"We live in liquid times.  All that was solid was already melting into air a century-and-a-half ago and now, at the dawn of this new millennium, what remains of the old certainties and security seems to decompose, disintegrate and disappear with dizzying rapidity. This is what Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls the doubled promise of liquid modern consumerism: that by stringing lived experience into an endless string of new 'beginnings,' "humans-turned-consumers are now offered the chance to cram many lives ... [a] whole series of families, careers, [and] identities" into each accelerating cycle of accumulation and disposal of commodities and the experiences that go with them."  Capable of "pre-empting the future, and disempowering ... the past,"  the 'consuming life' can now make time itself disappear beneath the imagistic flows and torrents of globalised capital. Little wonder then that in the complex history of modernity and the myriad avant-garde projects that seek to reimagine and resist modernity's transformation of everyday life, contested questions of aesthetic and political practice have often focused on the experience of time in modern everyday life. From Dada's embrace of chance, to Surrealism's simultaneity explored via montage and juxtaposition, from Beat spontaneity and projective poetics to the Situationist moment, the radical imagination asserts that the challenge to capital's transformations must be taken up in the temporal realm.
Counter-Tourism The Handbook,  by Phil Smith (writing here as Crab Man) belongs firmly in this tradition. For those familiar with contemporary theater and performance studies, Smith (and Crab Man) probably need no introduction, having made (a) name(s) for himself as a writer, dramaturg and, more recently, a pedestrian-prankster and site-specific artist associated with the British performance group Wrights & Sites . Since the late-1990s, Smith has pioneered the theory and practice of the "mis-guided tour," a pastiche of the guided tours so familiar to visitors to iconic heritage industry sites. Both the mis-guided tour and counter-tourism draw on Smith's own notion of 'mythogeography,' a sort of psychogeographical  remix that aims to "put the highest value on journeying, hyper-sensitisation to the everyday and [to] keeping alive the many meanings of places in the face of those who would homogenize them" (205). In Counter-Tourism, a glossy, slickly produced guidebook filled with photographs and passages of text—some short and aphoristic, others longer and more academic in tone—Smith offers up these practices for those readers "who want more from heritage sites than a tea shoppe and an old thing in a glass case." Smith's central premises are that modernity reconstitutes a collective past as commodified "heritage," and that the aesthetic vision of modernism offers a repertoire of practices by which such notions can be undermined. His own twenty-year involvement with interventionist walking and performance practices allows him to fully explore both of these ideas to full measure, and help his book retain a suitably absurdist, performative character despite his frequent forays into 'serious' critique.