Assault on the Impossible is the second Autonomedia title to concentrate on the Provo period in the Netherlands. The Provo movement is unique in the modern era for having radically reshaped the political foundations of an important Western nation virtually without violence. Political change is often tumultuous, but never takes place in cultural isolation. Actuating the revolutionary impulse requires activating large groups of people, generating “group minds” capable of reimagining the realities they inhabit. It requires a kind of visionary emotional adventurism able to gaze with a clear heart at impossibility.
Viewing the “historical nature” of revolutions through exclusively ideological lenses tends to miss the fact that they blaze forth from wider cultural fields, frequently ignited by the eccentric (often aesthetic) insights of a few profound aliens. Richard Kempton’s Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt, focused on a detailed narrative of the birth, florescence, and decline of the Provo political trajectory. Marjolijn van Riemsdijk’s Assault on the Impossible widens the field, investigating the aesthetic attitudes and ludic interventions that helped generate the group mind that drove the politics.
“Anarchic imagination running wild in the streets of Amsterdam! Whether riding side-saddle on the white bicycle of counter-cultural revolt or blasting off in a rocketship of creative resistance on a journey somewhere beyond the Milky Way to Paradiso, the jack-in-the-box historical moment of Provo comes alive again in these pages with inspiring adventures, explosive magic, free spirits, ludic interventions, and pataphysical solutions.” — Ron Sakolsky, author of Creating Anarchy and Islands of Resistance: Pirate Radio in Canada
“Like my own community, the San Francisco Diggers, and our English counterparts spoken for by Alex Trocchi, [the radical seers in the Netherlands] felt commonly that 'the coup du monde must be in the broad sense cultural.' This important book chronicles the prescience and remarkable vision of these Dutch cultural guerrillas, who had a much deeper permanent effect on their own culture than we did. I urge all those with the instincts of anarchism to read it. Those without those instincts should read it too.” — Peter Coyote, actor, author of Sleeping Where I Fall
“Amsterdam, Magical center of the World and craziest town in Europe during the Sixties and Seventies! Assault on the Impossible leads you back to a thrilling episode of creative outbursts and turmoil. What went on in the city, and how did it influence the cultural and intellectual avant-garde? The ideas and acts of the main players are revealed and get all the credit they deserve.” — Eric Duivenvoorden, author of Magier van een nieuwe tijd: Het leven van Robert Jasper Grootveld
Assault on the Impossible: Dutch Collective Imagination in the 60s and 70s