Richard Gehr

  • MOURNING IN AMERICA: DIAMANDA GALAS

    And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

    —Edgar Allan Poe,

    “The Masque of the Red Death”

    ”LET’S NOT CHAT ABOUT DESPAIR,” sings Diamanda Galas on a track from You Must Be Certain of the Devil, 1988, the third record of her

  • Music

    KLEPTOMANIA REIGNS ON DANCE FLOORS and record charts; theft is proper, and DJs will confiscate anything not nailed down. Pushing pop pluralism to the limit, the hottest dance tracks consist of irresistible beats laced liberally with hunks of found sound sampled (liberated, appropriated, stolen) from numerous diverse sources. As DJ David Dorrell of the group M/A/R/R/S has ghoulishly declared about sampling, “It’s in the blood. Everywhere!” Music now matches the visual arts as a site for rampant quotation, appropriation, and allegorization.

    This shark scene is now, and while it may last no longer

  • Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale.

    Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986, 159 pp.

    WHAT’S STRANGE ISN’T THAT Art Spiegelman’s Maus has received so much critical acclaim since its publication. Rather, it’s that the critics (with a few exceptions) seem so unprepared for the idea that a comic can convey so complex a narrative about a subject whose unaccountability has made it the most difficult ethical problem of the 20th century. Historians, psychoanalysts, artists, writers, filmmakers, and many others have all struggled with it. I am referring to the Holocaust.

    The comic form always involves, to