Armed with only a notebook and a GPS device, McKenzie Wark set out against the world in words. Each entry of Dispositions (Salt Publishing) is marked by Wark’s global position, and the date and time of entry. The style is part journal, part epic poem and in turns reminds me of the oblique observations of Jean Baudrillard, the playful verse of Lewis Carroll, and the incessant wordplay of James Joyce. Subsequently, Dispositions is rife with astute observations, memorable aphorisms, and quotable bon mots. Ground covered includes Deleuze and Guitarri, DJ Spooky, Walter Benjamin, 9/11, and lots of locales in New York City and Europe.
Above and beyond all of that, Wark explores a world of words, writing in one entry, “There is no text without context.” Through these entries and exits, Wark creates new texts and contexts. Thinking through this book has brought me hours of new angles and vantage points from which to see other such collections of words. This is not to say that Dispositions doesn’t stand on its own. This is to say that it does much more than that. It’s a lens, a compass, and a map through which to explore other books. As Wark writes, “To essay the specific chemical possibilities of each kind of writing, to mix them and layer them, to watch them peel and crack as layers expand and slip and merge. Descriptions and narrations and abstractions and condensations of precipitate. Percepts, affects, concepts, meshed with words’ own fungability. Running along the lines, bumping and jostling, the matmos of the page.”
Typo or topo? Typography or topography? Dispositions explores the landscape of the written word and is itself a wordscape of thoughtful forms. Pack a lunch and roam a bit. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better traveling companion.
[An excerpt of Dispositions is available from 21C Magazine.]
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.