Monday, December 20, 2004

Po Mo Mo Fo?

So, what exactly is postmodernism?

Modernism, for example, tends to present a fragmented view of human subjectivity
and history (think of The Wasteland, for instance, or of Woolf's To the Lighthouse), but presents that fragmentation as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss. Many modernist works try to uphold the idea that works of art can provide the unity, coherence, and meaning which has been lost in most of modern life; art will do what other human institutions fail to do. Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. The world is meaningless? Let's not pretend that art can make meaning then, let's just play with nonsense ... Postmodernism, in rejecting grand narratives, favors "mini-narratives," stories that explain small practices, local events, rather than large-scale universal or global concepts. Postmodern "mini-narratives" are always situational, provisional, contingent, and temporary, making no claim to universality, truth, reason, or stability ... The idea of any stable or permanent reality disappears, and with it the idea of signifieds that signifiers point to. Rather, for postmodern societies, there are only surfaces, without
depth; only signifiers, with no signifieds ... In postmodern societies, anything which is not able to be translated into a form recognizable and storable by a computer--i.e. anything that's not digitizable--will cease to be knowledge. In this paradigm, the opposite of "knowledge" is not "ignorance," as it is the modern/humanist paradigm, but rather "noise."... Such decisions about knowledge don't involve the old modern/humanist qualifications: for example, to assess knowledge as truth (its technical quality), or as goodness or justice (its ethical quality) or as beauty (its aesthetic quality) ... is this movement toward fragmentation, provisionality, performance, and instability something good or something bad? "-Dr Mary Klages (emphasis added)


3. postmodernism: A rejection of the sovereign autonomous individual with an emphasis upon anarchic collective, anonymous experience.


Among the modernist devices which postmodernism pushes to a new extreme are: the rejection of mimetic representation in favour of a self-referential "playing" with the forms, conventions and icons of "high art" and literature; the rejection of the cult of originality in recognition of the inevitable loss of origin in the age of mass production; the rejection of plot and character as meaningful artistic conventions; and the rejection of meaning itself as delusory.

Recently a Nobel Laureate physicist was asked to comment on an interpretation of specific findings. He approved, point by point. When asked to say more, he added: "In physics today you can say anything you want."

For example, recently a competent anthropologist's report on his field work engendered lively questions. Then he said: "From post-modernism we know that there are no facts, so I can really say anything I want." It stopped the discussion.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 0 matches on google for the two supposed quotes at the end from the physicist and anthropologist so unless you have a source of some kind, I'm going to assume you made them up.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Sarah Beth said...

Clearly you missed the fact that that is an excerpt from This Article.
So I did not make anything up, I merely quoted two sources.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Sarah Beth said...

The link doesn't seem to be working although you can click on the word "postmodernism" Right by the number 3 which links to the source of the entire excerpt. But just for clarity I'll also copy it out here:
http://www.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0242.html

6:21 PM  

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