Mark Fisher RIP

Urbanomic’s obituary is excellent throughout. A telling snippet:

Having unexpectedly had an abstract for a joint conference paper accepted, and following a lengthy train journey, Mark and I began writing our paper the morning before the conference (of course), and a state of panic swiftly morphed into a sleep-deprived, hysterical flow state. It was hugely enjoyable, because Mark was never happier than when swept up in working on something that seemed to be building itself, soliciting further input, coalescing into some unexpected entity before his eyes, suggesting new double-meanings, puns, unexpected connections between the abstract and the empirical, Marvel Comics-style names for as-yet unnamed forces, concepts for unrecognised processes. Then the self-doubt would disappear, the anxiety would dissipate (even if the paper had to be given in a few hours!) and he would be in his element: that outside element, something beyond the strictures of the personal, that fuels enthusiasm and enthralled fascination with what is being ‘channelled’.

Mark Fisher’s life was an extreme manic-depressive roller-coaster, which he constantly sought to cosmically (and socio-politically) rationalize. The upswings were incandescent with a creative energy beyond anything I have ever witnessed (or engaged with). The downswings were hell. Finally, he reached one he was unable to wait-out.

The Ccru was only one stage in his life, though it was of course the one I knew best. His contribution was so complete that it eludes any attempt at isolation. That Ccru happened at all was only due to his absorption into the entity. When he dropped out — during an earlier season in the abyss, around the turn of the Millennium — it was over.

ADDED: An obituary from Simon Reynolds.

Quotable (#219)

The NYT talks to Thiel:

His critics demanded to know how someone who immigrated from Frankfurt to Cleveland as a child could support a campaign so bristling with intolerance. How could a gay man back someone who will probably nominate Supreme Court justices inclined to limit rights for gays and women? How could a futurist support a cave man who champions fossil fuels, puts profits over environmental protection and insists that we can turn back the clock on the effects of globalization on American workers?

“There are reduced expectations for the younger generation, and this is the first time this has happened in American history,” Mr. Thiel says. “Even if there are aspects of Trump that are retro and that seem to be going back to the past, I think a lot of people want to go back to a past that was futuristic …

That “a past that was futuristic” thought could go somewhere — all we need is a name for it.

Quotable (#218)

Timothy Garton Ash on Europe today:

Had I been cryogenically frozen in January 2005, I would have gone to my provisional rest as a happy European. … […] … Cryogenically reanimated in January 2017, I would immediately have died again from shock. For now there is crisis and disintegration wherever I look …

Quotable (#217)

Mighty WeChat:

WeChat’s ability to create a bustling payments economy echoes the general success of its parent company. In September, Tencent became China’s largest company by value, surpassing state-owned China Mobile, when it reported its third-quarter revenue: $6 billion, up 52% year over year. How much of that can be attributed to Wallet and WePay was not specified: WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app, makes money largely from online gaming, advertising, and selling sticker packs. But Tencent — which began with the instant messaging app QQ and is now pursuing artificial intelligence and electric cars alongside investments in a range of companies, including China’s dominant ride-sharing operation, Didi Chuxing — did cite WePay as a major reason for its “other” businesses’ growth, which increased $726 million in the third quarter, or 348% over the same period last year. According to estimates by HSBC, based on current tech company valuations, WeChat could already be worth more than $80 billion, about half of Tencent’s market capitalization.


Further down, there’s an excellent quote from Connie Chan (of Andreessen Horowitz) on WeChat’s electronic red envelopes: “This was money as a message.”