You ever meet somebody who can just analyze something to death? You know that type I mean. He can spend an hour before dinner outlining themes of loss and abandonment in Iron Man 2 and an hour after dinner discussing how post-millennial masculinity is defined by Spider-Man and Ross from Friends.
I find that people like that, while often full of crap, can also be highly entertaining. From what I’d read of Chuck Klosterman in his articles and interviews, it seemed like he was exactly that type of person. So for a while I’ve been wanting to read one of his books. The one I grabbed at random (correction, not really at random; it was the cheapest; but you knew that already, didn’t you?) was Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, a collection of his essays on various over-analyzable topics. What I discovered was that people like that can be highly entertaining, but only in small doses.
Because it turns out that over-analysis is just navel-gazing disguised as intellectualism. Everything is about the speaker and how we’re supposed to be amazed at how he can draw connections between unlike things, how he can quantify the unquantifiable.
Klosterman is a good writer, and his essays, in and of themselves, are interesting. But after a couple hundred pages, it all blurs together into “Blah blah blah [obscure band] blah blah [’80’s cult movie] blah blah [conclusion that means nothing to anyone except Chuck Klosterman.]”
Another thing that strikes me about this brand of cultural marination is how soulless it is. By which I mean, nowhere does it acknowledge any spiritual component to life. Which is funny in this case because Klosterman discusses Christianity in one essay, and he does it in a way that makes me think he almost kinda sorta gets it. If he ever does, I’d like to see how that affects his commentary. It would certainly be different.