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'Capitalist Realism' – Non Russell Brand Edition

Updated: May 1

Mark Fisher (Photo: Verso Books)


Back in January 2024, Watkins Media quietly re-released the audiobook version of Mark Fisher's seminal work Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? This edition is narrated by Tom Lawrence, who has voiced many of Fisher's other works, including Ghosts of My Life and the 2 volume K-Punk series: "Politics" and "Music".


Lawrence's narration is appropriately urgent, ironic, and for many Fisher fanatics, the voice we think of when reading the late philosopher.


What makes this edition of Capitalist Realism noteworthy, however, is the fact that it has, on Audible at least, quietly replaced an earlier version narrated by Russell Brand.

Discovering this, I quickly checked my own Audible library, relieved to find that Brand's version is still there (presumably with its feet up, smoking a spliff).


I'm not sure why I was so concerned that it had disappeared. If memory serves, I had to shut it off after 10 minutes, unable to ponder Fisher's grave pronouncements when filtered through Brand's music-hall delivery. Doubtless this is why the publishers felt the need to replace the earlier edition with Lawrence's in the first place.


It was, of course, the principle of the thing.

If you're a longtime audiobook listener, you probably have your own story of waking up one morning to discover a favorite title or two has simply disappeared – withdrawn by Audible (or iTunes, etc.), most likely due to some rights agreement collapsing during the night.

You never learn why a piece of content evaporates but are left fearing for the health and safety of the other titles in your embarrassingly vast collection. (I still haven't gotten over losing William Friedkin's memoir The Friedkin Connection in this way.)


It would be too easy to conclude that Fisher – who plumbed the depths of our shared culture for the dark capitalist forces that lurk beneath – would've read something profound in this practice.


Instead, what we'd love to know is whether he would've seen, in the choice of Brand as narrator, the capitalist system attempting to undercut his philosophical arguments by literally making them sound ridiculous in audio form.


 

Nightwaves is a journal dedicated to radio drama and other aural odysseys.


A passion project, Nightwaves is little more than a few posts at the moment. If you like what you see, please consider dropping me a line for our letters page: "From the Static." (How's that for retro?) -asb

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