SHADES: No one’s gonna repopulate the Big Apple now, not with
the rat population what it is. Ya know, stuff’s just going begging!
It’s salvage city, Max. You’d love it …
MOSES: Don’t call me Max.
– from Richard Stanley’s Hardware
They are residues of a dream world. The realization of dream
elements, in the course of waking up, is the paradigm of dialectical
thinking. Thus, dialectical thinking is the organ of historical
awakening. Every epoch, in fact, not only dreams the one to follow
but, in dreaming, precipitates its awakening. It bears its end within
itself and unfolds it – as Hegel noticed – by cunning.
– Walter Benjamin, “Exposé of 1935,” Das Passagen-Werk
World War I lays out a scattered corpse-scape, a shattered night of the world and its waste. Europe freezes, looking at its own death mask, cast from scrap wool and oil, black mud and dropped casings, all beneath the weight of a rotting international order and surging industry. Further east, the Bolsheviks say No and carve a trench into the plane of history. And in Berlin, Kurt Schwitters draws forth Merz from Commerz, pulling the innate venom of fragmented things from the bad sheen of commercial life.
The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kurt Schwitters
The ‘60s go kaputt. Then the long ‘70s roar into view, in all their gritty urgency and Satanic deformations of hippie non-thought, with real militancy losing a pitched battle to the triumphs of counter-revolution. In Italy, the Red Brigades shoot Moro and leave him in the trunk of a Renault. In New Hampshire, the end of the Bretton Woods system undoes the filaments of currency as certainty and shape. In England, 1969, The Bed Sitting Room and Monty Python think the end of it all as little more than the relentless repurposing of the same old shit. Ten years later, Mad Max heads toward the Outback.
Neoliberalism’s febrile tremors, and finance overcompensates, hysterically. There are small cracks and shimmers in this surface, like an old reptilian brain catching the whiff of older possibilities, false starts never quite taken. Cyberpunk already came and went: how could it not, given that it coldly sang along with what it felt like on the ground? Steampunk, the wet dream of Obamatime, acts twee and old fashioned while it sails smugly over the oceans of dead labor that got us here and sweeps the messy reality of progress out of sight. Salvagepunk isn’t here yet, except as the unsteady movement of hands and brains trying to learn new tricks that have been there all along. Of the trash heap, only its romance of frozen decay should be discarded. There is no new construction, just the occupation of other architectures.
Extract from Combined and Uneven Apocalypse, Evan Calder Williams
ISBN: 978-1-84694-468-0, $24.95 / £14.99, paperback, 261pp
EISBN: 978-1-84694-773-5, $9.99 / £6.99, eBook
From salvagepunk’s rubble to undead hordes, from waste zones to plagued cities, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse grapples with the apocalyptic fantasies of our collapsing era. Set in the defaulting financial present, this book writes a messy history of the zombies, car wrecks, trash heaps, pandemics, cannibals, wolves, black-outs, and general nastiness populating our imagination’s underside. Every age may dream the catastrophe to follow, but these are just the skewed figures of the normal hell of capitalism.
Against fantasies of progress, return, or reconciliation, Williams launches a loathing critique of the present and offers a graveside smile for our necessary battles to come.
Yes, another book about zombies and the end of the world. But this is not just another book about zombies and the end of the world.Like one of the junk-suturing recusants whose philosophy he has been central to constructing, Evan Calder Williams builds something rageful and compelling and quite new out of all this fucking wreckage. China Miéville
Evan Calder Williams is a theorist and writer in California. He writes the blog Socialism and/or barbarism. http://socialismandorbarbarism.blogspot.fr/