“This is a Happy House”: The Weeknd, the Eerie and the Death Drive Cover Image

“This is a Happy House”: The Weeknd, the Eerie and the Death Drive
“This is a Happy House”: The Weeknd, the Eerie and the Death Drive

Author(s): Andrea Jović
Subject(s): Music, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Sociology of Culture, British Literature
Published by: Central European University
Keywords: hauntology; the eerie; death drive; capitalist realism; The Weeknd;

Summary/Abstract: In his book Ghosts of My Life, Mark Fisher borrows Jacques Derrida’s term hauntology and repurposes it to describe a sense of a lost futurity haunting contemporary music. He singles out party hauntology as a specific subset of hauntology in pop music in which uneasiness looms behind a facade of excess and pleasure. This paper revamps Fisher’s term by focusing on the music of the Canadian artist The Weeknd. Exhibiting what Fisher terms depressive hedonia and interpassivity, The Weeknd is an example of the retreat into privatized suffering which cannot recognize its social character. However, the paper goes further by arguing that The Weeknd’s music possesses an eerie quality due to a clash between upbeat, dance rhythms and dark lyrics which depict The Weeknd’s constant plunging into recreational sex and drugs although they do not satisfy him. As Fisher explains, the eerie is necessarily bound up with issues of agency and the paper will argue that the invisible agent behind The Weeknd’s compulsive repetition is the death drive understood as Žižekian undead wandering around in guilt. Ultimately, as the mechanisms of capitalism in itself operate by the rules of the death drive, it will be shown that,due to his inability to understand his place in the system and submission to the necrocratic symbolic order, The Weeknd’s music is the perfect soundtrack to the capitalist realist regime.

  • Issue Year: 7/2020
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 1-18
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: English