exercises in compound storytelling

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dave Emory

I've added a link for Dave Emory; it's the one for the archive at WFMU, which carries his show and offers a limited archive; I listen to his WFMU podcast. Dave's wikipedia page refers to him as an "anti-fascist," which is sort of an anti-description, since it says what he's against but doesn't say what he's for. I'm not sure what would be a positive description might be; an unflattering description might be "conspiracy theorist," although unlike your garden variety conspiracy theorist he doesn't apparently do any original research.

I like Emory's podcast because he generally isn't pushing a product and because he has a consistent narrative style with long and fairly-consistently told stories. I dislike the fact that it generally has ten minutes of a show devoted to old music (either 78rpm records or Edison cylinders) tacked onto the end, which makes for uncomfortable listening on a stand-alone digital media device with poor fast forward capabilities. I also dislike the fact that he evidently produces two half-hour segments as separate shows, and pads each of them with repeated information about his various resources, websites, and services, all recommended with outsized modifiers.

Like most true believers he has a private vocabulary with terms that may shift slightly from usage to usage; the most important of these is milieu, which as far as I can tell (this after thirty or so shows) means "financial support network," encompassing organizations that are structurally linked, linked by sharing personnel (possibly in the past), or by sharing money (also, possibly in the past). It may also mean "conspiracy." I'm not sure. Also like most true believers his arguments often rest on crucial but unstated premises, and finding these makes for an interesting game.

He is most interested in what he calls the "underground Reich," meaning whoever was left of the Nazis (mainly Martin Bormann) at the end of World War II plus their money. At different times Emory has linked these people to modern Germany, various neo-Nazi groups, Islamic groups, the Bush family, the Republican Party generally, the Dalai Lama, various Green Parties, Harvard University, and (I may have misunderstood) Pacifica Radio. He also occasionally spends time on Japanese nationalist groups, or the Kennedy assassination, or what have you, but the underground Reich is his bread and butter.

His premise (more or less) is that the Allies left Germany's (and Japan's) infrastructure more or less intact after World War II not to preserve stability and avoid hyperinflation and economic collapse, but rather because they were conspiring with German industrial interests and/or the Nazis themselves. Much else of what he has to say follows from this premise.

In the most recent episode, for example, he suggested that the underground Reich was behind the breakup of Yugoslavia, and was also involved in the formation of the Eighties-era German Green Party. He suggests that various German interests are involved in homeland movements for various ethnic groups (I think the Bosnians, in this case) because they want to cripple the countries where these groups live. In another episode he suggested that these same people are behind the Tibetan freedom movement, the Mongolian nationalist movement, and possibly the Hawaiian secessionist movement.

All told he makes for interesting listening; he's smug but not overly strident, offended but not entitled. Like most self-proclaimed authorities he often gloats unnecessarily over bad news and he tends to believe his own opinions. But his is primarily an exercise in storytelling and it's more interesting than most.

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