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 General Intellects there was only space to cover twenty-one influential theorists. I'm often asked why this or that figure is not in it.
My answer is usually that I think people could make their own lists and do their own attempts at compression to create brief, functional accounts of key concept-makers.
But somehow it seems I'm not done yet. Here's an attempt to compress the work of Nick Land — one I'm most often asked about. And certainly one of the most controversial.
In General Intellects, I offer condensed versions of twenty-one leading thinkers across a range of fields. but I did not include figures in anthropology, as I am still working my way through reading in what's going on there. I have been finding some exciting stuff. Elsewhere, I wrote about Anna Tsing and Achille Mbembe. Here's my report on the work of Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, author of the brilliant Cannibal Metaphysics, including notes on a recent collaboration with the Brazilian philosopher Déborah Danowski, called The Ends of the World.
What happened to the public intellectuals that used to challenge and inform us? Who is the Sartre or De Beauvoir of the internet age? The decline of the public intellectual has to do with intellectual labor being absorbed into the production process. General Intellects argues we no longer have such singular figures, but there are, instead, general intellects whose writing could, if read collectively, explain our times. McKenzie Wark presented the idea behind General Intellects at a recent lecture at Virtual Futures in London. This is the first half of his talk.
General Intellects, along with McKenzie Wark's other books Molecular Red, The Beach Beneath the Street, and The Spectacle of Disintegration are all 40% off until Sunday, June 11 at midnight UTC. All discounts will be taken at check out.