Tuesday, May 21, 2013

McKenzie Wark and the Curators of Decay

McKenzie Wark and the Curators of Decay

“Politics is not like consumer culture with its miracle cures.”
- McKenzie Wark, interview in New Statesman. 16 May 2013.

With such a simple statement, McKenzie Wark demonstrates quite clearly how little he understands, despite his professed Situationist expertise.  It is hardly a surprise.  Wark is yet another withered product of the academic factory, someone whose great contribution thus far – when not hosting pub quizzes for    dolls – has been to write books about other books, in the sacred tradition of the professor, the lecturer, the curator.  He is, in short, a recuperator, to borrow a term from his favorite 3D figurine.

“… the more this stuff gets canonized, the better…”

It is barely necessary to critique the man in the face of such nonsense.  Canonization is mummification in the eyes of the SI, but still Wark plays his part, and is indeed glad to do so.  After all, it gets him noticed, gets him interviewed, gets him published.  He is now a specialist.  But can we really take seriously someone who willingly hitches a yoke around their neck and calls it a medal of honor?  “It is only specialists, whose individual power depends on the power of a whole society of specialization, who have abandoned the critical truth of their various disciplines in order to enjoy the more positive wages of their function.” (IS #7, 1963)  Wark can enjoy his status.  The rest of us can enjoy laughing at him.

The recuperator’s knee-jerk defense is as easy to anticipate as it is to refute.  Oh why are you taking things so seriously?  I wrote a book – what have you done?  You just enjoy making noise.  Only fools insist on correctness of interpretation!  Indeed, as of May 21 McKenzie Wark has taken to Twitter, that well-known forum of enlightened thought, opining “pro-situs will of course yelp and whine,” and “oh have some wit and imagination for once!”  Leaving aside that neither blurb passes muster as a response to, let alone a refutation of, the criticisms leveled at him in all seriousness, one does wonder what a “pro-situ” is if it is not McKenzie Wark, and what “wit and imagination” could surpass a 3D action figure.  “Whenever individuals lose the capacity to see things for themselves, the expert is there to offer an absolute reassurance.” (Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, 1988)

“We will wreck this world,” said the Situationists. (IS #1, 1958)  McKenzie Wark is content to catalog and collate the signs of its decay.  We, therefore, refuse his offer of expertise.

## Politics is not like consumer culture, and it is all spectacle ##

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