Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cold World Previews

Regular extracts from Cold World at Dominic Fox's Poetix.

Militant Dysphoria Event

We have been told by the living that the idea of a vital world is that of comfort and warmth. Dominic Fox assures us that this is not the case. With an unparalleled militant efficiency, Cold World blackens the lines between poetics and politics, music and negative resistance. It is a haunting sermon from the world of the dead exhorting the living to revolt in the name of a life whose vitality has been disenchanted by coldness and whose sacredness has been profaned by nigredo. - Reza Negarestani, Author of Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials

Dominic Fox's timely and important Cold World pinpoints the fundamental issue underlying contemporary debate about the possibility of revolutionary politics in a culture suffused by paralysing despondency. Drawing on a remarkable array of sources from Coleridge and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Xasthur and Ulrike Meinhof, Fox explores the necessary yet apparently contradictory link between refusal and revolution. While refusal without revolution perpetuates the very condition it would negate, revolution without refusal quickly lapses into phantasmatic utopianism. The quandaries of this particular dialectic have never been as lucidly charted as they are here. - Ray Brassier, Author of Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction

Militant Dysphoria

Wednesday September 30th

Room RHB 256, Goldsmiths, University of London 2-6 PM


Dominic Fox

Nathan Brown

Mark Fisher

Nina Power

Nick Srnicek

James Trafford

Alex Williams

An event to discuss some of the issues raised by Domininc Fox's Cold World: The aesthetics of dejection and the politics of militant dysphoria, due to be published by zer0 at the end of September. What is meant by 'militant dysphoria', and in what ways can the concept help us move beyond the impasses of contemporary politics? How might disaffection be converted into militancy? What political potentials are there in dysphoric music such as Black Metal? The event will also explore the relationship between politics and Speculative Realism.

This will not be a formal academic conference. Instead, it will follow the pattern set by the Weird events at Goldsmiths and the recent UEL symposium on the hardcore continuum. There will be short semi-formal presentations by speakers, but the emphasis will be on discussion of concepts rather than on presenting of papers etc.

The event is free but anyone interested in attending should register at (k_punk99[AT]hotmail.com). Places are limited. In addition, if anyone would like to give a semi-formal presentation, please let me know.

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson

The Resistible Demise Of Michael Jackson
Edited by Mark Fisher

Michael Jackson was a supernova; we loved him, we worshiped him, we found his appearances and performances almost godlike — and this “we” was probably one of the widest, most inclusive “we”s in the history of the world. — Steven Shaviro

Michael Jackson showed that there is no such thing as ‘just’ pop music. The quantitative scale of Jackson’s fame was not only unprecedented, it is unlikely to ever be repeated. Jackson was at the burning core of the major changes in politics, the economy and culture in the last 30 years. It’s not surprising, therefore, that his death induced a spontaneous outpouring, not only of emotion, but of theoretical reflection. Providing an antidote to the mixture of unthinking sentimentality and scurrilous prurience that Jackson usually attracts, this book offers impassioned and informed answers to the urgent questions that Jackson’s death has posed. What was it about Jackson’s music and dancing that appealed to so many people? What does his death mean for popular culture in the era of Web 2.0? And just how resistible was his demise? Was another world ever possible, where the ‘we’ that Jackson brought into being could have stood for something utopian, instead of the consensual sentimentality of a world hooked on debt, consumerism and images?

The essays in The Resistible Demise Of Michael Jackson consummately demonstrate that writing on popular culture can be both thoughtful and heartfelt. The contributors, who include accomplished music critics as well as renowned theorists, are some of the most astute and eloquent writers on pop today. The collection is made up of new essays written in the wake of Jackson’s death, but also includes Barney Hoskyns’ classic NME piece written at the time of Thriller.

Contributors include: Barney Hoskyns, Ian Penman, David Stubbs, Steven Shaviro, Joshua Clover, Ken Hollings, Mark Sinker, Geeta Dayal, Kodwo Eshun, Sam Davies, Tom Ewing, Owen Hatherley, Jeremy Gilbert, Suhail Malik, Marcello Carlin, Alex Williams, Dominic Fox

Mark Fisher is highly respected both as a music journalist and a cultural theorist. His work appears regularly in The Wire, frieze, Sight & Sound and New Statesman. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre For Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and his site k-punk is one of the most successful and widely read theory weblogs.

Publication date: December 2009 Press enquiries: zerobooks@hotmail.com

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Dysphoria Revisited

Dominic Fox elaborates some more on Militant Dysphoria and the Cold World at Poetix.


Of reviews, interviews and mentions:

James Heartfield reviews Militant Modernism in Art Review; replete with capitalist realist end paragraph and confusion between Leslie and Kingsley Martin, but otherwise impeccable;

Karl Whitney on Militant Modernism for 3AM Magazine, and a quick note by Hugh Pearman in the RIBA Journal;

And Owen Hatherley pontificates at length on various topics at Ready Steady Book.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Fear of Forums

Two forum discussions of David Stubbs' Fear of Music - at When Saturday Comes and a more argumentative Dissensus.

Viva Southampton City Council Architects Dept

Icon reviews Militant Modernism - a 'sparky, polemical and ferociously learned book'. And from a couple of weeks ago, PD Smith's review in the Guardian.

In a similar vein: Owen Hatherley defends blogs, against a slagging of the blog-becomes-book format from Stephen Howe - which then received a surprisingly sympathetic response.

Monday, 11 May 2009

zer0 twitter

Zer0 is now twittering here...

Sunday, 3 May 2009


A long extract from the introduction to Militant Modernism, in this week's Building Design.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Something inherently distressing

David Stubbs on Radio 4's Today programme, selecting pieces of 'distressing' abstract music that go alongside 'decorative' abstract art.

'In a school of one'

Jonathan Meades reviews Militant Modernism.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Evental Site

Mister Trippy, aka Stewart Home, on the Zero Books Launch, and a note from Infinite Thought, rightly describing it as the literary event of this, or indeed any other, season.

Zero Books Launch at Daunt Books, Marylebone

Introduction to Zero Books by Mark Fisher, followed by David Stubbs talking about Fear of Music

Owen Hatherley talks about Militant Modernism

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Zero Books Launch

Zero Books, a new imprint for philosophy, politics and aesthetics, will be launched on Thursday 23rd April 2009. The first two titles are David Stubbs' Fear of Music, asking the question of why people get Rothko but not Stockhausen, and Owen Hatherley's Militant Modernism, a defence of Modernism against its defenders. There will be wine, crisps and readings from the books, in the genteel setting of Marylebone High Street.

Come to Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW 6.30 -9pm. If you want to attend, please RSVP to zerobooks(at)hotmail.com.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

i.t. interview with charlotte roche

I.T. interviews Charlotte Roche for Salon. The interview touches on some of the things discussed in One-Dimensional Woman, particularly the false liberation of consumerist hedonism. Roche sees a dearth of language to deal with female embodiment and sexuality; I agree, although I'm not sure the solution can in any way be a simple practice of 'being more honest'.

From the interview:

NP: I think a lot of the book is about recognizing these feelings of embarrassment. Contemporary women are supposed to be liberated, hedonistic, you can go out and get drunk, sleep around. But if we don't have the words to describe the range of experiences other than the old negative ones, then nothing has really changed.

Charlotte Roche: If we don't have the words and we don't talk about it, and I would also suggest that we don't even think about it. I have this theory. If you tell any man, "Today I am your sexual servant. You can tell me whatever you want and I'll do it to you," every man would think of 12 things to do. Men have fantasies; they have words for everything. They could tell a woman, "Lie down, do this, lick this." But if I a man said to me, "I am your sexual servant, what do you want me to do?" I would be blank. There's nothing even in my head to allow myself to think what I actually like.

I seem to be a modern, self-confident woman, and people would think that kind of woman would be into dirty talk, high heels, drugs, fucking around. But as soon as it comes to the secret intimacy of my own fantasies, there's almost nothing there. So for me it was about sitting down and thinking, what does the vagina look like? What do all the little bits look like? What could you call them? It was therapy for myself to actually think about this, which I wasn't doing before.

Nancy Fraser's recent article in the New Left Review is a very important reflection on the co-opting of second wave feminism to the neo-liberal project. She writes:

My hypothesis can be stated thus: what was truly new about the second wave was the way it wove together, in a critique of androcentric state-organized capitalism, three analytically distinct dimensions of gender injustice: economic, cultural and political. Subjecting state-organized capitalism to wide-ranging, multifaceted scrutiny, in which those three perspectives intermingled freely, feminists generated a critique that was simultaneously ramified and systematic. In the ensuing decades, however, the three dimensions of injustice became separated, both from one another and from the critique of capitalism. With the fragmentation of the feminist critique came the selective incorporation and partial recuperation of some of its strands. Split off from one another and from the societal critique that had integrated them, second-wave hopes were conscripted in the service of a project that was deeply at odds with our larger, holistic vision of a just society. In a fine instance of the cunning of history, utopian desires found a second life as feeling currents that legitimated the transition to a new form of capitalism: post-Fordist, transnational, neoliberal.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

'A Book About Politicised Displeasure'

Dominic Fox on his forthcoming Cold World, pre-emptively apologising to the parents of the adolescents it is aimed at.

First Four Books

Militant Modernism
Owen Hatherley
Price: $19.95 / £9.99
Date of publication: 24 April 2009

This book is a defence of Modernism against its defenders. In readings of modern design, film, pop and especially architecture, it attempts to reclaim a revolutionary modernism against its absorption into the heritage industry and the aesthetics of the luxury flat.

Militant Modernism argues for a Modernism of everyday life, immersed in questions of socialism, sexual politics and technology. It features new readings of some familiar names - Bertolt Brecht, Le Corbusier, Vladimir Mayakovsky - and much more on the lesser known, quotidian modernists of the 20th century. The chapters range from a study of industrial and brutalist aesthetics in Britain, Russian Constructivism in architecture, the Sexpol of Wilhelm Reich in film and design, and the alienation effects of Brecht and Hanns Eisler on record and on screen.

Against the world of 'there is no alternative', this book talks about things we haven't done yet, in the past tense.

Fear of Music
David Stubbs
Price: $19.99 / £9.99
Date of publication: 24 April 2009

Modern art is a mass phenomenon. Conceptual artists like Damien Hirst enjoy celebrity status. Works by 20th century abstract artists like Mark Rothko are selling for record breaking sums, while the millions commanded by works by Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon make headline news.

However, while the general public has no trouble embracing avant garde and experimental art, there is, by contrast, mass resistance to avant garde and experimental music, although both were born at the same time under similar circumstances - and despite the fact that from Schoenberg and Kandinsky onwards, musicians and artists have made repeated efforts to establish a "synaesthesia" between their two media.

This book examines the parallel histories of modern art and modern music and examines why one is embraced and understood and the other ignored, derided or regarded with bewilderment, as noisy, random nonsense perpetrated by, and listened to by the inexplicably crazed. It draws on interviews and often highly amusing anecdotal evidence in order to find answers to the question: Why do people get Rothko and not Stockhausen?

Cold World
Dominic Fox
Price: $14.95 / £7.99
Date of publication: 25 September 2009

To live well in the world one must be able to enjoy it: to love, Freud says, and work. Dejection is the state of being in which such enjoyment is no longer possible. There is an aesthetic dimension to dejection, in which the world appears in a new light. In this book, the dark serenity of dejection is examined through a study of the poetry of Hopkins and Coleridge, and the music of "depressive" black metal artists such as Burzum and Xasthur.

The author then develops a theory of "militant dysphoria" via an analysis of the writings of the Red Army Fraction's activist-theoretician, Ulrike Meinhof. The book argues that the "cold world" of dejection is one in which new creative and political possibilities, as well as dangers, can arise. It is not enough to live well in the world: one must also be able to affirm that another world is possible.

The Picture of Contented New Wealth
Tariq Goddard
Price: $19.95 / £9.99
Date of publication: 24 September 2009

In the brilliant red doom of a Hampshire Sunset Brigit Conti can hear a voice behind her ears that is not her own. Bed-bound, and complaining of a rare bone disease that no Doctor can diagnose, her husband fears that the house they have purchased is a portal through which an older, more malign energy has passed, possessing his wife and son. Through their successive deterioration his secular and agnostic world-view undergoes a metamorphosis, drawing him to a strange man from the hills: the Rector, their unlikely saviour.

Or are he and his family merely victims of their own self-serving yuppie way of life?

'You were the picture of contented new wealth' is a gothic tragedy set in the nineteen eighties, bringing proper characterisation and a literary sensibility to the traditional horror story. It's mix of generic elements and mystical realism deal with the irreducibility of evil and its successful normalisation in to our daily and dominant reality.

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