|Joanne McNeil||May 15, 2019|
I loved Jenny Turner's piece in the LRB on Mark Fisher. It is full of quotable lines and rigor and kindness. I especially like how she makes herself present in the review—ending with an anecdote about her son ("he’s following the new, in technology, in culture, in form and genre, looking at memes on 4chan and Reddit and posting his own. This scares me sometimes, when I read about the way racists use humour and irony to pull in the unwitting, so I asked my son what he thought, and we had a shouting match about how he thinks I think he’s stupid.")
Maybe the reason I like it is because I think Fisher might have been a stronger writer had he anticipated readers like Turner—not so much changing for them, as anticipating a wider world could have received him. His interests were arcane, but his point-of-view was not; his accessible writing style was not. Capitalist Realism is a 80 page zine essentially, widely available as a pdf online, that begins with a consideration of Children of Men, which, while hardly obscure—was no blockbuster, and today is widely celebrated as that film you might have missed ten years ago that got everything right. And yet the book sells pretty well and consistently. That book is speaking to many many sorts of people, not just the theorists and arts bloggers in and around London.
I think part of the reason Fisher's writing is picking up in the states is that right now the contours of class consciousness are visible, but the stakes and positions and interests are still muddled in the media. Class is a missing component to the cultural conversation about diversity—including desperately needed changes—that began in 2014ish. After the Felicity Huffman thing, the Markup spreadsheet scandal...another shoe is bound to drop and things are going to get messy. But maybe—hopefully—productively messy. Anyway, Capitalist Realism is as good a book as any to prepare yourself for it.
On that note, I have a new column in Filmmaker magazine called Speculations. My first piece is out from under the paywall. It is about the uncanny sensation of watching films set in 2019 (Akira, The Running Man, and Blade Runner) now. I also mention Michael Radford’s 1984, and Fisher's own writing about Children of Men, among other things. Check it out.
Turner mentioned this photo of Ian Curtis with his officemates at the Macclesfield Unemployment Office in her review. Now I can't stop thinking of it either. Maybe because I heard “Disorder” in a cafe the other day for the first time in years—struck by its power, awestruck for how young he was.
I was in Berlin this week, where I happened to have a delightful Only In Berlin moment. I walked by a little rave, like 35 people dancing in daylight behind a truck with a DJ playing techno. They were celebrating reading! Some were carrying signs that appeared—from what I, a non-German speaker, could parse—to celebrate the joy of reading.
On the plane I watched The Dark Knight Rises. It’s the final one in the trilogy. It is hilarious to watch now for the pathetic antagonism of Occupy and veneration of law enforcement and civility. But also....Anne Hathaway as Catwoman as ...AOC? If the film were released today there's no way critics wouldn't make the connection. But it came out when people hated Hathway for some inexplicable reason, so we missed our chance at a great standalone Hathaway—as—Catwoman—as—AOC trilogy. "I take what I need from those who have more than enough. I don't stand on the shoulders of those with less." What a great line! A line that only an actress as poised and vivid as Hathaway can convincingly deliver. No wonder Batman gives his money away at the end (sorry if I spoiled that for anyone haha.)
I'm not really in the habit of recommending products/objects/things to buy here but I'll make an exception for once, since I'm already a little out of it from all the travel this week. Beach Velvet. Get yourself some beach velvet! Really: get your ass in beach velvet. Yes, this is a phrase I just made up. Let me explain. I got Danskin leggings at Tj Maxx a few months ago. There were racks and racks of them for ten dollars because they are marked two sizes too small. If you want say, velvet leggings size medium, get the extra small or if you want velvet leggings that fit like sweatpants size medium get the medium. (actually velour leggings—"microvelour." But "velour" is a horrible word. These are my velvet leggings.) It's a fussy fabric and there's something nice about sitting in this fussy soft fabric on a rough texture like sand. So now these are my beach leggings. My beach velvet leggings. So wrong it is right!
Thanks for reading.