Postmodernism - David Lavery by liuhongmei

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									ENGL 6310/7310
Popular Culture
   Studies
     Fall 2011
      PH 300
    M 240-540
 Dr. David Lavery
Postmodernism




                The PoMo
Art grows out of culture and is fed by culture. If art has to feed upon itself for
mythology, it will die; like a stomach with nothing in it, it will soon digest itself.
--William Irwin Thompson

A car with a dead battery can run off its generator only so long. Exhaustion is
finally exhausting.
--Todd Gitlin, "Postmodernism Defined”




                                                                                The PoMo
Postmodernism is one wing, at least, of the Zeitgeist.




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                             The PoMo
Realism
“Aspires to a unity of vision.”
“Cherishes continuity, speaking with a single narrative voice or addressing a
single visual center”
“honors sequence and causality in time or space”
“individuals matter”; “may contain a critique of the established order, in the
name of the obstructed ambitions of individuals, or it may uphold individuals
as the embodiment of society at its best




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                          The PoMo
Modernism
“Aspires to unity and assembles it from fragments and juxtapositions.”
“*D+isrupts continuity with enthusiasm, as if the work were punctuated with
exclamation marks.”
“Apocalyptic, fused with a longing for some long-gone organic whole
sometimes identified with a fascist present or future.”
“Instead of passion, or alongside it, there is ambivalence toward the prevailing
authorities.”
“*C+omposes beauty out of discord.
“Aiming to bring into sharp relief the line between art and life.”
“*A+ppropriates selected shards of popular culture, quotes from them.




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                           The PoMo
Postmodernism
“*T+he search for unity has apparently been abandoned altogether.”
“Instead we have textuality, a cultivation of surfaces endlessly referring to,
ricocheting from, reverberating onto other surfaces.”
“The work calls attention to its arbitrariness, constructedness; it interrupts
itself.”
“Instead of a single center, there is pastiche and cultural recombination.”
”Anything can be juxtaposed to anything else.”
“*D+emonstrates that originality is fraudulent by ripping it off and repeating
it, endlessly.”
“Every belief comes pre-wrapped in quotation marks.”
“Shock, now routine, is greeted with the glazed stare of the total ironist.”
“Beauty, deprived of its power of criticism in an age of packaging, has been
reduced to the decoration of reality and is crossed off the postmodern
agenda.”


Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                          The PoMo
POSTMODERNISM. A cultural style or sensibility, a response
to and evolution from modernism, which exhibits–indeed
embraces–disunity, superficiality, self-referentiality,
intertextuality, parody, pastiche, recombination, irony,
indifference, discontinuity, disrespect, alienation,
meaninglessness.




                                                   Semiotics
"Postmodern" emerged in the 1980s as an (as the)
academic buzzword. We heard of not only postmodern
literature and film and architecture but postmodern
philosophy, sociology, economics, law, medicine, etc., etc.
As with Romanticism nearly two hundred years before,
there was talk of "positive" and "negative"
postmodernism; it had its true-believing adherents and its
harsh detractors.




                                                        The PoMo
For some, it signified (in Dick Hebdige's words from Staking Out the
Posts) a "challenge [to] the validity of the kind of global, unilinear
version of artistic and economic-technological development"
promulgated under modernism's aegis, emphasizing instead "what
gets left out, marginalized, repressed or buried underneath that term."
Anti-totalization, anti-teleology, anti-utopia, in opposition to a
mentality accused of being Eurocentric and phallocentric, the "PoMo"
(as it came to be fashionably called) questioned "all forms and
processes of representation" that gave birth to and sustained such a
mentality. But it was not (is not) just about art, for it mounted an
attack as well on the "mythical 'I,'" the egoistic individuality
foundational to the whole edifice of modernity—"the self conscious,
self present Cartesian subject capable of intentional, transparent
communication and unmediated action on the world."




                                                                  The PoMo
In its subversion of all these givens, it sought to put an end to what
Frederic Jameson has called the "depth model." The binary
oppositions of modernism—reality/appearance,
conscious/unconscious, inside/outside, subject/ object—are
suspended. The model of "the intellectual as seer . . . as informed but
dispassionate observer/custodian of a 'field of inquiry' armed with
'penetrating insights' and 'authoritative overviews,' enemy of
sophistry, artifice and superficial detail" was, postmodernism argued, a
dangerous illusion and should be replaced with another championing a
"heterogeneity without norms" (Jameson), a (superficial?) horizontal
mindset/worldview in which "either everything means everything else
(post-structuralist polysemy) or alternatively—what amounts to the
same thing—everything means nothing whatsoever (Baudrillard's
implosion of meaning).” *Hebdige+




                                                                   The PoMo
In all its forms, the postmodern subverts authorship. No longer able to
believe in the Romantic ideal of organic imagination, the creation of
something out of nothing, suspicious of all myths of "origin," paralyzed
by the burden of the "already said" (Eco), PoMo acknowledges only
"an endless 'reworking of the antecedent' in such a way that the purity
of the text gives way to the promiscuity of the intertext and the
distinction between originals and copies, host and parasites, 'creative'
texts and 'critical' ones is eroded (i.e. with the development of meta-
fiction and paracriticism).”




                                                                   The PoMo
Postmodernism
"self-consciously splices genres, attitudes, styles.”
“relishes the blurring or juxtaposition of forms (fiction-non-fiction),
stances (straight-ironic), moods (violent-comic), cultural levels (high-
low).”
“disdains originality and fancies copies, repetition, the
recombination of hand me-down scraps.”
“neither embraces nor criticizes, but beholds the world blankly, with
a knowingness that dissolves feeling and commitment into irony.”
“pulls the rug out from under itself, displaying an acute self-
consciousness about the work's constructed nature.”
“takes pleasure in the play of surfaces, and derides the search for
depth as mere nostalgia.”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                   The PoMo
All these terms were in common usage in the period.
"metafiction" was a novel or story (or film, television show, etc.) which
called attention to its own constructedness.
"Paracriticism" described those interpretations of literature and art which
sought to replace the original—to become the primary, truly "creative" text.
A work was described as "intertextual" when it exhibited a symbiotic
relationship with other works, to which it frequently alluded or from which it
openly quoted in order to establish its own meaning.
And "self-referential" (or "self-reflexive") designated those postmodern
works that, in a metafictional way, took their own creation as their real
subject. (In a famous and much praised film from the period, for example, an
exhausted movie director, his creative energies spent, struggles unsuccessfully
to make a film, but the film he fails to make becomes, circuitously, the film
which tells the story of his failure.)




                                                                          The PoMo
The postmodern, its exponents and detractors agree, is characterized by a
"hyperconsciousness." Jaded, detached, surfeited, blasé, able to see through
everything—all signs, all codes, all stratagems, all systems; obligated by their
semiotic sophistication to deconstruct each and every message, all vestiges of
personality, the self becomes Thompson's self-digesting stomach, Gitlin's
battery running off itself (see the epigraphs above). In sociologist Kenneth
Gergen's phrase, the self is "saturated":

     persons exist in a state of continuous construction and reconstruction; it
     is a world where anything goes that can be negotiated. Each reality of self
     gives way to reflexive questioning, irony, and ultimately a playful probing
     of yet another reality. . . . The center fails to hold.




                                                                           The PoMo
Postmodernism as Pessimism
Lyotard has deemed postmodernism "a sort of sorrow in the Zeitgeist."
In postmodernism, critic Alan Wilde has observed, "a world in need of
mending is superseded by one beyond repair." What would the necessary
reparations have been?




                                                                         The PoMo
“At its most exuberant and seductive, *postmodernism+ is the stylish hodge-
podge of elements in Michael Graves’ Portland Building . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The
Stenography of Surfaces.” New
Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-
59.                                                                     The PoMo
“the architecture of the Centré Pompidou in Paris, a machine-like structure
that seems to be fighting the very distinctions between “high” art and “low”
street life . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                         The PoMo
“At its shallowest, it is David Byrne putting the banalities of melted-down
American life to music . . ."




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                              The PoMo
“Keith Haring commercializing graffiti . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                             The PoMo
“David Hockney exalting in surfaces . . .”




                                                             In The Sopranos (1.3), Tony’s
                                                             Russian goomah observes that a
                                                             painting reminds her of the work
                                                             of “David Hockey.”
Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                                  The PoMo
“Andy Warhol counterfeiting the common coin of commercial, celebrity culture
. . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                      The PoMo
“Kathy Acker or Bret Easton Ellis trivializing feeling . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                The PoMo
“Mr. T spoofing himself . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                             The PoMo
“it is the cynical post-structuralist philosophy of Michel Foucault . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                             The PoMo
“At its most interesting, postmodernism is the harsh, illuminating critique of
novelist Don DeLillo . . .”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                           The PoMo
“the soulfoul pastiche of the television writer Dennis Potter.”




Todd Gitlin, “Postmodernism: The Stenography of Surfaces.”
New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 1989: 56-59.
                                                                  The PoMo

								
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