June 13, 2011
Last Friday Hacker Manifesto author McKenzie Wark held a release for his new book The Beach Beneath the Streets at Williamsburg’s Spoonbill and Sugartown bookstore. To lend some legitimacy to his new book, which I haven’t read but appears to be about the history of the Situationist International, Wark solicited his former students from Eugene Lang classes to attack him with Nerf Guns, which he paid for. Perhaps the best part about the disruption, besides the compelling leaflets (below) was what a failure it was. It was a cheap gag, dishonest and dispassionate. Wark, who had previously distributed his work for free (I’m sure his new publisher Verso wouldn’t be too into that idea) was hoping to exploit his young student’s burgeoning idealism into a controversial event that would help sell his dead intellectual labor. The “disruption” was barely potent enough to impede the flow of his talk, and when it ended, it was revealed he had nothing else to say, as he had hoped the disruption would empty the room. Instead, he awkwardly moved on to Q&A. The first question was something like: “Did you hire those kids to do the disruption?” He denied this. Later on Facebook, he admitted to knowing the authors of the leaflets, but implied he was more impressed with the action of an onlooker from the back, who loudly decried the event and disruption as “boring” before grabbing a couple pricey small press books and walking out of the store.