David Lida: Very Bad Thoughts

David Lida on why Mark Dery (I MUST NOT THINK BAD THOUGHTS) is a "cultural critic" por excelencia.

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I have always been uncomfortable with the term “cultural critic.” What is it supposed to mean? What comes to mind is a person of reasonable intelligence who watches too much television and is addicted to the internet and expects we should listen to his opinions, and even more outrageously, that perhaps he should even be paid to express them. About three years ago, a writer from New York named Mark Dery passed through Mexico City, to give a conference at the Festival de México en el Centro Histórico. We met and, aside from being a very bright and likeable guy, he wrote a sympathetic article based on our interview.

Dery is a “cultural critic” por excelencia — he has written about media, pop culture and technology for a formidable roundup of august publications, such as The New Yorker, Wired, Spin, the Village Voice and Rolling Stone and a book of his about cyberculture was translated into eight languages. So when he sent me the galleys to his new book, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams, I was nervous about whether or not I would get into it.

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By: David Lida