Saturday, 18 February 2012

McKenzie Wark on Viénet

In The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and glorious Times of the Situationist International (London: Verso, 2011), Wark writes:

"With the failure of the revolution [in 1968], Viénet turned away fromn the critique of urbanism and towards the other pole of Situationist action – détournement. Can Dialectics Break Bricks? (1972) takes a kung fu action film, reorders some scenes, and replaces the subtitles with Viénet's own, making its narrative a rather pointed allegory for the co-option of radical desires by the supposedly left wing of spectacular power. In one scene two Stalinist bureaucrats lounge in a hot tub. One says: 'it seems their latest discovery is to détourn the mass media.' The other replies, 'That, old man, is the beginning of the end.' And the first concludes: 'They are capable of turning our own wooden language to sawdust.' In Viénet's hands, détournement is a Marxist chainsaw. It becomes a tool for remembering what was and forever could be." (153)

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