Notes on hope and zombies


“Once we know what we want, we’re no longer alone, the world repopulates. Everywhere there are allies, closenesses, and an infinite graduation of possible friendships. [Hope] is the best agent of the maintenance of order […] an immense pedagogy of waiting.” p.10 The Invisible Committee – Now

On reading this passage, I was reminded of Mark Fisher’s k-punk post titled ‘Abandon hope (summer is coming)’.

Quoting Deleuze, he writes “There’s no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons”, referring to Spinoza’s idea that “There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” So hope and fear are interchangeable, passive affects that arise from our incapacity to actually act.

Like all superstitions, hope is something we call upon when we have nothing else. […] the condition of hope is passivity. […]

We don’t need hope; what we need is confidence and the capacity to act.

Mark asks:

Whereas hope and fear are superstitious (although they may have some hyperstitional effects), confidence is essentially hyperstitional: it immediately increases the capacity to act, the capacity to act increases confidence, and so on – a self-fulfilling prophecy, a virtuous spiral.

So how are we to rebuild our confidence? While the conditions are difficult – and in England, they are about to get much more difficult – we can still act, and act imminently and immanently. How?

Going on to outline a number of possible actions to take:

  1. Socialisation beyond social media
  2. Knowing someone in this life feels as desperate as me (consciousness raising)
    1. Talk to fellow workers about how we feel
    2. Talk to opponents
    3. Create knowledge exchange labs
    4. Create social spaces
    5. Use social media pro-actively, not reactively
    6. Generate new figures of loathing in our propaganda
    7. Engage in forms of activism aimed at logistical disruption
    8. Develop hub struggles (example: miners’ strike) to swarm to

Outer England has been sedated, but it is waking from its long slumber, carrying new weapons ….

This call for the confidence to act resonates both with Now and the slogans of ‘68, the latter was arguably a ‘hub struggle’ as Mark puts it. The slogans establish new social spaces – the beaches of the street – generate new figures of loathing – the bosses – disrupts logistically – no more calls for higher wages, instead abolish the system – and the slogans themselves articulate a culture of feeling and constitute a form of public consciousness raising.

“Decision is what traces in the present the manner and possibility of acting, of making a leap that is not into the void.” p.11 The Invisible Committee – Now

But, “The idea of a ‘precariat’ conveniently hides the fact that there is simply no longer a shared experience of work, even precarious work.” p.14 The Invisible Committee – Now

In a society that has abolished all adventures, the only adventure left is to abolish society. (Slogan from May ’68)



Live without dead time – enjoy without chains

Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can breathe and many say, “We will breathe later”. And most of them don’t die because they are already dead. 

These two slogans from ‘68, and the presence of death or the already-dead made me think on the figure of the zombie. The Haitian history of the zombie presents the horror of dehumanisation during slavery – zombie labourers and their uprising.

Yet performance artist Martin O’Brien speaks of living in ‘zombie time’ as someone with cystic fibrosis. For him, zombies embody a fear of infection in popular culture, an abject body bereft of subjectivity and individual identity. This dis-easing of a non-dead population when faced with the un-dead raises questions about mortality and living itself – how do we know we’re breathing?

“The zombie able to challenge the human understand of mortality: a body bereft of subjectivity and individual identity, once dead but now living again, but simultaneously still dead. The zombie is rotting flesh, animated and stumbling. Curiously, most of the common representations of the zombie depict it as motivated only by its need for survival as a species. The zombie bites in order to both feed and create more zombies. The population of the zombie can only increase as the population of the human decreases. The zombie is both human and non-human animal, it is both dead and alive, it is something to both fear and pity.”

O’Brien joked at a conference that “zombies are anti-capitalist, because in films they bring about the fall of capitalism.” Does the ‘zombification’ of a population in this ‘dead time’ bring about the end? A zombie uprising.

“[…] The bite reduces the other into a piece of meat [or data?]. It establishes a relationship between two people predicated upon predator/prey dynamics. Or perhaps it is an inbuilt fear of contagion associated with the mouth of another.”

Martin O’Brien – ‘Flesh-Eaters: Notes Towards a Zombie Methodology’, November 24th 2015.


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