The modern iconoclast
He is ubiquitous. At once irreproachable and black-eyed sinister, he cheers us for a moment before we sense a sneer. He is the rubber-stamp guarantee of congeniality, designed for contagion: a morale boosting initiative for a life assurance company in the 1960’s, disseminated into the world in the form of fifty million black-on-yellow badges. The hallmark of seventies psychedelia and eighties electronic dance music, his is the glazed ecstasy of the narcotically compelled. Today, he is such a familiar currency in electronic communication that the modern iconoclast’s first break with convention is a decision not to use him.
Opening paragraph of Happy, Brown, Derren, Penguin Randomhouse, 2016
I ❤️ Derren Brown. I have become, over the years now, quite fetishistic about his writing. As a point of context I offer up that I am re-reading Happy. And being now thoroughly ensconced in the sophistication of this particular jumble of letters, I kick around the idea of re-reading Tricks of the Mind and Confessions of a Conjuror. Its more of a trinity than trilogy I muse. Although, having recently added a forth book to mix (and I suppose eventually there may be even more) my little witticism is less… eh… clever. (to be fair it may have only ever been clever to me)
His style and immensely broad vocabulary reminds me a lot of Christopher Hitchens, his writing being wonderfully high end and complex. Something you should probably sip slowly or digest piecemeal, underlining bits of it and making notes in the margin as you go. None of which I do. Except dog-ear some of the pages… because I’m a savage. (You can’t really take me anywhere nice, except maybe back to apologize)
‘Happy’ is packed with Rilke, Schopenhauer and Epictetus. It doesn’t get sexier than that. (which I think proves that I’ve matured with the advancing of time. It used to be that telling me you weren’t wearing any underwear would get me going, now whispering…
Things are not all as graspable and sayable as on the whole we are led to believe; most events are unsayable, occur in a space that no word has ever penetrated.
Letters to a young poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.
… is way more likely to get me hot, bothered and all tingly in my no-no-special-place.
In any event. I want to be a modern iconoclast. You know, one day, when I grow up. (apparently its going to happen any day now)
I screenshot the blood splattered Watchmen version of the iconic smiley face to use as the graphic with which to anchor my post. I might watch the rest of it later. I am suddenly reminded how amazing the cinematic version of this comic is. Also the Silk Spectre and Nite Owl’s sex scene to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in this movie is amazing!
And then post coitus deciding to go break Rorschach out of prison… well it ticks all the boxes for me. Ha ha.
Anyways, Happy is one of the best books about Stoicism out there. As we wheel back round to… eh.. what might have been the point of this post. Before we got distracted by Malin Åkerman’s boobs.
And by we… I actually mean I. Or maybe me. 😊