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Read My New Book or I'll Dose You with Energy Rays

Delusions of electronic persecution have been a preeminent symptom of psychosis for over two hundred years. In The Technical Delusion Jeffrey Sconce traces the history and continuing proliferation of this phenomenon from its origins in Enlightenment anatomy to our era of global interconnectivity. While psychiatrists have typically dismissed such delusions of electronic control as arbitrary or as mere reflections of modern life, Sconce demonstrates a more complex and interdependent history of electronics, power, and insanity. Drawing on a wide array of psychological case studies, literature, court cases, and popular media, Sconce analyzes the material and social processes that have shaped historical delusions of electronic contamination, implantation, telepathy, surveillance, and immersion. From the age of telegraphy to contemporary digitality, the media emerged within such delusions to become the privileged site for imagining the merger of electronic and political power, serving as a …
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Tammy's a Gangsta

Melissa McCarthy's Tammy (2014) has finally made it down the pachinko machine of secondary distribution to land on HBO this month, readily available now to those who were too lazy or cheap to shell out for On-Demand fat jokes. In case Tammy doesn't ring a bell, it's that movie where McCarthy wears a greasy bag over her head and inelegantly slides across a countertop to rob a fast-food joint of some money and a few fried pies.
I try to see every film about the fast-food industry that I can.  It may not be a genre, per se, but it is as distinctly an "American" chronotope as a western saloon, a beach party weenie- roast, or a multi-vehicle freeway shoot-out.  After all, what could be more American than taking a simple human pleasure like eating and industrializing it into a vertically-integrated hellscape of killing, compositing, and freezing meats for commuters to cram down on their way to the hellscape of alienated labor?   Imagine an elderly Italian couple on the …

Your Fantasies are My Fantasies

Somewhere in the bowels of the Mattel Corporation sits a disgruntled science-fiction writer. Frustrated over decades of rejected manuscripts, he now molds his most perverse ideas into those 11.5" plastic torsos that we know as Barbie.  As a synthetic female, Barbie has always been at the center of various second and third wave firestorms.  But in the 21st century, she aspires to be an ambassador of dystopic posthumanism.  A bad role model for little girls?  With the new generation of Barbies, we'll fondly remember the day when all anyone had to worry about was whether or not her plastic stilts would support her plastic lady humps. 

Case in point: Hello Barbie.

In her new Big Data incarnation, Hello Barbie comes equipped with a microphone and wi-fi connection, allowing her to record the words (and thus fantasy play) of her owner and then upload this "data" into the Cloud.  Ostensibly, this storage of the child's speech allows the doll to craft an interactive reper…

Physical Graffiti, Revisited.

There are some rock critics who slag off Physical Graffiti as not being Led Zeppelin's best work.  It's not as authentically blues-rocky as the first two records, they say, nor does it gesture toward the surprisingly pop impulses of the final record.  It's a double-album, thus opening the door for the easy critical bromide of "excess" (as if "excess" in Zeppelin was anything other than a virtue).  Some will even claim the freak-folk weirdness of Zeppelin 3 is the band's greatest achievement.

These critics are all wrong.

As any cisgendered teenage boy of 1975 could tell you, Physical Graffiti is the Alpha and Omega of Zeppelin-ness, the most loosely of the tight, the tightest of the loose.  It is the juggernaut of HARD ROCK against which all subsequent posers have breached their balsa-wood multi-layered guitar preciousness for the past forty (gulp!) years.

You are free to disagree with me.  In fact I hope you do.  One of the most ridiculous tasks o…

Existential Woodchucks