Where is the New?

In which I set out an agenda for the newsletter.

I am solipsistic. If you’re reading this then you likely know me either intimately or tangentially and that statement may not come as a surprise. If by some accident, you dear reader have found yourself in my archives, god bless you.

My guiding ethos in writing this newsletter will jump from the question “how long can a culture survive without the new?” Fisher wished to use culture to see a world through capitalism, not away from it, but into its contradictions and then out the other side. The question of the “new” isn’t about innovation or disruption, capitalism does plenty of that, but new in the sense that it is not tethered to the ideological commitments of capital—not anti-capitalist, but a thing that goes to rendering and addressing our situation, and sets to build new institutions and capacities for a new spiritual and economic order, not out of hope, or optimism but from a “confidence and a capacity to act.” I wish to see culture as an ideological and libidinal expression of capital’s contradictions.

In what will hopefully be a more active writing practice than I currently indulge in, I hope to do something that is relatively easy to accomplish but hard to make interesting. For whatever ink has been spilled in Ivory Towers about objects, artefacts, or products of our culture industries, the task of cultural criticism and critique is not intellectually challenging, but often fruitful. Any and all explicitly political thoughts (that is writing about mechanisms of politics, daily, national and local) will remain in my notebooks or in my speech, or in published work outside this newsletter. When that appears, I hope to push you to read it.

I hope in this newsletter to accomplish a few things and develop a constellation form of argumentation that suggest a range of cultural products that address concerns I have about class, sociality, gay life and the general nature of life under neoliberalism. If I’m being honest, most will be about books or essays I’ve read, perhaps movies I’ve seen, but likely not television. One or two will be about music or refer to it.

I’ll try to publish twice a month, but will give myself any excuse, literary or mental, to avoid that. One piece will be short (like this) and likely off the cuff and more directly relevant to events around that time and place, while the second piece will ideally read as polished.

I hope within the publishing of these essays and stray thoughts to close gaps in my own thinking. I hope further to suggest the limits of our current social moment, which may close some gaps for my readers. I do not believe “politics is downstream from culture,” but in fact it’s opposite. Our political moment has begot a series of cultural products that may illuminate our current situation in a more readymade fashion than theorizing or lanyard-clad moaning may do.

The extent to which art can change “hearts and minds” is for me minimal, and I don’t believe that the task of art should be to alter the political or social landscape, nor do I think it actually contains that potential. Only a change in material conditions can do that. I will use this space to engage with art and try to illustrate our current condition with it, but the work to build a left-wing movement in this country belongs in union halls and workplaces, on the “streets” as it were, not in the selfish task of dissecting ideological nuances in a book I like. So stay tuned for what is not a political task but an intellectual one.

I hope to describe my experience with art in a comparatively artful manner, both as a necessary debt to the cultural product itself but also to fix a head back to the headless chicken of our cultural life.

The name of the newsletter comes from laptop stickers. The portmanteau of a liquor company “LoFi Apertifs” that makes some pretty solid Amaro, and Aurora Café in Budapest frequented by leftists and harassed by Orban’s government. I had my picture taken and had to sign in for their records when I visited. I also think the name represents my experience with culture: a fuzz of red and green often only visible in frigid dawn light.