Mark Dery is a cultural critic and essayist, based in New York. His latest book is the essay collection I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams. Born To Be Posthumous, his biography of the artist and legendary eccentric Edward Gorey, will be published by Little, Brown in November 2018.
Smell that? Its the smell of Deep Time. Not in the scientific sense of the fathomless vastness of geological time, but in the mythic, plumed-serpent, under-the-jaguar-sun sense. The Mexican sense.
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Flattered as I was to be invited onto the dais for this special installment of the Brooklyn Rail, I was, to be frank, a little unsettled by the thesis statement.
Crepuscule with Bowie, I thought, not quite groping my way through the perpetual twilight of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum. The 400 artifacts in this blockbuster show—costumes (stage and offstage, because when wasn’t Bowie onstage?), handwritten lyrics, record-cover art, stage-set designs and maquettes, personal effects (including, fabulously, the Great Man’s coke spoon from the dissolute mid-seventies)—are displayed in vitrines or mounted on stagelike platforms and spotlit.