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a second era when the delusions and delights of the moneyed few drown out the voices of the impoverished. In doing so, he places himself in the company of other old school dissenters such as Clickkeyword[Noam+Chomsky]" >Noam Chomsky and Clickkeyword[Lewis+Lapham]" >Lewis Lapham, and the perennially angry political journal The Baffler, who focus on material matters of Gucci Belt Women's oppression while avoiding the Balkanization of modern multicultural scholarship. Unfortunately, Dery seems ill prepared to contribute to these dialogues: His essays linger too long on points, such as America's precipitous income disparity, or the retreat of the global elite from civic engagement, that have already been treated at length in the lefty media.

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What's more of a disappointment is Dery's dispassionate take on his subject matter. He roots his analysis in the more tragic consequences of the wrecking ball of global capitalism dropping wages, vanishing job security, and mass firings but loses that sense of humanity once he enters the rarefied strata of lit crit and media deconstruction. His distanced essays compare poorly to, say, those of The Baffler: At least that journal's best arguments build upon a core of steely outrage; they're less like ambling discourses and more like battle cries. But that doesn't change the fact that we need less writing that Gucci Belt Men Black

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´╗┐American Culture on the Brink

Insanitarium traces the vapor trails of a number of cultural phenomena: the media reaction to the Hermes Belt Black And Red

At points in the book, Dery lays the primary blame for our angst on what he dubs "the Gilded Age, version 2.0" Hermes Belt Gold H

showcases erudition while masking more immediate, ground level concerns.

cloning of a sheep; the cultish cell of Clickkeyword[Nike+Inc.]" >Nike employees who call themselves EKINs; the Clickkeyword[The+Walt+Disney+Company]" >Disney planned city of Celebration, Fla. Dery, who explored fringe computer culture in his previous book Escape Velocity, is at his best when he zooms in on the previously unexplored facets of his stories. Discussing how the media treated the Heaven's Gate mass suicide as "an object lesson in the evils of spending too much time on line," he notes that the cult's cyber outreach efforts actually stirred up a fierce backlash. A proselytizing mass newsgroup posting gained them a few converts, but the "ridicule, or hostility, or both" that characterized the vast majority of responses was strong enough to convince Heaven's Gate to leave this planet.

Like any good cultural critic, Mark Dery knows how to work a metaphor. The title of his newest collection of essays, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, refers to Clickkeyword[Coney+Island]" >Coney Island at the end of the 19th century and its vertiginous blend of wonder and horror from the light shows to the freak shows.

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