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Rant #320
(published March 8, 2007)
Anna Nicole Smith Died of Pneumonia
by Fritz Swanson
ANS Died of Pneumonia

Smith's life and death have become, for me, even more essentially contemporary than even Princess Diana's death. This story defines the celebrity age. Diana was killed by the paparazzi, and that has a certain manic zing to it, but ultimately she was still a person whose identity existed distinct from her celebrity.

Smith, whose real name was Vickie Lynn Marshall (nee' Hogan), was a cypher entirely created by her own celebrity. She was almost the ubermensch in a classically Nietzschean sense: she had embraced nihilism so completely, had so completely destroyed herself and her identity, and replaced it with an aesthetic identity, a pose, which obliterated all past, that she has come as close as most anyone else to the Over Man Nietzsche describes.

And here, her physicality seeks its vengeance on her numinous self. She had Pneumonia, a disease of the flesh, but she denied her own reality: apparently the pain killers she was taking alleviated her suffering, but masked how serious the real disease was. She died of pneumonia, feeling fine the whole way.

This is truth. And fact.

And now her orbit of mirrors, the lawyers and hangers on, and the discarded past as embodied by her corpulent mother, all spiral inward toward the collapsing star that was her fragile identity. As her body rots, they tear at it and each other. Because while her guise was only a glamour, it had still managed to accumulate at least the chance of real gold to pair with the artful glimmer. Artifice of the body begat an odd artificial love, which begat an artificial fortune, 500 million dollars, so many zeros it has no physical form, instead having transubstantiated itself beyond mere currency into some new plane composed of pure power, and who ever can tear away the last shreds of that physical form Anna struggled so hard to overcome will win that power for themselves, and they will follow her down that path.

She started as a KFC waitress, and through force of will she created a universe of her very own.

My uncle, Harry Hartman, died of pneumonia two nights ago. He was eighty. He lived longer than any Hartman has ever lived. Pneumonia in this day and age is a death reserved for the poor, the old, the enfeebled. Uncle Harry was some measure of all those things.

For Smith to die of it is like the maw of her past, her physical past, tearing its way through the boundaries of her universe so as to devour her, to tear her back to that moment when she was seventeen, pregnant with her son, married to the KFC cook.

Daniel died, then she died. He was destroyed by the drugs that come with her fame. She was destroyed by the delusion of the universe itself, how it hid her basic and original self.

And now, it is like that former woman never existed. She has succeeded in her dream. Everything about Vickie Lynn Hogan is gone, rotting on a slab, soon to be buried in the islands by Daniel, the other remnant. If there is justice, little five month old Dani Lynn will get all of the money in a trust. And she will be the rich beautiful perfect and untainted creature, the wholly made creature, the creature whose substance is artifice and whose artifice is substantial, that her mother always struggled to become but was always denied.

Fatherless Dani Lynn.

Vickie Lynn is dead. But Dani Lynn may yet be risen up.

Rise Up, Dani Lynn! Rise Up!

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The Next Rant piece (from Issue #321):

If You Come Only Once, You've Been Cheated: A Post-Structuralist Examination of the Hegemony of the "Pure" and "Sordid" [1]
(a Poor Mojo's Classic)

by lolly@biperson.com (annotations by the PMjA Staff)

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by Milton Gray

by Sarah Erdreich

by Katharine Coldiron

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