I don't normally intervene or comment on material I post on this site - however, without the work and ideas of Mark Fisher I would never have set out on the road that led to my fascination with hauntology and related ideas in contemporary culture. Furthermore, this site would not have existed without his inspirational ideas. This is a very sad loss. RIP Mark. - Sean Albiez
'Astrud comes from an experimental/folk background and might be familiar to some due to her association with such labels as Folklore Tapes and Night School. Her deep background in folk experimentalism and association with hauntological themes was transferred into her recent four tape releases. Whereas Astrud’s Folklore Tapes release drifted along the forgotten fringes of Devon folklore, this year’s output reminds the solemn corners of East London, which were extensively referenced in Luke J. Murray’s short essay accompanying the Cellophane L: Selected Dreams 2010 - 2013 (Volume 1) release. Yet what remains is the same psychogeographical urge to wander, embrace and reflect the environment - the traces of hidden British topographies that have been so extensively celebrated by Ghost Box, Folklore Tapes, Hacker Farm, Demdike Stare and others. Quite a large number of people involved with these entities have a background in techno/jungle music, hence a pattern of futuristic roots mixing with rediscovered folk treasures.'
From 2015 - 'Nostalgia is a self-conscious, bittersweet but predominantly positive and fundamentally social emotion. It arises from fond memories mixed with yearning about one's childhood, close relationships, or atypically positive events, and it entails a redemption trajectory. It is triggered by a variety of external stimuli or internal states, is prevalent, is universal, and is experienced across ages. Nostalgia serves a self-oriented function (by raising self-positivity and facilitating perceptions of a positive future), an existential function (by increasing perceptions of life as meaningful), and a sociality function (by increasing social connectedness, reinforcing socially oriented action tendencies, and promoting prosocial behavior). These functions are independent of the positive affect that nostalgia may incite. Also, nostalgia-elicited sociality often mediates the self-positivity and existential functions. In addition, nostalgia maintains psychological and physiological homeostasis along the following regulatory cycle: (i) Noxious stimuli, as general as avoidance motivation and as specific as self-threat (negative performance feedback), existential threat (meaninglessness, mortality awareness), social threat (loneliness, social exclusion), well-being threat (stress, boredom), or, perhaps surprisingly, physical coldness intensify felt nostalgia; (ii) in turn, nostalgia (measured or manipulated) alleviates the impact of threat by curtailing the influence of avoidance motivation on approach motivation, buttressing the self from threat, limiting defensive responding to meaninglessness, assuaging existential anxiety, repairing interpersonal isolation, diminishing the blow of stress, relieving boredom through meaning reestablishment, or producing the sensation of physical warmth. Nostalgia has a checkered history, but is now rehabilitated as an adaptive psychological resource.'
'In Never Built New York, authors Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell (foreword by Daniel Libeskind) describe with irony, and sometimes nostalgia, the most significant architectural and planning projects of the last century, projects that would have drastically changed the city—but never did.' - Guglielmo Mattioli
'The abundance of nostalgic culture in the 21st century is a peculiar phenomenon that will probably be the subject of future sociological analysis. In the post-war years of the 20th century, the world believed that the future would be another, better planet. The 21st century was itself an iconic signifier of that utopian dream – everything would be different in the new century. Now that we’ve actually gotten there, though, we find ourselves living in a future that has already been and gone. We live, not in the gleaming dream of the future, but in a world of austerity and radical uncertainty, an off-season resort with no guarantee of summer rejuvenation on the horizon.
It is thus unsurprising that the early 21st century should become haunted by the past, in the same way that the last century was haunted by the future. In music, how we imagined the future would be and the actual future we are living in have become intertwined. In cinema, the past has become a huge part of how we create alternative imaginative landscapes, in a way the future once was. In this sense, we can see nostalgia not simply as a throwback, but as a legitimate expression of how we experience the world today. Even a relatively straight exercise in nostalgia like Stranger Things exhibits greater creativity and originally than the nostalgia wave as it has afflicted commercial Hollywood film-making: memory as brand recognition and marketing, to be remade (endlessly) but never made anew.' - Andrew Linnane
From 2014 - 'In this article, I will examine the internet through the lens of consumption and waste studies. The internet will be conceived of as the place where the cultural waste of music – in the form of marginal artefacts and obsolete media (such as vinyl records, tapes, and ephemera) – can effectively be excavated, recirculated and re-mediated by means of systematic digitisation and uploading. The redemptive role of popular and spontaneous digital archives (such as the video platform YouTube or dedicated audio blogs) will be critically examined. Complementarily, I will underline the idea that the internet also encourages a paradoxical return of tangible artefacts, as the work of digital music collectors may prompt the actual reissue of previously lost music objects (a tendency that is exemplified in the UK by the work of British contemporary reissue record labels such as Trunk Records or Finders Keepers). The internet will be discussed as an ambiguous site of redemption, forming the basis for a nostalgic retro-consumption of music. As such, it will be conceived of as a site of memory and as a possible archive, though the ambiguity of such a term will be discussed. I will reflect upon the cultural meaning of digital archives that, as they are ceaselessly renewed, continue to erase themselves. Lastly, I will suggest that the forms of redemption that are enabled by the internet are strictly inseparable from the production of further layers of cultural waste. Departing from Straw's assertion that the internet ‘has strengthened the cultural weight of the past, increasing its intelligibility and accessibility’ (2007, 4), I will point out that the internet may accelerate the processes of cultural obsolescence and oblivion that it seeks to suspend.' - Elodie Amandine Roy
'Department of English at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń invites you to attend the international conference whose major theme “Haunted Cultures/ Haunting Cultures” explores the cultural significance of the figure of the spectre, spectrality, haunting and hauntology in their deconstructive and/or other more traditional contexts. Following Jacques Derrida’s argument that “[t]here is then some spirit. Spirits. And one must reckon with them. One cannot not have to, one must not not be able to reckon with them…” (Derrida, 2006, xx), we invite papers reflecting on the place of the spectral figure, spectral metaphors and conceptualisations in past and present cultures. In its deconstructive preoccupations, hauntology endeavours to account for the persistence of the unspeakable and unnameable in cultural practices and discourses. One of our aims is to encourage a debate on the relevance and legitimacy of these spectral presences and/or absences in the twenty first century technologically advanced cultures.'
From 2009 'This paper explores the possibility of an uncanny digital pedagogy. Drawing on theories of the uncanny from psychoanalysis, cultural studies and educational philosopy, it considers how being online defamiliarises teaching, asking us to question and consider anew established academic practices and conventions. It touches on recent thinking on higher education as troublesome, anxiety‐inducing and ‘strange’, viewing online learning and teaching practices through the lens of an uncanny which is productively disruptive in its challenging of the ‘certainties’ of place, body and text. Uncanny pedagogies are seen as a generative way of working with the new ontologies of the digital.' - Siân Bayne
'This text that you are about to read is a discussion of what it might mean to think and imagine an ethics of responsibility towards that which does not exist according to traditional western ontology. As such, the text is first of all an engagement with Derrida’s ‘hauntology’, which is a term he coined in the book Spectres of Marx, published in French in 1993 and English in 1994. The word hauntology brings together ontology and haunting, suggesting that all that can be said to exist does so due to a series of haunting, excluded others. Apart from engaging with ontology, Derrida therefore also argues for a relational ethics that takes seriously the agency of such absent others, suggesting that ethics does not merely concern that which can be said to be present and immediate, but also absent presences, such as those who are yet to be born, those who are no longer and those who may never be. This is therefore an ethics that reaches beyond the immediate, beyond the present and beyond the moment, and it takes as its guide the figure of the ghost; a creature that, through its hauntings, is both present and absent. A hauntological ethics can, however, be a difficult one to imagine, for how does one engage with that which is an absent presence without merely making it fully present?' - Line Henriksen
From 2015 - '“We are, and always have been, a nation of ghosts,” claims Mark Pilkington. And nowhere else is that more true than on December 25th, in our paper crowns and conducting the bizarre supernatural ritual of charades, sitting down to watch Only Fools And Horses. The revenant of Christmas isn’t necessarily supposed to frighten in its hauntings; it may not be visible; but you cannot deny it is there.' - A Sitting Ovation
'Is this real? Considering the current prevalence of imaginary film and TV scores emerging from the underground I’m guessing not, but then again so many of the sounds on this are just too perfect. Proclaiming to be the "30 minute score from Czech TV thriller Anja And The Memory People" which suspiciously disappeared after airing on Czechoslovakian TV in 1975. One imagines those forlorn washed-out colours from Don't Look Now soundtracking suspenseful drawn-out encounters between mistrusting characters while some invisible force is hard at work behind the scenes… So it’s clearly a mocked up retrofuturist vision straight out of the Ghost Box Records hauntology playbook - all arpeggiated synths and slowly released tension - but it’s an extremely well-realised vision.' - The Quietus
'We were saddened to hear yesterday’s news of Mark Fisher’s unexpected death. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Fisher’s work on the notion of “capitalist realism” and interventions to the political imaginary of neoliberalism were critical to our intellectual formation as a collective.' - Blind Field
'There are inevitable comparisons to be drawn between Departed Glories and the “hauntology” typified by Ghost Box Records, though they differ radically in aim and sound. Both pick and choose from certain histories to create a sort of über-country: a fictional space a thousand times more than the tangible places it’s based on. Jenssen’s “Eastern Europe” is an amorphous concept built on tragedy and longing that draws no distinctions between Polish songs or Ukrainian melodies or the Armenian woman gracing the album’s cover.' - Rebecca C. Brooks
'In his captivating new book, “The Revenge of Analog,” the reporter David Sax provides an insightful and entertaining account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world. Mr. Sax argues that analog isn’t going anywhere, but is experiencing a bracing revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex.' - Michiko Kakutani
From 2008 - 'Traditionally, nostalgia has been conceptualized as a medical disease and a psychiatric disorder. Instead, we argue that nostalgia is a predominantly positive, self-relevant, and social emotion serving key psychological functions. Nostalgic narratives reflect more positive than negative affect, feature the self as the protagonist, and are embedded in social context. Nostalgia is triggered by dysphoric states, such as negative mood and loneliness. Finally, nostalgia generates positive affect, increases self-esteem, fosters social connectedness, and alleviates existential threat.'
From 2011 - 'The East of Germany, the Bundesländer of the former GDR, is an important centre of Goth activity. The Goth scene is remarkably large in this part of Germany, and one of the most important yearly Goth festivals, the Wave-Gotik-Treffen, takes place in Leipzig. This article investigates the specific characteristics and internal dynamics of East German Goth subcultures after German reunification. Combining subcultural theory and Gothic criticism with Derrida's notions of spectrality and hauntology, the potentials of Gothic as a form of cultural criticism are explored in an investigation of the psycho-social wasteland of the undead GDR. It will be argued that post-Cold War unification has not only led to a new political order, but has also given rise to a new type of Gothicism, as East German Goth subculture is haunted by ‘spectres of Marx’ that provide a critical engagement with globalised capital and media. As a specifically German version of the worldwide Goth scene, moreover, it marks the local boundedness of globalised subcultures.' - Isabella van Elferen
'Vaporwave isn’t just a genre; it’s an approach and an attitude—not just to music, but to popular culture. Vaporwave is often identified with particular sounds and stylings—slowed arown hits and muzak from the ’80s and ’90s—yet what’s also essential to it is the highly self-conscious, critical stance it takes to its source material. It remodels and repackages it, adding implicit layers of social commentary.' - Bandcamp
This book explores the trend of retro and nostalgia within contemporary popular music culture.Using empirical evidence obtained from a case study of fans’ engagement with older music, the book argues that retro culture is the result of an inseparable mix of cultural and technological changes, namely, the rise of a new generation and cultural mood along with the encouragement of new technologies. Retro culture has become a hot topic in recent years but this is the first time the subject has been explored from an academic perspective and from the fans’ perspective. As such, this book promises to provide concrete answers about why retro culture dominates in contemporary society.
From 2014 'I would like to address how certain landscape representations are produced, consumed and instrumentalised. There is a discrepancy between imaginaries of haunting and ruins as material realities, with a problematic ethics of romanticising and aestheticising military and nuclear sites, particularly if the works are then exhibited in commercial spaces and available to be sold.' - Sophie Hoyle
From 2012 - 'Nostalgia in its contemporary form results from a perceived loss. Photography as a medium always contains some element of loss, because the moment photographed is lost to time. Reynolds, whose book focuses on a mania for retro in relation to popular music, makes a parallel between the ideas of Thomas Edison, who originally intended sound recordings to preserve the voices of loved ones before they died, and Roland Barthes’ ideas about photography in Camera Lucida. In both cases, sound or vision uncannily record the past and preserve a version of it. As such, sound recordings and photographs can be seen as ‘hauntological’ – a term coined by Jacques Derrida to describe how an apparently utopian past persists uncannily into the present.' - Stephen Bull
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'Of course another idiosyncrasy within Hauntology as a genre is that aurally it’s so disparate. A large part of what constitutes it as a genre is thematic, ideological even, rather than a sense of musical homogeneity. Hauntology is perhaps easiest to conceptualise in terms of materiality, the music reflecting both decay and deterioration but also accumulation and the amassing of cultural debris. It is far easier then, we can suggest, to identify a hauntological visual aesthetic than a single distinctive sound and we might expect this aesthetic to be characterised by visual materials that have been degraded and deliberately aged, as well as the recreation and re-appropriation of temporally situated images subverted to new purpose.' - The Ploughman's Lunch
'Reaching back four decades into the past to help imagine a future four decades hence, the film’s visual reference points include Edward Hopper’s iconic 1942 painting Nighthawks, Miss Havisham’s clutter-strewn bedroom in David Lean’s classic Dickens adaptation Great Expectations, and Joan Crawford’s vampish outfits in Mildred Pierce. The film’s rousing score by Vangelis throbs with strident analogue electronica, but also lonely jazz saxophones and bluesy echoes from the past. Blade Runner is saturated in melancholy, overshadowed by death and peopled by ghosts. Visually and sonically, it is awash with hauntological whispers.' - Stephen Dalton
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