COLUMNS

  • Film

    Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction

    The Lost Object . . . must be therefore both adored and feared or despised, set apart. . . . “The most profound lost object” . . . is the immortality or perfection we imagine ourselves missing. . . . We invent gods and devils to measure up to it.

    —Peter Canning, “The Regime of Misery and the System of Judgement”

    FOR A WHILE THERE, as you may or may not remember, the abject was having its little moment on the intellectual catwalk, putting in its appearance as an esthetic-slash-ontological category. Confronted with the apparent impossibility of almost everything, we eagerly embraced the obvious

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  • Books

    Mark Leyner's Hyper Text

    I inhabit vast pavilions whose emptiness

    is set ablaze by the vermillion sunset.

    My menagerie of shaved animals is not open to the public.

    But you may go to the special room

    where every object is coated with Vaseline

    and you may put something up your ass.

    I will be down in half an hour.

    Presently I am drugged and supine in my lichen-covered bathtub,

    dazedly eating lichee-nut fondue

    from a chafing dish of gurgling white chocolate at tub-side,

    as a succession of anatomical freaks mount a klieg-lit proscenium

    and perform for my entertainment.

    A scorched breeze conveys the acridity of spent rocket

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  • Books

    Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital, the Corporation, Emily Martin's Flexible Bodies, John Naisbitt's Global Paradox

    “MAKE ME REDUNDANT.”

    Not the sort of rallying cry you’d expect from Nicholas Negroponte, the director of MIT’s fabled Media Lab, the massively funded concept and design factory that prides itself on manufacturing the multimedia future. Negroponte entered the popular imagination as a gurulike figure in Stewart Brand’s 1987 chronicle The Media Lab, in which he starred as a kind of postliterate Renaissance man for the coming millennium. Being Digital, which grew from Negroponte’s regular back-page column in Wired magazine, is his first full-length exposition of his vision. The book covers a range

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  • Books

    James Brook and Iain Boal's Resisting the Virtual Life

    The widespread popularity of computer-based games represents a fundamental and rampant confusion as to what constitutes pleasure.

    —John Simmons, “Sade and Cyberspace,” Resisting the Virtual Life, 1995

    AM I HAVING FUN YET?

    Resisting the Virtual Life is a collection of essays critiquing the romantic corporate techno-juggernaut currently careening down the info hypeway. With The Gutenberg Elegies, by Sven Birkerts, and Silicon Snake Oil, by Clifford Stoll, it may constitute a full-fledged anticyber backlash. Resisting is the more important of these books, thanks to the essentially materialist,

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  • Film

    Douglas Keeve's Unzipped

    DOUGLAS KEEVE’S DOCUMENTARY Unzipped, about fashion designer (and Keeve’s former boyfriend) Isaac Mizrahi, operates, perhaps involuntarily, as a corrective to the smug fatuities purveyed by Robert Altman’s recent, regrettable film about the fashion industry, Ready-to-Wear. Whereas Altman’s fictional account of fashion week in Paris was intent on demonstrating that the fashion business is—say it ain’t so!—venal, meretricious, dumb, and populated with characters to make Tod Browning’s Freaks look like The Brady Bunch, Keeve’s perspective is essentially that of the empathetic yet shrewd-eyed insider.

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  • Film

    Robert Longo’s Johnny Mnemonic

    FOR A WHILE ROBERT LONGO’S work has struggled against the perception that it emblematizes (in somehow the wrong way) the excesses of the evil ’80s. A more congenial take—borne out by his newly released feature film Johnny Mnemonic—would make his oeuvre one of the first and strongest expressions of the cyberpunk genre in the realm of static art.

    It’s been the talk of the town for a while now, all these art stars rushing out to make movies: Larry Clark, Matthew Barney, David Salle, Julian Schnabel (in preproduction on Build a Fort, Set It on Fire, about Jean-Michel Basquiat), and, coming soon,

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  • Music

    Jenny Toomey

    “LICORICE IS CANDY, but it’s not too sweet candy,“ says Dan Littleton, a guitar player in Liquorice. That aptly describes the music that comes out of Littleton and Jenny Toomey, his partner, music that sounds like Joni Mitchell filtered through a ’90s sensibility: acoustic guitar and sweet, meandering vocals underscored by an in-charge, unflustered attitude that only rarely cracks to show an iota of vulnerability. On “2nd Most Beautiful Girl” Toomey shows her take-no-shit side: “The second most beautiful girl in the world says she’s worried about me/the choices that I’m making, they just aren’t

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  • Music

    the Graying of Rock ’n' Roll

    IN SEPTEMBER, Forbes published its hit list of “Top 40 Big Money Entertainers”—one guide to what’s really important in the music industry. Of the top five, three were group partnerships that, arguably, have done no work of value since the mid ’70s: at number five, the Eagles (1995 earnings of $43 million); at number four, the Rolling Stones ($71 million); at number three, yes, with the tag line “Guess Who’s Back” and a fetching pic from 1964, the Beatles ($100 million). Building on 1994’s internationally successful Live at the BBC compilation, all parties involved in item three have since gone

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  • Film

    the Good, the Bad, and the Overlooked

    IN OCTOBER I COMPILED three lists for my own schizoid edification. The first consisted of the 50 best films I had seen this year at festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, and Toronto and as a member of the New York Film Festival selection committee (which entailed a screening of 100 more films in August). The second was my impression of what comprised the 50 most discussed films released in the United States this year; my third list was a selection of what I considered the 20 most important releases, whether they were widely discussed or not. Only one feature appears on all three lists—Todd

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  • Music

    Charles Long and Stereolab

    WITHIN MINUTES OF TAKING A SEAT at Bubblegum Station, 1995, I enjoy a little epiphany. The centerpiece of “The Amorphous Body Study Center,” a collaboration between sculptor Charles Long and soundscaper Stereolab, Bubblegum Station is an enormous mound of plasticine that the viewer is invited to mold and mark. I’m hacking off some pink stuff with one of the scalpels helpfully provided, and this guy gingerly sits at the next stool and starts grinning shyly at me. I take off the headphones (through which Stereolab’s soundtrack is piped) and the guy asks, “Are you the artist?” I should have said

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