Kodwo Eshun: Mark Fisher Memorial Lecture
In the wake of Mark Fisher’s death, I’ve found Kodwo’s recent work on interpretive communities incredibly compelling. Not least as a means to understand what it is about Mark’s work – his way of working – that draws me (and so many others) into these “wars of interpretation whose aim is to intervene in culture.” I’ll soon write more snippets on Eshun’s interpretive communities, but for now I wanted to share his list of “aesthetico-political positions” from the memorial lecture.
Those of us who are unable to reconcile ourselves to our existence. Those of us whose dissatisfaction and disaffection, whose discontent and whose anger and whose despair overwhelms them and exceeds them. And who finds themselves seeking means and methods for nominating themselves, for electing themselves, to become parts of movements and scenes that exist somewhere between seminars and subcultures, study groups and HangOuts. Reading groups drawn together by the impulse to fashion a vocabulary. By a target. By a yearning. By an imperative to consent not to be a single being…
The cybergoths, that move through the calendrical systems of templexity.
The cyber-feminists, that situate themselves in the time-streams of patriarchy.
The afro-futurists, that hack the systems of chronopower and chronography.
The speculative realists, that dismantle the barriers to the great outside
The hauntologists, that diagnose the slow cancellation of the future in order to dismantle its enforced depression.
The eliminitivists, that dismantle the coordinates for experience.
The accelerationists, that aspire to decode flows.
The left accelerationists, that seek to build the stack whose platform logics generate our entrenchment.
The right accelerationists, that summon the basilisk.
The unconditional accelerationists, that seek to decouple themselves from the left and from the right.
The students of black study, who argue that “being black is a thing that you can only do with others.” I don’t know that it’s possible to be black by oneself. Insofar as being black, or black being, is a necessarily irreducibly social thing that is general, and that is ongoing.
The AltWoke, that write; “Our amorality is not a bankruptcy of ethics, so much as it is an emotional discipline in response to global existential threats. A learnt stoicism and pragmaticism is crucial to #altwoke.”
The mundane afro-futurists, that claim; “We. are. not. aliens.”
The neo-reactionists, engaged in promoting highly advanced drastic regression.
The xenofeminists, that announce that “xenofeminism indexes the desire to construct an alien future with a triumphant X and a mobile map. This X does not mark destination – it is the insertion of a topological keyframe for the formation of a new logic.”
The black feminist poeticists, that know that “studying blackness announces the end of the world as we know it.”
The prometheans, that “consider revolution not as a passionate attachment to some flash of negation, but is a process of undoing the abstract social forms that constrain and humiliate human capacities, along with political agencies that enforce those constraints and those humiliations.”
The forensic architects, that “invert the direction of the forensic gaze.” That “seeks to designate a field of action in which individuals and independent organisations can confront abuses of power by states and corporations in situations that have a bearing upon political struggle, violent conflict and climate change.”
The inhumanists, that argue that “the universal wave that erases the self-portrait of man drawn in sand.” That inhumanism is a vector of revision that relentlessly revises what it means to be human by removing its supposedly self-evident characteristics, while preserving certain invariances.
The afro-futurists 2.0, that assert the social physics of blackness.
The afro-pessimists, that assert that “the slave cause is the cause of another world in and on the ruins of this one, in the end of its ends.”
The black quantum futurists, that “work on the temporal dynamics of retro-currencies. Of backwards-happenings – an event whose influence or effect is not discrete and time-bound but extends in all possible directions and encompasses all possible time-modes.
The black accelerationists, that argue that “binding blackness and accelerationism to one another proposes that accelerationism always already exists in the territory of blackness, whether it knows it or not – and conversely, that blackness is always already accelerationist.”
The gulf-futurists, that emerge from “the isolation of individuals via technology and wealth and reactionary Islam. The corrosive elements of consumerism on the soul and industry on the earth, the erasure of history from our memories and our surroundings, and finally our dizzying collective arrival in a future that no one was ready for.”
The sinofuturists, that argue that “sinofuturism is an invisible movement – a spectre already embedded into a trillion industrial products – a billion individuals.”
Each of these neologisms are actually forms of life. Each of them is the names of, and for, aesthetico-political positions that operate by disagreements and differentiations – that make claims that must be argued. Each of these is not so much a term as a war of, and over, interpretation. A stance that aims to intervene in cultural politics, that fashions itself to articulate a discontent – to focus despair and depression into theories that live. Theories to live by. Theories that are embodied. Theories that live in us and through us. And with us. And on us.
To put it another way; Mark Fisher was a midwife…