A recent tweet sent drunkenly into the night brought back some decent returns when I checked my phone the other morning.
This is actually a very good idea.
Last year, after Mark’s death, we held a Weird & Eerie reading group at Goldsmiths, reading a chapter of his last book — 2016’s The Weird & The Eerie — roughly once a week (with the occasional hiatus).
I remember first reading the book in January 2017, soon after Mark died, in about a day. It was an easy read and I glided straight through it. However, slowing that process down to a one-chapter-a-week reading group unearthed so many more treasures in it. It is an incredibly concise and condensed text and, in line with its own terminology, it becomes eerie in the way that so much feels absent from it.
The reading group was an extension of a series of memorial assemblies. There was a feeling that we could do something more with this time that a small group of us had dedicated to meeting once a week and just being together. Reading Mark’s last book together felt like a good thing to do.
I had one question in my mind throughout these sessions: “What links this book to Mark’s next one: his Acid Communism?”
I didn’t know at the time if there was any connection or if maybe I was forcing a view on the book unnecessarily — looking for what I wanted to find rather than just reading what was actually there. I didn’t want this to be Mark’s last book and I didn’t want its subject matter to in any way define his thinking in years to come. I didn’t want to read it as a dark and depressive book. I wanted to read it as a manifesto for liberation or something.
I had high hopes but I nevertheless think I found what I was looking for.
What I’d like to do here, over a series of posts, is to go through this book again and my reading group notes and draw out these political potentials in more depth. I’m not sure how I’m going to divide this up… Perhaps by chapter… Perhaps in two long posts on the weird and then the eerie… We’ll see which makes sense once I’m in the swing of things.
It should go without saying that I cannot take full authorship of the ideas that are to be reproduced in more fluid form here but there’s no way I can remember who said what.
Before we jump in, I feel it may also be worthwhile reading through my recent post “The Lure of the Gothic” if you haven’t already. As I wrote in that post, I found this to be a book that “tore through the veil of the difficult present moment and revealed something beyond.” The Weird & The Eerie is not only an aesthetic exploration to be tied to Mark’s own “dark side”. The Gothic — the weird and the eerie — are so expressive and what they offer us are (I think, and I think Mark believed) transferable tools for our political lives.
How better to picture other worlds than through the otherworldly.