Friday, August 3, 2007

A Mini Postmodern Primer



Postmodernity:
  • Originally a term coined in 1949 to describe architectural style, specifically dissatifaction with modern architecture. It grew into a derivative meaning used to describe culture and history as a reaction to modernism.
  • It is halmarked by deconstructionism and a rejection of the hegemonic and elitist aspects of the culture and characteristics of modernism.
  • Commercialism stemming from the capitalism of the elitist and bourgeous Western Culture is often associated with postmodernity.
  • Some argue that postmodernism represents an accumulated disillusionment with the promises of the Enlightenment project and its progress of science, so central to modern thinking.




Deconstructionism:

  • A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth;
  • Asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings: "In deconstruction, the critic claims there is no meaning to be found in the actual text, but only in the various, often mutually irreconcilable, 'virtual texts' constructed by readers in their search for meaning" (Rebecca Goldstein). (dictionary definition);
  • The more common use of the term is the more general process of pointing to contradictions between the intent and surface of a work and the assumptions about it. A work then "deconstructs" assumptions when it places them in context.
  • For example, someone who can pass as the opposite sex may be said to "deconstruct" gender identity, because there is a conflict between the superficial appearance and the reality of the person's gender. (from Wikipedia on postmodernism)


Hyperreal:

  • An artistic style characterized by highly realistic graphic representation. (dictionary definition);
  • Postmodern concept that the real, everyday aspects of the objective world are somehow less real than perceived hyperreality.
  • (The hyperrealist says: “There’s got to be more to life than this, and there is a place or some mechanism in this world that will help me realize the really real – the hyperreal.”)
  • Symbolism becomes drastically important as a mechanism of communication.

Simulacra:

  • An image or representation that is actually not real or “unreal” by connotation.
  • Can be used as another postmodern synonym for the “hyperreal.”

Kitsch:

  • Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts: "When money tries to buy beauty it tends to purchase a kind of courteous kitsch" (William H. Gass) (dictionary definition);
  • A term of German origin that has been used to categorize art that is considered an inferior copy of an existing style. The term is also used more loosely in referring to any art that is pretentious to the point of being in bad taste, and also commercially produced items that are considered trite or crass. (from Wikipedia)
  • In other words, we don’t buy products or services based on their own merit and true, objective value a logical person would expect. We buy kitsch and accept kitsch and want kitsch because good advertising campaigns influence our decision making processes. We allow ourselves to enter altered states of consciousness in response to media which bypasses our critical thought processes.