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Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures

(Futuros Próximos #15)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,114 ratings  ·  106 reviews
This collection of writings by Mark Fisher, author of the acclaimed Capitalist Realism, argues that we are haunted by futures that failed to happen. Fisher searches for the traces of these lost futures in the work of David Peace, John Le Carré, Christopher Nolan, Joy Division, Burial and many others.
Kindle Edition, 245 pages
Published May 30th 2014 by Zero Books
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Oliver Wood
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Ghosts of My Life, I now know hauntology refers to the psychological state of being haunted by a future that, for one reason or another, never arrived in one of modernity's many vacant slots. It's a bit more complicated than that though, and if some Deleuzian theoretician cornered me in an alley and browbeat me to a definition, I'd be more inclined to run away than hold my ground and submit a response.

But it is the brevity of explanation, and economy of opinion, that allows the
...more
Blair
Despite the fact that I spend a lot of my free time reading, I'm not the sort of person who goes around saying books have 'changed my life'. I struggle to see how even the most brilliant and memorable books I've read have actually changed me. But Ghosts of My Life might truly deserve that epithet. It is essentially a collection of essays about music, TV, film and novels, but it feels like something much bigger and more significant is shifting beneath its skin. This book has introduced me to ...more
Jonfaith
Aug 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
The slow cancellation of the future has been accompanied by a deflation of expectations.

You're killing me, Zero Books, just killing me. Years ago, when Hope and Change were in the air my wife asked me what sort of revolutionary are you? I responded, I'm a janitor -- which is likely a quote from a George Clooney film. Such is the sinew of my critical ontology.

I am now somewhat 0-3 for Zero Books as far as rolling my eyes, a curt "really" being emitted. This collection of recycled blog posts and
...more
Andrew
If we live in a philosophical era, it is Fisherian. I know that's a bold and perhaps even hyperbolic statement, but I firmly believe it to be true. Musically and cinematically, it's true, and the only reason it isn't true literarily is that the tastes of the "literary fiction"-buying public haven't caught up. We live in a world haunted by the promised futures that never came to be, and the cultural products of our time reflect this haunting. If you're so inclined, I wrote more extensively on ...more
Jonathan Norton
A collection of blog posts and short essays from the past 10 years or so, loosely connected around the notion of "hauntology", which Fisher takes from Derrida's "Specters Of Marx" (although the word first appeared in Christine Brooke-Rose's "Amalgamemnon" in 1984). This contains some interesting views on, amongst other things: Joy Division, adaptations of Le Carre, the works of W.G.Sebald, the music of Goldie and Tricky, the films of Chris Petit and Patrick Keiller. "Hauntology" itself is thinly ...more
Patrick
I bought this after enjoying ‘Capitalist Realism’ and having followed the author’s blog (k-punk) on and off for a number of years. This is actually a compilation of writings published there and for other magazines and websites, and I think some of it was familiar to me, but there was nothing here that I minded re-reading. The title, and the beautifully written introductory essay on ‘Sapphire and Steel’, had actually led me to believe that this would be a more personal and perhaps biographical ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Ghosts of the past are all you have when the future is canceled. Something happened in the 1970s that ended the modernist impulse to break new ground and make something new in pop culture and the arts. Think about it. Would someone from the 1990s be as shocked by the music of 2019 as say someone from 1961 at the musical offerings of 1990. I don't want to sound portentous but it seems like modernism died with the Social Democratic order in the 1970s (postwar liberalism if you are an American) it ...more
Scriptor Ignotus
A collection of essays on the "lost futures" of popular culture in the face of neoliberalism and capitalist realism. Not being a pop culture aficionado like Fisher, a lot of the music history went over my head. I learned more about the underground British experimental hip hop scene of the 1990s than I cared to know. It is a very personal work; the essays rely heavily on Fisher's own experiences of the pop culture phenomena he encountered, and so the connections he draws between pop culture and ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I'd probably rate this higher if I cared as much about most of the pop culture he writes about. The introductory essay on hauntology is good, and might be a good diagnosis of our point in history. The Joy Division essay is profound, which makes me wish I could muster up as much interest in pieces on The Shining, Burial, Inception, Kanye West, etc. RIP Fisher, but I wish some of our most interesting thinkers weren't so obsessed with pop culture. Then again, it's the way of the world isn't it?
Maxwell
Don't be fooled, this is just a reprint. The ghosts of Mark Fisher's life are actually blogs, mostly from his old k-punk journal, which you can read for free online. Or print out at the library. The only thing to recommend Blogs of My Life as a physical book, besides the nice teal cover, is the introduction, written specifically for this volume. To be fair it's a very good introduction. In fact, I think it contained more insight and just plain good writing than the rest of the essays combined, ...more
Ian Mathers
I bought this a while back, and sadly didn't get to it until Mark's death this year. I was an avid reader of his old blog (k-punk) for years, so the quality of the essays here don't surprise me at all, but as someone who hadn't had a chance to read his work in years at this point it was such a joy to hear his voice again. Politically, philosophically, aesthetically, I can't think of many (or maybe even any) modern writers who have been as big an influence on me as Mark is/was, and the work here ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Half of the materials didn't speak to me as I was not acquainted with the western popular cultural artifacts being reviewed. But still, great introductory essay on hauntology though, among a few others memorable essays/blogs.
Efe Re
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the only cultural criticism book that made me cry...
Tara Brabazon
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful book and worth the time to read it. But it does feature essays that are too self standing for my liking. However there are resonant sentences about time, space and nostalgia to render the book of value.

If you are interested in time and nostalgia, there are resonate sentences of value. Enjoy them.

Markus
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This would be a better book if I knew all the media it talks about
Emma Sea
dnf on page 98. Fisher was an astounding writer, but I'm just not enjoying this.
Philipp

It's clear to me that now the period from roughly 2003 to the present will be recognised - not in the far distant future, but very soon - as the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s.


A collection of essays and interviews, mostly from k punk and Wired with a focus on UK electronic music. The red thread through all of this is the concept of hauntology, when you're haunted by a possible future, one that the past had promised. You thought progress would keep on going and you'd live to
...more
Peter
Jul 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
hm. on one hand, i think that this book has a valuable point in merging derrida's concept of hauntology with facets of contemporary music. this was something i found particularly valuable for what i am interested in studying (based on some of my academic research i spent with a professor.) on the other hand, many of the articles published in this collection are pretty insubstantial. something i'll probably come back to.

the introduction to this, however, was pretty good. the underlying concept
...more
Nick
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The intro essay is a banger. The rest of the book illuminates its thesis in parts, brings out its contradictions in others.

Better review soon.
Kit
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The very beginning or so was great, but I think it sort of got repetitive at this length. Fisher's preoccupations are on full display, but I'm not sure it was adding anything new to my life.
Mostly media essays.
Frank
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Fisher's writing is wonderfully attractive and easy to get caught up in. Although I enjoyed the book as a whole, most of the music and movies/tv he mentions I haven't heard about so I felt like I was a little left out. However, his essay on Joy Division feels almost perfectly written.
Stephen Curran
I found the first 100 pages of GHOSTS OF MY FUTURE fascinating, taking the final scenes of the early-1980s TV show SAPPHIRE AND STEEL as a starting reference and moving on to contend that the last forty years have seen a “slow cancellation of the future”. Expectations and fantasies about what the coming years might bring faded away or have proven impossible, leaving us haunted by spectres of things that never came to pass. The term itself, ‘Hauntology’, is a French pun, a corruption of ‘ontology ...more
Sarah
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, politics
A collection of Mark Fisher’s essays about pop culture in the age of neoliberalism.

“A secret sadness lurks behind the 21st century’s forced smile. This sadness concerns hedonism itself, and it’s no surprise that it is in hip-hop – a genre that has become increasingly aligned with consumerist pleasure over the past 20-odd years – that this melancholy has registered most deeply. Drake and Kanye West are both morbidly fixated on exploring the miserable hollowness at the core of super-affluent
...more
Mike Mann
Last year, after greedily digesting Mark Fisher's previous book, "Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?" I pre-ordered "Ghosts of My Life," eagerly awaiting more of his heady and incisive cultural critique. This new book is mostly a compilation of previously published musings on popular, and not-so-popular, cultural phenomena - from underground U.K. dance music to the films of Christopher Nolan. Opening the work is a new essay, "The Slow Cancellation of the Future" which, apart from being ...more
Steve Duffy
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My future ain't what it was," sang Howard Devoto in 1977; Mark Fisher's book examines this uncanny, unnerving phenomenon in the detail it deserves. Some heavy-duty critical ordnance - Derrida, Bernardi, Lacan etc - is brought to bear, but Fisher's observations are not overwhelmed by theory: you don't need a grounding in post-structuralism or existential phenomenology to enjoy these writings. In fact, I suspect you don't even need to have heard the music of Rufige Kru or the Caretaker, or seen ...more
Swrang Varma
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often come across the adjective 'unputdownable' as a compliment for books, used by readers of books when they're trying to convince you to read a book that they know is selfishly squarely within their interests. Ghosts of My Life, I can confidently say, is fully putdownable, and that isn't even a word. If you've read Capitalist Realism, you know Fisher is a thoroughly accomplished writer, and more appropriately, a music journalist first, a depressive second, and a philosopher last. My only ...more
Megan
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick and vaguely interesting read. If large parts of it went over my head, it was mainly due to me not having the same taste in music as Fisher, or not having read the same books.

The theme of “hauntology” is pretty underdeveloped, it’s mainly just a spring board from which Fisher can launch his essays on popular culture. That was the main disappointment for me - it wasn’t the book I was expecting it to be.

There were times when I did feel Fisher just needed to lighten up and allow himself to
...more
Sam
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-crit-theory
I like his way of detaching the notion of time from those progressive modern rock groups like Artic Monkeys. I think what he is saying is basically that the label of period is not very accurate in categorising them because their style or, to use his words, the texture of their music is a collage of many notable elements from different identifiable periods of time. Just as he says the 60s is way more antique to those who live in the 1980s than 80s to us, living in this contemporary world ...more
Dan
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me, this is a brilliant 47-page book (titled "Lost Futures") followed by a 180-page appendix containing essays, music and film reviews, interviews, and other related odds and ends.
J Simpson
Life changing.

Full review pending.
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Mark Fisher (1968 – 2017) was a co-founder of Zero Books and Repeater Books. His blog, k-punk, defined critical writing for a generation. He wrote three books, Capitalist Realism, Ghosts of My Life and The Weird and the Eerie, and was a Visiting Fellow in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database
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Other books in the series

Futuros Próximos (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Going Public
  • The Wretched of the Screen
  • After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency
  • Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures
  • Into the Universe of Technical Images
  • Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age
  • Tecnopoéticas Argentinas
  • Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
  • In the Flow
  • Shanzhai: Dekonstruktion auf Chinesisch
“The slow cancellation of the future has been accompanied by a deflation of expectations. There can be few who believe that in the coming year a record as great as, say, the Stooges’ Funhouse or Sly Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On will be released. Still less do we expect the kind of ruptures brought about by The Beatles or disco. The feeling of belatedness, of living after the gold rush, is as omnipresent as it is disavowed. Compare the fallow terrain of the current moment with the fecundity of previous periods and you will quickly be accused of ‘nostalgia’. But the reliance of current artists on styles that were established long ago suggests that the current moment is in the grip of a formal nostalgia, of which more shortly.

It is not that nothing happened in the period when the slow cancellation of the future set in. On the contrary, those thirty years has been a time of massive, traumatic change. In the UK, the election of Margaret Thatcher had brought to an end the uneasy compromises of the so-called postwar social consensus. Thatcher’s neoliberal programme in politics was reinforced by a transnational restructuring of the capitalist economy. The shift into so-called Post-Fordism – with globalization, ubiquitous computerization and the casualisation of labour – resulted in a complete transformation in the way that work and leisure were organised. In the last ten to fifteen years, meanwhile, the internet and mobile telecommunications technology have altered the texture of everyday experience beyond all recognition. Yet, perhaps because of all this, there’s an increasing sense that culture has lost the ability to grasp and articulate the present. Or it could be that, in one very important sense, there is no present to grasp and articulate anymore.”
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“Invited to think of the futuristic, we will still come up with something like the music of Kraftwerk, even though this is now as antique as Glenn Miller’s big band jazz was when the German group began experimenting with synthesizers in the early 1970s.” 3 likes
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