The Memeing of Mark Fisher
How the Frankfurt School Foresaw Capitalist Realism and What to Do About It
Published by Zer0Books, 2021
Through his blog K-Punk, Mark Fisher become one of the cult figures of cultural theory after the economic crash of 2008. One of Fisher’s insights, widely taken up by the online memesphere, was that capitalism breeds depression. Mike Watson picks up Fisher’s prognosis when the locked-down pandemic world is mired in a depression that is economic and psychological, and no doubt exacerbated by the transfer of culture and life online.
In the aftermath, The Memeing of Mark Fisher revisits the Frankfurt School theorists who worked in the shadow of World War Two, during the rise of the culture industry. In examining their thoughts and drawing parallels with Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, Watson aims to render the Frankfurt School as an incisive theoretical toolbox for the post-Covid digital age.
Taking in the phenomena of QAnon, twitch streaming, and memes, Watson argues that the dichotomy between culture and political praxis is a false one. As more people have access to the means for theoretical and critical engagement online, he urges the online left to build a real-life cultural and political movement.
Mike Watson speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about Mark Fisher’s legacy in critical online spaces, the democracy of memes and their aesthetic warfare, the Acid Left, and how the Frankfurt School thinkers foreshadowed our current moment.