The Lament of the Disconsolate Chimera

By Darren Tofts
21C Magazine

Dery_Bad coverEssayist, author, cultural critic, blogger (though he despises the term), public intellectual, enfant terrible. Just some of the monikers that have been or could be applied to Mark Dery. Dery has made an art form of the short, punchy and polemical screed. It was through such writing that he single-handedly put epoch-defining terms such as cyberspace and culture jamming into permanent circulation in the 1990s. With the eviscerating Pyrotechnic Insanitarium. American Culture on the Brink (1999) he carved out a new identity for himself as the psychopathologist of the American unconscious. Following all too slowly on its heels I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts (2012) takes us beyond the brink into the maw of something distastefully uncanny, something so horribly real that it can’t possibly exist. CGI cinema certainly has a lot to answer for. What is most appealing about both texts is their composition, by and large, of previously published essays. But this is no cynical commerce.

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