I’ve been taking my time over reading Peter Conrad’s Mythomania. It’s a kind of spiritual heir to Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, containing themed essays on our current culture of consumption, narcissism and skewed reality.
I can proudly state that although I’m aware of who the Kardashians are (I don’t live in a bubble), I’ve never seen any of their TV shows and don’t even know what Kim’s voice sounds like – despite, thanks to the internet, having seen most of her body parts. In my mind, she sounds like Rosy Perez; all squeaky, nasal and New York, but doubtless I’m wrong in this assumption.
In any case, I don’t have any intention of finding out.
Conrad’s invocation of Barthes in his description of the Kardashians did, however, have me chuckling into my bowl of Weetabix this morning:
“On another occasion, Kourtney cattily remarks that Kim’s bottom might have become a bit too callipygian – or, to quote Kourtney exactly, she may have too much junk in her trunk. Khloé dismisses the objection […] ‘Her ass makes money, honey.’ Barthes said that myth enabled mute objects to speak, and in these impromptu poems Kim’s backside attains what he called ‘the oral state’.”
It’s a beautiful summation of the vacuity of the reality celebrity, where the doyenne of the cultural form is seen to be talking out of her arse.
Peter Conrad’s 21st Century Mythologies podcasts are available on the BBC Radio 4 website.