The response to the last post in this new series was great but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had a lot to qualify. Such is the danger of building a blogpost out of year-old reading group notes…
A recent email exchange with Robin Mackay has revealed a lot of my own blind spots which I think are worth addressing here before moving forwards as planned. So consider this Part 1b as we go a bit deeper…
…but also, I feel like a change of title, as I am finding the “eerie” is taking precedence. So, let’s talk about the Eerie Engine…
The most obvious qualification I feel like I must make following the last post is with regards to my use of the word “deontologising” which was often used without its very important hyphen. I was hoping to refer to a process of de-ontologising here rather than anything related to Kant’s deontological ethics. This was perhaps a clumsy and ineffective alternative to “de-subjectifying”, used so as to avoid the limiting of the Deleuzian Event to processes of subjection as well as emphasising what many have described as a lack of an ontology (in the philosophically traditional sense) in Deleuze’s writings.
For Deleuze, there is no being-event. The Heideggerian “being-” modifier becomes a cul-de-sac for a plethora of chaotic forces. The Event is, rather, a way of describing pure multiplicity.
What interests me, in talking about the Event in orbit of Mark’s writings, as I tentatively did previously, is that many of Deleuze’s writings on Event and desire seem to overlap. Desire is important for them both, of course, and Mark’s postcapitalist desire was surely to be key to his Acid Communism.
The central question of Mark’s Postcapitalist Desire course at Goldsmiths — the first five sessions of which went ahead before his death — is whether we, as a society, truly have a desire for a postcapitalist existence/experience. If not, why not? And how might we signal-boost such an apparently marginal desire?
The basis for these questions comes from that now familiar (and frankly dull) argument made against any person or group that calls themselves anti-/postcapitalist. In fact, I saw one retweeted on my feed just last night:
Mark addressed this in the first seminar of the course, highlighting a particularly smug example of this argument given by Louise Mensch on a British comedy panel show:
There’s a narrative behind [this argument] which is a story about desire. These protesters have the products of advanced capitalism, therefore… it’s not only that they’re hypocrites, it’s that they don’t really want what they say they want. They don’t really want a wealth beyond capitalism. What they want is all of the fruits of capitalism and ultimately that’s why capitalism will win. They may claim ethically that they want to live in a different world but libidinally, at the level of desire, they are committed to living within the current capitalist world.
It is here — on this hinge of an eerie desire — that I think we will find the connection between Fisher’s The Weird and the Eerie and the unfinished Acid Communism.
If this is the contemporary state of (our understanding of) desire, what hope do we have for the future?
In the clip above, HIGNFY-regular Paul Merton repeatedly ridicules Mensch for her belief that enjoying a Starbucks and an Apple product is enjoying all that capitalism has to offer. What seems implicit in much of Mark’s analyses in The Weird and the Eerie is that capitalism, as well as placating desire, can’t help but produce the desirable antecedents for its own demise. For Mark, in being aware — quite literally, as opposed to Mensch’s flawed generalising — of all that capitalism has to offer us, we may find the gaps in its border wall; we may reach its outside…