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Hauntology is an idea within the philosophy of history introduced by Jacques Derrida in his 1993 work Spectres of Marx. The word, a combination of the word haunt and the suffix -ology, and a near-homophone to ontology in Derrida's native French, deals with "the paradoxical state of the spectre, which is neither being nor non-being", according to Lisa Gye in her project Halflives: A Mystory. [1]

The idea suggests that the present exists only with respect to the past, and that society after the end of history will begin to orient itself towards ideas and aesthetics that are thought of as rustic, bizarre or "old-timey"; that is, towards the "ghost" of the past. Derrida holds that because of this intellectual realignment, the end of history will be unsatisfactory and untenable.

The name and concept fundamentally come from Marx's assertion that a "spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of communism." Derrida holds that the spirit of Karl Marx is even more relevant after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the demise of communism, that the West's separation from the ignorance of the suffering still present in the world will "haunt" it and provide the impetus for a fresh interest in communism.

Mark Fisher explores 'hauntology' in his book of essays, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures, published by Zero Press in 2014. Fisher is the author of the book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative in 2009. As Fisher explains, "hauntology" refers to a sense of the present being "haunted" by 'lost futures,' stemming from a shift into a "Post-Fordist" economy in the late 1970s and the rise of neoliberalism. This notion of the popular culture being "haunted" by utopian or politically progressive future that never came to pass has altered the "texture of everyday experience," exemplified by endless recycled trends and nostalgia. As Fisher writes, "Despite all its rhetoric of novelty and innovation, neoliberal capitalism has gradually and systematically deprived artists of the resources necessary to produce the new." Fisher argues for the appropriateness of Derrida's "puncept"hauntology as an extension of the theorist's concepts of the "trace" and "difference" in his critical writings. Hauntology is thus the idea that "Everything exists ...only on the basis of a whole series of absences" and is, Fisher notes, the "agency of the virtual." Fisher points to the current revival and fascination with older, obsolete music listening technologies like vinyl records and tape, particularly the imperfections of "hiss" and "crackle" sounds, as an example of the way "technology materialised memory." More than just nostalgia itself, hauntology acquires a collective, political dimension as an expression of a "refusal to give up on the desire for the future" in the "closed horizons of capitalist realism."

The idea of hauntology has been criticised by a number of philosophers including Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty.[citation needed]

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  1. ^ "Half Lives". Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

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