Teenage v. Depressive Ontology

Taken from Ghosts of My Life by Mark Fisher, esp. “No Longer the Pleasures: Joy Division,” and “K-Punk, or the Glampunk Art Pop Discontinuum.”

On Teenage Ontology:

Romanticism is the dressing-up of Teenage Ontology as an aesthetic cosmology. Teenage Ontology is governed by the conviction that what really matters is interiority: how you feel inside, and what your experiences and opinions are. In this sense, sloppy drunkard Ladette Tracy Emin is one of the most Romantic artists ever. Like Lads—the real inheritors of the hippie legacy—Emin’s bleary, blurry, beery, leery, lairy anti-sensualist sensibility is an advert for the vacuity of her own preferences.

And Depressive Ontology:

Depression is, after all and above all, a theory about the world, about life.

Depression[‘s]… difference from mere sadness consists in its claims to have uncovered The (final unvarnished) Truths about life and desire… there’s no point, everything is a sham.

A student of mine wrote in an essay recently that they sympathise with Schopenhauer when their football team loses. But the true Schopenhauerian moments are those in which you achieve your goals, perhaps realise your long-cherished heart’s desire—and feel cheated, empty, no, more—or is it less?—than empty, voided. Joy Division always sounded as if they had experienced one too many of those desolating voidings, so that they could no longer be lured back onto the merry-go-round. They knew that satiation wasn’t succeeded by tristesse, it was itself, immediately, tristesse. Satiation is the point at which you must face the existential revelation that you didn’t want really want what you seemed so desperate to have, that your most urgent desires are only a filthy vitalist trick to keep the show on the road. If you ‘can’t replace the fear or the thrill of the chase’, why stir yourself to pursue yet another empty kill? Why carry on with the charade?

[D]epressive ontology is dangerously seductive because, as the zombie twin of Spinozist dispassionate disengagement, it is half true. As the depressive withdraws from the vacant confections of the Lifeworld, he unwittingly finds himself in concordance with the human condition so painstakingly diagrammed by Spinoza: he sees himself as a serial consumer of empty simulations, a junky hooked on every kind of deadening high, a meat puppet of the passions. The depressive cannot even lay claim to the comforts that a paranoiac can enjoy, since he cannot believe that the strings are being pulled by any One. No flow, no connectivity in the depressive’s nervous system. It is a ‘dry brain’ (Eliot) condition.