April 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Alan Kirby says postmodernism is dead and buried. In its place comes a new paradigm of authority and knowledge formed under the pressure of new technologies and contemporary social forces. This is an excerpt from his article as published in Philosophy Now.
“… In postmodernism, one read, watched, listened, as before. In pseudo-modernism (following postmodernism) one phones, clicks, presses, surfs, chooses, moves, downloads. There is a generation gap here, roughly separating people born before and after 1980. Those born later might see their peers as free, autonomous, inventive, expressive, dynamic, empowered, independent, their voices unique, raised and heard: postmodernism and everything before it will by contrast seem elitist, dull, a distant and droning monologue which oppresses and occludes them. Those born before 1980 may see, not the people, but contemporary texts which are alternately violent, pornographic, unreal, trite, vapid, conformist, consumerist, meaningless and brainless (see the drivel found, say, on some Wikipedia pages, or the lack of context on Ceefax). To them what came before pseudo-modernism will increasingly seem a golden age of intelligence, creativity, rebellion and authenticity. Hence the name ‘pseudo-modernism’ also connotes the tension between the sophistication of the technological means, and the vapidity or ignorance of the content conveyed by it – a cultural moment summed up by the fatuity of the mobile phone user’s “I’m on the bus”.
Whereas postmodernism called ‘reality’ into question, pseudo-modernism defines the real implicitly as myself, now, ‘interacting’ with its texts. Thus, pseudo-modernism suggests that whatever it does or makes is what is reality, and a pseudo-modern text may flourish the apparently real in an uncomplicated form: the docu-soap with its hand-held cameras (which, by displaying individuals aware of being regarded, give the viewer the illusion of participation); The Office and The Blair Witch Project, interactive pornography and reality TV; the essayistic cinema of Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock.
Along with this new view of reality, it is clear that the dominant intellectual framework has changed. While postmodernism’s cultural products have been consigned to the same historicised status as modernism and romanticism, its intellectual tendencies (feminism, postcolonialism etc) find themselves isolated in the new philosophical environment. The academy, perhaps especially in Britain, is today so swamped by the assumptions and practices of market economics that it is deeply implausible for academics to tell their students they inhabit a postmodern world where a multiplicity of ideologies, world-views and voices can be heard. Their every step hounded by market economics, academics cannot preach multiplicity when their lives are dominated by what amounts in practice to consumer fanaticism. The world has narrowed intellectually, not broadened, in the last ten years. Where Lyotard saw the eclipse of Grand Narratives, pseudo-modernism sees the ideology of globalised market economics raised to the level of the sole and over-powering regulator of all social activity – monopolistic, all-engulfing, all-explaining, all-structuring, as every academic must disagreeably recognise. Pseudo-modernism is of course consumerist and conformist, a matter of moving around the world as it is given or sold…”
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August 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This lecture by Rick Roderick is a part of his “Self Under Siege” series recorded by the Teaching Company in 1993. He does a very good job in simplifying Jean Baudrillard’s postmodern philosophy, including the concepts of simulation, simulacra, hyperreality, etc. As you might be aware, Baudrillard sees our world as one without origins and without depth, a world of surface; a world marked by an implosion of various forms of distinctions, boundaries, and reality-mirroring demarcators. What we are left with instead is an orgy of signification, so argues Baudrillard, where the “real” as a referent becomes meaningless, and where life replicates the sense of disorientation as frequently encountered in, let’s say, Umberto Eco’s novels. Think of the Matrix trilogy and you see the specter of Baudrillard looming high.
I am posting only part 1 of this lecture; there are four additional ones.