Over fifty years after the Situationist International appeared, its legacy continues to inspire activists, artists and theorists around the world. Such a legend has accrued to this movement that the story of the SI now demands to be told in a contemporary voice capable of putting it into the context of twenty-first-century struggles.
McKenzie Wark delves into the Situationists’ unacknowledged diversity, revealing a world as rich in practice as it is in theory. Tracing the group’s development from the bohemian Paris of the ’50s to the explosive days of May ’68, Wark’s take on the Situationists is biographically and historically rich, presenting the group as an ensemble creation, rather than the brainchild and dominion of its most famous member, Guy Debord. Roaming through Europe and the lives of those who made up the movement—including Constant, Asger Jorn, Michèle Bernstein, Alex Trocchi and Jacqueline De Jong—Wark uncovers an international movement riven with conflicting passions.
Accessible to those who have only just discovered the Situationists and filled with new insights, The Beach Beneath the Street rereads the group’s history in the light of our contemporary experience of communications, architecture, and everyday life. The Situationists tried to escape the world of twentieth-century spectacle and failed in the attempt. Wark argues that they may still help us to escape the twenty-first century, while we still can.
This year sees the Golden Jubilee of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Both are darkly pessimistic texts that speak to our times. They pinpoint the shortcomings of the 1960s generation as much as embody its utopian desires. They transmit a strange optimism, a backdoor sense of hope, and offer another take on what our lives might be.
In this essay Andy Merrifield, author of The Amateur, looks at the importance of these texts on their 50th Anniversary.
Held annually on the Saturday before Valentine's Day, the Red Party at Verso's Brooklyn office has become a ritual. At the Third Annual Red Party last Saturday, McKenzie Wark presented a tribute to the vision behind the pro-communism, anti-Valentine's Day party.
Check out our special Red Flash-Sale, 50% off selected books (with free worldwide shipping) until Feb 15, midnight (UTC).
So its Valentine’s Day weekend. You can already see the young straight couples. The boy holding the girl’s hand; the girl holding the genetically engineered long-stem rose. I feel like walking up to them and shouting: listen, I’m an old person so I know. This is never going to work! But then whatever does work out? Be monogamous, be polyamorous, be fuckbuddies, be alone with your cat. Being a human mammal is messy no matter what you do. Let’s face it, our species-being has issues. So whew are love, rituals, roses and the color red.