recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : alanmoore   9

Cybergothic Acid Communism Now • Commune
"To the barricades, through the looking glass.

Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial crisis, to the soulless thing that neoliberalism had made of the university, to a demand to repoliticize mental health. I sat enthralled, too nervous to go say hello afterward. I wish I had.

Fisher died in 2017, leaving anyone who had read him bereft. I find myself, while reading and rereading, wondering what he would have thought of The Favourite or the new Robyn album; longing for his caustic words on the meltdown of the Theresa May government; wishing he had been here to tear “hopepunk” to shreds; wondering too what he would have made of AOC.

The new k-punk collection, all 824 pages of it, is out now from Repeater Books, gathering a decade and a half of Fisher’s writings on pop culture, politics, and theory. It contains everything from blog comment policies to the unfinished introduction to what would have been his next book. Even a quick skim will remind you that Fisher was a much more audacious, nuanced, and flat-out weird writer and thinker than almost anyone the left can claim these days.

Trying to do justice to a now-gone writer who regularly blew your mind is an impossible task, and yet someone who so regularly took aim at sacred cows — starting a piece with “Orwell is wrong about everything, but especially 1984” — should not become one himself. It’s hard to imagine him having any patience with such treatment, anyway. The combination of humility and raw confidence with which he wrote would prevent, I hope, any enjoyment of sainthood.

The only way to treat him right is to read him with the same eye for ruthless critique that he always brought. The same vitality that makes it impossible to imagine him gone courses through this book, whether he’s writing about the calcification of Glastonbury, the bloodless corpse of New Labour, or the privatization of stress. His long posts often come to abrupt ends; there is no wind-down, everything is full-tilt and then crashes to a halt, winded and satisfied with itself (but never smug, no, Fisher always had the bone-deep understanding that smugness is counterrevolutionary).

Fisher is closest in style to Ellen Willis. Like her, he is a brilliant pop-culture critic as well as political observer and actor whose politics were mostly knife-sharp, but capable like all of us of an odd conservative turn. His insistence on popular media as a terrain of struggle is too rare within a new left struggling for direction; Fisher more than anyone understood that the material conditions that drained the vitality from pop music and art and even TV were the same ones that had sucked the life out of the working class. Instead of the innovation that neoliberalism promised us, we’ve just gotten recycled versions of things we’ve seen a million times before, and all of it under the pretense of anti-elitism, of “giving the people what they want.”

Fisher had no patience for this kind of faux-populist tailing. He had a faith in the creativity of the working class that demanded better for and from it. Change — revolution — would not come from pandering but from the masses understanding their own power in all senses. “[T]here’s nothing ‘elitist’ about assuming intelligence on the part of an audience,” he insisted, returning over and over to a defense of a kind of leftist paternalism. (Paternalism, he knew, was the wrong word, but he didn’t quite land on a better one). “It is about having a wager that there is maybe a desire for the strange in people,” he wrote. “People don’t already know what they want and . . . the things which they really end up most valuing may be things which surprise them.”

Whatever we might call such a position, it’s one Fisher performed well. His love for a song or a film that sparks a feeling is contagious. Within a few pages of beginning the music section in the collection I was pulling up bands I’d forgotten or never known to soundtrack my reading. His hatreds — for Alan Moore, say — are not based in some High Culture snobbery but in a frustration with the mistaking of grimness, perhaps, or some other half-evoked emotion, for depth.

In goth, Fisher saw a subculture that could “teach us that egalitarianism is not hostile to, but relies upon, a will-to-greatness, an unconditional demand for the excellent.” The weirdness of Siouxsie Sioux and other such “painted birds” became, in Fisher’s hands, a feminist desire for bursting the confines of biological reproduction, to speed the destruction of a banal, boring world. It was no accident, he pointed out, that Marx himself was drawn to gothic metaphors for capital: “the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.”

Derrida’s “hauntology” threads through his work, a curious recapturing of a concept developed as part of an extended critique of Marx. In Fisher’s hands it bears the idea of a lost future, of a mourning for a thing that could have been. It’s fitting in a way for his readers now to be haunted by the things he’ll never write. His blog posts still have an immediacy to them, a tang that we’ve largely lost with the rise of the clickbait-fueled “thinkpiece.” Far be it from me of all people to argue that unpaid blogging led to better writing — this is the opposite of what Fisher himself said, insisting that having some security would allow us to produce better — but the shittiness of most of the hot-take era’s writing feels stark when reading a k-punk post on the page. It makes me long for a world where writing could be a form of play. Instead, the lazy bourgeois art that Fisher so despised has only spread; it deserves the tactical nuke he wanted to send down on Glastonbury.

Capitalist Realism exists as a tight little bomb of a book that no one really has any excuse not to read. But in case anyone hasn’t, the concept threads through the k-punk collection; the idea that we live under the shadow of “there is no alternative,” unable to imagine a better way to organize society, let alone to struggle for one. Such “realism,” Fisher explained, was deeply unreal, particularly as we all live in the shadow of climate catastrophe; the tsk-tsking of the centrist ruling class is death drive posing as maturity, and the power of capitalist realism an expression of class decomposition, the fading of class consciousness. Peering through this gloom, Fisher nonetheless glimpsed some endings. After 2008, he wrote, “Neoliberalism is finished as a project, even if it lurches on, thrashing around like a decorticated terminator.”

We might now be able to imagine the death of capitalism, yet one problem of capitalist realism remains: our inability to imagine what comes next. Instead, the left too often gropes for the past, a trend Fisher despised. He insisted that “we must have the courage not to be nostalgic for this lost Fordist world of boring factory work and a labour movement dominated by male industrial workers.” Even communist nostalgia was impossible: “our desire is for the future.” Following Stuart Hall, he pointed out that the left and the labor movement had been too slow to grasp workers’ desire for something better than forty years of forty-hour weeks on the assembly line. The Thatcherites and their ilk had seized the moment to paint their reorganization of the economy as liberation while too many leftists sung (and still sing) paeans to the factory floor. The urgent need now is for a working-class politics that doesn’t love work.

This is where, I suppose, the Vampire’s Castle comes in. Like everything Fisher wrote, his oft-cited “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” goes hard, but unlike most of what he wrote, the slippage it makes between the nastiness of Twitter pile-ons and the problems of liberal identity politics does his criticism of either issue no favors. Everyone, as Fisher himself pointed out, “has chauvinistic potentials of one kind or another,” yet in the Vampire’s Castle — his name for the social media war of position often conducted via hyperbolic outrage and exhausting, disingenuous engagement — he assumes that only “identitarians” turn social media into traps constructed from the mutual fear of attack, an assumption immediately disproved with a few clicks on rose-emoji Twitter these days. There is just as much of a hipster’s desire to be part of the in-crowd among today’s new socialists, even if they throw the word “class” around more often.

But even when Fisher is infuriating, he is never dull, which is what makes attempts to claim him for normie social democracy so utterly repellent — said reactionary turn in socialist “thought” these days is above all else boring. Though Fisher wrote of the “the luxury of feeling bored” and its potential for sparking new ideas, he insisted upon respect for the intellectual capacities of the working class, insisted that “anti-intellectualism is a ruling-class reflex.” Yet those who see in the Vampire’s Castle a club to whack so-called “identitarians,” or simply anyone to their left, often wind up claiming precisely the opposite: that working-class people are too stupid to be challenged or to challenge our ideas of race, gender, and the fundamental orderings of the world.

We can find a more generous solution for the slash-and-burn tendencies of the would-be left in Fisher’s writings on mental health — particularly on depression, his own and everyone else’s — and his insistence that the left make political demands around it. The “realism” of depression, which “presents itself as necessary and interminable,” with its “glacial surfaces [that] extend… [more]
markfisher  2019  sarahjaffe  communism  marxism  neoliberalism  counterculture  labor  work  organizing  unions  mentalhealth  socialism  socialdemocracy  democracy  identitarians  socialmedia  politics  policy  culture  society  k-punk  liberation  economics  uk  us  fordism  class  realism  future  imagination  glastonbury  writing  howwewrite  subculture  alanmoore  music  criticism 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
08 | November | 2011 | AN EMPIRE OF ONE
"Two recent books, Alan Moore: Storyteller (which my wife was lucky enough to win from this site) and Grant Morrison’s Supergods, have re-sparked a question I’ve had regarding the connection between England’s social welfare system and the Eighties invasion of American comics by British writers and artists. There’s no doubt there were several factors, with perhaps the emergence, in the late Seventies, of comics magazines such as 2000 A.D., Warrior, the Marvel U.K. line being especially important. But the most intriguing factor? The dole.

So what is my hypothesis? That comic book artists such as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison would not exist without having had the benefit of being supported for several years by the British unemployment benefits system, otherwise known as “the dole,” thus giving them time to develop their skills such that they could survive without the dole.

The evidence?

Alan Moore: Storyteller:
Moore left the financial security of the office job [in 1977] and signed on at the Department of Health and Social Security for unemployment benefits. (p. 44)

Grant Morrison’s Supergods:
Perhaps at last, this [ie, superhero comics as represented especially by Alan Moore’s version of Marvelman, which first appeared in 1982] could be a way of making enough money to quit the dole and get noticed doing something I loved. (p. 186)
At twenty-four [1984],… I was still on the dole and living at home… (p. 208)

I do not know if Morrison and Moore are typical or exceptions, but I’m leaning towards their being representative of the writers and artists who constituted the British Invasion of American comics in the Eighties. The unemployment system in the USA in the Eighties did not allow anyone to continue collecting benefits for several years and, unlike Alan Moore’s case, it was not possible to obtain benefits after quitting or refusing a job. Another requirement was to have worked (on the books) for a certain number of weeks during the previous x number of months. In other words, to qualify for unemployment benefits in the USA, you had to have been employed a minimum amount of time, laid off (not fired), provide proof every other week of looking for work during the previous two weeks, and, even if you could not find a job, after a period of about six months the benefits would cease. The British system appears to have been very different.

Imagine an Earth-2 where Great Britain had no unemployment benefits. Would Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have been able to become Alan Moore and Grant Morrison without the benefit of the dole?"

[Continue reading for multiple updates to the post.]
alanmoore  grantmorrison  welfare  creativity  imagination  2014  uk  thedole  labor  work  cognitivesurplus  comics  socialsecurity  unemployment  comfort  money  benefits  2011 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Alan Moore attacks Frank Miller in comic book war of words | Books | The Guardian
"I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it – they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail.

As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people whose lives this is actually affecting. It’s no longer good enough to have a group of people who are controlling our destinies. The only reason they have the power is because they control the currency. They have no moral authority and, indeed, they show the opposite of moral authority."
alanmoore  frankmiller  ows  occupywallstreet  2011  anarchism  society  moralauthority  toobigtofail 
december 2011 by robertogreco
A humble plea to Alan Moore and Banksy - Neven Mrgan's tumbl
"I want the world we live in to include a comic book written by Alan Moore & drawn by Banksy…

They’re both hypereducated, well-spoken British gentlemen with a wicked anarchist bend, a sort of giddy nihilism at the midpoint between the extremes of love for the human animal and complete disgust with it. They have very little shit to give for society’s rules that keep things in order, but they’re almost clinically empathetic of the individual. & they’re damn funny, on top.

Look, Banksy is practically already a Moore character (V, of course.) As for Moore, his sleeveless attire, wizard-beard, and baby smile are made for a Banksy piece; maybe he holds a bouquet of tulips over a Detroit slum, I don’t know. Their hometowns - which I bet they’re both awfully nostalgic about - are 100 miles from each other. Moore can curl up in his bed with his notebook and his tea while Banksy flies to LA or Tripoli or wherever, and how could they not churn out gold? Let me have this fantasy, alright."
banksy  alanmoore  comics  anarchism  empathy  writing  art  illustration  nevenmrgan  humans  lovehate  society  rules  cv  nihilism  people 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Early Modern History Lessons: The Potosí Principle | post.thing.net
"The Secret of Subjections, or a History of Modern Colonialism… Note: This show recently closed at Reina Sofia museum in Madrid. It is opening soon in Berlin (Chto Delat is doing workshops end of first week October). “The Potosí Principle” mixes projects by contemporary artists with Spanish colonial paintings and documents from the 17th and 18th centuries. The intention of the curators and artists is nothing less than to re-imagine modernity. Historians call the 16th century the “early modern” period. The French Revolution is a class divide between global political and economic regimes. “The Potosí Principle” exhibition arguest hat in fact the regime of what Marx called “primitive accumulation,” the coercive exploitation of labor, never ended. I intend to review this remarkable show, but can't do it now. Here instead is a Spanish government ministry text on the show. (The current prime minister of Spain is a socialist.)"
colonialism  art  marxism  baroque  thepotosíprinciple  alanmoore  spain  españa  perú  modernity  contemporary  historiography  theory  slavery  history 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Borderland › Raising the Black Flag
[Wayback link: http://web.archive.org/web/20120128151527/http://borderland.northernattitude.org/2010/10/26/raising-the-black-flag/ ]

"I’ve not studied anarchism as a political theory or philosophy before, nor the history of anarchism, so I’ve been reading up on it. & I find that anarchists are a fairly diverse group. Good thing, because there may be new opportunities for anarcho-educationists opening up soon, w/ all the teacher bashing that’s been happening in the media lately. I’ve been torn between keeping my head down or telling the bean counters to measure THIS, and let me get back to work.

Today the Dept. of Education issued an edict condemning bullying: [quote here]

Interesting, considering their support for mass firings of teachers, “rigorous interventions”, termination of teacher tenure rights, public humiliation of teachers in LA (via Larry Ferlazzo), and recommending hurricanes over public deliberation when you want to tear down a community’s schools. They should clean up their own house before they start pointing fingers…"

[Some book recommendations in the comments]

"I recommend reading Rebel in Paradise, by Richard Drinnon, about Emma Goldman.
http://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Paradise-Biography-Emma-Goldman/dp/B0000CL99G

I also recommend Starhawk’s Webs of Power
http://www.starhawk.org/writings/webspower.html
http://www.amazon.com/Webs-Power-Starhawk/dp/1897408137 "

"I recommend The Modern School Movement — http://www.amazon.com/Modern-School-Movement-Anarchism-Education/dp/1904859097 "
anarchy  namchompsky  alanmoore  anarchism  dougnoon  bullying  policy  barackobama  politics  society  hypocrisy  capitalism  privilege  privatization  paulgoodman  individualism  democratic  stephendownes  books  emmagoldman  richarddrinnon  margaretsanger  alexanderberkman  manray 
november 2010 by robertogreco
An interview with "Watchmen" creator Alan Moore | Salon Books
"None of my education really comes from school. ... I found that once I'd been expelled from school, I was compelled to educate myself and I found this a very entertaining and easy process. ... All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we're really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day's toil, instead of relaxing with a book they'll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process."
alanmoore  watchmen  comics  reading  learning  education  deschooling  unschooling  autodidacts  self-directedlearning  consilience 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Q&A: 'Watchmen' creator Alan Moore | Alan Moore | Comic-Con Q&A | Books | Entertainment Weekly | 1
"Terry [Gilliam, who aborted his attempted adaptation of the book] eventually came to agree with me. There are things that we did with Watchmen that could only work in a comic, and were indeed designed to show off things that other media can't."
comics  alanmoore  watchmen  interviews  film  adaptation  books  via:rodcorp  thewire  davidsimon 
july 2008 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read