Post-Modern Stress

This is really rough. It's also really blabbery. Yes: blabbery. Deal with it, or skip over it. Enjoy.

I really hate postmodernists.

It makes so much sense, it works, and it's a really attractive model, but it makes further work and development difficult if not impossible. Postmodernism drives people to running in little circles around what they really want to talk about. Or maybe it's just deconstructionist that do that. Lets make sure I have this all clear.

Modernists took knowledge as it existed and said, "simplify," "get back to essential meanings" and from this we got. "Modern Art," which took the tradition of visual art and simplified it so that rather than paint realistic looking vistas that captured the emotions and feelings of their time, painters just painted their feelings. Which is essentially what Picasso tried to do, and Jackson Pollack embodied this to the end example of this movement.

The problem with modern art is that after Jackson Pollack, you can't really get any further with that motion methodology. You can toy with the ideas a little by doing multi/cross-media experimentations, but that stops being "modernist" really quick, so at least in visual art, there's a dead end.

In literature, we see the rise of academicization of creative writing, and New Criticism. Which I've ranted about before, but New Criticism basically says: "Context is irrelevant. Meaning is irrelevant. Read "good literature," and bash anything that isn't Faulkner, Pond, or Donne." In less harsh terms, New Criticism chose to look beyond meaning, and context in order to more objectively judge the quality of the work. Except in the mind of the Princeton College Board, and some moldy English teachers, this methodology is dead. I mean not only is it racist, homophobic, and sexist, it just doesn't make sense.

Before I get onto Post-Modernism, one more modernist example. Feminism. While modernism did it's best to squish out feminism as "context." During the Modern period, feminism tended towards essentialism, which argued that there were essential differences between men and women, and that gender was a function of sex. (I'm not really sure about this but it makes sense, correct me if I'm wrong.) While second wave feminism was the product of the very end of Modernism, (I think) it was the whole essentialism that causes second wave feminism to flounder. I don't like essentialism.

In any case, I'm just reviewing what I know and what I'm thinking, so correct me if I get something wrong, or don't interpret things correctly. I'm not totally sure of everything here.

The main lingering effect of Modernism in Literature and art in general, is that it's created a schism in the creation of new art. There's the stuff that "the people" create and like, which is full of spirit and emotion, but in a technical sense is rather crappy. Think angst-y poetry, slam poetry, spoken word, and some performance stuff. Then there's the stuff that's technically very good, but devoid of spirit. Open any high-brow University Literature journal, and the content is very good, but it's not really great. This art isn't modernist, but this schism I feel is very much a result of the problems and intellectual precedents that Modernism set for the future.

This brings us to Post-Modernism. Yay. Ultimately, Post-Modernism is deconstructionist. And after the euphoria, or whatever the modernists had, of the Modern Period, things were too constructed. So they started to break down the boundaries that insulated the disciplines. That's a good thing; it gives us the ability to look at history and context of what we're studying. The sciences and math are still fairly stuck in the modern age, and there's a certain degree to which that'll probably always be the case, but that'll change too.

In art and literature, creators started mixing genres. Look at some of Ginsberg's poetry. It's almost prose. Performance art is like this too, it combines theater with dance and poetry and visual artifacts to create the same thing that art's been trying to create forever anyway. Postmodernism is about combining and mixing things. Interdisciplinary studies are really great and important for making progress. Because everything had more or less hit a brick wall, this kind of synthesis was and continues to be necessary for new and fresh kinds of art.

But this article/entry wouldn't be called "Post Modern Stress" if I thought Post Modernism was the best thing since sliced bread. So here's the criticism.

Post-Modernism says, everything, including post-modernism is a discourse. Knowledge is a discourse. Marxism is a discourse. Literary Criticism is a discourse. etc. This makes the world really argumentative, and the problem with discourses is that there is no end to them. One discourse leads into another, so you get stuck in a recursive discourse, and nothing ever gets done. Ever. And the best way to survive post modernism is to become content with what is, and hope that through discourse, the world will change.

Fat chance.

On the one hand, the synthetic aspect of post-modernism is wonderful and while still in progress, I think the discourse of synthesis is productive, the rest of it isn't.

And just as the rest of my intellectual philosophy postings end, this ends on a "And knowing this, where am I left?" Which I feel is basically, the anti-post-modern question. I want to escape this paradigm and work under some model that's more productive, that doesn't rely on recursive discourses, that frees the creative process without deconstructing it.

Well there isn't one out there that I know about, (feel free to suggest your favorite intellectual paradigm) and I don't exactly know how to go about making a new one. Or that I'd even be able to make a new one. Or even that, considering my goals, that I should make a new one. There's the cursed discourse again. Anyway. Stuff to chew over.

comments powered by Disqus