Synopses & Reviews
Following his acclaimed history of the Situationist International up until the late sixties, The Beach Beneath the Street
, McKenzie Wark returns with a companion volume which puts the late work of the Situationists in a broader and deeper context, charting their contemporary relevance and their deep critique of modernity. Wark builds on their work to map the historical stages of the society of the spectacle, from the diffuse to the integrated to what he calls the disintegrating spectacle. The Spectacle of Disintegration
takes the reader through the critique of political aesthetics of former Situationist T.J. Clark, the Fourierist utopia of Raoul Vaneigem, René Vienet’s earthy situationist cinema, Gianfranco Sangunetti’s pranking of the Italian ruling class, Alice-Becker Ho’s account of the anonymous language of the Romany, Guy Debord’s late films and his surprising work as a game designer.
At once an extraordinary counter history of radical praxis and a call to arms in the age of financial crisis and the resurgence of the streets, The Spectacle of Disintegration recalls the hidden journeys taken in the attempt to leave the twentieth century, and plots an exit from the twenty first.
The dustjacket unfolds to reveal a fold-out poster of the collaborative graphic essay combining text selected by McKenzie Wark with composition and drawings by Kevin C. Pyle.
"In this discerning and insightful companion piece to his previous book on the Situationist International, The Beach Beneath the Street, Wark examines the lives and the influence of the SI after it disintegrated in the wake of the May '68 defeat. To do this he deftly interweaves biographies and societal shifts with political and historical events, highlighting the enduring pertinence of their theoretical contributions as they inform contemporary life. Yet, the appeal of this book exceeds that of historical analysis through its ludic intelligence and the breadth of material employed. For instance, Wark discusses political upheaval in Thailand, Occupy Wall Street, Surrealist art, environmental concerns, and contemporary Nigerian tactical resistance. His analyses illuminate the current economic disenfranchisement and social dystopia for the purpose of inquiring, with the Situationists, whether alternative ways of life are still possible: What remains salient in their critique of the spectacle of modern life? This is not a mere laudatory screed, rather Wark is careful to avoid over-romanticizing. The only minor detraction, Wark's occasional lapse into hyperbole or reductionism, is easily overlooked. Extensively researched and wittily composed, this analysis of the Situationist International demonstrates their persistent relevance to contemporary society. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Acclaimed author follows the work of the Situationist International after May 1968.
About the Author
McKenzie Wark is the author of A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory, 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International, The Beach Beneath the Street, and various other books. He teaches at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City.Kevin C. Pyle is the author and illustrator of Lab U.S.A.; Prison Town; Blindspot and, most recently, Take What You Can Carry. He is a contributor and coeditor of World War 3 Illustrated.