Lost futures

Sitting in a cheap B&B in Kenton, a previously unknown suburb of London between Wembley and Harrow, preparing for a week of music exams, but an ideal area for reflecting on the book I’ve read today – Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life – reflections on “hauntology” and other stuff, mostly magazine articles, reviews and blogs, and thus surprisingly easy to plough through on the train. His basic thesis – we are in an age haunted by the ghosts of lost futures, the liberals have lost their myth of effortless historical progress towards liberty, the socialists have lost their belief in the possibility of an actually-existing alternative, a communist future – we are haunted by the absence of the modernist futures we used to believe were imminent, and dulled by the over-stimulation of incessant cyberspace, ceaseless self-invention in the virtual world, signifying nothing. And always negating any wider public sense of responsibility, or improvement, or even the existence of a real public space.
Is that at all clear?
Part of it relates to music, eg Burial, Joy Division; part of it to films eg Inception, Memento, The Shining; the books of David Peace; and JG Ballard hanging over everything.
– The triumph of capitalist reaction and neo-con liberalism since 1979 = the slow cancellation of the future.
– Regeneration = modernisation = making London safe for the super-rich. To resist modernisation is to consign yourself to the past.
– London – a city of pinched-face drones plugged into ipods.
– Capital demands that we always look busy, even if there’s no work to do – any time not spent hustling or hassling is time wasted.
(some quotes lifted from the book)
So how do we build a collective resistance? Dream a new future? Fight capitalism?
Good questions!
Published by Zero Books, who publish some fine books on contemporary philosophy and popular culture in an oppositional way – Owen Hatherley, Nina Power, Richard Seymour. The traces of opposition were so much clearer back in the 80s – finding them now feels like a more obscure project, let alone finding a practical movement as well.
Viva agitprop.

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