The Fisher-Function

“So I’ve been trying to think of what remains after the physical body’s gone, when the singularity of a life can no longer rely on that frail support and needs other carriers. I try to think about it in a way I think he’d appreciate: in terms of an abstract, impersonal force acting in the present tense. The spectre isn’t a matter of pretending he’s still here in person—as if the notion of a ‘person’ wasn’t precisely what was at issue—or of commemoration or superstition, but—to use a word of his own invention—a question of hyperstition: What is the Fisher-Function? How did it make itself real, and how can we continue to realise it? Many of us naturally feel a need to ensure this is a moment when the force he brought into our world is redoubled rather than depleted. And to do so, to continue his work and our own, we have to try to understand his life, and the consequences of his death, at once horrifying and awakening, as a part of the Fisher-Function. And I don’t simply mean the intellectual contributions that we can appreciate, extend, take forward into the future; I also mean what we need to learn in terms of looking after ourselves and each other, right now.”

Robin Mackay

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INGRESS

The Fisher-Function is a public lecture programme at Goldsmiths, University of London, built around essays, mixes and unidentifiable audio-events produced by Mark Fisher. Converging around the idea of thinking-with Mark, The Fisher-Function public programme focuses upon and departs from listening as a shared modality for thought. Organised as a series of reading and listening sessions, it proposes to articulate the stakes in listening to and with each other. Staying with Mark’s commitment to making anxieties public and socializing the pressures generated by the privatization and individualization of conditions for study, the programme follows the idea formulated by Robin Mackay in his eulogy for Mark Fisher: ‘What is the Fisher-Function? How did it make itself real, and how can we continue to realise it?’

Rather than looking at Mark’s ‘classic’ texts, The Fisher-Function proposes an experiment in dispossession that shifts between the multiple registers of less well known yet critical writings. It draws texts from Mark’s blog k-punk, from his years in the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, his writings on music and politics and his interrupted formulations of Acid Communism and Postcapitalist Desire together with examples from his audio-essays and his mixes. New volumes of Mark’s work will surely follow in the years to come: what you hold in your hand are texts and musics, each of which selected us and insisted upon their existence.

The Fisher-Function is set to take place within Goldsmiths; yet it aspires to reach far beyond the academic institution so as to connect with the multiple energies circulating outside the academy animated by Mark’s passion for persuasion. In bringing together specific moments from his work, we can begin to assemble circuits that linked theory and fiction into a continuous cybernetics of everyday life. Our aim is to extend the circuits of this thought by providing inputs for outputs that can feedforward into a praxis that is open to further inputs.

To activate the Fisher-Function is to insist upon the tensions of Mark's writing. It is a way of holding a space open. The necessity of Mark’s work emerged over a number of years under intense conditions. Lurking in the datacombs, the intensity of his project, always programmatic, always synthetic, always connective, has never ceased to mobilise and to operationalise. Now, more than ever, we feel the need to make these concepts work for us and on us and through us. How does one move in and with and towards systems of care that need to exist theoretically and therapeutically, working on both, simultaneously? As students of the Fisher-Function, we locate ourselves within the porous, productive and perilous space between mental distress and psychic vigilance. What is politically necessary, today, in the midst of the threat and the lure of authoritarian populism, is to articulate the stakes of this conjuncture in all its complexity.

Gathering around Mark’s work implies updating our commitments. It implies rebuilding the conditions for consciousness-raising. It implies an unlearning of individual thought; a reading and thinking with each other. What do we come to these sessions with? And what do we take away? To depart from Mark’s concepts, to be informed by their force, is to take the opportunity to construct acts of hearing, speaking, attention, concentration, drift, thinking, listening. Collective acts whose repercussions have never stopped sounding and resounding beyond the precincts and the protocols of educational institutions.


RIP MARK FISHER
(1968-2017)

Lendl Barcelos
Matt Colquhoun
Ashiya Eastwood
Kodwo Eshun
Mahan Moalemi
Geelia Ronkina

[egress] 2017

 

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