I recently finished two new books with white covers: But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman and White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff Dyer and while both of these authors are generally regarded as critics . . . of popular culture, the arts, and-- in the case of Klosterman-- sports (and both write novels as well) and they both share a precise, crisp writing style that is almost mock-epic in laying bare the logic of thought (Pulitzer Prize winner Kathryn Schulz, in this review, described Dyer as "one of our greatest living critics, not of art, but of life itself, and one of our most original writers") but the big difference-- for me at least-- is that reading Klosterman is a smooth transference of thought, because Klosterman is around my age and he refers to things that I know a lot about (The Sex Pistols, Nick Bostrom, The Cosby Show, American football, Roseanne, Dan Carlin, the intelligence of octopi, the Higgs Boson, and Star Wars are a few that come to mind from his new book) while Geoff Dyer, a fifty year old Brit, will often refer to things just outside my purview . . . I think this is purposeful: Klosterman wants to appeal to a certain category of forty-something semi-literate, semi-intelligent, semi-athletic nerdy hipster (Dave is pegged) while Dyer, though easy enough to read, designs his references and allusions to take you beyond your normal thoughts and logic . . . in this new book, you will "experience the outside world" a world of art and culture and music that you know exists, but probably never investigated; anyway, here are some references and allusions from Geoff Dyer's new book, divided into two categories, the ones I knew and the ones I had to Google:
some of the references I got . . .
1) Robert Smithson's earthwork Spiral Jetty;
2) Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come;
3) the life and works of Matisse, Pissarro, and Gauguin;
4) Dick Diver in Tender is the Night;
5) Art Pepper . . . I learned about him in the Bosch mysteries;
6) full moon parties at Ko Pha Ngan
7) Don Delillo's novel Underworld;
8) David Mamet and Thomas Pynchon;
and here are some of the people, places, and things I was unfamiliar with . . .
1) the critical works of Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer;
2) Walter de Maria's landwork The Lightning Field . . . this giant rectangular collection of tall metal poles is in New Mexico, if I had know about it we could have taken a detour on our cross-country trip and tried to see it . . . although it's difficult to access;
3) Chaiwat Subprasom's photo Koh Tao;
4) Taryn Simon's photo series The Innocents;
5) Simon Rodia and The Watts Towers;
6) jazz bassist Charlie Haden, who played with Ornette Coleman;
7) seminal jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders;
8) Don Cherry's funky fusion album Brown Rice, with Charlie Haden on bass . . . I really like this album and I would have never listened to it if I hadn't read the book . . .
and so thanks to Geoff Dyer for introducing me to some new things, and making me feel a bit dumb, and thanks to Chuck Klosterman for explicating things I already know about, and making me feel smart.