A Conversation for Postmodernism
Driver8 Started conversation Jun 30, 1999
I hear you, man. Although it's a poor thing to speak ill of the dead, the late Kathy Acker was such an appropriator of other authors' prose. Her concept was that, having read a work of fiction, it became an experience unique to her, and she was free to incorporate it as such.
Another aspect of postmodernism is a kind of hip self-awareness which, rather than disallowing an author from the incorporation of standard narrative devices, lets the author strike a hip stance and make ironic comments which ultimately excuse her from a lack of original thought.
David Foster Wallace wrote an excellent essay on the subject of postmodern irony, which can be found in his book, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again."
Reverend Lovegroove Posted Jul 30, 1999
PostModernism is a strange movement, but perhaps it will become clearer when we have the benefit of hindsight. But remember that perhaps. My perception is that Postmodernism, as other literary trends reflects the "general" mood and belief systems of their contempoary society. Whilst Victorian Literature revolved around themes such as the stable unwavering nature of the human mind, and modernism looked at the flip side - best illustrated with Eliots phrase "All is but a heap of broken images", postmodernism has taken a stance which appears to examine both stances. It seems to be looking back in time, and cutting and pasting themes from the past into the present. We see this in fashion and music, with the advent of manufactured bands emulating past innovators, and covering tracks which we have collectivly labled classics ( Whatever that means).
I guess, If you were to try to pin it down,(in my opinion you understand) Post modernism is only post modernism in the respect that the Ideas of Modernism have been worked into a society that knows about them. It is a movement that is becoming concious of itself and the way in which we interact with the ideas of the past and the uncertainty of the present and future. I guess.
Bran the Explorer Posted Aug 3, 1999
Well said. I must say that my overwhelming reaction to post-modernism is one of ambivalence. To me it makes some sense - as an historian I appreciate that fact that we need to contextualize sources, and all that stuff - but on the other hand, post-modernism is so bloody nihilistic. You decontruct, but you don't recontruct. As an analytical tool it only takes you so far. I actually hope that it is on the way out, making room for post-post-modernism, or maybe meta-modernism. There needs to be a next step ... it leaves me feeling too anxious and unfinished as it is.
The Dancing Tree Posted Aug 4, 1999
To me, the bulk of post-modernist artists just seem to be smart-arses. Oh, how witty it is to take a photograph of someone's photograph and call it postmodern art. It even leaked doen to the music scene in the mid-90s with bands claiming to be postmodern by obviously ripping off earlier sources (ie: Elastica), and then bands ripped them off, therefore being even *more* PM (Menswear, etc). This didn't disguise the fact that most of the music (and earlier PM art) is utter crap.
The only ones musically from the PM jungle to have done any real good are the KLF, and that is because they refused to take the whole thing seriously. Hisrt is a good artist and PM artist for the same reason.
Ironically, some sectors of the "arts" world are now claiming a new movement: post post modernism or post everything. I like the second one best.
Pete Mandik Posted Aug 8, 1999
Some one once dismismissed SciFi by saying "98% of it is crap". Some one once retorted that 98% of everything is crap. (If some one knows who these qotes should be attributed to, thanks in advance.) I would guess that something like the same percenteges apply to PoMo. The 2% of it that is good makes me very glad that it exists. I would count among the good stuff Mark Leyner's _My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist_, The Simpsons, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Upright Citizens' Brigade, and the Zippy the Pinhead book "Are we having fun yet?".
The Dancing Tree Posted Aug 9, 1999
eek. I actually used this quote in an essay I did in '97. I will endevour to find out whose words they were and let you know tomorrow. Oh, the suspense ...
Researcher 55204 Posted Sep 1, 1999
I think the quote is “90% of everything is crap” (8% less than Pete Mandik’s quote – but I guess that’s inflation). The quote is from that great of mid twentieth century science-fiction-for-people-with-brains, Theodore Sturgeon (or Kilgore Trout, if you take Kurt Vonegurt’s fictional alter ego for Sturgeon).
The reality is 90% of everything is crap, but according to post-modernism, there is no such "meta-narrative” as good taste, so your 10% of quality may be my 90% of crap (and vice versa in probability). But then “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and “nothing is new under the sum”, so I guess post modernism could also be described as “everything that has gone before, but revamped, and knows it”.
Going back to science fiction and PM, it was probably William Gibson that is widely reckoned to be the first writer to use a post modernist perspective in that genre with “Neuromancer”. Most critics conveniently forgot a number of earlier writers who had delved into the same territory, perhaps most significantly John Brunner in “Stand on Zanzibar” and “Shockwave Rider”. Try them and see that science fiction (at its best, I’m with Sturgeon on this) is one of the original PM literary forms.
Mustapha Posted Sep 29, 1999
Books talk amongst themselves, breeding other books.
And TV shows (particularly sitcoms) use obtuse references to other TV shows and popular movies.
Being aware of one's surroundings, and aware of its influence is one thing, but it's a poor excuse for lousy writing.
Mr Goldson Posted Oct 14, 1999
'Postmodernism' Arrhh, there's a question. I would argue that we exist only within a state of emerging postmodernism. You can see many examples of it everywhere but nevertheless, some existing hierarchies/meta narratives still exist. I've heard a few people say what will happen after postmodernism - post-postmodernism? But postmodernists will argue that there can never be post - post modernsism - only postmodernism. Are we spiralling into decay or a world where everyones has power if only in the form of cultural capital.
Frizzychick Posted Oct 26, 1999
Yes, but cultural capital can't buy you love.
Sorry.. back to real reason for posting. Does post-feminism relate to post-modernism? And, if so, what exactly is post-feminism? I have heard the term thrown around by (mainly) young-ish women's magazines, and I have assumed it relates to post-modernism; but I can't seem to reconcile this (i.e. feminism with a post-modern slant) with the stuff these magazines are peddling. Any ideas?
Mr Goldson Posted Oct 27, 1999
Yep that's a good one. I'm open to offers on this one also, but I'll have a go at what I understand it to be. Post- feminism (I think) relates to recent strands of work by feminist theorists who look at the value of things previously thought to be associated with the subordination of women in society, e.g. Soap Operas. Studies have been done into Soap Opera as a 'feminine text', that is a medium largely featuring and consumed by women (Action films might be described as a masculine text.)
This is where I might get a bit wishy washy.
Where soaps were previously thought to be of low cultural value, reinforcing patriarchal ideals, post-feminists have argued that infact they are a site where women can make a resistance to patriarchy, because they are a site where a struggle for meaning takes place (a hegemonic battle). Although men have the dominant power, it is never fully realised because it is continuously being undermined. This is a long and complicated theory but if you look at soap opera in general men are usually bafoonish and women are the characters keeping it all together - that's a huge over simplification. For more info read - Television Culture by John Fiske (he's a post structuralist) or for post feminist reading I think Charlotte Brundson (who did a study of women and soap opera.)
Hope this helps, although alot of that stuff I've forgotten so it might be a bit off the mark.
Mustapha Posted Oct 27, 1999
Whatever post-feminism or post-post-modernism is, depends on whatever feminism or post-modernism was (or still is). This is of course assuming that one is taking up a contrary position to the other, which may or may not be the case. This might sound facetious but for there to be a post-feminism movement it kinda feels like all the questions and arguments within the feminism movement were answered and finished with (and I'm not sure that's the case).
It's more than possible that PF and PM are related, since they were probably conceived within the same universities. It's also possible that PM has influenced PF since (and I am guessing here) that PM came first, and PM's eclecticism allows for a greater flexibility in ideology.
What I would like to knoware these young-ish women's magazines encouraging their readers to be or aspire to? Then ask who owns/runs/edits
Mr Goldson Posted Oct 27, 1999
Post feminism could be described as a movement on from feminism but it doesn't mean that all the questions in feminism were answered or that feminism has been replaced by post feminism. Both can exist at the same time. It might be arguued that we can notice trends in theories though, where in the 60's for instance Structuralism may have been everyones favorite and nowadays it might post structuralism. That doesn't mean however that there are no structualists swearing by it today, there are. What must be remembered is that these are simply names of theories which are used as analytical tools to help us understand parts of society they can all be applied for the same questions and some offer better answers than others. As for Postmosernism, that is more complicated. Postmodernism is not a theory as such, it just IS. PoMo is where we are at and PoMo theorists will tell you that is how we will stay, there will never be a Post-post modernism because post modernism is all encompassing. I read a few messages back somebody say that they felt KLF were about the only respectable PoMo Musicians because they didn't take it too seriously. But that in itself is PoMo. Postmodernism doesn't take itself oo seriously. People do not use PoMo music or art or literature, it uses you. Sounds dramatic? Even if you consciously set out to critique PoMo by doing something PoMo like KLF did on purpose -That's still PoMo. Even if you set you to critique it by doing something modernist- thats PoMo. Even this website, and conversation are PoMo.
Anyway I'm begging to sound like a madman (Hannibal Lectur you might think?) Oops, an inter-textual reference, That's PoMo.
Answers on a postcard.
Mustapha Posted Oct 28, 1999
One of the criticisms I have heard levelled against PM is, as you described, its all-encompassing nature and that if you take it to its extreme, everything in history is PM, especially as everything is capable of being appropriated. And I should know something about appropriation - as a fine arts student, I did it all the time.
As a fine arts graduate I should also know more about feminism, post or otherwise, but that was some time ago and not all arguments have stuck in my head. I must get some earplugs to stop it leaking out...
Mr Goldson Posted Oct 29, 1999
Yeah you're right. If you try to contradict a postmodern perpective most postmodernists will laugh it off by saying 'well that's just postmodernism at play' it can be very frustrating.
I also agree that it's very difficult to remember everything you learn at uni, but I suppose the people who do go on to lecture.
Mustapha Posted Oct 30, 1999
I definitely remember being lectured by an visual arts theory tutor, who insisted on correcting me everytime I used 'he' to describe a hypothetical third person (when I should have been saying 'he or she').
But then, that has very little to do with PM per se. On the other hand, Her correcting me could be seen as an ongoing struggle to reclaim language from patriarchal domination and imposition, and could thus be useful if we could find out what the post-feminist take on this would be.
Frizzychick Posted Oct 30, 1999
Coming from a feminist point of view, I'd have to agree with the correction of he as a standard third person - I can get quite annoyed about this.
I've been thinking about this post-feminist thing since I posted the enquiry, and although I am not sure how much rubbish I am talking I think I have a take on post-feminism that makes sense to me..
So here goes...
OK - if we assume post-modernism to be a break with the meta-narratives of modernism, then feminism can be seen as one of the post-modern strands of challenging the existing authoritarian tenets of modernism. However, this idea of feminism (dating from its conception - and relating to ideas of challenging assumptions of patriarchal domination wherever found (i.e. in most places)) is now being challenged by post-modernist feminists who interpret the original ideals of feminism as now being sort of meta-narratives in their own right.
So - and this sort of squares with what the women's magazines are selling - post-feminism is a belief in the basic principals of feminism (i.e. equality between the sexes) but allows multiple interpretations of what forms this feminism taks.
(um,.. got a bit confused there) - an example :
pornography - traditional feminsim says that women in pornography are being exploited by men, and being objectified as purely sexual objects.
A post-feminist take may say that the women are exploiting men - as they have the right to choose to be involved in pornography and earn money, and exploit men in the sense of using their ability to make men pay them to take their clothes off, etc.
So post-feminism reflects postmodernism by breaking with the one strand of feminism and allowing multiple strands of feminism - and falls into the same traps as post-modernism in as much as it all becomes a bit flaky once you start accepting every interpretation as equally valid.. and you can argue opposing ideas as coming from the same root (or something)
Mustapha Posted Oct 30, 1999
The example you give smacks a little of the old essentialist argument, all about biology, fertility, sex and squidgy bits, just with Woman in the driver's seat - however, it still ties women in with the same old visual signifiers, and provides the patriarchy with exactly what it wants.
But it is, of course, just one example.
Mr Goldson Posted Nov 1, 1999
In response to 'Frizzy chicks' post-feminist thing, yes you're absolutely spot on about your interpretation of post-feminist ideas. I have to say however that using pornography as an example takes post feminism to it's extreme. I doubt that even the most hardcore post feminist would be an advocate of pornography, purely because by the sheer nature of the conventions it uses, objectify the female form. I personally feel that post feminism and post structuralism are worthwhile theories, far more so than the straight versions of femninism and structuralism. The problem with both of them though (it could be argued) is that they are simply examples of 'hegemony' at work. Which is what I think Mustapha is saying.
An example of this could be seen as The Spice Girls, (don't laugh). The spice girls are (were) 5 attractive females who advocate the slogan of 'girl power'. They use their sexuality to assert their advantage over men, wearing short skirts, tight tops and use lyrics like 'who do you think you are', 'I'll tell you what I want',and 'If you want to be my lover, you've got to get with my friends'. On the face of it this seems to be very empowering for women, but don't forget that they have had to get to the place they want to be by doing it on male terms. They wear their short skirts etc and have had to become objects of sex in the way men want to see them, the innocent one, Baby, the middle class (sic) one , Posh, the sexual one, Geri, the working class one,sporty, and the token ethnic one, scary, (thus widening their fan base further).
What I would say is, how does that relate to women who may not conform to these sterotypes of mens view of attractiveness. It may be that the spice girls and pornography can be seen as worthwhile in some form to some women, but what about the others? Will we get to a point (or are we already there) where there will become an underclass of women who are not conventionally attractive and thus not accepted by men, but for the ones who can weild their sexual power like a carrot on a stick, there is hope?
Post-feminism or simply hegemony?
Frizzychick Posted Nov 1, 1999
I think this is getting round to my problems with post-feminism (as it can be interpreted).
Women's magazines proclaim to be post-feminist - freedom and choice and sexual liberatione tc all round. But the images they convey of women are the typical images of convention beauty - stick thin women etc. (This is not exactly related to a specifically male-instigated ideal - but it probably is). And they encourage to women to want everything and have everything - that's fine. But they seem to concentrate on certain things that women should want and have - i.e. perfect bodies, great sex lives etc.
Most of their content (and I really am only taking abut the mainstream women's magazines here) is not exactly what I would call feminist. In fact, I find a lot of it insulting and damaging, and just a bit stupid. But the label of 'post-feminism' gives them the impression of being modern and liberated etc.
As for an underclass of unattractive women - what a scary image. I cannot say that this will happen, I'd like to think we are moving in an opposite direction to this. Despite the volume of images of attractive women that fill all modern media, women are being recognised for their own gifts and abilities and strength, skills etc in the real world on a day to day basis. They are just not getting onto the front of Smash Hits very often (more a product of good old fashioned feminism than post-feminism, perhaps?)
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: Driver8 (Jun 30, 1999)
- 2: Reverend Lovegroove (Jul 30, 1999)
- 3: Bran the Explorer (Aug 3, 1999)
- 4: The Dancing Tree (Aug 4, 1999)
- 5: Pete Mandik (Aug 8, 1999)
- 6: The Dancing Tree (Aug 9, 1999)
- 7: Researcher 55204 (Sep 1, 1999)
- 8: Mustapha (Sep 29, 1999)
- 9: Mr Goldson (Oct 14, 1999)
- 10: Frizzychick (Oct 26, 1999)
- 11: Mr Goldson (Oct 27, 1999)
- 12: Mustapha (Oct 27, 1999)
- 13: Mr Goldson (Oct 27, 1999)
- 14: Mustapha (Oct 28, 1999)
- 15: Mr Goldson (Oct 29, 1999)
- 16: Mustapha (Oct 30, 1999)
- 17: Frizzychick (Oct 30, 1999)
- 18: Mustapha (Oct 30, 1999)
- 19: Mr Goldson (Nov 1, 1999)
- 20: Frizzychick (Nov 1, 1999)
More Conversations for Postmodernism
Write an Entry
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."