On the 16th of April 2005, the late Mark Fisher released a post titled ‘Why K?’ on his blog K-Punk. The post is an interview Fisher did with Geeta Dayal for Village Voice. In it, Fisher says: “[…] there has always been an intense connection between theory and pop/film for me”.
This struck a chord with me. Four days after Fisher posted this article, I turned ten. I was not great at school. I was well on my way to repeat a few years. I held out until sixth grade, and then again until tenth grade and eleventh grade. University was never part of my future, but I gave it a shot and decided to study English because I had some kind of knack for it. My other grades were mediocre at best. I passed and graduated, nonetheless. I also got accepted to university, much to my surprise.
What I did not anticipate, was my lack of literature knowledge. I did not read and although I enjoyed the short stories and articles we worked with in class (I was in a Technique Science Sociale), compared to the other students (who were often Classique A students) my knowledge about literature was simply non-existent. And I panicked.
Those who know me, know that things went in my favor. I write now – fiction and non-fiction. I am published even. I have graduated with my bachelor’s degree, went through a master’s degree in a whole other language (Luxembourgish literature), and in September I will start a Ph.D. while working for the University of Luxembourg. I do not like to pat myself on the back, but I’d say things changed and went well. It wasn’t simple, especially coming from a working-class background, where no one in my close vicinity had any experience in this regard. My amazing girlfriend, who has a similar background, shared the same experience. I have to say, sharing that experience and learning together brought us close like nothing else. And it’s a testament to our relationship. More so, if you consider we were high school sweethearts.
Anyway, the point I wanted to make was, much like Fisher, I learned theory through pop-culture. Rather than applying literary devices onto literature, I did it through stories. Now, what do I mean by stories?
The name of this blog is Kauzekapp – the Luxembourgish word for tadpole. Not only does that word demonstrate my unconditional love for amphibians, but it is a compound word that describes me, to a certain degree. Kauz roughly translates to oddball or weirdo. Kapp is the Luxembourgish word for head. I was, in the study of theory, an oddball – at least, I thought that. The more I started to read (which I eventually did), the more I realized I am not the only one looking at theory through pop-culture glasses. So does Slavoj Žižek and Mark Fisher and suddenly I found myself amidst Roland Barthes, Karl Marx, and some Derrida here and there, only to name a few. And what I realized, as I started to read more fiction, going through it in literature theory classes, I was exposed to the stories within the books before.
I played video games to such an extent, that I repeatedly got into arguments with my father. The same father, who kept on showing me science fiction movies, such as The Fifth Element (1997), or showed me old Italian comics that gradually catapulted me into manga and anime. At some point, I started making my own games and my own comics. I wrote stories without knowing I was writing. I was exposed to stories my entire life, without reading. And once I realized that, it was only natural to apply these new theories onto movies and series and comics and video games.
So I did. I compared BBC Sherlock (2010) to the original stories. I wrote about Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Heart of Darkness (1899), about The Truman Show (1998) and Baudrillard, and I wrote about Star Trek: Voyager (1995) and Brecht. Surprisingly, the bachelor’s degree, as well as the master’s degree at the University of Luxembourg encourage students to pursue their passions (in the humanities at least). Some of the mentioned juxtapositions were part of the curriculum. So, while Fisher states: “[t]he way in which I understood theory – primarily through popular culture – is generally detested in universities”, my academic career thus far argues against this. In seventeen years, universities have changed. For the better or worse? I don’t know. For Mark Fisher, it would have been for the better. I think.
So this blog, in a way, is to follow or continue Fisher’s legacy. To expose the world to my oddball ramblings and opinions. To spawn a new wave of Luxembourgish blogs. And yeah, maybe I do yearn for a past I did not experience. A haunting past I can only pick up through archives and fragments. And of course, I cannot compare myself to the genius of late Mark Fisher and I don’t want to.
Because that, yes that would be a Sisyphean task.
But so is writing.