Day #305/365: Spectral footnotes from Mr Fisher; critical masses and admixtures
Earlier on in this year in the country I referred to the band Broadcast as constellators (see Day #250/365)… that was in part inspired by/a reference to a quote from Mark Fisher’s Ghosts Of My Life book:
“Music culture was central to the projection of the futures which have been lost. The term music culture is crucial here, because it is the culture constellated around music (fashion, discourse, cover art) that has been as important as the music itself in conjuring seductively unfamiliar worlds.” (See Day #163/365.)
Also, on that day I talked about how Mark Fisher’s writing helped to defog various ideas I had, to help put the jigsaw pieces of thoughts together into a coherent form… When reading an interview with him here (a piece of writing/discussion which could be considered as an extended footnote/extra chapter to the Ghosts Of My Life book) some more of such coalescing occured…
For a while now I’ve had the thought that rising rents/the cost of living, particularly for inner city areas, means that certain economic/class demographics of society are being excluded from being able to live in/amongst areas where there is a sufficient critical mass of people working within culture that allows for the viable creation of connected infrastructures etc (this is something that I/Mark Fisher touch upon during that just mentioned day).
The idea that class/economic/geographic positioning (and the three are often interlinked) might have a say in whether you “make it” in creative work is a not even denied but rather largely invisible concept.
(“Make it” is used here more in the sense of being able to do such work, live and stop the cupboards from being too Mother Hubbarded rather than necessarily in a champagne, high life and retiring to the country sense.)
The proferring of endless options/space for expression and Soviet/Stalinist style restrictions of which viewpoints are allowed genuinely fertile soil/rootholds seem to exist together quite happily in the currently dominant cultural/ideological system of totality that has been described as capitalist realism – a phrase which interestingly is a take on socialist realism, so I suppose the Soviet/Stalinist comparison is somewhat apt.
Such geographical/economic demarking is possibly part of the reason why I have found myself delving amongst subcultural work that springs forth from more pastoral geographic areas/inspirations… it is possibly semi-consciously a search for spaces where some effects/aspects of the tendrils of that totality are not quite so thickly enmeshed with day-to-day life.
So, constellations/constellators and the defogging of ideas… well, I recently came across/was pointed in the direction of an interview with Mark Fisher that summed up such thoughts rather eloquently…
Along which lines:
In a roundtable you did with Green Gartside from Scriti Politi, he used a great term: ‘critical admixture’. So, around the music bands made, particularly with punk and post-punk, there was this ‘critical admixture’, which was taking ideas from philosophy, taking ideas from social movements, and using the whole lot to mount a challenge to the mainstream. So actually, is it that ‘critical admixture’ which has been stripped away?
Yes, this is what I’m talking about in this book, and the melancholy is kind of about that. That critical admixture is what formed me. You know, my education didn’t come from school, which I hated, it came from reading NME. Which again, NME is like Channel 4 I think, if you want to look at the decline of British culture over the last 30 years look at what the NME was like then to what it’s like now. But there was that public service broadcasting via Channel 4 and the BBC, and this wider supporting culture. And art colleges were a big part of that, Green went to Leeds, and you know the re-embourgeoisement of art colleges is significant. It’s what happens with apparently banal changes in funding structures. If you make people pay for their own education, then we will see the consequences of that. One of the things we haven’t talked about is the class domination of things like popular culture and popular music. The absurd number of ex-private school kids who are now dominating the indie scene or whatever. Because only they can afford it; only they can afford to get into the networks where culture happens. The absurd myth of neoliberalism is that creativity is this infinite well-spring which is equally distributed amongst human beings and it’s only blocked by the State or socialists. But of course, it’s the exact opposite. The creativity only happens when there are the conditions for it and collective conditions of one kind or another, and it’s those collective conditions and that critical admixture which has been systematically dismantled.
Visit the full interview in the ether here.
Thanks to The Quietus for elemental cathode ray interference patterns.