“How do we free ourselves from the tyranny of the “post-“? Jumping off from Fisher’s unfinished lecture series, which ends with post-structuralism’s moment of absolute negation, this lecture will return to the philosophy’s beginnings, tracing a wandering line of abstraction from Heraclitus to the Ccru, considering how “the new” has been thought and we might begin to think “the new” anew again.“
We’re very excited to announce that Matt Colquhoun, editor of the incredible Postcapitalist Desire: Mark Fisher’s Final Lectures, will be joining us April 21st 1-3pm for a special guest lecture titled “A Brief History of the New” to conclude our reading group series.
This event is free and will take place online. There are limited places at this event so we recommend you register early to avoid disappointment!
In the meantime, we’ve been unpacking Mark’s lecture transcripts, chapter by chapter, in our monthly Postcap Desire reading group, so if you haven’t already, join us! We have two sessions to go before Matt’s lecture, covering the fifth and final of Mark’s transcripts (‘Libidinal Marxism’) and Matt’s introduction (‘No More Miserable Monday Mornings’), giving us plenty of time to dissect and discuss before his guest lecture on the 21st. If you’d like to join the final sessions of our reading group, get in touch to register for this free, informal and friendly online series.
Postcapitalist Desire Schedule:
Tuesday 24th November, 1-3pm – Lecture 1What is Postcapitalism?
Tuesday 15th December, 1-3pm – Lecture 2 “A Social and Psychic Revolution of Almost Inconceivable Magnitude”: Countercultural Bohemia as Prefiguration
Tuesday 26th January, 1-3pm – Lecture 3 From Class Consciousness to Group Consciousness
Tuesday 23rd February, 1-3pm – Lecture 4 ‘Union Power and Soul Power’
We’re under a week away from our monthly Postcapitalist Desires reading group session, which will cover the fifth (and final) of Mark Fisher’s final lecture transcripts on Tuesday 23rd of March 1-3pm (GMT). If you haven’t yet registered for a link to the sessions, but would like to, please email or DM us on Twitter and we’ll set you up!
As always with our Postcapitalist Desires sessions, it’s up to you how far you wish to delve into each lecture as there’s a wealth of material in each, but we do ask as a minimum that you read the relevant lecture transcript before the session.
In addition to lecture transcript #5 – ‘Libidinal Marxism’, should you wish, the extra reading for this session is:
Jean-François Lyotard, “The Desire Named Marx” in Libidinal Economy (London: Athlone Press, 1993), pp. 95–149
Like all of our series, these events are online and free. If you haven’t yet registered, there’s still time – get in touch and we’ll add you to the list. We’ll be sending out a Zoom link to everyone on the list nearer the time. Once you’ve registered, you don’t need to confirm attendance for each session – we’ll send you a fresh link every month. You also don’t need to commit to every session – just attend what you fancy (even if you miss the first session, there is more than enough material in each lecture for discussion).
This was our final WTF session of the spring and it didn’t disappoint! We started out with two recommended articles on microplastics (see here and here) but ended up talking more broadly about transhumanism, powdered nutrition, and the ethics of food, topics which raise important questions about sustainable living and human health, labour, and desire. On an aggressively farmed planet where the appetites of rich nations are catered to at the expense of so much, replacing food with powdered nutrition may seem like a step in the right direction. By just eating what we need instead of what we want, can we live more sustainably? By cutting out the time taken for buying ingredients, cooking, and sharing a meal with others are we freeing ourselves of needless drudgery and reclaiming our time for more desirable forms of productive or unproductive labour? Hmm…
Eating frugally and purely for sustenance in this context arguably aims to suppress desire itself by denying all the good stuff (flavour, choice, abundance, and all the joys of food) and saving us from ourselves (human greed got us in this mess in the first place etc.). Oversimplifying here, but if we follow this logic we start to treat the body like a machine we can control with sheer will power and exact measurements of fuel (good luck with that). Feed us only what we need, not what we want, and only the very minimum to make us productive labourers (thinking here of gruel in Victorian workhouses) and suppress those messy and disgusting bodily impulses (see the reason why Kellogg’s cornflakes were invented) – we’ll all be better for it!
We spoke at great length about the slightly sinister minimalist design and branding of Huel (the modern day gruel perhaps?) which offers bulk unflavoured and flavoured powders and liquids in sleek and sterile monochrome packaging. Unlike gruel, Huel isn’t likely to be consumed by anyone poor – they are targeting those privileged enough to choose bland food as a lifestyle choice. Though many savvily branded as well as genuinely innovative food technologies will no doubt continue to shape how we imagine the future of living on this planet with its ever-dwindling resources (3D-printed “meat” anyone?) and may provide some genuine solutions, widening the gap even further between the food we consume and the planet we rely on is a perilous path to take. Like plenty of food we already buy and consume (which is completely divorced from the raw materials and labour that produced them), powdered meals and lab-grown food allow us to continue to perpetuate the myth that we are separate from Nature. We are not.
There were some really great recommendations for further reading on these topics from the group. So for anyone who missed out, see the the full list below.
WTF are people reading?
David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, 2018 – yes, this gets yet another mention, because once again it has added to the conversation!
Timothy Morton, Being Ecological, Pelican, 2018 – Morton has written a bunch of excellent stuff about ecology, philosophy and lots of other interesting topics (more of which can be found here), but this short book in particular is a great introduction to some of his key ideas and is also quite a nice entry point to learning about object-oriented ontology.
The Meghan and Harry interview – yep, this came up too. See Charles Yu’s short story ‘Systems’ in the New York Times, which explores the pandemic through the lens of shifting public interests through changing patterns in popular internet searches. David Olusoga wrote an interesting piece on Meghan and Harry today in the Guardian, and Ash Sarkar’s article about aristocracy is also worth a read.
The DuPont scandal – another harrowing example of the far-reaching environmental and public health impacts of manmade pollutants, recently dramatised in Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo: