Leaving the Twentieth Century

Leaving the Twentieth Century:Situationist Revolutions

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The highly-acclaimed history of the ground-breaking Situationist movement, in one volume for the first time

The Situationist International, who came to the fore during the Paris tumults of 1968, were revolutionary thinkers who continue to influence movements and philosophy into the twenty-first century. Mostly know for Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle as well as other key texts, the group was in fact hugely diverse and radical. In XXX McKenzie Wark explores the full range of the movement.

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 Wark traces 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.

She also follows the narrative beyond 1968 to show what happened after the movement disintegration exploring the lives and ideas of 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.

Reviews

  • Wark's readable explanation of the movement's ideas is the best I have read.

    Edwin HeathcoteFinancial Times
  • 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 into a collaborative graphic essay

    John BurnsideTimes Literary Supplement
  • 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

    Sydney Review of Books