Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part V

Two Personal Favorites: Spook Country (2007) and Domino (2005) Spook Country The toughest challenge for any author is to follow up a big hit with an equally big hit.  Following the epic genius of Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon released the misunderstood novel Vineland.  In the case of William Gibson, he experienced career resurgence with the release of Pattern Recognition, an “empathetic thriller” about advertising, intelligence, and an elusive video.  Gibson set the novel in the present and it reads like a strange relic, an artifact set in a world after 9/11 but before YouTube. Spook Country follows the same general … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part V

Rate this:

Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part IV

Nathan Rabin and the Countercanonical Critique The AV Club has carved out a niche of reputable pop cultural criticism.  Nathan Rabin has been profiled before in the Art of Reviewing.  It focused on his unique style and examined his ongoing series My Year of Flops.  Rabin’s bombastic style plays off his subject matter, whether it is a movie that bombed at the box-office or a hip hop review.  Rabin has expanded his critical eye to include country music (Nashville or Bust!) and pop ephemera (THEN! That’s What They Called Music). Movie flops, the NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilations, … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part IV

Rate this:

Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part III

Reappropriation: Camp, Kitsch, and Sincerity “When something is just bad (rather than Camp), it’s often because it is too mediocre in its ambition.  The artist hasn’t attempted to do anything outlandish.” – “Notes on Camp” [1965], Susan Sontag “Need more clarification? To his fans Liberace was the epitome of cultured taste, but of course we know he was kitsch. However, unlike the not-quite-weird-enough musical stylings of ABBA, say, or the Village People, Liberace-style kitsch is so weird, so outré, that hipsters find it impossible to appropriate as cheese. Liberace didn’t make his work inappropriable on purpose; others, however, have. The … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part III

Rate this:

Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part II

Unpopularity as Popularity: or How to be a hipster. “Every aspect of hipster culture amounts to little more than an elaborate pissing contest.  …  Hipsters ignore rules because they think it will make them look like they don’t care. There is no end result, just a continuous cycle of mediocre indie rock and scruffy looking dudes. By basing their actions on avoiding the mainstream, they are in fact guided by the mainstream.” – “Cracked Topics: Hipster”, Cracked.com You’re not cool enough.  The bands you like aren’t unpopular enough. Hipsters, the annoying quasi-subculture, has its own uses and abuses of unpopularity. … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part II

Rate this:

Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part I

“In place of a hermeneutrics we need an erotics of art.” – “Against Interpretation” [1964], Susan Sontag Challenges and Non-Responses The job of the critic is, by turns, tastemaker, evangelist, and champion.  The best critics harness the powers of intellection and enthusiasm to inform his or her readership on a work’s merits.  If a work receives more merits than demerits, than, in a roughly mathematical fashion, the creator obtains a “good review.”  This reviewer finds works with “mixed reviews” or polarizing reactions (see Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones) most attractive, since “mixed reviews” are not sure things.  A tiny element … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part I

Rate this:

The Sticks by Andy Deane @ Joe Bob Briggs

I review books for the Joe Bob Briggs website. For those unfamiliar with Joe Bob Briggs, he did reviews of drive-in fare on Monstervision (a staple of the TNT network in the Nineties).  Briggs is also an author and actor.  He played a small, hilarious, and pivotal role in Martin Scorsese’s Casino: In a literary marketplace still riding the wave of vampire fiction created by the Twilight series, it’s nice to see a book that focuses more on werewolves and is actually scary.  If you’re horror cravings demand adult language, cleavage, firearms, blood, carnage, and ultraviolence, then do yourself a … Continue reading The Sticks by Andy Deane @ Joe Bob Briggs

Rate this:

Essays on Capital, First Series: Essay Number Zero

By way of an introduction … “It is simply misleading and vulgar to say of Marx, as Edmund Wilson in To the Finland Station and many others have done, that he was really a latter-day prophet[.]” – “Piety without content,” Susan Sontag [1961] “Marx’s thought marks a watershed.  Its roots reach back to Joachim of Fiore and further, to the inspired utterances of the Old Testament prophets.” – Reasons for Our Rhymes: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of History, R. A. Herrera [2001] “Better dead than Red.” – Anti-communist saying [c. 1950s] Karl Marx is a controversial, misunderstood, and often … Continue reading Essays on Capital, First Series: Essay Number Zero

Rate this: