“Maintaining now the spectres of Mark.”

A really lovely and humbling essay from Tamara Tenenbaum on elDiario.com, on the Spanish translation of Egress:

Egreso tiene la emotividad de los mejores textos de Levinas y Derrida sobre la muerte, y tiene algo más quizás: una valentía inusual para sumergirse en la pregunta por el sentido del suicidio Y, más aún, del suicidio de un pensador cuya obra estaba surcada por la relación entre el capitalismo y las emociones, un autor que abrazó en su pensamiento la negatividad que el capitalismo quería negar y esconder. ¿Cómo se lee la obra de Fisher hoy a la luz de su muerte? No hay respuestas definitivas, pero decir que autor y obra son asuntos separados sería un atajo que Colquhoun elige no tomar.

She mentions the book alongside Sara Ahmed’s Complaint! and notes how both Ahmed and Fisher were both lecturers at Goldsmiths at around the same time.

It is an interesting comparison, and says a great deal about the problems at Goldsmiths. The university certainly has a prestigious reputation, but it also has a great deal of problems alongside that. The best thing about the university, in many ways, is that its staff and student body seldom relies on its reputation performatively. Issues are addressed directly and forcefully, no matter what disruption is caused to the functioning of the institution as a whole. But so much of this work also takes place through inscription and protest, out of sight, in private, as well as on picket lines.

That was the one thing I remember happening within Goldsmiths’ library in 2017. I only heard about Sara Ahmed’s protest and resignation after the fact, as I believe it happened before I arrived at the university. But she left her mark, quite literally and infamously.

Ahmed’s complaint was against former Goldsmiths lecturer John Hutnyk. I am not aware of the legal ins and outs, and as I understand it, conversations about the issue after the fact was far from open, but I remember that almost all of Hutnyk’s books, held in the university library, were inscribed with complaints. Though Ahmed was no longer there, anyone who wanted to know more simply had to look him up in the library. Or if you were completely unaware and stumbled upon his books, you certainly got more personal information than you bargained for.

It wasn’t certain who wrote these messages on the inside of his books, but it was the perfect way of sharing information within the institution, in one of its most explicitly communal spaces, right under the nose of senior management. I thought it was brilliant.

I often wonder if this was an established form of institutional protest or whether Ahmed started a trend. I remember an inversion of her act unfolded not long after Fisher’s death. Picking up Capitalist Realism whilst I was in the library one day, I found this:

What a strange time that was…

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