Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken))

Subject: Re: Quick guide to postmodernism (was: Re: Gibson (was: Re: Computer chicken))
From: bill thompson (
Date: Sun Oct 02 2005 - 18:58:45 EDT

thanx for the reply eliot...lots of good stuff for me
to consider. i'm finding it interesting that p.m. and
modernism seem to share almost as many characteristics
as they claim not to and that many works seem to have
simultaneous aspects of both...not to mention that the
definitions/concepts seem to shift quite a bit from
one theorist to's almost as though before
beginning an analysis you have to announce which
theorist's perspective you're speaking also
seems that a work today would need to be considered
under romantic, modern, and postmodern lenses to get
an accurate analysis...well, and then there's
listening to it, i guess that's valid as well :)

thanx again,


--- Eliot Handelman <> wrote:

> bill thompson wrote:
> >hey eliot,
> >
> >i understand most of what you're saying but i'm
> having
> >trouble with one comment:
> >
> >Importantly,
> >
> >
> >>the result "sounds
> >>good." This is because
> >>if it sounded bad, that would be a kind of appeal
> to
> >>an inner
> >>adjustment.
> >>
> >>
> >
> >i'm wondering if in trying to make this more
> >manageable for me something got lost? i mean, who
> >determines what 'sounds bad' as compared to 'sounds
> >good'? wouldn't that be an example of a value
> system
> >based on a meta-narrative? i.e. one dominant value
> >system that determines what sounds good
> etc...sounds
> >good certainly can't just mean tonal or consonant
> >right?
> >
> >
> Well, notice the scare quotes around "sounds good."
> An example of
> "metanarrative"
> is schoenberg's "emancipation of the dissonance."
> The theory /story is
> that what at
> one time was considered dissonant, is now (ie, to
> Schoenberg) considered
> consonant,
> because of upwards spiraling whereby "we" -- the
> musically enlightened
> -- actually
> perceive the harmony or beauty in what formerly was
> considered harsh or
> ugly. For Sch.
> this is a semi-mystical proposition about the
> "spiritual" in art,
> through which "we," mankind,
> are progressing towards greater illumination.
> The postmodern wisdom is that "no one believes in
> metanarratives
> anymore." We are not
> actually evolving new musical awarenesses because of
> mankind's
> collective spiritual growth.
> True or false?
> So "what sounds good" means what sounds good NOW,
> to me, here,
> listening to this. It
> doesn't mean "I don't understand this music but
> maybe if I take courses
> at the local community
> college I'll figure out what it's all about," or
> "sorry, I'm
> unenlightened."
> For me one of the main things happening in music in
> 70s/80s that seemed
> to be aspect of
> PM was the "back to the audience" movement, as
> respresented by composers
> like Rochberg,
> or Del Tredici, the big 3 minimalists, the german
> New Tonality/New
> Simplicity movement., Andriessen,
> younger composers (then) with an ear for pop/rock
> like Daughtery or Todd
> Levin, and
> Kronos q. performances of Hendrix as interestingly
> arranged by Steve
> Mackey, even the
> kind of pop-ism of Lansky's idle chatter. All of
> this stuff "sounds
> good" in a way that Op. 33a
> doesn't (to me, and I like early schoen. A LOT --
> pelleas, Op. 16
> pieces, etc.)
> If these things sound good it's because these guys
> are plugged into
> specific music practices
> that exist because people do like them. You have to
> decide for yourself
> whether this
> implies any sort of cultural pastiche or not.
> LIKING music is not (to my mind) about
> "meta-narrative." It was an
> article of faith with
> 12-toners that if you grew up with 12-tone music, it
> would be to you
> what Elvis was to
> other people, instinctual, basic, a "language" of
> expression that gets
> you right there. 80 yrs
> later or so we still don't see this. There's no
> reason to believe that
> what can be EXPERIENCED
> as music is completely a manner of training or
> education. In fact I
> find that to be a rather
> orwellian view of music -- get the rat cage on
> someone and they'll come
> out whistling "2+2=5".
> It's much more likely to me that music DOES involve
> certain kinds of
> computing that the
> brain carries out in relation to the kind of
> PHYSICAL reality it's
> adapted to -- but that's
> another matter.
> "Back to the audience" WAS postmodern in the
> specific sense of following
> a "modernism,"
> the view that, eg, serial music encoded learnable
> perceptive principles.
> Instead it said,
> "music isn't PROGRESSING anywhere -- and I like
> these chords."
> The only thing that ever did really seem to me to
> catch PM in music was
> late 80s hip hop --
> in part, because of the notion that PM art codes for
> its own failure. I
> never once heard any
> "serious" music that was as deft in suggesting the
> whole sense of
> posteriority in regards
> its own possibility. I'm thinking of stuff like Def
> Jam and Boogie Down
> Productions.
> >i'm guessing the gist of it was that pm is about
> the
> >sounds themselves without appealing to an 'inner
> >adjustment' or existing in reference to or as a
> result
> >of either a 'system' and/or higher/deeper meaning
> >(where as modernist works are very much about
> either
> >the system (serialism) or the attempt to craft the
> >'perfect' object or experience that opens you to a
> >transcendental 'higher/deeper' reality beyond this
> >one.) in other words, modernist works at some level
> >point somewhere else, where as postmodern works
> point
> >to themselves. yes?
> >
> >
> I see what you're saying, but in some ways it's the
> opposite. In PM you
> don;t really
> create -- because, after all, "the death of the
> author." You use
> fragments of the
> existing world, though (as least in vizart) without
> meaning to take
> advantage of
> the buttons such shards could press. Then there's
> the issue of
> self-reflection in the
> hall of mirrored texts beyond which there's nothing.
> So PM points all
> over the place,
> without necessarily using "pointing" as a
> significative feature.
> There's a question whether music ever can NOT point
> to other music. What
> does
> Webern op. 28 point to? I personally believe that
> Webern is, in fact,
> some kind
> of amazingly distilled gloss on EXISTING music, but
> that's not how he
> was understood
> after the war.
> The same thing happened with Jackson Pollock, I read
> recently
=== message truncated ===

"The more you think about things the weirder they seem." -Calvin

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