Many of the ideas that animated Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life course through the collection. But it is more casual than those books; it allows you to watch Fisher’s theories take shape as he recounts his day-to-day life—things he’s seen on television or heard on the radio ... There was a deliberate, almost prickly quality to Fisher’s writing and thinking that is rare nowadays, when criticism is more likely to involve open-minded rationalizing than steadfast refusal. He was not one to frolic in ambiguity or irony ... What comes across in [Fisher's] writing, almost overwhelmingly so, is his obsession with taking seriously what it means to have your mind blown. The most moving parts of K-Punk are those in which he tries to recover the ecstatic reverie of discovery.
His prose could be cold, sad, sometimes deliberately estranging ... In its attempts to represent strange, emergent forms of experience and art, he believes pretentiousness can be a 'visionary force' ... This volume, edited by Darren Ambrose, excludes some elements of what made k-punk so compelling: its stark graphics that resembled the sleeve notes of a chiliastic postpunk LP, the oblique photographs Fisher included, the comments section that, for a short while, made his and other blogs seem on the cusp of forming a genuine alternative public sphere ... What is clear is Fisher’s terrible acuity at describing the present day—its noise, its plenitude, mediations, flatness, psychological toil.
If Fisher is punk...it’s insofar as he rarely condescends to pop culture. Indeed, his enthusiasm for his material is infectious, his ferocity when it lets him down is admirable. He frequently praises his favorite writers and critics for scrambling the hierarchy between high theory and pop, but it’s a mode of writing of which Fisher is exemplary ... It’s especially fascinating...to view the gestation of Fisher’s ideas in K-Punk as they emanate from the relative obscurity of blogging to wider outlets. As he, along with many of his peers, moved into publishing and academia, owing occasionally to the notoriety of their blogs, Fisher’s ideas endured the unlikely transformation from anonymous appraisals of mass culture, to becoming a small part of it ... He’s inclined to declarative sentences, he deploys hyperbole with an enviable boldness ... At times though, his divide and conquer polemics fall flat ... But this is besides the point. Fisher’s work is best when engaged in fine-grained examination ... it’s as far-reaching an aesthetic critique of capitalism as we’ve had in the past decade.
In the book K-Punk, we find an archaeology of Fisher’s relationship to networks, and his efforts to interpret and exist within them ... With the emergence of this collection, that electrochemical chain of flesh and information, the always-becoming that Mark Fisher is and was, takes its most profound leap into the real world. In K-Punk, he is born again.
[Fisher] wrote vividly on the glam rock and new wave bands of his youth ... Yet he was scathing of the preponderance of a nostalgic 'clip-show culture locked into endless rewind' as played out over countless TV and streaming channels ... This compilation is not comprehensive—even at 770 pages. A decision to exclude articles published in earlier books omits stirring takes on Michael Jackson after his death or the 2011 UK riots, for example. Typographical errors from the blogs are often left in, while including the year and source at the end of every article as well as in the index would have helped readers ... [FIsher's] anxiety over social media and smartphones, where people click on and generate their own content and willingly 'make themselves the object of surveillance,' looks prescient and finds resonance in the 'digital detox' advice of Silicon Valley figures such as Jaron Lanier ... there will be plenty of readers working to take those ideas on.
... should resound as a testament to [Fisher's] enduring relevance ... Ambrose's collection feels every inch the comprehensive tome. Split into seven thematic sections—including posts from Fisher's blog k-punk, articles, reviews, interviews, and more—k-punk merges his freelance writing alongside feature articles from publications such as The Wire, The Guardian, Frieze, and New Humanist ... Despite the array of subjects sprawling across k-punk's 700 pages, a single thesis tapers to a smoldering fuse: mankind's beliefs justify its social practices, eventually exploding—often without our awareness—into our economic systems, psyches, and art ... insinuates itself into our lives with its contagious dissent. And there Fisher waits: ready to infect another subject with his peculiar hope. Before we know it, we, too, have been activated.
Capitalist Realism, the book, is...full of phrases so vivid and apt and funny they dance across the page like cartoon imps ... There’s also a scary deep in Fisher, a darkness, a left-Lacanian Real ... the most haunting bits of Fisher’s second book aren’t the grand, aphoristic pronouncements, but the descriptions of small, delicate incursions on ordinary life made by electronically transmitted music ... Fisher is just as sensitive a listener to what musicians have to say ... It was a terrible idea of Fisher’s to use the term ‘Vampire Castle’: calling people a bunch of undead bloodsuckers isn’t a great tactic if you want them to listen to you, particularly when they are, whatever your differences with them, people you want on your side.
... this book is not a sentimental gesture of remembrance or solidarity with a fallen comrade. It turns out to be an utterly compelling and excoriating record of 21st-century cultural production and politics. If you have any interest in contemporary British politics and culture, it is a necessary read ... The writing has an immediacy that refuses to get sucked into suffocating academic definitional work (the trap of what he called the 'Grey Vampires'), and you can almost feel the energetic freedom provided by the blog form ... That Fisher’s style was agile enough to move between posts for his personal blog, music reviews for Wired, cultural studies essays for academic journals, opinion columns for the Guardian, and reflections on activism for the Weekly Worker is breathtaking. It’s a lesson in dexterity for all writers that pitch and tone can be varied without compromising their ideas’ integrity ... The writing is sometimes damaged by being pulled into the isolation of print rather than the hyperlinked web, despite the sterling work of the editor Darren Ambrose to document some of the contexts. The lack of index is frustrating. I found the breaking up of the time line, starting the clock again in each of the seven sections, lost some of the forward flow of Fisher’s developing ideas ... If it is a catastrophe that we no longer have Mark Fisher, we at least have this collection. Cherish every word.
k-punk bags up the messy drive and phonetic thrum of a life distributed between careers and platforms ... Fisher never abandoned the idea that the language of criticism should match the intensity of what was being described. He was an intensifier ... There is no reason to get as specifically nostalgic as Fisher did for certain iterations of the Web ... In January of 2017, at forty-eight, Fisher took his life. His work does not collapse into this decision, but his openness about depression and affective states is central to his work ... there’s a similar sense of time and feeling here, with culture playing ideological state apparatus to capital and confusing the time line enough to make the future so hard to find that whether or not it exists is irrelevant ... This writing wouldn’t be better parceled out into smaller chunks, as the various kinds of muchness illuminate Fisher’s resting emotional tones. For Fisher, writing seemed to be as exhausting as it was exhilarating. Everything was a big deal, which was refreshing in that he took everyone seriously and engaged in so little snark ... In lesser hands, this is a truly awful approach. Fisher, though, was able to fasten upon the emotional handle of an idea and pull ... To remind is to intensify. We still need Fisher’s promise.
As the anthology demonstrates, a diverse set of topics caught Fisher’s attention, such that caustic analyses of commercial culture...nestle up against riffs on global political themes ... like any collection of blogs and articles reaching back 15 years, not every post retains the resonance it might have had at the time. But for the most part, his writing is prescient, lucid, and offers a take on music that few others have. From reflections on the intoxicating rhythms of footwork, to the ‘hedonistic sadness’ in the lyrics of rap’s titans (Kanye and Drake), Fisher’s writing fizzes with energy.