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.
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.