Many admirers of Fisher’s work — myself included — came to his writings through identifications with these most personal of experiences. This mode of writing was, for many, Mark’s most affective critical register. However, Fisher’s writings on depression were not in themselves depressive. Their power lay in their immanence to his emotional state and his talent for making the affects of this state transductive. The question painfully remains: why did this process, in the end, not work for Fisher himself? Or rather, why did it stop working? Whatever the answer, it does not mean that his writings must stop working for us here, right now. Such a question is central to the Fisher-Function, making it necessary to contend with the political problematics of mental health discourses honestly and from a place where the personal and political implications of Mark’s thought feels most explicit; from a place of lingering grief and abject depression where the rupture both necessitates a renewed intensity of productive thought and makes traumatically thinkable the act of following Fisher through to the void.
Egress: On Mourning, Melancholy and Mark Fisher
Egress is the first book to consider the legacy and work of the writer, cultural critic and cult academic Mark Fisher.
Narrated in the orbit of his death as experienced by a community of friends and students in 2017, it analyses Fisher’s philosophical trajectory, from his days as a PhD student at the University of Warwick to the development of his unfinished book on Acid Communism.
Egress considers the politics of death and community in a way that is indebted to Fisher’s own forms of cultural criticism, ruminating on personal experience in the hope of making it productively impersonal.
309 pages | March 2020 | £12.99 | Published by Repeater Books
Reviews & Endorsements
Colquhoun proposes that we “take our fictions seriously.” Along these lines, some of the more compelling and successfully Fisherian sections of the book are its analyses of recent TV series such as The OA and Westworld, which reveal how contemporary entertainment grapples with the impasses of the culture that produces it. Against the conventional emphasis on the mere “commodification of dissent,” Colquhoun mines these documents for evidence of capitalism’s internal fissures — fissures that, he suggests, offer glimpses of a path beyond the status quo.
— Geoff Shullenberger, “Exiting Left” in Athwart
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.
— James Baxter, “‘Unavowable’ Communities” in Entropy
Few contemporary thinkers have needed more defence from their greatest admirers. … Egress is a much-needed corrective.
— Dan Barrow, “Mark Fisher Beyond the Cliché” in Tribune
Egress holds open old wounds, while containing a serious but necessary reflection on the present inadequacies of contemporary left politics when compared with their opposition. At a time where the political world we once knew is rapidly shifting, and the everyday will be haunted by a global mourning, this book feels prescient.
— Niall Gallen, “Solidarity Without Similarity” for Review 31.
A meandering bit of cultural analysis that Fisher would have enjoyed too, surely.
— Frankie Boyle, comedian and broadcaster
Vital and wonderful.
Egress is easy to read even if some went over my head. Colquhoun is a very clever young man.
We are, as Fisher well knew, subject to inhuman forces, and so, in the grim negativity of death, we might find grounds for a strange new kind of collective belonging.
That is what this book seeks to explore — it is refreshingly free of ego (this is no “My Memories of Mark”) but is perhaps the very best kind of tribute to a teacher: a fearless extension of Fisher’s thought, and a bold continuation of a vital philosophical project.
The dead return to us as our world falls apart. Love and loss ripple into our lives and test our integrity every day. Brutal and provocative, this book is a haunting elegy to Mark’s crystalline mind. He sat on the shores of endless worlds.
— Mark Stewart, lead singer of The Pop Group
Colquhoun shuttles along the filaments of Mark Fisher’s work with scholarly and deeply personal insights offering not only an introduction to his thought but a sense how we might apply it in the contemporary moment. I can’t recommend this book enough.
— Laura Grace Ford, artist and author of Savage Messiah (Verso, 2011)
A remarkable interlacing of ambitious theoretical enquiry and raw personal memoir, Egress asks why collective thought and practice today is so broken that it takes a lacerating calamity to rediscover something like community. This is a work of thought in motion and in emotion, searching, deeply wounded but undefeated.
— Robin Mackay, philosopher and publisher at Urbanomic Media
Through his Xenogothic blog, and now this often touching book, few have done as much to channel, ruminate around and speculate beyond the spectre of Mark Fisher.
— Steve Goodman, aka Kode9 of Hyperdub Records
Egress is a remarkable (and inventive) tribute to Mark Fisher’s capacities as a thinker, writer, and, perhaps most importantly, teacher. Filled with brilliant new insights into Mark’s philosophies and contexts, Matt Colquhoun’s book is at once a moving, deeply human act of mourning, as well as a call-to-arms to bring forward the future that Mark’s writings make possible.
— Hua Hsu, staff writer at The New Yorker
By turns a deeply personal memoir, a scholarly and readable introduction to Mark Fisher’s work, and a powerful extension of the apparatus of Fisher’s thought to new application. Colquhoun perfectly captures the feeling of despair in a time when political and personal hopelessness is ubiquitous, but shows a way through it …this work is very necessary now. This book illuminates the important work of trying to figure out how to mourn: privately, publicly, personally, institutionally, politically … while maintaining a deep connection to Fisher’s work and a respect for the tools it can give us to make it through.
— Michelle Spiedel