The second anniversary of Mark Fisher’s death is just around the corner and I’m finding myself thinking about it every day.
This time last year — and particularly because it was the first anniversary — this blog was a mess of mixed feelings. On the day itself, January 13th, everything felt empty and hollow and I couldn’t really put my finger on why.
It’s obvious to me now, with even more hindsight. 2018 is over and I can barely tell you what I did during most of it. I blogged a lot, obviously, but the records I have of my online activity don’t actually function all that well as a record of time in themselves. They’re a record of time spent in my own head at the expense of any real awareness of what was going on in my offline life. Those weeks and months are now a nondescript smear of time.
What was so traumatic about the year Mark died, in stark contrast to this, was that I’d already decided, long before anything had happened, to overly document the year 2017 for myself. I thought it was going to be a big year, but for the better rather than for worse.
When I was a young photography student, on the final year of my undergraduate degree in 2013, my housemate Sara made the most wonderful video documenting that year. One Second A Day videos were all the rage then but hers was the most beautiful by far, capturing so many lovely, colourful and incidental moments. I had another friend do one the next year and I felt like, eventually, it had to be my turn.
I first had a go in 2015. I got six months in and it was so much fun and it looked amazing (if I do say so myself). I was living at home but hated being there and so I was out every day looking for something to entertain myself with and I documented every excursion with a high-quality video camera. And then, one day, no doubt because I was working with an insane amount of data, my hard drive crashed, and I lost everything I’d been doing that year.
It took me a while to get over that. When I think about it now, I still grieve for it, but the year I decided to try my luck living in London felt like the best opportunity to have another go at it.
When Mark died two weeks into the year, I just kept going with it. I didn’t really know what else to do. I hardly thought about it at the time. I’d already made my mind up, months before, that this was what I was going to do during this year that I’d risked so much on.
I’m still somewhat glad that I did that but I find it almost impossible to watch today. Or I did, but here I am running it through my mind as the anniversary of Mark’s death once again approaches.
As the video’s thumbnail — the lesser of numerous evils, I assure you — makes clear, it’s full of regretful facedoxxing and a lot more soppiness shared between myself and my girlfriend than I’d otherwise be comfortable with putting online, but this video is hugely important to me. At its core it is a document of a lot of solitude buffered by the support of some amazing people, and I think it’s apparent that that is reciprocal throughout. It was not an easy year for anyone who features in it.
What’s worth noting too is that, on the face of it, life goes on in this video but, because of it, I know what I did on every single day of 2017. Literally every day. And the memories are tough, because a lot of awful stuff happened on a lot of those days, and even when I’m in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside or at a rave for the third night in a row, I know I was thinking about Mark.
What I find so strange, in light of all that, is how quickly things unfolded, and this document only helps to accelerate the memories of what was in fact a time spent in the deepest grief sludge.
So much stuff, wholly unrelated to Mark’s death, happened in the days, weeks and months that followed. Life kept going at a tremendous speed, and it’s traumatic to see that represented like this. Unsurprisingly, you don’t really get a good sense of how it all felt here. Between the day Mark died and the day I started taking antidepressants because I really wasn’t coping on my own — January 13th to February 6th — it looks like life just carried on, and the truth is that, internally, it really didn’t. This video is a six minute rapid-fire sprint but, in my head, time had stopped completely.
I think that’s why I still torture myself with this video every year. It’s something of a harsh reminder that things aren’t necessarily how they feel.
One more year on and life is completely different again in 2019 but 2017 and Mark himself continue to cast a very long shadow over everything. I’m one year into living in my little Deptford flat with my girlfriend, still round the corner from Goldsmiths.
In the coming weeks, much more is scheduled to happen to honour Mark’s memory, and I’ll be sharing info and thoughts on it all, but for today, here’s a reminiscence of a different kind.