Repeater Radio presents:
K-Punk Marathon

This Saturday, on 12th June 2021, Repeater Radio will be broadcasting (over) a day’s worth of K-Punk content. This will include another opportunity to hear January’s For K-Punk event, commissioned by the ICA, rebroadcast in full.

The full line-up is massive — the image below is only part of it — with a lot of new material being created especially for the event. Sign up to Repeater Radio’s mailing list to get all the announcements for this and all future broadcasts.

Don’t sleep.

From the Repeater Radio mailing list:

We are in a fallow period as we plan out our upcoming K-Punk marathon and station relaunch on the 12th of June. The 12th will see us rebroadcast and expand this year’s For K-Punk festivities, a full day’s online extravaganza featuring mixes and music from Oneohtrix Point Never, Time is Away, Iceboy Violet, Incursions, Mark Lawrence and visuals by Sweatmother. The artists will also be in discussion around the idea of postcapitalist desire.

Extending and expanding our overview of Mark Fisher’s work we’ll also have Mark Stewart’s Nun Gun, an original piece by Thomas Nordmark meditating on Fisher’s legacy, Pulp Modernism: Julia Toppin, Eddie Otchere and Andrew Green in conversation on Junglist, Mark’s Out Of Joint Lecture Hall tribute mix, Cynhia Cruz on K-Punk and Savage Messiah, Mike Grasso and Matt Ellis on “The Slow Cancellation of the Future” from Ghosts of My Life and “What Is Hauntology?,” a collaboration with Acid Horizon podcast, plus lots more still to come.

Save the date and see you then.

Postcapitalist Desire:
XG on Hermitix

I was the first guest on the Hermitix podcast, back in those heady days of late 2018. I am now also the 78th guest. Many thanks to Meta for having me back again, on a podcast that covers such an insane amount of ground, to once again talk about Mark Fisher and, more specifically, the recently released collection of Fisher’s lectures, Postcapitalist Desire. Always a pleasure.

Listen above via YouTube, or over on Podiant. If you enjoy it, make sure to follow Hermitix on Twitter, and subscribe, donate or become a Patreon to help keep the show going!

Knowing the Unknown Knower

Blogs and search engines are different approaches to the same problem, different occupations of the same place. They point, though, in different directions. Faced with the challenge of providing a trusted guide through a chaotic, indeterminable, changing field, search engines say “trust the algorithm”. In contrast, blogs say, “trust doesn’t scale.” So while the former offers a reliability based in equations and crawl capacities, the latter says, know the knower. It focuses on the person providing the link, offering the searcher the opportunity to know this person and so determine whether she can be trusted. Social network sites refract the problem of truth yet again: if the issue with blogs is the credibility of the guide or writer, the issue for social network sites is trust in the audience, in the others who might be following me.

In her 2010 book Blog Theory, quoted above, Jodi Dean gives us a snapshot of online trust at the start of the last decade. Reading it today, at the start of a new decade, illuminates just how much has changed.

“Knowing the knower” is the foundation for blogging’s value. Dean explains how early blogs were little more than curators of links on a radically disorganised and decentralised internet. Knowing the blogger, respecting their opinion, shaped your experience of navigating the World Wide Web, that may have otherwise been utterly and hopelessly formless.

In many respects, the purpose of blogging today remains the same. In others, however, it has been inverted. All too aware of its own value, the blogger has further gone underground. Knowing the knower is now, in some cases, impossible — and that is often the attraction of a blog’s output. Though there is an abundance of content, scarcity of self is exacerbated. This is no doubt because the idea of an “authentic online self” has been undermined absolutely by capitalist capture. The more authentic you are online, the more attractive you are to capitalism, because your trust can be commodified and transformed into marketing gold. Just look at Instagram — anyone who has been on that platform long enough will have likely seen a fun account, run by an extroverted someone just sharing their day, perhaps pursuing some niche interest or occupation. (Case in point, my girlfriend and I follows a couple shepherdesses.) Suddenly breaking into a new zone of visibility, their authenticity is easily hijacked by corporations who then pay the authentic blogger to advertise and/or recommend their product.

This transformation is often bittersweet. Those who let capitalism in are likely those who could use the financial boost, selling a self they may have shaped over the years in the service industry, in an environment where the self is often all you have to give, and where putting on a smile is the best way to gain tips. Though their authenticity is immediately undermined, such is the paradox of needing to pay your rent and having little else to give. In the social media age, personality can become a useful commodity.

In the theory blogosphere, hiding behind aliases and avatars was once seen a way to challenge this norm. “Getting out of your face again” was a rejection of the new face of capitalism and a way to seed knowledge on the peripheries of its libidinal circuits. This tradition continues to this day. The knower is, more often than not, hidden. But the reasons behind the donning of a cybermask are long outdated. Now, there is a problem: the unknown knower is just as susceptible to capitalist capture as their more visible rivals have long been.

The unknown knower sells their inauthenticity just as the authentic poster sells its opposite, albeit in a more clandestine fashion. The anon’s profile supersedes the authentic self, easily accruing more followers and more influence than their more visible counterpart, all because they are seen to be in possession of forbidden knowledge. Rather than putting their own face out there because they have something to gain, the anon hides their identity and corrals a sense that they may have something to lose. To hide is made brave, cowardice is inverted. A crowd gathers to listen to the untainted prophet.

The encouraged assumption that the unknown knower has more to lose is, in my experience, very accurate. But this is not because they are bearers of inconvenient truths. It is, more often than not, the establishment, the reactionaries, the conservatives who hide their faces online. They get off on its clandestine networks of tradposting. They go underground, only to disguise any chinks in their overground armour. All the while, those with something to say should go overground with more ferocity. Recognising that the right’s burrowing underground is down to their vulnerability overground suggests now is the time to rise up. Mark Fisher’s argument from 2014 is argubaly more resonant now than it once was:

Perhaps now is the moment when New Times can finally happen – if we can emerge, blinking, from our barricaded (but now extensively connected) cellars, and step out into the desert of a destituted public world, into a mass culture reduced to bland hedonic homogeneity by corporate depredation. Yes, this is hostile country, occupied territory. But how well defended is it? What possibilities are there for us here, now? What could happen, that is to say, if we go overground?



Update: Irony of ironies, the day after posting this I was tagged in a Twitter thread by someone’s burner Twitter account about former NRx blogger, Bryce Laliberte, doxxing his friend to a journalist.

I’ve had Bryce blocked since he had an almighty tantrum in my mentions over a post I wrote about Freudian antecedents to the so-called “Dark Enlightenment”. So I’m not sure why this person thought I’d care, but the hypocrisy of it is demonstrative in the context of this post.

Alt-right anons telling on alt-right face-posters who doxx their secretly alt-right friends sums up the whole circle jerk that is the alt-right mask economy better than I ever could. Most people don’t care, because it is clear that all they’re capable of is generating inconsequential outrage over an establishment that is guilty about protecting its own self-interests.

And someone’s shocked that alt-right solidarity is paper thin?

“Countercultural Bohemia as Prefiguration”:
Time is Away on NTS Radio

Elaine Tierney and Jack Rollo, aka the amazing Time Is Away, have shared their commission for our January For k-punk event as the March installment of their monthly NTS show. Read the intro and listen below:

This programme was commissioned by the ICA as part of ‘For k-punk’, an online event to mark the publication of Postcapitalist Desire: The Final Lectures of Mark Fisher by Repeater Books. ‘For k-punk’ invited five artists and musicians to respond to the themes and provocations of Fisher’s final lectures. In ‘Countercultural Bohemia as Prefiguration’, the second lecture in the series, Fisher harnesses the psychedelic possibilities of consciousness-raising, as a process for feminists in particular, to propose ‘the abolition of the family’, a once-popular and recently resurgent feminist goal. Time is Away extends Fisher’s proposition by listening to the voices of people who explored alternative visions of how to live together.

We’re hoping to rebroadcast the whole suite of commissions again in a few months. Watch this space. For now, get lost in this really beautiful mix/collage/essay:

“Giving Up the Ghost”:
Postcapitalist Desire in the LA Review of Books

Few are mourned by the post-millennial left like Mark Fisher. If you know anything about us, then it makes perfect sense. We are a weird bunch, displaced on every level, living in a world terrifyingly different from the one we were prepared for. Between climate change and a rising far-right, our future diminishes daily. Fisher’s work speaks to us through this lens, this alien language of existential displacement.

A nice write-up on Mark Fisher, his legacy, and the recent Postcapitalist Desire collection I edited in the Los Angeles Review of Books, written by Alexander Billet. Check it out here.

“The critical legacy of theorist Mark Fisher is
a creative springboard for a new wave of musicians and thinkers”:
For k-punk reviewed in The Wire

There’s a storming review of January’s For k-punk event in this month’s Wire magazine. Commenting on both our event and the fourth annual Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture, which was given by Test Dept this year, Ryan Meehan writes:

The originality of these two events, and the variation between them, speak to the durability of Fisher’s ideas as cultural source code, and the potential they have — with growing institutional support — to engender crosscurrents and modes of production as yet unforeseen.

He notes that Test Dept represented, for Fisher, a form of “‘popular modernism’, that point of contact between mass audiences and the avant garde”, adding:

If popular modernism was an aesthetic for the advancement of the proletariat, then hauntology is the aesthetic that keeps this new precariat hanging on. For K-Punk: Postcapitalist Desires at the ICA offers variants on this uncanny mode and mood, in which the irrepressible spirit of utopian optimism is held in a melancholy tension with a future of surveillance, exploitation, and climate catastrophe.

The overview of the sets is really positive, but Iceboy Violet was the highlight for Meehan:

The programme’s crescendo belongs … to a live set by Iceboy Violet. An adept sonic contortionist with a bracing, confessional speak-song, they address the knot of all too contemporary anxieties that their rhythm strains to untangle.

He concludes:

For Mark Fisher, the future was something to be excavated. What those that come after him will bring to the surface remains to be seen. But their numbers are growing.

It’s an excellent write-up that I think clarifies the generative but nonetheless Baudrillardian tension within Mark’s legacy brilliantly. Go check out the full review in issue #446. It’s been fantastic to see the event being so well-received. We’ve already got ideas for next year…

Repeater Books x The Neon Hospice — Hallowe’en Special

This Hallowe’en, Repeater Books are teaming up with the Neon Hospice to bring you almost 12 hours of live-streamed spooky goodness. There will be live sets and mixes from — as well as conversations with — Leila Taylor, Kemper Norton, English Heretic, and Claire Cronin, and more!

I’m going to be presenting an introduction to the eerie, considering how Mark Fisher’s final book The Weird and the Eerie relates to his capitalist critiques, before we broadcast a rarely-heard “eerie mix” by k-punk himself.

You don’t want to miss this! Follow Repeater and the Neon Hospice on Twitter to stay up to date and also keep an eye on the stream’s website here.

See you on Hallowe’en…

Take Care, Zoomers, It’s a Desert Out There

I spent far too much time the other day exploring the #TheCaretaker challenge on TikTok. It was a bewildering experience.

If you somehow haven’t heard, a YouTube video that showcases the entirety of Leyland Kirby’s six final instalments of the Caretaker project has become a kind of endurance test for zoomers, who “duet” their reactions over the six hours it takes to listen to it in its entirety, commenting on their experience of the dissolution of the self as they interact with and juxtapose previous iterations of their TikToked selves.

Confused? You are but a mirror image of their strife, boomer.

If there were ever an “I wish Mark Fisher were here” moment for 2020, I think this takes the biscuit.

In many ways, and with Mark in mind, the sudden popularity of Kirby’s project with a plugged-in generation under quarantine makes total sense. Having a better affinity with their elders’ experiences of dementia is one thing — and much has been made of the project’s consciousness-raising/razing function in that sense — but I think there’s a lot more to be said about how the Caretaker project as a whole reflects young people’s present experiences. In fact, it surely epitomises an earlier Caretaker project — the one that Mark wrote the liner notes for: Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia, which takes its name from “a condition where it’s impossible to remember new events.”

There’s a certain irony that so many of these TikToks begin with a nihilist and despondent anterograde-amnesiac sentiment. “A six-hour endurance listening session? Well, I’ve not got anything better to do…” And with that, these kids spend a day tumbling down the rabbit hole, just to feel something, before it is back to 2020’s boring dystopia. They keep on TikToking, like nothing ever happened.


“Could it be said that we all now suffer from a form of theoretically pure anterograde amnesia?” This was Mark’s opening gambit on the liner notes to that release; later reproduced in his 2014 book Ghosts of My Life. What was a provocative and cynical statement back in 2006 seems far more applicable now.

As we look around our present landscape of mental trauma, this kind of cognitive scarring, whether retrograde or anterograde, seems pervasive. I have read numerous government reports this week, for instance, talking about “lost generations”.

On the one hand, retirees are dropping off into an isolated post-work abyss; on the other, young people are entering a mental health black hole all of their own. Both are not so much nostalgic for the past or abandoned to the future but stuck, as Fisher calls it, in “the impossibility of the present.”

Reading his words back, they serve as an uneasy warning to all of us as we try not to lose ourselves in the fog of lockdown routines.

The present — broken, desolated is constantly erasing itself, leaving few traces. Things catch your attention for a while but you do not remember them for very long…

The past cannot be forgotten, the present cannot be remembered.

Take care, it’s a desert out there.

Postcapitalist Desire — Sneak Peek

My advance copies of Mark Fisher’s Postcapitalist Desire: The Final Lectures arrived in the post the other day. I’m not usually one for book fetishism but the finish on these is absolutely stunning. The photo nerd in me was genuinely blown away by how well the hardback holds the colours in Johnny Bull’s already iconic cover. Repeater Books have outdone themselves with this. It feels incredibly special and I cannot wait for you all to see it in the flesh.

If you want one, there is currently no pre-order but they will be out in January 2021, online and in bookshops. Keep your eye on the Repeater Books website here, where you can currently buy the eBook. (We’re also planning a bunch of online events around the launch so you’re unlikely to miss it once it’s out…)