January 30th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Mark Fischer: Capitalist Realism; or Zombie World Redivivus

'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."
     -Friedrich  Nietzsche

"Only one thing was needed to assemble and polarize all the new components of the  megamachine: the birth of the Sun God. And in the sixteenth century, with Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and Copernicus officiating as accoucheurs, the new Sun God was born."
     - Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization

"Technology is in itself not only a means, but a universe of means - in the original sense of Universum: both exclusive and total. This universe degrades and colonises the social and natural world, making their dwindling vestiges ever more perilously dependent on the technological environment that has supplanted them."
     - Jacques Ellul, The Technological System



Mark Fisher in his new book Capitalist Realism affirms the exhaustion and collapse into decadence of a world that is not only artificial but is itself the productive force of an artificiality that affirms its own negative complicity within an endgame from which there is neither a final outcome to be expected nor an escape into some Utopian future as an outlying myth: but only a final collapse into a world of last men without affect who can truly say with Nietzsche's Last Man: "We have invented happiness," blinking robotically to the rhythm of the vast megamachine of Capitalist Realism.

Fisher recounts the dismal tale of Kurt Cobain for whom the last men were the embodied cliche of his own nihilistic life:  "In his dreadful lassitude and objectless rage, Cobain seemed to give wearied voice to the despondency of the generation that had come after history, whose every move was anticipated, tracked, bought and sold before it had even happened. Cobain knew that he was just another piece of spectacle, that nothing runs better on MTV than a protest against MTV; knew that his every move was a cliche scripted in advance, knew that even realizing it is a cliche" (15). [1] Like a dead man in an imaginary museum Cobain adapted to the masks of an unreasoning culture to show forth the zombie styles of an age of revolt that was itself never a revolt, but only another decadence of hyperstylization of the transglobal machine that feeds upon such detritus with a relish that makes any form of rebellion seem nothing more than a final capitulation and affirmation of megacapital's very power of inscripting and incorporating all rebellions. Hip-Hop becomes a form of gangster capitalism within which a desensitized world stripped of all sentimental illusions is seen for 'what it really is': a Hobbesian war of all against all, a system of perpetual exploitation and generalized criminality (18).

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