But one of The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium's constant refrains is the poststructuralist article of faith that either/or logic crashes in both/and times; pop culture isn't a vast, vulgarian wasteland or a million points of micropolitical resistance or the extruded id of late capitalism, it's all of the above.

As I make amply clear in my book, conspiracy theory is often the "justifiable skepticism" Showalter endorses and the "crackpot hermeneutics" she decries, a tangled web of paranoid exegeses and corporate malfeasance and CIA skulduggery straight out of Noam Chomsky's nightmares. Showalter prescribes the Enlightenment cure-all of sweet reason for our millennial anxieties, as if the black helicopters that troubled Timothy McVeigh's sleep weren't equal parts paranoid delusion, Buchananite half-truth, and the tales angry, downsized white guys tell themselves to make sense of the new, postindustrial order.

Likewise, beating me with the stick of my admission that the Unabomber isn't just a text to be deconstructed, but a serial killer who blew away innocent people, misses my point that Ted Kaczynski was both a floating signifier and a serial -bombing murderer— an alleged paranoid schizophrenic and lunatic-fringe incarnation of a widespread resentment toward the digital elite who sneeringly inform the unwired masses that they're either part of the rubber or part of the road ahead.

I'm surprised to encounter such dogmatic insistence on black-or-white binary oppositions in the author of Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media. There, Showalter argues that chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War syndrome are at once unreal— figments of the "hysterical" mass imagination of postmodernity— and real, at least psychosomatically, to their sufferers.

Mark Dery
Nyack, New York

All Goth's Children

Michael Freedberg's article "The Goths Must Be Crazy" [March 9] was perturbing. Freedberg's view of the black/dark metal scene is unnecessarily derogatory. While correctly mentioning that many black/dark metal bands are Scandinavian, he didn't explain that a lot of the bands use Norse imagery and Nordic pagan traditions in the lyrics. Many Goth musicians create beautiful poetry and lovely, intensely orchestrated music. Freedberg might have to, as he says, "work hard to be admitted" to this genre, but not everyone has this same response.

Sophie Diamantis

It is hard to believe Michael Freedberg listened to many of the albums he critiqued in his article, particu- larly Beauty in Darkness Vol.3.

Only two bands on the compilation (Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir) could be considered black metal by the even the loosest definition, and many of the bands featured (including Liv Christine and Him) are so radio-friendly and accessible that to lump them into the same category as Katatonia or Cradle of Filth is ludicrous.

Writers like Freedberg are merely guardians of the mainstream, striving to keep all music simple and easily categorizable.

Matt Johnsen
Exton, Pennsylvania

Michael Freedberg replies: It was not I who labeled these bands black metal. I was taking my cue from the liner notes for the CD, which term almost all of the bands compiled therein as dark metal, gothic metal, black metal, etc.

Poorer Theater

That many young directors and actors don't pay homage to Jerzy Grotowski is not surprising [Stephen Nunns, "After the Guru," March 2].

Some cannot see the importance of Grotowski's contributions and innovations because they are lost in the world of technology. For them, microphones, video monitors, and high technology have become the basis of theater.

Grotowski was not about icing and toppings; he wanted to get at the essence of theater. Maybe he succeeded, maybe not, but at least in his "Poor Theater" he tried to remain honest to what theater was and is, and what it is capable of doing. The rest is history: others learned from him, came and went, and tried to incorporate his lessons in their work. For young actors and directors to dismiss Grotowski so easily is a sign of either lack of understanding or vanity.

Babak Ebrahimian

Bootleg Risky

William Bastone's article on CD bootleggers ["Pirate King: Music's No. 1 Bootlegger Gets Busted— Again," February 23] notes the large sums of money that people like Charles LaRocco make selling bootlegged live recordings of popular musical acts.

What is puzzling is why the industry gets so upset over such recordings. LaRocco is just responding to a market need.

It is the industry's loss if they feel it is not worth their effort to produce a limited pressing of a lesser-known artist, and someone like LaRocco goes ahead and does it on his own.

Craig Berube
Denver, Colorado

Film Stars

The Voice has a stellar film section. The reviews are insightful without being pretentious. Plus, the rest of the section is jam-packed with tasty extras.

Erica J. Pennella
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Voice Writers Win Awards

Two Voice writers have won awards in a competition sponsored by the National Book Critics Circle. Jazz critic Gary Giddins won the award for criticism for his book Visions of Jazz: The First Century, published by Oxford University Press. Longtime contributor Albert Mobilio was cited for excellence in reviewing.

Staff writer Alisa Solomon is the recipient of the 1998 George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism for her book Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, published by Routledge.

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