From Classical to Contemporary Postmodernisms HUM 2052 Civilization II Summer

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HUM 2052: Civilization II
   Summer 2009
    Dr. Perdigao
    July 2-7, 2009
                Borges‟ Infinitude
• “The Book of Sand”—infinite book
• Drives narrator to insanity
• Possibility of coherence at center, human
  finitude, fallibility
• “The line consists of an infinite number of
• No beginning and no end
• Wyclif Bible, Thousand and One Nights
• “monstrous” book, reader
• “defiled and corrupted reality”
    René Magritte, Time Transfixed (1939)
René Magritte, Not to Be Reproduced (1937)
René Magritte, Black Magic (1933-34)
   René Magritte, The False Mirror (1928)
           Escher, Eye (1946)
                 The Bunny!
            All things Darko
                    On Donnie
• Eye—in poster, eye on engine, dream with sky (back
  to Magritte?)
• Graham Greene’s The Destructors
• Richard Adams’ Watership Down
• Grandma Death
• The Philosophy of Time Travel
• Hawking’s A Brief History of Time
• Wormhole, time travel
• “Where’s Donnie?”
• Atheist/agnostic
• Dying alone, pursuit of God and meaning
                 Ambivalent and Skeptical?
• Science and technology, two camps: belief in progress, that
  scientific insights and technological applications are advancing
  and that “some of their more spectacular developments have
  changed the material environment and a vast range of values,
  beliefs, and expectations, along with the very meaning of the
  words „science‟ and „technology‟ for average citizens”;
  ambivalence and skepticism about their “side effects” and also
  their “most basic assumptions about nature, progress, human
  observation, appropriate methods for creating knowledge, and
  role this knowledge should play in shaping public policies”

• Jean-François Lyotard (148)— “crisis in the legitimation of
  science as one of the pillars of western thought and society”

• Questions metanarrative about human progressing over
  history and the “Enlightenment belief that the acquisition of
  knowledge contributes to the emancipation of individuals and
  communities” (148)
                     Your Education? 
• Contemporary science as “no longer a coherent, truth-oriented
  pursuit of knowledge, but as an assemblage of a variety of
  independent „language games‟ in which facts no longer count,
  but only „performativity,‟ instrumental functioning” (148)

• the “Sokal hoax” (1996), paper “purporting to establish
  connections between quantum mechanics and various strands
  of postmodern philosophy to a journal named Social Text”;
  journal published Sokal‟s paper then he revealed that it was a
  hoax “intended to expose the ignorance about scientific
  matters” by those who questioned science

• SCIgen (MIT graduate students): program to generate
  research, randomness/nonsense, accepted to World
  Multiconference on Systemics in 2005
                The End of the World…?
•   Pleasantville (1998)
•   Fin de siècle mentality?
•   Twenty-first century: 1950s culture
•   Normative identities for women, men
•   Social constructedness
•   Performativity
•   Film begins with 20th century contexts, famine,
•   Escapism through the show (from familial problems)
•   Pirandellism?
•   Geography class—end of Main Street is its beginning
•   Overemphasis on order
                  Contextualizing Utopia
•   50s programming, twin beds, Brady Bunch scandal
•   Shifts with rock and roll, rebel culture
•   Books filled in when remembered:
•   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the
•   Book burning, censorship
•   Garden—Eden, Eldorado?
•   Eve offering apple, replayed, “go on, try it.”
•   “You don‟t deserve this paradise.”
•   Question of values, “holding onto those values that
    made this place great”
                   “Across the Universe”
•   Civil Rights in 1950s
•   “Whitey”
•   “colored girlfriend,” “no coloreds”
•   Now violence, threat of rape, looting, mob, book
•   Non-changes view of history in classes, favoring
    continuity over alteration, new rules
•   Mural on wall: woman, kiss, records, bowling, town
    hall into water, Catcher in the Rye, Huck Finn, Moby
    Dick burning
•   Now court system, first trial (Oresteia?)
•   After court case is resolved, color tv, images of world,
•   Multiple possibilities at end? New “garden of forking

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