Monday, 29 April 2013

Modern Vs Postmodern

                                         Modernist Art. 
                   Vincent Van Gogh - 'Peasant Shoes'

                                          Postmodern art. 

                   Andy Warhol - 'Diamond Dust shoes'

When reading a chapter about feminism within art movements the essay talks about these two paintings being the most prominent examples between modernism and post-modernism. It's easy to tell which one is which, as from everything i've learned so far about postmodernity about opposing binaries is made so clear within all of Warhols work.

Fredric Jameson in this article doesn't actually define postmodern art but characterises it as 'sensationalism, titilation, frilliness, pastiche, dumbness and narcissism'. 'It's sole ambition is to please. It has no moral ambition...'
'Postmodern theory And Feminist Art Practice' - Janet Wolff. 

I can see what he means, well if Modernist paintings are all about expressionism, truth, the traditional then postmodern art seems to be it's exact opposite.

I can also see how postmodernity is more about repetition instead of 'one-of-a-kind' pieces. And i also really like how there is a lot of irony now regarding Warhols pieces as they designed back in the 80's have now been re-used and repeated on consumerist products and sold cheaply. I have come to the conclusion that Irony is one of the main traits of postmodernity and the idea of the post-modern recycling what has been is an aspect i find extremely interesting especially within the likes of Art and fashion.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Still trying to get my head round this..

Postmodern Feminism

Postmodern Feminists have built on the ideas of Foucault, de Beauvoir, as well as Derrida and Lacan (who I'm not going to talk about). While there is much variation in Postmodern feminism, there is some common ground. Postmodern Feminists accept the male/female binary as a main categorizing force in our society. Following Simone de Beauvoir, they see female as having being cast into the role of the Other. They criticize the structure of society and the dominant order, especially in its patriarchal aspects. Many Postmodern feminists, however, reject the feminist label, because anything that ends with an "ism" reflects an essentialist conception. Postmodern Feminism is the ultimate acceptor of diversity. Multiple truths, multiple roles, multiple realities are part of its focus. There is a rejectance of an essential nature of women, of one-way to be a woman." Poststructural feminism offers a useful philosophy for diversity in feminism because of its acceptance of multiple truths and rejection of essentialism." (p. 19, Olson).

This is in contrast to some other feminist theoretical viewpoints. Feminist empiricism, or liberal feminism, sees equal opportunity as the primary focus. They are concerned with "leveling the playing field." It does not question the nature of the knowledge or the structure of human interactions, but rather the events that go on within that structure. Accepting the idea that there is a single knowable truth has led liberal feminists to use the accepted methodologies in research, believing that they just need to be used in different ways.

Radical feminism has focused on how deeply entrenched the male/female division is in society. Women have been oppressed and discriminated against in all areas and their oppression is primary. Their focus has been to detail how the male dominated society has forced women into oppressive gender roles, and has used women's sexuality for male profit. Radical feminist proposals for change include creating woman-only communities to embracing androgyny. Criticism of radical feminism include that it suggests that men and women are two separate species with no commonality and that it romanticizes women and interactions between women.

So after struggling yesterday to sum up the bloody book i've just finished reading i managed to find these couple of paragraphs that sum up Postmodern feminism extremely well. This backs up what i was saying about self-reflection and how women are questioning the 'feminism' movement. From this and the book i know that there are 2 main theories about women, one positive and one negative. The negative known as 'the other' suggests women as inferior beings. Theorists like Lacan back this up.

I have now come to terms that with modernism and postmodernism, feminism and post feminism act on opposing binaries, just like masculinity and femininity. These movements need to be based on opposition to work and even though 'post' means after, it's extremely clear that they need to co-exist together like i have stated previously.

I really like how this section has highlighted different 'types' of feminists and how they see the discourse between masculinity and femininity. 'Feminisms' is probably the better term to use as it shows there are lots of different opinions and 'waves' within feminism, and there isn't just one basic/central definition. This in itself is extremely postmodern and i think that this is one of the reasons it has been so hard to define, as like post modernism you can't just pinpoint it to one specific thing.

Another Comparisons Table

Another table of comparisons between modernism and postmodernism by Martin Irvine, 2003 
Hope it helps explain stuff.

The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

I've been coming across the theories of Frederic Jameson a lot lately so I thought it best that I read some of his work. Jameson talks about postmodernism as a movement in the arts and culture that  corresponds to the developing politics and economics based around transnational consumer economies and the global scope of capitalism, "late capitalism".

Daniel Clowes depiction of Jameson

 Below is an extract from Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Jameson,1991):

The last few years have been marked by an inverted millenarianism in which premonitions of the future, catastrophic or redemptive, have been replaced by senses of the end of this or that (the end of ideology, art, or social class; the “crisis” of Leninism, social democracy, or the welfare state, etc., etc.); taken together, all of these perhaps constitute what is increasingly called postmodernism. The case for its existence depends on the hypothesis of some radical break or coupure, generally traced back to the end of the 1950s or the early 1960s.
As the word itself suggests, this break is most often related to notions of the waning or extinction of the hundred-year-old modern movement (or to its ideological or aesthetic repudiation). Thus abstract expressionism in painting, existentialism in philosophy, the final forms of representation in the novel, the films of the great auteurs, or the modernist school of poetry (as institutionalised and canonised in the works of Wallace Stevens) all are now seen as the final, extraordinary flowering of a high-modernist impulse which is spent and exhausted with them. The enumeration of what follows, then, at once becomes empirical, chaotic, and heterogeneous: Andy Warhol and pop art, but also photorealism, and beyond it, the “new expressionism”; the moment, in music, of John Cage, but also the synthesis of classical and “popular” styles found in composers like Phil Glass and Terry Riley, and also punk and new wave rock (the Beatles and the Stones now standing as the high-modernist moment of that more recent and rapidly evolving tradition); in film, Godard, post-Godard, and experimental cinema and video, but also a whole new type of commercial film (about which more below); Burroughs, Pynchon, or Ishmael Reed, on the one hand, and the French nouveau roman and its succession, on the other, along with alarming new kinds of literary criticism based on some new aesthetic of textuality or écriture ... The list might be extended indefinitely; but does it imply any more fundamental change or break than the periodic style and fashion changes determined by an older high-modernist imperative of stylistic innovation?

A strong belief of Jameson is that in postmodernism there is no originality, only mimicry and pastiche. He believes that there is no longer any individualism; that all signifiers circulate and recirculate prior to existing images and styles: "in a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum" (Jameson).
Jameson discusses nostalgia in his work, stating that in the postmodern, history is represented in pop-culture through the use of nostalgic fantasy images of that past. We view that past through idealism.
He states that history has become a "style" in the postmodern, that historical representations have blended with nostalgia:
"the disappearance of a sense of history, the way in which our entire contemporary social system has little by little begun to lose its capacity to retain its own past, has begun to live in a perpetual present and in a perpetual change that obliterates traditions of the kind which all earlier social formations have had in one way or another to preserve... The information function of the media would thus be to help us to forget, to serve as the very agents and mechanisms of our historical amnesia" (Jameson).

Saturday, 27 April 2013

More light reading...

So since i have been looking at feminism and post feminism within post modernity.. i thought, what better way to learn than to read a book with loads of pictures.
Oh how wrong i was.
This book, called 'An Introduction to Post feminism' is one of the most difficult books to understand.
It's taken me ages to get through it all, and after everything i still have difficulty understanding what everything means.

These are some pages from the book. 

Firstly Feminism stems from Modernity and if i had to define Post Feminism from this book in just a few sentences i would say that it goes against some traditions of Feminism. Post modernity has enabled waves of feminism to evolve and made feminists self-reflect and question their reasoning for challenging patriarchy. In this book it explains about theories like the Oedipus complex and 'Cyborg' theory, which theorists and psycho-analysists like Lacan & Freud have used to understand feminism and the physical and social differences between male and female.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Nostalgia in Fallout 3

I posted a bit on nostalgia earlier and I'm very much into video games and many games such as Fallout 3 fit into this postmodern nostalgic subversion of the past, by using period aesthetics to present an idealised view of the past but also using the ideologies from the era and presenting them in a new way.

Fallout 3 is a science fiction set in post apocalyptic world caused by an extension of the cold war during the 1950s. The player experiences the future wasteland, centuries after 1950s nuclear war, filled with early Cold War iconography, including songs by bands like The Ink Spots and propaganda posters in the style of post-WWII government messages. Much of the game's visual design is referencing 1950s and 1960s sci-fi novels and early sci-fi films.
The game doesn't just visually represent the period through it's design,  "Fallout 3 is also trying to subvert any kind of nostalgia of the 50s by presenting a landscape that existed in the minds of all those who could do no more than sincerely get under their school desks during bombing drills." - 


I've moved onto nostalgia as it is a huge part of our postmodern culture and is evident in TV shows like Family Guy, The Simpsons, The Venture Brothers and Adventure Time, ect.
 These animated shows constantly reference the past, often the 1980s and 1990s because those were the decades that the creators were growing up in. Its a time that they look back on as being worth remembering so they reference it in their shows, and give little nods and in-jokes to those that understand the reference.
 However it's a glamorised view or a "hyper real" view; it uses the myth of the period to attempt to simulate the original, it is a copy of a copy,  Baudrillard calls it simulacra. ( I do hope I'm explained this properly and I'm using the terms properly, If not then I'll have another go later).

Here's a short essay I found on Nostalgia Films, which explains things a bit better:

Frederic Jameson’s concept of the “nostalgia film” has to be interpreted in relation to his view on postmodern culture. Jameson argues that the “postmodern nostalgia film” represents the commodification of history. Postmodernism, he asserts, is “the cultural dominant” of late or multinational capitalism and outlines two features of postmodernism. First of all, postmodernism is a culture of pastiche; a culture that is marked by the “complacent play of historical allusion.” [1] Pastiche is often confused with parody in that both involve imitation and mimicry. However, whereas parody has an “ulterior motive,” to mock a divergence from the convention or a norm, pastiche is a “blank parody” or “empty cow,” which has no sense of the very possibility of there being a norm or a convention from which to diverge.
Jameson condemns the world of pastiche as “a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum.” [3] Rather than a culture of creativity, postmodern culture is a culture of quotations, that is, cultural production born out of previous cultural production. It is therefore a culture “of flatness of depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense.” [4] According to Jameson, postmodern culture is a culture of images and surfaces. It derives its hermeneutic force from other images and surfaces, that is, from the interplay of intertextuality.
Jameson’s principal example of the pastiche of postmodern culture is what he calls “the nostalgia film,” which sets out to recapture the atmosphere and stylistic peculiarities of America in the 1950s. The category includes a number of films from the 1980s and 1990s, such as Back to the FuturePeggy Sue Got MarriedRumble FishAngel Heart, and Blue Velvet. Jameson claims that, “for Americans at least, the 1950s remain the privileged lost object of desire – not merely the stability and prosperity of a pax Americana, but also the first naïve innocence of the countercultural impulses of early rock and roll and youth gangs.” [5] A nostalgia film “does not reinvent a picture of the past in its lived totality”. Rather, it reinvents “the feel and shape of characteristic art objects of an older period.” [6]
In Jameson’s view, the nostalgia film evokes a sense of the narrative certainties of the past. Therefore, it works in two ways; that is, it both recaptures and represents certain styles of viewing of the past. Crucial for Jameson, however, is that nostalgia films do not attempt to recapture or represent the “real” past but are structured around certain cultural myths and stereotypes about the past. As such, they offer what Jameson calls “false realism:” films about other films, representations of other representations, films “in which the history of aesthetic styles displaces “real” history.” [7] In doing so, the nostalgia film effaces history through its “random cannibalization of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion.” [8]
Its failure to be historical relates to a second stylistic feature of the nostalgia film as identified by Jameson: “cultural schizophrenia.” Jameson uses the term in the sense developed by Lacan to signify a language disorder, a failure of the temporal relationship between signifiers. The nostalgia film is characterized by a cultural schizophrenia that experiences time not as a continuum (past-present-future) but as a perpetual present which is only occasionally marked by the intrusion of the past or the possibility of a future. The reward for the loss of conventional selfhood – the sense of self as always located within a temporal continuum – is an intensified sense of the present. Hence, a culturally schizophrenic film such as the nostalgia film has lost its sense of history and its sense of a future different from the present. As such, nostalgia films suffer from what Jameson calls “historical amnesia,” locked into the discontinuous flow of perpetual presents. [9]
Even though Jameson’s neo-Marxist discourse relates nostalgia to the postmodern era of late capitalism, he fails to address why this nostalgia emerges in the first place. In her chapter on “The Sexual Politics of Nostalgia,” Susannah Radstone argues that the critical discourse on nostalgia is limited in that it too often situates nostalgia in a social, political, and cultural context. Instead of discarding nostalgia as a form of commercialized history, Radstone argues that one should also take into account nostalgia’s place in the constitution of social identities and groups, as well as the “politics of nostalgia,” that is, “the question (…) of the meanings and significance of the view(s) of the past offered by nostalgia culture” [10]as well as the social and political desires expressed by nostalgia. -  _(Frederic Jameson: “The Postmodern Nostalgia Film”)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Funny Games

I've mostly been looking at examples of how the postmodern prevails in our popular culture and entertainment and it occurred to me that the film "Funny Games" by Micheal Haneke is a postmodern film, and I'll explain why. Oh and there's probably going to be spoilers.

I'm going to talk about the 2007 remake with Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt, because Haneke himself remade his original 1997 Funny Games (German) shot for shot for American audiences. 
The film, in a nutshell  about a typical family that go to visit their holiday home by the lake and are tortured and then killed by two strange youngsters.

Firstly I believe that the fact that he remade his own film is postmodern as he is taking his a film he made 10 years previously and repackaging it for a new audience, to create a new experience, claiming he did it to reach a wider audience.

The film is a criticism of the horror genre, it aims to make us realise that we enjoy watching gore, horror, torture and other human beings being subjected to general nastiness, by subverting what we expect to see with a hollywood horror film. The film hightlights the fact that as human beings we have a blood-lust and see the horror genre as a form of entertainment.The  killers enforce this throughout the film, saying "Whether by knife or by gun, loosing your life can sometimes be fun."

One of the killers, Paul, (Michael Pitt) seems to be self aware. He is fully aware that he is a character in a film that is for entertainment and is the reason for his actions. He is torturing his victims because he is in a film and his acts of torture or purely to entertain the viewer. This is evident in a scene when Anna (Naomi Watts) says "Why don't you just kills us." and one of the killers slowly replies, "You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment." Paul then breaks the fourth wall. addresses the audience and says "What do you think? You think they stand a chance? Well, you're on their side aren't you." 

Here's a clip of him breaking the forth wall by looking at the audience with a knowing smile.
Not the clip I wanted to use but I couldn't find any other.

Haneke knows what we expect to see in a horror film and so he manipulates the audience, he leads the viewer to expect something to happen but then subverts it and shocks the audience.
This is evident in the strip scene of the movie because in many hollywood horror films there is a scene where an attractive female character will get naked for some reason or another, and it is usually intended to be sexy. But in Funny Games, its just plain horrible to watch, as it is intended to be. The films leads the audience to expect the strip to be done in a sexy manner, but it is just disturbing and forces you to question your tastes and ideas of horror.
Why do we like watching harm being done to others? ect

Here's the horrible scene for your enjoyment.

Funny Games is a deconstruction, and the above scene especially, of torture porn. The films strips away the rules that we expect from the horror genre and shows us a "truth" of what we are seeing, a "truth" that is different from what we are accumstomed to. With Funny Games Haneke has created a film more horrible to watch than any of the gorey pornographic films that he criticises.

I didn't intend this to read like a sort of film review.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Post Modern Buildings

The Sick the Bad and the Ugly

Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building Syndrome was a problem that occurred in postmodern architecture, starting in the early 1970s when the architecture style changed dramatically. People who worked or inhabited these ‘sick buildings’, usually came down with symptoms. These included: non-specific hyposensitivity reactions, irritated eyes, nose, throat and neurotoxic health problems.

Sick building syndrome was only diagnosed to a building under the circumstance of abnormal numbers of occupants becoming sick in a short period of time (usually just days and weeks).

After examination of accused sick buildings the most common cause of sick building syndrome found is bad ventilation and air quality. Because of this bad ventilation there was no extraction of pollutions from office by-products, mould and industrial chemicals.

This was a major problem for architectures in post-modern times and now buildings built in the 1960s-70s come with the risk of being badly ventilated and designed.

In early 1980s onwards, there was a mass clear up done in these buildings and mould, algae and Gloeocapsa Magma was all extracted. Ventilation systems were revised and refitted and air quality was checked.


Above: A building from 1960-70 that has been refurbished and used by the H & M franchise.

The Bradford and Bingley Bank was a famous 'architectural disaster' and was even shunned by Prince Charles who said it was a “a monstrous carbuncle”. It has now been closed down and is still standing in the town of Bingley.

The postmodernism architectural style went through an ugly, impractical period before things got better.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

What is Post Feminism?

What does Post feminism mean? 

1) “death of feminism”, “anti-feminism”, “feminism is irrelevant now”
2) the next stage in feminism, or feminism that intersects with other “post-” philosophies/theories, such as postmodernism, poststructuralism and postcolonialism.

Like Post-Modernism, Post-Feminism just means After Feminism. 

"But the “after feminism” idea doesn’t have to be seen as a negative. What I like about the idea of postfeminism is that it can help to situate contemporary feminism as a continuation of the long history of the women’s movement.
I use postfeminism in a positive sense. For me it helps make sense of the times we live in. Women and men of my age have grown up after the heights of the “first wave” and “second wave” of the women’s movement and have therefore benefitted from many of the things that feminists fought for in previous generations. (Examples include: women being able to vote and go to university, establishment of things such as rape crisis centres and in Australia, legislation such as the Sexual Discrimination Act...).

So, this is where postfeminism comes in. I don’t use postfeminism to describe the “next stage” or “next wave” of feminism. I use it as a way of trying to understand how feminism is constantly shifting and evolving, without resorting to age-based bickering.

I really like this article i found of the postfeminist wordpress blog. It really does help me to understand what post-feminism within postmodernity actually is. Like Postmodernity, feminism is always changing and evolving, hence the 'Waves'. It shows that everything is open to interpretation and is based on freedom of speech/thought rather than have just one straight forward definition of what Post-feminism is.
It's been very hard to pin-point an exact definition within texts as it's hard to tell when feminism ended and post-feminism started. Like Post-modernity i have come to understand that it is not as simple as one after another but to work they both co-exist alongside each other and work together in ways, creating new and evolutionary changes within femininity during the post modern era.

Postmodern feminism - Women burning bras?

This video doesn't really explain postmodern feminism very well but i found it interesting how it focuses on the way most peoples view of feminism is that of a middle class woman burning bras. This video crudely says that 'women want mens peckers chopped off, then we'll be equal'. Blunt as this may seem, this video shows a biased review of feminism and that the media don't focus on any other womens rights (like the women in lesser privileged countries).

Postmodern feminism thanks to this video has been shown as a group of middle aged white women who always have something to 'bitch and moan' about. Personally i don't think this is correct but i can understand how some people might think that. Overall this i think goes back to the underlying ideologies of postmodernity being able to express your views and break away from the traditional.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

How I see Post-modernism and Modernism

not fully knowing or understanding the concept of postmodernism and modernism I decided to draw a little picture of what I thought it was, if its completely wrong you can all say stuff like "Hey Lee, you goober, that's totally not what its all about! why would you even think that" and then I'll be like "oh damn"

Anyway.. my view on Postmodernism is that its initially the rejection of something whether it be an idea or opinion and then the development of a new idea/opinion/plan which in turn is rejected and changed, I've read and heard that some people argue that postmodernism doesn't exist but if its the rejection of something, such as an idea then hasn't Postmodernism always existed?

Also from that would that mean things such as religion would come under the category of Postmodernism and Modernism because ideas such as the Flying Spaghetti monster are a rejection of all other religions (pretty much all religions are rejections of other religions) - Flying Spaghetti Monster - invisible pink unicorn

But again I kinda feel my definition is quite rough and vague and in turn leaves me with more questions but there is a lot of contradictions because through history there have been a lot of ideas that have frequently resurfaced so would that make it a Postmodernism idea or because the idea has already existed would that make it Modernism.


Postmodern Media Culture

'The media examples referred to in the work I consider in Chapter 1 include television, cinema and information technology, and I shall discuss theories of the postmodern by cultural critics in relation to examples of, or references to, media products, media institutions, or media consumption. I shall show that theories of the postmodern are in part a response to developments in media culture, and that the theoretical discourses about the postmodern provide relevant models of how contemporary media culture can be evaluated. In other words, contemporary media and theories of the postmodern are mutually implicated and mutually defining, and this double movement is taken further in the chapters which follow.'

'...there are three interrelated critical projects which need to be carried out. These are: to assess the status of media examples in definitions of the postmodern; to evaluate the role of discourses about the postmodern in studying the media; and consequently to discuss the relationships between the media, the notion of the postmodern and contemporary culture.' - Postmodern Media Culture, Jonathan Bignell, 2000

I've been browsing a book called 'Postmodern Media Culture' by Jonathan Bignell, that mostly looks towards the changes in the media over time as a means to study and define postmodernism, as the media can be used to understand the public consciousness of the period.


I've been looking more into postmodernism in popular culture and I've been coming across the term metanarrative a lot so I thought it would be best to find a good explanation of the term, and I found this:

Jean-François Lyotard

In critical theory, and particularly postmodernism, a metanarrative(sometimes master- or grand narrative) “is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience“.
The prefix meta means “beyond” and is here used to mean “about”, and a narrative is a story. Therefore, a metanarrative is a story about a story.
The term is best known for its use by Jean-François Lyotard in the following quotation: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives”. By this, Lyotard meant that the postmodern condition is characterized by an increasingly widespread skepticism toward metanarratives, such as the unique status of the individual, the boundedness of information, and the march of progress, that are thought to have given order and meaning to Western thought during modernity.

The meaning of metanarrative

metanarrative can include any grand, all-encompassing story, classic text, or archetypal account of the historical record. They can also provide a framework upon which an individual’s own experiences and thoughts may be ordered. These grand, all-encompassing stories are typically characterised by some form of ‘transcendent and universal truth’ in addition to an evolutionary tale of human existence (a story with a beginning, middle and an end). The majority of metanarratives tend to be relatively optimistic in their visions for humankind, some verge on utopian, but different schools of thought offer very different accounts.

Examples of metanarratives

    • Many Christians believe that human existence is innately sinful but offered redemption and eternal peace in heaven – thus representing a belief in a universal rule and a telos for humankind. See also Universal History.
    • The Enlightenment theorists believed that
      rational thought, allied to scientific reasoning, would lead inevitably toward moral,social and ethical progress.
    Marxists believe that human existence is alienated from its species being, although capable of realising its full potential through collective, democratic organisation.
    Freudian theory holds that human history is a narrative of the repression of libidinal desires.
      • An uncritical belief in the free market is a belief that through humanity’s aquisition of wealth all who work hard and are afforded the right opportunities will succeed materially.
      • Categorical and definitive periodizations of history, such as the Fall of the Roman Empire, are rejected by postmodernism. Other periodization schemes include the Dark Ages and Renaissance.

      Modern skepticism toward metanarratives

      According to Jean-François Lyotard, a defining condition of postmodernity is a widespread skepticism or “incredulity” toward metanarratives. Lyotard and many other poststructuralist thinkers have viewed this as a positive development for a number of reasons. First, attempts to construct grand theories tend to dismiss the naturally existing chaos and disorder of the universe. ‘Metanarratives’ ignore the heterogeneity or variety of human existence. They are also seen to embody unacceptable views of historical development, in terms of progress towards a specific goal. The latent diverse passions of human beings will always make it impossible for them to be marshalled under some theoretical doctrine and this is one of the reasons given for the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

      Replacing grand, universal narratives with small, local narratives
      Metanarratives have lost their power to convince, according to the advocates of postmodernism, – they are, literally, stories that are told in order to legitimise various versions of “the truth”. With the transition from modern to postmodern, Lyotard proposes that metanarratives should give way to ‘petit récits’, or more modest and “localised” narratives. Borrowing from the works of Wittgenstein and his theory of the “models of discourse.”  Lyotard constructs his vision of a progressive politics. He envisages a progressive politics that is grounded in the cohabitation of a whole range of diverse and always locally legitimated language games. Postmodernists attempt to replace metanarratives by focusing on specific local contexts as well as the diversity of human experience. They argue for the existence of a “multiplicity of theoretical standpoints”, rather than grand, all-encompassing theories.

      Is postmodernism a metanarrative?

      Lyotard’s analysis of the postmodern condition has been criticized as being internally inconsistent. For example, thinkers like Alex Callinicos and Jürgen Habermas argue that Lyotard’s description of the postmodern world as containing an “incredulity toward metanarratives” could be seen as a metanarrative in itself. According to this view, post-structuralist thinkers like Lyotard criticise universal rules but postulate that postmodernity contains a universal skepticism toward metanarratives. Thus, the postmodern incredulity towards metanarratives could be said to be self-refuting. If we are skeptical of universal narratives such as “truth”, “knowledge”, “right”, or “wrong”, then there is no grounds for believing, the “truth”, that metanarratives are being undermined. In this sense, this paradox of postmodernism is similar to the liar’s paradox (“This statement is false.”). Perhaps postmodernists, like Lyotard, are not offering us a utopian, teleological metanarrative, but in many respects their arguments are open to metanarrative interpretation. They place much emphasis on the irrational, though in doing so apply the instruments of reason.
      Postmodernism is an anti-theory, but uses theoretical tools to make its case. The significance of this contradiction, however, is of course also open to interpretation.

      Wednesday, 17 April 2013

      Some definitions

      Characteristics of Modernism
      Characteristic of modernism was its high regard for man's ability to reason things out without the aid of divine revelation. Man was increasingly seen as autonomous with the ability to create a good society and through science solve all his problems. Another characteristic of modernism was to construct grand ideas and over-arching philosophical systems whereby all of reality could be explained (metanarratives). Each of these successive systems claimed to possess the key to understanding the world and the universe and hence the method to create the ideal society. Also, it was believed that scientific research and experimentation could take place in a neutral environment and in an objective and unbiased manner. 

      The End of Modernism
      Human reason did not bring the "salvation" many expected. Modern science, despite its many accomplishments, failed to meet man's basic needs. By the end of the Second World War, faith in the inevitable progress of humanity had largely vanished. As a result, today's society faces a host of problems, partly as a result of the very technology that was supposed to solve them. Pollution, climate changes, poverty, communicative diseases, social injustice, racism, terrorism, etc., etc. are on the increase. Purposelessness and meaninglessness have replaced optimism and hope.

      Essentially postmodernism is a reaction to the failure of modernism, but without replacing it with something better. Many of the thought processes of 21st century man are still very much shaped by modernism. Yet, at the same time, there has emerged a new way of thinking. One could say that modernism and postmodernism continue to live side by side. 

      Characteristics of Postmodernism
      Among the main tenets of postmodernism are the following. It rejects all universal systems or ideologies (ways of explaining reality). Christianity has failed but so have its competing ideologies of communism, Marxism, capitalism and liberalism. There is no absolute truth and authority. Not only faith in God but also faith in science has failed to provide certainty. Scientists are as prejudiced and biased as theologians. All truth is subjective and relative. There are no absolute norms and values. Everyone is free to decide for himself what is "good or bad," "right or wrong." Therefore, all world and life views are to be given equal status. Related to this is the emphasis on feelings and experience. When judging and evaluating things, the question is not whether something is true or false but how it feels. If it feels good it is good and what is experienced must be true. 

      Postmodernism and "Lowbrow" Culture
      Beginning with modernity but greatly accelerated by postmodernity is the break up of culture into what some have called its "highbrow" and "lowbrow" expressions. Examples of highbrow culture are the arts, painting, sculpture, stage plays, classical music, poetry and literature. The mainstay of lowbrow culture is entertainment: television, soap operas, movies, popular music, commercial art and cheap novels. To appreciate highbrow culture one needs some level of education and for that reason it is generally seen as an elitist pursuit for the affluent and sophisticated. Lowbrow culture, however, is accessible to the masses. It is popular culture requiring little or no education or art appreciation. Today "low" or popular culture is definitely the culture of the masses in North America, if not the entire world. Advances in communication technology have made it almost universally accessible.

      A word from Foucauld

      A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant.

      Tuesday, 16 April 2013

      A Pioneer of Future Music

      Frank Zappa – ‘A pioneer of future music’ A Documentary

      I can’t find any short clips from this documentary but I did find the whole video on YouTube.

      Frank Zappa was an American music composer, singer, guitarist, song-writer, recording engineer, music producer and film director. He is probably one of the best examples of postmodernism influences on the music industry.

      His debut album in 1966 was released under the band ‘Mothers of Invention’ and was called ‘Freak Out!’. It was the first of it’s kind in the way that Frank Zappa combined conventional Rock and Roll with studio recorded (unconventional at the time) sounds to make a music collage.

      Frank Zappa continued this boundary-breaking way of creating music all throughout his life until his death in 1993. He was creating all sorts of new ways to create sounds and compose them into a listenable song even in his later years. We see this in the Frank Zappa Interview on the Today Show 1993. In this interview they show just some of the extraordinary methods in which Zappa uses to create his music. This includes playing a bicycle as an instrument and even the sound of his nephew burping which he has recorded and put onto an electric keyboard to play as music. 

      “Sounds are for listening to and composition is the act of organising sounds.” – Frank Zappa when asked ‘What’s behind all the different use of sound’.

      Although it is more developed and has mutated, a lot of mid 20th century and present day music has taken direct or indirect influence from Frank Zappa's work. System of a Down and Black Sabbath and the Beatles are just a few.


      The word ‘post’ in postmodernism suggests that it comes after modernism, however both postmodernism and modernism both exist together at the same time. Modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism.
      Postmodernism denies the existance of scientifc, philosophical or religious truths to explain everything for everybody, while modernism seeks to give meaning and solid definitions to what things are while postmodernism denies the rules laid by modernism. It allows for personal interpretation, with personal experience being placed above abstract principles which paradoxically means that postmodernism can not truly be defined.
      Postmodernism spans various different disciplines including art, culture, architecture, literature, entertainment, technology ect, and focuses on de-structered humanity meaning that disorder and fragmentation are acceptable represention of reality for postmodernists. Modernists viewed this view of fragmented humanity as bad while postmodernists seems to celebrate this, accepting ambiguity.
      There are no final truths or definitions in postmodernism, it is an attempt to give new meanings and interpretations to everything.
      Throughout the coming weeks we are going to explore how postmodernism is evident in various different aspects in our society in an attempt to better understand what postmodernism is and how it affects our lives. We will be looking at examples of postmodernism in pop-culture and entertainment, feminism, architecture, and art and design movements.