FORTHCOMING

“The Challenges of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy”

Raritan: A Quarterly

"A beautifully written, powerful and profound memoir.
It is quite, quite overwhelming. Each sentence rings like crystal."

--Joyce Carol Oates

NEW

"The Feudal Unconscious:
Capitalism and the Family Romance"

October 159 (Winter 2017)
MIT Press




Now Available

Portuguese translation of THE MYTH OF POPULAR CULTURE (Blackwell Manifestos, 2010) now available from Tinta Negra (Rio de Janeiro, 2015)



OS MITOS DA CULTURA POP: DE DANTE A DYLAN

O renomado crítico cultural americano Perry Meisel detona as noções convencionais sobre a divisão entre “alta” e “baixa” cultura.

O autor transita pela provocante teoria de que a cultura pop experimentou ritmos dialéticos. A hábil análise que o livro apresenta de três tradições culturais duradouras – o romance norte-americano, Hollywood, e o rock inglês e americano – nos leva a um ciclo histórico da cultura pop que tem Dante como ponto de partida e revisita ícones como Wahrol, Melville, Hemingway, Twain, Eisenstein, Benjamin, Scorsese e Sinatra.



THE MYTH OF POPULAR CULTURE: FROM DANTE TO DYLAN

The Myth of Popular Culture discusses the dialectic of "highbrow" and "lowbrow" in popular culture through an examination of literature, film, and popular music. With topics ranging from John Keats to John Ford, the book responds to Adorno's theory that popular culture is not dialectical by showing that it is.

Available as eBooks

COURSE IN GENERAL LINGUISTICS. Trans. Wade Baskin. Co-ed. with Haun Saussy. By Ferdinand de Saussure (Columbia University Press, 2011)

THE LITERARY FREUD (Routledge, 2007)

THE COWBOY AND THE DANDY: CROSSING OVER FROM ROMANTICISM TO ROCK AND ROLL (Oxford University Press, 1998)

FREUD: A COLLECTION OF CRITICAL ESSAYS (Prentice-Hall, 1981)




4/14/10

Dr. John: Desitively Bonnaroo

by Perry Meisel

Dr. John's verbal trip is the hippest a pop lyricist's can be. Dig the formula on this new album, "Quitters don't never win/ And winners don't never quit." Reduced to logic (a sinful move in poetic analysis but an indifferent one for pop lyrics), the words simply cancel themselves out. Singing, in other words, is music, period, not the proper vehicle for verbal statement of any kind.
Dr. John has become sufficiently serious about the musical aspect of the biz to produce high-quality rhythm and blues (so bland a description accords with the album's latent message). Even when he aimed just to blow minds his music was creditable, if a trifle boring. More and more, though, the musician in Mack has triumphed. Yet the costs of the victory seem emblazoned forever in his appearance. The Dr.'s plumed pomposity, like the scar of a vaccine, is a sign (paradoxically) of immunity from the hype it appears to suggest.
So the crazy voice, immaculate in its phrasing if uncertain in tone, broods over a slow a sonorous funk band and a fine back-up chorus. Mack's arranger-producer, Allen Toussaint, has loosened up considerably since he did the horns for the Band's Rock of Ages, where his parts were too complex for the groove. Now his saxophones bend cool, wet, and simple; with a growling backbite, though, that threatens to rage. It's the 'threatens,' in fact, that's everything, a mark of the soul technique of restraint and inference that has mercifully found its way into music fit for a rock audience. The moods vary from blues ballads like Toussaint's "Go Tell the People" and Mack's "Me-You-Loneliness" (the fondness for formula continues) to salty shakers like "(Everybody Wanna Get Rich) Rite Away" and "R U 4 Real" (the language games persist, too).

Originally published in The Boston Phoenix, May 14, 1974