On his whirlwind tour through the UK, McKenzie Wark (author of The Beach Beneath The Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International) has given a number of fascinating interviews on the contemporary relevance of Situationist thought and practice. In an interview with STIR, over a game of Guy Debord's own Game of War no less, Wark suggests revisiting the Situationist canon in order to make sense of the commodity form (both virtual and real) and resist the institutionalization of knowledge:
So, why look at this stuff again? Well, if you are interested in how to think critically about everyday life, how to think and act outside of institutionalized forms of knowledge, in ways of inventing practices that are at least partially outside of the commodity system, then they are great precursors for dozens of things happening now such as Copy Left and Creative Commons on one side and forms of autonomous organizations in the media on the other.
Michael Sorkin's All Over the Map: Writing on Buildings and Cities, just published in hardback by Verso, has been garnering its fair share of praise on both sides of the Atlantic from popular media and urban design publications alike. The Guardian's architecture critic Rowan Moore has described Sorkin as "an enraged but forever hopeful liberal" wandering the streets of his dear lower Manhattan with a keen eye and sharp tongue for those corporate architects—watch out Rem Koolhaas—and their fawning critics "who dress the works that crush the freedoms." If there is a narrative that runs through these essays, it is in the particulate of September 11th that still coats Sorkin's architectural psyche:
The most persistent theme is the architectural response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, which happened in Sorkin's neighbourhood, early in the time span of All Over the Map. He combines his usual astute analysis of the politics with his own ideas of what might be built there—"A World Peace Dome" for example.
The incredulity of media and government at the recent London riots indicates a remarkably short historical memory. If they had a copy of Springtime: The New Student Rebellions at hand, they would have had a textual reference for both the horrors of police brutality and the simmering anger of students, workers and the poor. But unlike the London rioters, the student protesters of Springtime have introduced, what an Inside Higher Ed review calls "a new vocabulary of protest." The review refers to the "book bloc" phenomenon as one such example:
By the time an enormous anti-Berlusconi protest took place in Rome on December 14, a group of Italian faculty members had decided on a syllabus of 20 titles worth carrying into battle. It's all over the place: The Odyssey and Fahrenheit 451, Spinoza's Ethics and Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto, Foucault and Fight Club. And so when the forces of law and order descended on the protesters, swinging, it was a visual allegory of culture in the age of austerity—budget-cutting raining blows on the life of the mind, though also, perhaps, the canon as defensive weapon.
And here are the answers you've all been so patiently waiting for. Congratulations to our incredibly well-read winners!
Get your radical thinking caps on...To celebrate the publication of Set 5 of the Radical Thinkers series, Verso is offering 2 lucky winners the chance to win all available titles in the five sets published to date.
The highly popular series publishes new editions of important works of continental philosophy in beautifully-designed and affordable editions. Covering the full spectrum of critical thought, the series includes work from radical thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Louis Althusser, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Georg Lukács, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and many more.
First published in 2005, there are now 60 titles in the series. In 2009, set 4 was launched with a stunning and acclaimed new cover design from Rumors, which has become a hallmark of the series. They have been widely praised, including in the Guardian, Bookforum and the New Statesman.
It comes as no surprise that GOP presidential nominee Rick Perry has called climate change a lie and accused scientists of doctoring information to suit their own ends—indeed, these seem to me some of his tamer anti-science assertions. But even the political centre seems averse to calling out climate change skeptics and taking any meaningful steps to reduce emissions—denial by inaction some would call it. In a column in the Washington Post, author and activist Bill McKibben (who penned the introduction for Verso's upcoming I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet) takes aim at Obama's climate change intransigence:
Still, the final call rests with Barack Obama, who said the night that he clinched the Democratic nomination in June 2008 that his ascension would mark the moment when 'the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.' Now he gets a chance to prove that he meant it. In basketball terms, he's alone at the top of the key—will he take the 20-foot jumper or pass the ball? It's a rare, character-defining moment. Obama can't escape it simply by saying that someone else will burn the oil if we don't.