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Category Archives: Digital

Brother From Another Planet


This Saturday, in Tilburg, the Netherlands, I’ll be keynoting ZXZW, an arts festival devoted, this year, to Sun Ra and headlined, of course, by Sun Ra’s Arkestra.

The Basics: “In a keynote speech Dery will examine the science-fictional (i.e., AfroFuturist) and techno-bricoleur aspects of Sun Ra’s work, setting them within the context of African-American culture’s relationship to technoculture and sci-fi mythology.”

I’ll riff, too, on Ra’s self-taught hermeneutics and voodoo numerology, the deeply gnostic strains in his music and philosophy, the homosocial ethos that undergirded his band’s experiment in communal lliving (as well as its historical relation to American utopian communities), his pop Egyptology and UFO-ology, the relationship between his often hand-drawn record covers and the notion of landscape paintings and psychedelic record cover art as evolutionary precursors of virtual reality, and Ra’s sci-fi theories of race.

The Details: Here.

Spam Lit

If only Tristan Tzara had lived to read spambot subject lines, some boiler-room hacker’s idea of a foolproof strategy for bluffing your way past spam-killer defenses. “Be godparent or osteology,” admonishes today’s first hunk of junk mail, a Dadaist ultimatum if ever there was one. What mental-ward wisdom hides in this love-it-or-leave-it, my-way-or-the-highway dualism? Does it mean: If you’re not part of a social network, bound by family ties, you’ve got one foot in the boneyard? “Riddle and barbecue,” another spam subject line advises, sounding like a ’50s cookbook for patio Daddy-o’s who want to be the life of the garden party, even while grilling. “Ragweed conjunct Sherlocke,” reads another, cryptically. A reference to Conan Doyle’s mythical detective? If so, why ye olde terminal “e”?


The Being John Malkovich Effect

Why blog? First problem: the word, second only to org in its mortifying dorkiness. (Speaking of which, isn’t an “org” one of those seafaring enclaves formerly headed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who hightailed it to the high seas “to continue his research into the upper levels of spiritual awareness and ability,” far from the distracting attentions of the IRS)? “Blog” sounds like a portmanteau for some clammy new fetish, best left undescribed—an unhappy hybrid of blob and flog. Yeah, I know it’s short for “weblog,” but who calls journals “logs,” anyway, except the glassy-eyed minions in sea orgs or people who begin their diary entries with stardates?