Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upcoming Event at Observatory: "The Vast Santanic Conspiracy: Is St. Nick the Tool of a Plot too Monstrous to Mention?" With Cult-Author Mark Dery

People. I promise you that this is one you won't want to miss. On Tuesday December 21st--aka Winter Solstice--inimitable cult author and lecturer in the grand 19th C tradition Mark Dery will be gracing Observatory with his presence, swooping in to thrill us with his illustrated lecture "The Vast Santanic Conspiracy: Is St. Nick the Tool of a Plot too Monstrous to Mention?" Dery's presentation will be followed by a Krampus (See above)/Solstice-themed after party with music, sweets, specialty cocktails, idiosyncratic gifts, and more.

Full details follow. This is going to be good fun; VERY much hope to see you there!
The Vast Santanic Conspiracy: Is St. Nick the Tool of a Plot too Monstrous to Mention?
An illustrated lecture with cult author and cultural critic Mark Dery, followed by a Krampus/Solstice-themed after party with music, specialty cocktails, and more
Date: Tuesday, December 21 (Winter Solstice)
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $10
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Canceled, last year, by an act of Cthulhu–the Mother of All Blizzards, which dumped 20 inches of snow across the Northeast–Dery’s wickedly witty lecture, “The Vast Santanic Conspiracy: Is St. Nick the Tool of a Plot too Monstrous to Mention?,” is sure to inspire Christmas jeer.

Few Americans know that Santa descends from the mock king who held court at Saturnalia, the Roman festival celebrating the winter solstice. Or that he shares cultural DNA with the Lord of Misrule who presided over the yuletide Feast of Fools in the Middle Ages—lewd, blasphemous revels that gave vent to underclass hostility toward feudal lords and the all-powerful church.

In “The Vast Santanic Conspiracy: Is St. Nick the Tool of a Plot too Monstrous to Mention?,” Dery, a cultural critic and book author, takes a look at the Jolly Old Elf’s little-known role as poster boy for officially sanctioned eruptions of social chaos, as well as his current status as a flashpoint in “the Christmas Wars”—cultural battles between evangelicals, atheists, conservatives, and anti-consumerists over the “true” meaning of Christmas. Along the way, Dery considers New Age theories that Santa is a repressed memory of an ancient Celtic cult revolving around red-capped psychedelic mushrooms; Nazi attempts to re-imagine Christmas—a holiday consecrated to a Jewish baby, for Christ’s sake—as a pre-Christian invention of tree-worshipping German tribes, in some misty, Wagnerian past; and the suspicious similarities between Satan and Santa, connections that have fueled a cottage industry of conspiracy theories on the religious right.

Mark Dery (www.markdery.com) is a cultural critic. He is best known for his writings on the politics of popular culture in books such as The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink and Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century. Dery is widely associated with the concept of “culture jamming,” the guerrilla media criticism movement he popularized through his 1993 essay “Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of the Signs”; “Afrofuturism,” a term he coined and theorized in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future” (included in the anthology Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, which he edited); and the Pathological Sublime, which he introduced in The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium. He has been a professor in the Department of Journalism at New York University, a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow at UC Irvine, a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, a blogger for True/Slant (http://trueslant.com/markdery/) and Thought Catalog (http://thoughtcatalog.com/) and a guest blogger at Boing Boing. A Portuguese-only collection of his recent essays, Não Devo Pensar Em Coisas Ruins (I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts), has just been published in Brazil by Editora Sulina.
You can find out more about this event on the Observatory website by clicking here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

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