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The Post-Post-Modern Things: Björk, Kathy Acker, and the Astral-Disappearing Act (1-2/53)

1. ‘All I know is that we have to reach this consumer construct.  And her name’s BJÖRK.’

‘That’s a nice name. Who is she?’

2. Perhaps the answer can be found on Björk’s Homogenic record (1997), a collection of lush orchestral soundscapes and tenuous, artificial symmetries cut through a drum ‘n’ bass mix.  The photograph of Björk-on-the-cover appears as real-yet-unreal, a polystyrene projection (by British photographer Nick Knight) of the not-quite-West meeting the fetishized East in the blind alleys of some tangled genetic conspiracy.  Gorgeous string arrangements (courtesy of Eumir Deodato) dance through the panicked heartbeat thump of tracks as different in tempo as “The Hunter” and “Pluto.”  On the “hit” single “Alarm Call” (remixed for the Mod Squad movie soundtrack) we forgive our homogenous chanteuse for using the term “ghetto blaster”; after all, Iceland is a world away from inner-city America, and Björk is quick to reduce such bland cultural difference into the tape loops of her simmering, pan-national skillet:  “For me, techno and nature is the same thing . . . It’s just a question of the future and the past.  You take a log cabin in the mountains.  Ten thousand years ago, monkey-humans would have thought, That’s [sic] fucking techno.  Now, in 1997 you see a log cabin and go, Oh, that’s nature.  There is fear of techno because it’s the unknown.  I think it is a very organic thing, like electricity.”[1]

[1] Paul Elliot, “Who the Hell Does Björk Think She Is?,” Q, November 1997, 6.

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Davis Schneiderman is a multimedia artist and writer and the author or editor of eight print and audio works, including the novels Drain, Abecedarium, and Blank; the co-edited collections Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game; as well as the audio-collage Memorials to Future Catastrophes. His first short story collection, there is no appropriate #emoji—with collaborations from Lance Olsen, Cris Mazza, Kelly Haramis, Stacy Levine, Tim Guthrie, Andi Olsen, and Megan Milks—will be released in Fall 2019.

His work has also appeared in numerous publications, including Fiction International, The Chicago Tribune, The Iowa Review, and TriQuarterly.

He is Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Lake Forest College.

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