Tag Archives: postmodernism

The faces of Foucault

Not many people know it but Michel Foucault had (at least) a public and private face. I will not elaborate. But perhaps it is only important to remember that we are protean in nature.  Everyday we play many roles. Most are chosen. Some are not. Many, you may see. Others are unnoticed, camouflaged or outright hidden from you. 

The Image and Art

The Image is so ubiquitous today that it has numbed us, that is, until we see the unfamiliar image which we usually call Art. In this sense, it is unnecessary to worry about The Image’s overusage since this actually gives all the more Art its strength. 

Eagleton and Value-judgement 

We are memories. Some memories stay with you more than others. That is just how life works. 

I had read Terry Eagleton’s book Literary Theory during my postgraduate years. The one takeaway message from it I got was that nothing is value-judgement free. Not only did Eagleton explain this clearly but he also showed what his position was without hiding it as some others often do. Postmodernism is about being transparent about your values, and about being honest to yourself about these values. For Eagleton, his position is a socialist one, that we should be doing things for the greater good of all. But he is honest about the fact that it is a position and it has flaws like anything else. 

Unlike Eagleton, Francis Fukuyama held that Communism was wrong and that the collapse of the Soviet Union is proof of this. For Fukuyama, capitalism must be right because of its continuation. From Eagleton’s standpoint neither are correct. Both are a flawed as each other. But nonetheless we must take a position because that is all we can do. 

Not too long ago at the start of the Twentieth-century we still believed that it is possible to be objective. And still today some (not not many) continue to believe so. The difference is that now people are unashamedly taking subjective positions which are clearly flawed and selfish and that is all “thanks” to Postmodernism. For better or worse everything can be taken out of context and appropriated for its own end. And it is still the duty of Postmodernism to point this out

Do countries that speak English have a higher probability of success in business because of the English language’s framework, structure, and words?

The probability of you having a higher income, education and lifestyle is greater if you live in an English speaking country.

That can be shown by economic statistics. The chances of you being in the lower income, education and lifestyle brackets are much lower if you live in these countries. 

But whether it is the English that you speak that allows this is a problematic question. One can argue that the dominance of English as a world language has contributed to this and I will agree with that argument. 

Francois Lyotard called these grand-narratives where a dominant discourse shuts out other arguments. The best example is Communism. But also English as a world language and the promotion of that ideal is also a subtle and hidden shutout of all other arguments as well. 

I will say this though: English is only guilty because of its position as a world language. If it were another language, say, French (which had also vied for the same status as late as the late 20th century) the same grand-narrative posturing would occur. 

There can be no neutral world language. If there were someone somewhere would eventually find a way to use it to their advantage.

Banksy’s Art

The point of Banksy’s art is social commentary. More importantly it is location specific. So by removing it from the wall it was painted on means it loses its meaning, significance and value. In a sense Banksy is really criticizing about this kind of phenomenon by choosing graffiti as his medium.

So do you want to Farmville … or farm?

“Mooney [vice president and general manager of the company that created Farmville] says the game has had other positive benefits, like generating an interest in real farming.”

If I was the maker of a popular game like Farmville I too would probably say this.

But does generating interest in farming translate into people actually doing real farming?

The funny thing is these people who do play the game, at the end of the day, would still prefer to play the game than to farm, because it is easier, less dirty, you get points or gain levels, and you can beat your friends or “neighbours” at it. This something something real farming cannot give you.

Having said that though what real farming can give you is this:

  • a better sense of the natural cycle of the seasons
  • physical exercise
  • food

So you don’t have to ask me which – Farmville or farming – do I prefer.

Farming may be harder (in my opinion, only just), dirtier and without points (but not pointless) it is definitely more satisfying and a lot more rewarding. And you have actual neighbours that are nice.

Think about this: less people now produce food than any time in human history.

That is not to say we are producing less food, but less people are producing more food. For example, in a developed nation like America less than 10 percent of its population work on farms to produce food for its 300 million. One has to ask what does “developed” really mean and why the rest of the world should aspire to their ideals if these very ideals are the ruination of of our kind and the planet.

I mean, I think it is important to work but not all work is good. It seems we are putting our efforts into the wrong type of work when all we really want need, at the end of the day, is food, shelter and clothing.

And what about those less fortunate? We produce enough food to feed every person on the planet, yet we have starvation and obesity, sometimes within the same nation. Is something wrong here or not? I can go on but I won’t.

I think I’ll finish this post now and get back to my composting or to something more productive.

What is theory?

Theory (or postmodern theory) will only make sense when we look at the definitions of Modernity, Modernism and Postmodernism because theory can be said to be interchangeable with the term “postmodernism”.

Modernity (also the Modern) is the development of Western history of, say, the last five centuries. Characterized by the rise of capitalism, science and technology, and rational thought, it challenged traditional authority, that of the Christian Church and legitimacy of political power. It can be seen as the beginning of liberalism. But from it also came even more brutal forms of power, like the absolutism of Louis XIV, XV and XVI. And countries such as England and the Netherlands saw political instability but saw the gains through capitalism and Imperial expansionism. And during the Enlightenment the very notion of “Modernity” becomes self-aware, defining itself against previous traditional ways of lifes, Christian dogma and superstition. So by the 19th century transformation and upheaval was seen as the rule.

Modernity can be seen as beginning of the ideas of progress and evolution, and of ideas as different as capitalism and communism. And even today the technological progress is still a place of much of our misplaced hopes. Modernity is now no longer something we celebrate but rather it is something to which we feel we are condemned.

Modernism (also Modernist) which moved on from the novelty, the “scandal and challenge”, of Modernity is a constellation of intellectual and artistic Western ideals from the mid-nineteenth century. And it is a late development of Modernity. Modernism is an awareness of Modernity’s conflict and upheaval. But it also thoroughly believed, perhaps more than Modernity, in progress and evolution. And it had hoped to solve problems brought about by Modernity with more radical and absolute forms of Modernity, creating even more absolute answers. An example of Modernism in politics is Marxism. And Expression, Symbolism, Cubism, Futurism and Art Nouveau are further examples of Modernist art movements.

Postmodernism (also, Postmodernity, the Postmodern and Postmodernist) can be defined as the dismantling of the ideas and beliefs of Modernism, and does not replace the latter. Postmodernism maintains a relationship with and relativism to Modernism. It returns with rigour to older ideals but in renewed fashion. In art and literature figure painting and realism respectively becomes important once again. Irony and pastiche – rather than metaphysics and parody – become the main vehicles for expression. And with its borrowing of styles it becomes clear that Postmodernism is both anti-authoritarian and anti-foundational in outlook.

Examples of Postmodernism are Deconstruction, Psychoanalytic Criticism, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, Feminist Criticism, Queer Theory, Poststructualism, Neo-Marxist Criticism, Post-colonial Theory, Reader Response Theory, Postmodernism (as a self-aware position), New Pragmatism, etc. Names associated with Postmodernism are Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, Kristeva, Said, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Raymond Williams, Deleuze, Lacan, etc.