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The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International Hardcover – 20 Jun 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; 1 edition (20 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844677206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844677207
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Wark is a marvellous guide to the micro-society of the Situationists ... He brings to the task a necessary sympathy, an encyclopedic knowledge, and a certain stylistic irrepressibility." - Times Literary Supplement

"Wark is a fine aphorist ... Playful, angry, depressed, celebratory, this is a book for anyone not convinced that there is no alternative to the way we live now" - Observer

"Wark’s readable explanation of the movement’s ideas[ ... ] is the best I have read." - Financial Times

"[A] smart overview of the situationist movement." - New Statesman, Books of the Year

"A sexy book for a sexy movement... This is a beautifully written, exciting and broad study, one that may perhaps become a definitive introduction to the SI for many." - Mute Magazine

"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." - Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year

"Fascinating." - Guardian

"The book I read three times back to back was McKenzie Wark’s brilliant study of the Situationists, The Beach Beneath the Street." - Scotsman, Books of the Year

"This is no ordinary history. Instead, “it’s a question of retrieving a past specific to the demands of the present.” The Beach Beneath the Street rereads that past in a way that prefers not to smooth out its messier edges, refuses to reify (to pick up the jargon) what made it radical, what still makes it relevant." - Bookslut

"Covering the SI’s adventures in philosophy, art, architecture, literature and cinema (and suggesting that we should do away with many of the distinctions between these categories), Wark traces a lineage we have apparently lost.. The author’s primary proposal is that although we live in serious times we should still have fun with time. We should treat history as a user’s manual. This history of the SI shifts with gay abandon between past, present and future tenses, and constantly rattles the boundaries." - Art Review

"In an alienated, all too knowing world absent of God, art and revolution, 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."" - Camden New Journal

"Wark’s history is timely ... with the age of austerity promising more trouble, the Situationists, those alienated prophets of the media age, still tout the most adventurous analysis of 21st-century life—and what happens next." - Herald Scotland

"McKenzie Wark’s engaging narrative could not have come at a better time—last week’s riots demonstrated tragically the profound alienation, even despair, of swathes of urban poor and destitute and minorities’ worrying descent into hellish criminality." - Morning Star

"One of the best aspects of his pithy, often self-consciously lapidary, book is his intriguing investigation of some of the byways of Situationist historiography ... . the Situationists’ attitude towards intellectual property is hugely relevant in an era when digital reproduction has dragged information towards the ‘free’ model, and Wark addresses this well in sections on the implications of détournement—the re-use and modification of fragments of already existing texts and images in the creation of new works—for political practice." - 3:AM Magazine

"What sets Wark’s book apart from those many other failed histories is in its resistance to merely telling the easy story. The familiar watchwords of the SI—dérive, detournément, potlatch—appear as one would expect, but Wark presents them as breathing, charged ideas, not some dead terms once again dusted off and rehashed. When we relegate events to pure history we rob moments, situations, of their power to change. We turn specifics into constants, tactics into rules, and ultimately render radical gestures impotent. Wark wants to give these moments a different history: to show that those theories and practices of the Situationist International aren’t done with us yet." - MaximumRocknRoll

About the Author

McKenzie Wark is the author of A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory, 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International and various other books. He teaches at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York City.


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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is another Verso classic: Wark presents a readable but still highly informative and original insight into the life and times of the Situationist International. What I found most interesting is that, unlike much of the other SI criticism out there, Wark does not dwell too predominantly on Guy Debord - instead, he considers other members like Lefebvre etc., which made this a refreshing take. Overall, a very enjoyable read - scholarly and fun - I definitely recommend it!
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Format: Hardcover
I suspect this book is aimed at students of SI rather than those members of the general public (such as myself) who have a rather less scholarly interest in the subject.

I cannot fault his research, and the writing style is as times very engaging, but I often found myself adrift and having to re-read long passages to try and grasp what the author was trying to get across. Some terms are not defined and I had to use google more than once to try and make sense of the text.

All in all a flawed book but not without considerable merits.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was a student political activist in the late 70's, I had friends who described themselves as situationists and I had a very basic understanding of what the term meant. So I when I read the reviews for this book, which was billed as "a readable explanation of the movement's ideas", I was really looking forward to it. Oh dear. This is a bumper book of obscurantist jargon, not odd lines but entire pages of incomprehensible drivel. Rather than genuinely trying to explain anything to the reader the author seems far more intent on demonstrating his own credentials as a situationist fellow traveller. I persevered to the end purely out of an amazed sense of curiosity - was Wark ever going to say anything useful, or failing that just comprehensible, about his subject? Well, not really. In an attempt to make sense of this book I frequently resorted to Wikipedia and to Googling various sources, all if which proved immeasurably clearer and better written. If you want to know about situationism I suggest you do likewise and save yourself £12. Potlatch my arse!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just arrived today and I have read 30 pages...

This is a sublime work of research, writing and creativity.

I can smell Paris reading it and am excited and inspired by the content.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought for my daughters dissertation and she has used it! arrived as stated on time
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