UPDATE: Mark Dery says: "CANCELLED: My lecture at the Observatory, in Brooklyn, on SANTA AND SATAN: SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Sincere apologies to all who'd planned to make the trek, but this NYT story predicts 20 inches of snow throughout the northeast in the wake of tonight's expected blizzard. Given the diminished likelihood of a full house, and my worry that I might end up stranded in Grand Central—the my Hudson Valley train sometimes runs afoul of snow-covered tracks, during blizzards—I'm going to re-schedule for early January, same venue. But the Observatory people encourage all who DO want to make the trek to come hoist a jar with them; they're laying in a supply of strong drink and (I kid you not) birch branches for switching. Krampus is My Co-Pilot, M.D.
What do Satan and Santa have in common? Former BB guestblogger Mark Dery will speak on the topic Saturday evening at the Observatory alternative art/lecture space in Brooklyn, New York:
In "Satan and Santa: Separated at Birth?," 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.