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The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages out of the Twentieth Century

Acclaimed author follows the work of the Situationist International after May 1968.
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.

Reviews

  • “Wark's readable explanation of the movement's ideas is the best I have read. ”
  • “A playful, smart and occasionally epigrammatic study of the Situationists ... this brilliant account is not only an essential work for our own times; it also comes with a cover that, with the minimum of manual dexterity, folds out intoa  collaborative graphic essay. ”
  • “Wark’s two books work sequentially, although they also loop around the same figures and concepts. They could be treated as histories of the Situationist milieu and its aftermaths, but to do so would miss entirely what makes them such compelling and, at times, hilarious reading. [...] What really drives The Beach Beneath the Street and The Spectacle of Disintegration is their impatience with contemporary cultural and intellectual institutions that, for all of their posturing, are largely complicit with the prevailing political order.”

Blog

  • "New York Tarot": Alain Giffard reviews The Beach Beneath the Street and The Spectacle of Disintegration

    The Beach Beneath the Street (new in paperback) and The Spectacle of Disintegration (Verso 2013) are McKenzie Wark's engagements with the history and thought of the Situationist International, tracing the group's development from the Bohemian Paris of the '50s to the explosive days of May '68. 



    In a recent review for the French journal Les Obscurs, Alain Giffard examines McKenzie's Wark's vast body of work on the Situationist International and its relevance for critiques of contemporary life. 

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  • Bogdanov for the win!



    This is a famous picture of Lenin playing chess with Alexander Bogdanov while Gorky looks on. Bogdanov won. According to Gorky, Lenin was a bit of a sore loser about it. But then Lenin did manage to checkmate Bogdanov's influence in the Bolshevik faction and have him thrown out, so in the long run Lenin won everthing.

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  • Charles Fourier's Queer Theory



    Constant's New Babylon is about the infrastructure of the future of our desires, but one has to look elsewhere for a vision of its everyday life. In this extract from The Spectacle of Disintegration, I take up Charles Fourier's New Amorous World, a book only known in France since 1967 and still scandalously untranslated. (Although Raoul Vanegeim edited and introduced a lovely little French edition). 

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Other books by McKenzie Wark