Blog post

In search of McKenzie Wark’s pdf

Leo Goretti19 September 2011

McKenzie Wark's history of the Situationist International, The Beach Beneath the Street, gets more coverage. In an inspiring interview with David Winters for 3:AM, the author explains how his writing style aims "to give a sense of the immediacy of ideas to everyday life, and of the role that different forms of social interaction play in producing this self-critical everyday life." In fact, the Situationist idea of détournement is not just discussed, but also performed, in the book:

The Beach Beneath the Street applies the concept of détournement to the legacy of the Situationist International itself. For critical theory not to lapse into hypocritical theory, but to give rise to a critical practice, then it has to broach questions of how knowledge is practiced. There's probably a pdf of the book circulating out there by now. That too is détournement. That too is part of the practice of memory.

In a review of the book for the Camden New Journal, Kate Webb emphasises the influence of Situationist thinking on today's intellectual debates-from the issue of intellectual property to the relationship between the recent riots and consumerism: in a way, the Situationist slogan "our ideas are on everyone's mind" is as topical as ever. In spite of (post-)modern urban alienation, The Beach Beneath the Street gives the reader a positive message:

Wark's book dares us to keep our spirits up, asking us to think about how to maintain creative resistance, how to keep fidelity with some detournéed idea of the Marxist and Situationist past, and, following their goal of ideas in action, how best to practise our passionate "solidarity without faith."

Visit 3:AM to read the interview in full.

Visit the Camden New Journal to read the review in full.

Filed under: interviews, reviews