Mark Fisher has died
Yesterday Mark Fisher took his own life. I first met Mark at his political philosophy seminars in London in 2007. He was an articulate and enthusiastic teacher. Two years later his book, Capitalist Realism, was required reading at my university in Falmouth. With compelling prose, he turned my teenage perception of the modern western world upside down by exposing the symptoms and imaginative restrictions of our vapid philosophical settlements. Even at only 80 pages, it remains one of the few modern philosophical texts strong enough to leave a scar on everything else in the world around it.
His next book, the Ghosts of my Life, explored modern depression and introduced me to Japan and David Sylvian.
As well as a social critic, Mark was also a well-read music critic who taught me more about the meaning of Joy Division than any other writer. He also directed his followers towards a host of other albums, films, artists, writers, philosophers and psychoanalysts.
Sadly, we fell out over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, after a frank exchange of views we never spoke to each other again. And so I can’t really claim we were friends. I wish we could have spent more time talking to each other, and secretly, I always hoped that I would bump into him by accident and strike up conversation.
Yesterday we lost a brilliant writer and a genuinely devastating theorist. Mark leaves behind his wife Zoe and his young son as well as an army of readers. There’s no knowing what he might have gone on to accomplish.
Perhaps we might at least learn from this loss. Mark wrote that mental health was everybody’s business and responsibility, that deaths like his own, far from being the result of a private individual crisis, often had everything to do with the failures of our political philosophy. As usual, he wasn’t wrong.
Capitalist Realism has never escaped my bookshelf.