Review of Clarke Mackey’s Random Acts of Culture

2011

by Darren O'Donnell

Filmmaker Clarke Mackey's Random Acts of Culture is a sweeping survey of vernacular culture, which he defines as "a set of imaginative activities that go back to the beginnings of human life and are still active today ... activities that take place outside of the consumer marketplace and the world of trained professionals". The book is wide-ranging in its search for cultural activities that resist consumerist commodification and includes dips into the worlds of the !Kung Bushmen, Toronto's Dufferin Grove Park, the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, the invention of the written word, a riveting chapter on the rise of the modern notion of spectatorship, and a surprising and detailed appearance by folk singer Pete Seeger.

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