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Why Mark Fisher and not Black Mirror

These past couple days have led me to find me an inspiration and guidance on how to navigate the whatever neo-late-post condition we are in, through the brilliant vigor and unobstructed flow of thought—Mark Fisher’s k-punk blog yields this inspiration. Where else can one find the level of brilliancy that is found in the way he contextualizes Dido:

‘White Flag’ forms a neat contrast with ‘Life for Rent’ (2003), the title track of the LP, which sings of the opposite condition: a dissolute inability to commit. It’s like Jean Paul Sartre meets Sex and the City. Wandering aimlessly through the hypermarket of the postmodern, fingering all the options but never settling on any one of them, Dido castigates herself for her failure to really engage, to stick at or believe in anything for very long, to make meaningful choices. She concludes that, if this is the case, she ‘deserves’ nothing, because nothing is really hers.

In his k-punk blog, Fisher extensively expresses his thought and reviews on modern pop and film culture, while extensively corresponding with his fellow bloggers, responding to the comments beneath his posts like suggesting laying off Dido to one of his blog readers and offering David Gray as an alternative, and occasionally engaging in a polemic about postmodern pedentry and its relation to various aspects of 00’s culture.

And here I would like to turn to Charlie Brooker. Fisher’s interpretation of culture is filled with brilliancy and vigor which makes Charlie Brooker a mere instantiation of him, but isn’t Brooker’s Black Mirror series—posited within the premise that we are living in a postmodern, Thatcheraian ‘no alternative’, and Fukuyamian1 end-of-history stage where, as Fisher calls, ‘postmodern hypercapitalism’—is taken for granted and therefore lies outside the subject-matter of the show’s critique?2 Black Mirror is a perfect example of how popular culture grounds its nihilistic fatalism in advancement of dystopian technologies as they eat up the fabric of society, while failing to critique the underlying entities in power (like Google and Facebook; Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk; etc.) that employ various post-capital, hyper-technocratic-utilitarian methods in guiding society and applying technologic advancements to it.

In a way, Brooker’s shared the similar paranoia as did Fisher as he fought over depression, but Black Mirror desperately needs a Fisherian twist, especially considering the fact the season 3-4 saw tremendous drop in pessimistic outcomes, and a proportional increase in the number of happy ends within the narratives of each series. Some attribute this to the fact the Charlie Brooker became a father and that was the leading factor that flipped out the pessimism and paranoia that driven the narratives of his first two seasons of Black Mirror. Doesn’t this demonstrate how Brooker eventually succumbed to the normalizing forces of postmodern subjectivity that instigated a rupture between the early-revolting-Brooker and the late-passivized-Brooker? Fisher on the other hand, stayed true to his inner drive which consisted of his depression that was instigated and perpetuated by the alienating forces of ‘postmodern hypercapitalism’; but he payed it with a price—by taking his own life. In a way, he was existentialist until the last moment, living in mental anguish under postmodernity; ending it with a leap.

  1. If not Apple’s iOS auto-correct feature that probably knows my vocabulary in-and-out, I would have left this is as ‘Fuckyamian’—isn’t this a Freudian slip-typo that demonstrates the presence of a revolting proletarian subjectivity within me striving to move history through struggle? Fisher also has a short post on text prediction

  2. See Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: (2009) where he brilliantly applies the concept of Socialist Realism, where art is valueless unless it is used for the cause of socialist values—to modern capitalism, where art has value insofar as it is related to the modes of exchange of the post-70’s global market, and whose political meaning and artistic have been homogenized, transforming it into a commodified artifact.