Who walks alone in the streets at night? The sad, the mad, the bad. The lost, the lonely. The hypomanic, the catatonic. The sleepless, the homeless. All the city's internal exiles.
“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night,” wrote the poet Rupert Brooke. If nightwalking is a matter of “going astray” in the streets of the metropolis after dark, then nightwalkers represent some of the most suggestive and revealing guides to the neglected and forgotten aspects of the city.
Out this month by Matthew Beaumont, Nightwalking - a nocturnal history of walking in London - shines a light on the shadowy perambulations of poets, novelists and thinkers: Chaucer and Shakespeare; William Blake, the supreme nightwalker Charles Dickens; and many more. Walking in the city is revealed as a place divided between work and pleasure, the affluent and the indigent, where the entitled and the desperate jostle in the streets.
Now out in paperback is one of our bestsellers - A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros. In this book he charts the many different ways we get from A to B — the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble — and reveals what they say about us.
Also out in paperback this month is The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International by McKenzie Wark. “If I read a more entertaining and thought-provoking work on cultural phenomena this year, I will be, frankly, astonished” said Nick Lezard in his Guardian review of the book. We agree. Re-reading the group’s history in the light of our contemporary experience of communications, architecture, and everyday life, shaping situationist psychology among urban explorers for the eventuality of the situationist city.
Inspired by these brilliant, newly published books, we present Verso's updated guide to political walking - after all, there's no such thing as a good walk unless your nose is firmly stuck in a book.
Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real” series, which [began on 11th April], probes sensitive spots of the wound at the origin of the cinema: the split between documentary and fiction. Many of the best movies are efforts to make the cinematic body whole again. One sidebar to the series, “Repeat As Necessary: The Art of Reenactment,” is focused on self-conscious and self-critical approaches to a practice that has become blandly automatic in documentary filmmaking. Among its highlights are films by Elisabeth Subrin, one of which, “Shulie”, from 1997, is among the most daring and revelatory works ever made on the subject of this practice.
Two years after the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, this international best-seller is still the object of a great deal of discussion and criticism. While its author is now listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential figures, the economist Frédéric Lordon ,author of Willing Slaves of Capital has written a robust attack on Piketty’s book for this month’s Le Monde diplomatique. Its title – ‘Thomas Piketty, no danger to capital in the twenty-first century’ gives some idea of the kind of critique he is making.
Frédéric Lordon’s article sticks out like a sore thumb from the media consensus praising the quality and political depth of Piketty’s book; and well-aware of his both insightful and iconoclastic views on major contemporary debates, Frédéric Taddei invited Lordon onto his programme Ce Soir (ou jamais!), together with Piketty. The question that the two men debated was ‘Should we put capitalism straight?’