Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Towards a Right-Wing Hauntology"

an unusual response to Mark Fisher's Ghost of My Life - , a review at North American New Right / Counter-Currents Publishing by Christopher Pankhurst, titled  "Towards A Right-Wing Hauntology"  - a very positive review, although seeking to exorcise the spectre of Marx and put in its place Spengler:

"This sense that culture is drifting without any sense of progression, that the very notion of a possible future is receding, is exactly what you would expect to find at the end of a civilizational cycle.
For Oswald Spengler, the declining years of a civilization give rise to what he termed the “second religiousness.” This is a phase where democratic, money values have become ubiquitous, and there is a general sense of cynicism and boredom, symptomatic of a yearning for more genuine, more numinous forms of expression. However, this is not a time when such forms of expression are readily available; instead there is a return to earlier forms that have the appearance of greater authenticity. Hence the plethora of new age movements and the importing of exotic spiritualities. At the time of the second religiousness, the inner life of the culture has already reached full maturity so it cannot continue to develop in any meaningful sense. Therefore the only available forms of spiritual expression are those forms which were once vital but which now are moribund. Spengler calls materialism shallow and honest, mock-religion shallow and dishonest.

"But he goes on to say that the very fact that there is even a longing for pseudo-religions foreshadows a more genuine seeking towards the numinous. And, in this respect, we can interpret the hauntologically-inflected artists under consideration here as seekers of the numinous who happen to be alive at the time of the second religiousness....

"The paradox of revolutionary, accelerationist technological developments delivering increasingly conventional and conservative content is simply the unwinding of the Faustian soul. The (digital) flesh is willing but the (numinous) spirit is weak.

"Whereas we perennialists might talk of the second religiousness, Marxist scholars will insist on “late capitalism.” They both refer to the same reality, but whereas the Marxists insist that this phase will inevitably be followed by revolutionary communism, Spenglerians recognise that capitalism and communism are both elements of the late phase of a civilization.

"... In  the perennialist view of history there is an inevitable unfolding, a flowering, but it will always lead to death (and then rebirth)."

Another interesting, unusual-angled take on Ghosts of My Life is this one by65daysofstatic musician Paul Wolinski at The Quietus, largely concerned with audio technology and the disappearance or at least chronic rarity of the shock of the new in musical production of the last 15 years


  1. Had to google "perennialism," because my first confusion was to mistake it for horticultural reference. But the first time he used the term, I mistook it for “premillennialist,” which was even more confusing.

    Now that Spengler’s been brought into this, I’m wondering if Phil K would deem this worth responding to.

    The Wolinski piece is definitely passionate & fully engaged on the topic. Was wary of the Fischer title, thinking it might be another Zero Boogs cobbling job of recycled articles loosely adhering to an overarching theme. But opin seems to be shaping up that it’s a solid read.

    Anyway: Wolinski’s tack on the topic makes for an even weirder history if one travels further back in time. About how things like 404s and 808s and earlier samplers were high-end equipment put to limited use by high-end producers, then quickly rendered obsolete by the next model and quickly dumped on the second-hand market, where they were snapped up by aspiring house and techno producers who – through various mis-uses and abuses -- milked them for heretofore unrealized amusical effects, effects which would soon thereafter find their way into mainstream/high-end music a year or so later, if only for the sake of giving a mainstream “dance” act more “street cred.” As far as “innovation” went, it made for a truly strange parasitic/co-dependant symbiotic cycle. And it was often amusing to listen to unfold in real time. There was a certain speed/short lag in the back-and-forth between the “monoculture” and “underground” (and back again).

    Which was quite different than, say, trying to slavishly re-enact a particular form of 30, 40, 50 years ago. Or relying on Autotune as a sort of universalizing default setting.

  2. Arriving late, but here's my 2p.

    I think North's take is basically correct - what we lucky ones who are old enough knew as a living pop culture is dead, and so we indeed get the living death of Spenglerian patternwork.

    You can continue mourning what was lost, but I think taking up a different hobby such as carpentry or angling is the better option for those of us who are now middle-aged. Does Kriss Akabusi sit around gloomily pondering all those bronze medals that could have been golds? No. He plunges himself into charity work, and makes lots of entertaining appearances on A Question Of Sport.

    That is because Akabusi understands the inner message of Spengler, that death is inevitable, that all things in their inner being must die, even if in cultural terms they can have a zombified half-life. In this sense pop culture is like Persian carpetry, or Chinese porcelain - the outer form lives on indefinitely, whereas the soul-source of inspiration that led to its original creation has long faded. But we're not forced to endlessly contemplate Chinese porcelain; nor are we forced to endlessly contemplate the Kaiser Chiefs. There are always other, more rewarding things to do.