Satan Vs. Your Dentist has gone up in smoke, leaving behind only the stench of fire and brimstone and the smiling angelic face of a bat-winged Gene Simmons (quite coincidentally the gallery walls of Culturefix were adorned with some of their most metal art yet, like Old Scratch himself had had our good fortune in mind). The evening presented work in a variety of modes: poetry, a short film, and both “realist” and for lack of a better term “experimental” fiction. Yet, despite the seeming disparity in style, the pieces shared an aesthetic vision, a way of taking in the world — a sense of humor capable of being both playful and slapstick as well as melancholic and mean; a sense of the tragic with absurdity at its core; an understanding that while the bad things that happen might be inconsequential in the greater scheme they are also paramount when they are happening to us. This is “the funny” The Disagreement has been looking for.
We were especially pleased to present the first six seasons of Carmen Maria Machado’s “Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU.” Typically we here at The Disagreement pride ourselves on the brevity of our readings, yet when Carmen asked to read what amounted to half of her novella, we were game. And boy we were rewarded for our gameness. Aloud, “Especially Heinous,” became hypnotic, alternately seductive and repellent like the show it is at once mocking and investing with a deeper, rhetorical power. Like a fever dream, or a couch potato’s acid trip spent binge-watching the entirety of the series, it operates with a strange, twisty logic, endowing its detective heroes with an almost mystical significance as it launches them headlong into battle with the world of sexual violence. Replete with mistaken identities, ghosts with bells in their eyes, doppelgangers, and a simmering but comic romantic tension between its protagonists, the story is sad, perverted, and gloriously grotesque. It is also hilarious, at times brutally and horrifically hilarious, but hilarious all the same, and it made for a perfect capstone to a night of wonderful readings by Alex Morris, J.T. Bushnell, and Nicole Callihan, as well as a short by filmmaker Sarah Hanssen.
Please join us again on November 7th, when we will present Golden Parachutes Vs. The Holidays.
From top to bottom: Gene, J.T. Bushnell, Nicole Callihan, Alex Morris, Sarah Hanssen, Olive Adamek (star of “How To Stand Up For Yourself”), and Carmen Maria Machado