Born In Flames

Howard Hampton

The subtitle—Termite Dreams, Dialectical Fairy Tales and Pop Apocalypses—hints at some of Hampton’s concerns about the disruptive powers of art. This survey of a 21-year obsession with the simmering surfaces and translucent depths of pop zeitgeists is impressive in its scope, even more so in its juxtapositions: Natural Born Killers vs. Forrest Gump; D.H. Lawrence vs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Jean Luc Godard vs. Steven Spielberg. His rabid, rapid prose makes the case, connecting dots real and imagined. He’s fascinated by the collision of modernism’s extremity with pop culture’s primal instincts, a dialectic that, in his lexicon, breaks down barriers of taste, virtuousness and illusions of hoped-for sanity in all directions simultaneously, leaving us with the stark shadows of Barbara Stanwyck and Seijun Suzuki on a red-brick neon wall.