The Fisher-Function

The Fisher-Function is a seven week series built around essays, mixes and unidentifiable audio-events by Mark Fisher. It takes the form of collective reading and listening sessions in which audience and presented become indistinct. The series aims to articulate the stakes in listening to and with each other, collectively working through each text or mix or audio work with invited guests and converging around the idea of thinking with Mark Fisher. Staying with Mark’s commitment to making anxieties public in order to socialise the pressures generated by the privatisation of conditions of study, the programme builds upon the question formulated by Robin Mackay in his eulogy for Mark: “What is the Fisher-Function? How did it make itself real, and how can we continue to realise it?” This is an invitation for all who are interested to explore the Fisher-Function and its potential activations.

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In the midst of all the looming essay deadlines and other projects, this is something I’ve been working really hard on these past few weeks with Lendl Barcelos, Ashiya Eastwood, Mahan Moalemi, Geelia Ronkina and Kodwo Eshun. The first of the seven sessions is this Thursday (April 17th), 17.00-19.30 at Goldsmiths, University of London, in room RHB 256. The rest of the sessions will be at the same time in the same place, every Thursday until June 8th.

All the info about the sessions is on the website here. I’ve selected the text – Mark’s PhD thesis – and written a short intro for Week 6, Flatline Constructs, which you can read here.

We’ve all been sharing these links around a lot over the past few days and will no doubt continue to over the next few weeks as the programme progresses but I wanted to write a few other thoughts here that I’ve been having. As the programme looms and starts to feel real, Mark’s loss reemerges also. It’s been a very difficult and emotional year in the aftermath of his death but there is a lot to be said about the communities that have formed formlessly in his wake. I tried to document the more joyful moments of my personal one.

Today I submitted my essay for my Curating & Ethics course, titled Industrious Records: Reflections on the Ethics of Georges Bataille & COUM Transmissions [still a bit too early to put this online, oops, come back later]. I’ve been exploring in depth these past few weeks and months, even prior to Mark’s death, what the words “community” and “communication” — in Bataille’s thinking specifically – mean for and beyond ethics. My mind is swirling with all this thinking at the moment, exacerbated by the updated stakes of Mark’s work in light of his death, and particularly the incommunicable nature of the communities that have formed in a rupture as catastrophic as one ripped open by grief.

…at the limit of discursive thought experience tends not only toward the outside, toward death; it also tends toward contact with another, toward community. Indeed, so much that “[t]here cannot be inner experience without a community of those who live it”. Inner experience requires a community of chance, a community of lucky beings drawn together, bound together in their excessive movement, in their fall away from themselves. This, then, is “where” community is located: in the chance movement of insufficiency; in the openness that my being is in exceeding the requirements of homogenization, preservation, and justification – in the movement outside oneself, which falls in love, dies, laughs, cries, mourns, celebrates, suffers. [Andrew J. Mitchell and Jason Kemp Winfree. “Editor’s Introduction” in The Obsessions of Georges Bataille: Community and Communication. (New York: SUNY Press, 2009), pg. 6]

This overwhelming sense of intimacy will not be an obstacle to those attending from outside the institution. It necessitates and welcomes their presence. The community enacted by this rupturing Fisher-Function appears like a hole in the wall of a building of card-swiping and roaming security. This public programme is an attempt to open ourselves up; open the institution up, in order to communicate with each other and continue to communicate with Mark. Whilst the intention is not to personalise or psychologise these sessions, I feel personally like an acknowledgement of this sense of community is essential as it continues to spread itself towards the outside. It is going to inform my own participation in these sessions immensely.

(Shout out to Lucy Wallis, whose diagram at the top of this blog post, drawn during Kodwo Eshun’s Geopoetics seminar, I still think about often.)

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