Saturday, January 14, 2017

RIP K-Punk

aka Mark Fisher

A legend and an incredible mind. Can't even describe how much his writings on music, fiction, philosophy, late capitalism, film, PKD, postpunk/synthpop, Ballard, Cronenberg, jungle, and of course cyberpunk have shaped my entire worldview. His blog, as well as writings through CCRU to The Wire to his books, were pivotal in not only directing so much of the conversation, but giving it balance and insight. He also introduced important topics, going so far as to coin key terms like capitalist realism and hauntology ( a term borrowed from Derrida but brought to the world of art/music/film/lit by Mark). In the early days of the blogs, he took the music crit world to places it never could have gone in the old days of print publications and turned it into a new art form, connecting dots hiding in plain sight but no one ever pointed out. He made dense theory accessible and tried to imbue his writing with the energy of the things he was passionate about. His blunt honesty about struggling with mental illness and the effects that "class unconsciousness" labored to reinforce one's own ill sense of health was a comfort at times when I was struggling to find employment and slowly realizing that writing about music was never going to pay the bills, as well as a wake up call to the ways ideology seeped into everyday life.

I've missed his voice as of late as it seemed he had been less public, which I took as a chance to focus on family and his work as a lecturer and teacher. Although it's unclear what caused his passing at this point, his loss is tremendous and will be felt for years to come.

As we enter into an era where it seems like everything is fucked and so little hope seems to creep out, it's perhaps good to re-read some of Mark's writings on depression as a phenomena with political dimensions and intentions:

"Writing about one’s own depression is difficult. Depression is partly constituted by a sneering ‘inner’ voice which accuses you of self-indulgence – you aren’t depressed, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself, pull yourself together – and this voice is liable to be triggered by going public about the condition. Of course, this voice isn’t an ‘inner’ voice at all – it is the internalised expression of actual social forces, some of which have a vested interest in denying any connection between depression and politics. 
...We must understand the fatalistic submission of the UK’s population to austerity as the consequence of a deliberately cultivated depression. This depression is manifested in the acceptance that things will get worse (for all but a small elite), that we are lucky to have a job at all (so we shouldn’t expect wages to keep pace with inflation), that we cannot afford the collective provision of the welfare state. Collective depression is the result of the ruling class project of resubordination. For some time now, we have increasingly accepted the idea that we are not the kind of people who can act. This isn’t a failure of will any more than an individual depressed person can ‘snap themselves out of it’ by ‘pulling their socks up’. The rebuilding of class consciousness is a formidable task indeed, one that cannot be achieved by calling upon ready-made solutions – but, in spite of what our collective depression tells us, it can be done. Inventing new forms of political involvement, reviving institutions that have become decadent, converting privatised disaffection into politicised anger: all of this can happen, and when it does, who knows what is possible?

Though he was often brutally frank about the utter dismal state of life under neoliberalism, he was ultimately an optimist, who saw pockets of resistance everywhere in pop culture, just waiting to manifest as direct action.  There'd be no greater honor to his memory than to make this so.

It didn't heard hurt that his taste in music aligned very close to my own...

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