Situationist Comedy

"Religion undoubtedly surpasses every other human activity in sheer quantity and variety of bullshit," Ken Knabb wrote in 1978. It's Knabb's own lack of, er, bunk that's helped him rally would-be radicals around his area of expertise, a Paris-born, Marx-bred group of avant-gardists called the Situationist International. Tonight is your chance to catch up. The SI sought nothing less than the revolution of everyday life through little more than a series of public pranks. It was all very 1960s, sure. Yet its methods would later inspire punk rock as well as "culture jamming" (a practice explaining such curious facts of 21st-century life as flash mobs, rickrolls, and whatever it is Banksy does). By the time Knabb wrote his widely anthologized essay on religion, the SI was several years dead. Since then, he has established himself as the most prominent American embalmer of the movement. His translations (Situationists International Anthology, 1980) as well as his own writings (Public Secrets: The Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb, 1998) are standard texts for readers looking to parse the SI's often cryptic prose. Waking Life director Richard Linklater reads Knabb, and cultural critic Greil Marcus cites him. Even one of the author's fierce detractors stingily concedes, "Anyone who cannot read French and is now interested in the Situationist International owes Ken Knabb some kind of debt."
Tue., Jan. 25, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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