My Dinner With Dery

So we went to a lecture by this guy Mark Dery, and it was actually about Hannibal the Cannibal—that wasn't just a funny name!—and it was pretty darn highfalutin; for instance, among his very first comments he used the phrase "exegetic pryborg," or it might have been cryborg (it definitely wasn't cyborg, but thanks), and we went, "Whoa! What the heck are exegetic cryborgs? Or pryborgs?" but this guy Mark Dery is superfunny, and he had lots of wry little soundbites, like he said cultural critics, of which he is one, are people who examine the entrails of Chicken McNuggets, and the audience was real pleased by that because it was pithy, and it does the old change-o on you, like you think you're all culturally aware for remembering that in Romania and stuff they look at chicken entrails to tell the future, but then this guy Mark Dery turns it into "Chicken McNuggets" for an extra-surprising twist; that's what comedians do—it's all about the surprise at the end, and this guy Mark Dery is pretty much a comedian in addition to having written Flame Wars, which we'd actually heard of before, so it must be a pretty big deal, and he compared Martha Stewart to this medieval vampire chick Elizabeth of Bathory, saying she (Martha) had a "bit of the blood countess about her; one can almost hear the whistle of the whip," and between the funny reference and the poetic alliteration, the crowd went nuts like he was a rock star, and they were rushing the podium, and security had to form a human chain, and this girl next to us was crying, just like in that Poison video for "Every Rose Has a Thorn," where the singer's all jacked-up and they have to carry him offstage, and the girl in the audience is crying because she's so worried about him because he's so cuuuuute, and she, you know, loves him, but this guy Mark Dery, they didn't have to carry him offstage or anything, he just kept talking (and this was the supercool part) about how this is a new Gilded Age, and he talked about predatory capitalism and how attacks on the homeless are up all over the country, but somehow he fit it into this whole thesis about Hannibal Lecter and the Gothic and stuff and Conceptual art because after Chris Burden had himself shot, the stakes were raised, but this guy Mark Dery managed to calm everyone down from the craziness they'd been committing, but even though people weren't screaming anymore, they were still holding up their lighters, and we wanted to hold up a lighter, too, but we quit smoking, so we punched this guy in the throat and took his lighter because we love this guy Mark Dery, and you know, he kind of looks like that Rockefeller grandson who's in Vanity Fair this month for his nasty divorce, somebody McNeil or something—you should read the article; it's pretty scandalous—but then, after we punched the guy in the throat, security jumped us and pinned us down, and we screamed, "Hey, pigs! You can pin us down, but you can't chain our soul," and our notebook got ripped up with all the pearls of wisdom in it, but this guy Mark Dery talked so fast with such big words that our notes were almost useless anyway, and we don't know what his final point was about Conceptual art, but we got the part about all television chefs being mildly pathological (we like that "Bam!" guy; he's pretty funny, huh?), but we didn't finish the notes on the sentence, "Hegel, of course, taught us that history is a . . ." because we thought it was pretty funny that anyone anywhere would ever begin a sentence with, "Hegel, of course" (of course!), so we were pretty much laughing too hard to take down the rest of the sentence, but it had something to do with slaughterhouses or bloodbaths and Freud's hysterical women and the urban aboriginal and maquiladora workers and how we're now experiencing millennial bifurcation, just like centennial bifurcation comes at the end of centuries; people start getting all wigged-out and write The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, and lots of Siamese twins are born or something because people start feeling really schizoid (in the popular meaning of the word—split personalities—rather than the actual meaning, which has nothing to do with multiple personalities; that's "multiple-personality disorder"), and in the 16th century, the incubus was the popular expression for this bifurcation, and then it was, like, the doppelganger, and so on and so on, but our very favorite part of this guy Mark Dery's lecture was when he was talking about cannibalism, you know, and he goes, "Dare I say, 'visceral,'" and he's smirking like it's a joke because the word visceral pertains to the guts, and maybe, um, a cannibal would eat guts! Also, he used the word "anthropophagi," and even though we thought we were mostly following his lecture, we didn't find out until the next day that anthropophagi are cannibals, and it probably would have made a lot more sense if we'd known that at the time, and it kind of made us wonder what else we'd missed.

E-mail But don't expect an answer right away. Her modem's fried. Still.

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