Many years ago, Glenn Beck was a semi-relevant conservative talk show host, whose appeal rested on the “everyone is an idiot but me” rhetoric of popular political discourse. In 2009, Beck released the book “Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government”. The book was a a number one best seller in the U.S.
With Glenn’s career now a shadow of its former self and the book’s relevance consigned to the bargain bins of history, it would logically follow that the accompanying audio show for the book – largely released as a piece of promotional material – would escape the notice or interest of anyone living today.
Not so for Turner Haut, a North Carolina based mashup artist who has seen fit to spend a – not inconsiderable – portion of his life re-editing entire segments of the show into a sound collage, entitled, Pudding Eulogist.
The show in its raw format consists of the following: Beck sets up a strawman argument of the tyical “idiot” opponent – in a goofy voice so the intelligent listeners can easily tell who is “right” and who is “wrong” in each scenario – and then proceeds to deconstruct their argument until his fictional opponent is left babbling and defeated.
It’s a simple enough premise, and one which was probably entertaining listening for the right mark back in the political climate of the late 2000s. Now it is only a relic of a bygone political era. To see it as either enjoyable in earnest, or good fodder for satire would belie a poor sense of perspective – both politically and in a general aesthetic sense.
But Turner Haut ignores the conventions of taste, political commentary, and even good time management in this 29 minute long passion project.
Like a Vic Berger Mashup video, only in audio – this project takes Glenn Beck’s show and splices it up almost indiscriminately. You might think there would be comedic potential here, but there isn’t. Voices are distorted beyond good measure, and sentences are spliced up to form new sentences, but there is, frankly, no payoff. The nightmare just runs on without any apparent purpose or direction. Where Haut might have spliced up coherent sentences that make Beck look like an idiot, he has simply opted to make a nonsense sound collage with no satirical edge. What’s worse, the liberal use of distortion and volume manipulation makes this extremely difficult to even listen to. There are no good qualities here which are discernible.
These were my initial thoughts, but – like any good unpaid music critic – I thought it only fair that I should give the album a second listen, if only to flesh out my criticisms.
On my revisiting Pudding Eulogist I found something which was absent the first time. A sense of familiarity hard to define, like visiting distant relatives. Gren Bekkk, the spliced-up version of the conservative radio host who appears on the album, seemed warmer. The “idiot” too had a charm which was hitherto absent. Before I could grasp what had touched me it had dissipated. I listened to the album again.
A few minutes later I was on the floor laughing, with tears spilling – literally spilling – out of my raw red idiot eyes. I was almost in pain. The demented figures of my first listen had metamorphosed into beautiful Frankenstein’s monsters, stitched together from audio fragments. I laughed at the folly of the “idiot” and at the bravado of Gren Bekkk – but I also laughed at the reverse. The beauty of Haut’s edit was that it had shifted the power dynamics of a conceited audio book into something vital – something with soul. I laughed at the characters as much as I laughed with them.
Over the next few days and after repeated listenings I had formed a personal bond with this piece of audio-art. It’s absurd humour spoke to me in a way that few human experiences had ever come close to. The album is divided into segments which you are encouraged to listen to in separate sittings – But I would recommend listening to the album in full, on repeat, for several hours at a time.
It pains me even to put into words the impact it has had on me. To reduce the experience to words seems facile. Pudding Eulogist is a masterpiece. It elevates the audio artform to unprecedented heights. It will enrich your life immeasurably. Listen to it and join me in the next dimension.
You can download Pudding Eulogist here