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: Eliot Handelman (
Date: Tue Oct 04 2005 - 16:21:57 EDT

Morgan Sutherland wrote:

>>From what I've seen in this thread, I've absorbed that PM is art with
>acknowledgment of the outside world, culture... art made by an "I" who
>is not something sacred, but a result of outside influence. Modern is
>ignoring culture and influence, focusing on inner. Or am I wrong?
yes -- you're wrong. The part about PM and the lack of sacred self is
plausible, but the part
about modernism is completely wrong -- in the schoenberg example,
schoenberg had huge
knowledge of music, thought that he had derived the 12-tone method from
the consequences
of the technical (and expressive) trajectory a "grand tradition" had
followed. For example
12-tone inversion is about how inversion was used as a variation device
by the great contrapunctists,
the 16th c. masters and Bach.

So he would seem to be PM by your account -- it's very much part of an
"outside" world.

Another thing is that the "inspiration" of the composer was something
felt to be expressive
of an outside. Eg mahler -- "I am the instrument that the universe plays
on." The great
inspitred artist is, in some important way, selfless -- an agency
through which different
forces act.

Schizophrenic art was very important for surrealism -- another aspect of

In fact the PM artist of the 80s is probably characterized through a
kind of "me-ness" --
Jeff Koons photos of himself screwing his wife the stripper, or Cindy
Theater of Cindy Sherman. The Saturday Night Live skit about "Rob's
girlfriend theater,"
in which he enacts plays about how horrible his girlfriend was to him
was basically of
the same cut. One thing that makes these things PM is their
author-specificty -- you no
longer see people pretending to be the instrument of the universe.
There's much more irony
about what it means to BE an artist in PM. But these are just styles.
You could think
of PM as the underlying force that drives these spectacles, not the
spectacles themselves.

We might get away with saying, "in PM, self is individual-specific,
whereas in M it's a shard of fragmented
whole." The collectivity in PM is real -- social -- whereas in M it's
part of a mythology -- something
that includes interpretations of history, the so-called
"metanarratives." This is how I might rephrase
your paragraph.

-- eliot

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