Edited by Darren Ambrose and with a foreword by Simon Reynolds, this volume collects the work of acclaimed British writer, political activist, and lecturer Mark Fisher, whose "K-Punk" blog became a cult favorite among disenchanted intellectuals compelled by his unique takes on film, television, music, and politics.
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.
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.
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.