Read Alexander Theroux

“When people call up Rush Limbaugh and say, ‘It’s an honor to speak to you,’ I want to shoot myself.” – interview with Colin Marshall on The Marketplace of Ideas

“Her only loyalty seemed to be what she compiled in her witchy journal, her daybook listing the crimes of others against her, forgetting her own poisonous gossip that she always gave to the new man in her life of all the previous ones.” – Laura Warholic

I am currently indulging in Mr. Theroux’s evocative, witty, sometimes incredibly embittered prose. There are many varied books to choose from. Four novels: Three Wogs, Darconville’s Cat, An Adultery, and Laura Warholic. Monographs on the artists Edward Gorey and Al Capp. A book of poetry, a doctoral thesis on Samuel Beckett’s language (unfortunately not readily available), fables, as well as an upcoming book on Estonia. The two books on colors: The Primary Colors: Three Essays and The Secondary Colors: Three Essays, are compelling compendiums. This is how the 108-page mediation on the color orange begins:

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Art as Inheritance, part 1: That Lingering Smile

This will be something of a long and meandering trip, only to wind up back where we started. But I can promise that along the way we’ll encounter secrets hidden behind locked doors, as well as deeds that will form the fabric of nightmares.

Shall we?

This is Conrad Veidt:

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Notes on Twee, part 2: The Crash Test Dummies (Those Avant-Garde Harbingers of Mainstream Superheroes, School Plays, and the Willful Embrace of Nostalgia)

Was this the Twee avant-garde?

In my last post in this series, I embedded and linked to every single music video I know that uses the concept of the video as a school musical. (Please let me know if I’ve missed any; I’m sure there are more.) Such videos became especially pronounced in the 2000s, especially between 2005 and 2007. (Perhaps since then the success of Disney’s High School Musical (2006) has killed the concept?)

The earliest example that I could find was the video for the Crash Test Dummies’ 1994 hit single “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” from their 1993 album God Shuffled His Feet. Embedding has been disabled for this video, but I’d encourage you to go watch it. (I’ll go watch it, too, and relive the glory days of my high school senior year).

What strikes me most about this video now, aided by hindsight, is how avant-garde it is. By this I don’t mean that it’s experimental; rather, my point is that this video anticipates a good deal of the next 15–20 years of US culture. (And I don’t think the Crash Test Dummies were unique in this, but they make for a convenient example. Also, I think it’s amusing to point out how so many aesthetic elements supposedly novel today were in fact already with us two decades ago.)

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