My Friend Mark

Here are two versions of basically the same tribute to my departed friend Mark Fisher, who took his own life in January.

There are two versions, a very long and a quite long one.

The first is my own very very long tribute.  It is as much as anything about me and my thoughts, obviously – as it is basically a kind of intellectual history of Marks’ own conceptual journey and my personal and political relationship to it. If you have been dying to find out exactly what I thought of the CCRU in the early 2000s, then this is for you. If not then maybe don’t bother. To be fair if you are interested in a very detailed account of Mark’s intellectual and political development then I think , I hope, you will find this genuinely useful.

Here it is in a pdf: My Friend Mark

The second is a rather shorter edited version, which is posted along with a number of other tributes on the LARB website HERE

The eulogies from Mark’s memorial service (including an Acid Communist translation of the Internationale) are HERE

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Free Course! Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology & Power

From February to June this year, I’ll be teaching on a free fortnightly course at Open School East in Dalston which will be be covering a number of key issues in contemporary cultural politics – race, gender, sexuality, technology, neoliberalism, music, money, the future, etc. I’ll be taking most of the sessions – Stephen Maddison will do the one on queer politics.
Anyone is welcome and it  should be very interesting.
These lectures / seminar are technically the second part of a free course titled ‘Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology & Power’, but they should be accessible and interesting whether you are completely new to these things, or an advanced cultural theory postgrad, or anything in between. Please do pass on to anyone who might be interested.
For more details about the course, the context, etc. see HERE and HERE
The information about what, where and when is below:

Where and how to get there ?

Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ

View Map

Buses: 67, 149, 243 (Haggerston Station) & 21, 76, 141 (Downham Road)
Overground: Haggerston

(Open School East is fully wheelchair accessible)

What and When?

Every other Tuesday (normally – see dates below), Feb 23rd – June 14th 2016

6:30pm -8:30pm

Just turn up no booking required

(then drinks round the corner at Brilliant Corners!)

Dates and Topics 

Tuesday February 23 2016

We are all migrants

‘Some bunch of migrants’ is what David Cameron called the refugee inhabitants of the Calais ‘jungle’ when Jeremy Corbyn went to visit them. But migration and movement of people has shaped every aspect of our lives and culture, from the forced migrations of the slave trade to the take-away menus on our high street. With the EU referendum just around the corner, and anti-immigration feeling running high in the UK, what hope is there for a progressive cosmopolitan politics today? 

Tuesday March 8th 

Computer World  

‘Computer World’ is the title of Kraftwerk’s best album (yes it is). At just around the time they recorded it, economists, philosophers and social theorists were predicting that the ‘computerisation’ of society would change everything, creating a world of infinite information, without stable values, in which the very idea of being ‘modern’ would come to seem out of date.  Were they right? The technological changes of the past few decades have radically changed how capitalism works – but is it still fundamentally the same old system?

Tuesday March 15th  (NB this is only one week after the last session)

No Such Thing As ‘Society’

“There’s no such thing as society: only individuals (and their families)”. This was perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most notorious public pronouncement. It was also one of the few moments when she made explicit her commitment to the ideals and assumptions of ‘neoliberalism’: the individualistic political philosophy that has come to dominate our politics, our culture and our lives. 

After the 2008 crash, and the rise of Corbynism, we’re hearing a lot of discussion these days about the problems with neoliberal economics, which basically wants to privatise everything, drive down wages and cut taxes for the rich. We don’t hear so much about neoliberalism as a cultural ideology, promoting individualism, competition and greed in every area of life, from the nursery to the hospice. But without understanding this, we can’t understand how  ruling elites have got away with imposing such an unpopular programme for so long. 

We’ll have a think about this here – and take the opportunity to revise a bit of Marx, Gramsci and Foucault. 

Easter break 

Tuesday April 5th 

This is what a feminist looks like 

If historians of the future remember our era for anything, it is probably going to be the unprecedented revolution in the social status of women that we have lived through, and are living through.  But the movement which made that change possible is still derided and feared, often seemingly unpopular with the very generations of young women who have benefited from it. At the same time it has raised a question which cultural and social theory is still struggling to answer – what is gender? Is it a social construct or a biological fact, or both, or neither? What does it mean to be a feminist today? Where does masculinity fit into all this? What are ‘performativity’ and ‘intersectionality’ when they’re at home? We will sort all this out in time to get to the pub before 9, honest…

Tuesday April 19th

Queer as Folk

Another huge cultural and political change of recent years has been the transformation in social attitudes towards same-sex relationships. It’s hard to believe now that both advocates and opponents of ‘gay liberation’ once thought that capitalism itself simply could not tolerate open same-sex relationships, and would be fatally undermined by any attempt to validate them. At the same time sexuality remains a highly charged political issue in many complex ways, and the broad field of ‘queer theory’ has been one of the most productive and contentious areas of cultural studies. 

Tuesday May 3rd

The Multitude, the Metropolis (and the Mayor)

Since around 2000, there’s been growing interest in the English-speaking world in a particular strain of radical Italian thought. This ‘autonomist’ tradition believes in the creative, dynamic capacities of workers of all kinds, from factory workers to software engineers, and wants to liberate the creative power of ‘the multitude’ from capitalist control. Thinkers such as Hardt & Negri and Lazzarato offer very interesting ways of thinking about the rise of the ‘creative economy’, about how social media platforms generate profits from our everyday communications, and about why cities are so often hotbeds of radicalism and innovation. Two days before the London Mayoral election, we’ll also think about what potential there might be for Londoners to take back our own city from the clutches of the oligarchs and the Corporation of London.

Tuesday May 17th  

Can you Feel it?

 Once upon a time, Cultural Studies was basically about looking at everything as if it were a language: fashion, advertising, music and journalism were understood as different ways in which people ‘make meanings’. A lot of cultural studies still is like that – it’s a very useful and productive way of looking at things. But what about those aspects of our lives which are not easy to translate into ‘meanings’?  What about feelings? What about the sounds of music, the colours of paintings, the physical thrill of watching a movie? These issues aren’t just important for thinking about art and music – they’re also crucial to understanding what motivates people politically and socially. We’ll  explore these issues and try to get inside one of the most difficult but rewarding bodies of 20th century theory: the ‘schizoanalysis’ of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.

Tuesday May 31st 

How did we get here?  

How did we get into this mess? Rising inequality, climate catastrophe, miserable youth and a culture which can’t innovate: it’s hard to believe that until some time in the 80s, people actually believed the world was getting better.  Can Cultural Studies help us to understand how we got here? It can and it will.

In this session we’ll bring together many of the ideas from the previous weeks, and the previous term, to see how they can help answer this questions. We’ll be looking at some classic Cultural Studies text such as Sturt Hall et. al’s Policing the Crisis published in 1978 (which starts off analysing newspaper reports about muggings, and ends up basically predicting Thatcherism before anyone else could see it coming), and asking if culture in 2016 is still stuck in ‘the long 1990s’. 

Tuesday June 14th 

Where are we going?

What kind of world are we heading into, and who gets to decide? Will artificially-intelligent robots be our masters? Will we be cyborgs ourselves? Are we already? What will happen to us once Chinese workers start demanding decent wages for making all the stuff we buy? Can the planet tolerate the levels of consumption we’ve got used to? Will technology save us or destroy us.? Are we already experiencing ‘post-capitalism’?  Are we already ‘post-human’? All this and more will be revealed. 

The Long 90s is Over

This is the text of a talk I gave at the Capitalism, Culture and the Media conference at the University of Leeds last week.

It touches on some themes discussed in a bit more detail in this lecture I gave at Open School East earlier in the summer.

I will write this up into a proper article and get more into the stuff around the global historic bloc of Big Tech and Finance Capital (Wall St + Silicon Valley) when I get around to it. For now I thought I’d better put this online because people like the excellent Aditya  are starting to quote me on the long ’90s thing…

White Noise: New Labour, New Lads, ’Britpop’ and Blairism 

I wrote White Noise either at the end of 1996 or early in 1997. It’s about the ethnic, national, class, sexual and gendered character of ‘Britpop’ and its implications for understanding the politics of Blairism on the eve of its great political triumph.

 It was the text for a pamphlet/‘discussion paper’ that was published by the Signs of the Times group under the 

It was then included (in a slightly updated and expanded  form) as the chapter ‘Pop, Politics and Populism’ in a book called The Moderniser’s Dilemma, edited by Anne Coddington and Mark Perryman, published by Lawrence and Wishart a couple of years late. 

 I’m posting it today just because the media are suddenly full of incitements to remember the supposed anniversary of Britpop, along with some excellent well-deserved mockery of that hideously embarrassing phenomenon (e.g. http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/arts-entertainment/nineties-generation-to-make-formal-apology-for-britpop-2014041085596).

I would still stand by every word of the analysis here,and in particular I think it was pretty prescient about the implications of the Britpop-‘New Lad’ formation for the future of gender politics in the UK. 

 Here it is anyway

 

 

 

 

Common Ground: A discussion with Lawrence Grossberg about my latest book

This is the text of an exchange between myself and Lawrence Grossberg following the publication of my book Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism (Pluto 2013).

It particularly covers issues such as the concept of ‘infinite relationality’, the politics of ‘horizontalism’ and vital materialism, and the relationship between political and cultural strategies at different levels of operation.

It’s also pretty much the only place I’ve publicly reflected on the (non?-)relationships between my political and musical activities.

I haven’t edited it at all except to remove a few typos and personal asides.

Thanks very much indeed to Lawrence Grossberg for initiating and participating in the exchange and for agreeing to allow its publication

Capitalism, creativity and the crisis in the music industry

As online networks and file sharing alter the parameters of the music industry, the tension between commerce and capitalism finds a renewed emphasis. But who is losing out and what are the implications for artistic creativity?

This text was originally given as a talk at the Berlin Music Week Denkfabrik event in 2012.

But it appears HERE courtesy of open Democracy