The Devil is alive and well and living in America, Andrei Codrescu tells us, and with good reason. Nowhere else in the world--not even in Codrescu's native Transylvania--is he taken quite as seriously. When Codrescu gently derided the fundamentalist Christian belief in Rapture ("a pre-apocalyptic event during which all true believers would be suctioned off to heaven in a single woosh") in one of his commentaries on National Public, NPR received forty thousand letters in a protest spearheaded by Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition. Codrescu was warned to "stay away from eschatology."
Thankfully for us, he hasn't. In The Devil Never Sleeps, one of America's shrewdest social critics sets out to uncover the Devil's most modern and insidiously banal incarnations. Once easily recognizable by his horns, tail, and propensity for plague, today's Devil has become embedded in every fiber of our culture. Discussing everything from rock 'n' roll to William Burroughs to New Orleans bars to the Demon of Prosperity, Codrescu mockingly unmasks Old Nick as the opportunistic technocrat he really is. Embracing cell phones, cable access, and cyberspace, the ubiquitous Devil of secular culture embodies the true evil facing us today--banality.
In a world teeming with distractions, we are still more than capable of being bored to death. Tormented as much by insomnia and its ravages as the Devil (perhaps they are one and the same), we've become as twenty-four-hour society, swinging desperately between tedium and terror and sleeping fitfully, if at all. As Codrescu points out, the Devil never sleeps because we just won't let him.
With his characteristic charm and playful exuberance, Andrei Codrescu has successfully teased the Devil out from the darkest recesses and comic excesses of the human experience. The Devil Never Sleeps is his most wonderfully perverse book yet.
Andrei Codrescu (born December 20, 1946, in Sibiu, Romania) is a Jewish Romanian-Americanpoet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio.
- The Modernist’s command was Pound’s “Make it New.” The postmodern imperative is “Get it Used.” The more used the better.
- “The Shipwreck of Dada and Surrealism,” The Disappearance of the Outside: A Manifesto for Escape (1990).
- Unchecked, the tourist will climb over the fence and come right into your house to take pictures of you in your habitat. Cities mindful of tourists have built elaborate “tourist traps” which, luckily, work. Tourists are kept confined to these, and few escape. There is, of course, the type known as the “intrepid tourist.” This one has to be watched carefully or he can become most annoying. Little wonder these are so often the target of terrorists. If there is an aspect of benign terror about the tourist, there is also a great deal of tourist in the terrorist. Terrorists travel with only one thing in mind, just like the tourist, and the specifics of places escape them both. Terrorists travel for the purpose of shooting unsuspecting foreigners, just as tourists travel for the purpose of shooting them with a camera.
- “The Tourist,” Raised by Puppets (1990).
- The language of the game is interesting. You can think of the pauses as caesuras, breaks between the lines. As a poem the game is composed of a number of short lines representing the pitches. The number of lines per batter form a stanza. Then there is a space. Sometimes the stanzas become breathless, rushing full paragraphs that build rapidly on each other until the poem-inning explodes. The poem lives for this sudden blossoming out of prosodic regularity. Should someone make a computer analysis of baseball prosody, I believe that they would come up with something close to the prosody of some great American lyrical epic, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, let’s say, or Doc Williams’s Patterson.... The game is definitely an epic … formed of many lyrical moments dependent on silences for their effectiveness. An unfolding story punctuated by brief emotional swellings.
- “A Kind of Love,” The Muse Is Always Half-Dressed (1993).
- There is undoubtedly something religious about it: everyone believes that they are special, that they are chosen, that they have a special relation with fate. Here is the test: you turn over card after card to see in which way that is true. If you can defy the odds, you may be saved. And when you are cleaned out, the last penny gone, you are enlightened at last, free perhaps, exhilarated like an ascetic by the falling away of the material world.
- “Dice,” Zombification: Stories from National Public Radio (1994).
- Only the poor can create art.
- From a public forum held at the Los Angeles Public Library, 28 April 2010.