El sábado 14 de enero de 2017, el mismo mensaje hizo vibrar a los móviles silenciados de los estudiantes que abarrotaban la biblioteca de la Universidad londinense de Goldsmiths. Todos compartían el tuit que la cuenta @Repeaterbooks acababa de publicar: “En memoria de Mark Fisher (1968-2017). Una inspiración y un amigo. Nuestros pensamientos están con su familia”. Repeater Books era la editorial de Fisher, la que acababa de lanzar Lo raro y lo espeluznante, el último ensayo del profesor del departamento de Cultura Visual del centro. Fisher tenía 48 años. “Nos sentamos en silencio, tratando de seguir con el trabajo entre breves y consternados estallidos de incredulidad. Después de unos minutos, nos detuvimos. Alguien dijo: ‘¿Qué estoy haciendo? ¿Qué sentido tiene ahora?’. Esa noche, nuestros peores temores fueron confirmados. El viernes 13 de enero Mark Fisher se había suicidado”. Esto que escribe su discípulo (y exalumno) sobre el impacto de la muerte del pensador en las primeras páginas de Egreso. Sobre comunidad, duelo y Mark Fisher (Caja Negra, 2021) vendría a encapsular el estado de suspensión en el que se quedaron buena parte de los seguidores tras la muerte del británico. No solo sus alumnos lloraron la pérdida de aquel profesor.
A new article by Noelia Ramírez has just been published in El País. It is about the unabating popularity of Mark Fisher, and particularly the way his reception has snowballed in the Spanish-speaking world. You can read it in Spanish here or in English here (although it is paywalled).
I was interviewed for the article back in January, on my way home from Dublin, and my responses were undoubtedly way too long. Only a small part was used in the end, and of course that part comes across as particularly grumpy and Adornoian in the final article. But for what it’s worth, here is the full response to the question asked below, if only to reinsert some optimism that ended up on the cutting room floor:
Why the thesis of capitalist realism is still resonating so much in the digital conversation?
Do you believe that it’s because we are more dissatisfied, especially younger generations, who were now also being asked to accept the apparently inevitable realities of austerity and other post-recession logics?
In many ways, I think Fisher’s thesis is a specific product of and book for the current generations of digital natives. He often spoke about how his intended audience for the book was his students in 2009 — people, like myself, who, at that time, were in their late teens and due to leave school, get jobs or go to university; we’re mostly all in our 30s now. This was part of the book’s power. Though it spoke to a new generation, even criticizing it at times, it was hard not to read the book when it was first published and see a portrait of yourself as a disenfranchised young person living at the dawn of social media.
If the book still resonates today, particularly online, I think it is because many of Fisher’s observations have only gotten worse. Just recently I was speaking to university students in Ireland, mostly in their early 20s, who were just as enamored with Fisher’s work as I was at their age, and just as I saw myself in Fisher’s quintessentially disenfranchised student who wants immediate gratification and to always be connected to my phone or my MP3 player — always consuming rather than actually engagement with the world — they see themselves in much the same way, addicted to TikTok, possibly diagnosed with ADHD (or some other mental illness that conspicuously ignores the reality of their material conditions), struggling to concentrate enough to read the books that speak to them. They see that things are worse now and they hate it.
But then and now, I think the acquisition of this awareness is activating and politicising. Readers of Fisher, past and present, understand that these problems are not individual failings, since we all share them, and so they are instead understood as structural effects. And it is this that leads us to imagine, construct, and demand new worlds for ourselves.