Monday, April 25, 2011

Christopher Butler: Postmodernism

I am digging these little Oxford "Very Short Introduction" books. Learning new stuff every day -- far better than a stick in the eye or an eye on a stick.

In Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002), Christopher Butler takes a shot at an overview of Postmodernism in five chapters:

1 The rise of postmodernism
2 New ways of seeing the world
3 Politics and identity
4 The culture of postmodernism
5 The 'postmodern condition'

Butler also takes shots at postmodernism as a sort of set of ideas and ways of seeing that are all well and fine but may not offer enough specific ways of creating the kind of enlightened liberal society he would like to see.

From Butler's perspective, some good stuff: "What postmodern theory helps us see is that . . . all of us are combinations of class, race, ehtnic, regional, generational, sexual, and gender positions" (p. 56).  From my perspective, this has a ring of truth, offering a contact lens of clarity along with an aroma not unlike that of freshly made French roast coffee.

Mission: challenge the received "grand narratives" and linear thinking we are mesmerized with (or try to ignore, probably with about as much success as ignoring the daily bombardment of commercial advertisements) as little school kids. But replace these with what, and how?

On the "postmodern condition" since 1945 (why 1945?  Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Auschwitz-Cold War?): "in which the global condition of societies is seen, not as determined by traditional economic or political frameworks, but as a state of culture" (p. 116). 

"Compression of time and space" (p. 117) . . . "The Internet is at present a typically postmodernist phenomenon -- it is (currently) a non-hierarchized, indeed disorganized, collage. This goes along with a change from concentration on the production of goods, to a concentration on the production of information services" (p. 117). 

Finally (read the book for more details, depth and specific examples!), "We are subject everywhere to a sensory overload of images, in magazines and advertisements, on the TV, in the cityscape, etc." (p. 117). Doh! Really?

Today's Rune: Fertility.    


pattinase (abbott) said...

I need to read this! said...

Maybe read this with lighted candles and a little Neil Postman. said...

Maybe should read this with lighted candles and a little Neil Postman

the walking man said...

In reality we compartmentalize every generation or age. No one seems to be able to look at everything at once and call it history, we need segments to break it into smaller bites. Now we have reached the post modern era eh? That seems to me to indicate that either we have come full circle or now there can be no new labels and boxes.

jodi said...

Erik, Do you ever read for fun? You make me feel trite with some of the crap I get into! You are constantly learning and dragging my dumb ass along for the ride!

Adorably Dead said...

Jodi-Sometimes I feel the same way :p But then again, that is what intrigues me about Erik, lol. His posts are always fascinating to me.

Erik Donald France said...

Hey, thanks all for the comments -- much appreciated! Ivan -- Mr. Postman says some cool stuff. WM, true enough. Jodi and Adorably, believe it or not, this *is* my fun reading!