I think, for me, the question was less about speaking through others at first, and more getting out of myself through someone else. But Deleuze remains a potent reference in that regard. I like the reasoning he gives for writing his book on Michel Foucault, long after having established his own name. “When someone that you like and admire dies, you sometimes need to draw their picture”, he says. “The lines or touches are of course mine”, as if to say that the picture is only ever a likeness, constructed of one’s own preconceptions of the contours of their being, but it is because of this that the lines “succeed only if he himself comes to haunt the picture.” My posthumous relationship to Mark Fisher has felt like this.
Case in point: responses to my first book, which focused explicitly on Fisher’s death, sometimes made scathing reference to the interests I explored that he did not share. But in writing it, I never considered that would be something I’d have to make explicit, in that it was only ever going to be a portrait rather than an act of ventriloquism. The latter would be far more grotesque, even if the former is prone to a wayward fidelity. That’s how he is able to haunt it.
It was an arduous and emotional process, but I feel I’ve come out the other side much more certain of myself and my place in the world. The most striking transformation that I’ve noticed, in giving into intensities that are very much my own, is acquiring a new militancy with regards to what writing is for and what it can do, culturally and politically. I went into my book on Mark with questions and, if I’m able to write more purposefully in my name today, it’s because I came away with real answers that I now want to elucidate.
I was interviewed by Humphrey Jordan for the Newcastle Courier a few months ago, after I gave a lecture to philosophy students back in November 2021, reading the introduction to my next book Narcissus in Bloom. It is now online here.