Interview Excerpt (Stop Smiling) (12/09/06)

KATHRYN KNIGHT: [It] seems that we’re not so much drowning in ideas, but swimming and rolling around in them. Americans are so immersed in pop culture, it’s as though we’re constantly wading through noise. So it doesn’t make sense to avoid thinking about, say, Law & Order and only think about so-called artsy films.
GREIL MARCUS: Exactly. I love Law & Order. I love watching it. I love watching re-runs, as most Law & Order fans do. The re-runs are really successful and they have been for years. In some cities you can pretty much watch Law & Order all day long, if you have enough channels. I’ve never read anything, nor have I written anything either, about why that show works so well in re-runs for episodes that you’ve seen for maybe weeks at a time. And yet, there’s something going on there that maybe speaks to our best instincts or maybe our worst: I don’t know. But, nobody takes it as anything other than a kind of marketing phenomenon.

KK: That’s interesting–like all of the other things that you may think of as throwaway, like graphic novels, which some people write off as just “comic books,” even though there is so much more to them.
GM: The books that I re-read the most are Auntie Mame, which is a comic novel from the Fifties; Eric Ambler’s spy novels from the Thirties and Forties; and Raymond Chandler’s mysteries from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Those are the books that I re-read by far the most. I don’t think it’s because I find something new in them–just the opposite. They always work to take me into a place that is complete and closed and shuts out the rest of the world. Whereas, Firesign Theatre records from the Sixties, the album-making comedy group, I listen to their records, or three or four of my favorite ones, I don’t know how many times. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. And every time I hear something different, something that I never heard before. I don’t know how that happens. But I don’t think that’s what draws me to keep playing them. That’s what I use for distraction. [Continue reading…]


A Wonderful Kind of Mess: An online exclusive interview with Greil Marcus at Stop Smiling, December 9, 2006


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