From the cultural critic Wired called \u201cprovocative and cuttingly humorous\u201d 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\u2019s 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\u2019s secret kinship with Satan, the sadism of dentists, Hitler\u2019s afterlife on YouTube, the sexual identity of 2001\u2019s 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\u2019s 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\u2019s ideological divide: controversy-phobic corporate media, blinkered academic elites, and middlebrow tastemakers. Intellectually omnivorous and promiscuously interdisciplinary, Dery\u2019s writing is a generalist\u2019s 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
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 404 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 21 mm
Mark Dery's cultural criticism is the stuff that nightmares are made of. He's a witty and brilliant tour guide on an intellectual journey through our darkest desires and strangest inclinations. You can't look away even if you want to.
-Mark Frauenfelder and David Pescovitz, Boing Boing
Mark Dery is gifted with sanity, humor, learning, and a prose style as keen as a barber's razor. He applies those qualities to a trustworthy and entertaining analysis of the lunatic fringe, which constitutes an ever-larger portion of the discourse in America today.
Do not turn squeamish from the many considerations of death that lurk within-vampires, tombs, disease, corruption of many varieties. Mark Dery's restless and stylish essay is concerned with one thing only-what it means to be alive in America.
-Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America
The bebop rhythms of Mark Dery's prose reflect an intellectual excitement that is rare among contemporary cultural essayists. Reading him is like ingesting a powerful jolt of espresso.
-Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars