Friday the 13th

Our next k-punk event is happening tomorrow night. Whereas the last two have been moments of intense stress and anxiety around this time, I feel very relaxed going into Night #3.

Each time we have had to contend with our snide inner voices. The overall logistical success of the night can all too easily overtake the reasons why we’re doing it.

We’re not promoters or events organisers in any other capacity. It often feels like we’ve fallen into this role. We had an idea and it’s taken us for a ride. We wanted to keep remembering Mark Fisher in the spaces where his legacy felt most potent to us: in non-academic spaces, in pubs and clubs, with music and with the people we love.

Coordinating all the variables in order to create the circumstances for such nights of remembrance and joy has often been more work than anticipated.

But, today, I’m free of all stress. Not that there isn’t much still to do and shepherd into position, but the reasons why we’re doing this have remained very much present in my mind this week. I think this is because Mark himself feels present this week.

Wednesday was both his 50th birthday and the World Cup semi-final — two events for the price of one which I’m sure would have occasioned a lengthy k-punk post (each).

Reading Mark on football was always a joy. He had a Twitter account dedicated to World Cup commentary and there were times where his k-punk blog struggled to talk about anything else, albeit — of course — entangled with everything else. From 2010:

“English football,” the writer Robin Carmody argued on his live journal page, “is a metaphor for precisely what the neoliberals have done to England itself …” But it’s more than a metaphor. Football has been at the forefront of the total re-engineering of English culture, society and economy wrought by neoliberalism over the last thirty years. Neoliberalism presented itself as supremely realistic — as the only possible realism. It told us that utopia is impossible because there is no such thing as society, only individuals pursuing their own interests. What better image of this anti-utopianism is there than the Premiership, with its imperious, untouchable elite of clubs, its synergy with multinational media conglomerates, its conspicuously consuming players, its super-predatory club owners buying success like they are buying another yacht? Competition, exploitation, the strong lording it over the weak, paparazzi snaps of the fabulously wealthy masters of the universe players exiting nightclubs, flashing their very new money: football as anti-egalitarian Nietzschean combat. Forget utopia: dream, instead – if you’re young – of eventually becoming like this, of owning these Cheshire mansions, of getting a cyborg-slick WAG; or if you’re too old to ever lace up those ultrabranded boots, get used to being inferior, to never making it – dream instead of media-transfiguration via reality TV, or of a lottery win…

The World Cup has an entirely different atmosphere to the Premiere League, of course. This year, the most noticeable difference is perhaps the extent to which this 2018 England squad’s young players were media trained. WAGs were exorcised from proceedings and the team were defined by their post-match composure, as well as by their inability to score outside of a “set piece”.

Both on and off the pitch, they were suffocated by their own professionalisation, their creativity rotted away. Much was made of their wholesome hotel fun but, despite the media’s painfully excessive historicising — “This is the first World Cup team to score twice in a semi-final at this temperature in this country on this day. This team is truly making their own history.” — much of what occurred in this year’s tournament seemed to be down to good luck.

Mark would have had more to say here and he would have certainly said it better. Perhaps he already did. In 2010, he wrote extensively on the footie blog Minus The Shooting and, even when a post wasn’t authored by him, he seemed to have a presence in every one. He wrote about football as well as he wrote on just about everything else.

On the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands:

Sporting events always end with a feeling of anti-climax, even when you’ve won them. The intense immersion and heightened dissipate instantly once the tension of competition is over. As a World Cup watcher, I usually start to feel this looming anti-climax once the semi-finals come around – by then, the sense that anything can still happen as hardened into a few determinate possibilities, and the glow of festival time starts to give way to the bleak twilight of everyday routine again. The sense of anti-climax is reinforced for the World Cup watcher by the fact that finals haven’t often tended to be classics. Last night’s game, to say the least, didn’t break the pattern – it was a case of the unpalatable in pursuit of the unloveable. The BBC pundits were frantically building the narrative – “Spain were a joy to watch”, “it was a victory for football” – and, yes, even my hard heart was glad for Iniesta, less one point of the moveable tiki-taka triangle last night than a tireless force: the will to win personified, the perfect mixture of urgency and patience.

Paul Myerscought, for the London Review of Books, picked up on a Fisherian comment that continues to resonate into 2018. He wrote:

One of the contributors, Mark Fisher (a.k.a k-punk), has focused on the ‘negative alchemy’ of the England shirt, its ability to turn good players miraculously into bad. Fisher has persuasive things to say about why England fail. Such a shame that so far as the FA are concerned, he may as well be talking to himself.

Mark is, unfortunately, in the air for other reasons.

Today is Friday the 13th.

Mark died on Friday the 13th January 2017 and, since that time, I have noticed more Friday the 13th’s than ever before. Each Friday the 13th has become an anniversary for Mark. Usually resulting in an exchange with Robin, who first pointed this out to me.

As Robin referred to it in a message yesterday, each Friday the 13th is “the real cryptochronic anniversary”.

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