Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Henry Adams on Snooki Polizi

Reading The Education of Henry Adams, a quirky autobiography, if ever. It takes some getting used to his grimly acerbic third person account, but there's a guarded hilarity in there, and real intent.

A phrase struck me—he speaks of his education in Germany—to wit: “...when by-products turn out to be more valuable than staples.” It reminded me of Williams' laser beam: “the pure products of America go crazy.” Both phrases gained traction for me because, at the gym, I saw part of a bio of Snooki from Jersey Shores. I haven't seen that show but the capillary action of American culture assures that I somehow “know” about it.

And I won't run Nicole “Snooki” Polizi down, but I think it is fair to wonder why she's whatever she is. The bio paints her as a someone trying to be someone, wit the deft arithmetic that “someone” = “no one”. Or more accurately, no one = something, accent on thing. We, audience that we are, seek not works but thingness. Snooki is a quantifiable thing, no doubt. Her pure product, which isn't her or hers, is crazy, let's be honest. We, audience, seek quantity. She (by which I mean this formidable televised thingness, not the “person”), is a quantity, one that we can measure. I have sort of lost gumption to investigate further.

There exists a sense in this trembling country that by-product is product, just as Adams intimates. Poisoned water table is a product somehow (miraculously, you ask me), because we need fracked oil so much. Somehow we need Snookis, id est: heroes: as in: broken leg college b-ball players, swimmers in Olympics, champion gymnasts moving on in career: nobodies elected to somebodies. The democracy of fame.