Talk and Book Launch /
I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts, with Mark Dery

Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary

Wax department store mannequin, early 20th century; from the home collection of Evan Michelson, antiques dealer, New Jersey. Photo: Joanna Ebenstein, from “The Secret Museum Series”

Please join us to celebrate the publication of Mark Dery’s book I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams (University of Minnesota Press).

In his collection exploring the nethermost regions of the self and the darkest corners of the national psyche, Mark Dery addresses a wide variety of topics, including the pornographic fantasies of Star Trek fans, Facebook as “limbo of the lost,” the hidden agendas of IQ tests, Hitler’s afterlife on YouTube, the sexual identity of HAL in 2001, the suicide note considered as a literary genre, the surrealist poetry of robot spam, the Church of Euthanasia, and the polymorphous perversity of Madonna’s big toe.

For his talk at Cabinet, Dery will explore the far reaches of “invisible literatures,” a term coined by J. G. Ballard to describe “scientific journals, technical manuals, pharmaceutical company brochures, think-tank internal documents, PR company position papers—part of that universe of published material to which most literate people have scarcely any access but which provides the most potent compost for the imagination.” Drawing on several of the essays in the new collection, Dery will look at the dream life of medico-scientific modernity by considering a variety of material, including articles from the Journal of Forensic Sciences, case studies from Autoerotic Fatalities, and suicide notes.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

About the Author
Mark Dery is a cultural critic best known for his writings on the politics of popular culture in books such as The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, Flame Wars, and Culture Jamming, the chapbook that launched the anti-consumerist, grassroots media-activism movement of the same name. Dery has been a professor of journalism at New York University, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Irvine, and a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. He is currently writing a biography of the writer, illustrator, and legendary eccentric Edward Gorey for Little, Brown.

Beer for this event has been lovingly provided by Brooklyn Brewery.