If you’ll allow me a momentary simping, back in February, before all… this happened, Robin was in Melbourne giving a lecture at the MSCP. They’ve just put the audio up online and I spent the morning listening to it.
At the start, Robin makes the case for doing philosophy in our own way right now — whatever that is. “Philosophy has not yet attained its contemporary form,” he says. The “old style” is too encoded in a bourgeois leisure time that is not afforded to the rest of us, so rather than ape an old way of doing things that is categorically unavailable to us — unless you can afford to leach off Mum and Dad — we need to find new ways of doing things.
Pop (or pulp) philosophy is his term for what might be to come, but there’s a great rallying cry in here that insists we are the ones that need to shape it rather than wait for it to land in our laps. Or, rather, the mediums for it are already all around us but we need to push a little further to really strike them in our own image.
There’s one anecdote in particular that takes on a double resonance right now, I think, in which Robin implores us to “rep for the living room.” I wanted to transcribe it:
I turn here — with apologies for repeating the anecdote from elsewhere — to something that Mark Fisher once said to me. I was bemoaning to him the fact that — we were listening to the Wu Tang Clan and I was saying, “people like us are never going to do anything as good as this.” And Mark just said, well, “we don’t come from the street, we come from the living room.” I thought that was brilliant. In a way, it kind of sums up Mark’s authenticity to who he was and where he came from. But in the current context, we also don’t come from the palace or from the Greek agora. And what does the living room mean? The living room means not being a first-hand participant in culture, and especially high culture, but being immersed in and surrounded by technologically mediated mass cultural products: TV, film, records, comics, paperbacks… We don’t come from ancient Athens or from Yan’an so, while we can have admiration for all of these historical figures, I feel like it’s our duty, if we’re not gonna be fakes, to take seriously Deleuze’s demand that we find our own way of doing it.
I don’t know who needs to hear this right now but go and give it a listen. This lecture feels like a defibrillator thrown into the heart of the blogosphere.
When the social isolation restrictions lift I ought to check out the MSCP.