Egress in EntropyMag

James Baxter has written a really thoughtful review of my book Egress for Entropy magazine.

I really enjoyed reading this one and I’m grateful to see someone find the benefits in the book’s slippery meanderings. It is true that they might make the book more challenging than readers of Fisher might be used to, but such was (and is) the nature of our reality. Many thanks to James for penning it.

Here’s an extract below. You can read it in full here.

For Colquhoun, himself a prolific blogger, the domains of engaged politics and culture are mutually reinforcing. Describing the ‘worldview’ of his blogging activities at XenogothicColquhoun writes of his preferred aesthetic as bringing to mind ‘the signs and signifiers at the edge of what we know and understand about the world around us—the weird, the eerie, the grotesque.’ Explicitly echoing Fisher’s own fascination for the ‘weird’ (his final publication, 2017’s The Weird and the Eerie would advance a reformulated understanding of Freud’s theory of ‘The Uncanny’), Colquhoun’s project similarly presses forward to the eerie threshold separating imaginative and disciplinary worlds.

And yet, while Fisher and Colquhoun share many of the same theoretical concerns, references to Egress as the first major work of legacy-building will be problematic for some. For those seeking an accessible entry-point into Fisher’s philosophical project, the complexity of Colquhoun’s study may prove off-putting. Like the conceptual ‘egress’ at the heart of the study, the reality of the matter is altogether more elusive: with the text departing from the set conventions of academic hagiography or philosophical monograph.

Although, if we are of the mind to adjust to its novel structure, the book promises many rewards — sliding between registers, both an outlet for his intellectual response to Fisher, while also serving as a diaristic account of collective mourning. Beginning as a postgraduate dissertation conducted during the writer’s time at Goldsmiths London (Fisher would spend the last years of his life as a member of the Visual Cultures Department of the University), Colquhoun openly expresses admiration for Fisher as an educator; elsewhere, he offers stories concerning his own mental health experiences and the insufficiency of state provision (a subject about which Fisher wrote acutely and passionately). All the while, the inclusion of Colquhoun’s own photographs, provide these passages with a driving sense of autobiographical momentum.

As Colquhoun states, Egress ‘is as much a product of the processes of grief and depression, mourning and melancholy as it is about these subjects.’ Writing in the wake of Fisher’s death, the book blankly acknowledges the difficulties of its own conception — with Colquhoun distant from the more intimate association of Fisher’s closest friends and colleagues. Consequently, there are moments in which Fisher’s presence seems to disappear altogether, with Colquhoun’s theoretical impulses stretching in all directions: absorbing Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Donna Haraway, Jean Luc Nancy, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, among many others.

If something of Fisher’s confident lucidity is sacrificed as a result, to stop here would be to do injustice to Colquhoun’s more ambitious aims. Carrying forward what Colquhoun describes in Chapter 1 as the ‘Fisher Function’ (taken from Robin Mackay’s eulogy for Fisher held on Goldsmiths campus), Egress sets forth as an engaged attempt at applied Fisherean theory. Extending the horizon of Fisher’s ‘acid communism,’ Colquhoun has little time for academic biography, instead reaching for new case studies to re-channel the brand of eerie Utopianism and ‘digital psychedelia’ that would capture the imagination of Fisher’s unfinished writings.

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