. Celebrity worship and media frenzy, suicidal cultists and heavily armed secessionists: modern life seems to have become a "pyrotechnic insanitarium," Mark Dery says, borrowing a turn-of-the-century name for Coney Island. Dery elucidates the meaning to our madness, deconstructing American culture from mainstream forces like Disney and Nike to fringe phenomena like the Unabomber and alien invaders. Our millennial angst, he argues, is a product of a pervasive cultural anxiety-a combination of the social and economic upheaval wrought by global capitalism and the paranoia fanned by media sensationalism. The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium is a theme-park ride through the extremes of American culture of which The Atlantic Monthly has written, "Mark Dery confirms once again what writers and thinkers as disparate as Nathanael West, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Sigmund Freud, and Oliver Sacks have already shown us: the best place to explore the human condition is at its outer margins, its pathological extremes."
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HAVE AN ANGST DAY THE SCREAM MEME
COTTON CANDY AUTOPSY DECONSTRUCTING PSYCHOKILLER CLOWNS
RETURN TO ABNORMALCY FREAKS GAFFES AND GEEKS AT THE FINDEMILLENNIUM
ANUS HORRIBILIS JIM CARREYS EXCREMENTAL EXCESS
MAD COWS AND ENGLISHMEN READING DAMIEN HIRSTS ENTRAILS
MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM THE OPERATION
TRENDSPOTTING I SHOP THEREFORE I AM
V THE PARENT TRAP
GRIM FAIRY TALES RENEE FRENCHS KINDERCULTURE
THE UNHEIMLICH MANEUVER THE DOLL HOUR
EMPATHY BELLIES CLONED SHEEP AND PREGNANT MEN
RIDING SHOTGUN WITH THE DOOM PATROL
WILD NATURE WIRED NATURE THE UNABOMBER MEETS THE DIGERATI
SPACE ODDITIES HEAVENS GATE AND HOMO CYBERSTRANGE ALLEGIANCES ON THE LEVEL ABOVE HUMAN
NATURE MORTE FORMALDEHYDE PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE NEW GROTESQUE
MAIN STREET USA THE PUBLIC SPHERE
PAST PERFECT DISNEY CELEBRATES US HOME
CONCLUSION LAST THINGS
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alien American animal argues Bataille Bataille's body bomb Books brain called carnival Celebration chaos cloning Coney's conspiracy theory Copyright corporate critic cult culture cyberpunk cyberspace Damien Hirst David daytime talk dead death digerati Disney doll Don DeLillo dream economic elite essay evil clown excremental eyes fantasy feminist Fiction formaldehyde freak Freaks Talk Back French's Gacy Gate geek genetic global Grit Bath grotesque Heaven's Hirst's horror human Ibid images J. G. Ballard Kaczynski kids killer live magazine mainstream male pregnancy mass meat meme millennial millennium mind monsters moral movie Munch's museum nation nightmare Nike nineties on-line paranoid political postmodern Pyrotechnic Insanitarium Quoted Re/Search reality says Schwa Scream Screamer sense sideshow social social Darwinism society story symbol talk shows there's things tion Unabomber Unabomber's Village Voice vision wild nature Wired womb women writes X-Files York
Page 44 - The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines, and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network.
Page 27 - In fact, our treatment is much closer to a "free market" analysis, with the results largely an outcome of the workings of market forces. Most biased choices in the media arise from the preselection of right-thinking people, internalized^ preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints of ownership, organization, market, and political power. Censorship is largely self-censorship, by reporters and commentators who adjust to the realities of source and media organizational requirements,...
Page 6 - It is impossible that old prejudices and hostilities should longer exist, while such an instrument has been created for an exchange of thought between all the nations of the earth (Briggs and Maverick, 1858: 21-22).
Page 21 - It is nothing if not coherent — in fact, the paranoid mentality is far more coherent than the real world, since it leaves no room for mistakes, failures, or ambiguities. It is, if not wholly rational, at least intensely rationalistic; it believes that it is up against an enemy who is as infallibly rational as he is totally evil, and it seeks to match his imputed total competence with its own, leaving nothing unexplained and comprehending all of reality in one overreaching, consistent theory.