Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Mark Fisher Was My DJ (R.I.P. 1968-2017)

Now or then? For readers who have never heard of Mark Fisher, I write to you to describe these two versions of the British theorist. Since Fisher ended his life this year, we lost one of our finest intellects. He was so much more than the vast literature he left behind: husband, and teacher to so many, who now wonder where they will find an informed opinion on contemporary culture. Mark Fisher completed his initial education in the year of my birth, the year the Berlin Wall fell. He channelled his anger towards capitalism’s oppressive reality and ferociously dissected culture at ‘the end of history’. His topics ranged from music and cultural theory to the most infectious ideas from the continent. It is by no means an overstatement to suggest that the current popularity of 'hauntology' will come to owe a debt to Fisher’s writings. Originally a concept found in Jacques Derrida’s Spectres Of Marx, hauntology suggests that being itself is haunted by failed time. At first this might seem ludicrous, but looking at capitalism as a cycle of growth and recession, you may well imagine a malignant ghost causing future banking bailouts. In contemporary London, and all over the globe, the ghostly, fractured remains of the hopeful, youthful cultures of punk and rave can be encountered as diluted versions of their former social phenomena. There are few individuals as capable of articulating the differences between The Sex Pistols and The Zutons, or The Clash and The Arctic Monkeys, as DJ Fisher. Fisher's books are like literary mix tapes, challenging the reader to come to terms with changes symptomatic of our current times. Burial, the enigmatic music producer so revered by Fisher, is also personally important to me, because during my time in Sheffield at the art school many a night was spent listening to similar music on the city's sound systems. Burial's music might be associated with the loneliness of returning home from a rave alone, but this fails to appreciate the deeply personal and subjective connection us Brits have to our country’s music. Fisher regularly wrote for The Wire magazine and his personal blog, Kpunk, endlessly deepened his musical theorising. Fisher’s engagement in ‘interpretative communities’ explored society’s radical potentials in the act of listening. Goldie’s drum 'n' bass projects, the dissident voice of grime, Drake’s melancholia, the East Midlands rap duo Sleaford Mods - Fisher’s record bag was vast. One of the most important things about Fisher is that even after experiencing the inhumanity of the effects of privatisation on all strata of education, he maintained his own autonomy and formed a group of important thinkers at the disbanded Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. Capitalist Realism is a timeless articulation of how money nefariously exists, regardless of whether you love it or hate it. Fisher guides us through various films, zero-hour jobs, neoliberal pathologies, schizophrenic behaviours, market logic, business ontology and Marxist super nannies. He makes you aware of your own acceptance of things that have not improved our standards of living. Instead, the 'reality' of the market and techno-capital forces remain, dividing humanity with value judgements and categorisation. Fisher gifted us ways to resist this reality, even when he could do so no longer. Do you fine citizens of the North really believe there is no alternative. Paul Harrison


Tramlines may be moving its main stage to Hillsborough Park for the tenth edition of the festival in 2018. The Star reports that the relocation will allow organisers to increase the capacity from 17,500 at the current Ponderosa site to 40,000. The line-up for the second annual AlgoMech has been announced. The five-day festival of algorithms and mechanisms will include 65daysofstatic performing a new work titled ‘Decompression Theory’, plus an Algorave featuring Faubel & Schreiber and T.Y.P.E, among others. The inaugural season at Outside Over There, the new club from the team behind The Night Kitchen, has been revealed. Autumn guests include Dense & Pika, Optimo, Optiv & BTK and Mall Grab, as well as nights hosted by Off Me Nut and Percolate. A new queer night is launching at the Audacious Art Experiment. The inaugural CLUB RUSH takes place on 3 November and will feature guests and residents, describing itself as “blissful dance hooliganism for queers and freaks.” )

Next article in issue 115

More Music

More Music