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One of well-famed prose writers of the period, he served as an ambulance driver during World War I before he began his literary writing profession. Via novels such as A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway transported many hematic battlegrounds that he had seen forthright to American readers. His novels and short stories often considered realities of war, while he juggled his straightforward, journalistic prose style to express his own dreary view of the world around him, a world outside of simple cause and effect relationships, lacking both logic and philosophy .
But after both wars, it became clear that wars were just bloodshed a horrible slaughter of mankind which had nothing to do with romanticism and heroism. They were very destructive for the dearly loved deal of the American dream. However, the mutiny of the period change was not confined to the spheres of philosophy and art. Gender discrimination was a challenge which faced by female writers such as Virginia wolf and Willa Cather to fragment stereotypes of women as second-class citizens, via their masterpieces their voice was so loud through their works like Sapphira and the Slave Girl But still many writers questioned the class problem as old ruins still invade a place in modern life.
The corruption of the society gave the chance to antihero like Gatsby to deform the beauty of the American dream. Young Holden Caulfield is dismissed from school because of poor academic performance. The American writers relocate the condensation of the work from solely imitating the world in which they lived to say something about that world, likewise. This closely correlates with a new vision of the American dream as strengthening their individuality in teamwork, organizing opposition to the evil magnitude of the society, such as slavery, corruption, and humiliation.
It turned out growingly explicit that many traditional ethics and social criterion had substituted seriously. Many authors who represent the line of modernism and postmodernism create in their prose and poetry variety of ways challenging the American dream and its illusion like J. The commentary uses these photos to make us, as readers, aware of our expectations of both narrative and pictorial interpretation, including our naive but common trust in the representational veracity of photography.
This is the space of the postmodern. When Eliot recalled Dante or Virgil in The Waste Land, one sensed a kind of wishful call to continuity beneath the fragmented echoing. It is precisely this that is contested in postmodern parody where it is often ironic discontinuity that is revealed at the heart of continuity, difference at the heart of similarity Hutcheon Parody is a perfect postmodern form, in some senses, for it paradoxically both incorporates and challenges that which it parodies.
It also forces a reconsideration of the idea of origin or originality that is compatible with other postmodern interrogations of liberal humanist assumptions see Chapter 8. While theorists like Jameson ,—19 see this loss of the modernist unique, individual style as a negative, as an imprisoning of the text in the past through pastiche, it has been seen by postmodern artists as a liberating challenge to a definition of subjectivity and creativity that has for too long ignored the role of history in art and thought.
The same is true of the fiction of John Fowles or the music of George Rochberg. Another consequence of this far-reaching postmodern inquiry into the very nature of subjectivity is the frequent challenge to traditional notions of perspective, especially in narrative and painting. The perceiving subject is no longer assumed to a coherent, meaning-generating entity. Narrators in fiction become either disconcertingly multiple and hard to locate as in D.
See Chapter Provisionality and heterogeneity contaminate any neat attempts at unifying coherence formal or thematic. Historical and narrative continuity and closure are contested, but again, from within. The teleology of art forms—from fiction to music—is both suggested and transformed.
The centre no longer completely holds. The concept of alienated otherness based on binary oppositions that conceal hierarchies gives way, as I have argued, to that of differences, that is to the assertion, not of centralized sameness, but of decentralized community— another postmodern paradox. The local and the regional are stressed in the face of mass culture and a kind of vast global informational village that McLuhan could only have dreamed of. Culture with a capital C and in the singular has become cultures uncapitalized and plural , as documented at length by our social scientists.
And this appears to be happening in spite ofand, I would argue, maybe even because of—the homogenizing impulse of the consumer society of late capitalism: yet another postmodern contradiction. The questioning of the universal and totalizing in the name of the local and particular does not automatically entail the end of all consensus. Most postmodern theory, however, realizes this paradox or contradiction. Postmodern art similarly asserts and then deliberately undermines such principles as value, order, meaning, control, and identity Russell , that have been the basic premises of bourgeois liberalism.
Those humanistic principles are still operative in our culture, but for many they are no longer seen as eternal and unchallengeable. The contradictions of both postmodern theory and practice are positioned within the system and yet work to allow its premises to be seen as fictions or as ideological structures. However important these systems are, they are not natural, given, or universal see Chapter The very limitations imposed by the postmodern view are also perhaps ways of opening new doors: perhaps now we can better study the interrelations of social, aesthetic, philosophical, and ideological constructs.
In order to do so, postmodernist critique must acknowledge its own position as an ideological one Newman , I think the formal and thematic contradictions of postmodern art and theory work to do just that: to call attention to both what is being contested and what is being offered as a critical response to that, and to do so in a self-a ware way that admits its own provisionality. In Barthesian terms , , it is criticism which would include in its own discourse an implicit or explicit reflection upon itself. This would not be a poetics in the structuralist sense of the word, but would go beyond the study of literary discourse to the study of cultural practice and theory.
Art and theory about art and culture should both be part of a poetics of postmodernism. But this is no coincidental moment; it is made, not found. What he did was to think up ways of speaking which made old ways of speaking optional, and thus more or less dubious. It is both a way of speaking—a discourse—and a cultural process involving the expressions of thought Lyotard , that a poetics would seek to articulate. A poetics of postmodernism would not posit any relation of causality or identity either among the arts or between art and theory.
It would merely offer, as provisional hypotheses, perceived overlappings of concern, here specifically with regard to the contradictions that I see as characterizing postmodernism. It would be a matter of reading literature through its surrounding theoretical discourses Cox , 57 , rather than as continuous with theory. It would not mean seeing literary theory as a particularly imperialistic intellectual practice that has overrun art H.
The interaction of theory and practice in postmodernism is a complex one of shared responses to common provocations. There are also, of course, many postmodern artists who double as theorists—Eco, Lodge, Bradbury, Barth, Rosler, Burgin—though they have rarely become the major theorists or apologists of their own work, as the nouveaux romanciers from Robbe- Grillet to Ricardou and surfictionists Federman and Sukenick especially have tended to do.
Their sequentially ordered sections are equally disrupted by a particularly dense network of interconnections and intertexts, and each enacts or performs, as well as theorizes, the paradoxes of continuity and disconnection, of totalizing interpretation and the impossibility of final meaning. Those rules and categories are what the work of art itself is looking for. Recently critics have begun to notice the similarities of concern between various kinds of theory and current literary discourse, sometimes to condemn Newman , , sometimes merely to describe Hassan White ; ; ; In the past, of course, history has often been used in novel criticism, though usually as a model of the realistic pole of representation.
Postmodern fiction problematizes this model to query the relation of both history to reality and reality to language. History is not made obsolete: it is, however, being rethought—as a human construct. We cannot know the past except through its texts: its documents, its evidence, even its eye-witness accounts are texts. Even the institutions of the past, its social structures and practices, could be seen, in one sense, as social texts. Along with the obvious and much publicized case of postmodern architecture Jencks ; a; b , it has been American black and general feminist theory and practice that have been particularly important in this postmodernist refocusing on historicity, both formally largely through parodic intertextuality and thematically.
All are theoretical discourses that have their roots in a reflection on actual praxis and continue to derive their critical force from their conjunction with that social and aesthetic practice on feminism, see de Lauretis , It is true that, as Susan Suleiman , , n. Both black and feminist thought have shown how it is possible to move theory out of the ivory tower and into the larger world of social praxis, as theorists like Said have been advocating. See Chapter 4. Lately there have been other critical works which have come close to articulating the kind of poetics I think we need, though all offer a somewhat more limited version.
But they too have investigated the overlappings of concern between current philosophical and literary theory and practice. As I see it, however, a poetics would not seek to place itself in a position between theory and practice , 2 on the question of history, but rather would seek a position within both. However, this lucid and thorough study limits itself to modern language theory and linguistically self-reflexive metafiction and posits a kind of influence model of theory over fiction that a poetics of postmodernism would not be willing to do.
Rather than separating theory from practice, it would seek to integrate them and would organize itself around issues narrative, representation, textuality, subjectivity, ideology, and so on that both theory and art problematize and continually reformulate in paradoxical terms.
See all of Part II. First, however, any poetics of postmodernism should come to terms with the immense amount of material that has already been written on the subject of postmodernism in all fields. Does it have as negative a ring of supersession and rejection as many contend Barth ; Moser ? It marks neither a simple and radical break from it nor a straightforward continuity with it: it is both and neither.
And this would be the case in aesthetic, philosophical, or ideological terms. Like many before him both defenders and detractors , Eagleton separates practice and theory, choosing to argue primarily in abstract theoretical terms and almost seeming deliberately to avoid mention of exactly what kind of aesthetic practice is actually being talked about.
This strategy, however clever and certainly convenient, leads only to endless confusion. My first response to his article, for instance, was that, from the descriptive theorizing alone, Eagleton, like Jameson ; a , must mean something quite different from what I do by postmodernism in art.
Yet they both make passing references to architecture, and so I suppose I must presume, though I cannot prove from their texts, that we are all indeed talking of the same kind of artistic manifestation. And so, I will proceed on that assumption. His theory is neat, but maybe too neat. It may alter received historical opinion but it does not evade the notions of historicity or historical determination see Chapter 6. Yet Eagleton asserts all of this—minus the examples—as defining what he calls postmodernism , He continues.
What such fiction also does, however, is problematize both the nature of the referent and its relation to the real, historical world by its paradoxical combination of metafictional self-reflexivity with historical subject matter see Chapter 9. Is all art that introduces non-high art forms here, those of journalism and the spy story by definition kitsch?
Its entire formal and thematic energy is founded in its philosophical problematizing of the nature of reference, of the relation of word to thing, of discourse to experience. Postmodern texts like The White Hotel or Kepler do not confidently disintegrate and banish the humanist subject either, though Eagleton says postmodernism in his theoretical terms does. They do disturb humanist certainties about the nature of the self and of the role of consciousness and Cartesian reason or positivistic science , but they do so by inscribing that subjectivity and only then contesting it see Chapter A poetics of postmodernism must deal with both and can theorize only on the basis of all the forms of postmodern discourse available to it.
As Nicholas Zurbrugg , 71 has argued, too many of the theorists of postmodernism have simplified and misread the complexities and creative potential of postmodern cultural practices by predicating their theories on a very partial sampling. For example the constant complaint that postmodernism is either ahistorical or, if it uses history, that it does so in a naive and nostalgic way, just will not stand up in the light of actual novels such as those listed above or films like Crossroads or Zelig.
What starts to look naive, by contrast, is the reductive belief that any recall of the past must, by definition, be sentimental nostalgia or antiquarianism. What postmodernism does, as its very name suggests, is confront and contest any modernist discarding or recuperating of the past in the name of the future. It suggests no search for transcendent timeless meaning, but rather a re- evaluation of and a dialogue with the past in the light of the present.
It does not deny the existence of the past; it does question whether we can ever know that past other than through its textualized remains. However, the binary oppositions that are usually set up in the writing on postmodernism—between past and present, modern and postmodern, and so on—should probably be called into question, if only because, like the rhetoric of rupture discontinuity, decentering, and so on , postmodernism literally names and constitutes its own paradoxical identity, and does so in an uneasy contradictory relationship of constant slippage.
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So much that has been written on this subject has physically taken the form of opposing columns, usually labelled modernist versus postmodernist see Hassan , b; cf. Lethen , —6. But this is a structure that implicitly denies the mixed, plural, and contradictory nature of the postmodern enterprise.
Surely many ages could be so described. Whatever the cause, a poetics of postmodernism should try to come to grips with some of the obvious paradoxes in both theory and practice. These are typically paradoxical: they are the masterful denials of mastery, the cohesive attacks on cohesion, the essentializing challenges to essences, that characterize postmodern theory. Similarly historiographic metafiction—like postmodern painting, sculpture, and photography—inscribes and only then subverts its mimetic engagement with the world.
It does not reject it cf. Graff ; nor does it merely accept it cf. Butler , 93; A. But it does change irrevocably any simple notions of realism or reference by directly confronting the discourse of art with the discourse of history. The visible paradoxes of the postmodern do not mask any hidden unity which analysis can reveal.
Its irreconcilable incompatibilities are the very bases upon which the problematized discourses of postmodernism emerge see Foucault , The differences that these contradictions foreground should not be dissipated. While unresolved paradoxes may be unsatisfying to those in need of absolute and final answers, to postmodernist thinkers and artists they have been the source of intellectual energy that has provoked new articulations of the postmodern condition.
Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place
In order to try to avoid the tempting trap of co-option, what is necessary is the acknowledging of the fact that such a position is itself an ideology, one that is profoundly implicated in that which it seeks to theorize. Such an enterprise would obviously not yield any universal truths but, then again, that would not be what it sought to do. To move from the desire and expectation of sure and single meaning to a recognition of the value of differences and even contradictions might be a tentative first step to accepting responsibility for both art and theory as signifying processes.
In other words, maybe we could begin to study the implications of both our making and our making sense of our culture. This text accuses the modern city of being the product of an alliance between bureaucracy and totalitarianism, and singles out the great error of modern architecture in the break of historical continuity.
But I want to argue that it is precisely parody—that seemingly introverted formalism—that paradoxically brings about a direct confrontation with the problem of the relation of the aesthetic to a world of significance external to itself, to a discursive world of socially defined meaning systems past and present —in other words, to the political and the historical. My focus in this chapter will be on what I think offers the best model for a poetics of postmodernism: postmodern architecture, the one art form in which the label seems to refer, uncontested, to a generally agreed upon corpus of works.
And all of these art works share one major contradictory characteristic: they are all overtly historical and unavoidably political, precisely because they are formally parodic. I will argue throughout this study that postmodernism is a fundamentally contradictory enterprise: its art forms and its theory at once use and abuse, install and then destabilize convention in parodic ways, self-consciously pointing both to their own inherent paradoxes and provisionally and, of course, to their critical or ironic re-reading of the art of the past.
In implicitly contesting in this way such concepts as aesthetic originality and textual closure, postmodernist art offers a new model for mapping the borderland between art and the world, a model that works from a position within both and yet not totally within either, a model that is profoundly implicated in, yet still capable of criticizing, that which it seeks to describe. As we have seen, such a paradoxical model of postmodernism is consistent with the very name of the label for postmodernism signals its contradictory dependence upon and independence from the modernism that both historically preceded it and literally made it possible.
Philip Johnson probably could not have built the postmodern Transco Tower in Houston if he had not first designed the modernist purist form of Pennzoil Place—and if he had not begun his career as an architectural historian. Parodic references to the history of architecture textually reinstate a dialogue with the past and— perhaps inescapably—with the social and ideological context in which architecture is and has been both produced and lived. In using parody in this way, postmodernist forms want to work toward a public discourse that would overtly eschew modernist aestheticism and hermeticism and its attendant political self-marginalization.
But it also suggests that we must be critically conscious of the myths of both the modernists and the late-romantic avant-garde. Postmodernist ironic recall of history is neither nostalgia nor aesthetic cannibalization cf. Jameson a, Nor can it be reduced to the glibly decorative cf. Frampton The past as referent is not bracketed or effaced, as Jameson would like to believe: it is incorporated and modified, given new and different life and meaning. In other words, even the most self- conscious and parodic of contemporary works do not try to escape, but indeed foreground, the historical, social, ideological contexts in which they have existed and continue to exist.
This is as true of music as of painting; it is as valid for literature as it is for architecture. It is not surprising that a post-Saussurian kind of pragmatics or semiotics has had a strong appeal for those studying this kind of parodic art. The architecture of the s and s has been marked by a deliberate challenge to the conventions and underlying assumptions of that langue, but it is a typically postmodern and self-conscious challenge offered from within those very conventions and assumptions.
In reaction against what modernist ahistoricism then led to, however, postmodern parodic revisitations of the history of architecture interrogate the modernist totalizing ideal of progress through rationality and purist form Lyotard , As a way of textually incorporating the history of art, parody is the formal analogue to the dialogue of past and present that silently but unavoidably goes on at a social level in architecture, because the relation of form to function, shape to use of space, is not a new problem for architects. It is in this way that parodic postmodern buildings can be said to parallel, in their form and their explicitly social contextualizing, contemporary challenges on the level of theory.
Any study of the actual aesthetic practice of postmodernism quickly makes clear its role in the crises of theoretical legitimation that have come to our attention in the now infamous Lyotard a —Habermas —Rorty a debate. Perhaps it is at this level that the ideological status of postmodernist art should be argued out, instead of at that of an understandable, if knee-jerk, reaction against its implication in the mass culture of late capitalism. In fact the architecture of the s from the start signalled a conscious move away from the modern movement or the International Style as much for overtly ideological as for aesthetic reasons.
These new forms were not, by any means, monolithic. They did, however, mark a shared return to such rejected forms as the vernacular that is, to local needs and local architectural traditions , to decoration and a certain individualism in design, and, most importantly, to the past, to history.
The collective weight of parodic practice suggests a redefinition of parody as repetition with critical distance that allows ironic signalling of difference at the very heart of similarity. To include irony and play is never necessarily to exclude seriousness and purpose in postmodernist art. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand the nature of much contemporary aesthetic production—even if it does make for neater theorizing.
II O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within thy blessed borders today? There have been two kinds of reactions to this modernist hegemony: those from architects themselves and those from the public at large. Perhaps the most eloquent and polemical of the recent public responses has been that of Tom Wolfe in his From Bauhaus to Our House, which opens with the wonderfully parodic American lament with which I began this section.
This is a tyranny—both moral and aesthetic—over American clients. We know best. The users of the buildings were also to be controlled. Not surprisingly, many of the worker housing projects of high modernism, like the infamous Pruitt-lgoe one in St Louis, degenerated into shabby welfare housing and were finally and literally blown up, when their social failure was acknowledged. But the control of the architect was often even more extreme: in the Seagram Building, Mies allowed only white blinds on the plate glass windows and demanded that these be left in only one of three positions, open, shut, or half-way.
Modernist architects seemed to set themselves up in one of two privileged positions with regard to the groups that were actually to occupy their designs. Although Le Corbusier saw himself as the apolitical technocrat, the ideological assumptions behind his aesthetic theories of purist rationality might be seen to have played a role in his collaboration with the Vichy government and the failure, in practical terms, of his rather simplistic theory of social good through pure form.
We must, of course, beware of making our own simplistic associations of architectural style and single ideologies. And such was indeed the case with the modernist premises which postmodernism used— but transformed. What we should not forget is that the act of designing and building is always a gesture in a social context Baird , 81 , and this is one of the ways in which formal parody meets social history. Architecture has both an aesthetic form and social use dimension.
The odd combination of the empirical and the rational in modernist theory was meant to suggest a scientific determinism that was to combat the cumulative power and weight of all that had been inherited from the past. Faith in the rational, scientific mastery of reality implicitly—then explicitly—denied the inherited, evolved cultural continuity of history. It is perhaps a loss of faith in these modernist values that has led to postmodernist architecture today. The two major theoretical spokesmen of this mixed group have been Paolo Portoghesi and Charles Jencks—both practicing architects.
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Memory is central to this linking of the past with the lived. As an architect working in Rome, Portoghesi cannot avoid direct confrontation with the layers of history in his city and with the example of the baroque architects before him. History is not, however, a repository of models: he is not interested in copying or in straight revivalism. Like all the postmodernists and this is the reason for the label he knows he cannot totally reject modernism, especially its material and technological advances, but he wants to integrate with these positive aspects of the immediate past the equally positive aspects of the more remote and repressed history of forms.
Portoghesi refuses to limit this historical borrowing to post-industrial periods and has been accused of being reactionary for it—Frampton , An example might make clearer the form taken by this kind of historical interrogation or ironic contamination of the present by the past. Maria Maggiore. The exact structural echoing is made parodic—that is ironically different—by the use of new materials: vertically placed bricks and stones, instead of plaster.
Another kind of formal echoing occurs in the relation of this building to its environment. Portoghesi inverts the eighteenth-century taste for inserting ruins into the garden: the nearby real Roman ruins, overrun with vegetation, are echoed in his allowing nature to overrun the house as well. The implication of this kind of relationship to the historical forms of the past is perhaps best expressed by architect Aldo van Eyck: Man, after all, has been accommodating himself physically in this world for thousands of years.
His natural genius has neither increased nor decreased during that time. On the contrary, what does start to look naive, as I suggested in the last chapter, is this reductive notion that any recall of the past must, by definition, be sentimental nostalgia. To disregard the collective memory of architecture is to risk making the mistakes of modernism and its ideology of the myth of social reform through purity of structure. Jane Jacobs has clearly documented the failure of this myth in her Death and Life of Great American Cities , and even the opponents of postmodernism agree on the social and aesthetic effects of modernism on major urban centers.
Yet postmodernism does not entirely negate modernism. It cannot. Postmodernism attempts to be historically aware, hybrid, and inclusive. Seemingly inexhaustible historical and social curiosity and a provisional and paradoxical stance somewhat ironic, yet involved replace the prophetic, prescriptive posture of the great masters of modernism. An elegant re- reading of the local structural models mostly Palladian of the Veneto region is here filtered through both the modernist technology best suited to a structure built in a seismic area and the particular needs of a modern administrative center.
Even more significantly, perhaps, this building was designed with the help of a co-operative formed by the inhabitants of the destroyed village— who also literally worked at the rebuilding themselves. This is not to deny that there is also kitsch, kitsch that is being labelled as postmodernism: the tacking of classical arches onto the front of modernist skyscrapers, for instance. This trendy attempt to capitalize on the popularity of postmodern historicism is not the same as postmodernism itself, but is a sign of its perhaps inevitable commodification.
Just as modernist techniques and forms became debased by dilution and commercialization, so the same has happened to the postmodern. A young Toronto architect, Bruce Kuwabara , recently pointed to the importance of the postmodern breaking up of modernist dogma and its reconsideration of the urban heritage of the city. Neither is in itself radically new, but both open things up to the possibility of the new. There are always two ways of reading the contradictions of postmodernism, though.
It is also a way to mark an ideological stance: the Venturis, in their work on Las Vegas, for instance, can be seen—as Jencks , 70 notes—to express, in a gentle way, a mixed appreciation for the American Way of Life. Grudging respect, not total acceptance. What to Wolfe is just camp historical reference in the work of Charles Moore is seen by Portoghesi as revealing the nearly limitless possibilities for recycling historic forms , We are clearly dealing here with classical forms and ornamentation, but with a new and different twist: there is no hand-crafted decoration at all this is not a celebration of romantic individuality or even gothic craftsmanship.
The ornamentation is here, but it is of a new kind, one that partakes, in fact, of the machine-tooled impersonality and standardization of modernism. That particular corner of Rome is a complex mix of theatrical stage, palace, sculpture, and nature rocks and water. Despite the use of modernist materials like neon, concrete, and stainless steel, there is still a challenge to modernism.
This appears not just in the eclectic but never random classical echoing, but also in the use of color and ornament in general. The same challenge is also to be seen in the deliberate contextualizing of the piazza into the local architecture. From a nearby skyscraper, Moore took the black and white coloring of the concentric rings, themselves reminiscent of the Place des Victoires in Paris.
But this symmetry is denied by the incompletion of the circles. As in much postmodernist art, the eye is invited to complete the form for itself; such counter-expectation urges us to be active, not passive, viewers. In another implicitly anti-modernist gesture, Moore takes the actual social use of the square into account. Such a focus is apt because most of the Italians in New Orleans are, in fact, Sicilian. In an implied attack on the earnest seriousness of high modernism, such relevance and function here go together with irony: the boot-shape is constructed as a new Trevi fountain, a cascade of broken forms in which when it works properly water flows from the highest point the Alps to the lowest, along the Po, Arno, and Tiber rivers.
This celebration of ethnic public identity is brought about by a formal reworking of the structures and functions of both classical and modernist architecture. The dialogue of past and present, of old and new, is what gives formal expression to a belief in change within continuity.
The obscurity and hermeticism of modernism are abandoned for a direct engagement of the viewer in the processes of signification through re-contextualized social and historical references. Influenced by modern semiotics, Jencks sees architecture as conveying meaning through language and convention. It is in this context that he situates the parodic recall of the past, the context of the need to look to history to enlarge the available vocabulary of forms.
Unlike the Michelangelo pilasters [from the Palazzo Farnese in Rome], to which it also relates, it sets horizontal and vertical faces into extreme opposition by changing the colour and texture…. Even without the verbal connection, the ideological dimension is clear. In other words, the self-reflexive parodic introversion suggested by a turning to the aesthetic past is itself what makes possible an ideological and social intervention. He adds other parodic reworkings which Graves does not mention, but which he himself notices: of modernist concrete construction, of mannerist broken pediments, and of cubist colors.
Jencks acknowledges that the meaning of these historical references would likely be lost on the average citizen of the American mid-west. But the frequent use of a very common and easily recognized idiom—often that of classical architecture—works to combat such exclusiveness. Parody of the classical tradition offers a set of references that not only remain meaningful to the public but also continue to be compositionally useful to architects.
It is significant that postmodernist architects do not often use the term parody to describe their ironically recontextualized echoing of the forms of the past. I think this is because of the negative connotations of trivialization caused by the retention of an historically limited definition of parody as ridiculing imitation. It is to this limitation of the meaning of parody that Jameson falls prey. But there appear to be many possible pragmatic positions and strategies open to parody today—at least if we examine actual contemporary works of art: from reverence to mockery.
And it is this very range that postmodernist architecture illustrates so well. The mockery is something we always associate with parody; but the deference is another story. Nevertheless, deference is exactly what architects like Thomas Gordon Smith suggest in their loving, if ironic, refunctioning of previous architectural conventions. It is also, therefore, an ironic comment on the modern vulgarization of this habit: the presence of flamingos, dwarves, and lawn jockeys.
What is interesting, though, is that this column is precisely the one that is missing from the portico of the house. Parodic echoing of the past, even with this kind of irony, can still be deferential. It is in this way that postmodern parody marks its paradoxical doubleness of both continuity and change, both authority and transgression. Postmodernist parody, be it in architecture, literature, painting, film, or music, uses its historical memory, its aesthetic introversion, to signal that this kind of self-reflexive discourse is always inextricably bound to social discourse.
Parody has perhaps come to be a privileged mode of postmodern formal self-reflexivity because its paradoxical incorporation of the past into its very structures often points to these ideological contexts somewhat more obviously, more didactically, than other forms. Parody seems to offer a perspective on the present and the past which allows an artist to speak to a discourse from within it, but without being totally recuperated by it.
This is clearly true of contemporary architects trying to combat the hegemony of modernism in our century. But parody has also been a favorite postmodern literary form of writers in places like Ireland and Canada, working as they do from both inside and outside a culturally different and dominant context. And parody has certainly become a most popular and effective strategy of the other ex-centrics —of black, ethnic, gay, and feminist artists—trying to come to terms with and to respond, critically and creatively, to the still predominantly white, heterosexual, male culture in which they find themselves.
For both artists and their audiences, parody sets up a dialogical relation between identification and distance.
Literature, Geography, and the Postmodern Poetics of Place : Eric Prieto :
Pace Eagleton and Jameson, only on a very abstract level of theoretical analysis—one which ignores actual works of art—can it be dismissed as a trivial and depthless mode. Like it or not, contemporary architecture cannot evade its representative social function. Jonathan D. Whatever the disagreements about what precisely characterizes modernism, we appear to have agreed upon recognizing its existence.
And the same is gradually becoming the case with postmodernism. That said, however, Jameson does not so much proceed to define postmodernism as to assail it for its lacks.
Both the enemies of the postmodern including Eagleton and Newman and its supporters Caramello have refused to define precisely what they mean by their usage of the term, some as we have seen because they admit to assuming a tacit definition, others because they find too many annoying contradictions in its use. Clearly for these theorists and critics, among others see, earlier, Spanos ; Graff ; Fiedler , postmodernism is an evaluative designation to be used in relation to modernism.
My interest here is in its present use. Yet, whereas today China is at the heart of global capitalism, Jameson's essay depends on the counterexample of China as a "collective…'subject of history'" for its definition of the fragmented subjectivity that is the "cultural logic of late capitalism" Jameson Charles Olson's use of the term several decades earlier, in , was equally motivated by a sense of historical rupture: by his desire to break with a modernity that had led to the horrors of Auschwitz and with the colonialism and emergent neocolonial capitalism that he witnessed during his wartime military service.
Like Jameson, Olson looked to China as a collective subjective that could be opposed to Western capitalism. For Olson, however, the terms were reversed. He opposed the new "post-modern world" and his "projective" poetry to a pernicious modernity and an "estranged" or alienated "modern" subject 9 and 20 August letters to Robert Creeley; qtd. Olson's epochal hailing of the postmodern explicitly appealed to the historic founding of the People's Republic of China in Anderson By , however, China had begun its slow but sure embrace of what Jameson termed "late capitalism.
As these examples illustrate, "generalizations about historical periods typically contain covert assumptions about space that privilege one location over others" Friedman, "Periodizing Modernism" And these covert spatial hierarchies are usually accompanied by "the concepts of originality, development, and belatedness that lie at the center of the modern world view" Hayot Jameson makes China the counterexample to the West's postmodernity. Inversely, Olson's postmodern emerges only out of the non-Western world, of which China is a privileged representative.
The very term postmodernism projects a temporal hierarchy, which in turn maps onto a spatially differentiated modernity, a Wallersteinian world-system structured around cultural centers and peripheries, even when the positions in this hierarchy are, as in Olson's and Jameson's uses of postmodernism, partly inverted.
Just like modernism, postmodernism has been put to very different uses in different places, times, and languages. These uses of postmodernism have taken place not in isolation but in the context of uneven cultural capital. The diverse uses of the term postmodernism in, say, the United States, New Zealand, China, and Russia are inseparable from claims for attention and centrality within a context of a global cultural power imbalance.
Yet as with modernism, alongside "often brutal inequities of power," these uses of postmodernism involve "global weblike formations, with many multidirectional links" Friedman, "Periodizing Modernism" Like modernism, therefore, postmodernism requires "a polycentric approach" that recognizes how each use of postmodernism "is constructed through engagement" with other uses of the term and in turn shapes those other uses Friedman, "Periodizing Modernism" At first glance, tracing the uses of the term postmodernism would seem only to reinforce a temporally and spatially hierarchical structure of origins in the United States in the s, followed by development in Western Europe in the late s and s, before the term is adopted in more peripheral regions of the world literary-system in the late s and s.
Indeed, the various Google Books n-grams of the term's use visualize waves of influence extending outwards from the Anglo-American center, with the peak in the crest rising and falling later in such semi-peripheries as Russia and China compare figs. Postmodernism, then, would seem to be the perfect example of a wave-like process of global literary influence and change, as proposed by Franco Moretti in relation to the worldwide spread of the novel. Figures 1—3 use Google Books Ngram corpuses to compare the changes between and in the word frequency of the term postmodernism in English fig.
Although the spread in the use of postmodernism is in part the history of a global form inflected by local circumstances, the developing uses of the term also involve multidirectional pathways of influence and counterinfluence and of cross-cultural encounter and exchange that are obscured by a model of innovation in cultural centers spreading out in waves to the peripheries of the cultural world-system.
As with Olson's and Jameson's appeals to China, other uses of postmodernism in the United States, New Zealand, Russia, and China tell a more complex story of contested cultural centers and transnational affiliations. The canonical history of postmodernism's use in US literary studies is well known. In their groundbreaking articles, published in and respectively, Ihab Hassan and David Antin used the term postmodernism to describe some of the new kinds of literary and cultural production that had emerged in the s and s, with Antin singling out Olson's precursor role in the postmodern revival of radical modernism.
Neither author, though, notes the independent Spanish-language usage of the term, which dates from the s; Anderson 4. Though arguably never central to French poststructuralist thought, postmodernism became for a time "the main reading perspective for French theory in the United States" thanks to Lyotard's use of the term just at the point when French theory was gaining increasing attention within the US academy Cusset Lyotard's encounter with US literary theory then led to the transformation of the term in the United States from a synonym for the mid-century avant-garde practices of Olson, John Cage, and others, to shorthand for the new influx of French theory.
Rather than postmodernism's uses extending waves of influence outwards from a cultural center, the uses of postmodernism here involved exchange and contestation over cultural centrality. Already in , Perloff had begun to examine this history of the term's use in the context of US literary studies. She argued that in the s and earlier going back to Olson's use of the term "postmodern" represents "everything that is radical, innovative, forward-looking" in literary and artistic practice "Postmodernism" According to Perloff, Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition marks the "shift…to the broader cultural definition of the term" "Postmodernism" Perloff traces a shift from the "utopian" use of the term in the s to a more dystopian use in the s and s "Postmodernism" This dystopian turn occurred largely through the influence of Jameson's essay then book Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism , which successfully harnessed and propelled the rise in the term's popularity in the late s and s.
Perloff herself uses the term postmodernism and the history of its application in US literary studies to wage her ongoing war for what she calls "literary criticism" and against "cultural critique. In other words, her account of postmodernism is a cautionary tale about artistic innovation swamped by French philosophy, Marxist cultural theory, and identity politics. By recovering an earlier use of postmodernism, Perloff seeks to oppose literature and literary criticism to theory and politics.
While acknowledging the importance of periodization she notes the significant differences between poetry in the s and the s , Perloff also wants to separate postmodernist cultural production from larger historical changes - just the kind of separation that Jameson's essay had sought to collapse. Perry Anderson's study a few years later expands on Perloff's account of the developing uses of the term.
Anderson, of course, uses this history of postmodernism to quite different political ends, but he, too, turns to Olson to prise the term free from Jameson's dystopic analysis and writes with a similar awareness of the cross-cultural encounters that produced the term's diverse and even contrary history of uses. Owing to this history, by the mids postmodernism was already available as a figure for radical artistic experimentation, for French theoretical sophistication, and for postindustrial capitalism and global neoliberalism. These uses would be subject to further remixing and remaking as the term was adopted and adapted elsewhere in the world.
In mids New Zealand, Ian Wedde attempted to redraw the map of local poetry partly under the sign of postmodernism. Wedde was given the opportunity to edit a new Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse , the first major new edition since the Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse , edited by Allen Curnow, which had served to establish a canon of New Zealand poetry that embodied Curnow's critical nationalist and modernist vision. Wedde's introduction to the edition was a landmark document in New Zealand literary history.
In the introduction, Wedde explicitly invokes "the linguistic republic of postmodernist words," connecting postmodernism to the "post" and "post-Baxter" in reference to the poet James K. Baxter opposition to the brand of modernism canonized in Curnow's anthology 24, Wedde's use of postmodernism reflects New Zealand's mids moment of "decolonization," marked by the election of the fourth Labour government and the anti-nuclear legislation passed by that government three years later Belich.
Wedde connected postmodernism to the effort to think about language in relation to location: "the historical process towards the sense of consummation in location that comes…with a poem like David Eggleton's 'Painting Mount Taranaki' is also a development towards a sense of culture that is internally familiar" This anthology included the work of Robert Creeley, who had visited New Zealand in , and Olson, whom Wedde cites in his introduction.
Referring to the "postmodern American poetry" of Olson and Edward Dorn, Wedde associates postmodernism with a turn to "the demotic" and process-oriented poetics of the mid-twentieth-century American avant-garde Wedde appealed to the same mid-century American avant-garde that Antin had presented under the label "postmodern" in the pages of boundary 2 in the early s.
Yet by the time Wedde's appeal appeared in , postmodernism had different, contradictory uses in the United States. It was not Olson's or Wedde's "demotic" poetry of location but the work of another Language writer, Bob Perelman, that in Jameson cited as exemplary of the fragmented subject of postmodernism. These contrary uses of postmodernism were reflected in the New Zealand literary field. Although published in the same year in the same country, Wedde's account of postmodernism seems diametrically opposed to those put forward by Leonard Wilcox and Simon During in the New Zealand literary journal Landfall , another venerable institution of Curnow's brand of nationalist modernism.
Wilcox distinguishes between the Olson-inflected, "pastoral" understanding of postmodernism——dominant in New Zealand and conducive to the country's "preoccupation with defining a national identity"——and "those features which theorists have come to see as salient characteristics of postmodernism," such as a "new depthlessness and a whole new culture of the image and the simulacrum" Wilcox cites especially Lyotard and Jameson, repeating the latter's account of the "'schizophrenic' utterances of the so-called Language poetry or New Sentence school of San Francisco" Whereas Wedde uses postmodernism to promote a demotic style that emphasizes "location,…not just in terms of place, but in the fullest cultural sense," for During, "the postmodern subject no longer lives in surroundings where objects are invested with, and bring forth, organised memories and feelings" Wedde 26; During, "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" Instead, Wedde's postmodernism resembles Wilcox's "post-provincialism"——the "cultural nationalist equivalent of postmodernism in New Zealand"——and During's "postcolonialism," defined as the "need for an identity granted not in terms of the colonial power, but in terms of themselves" Wilcox ; During, "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" Wedde, Wilcox, and During extend different parts of the argument put forward by Roger Horrocks a couple of years earlier in his essay "The Invention of New Zealand.
But Horrocks also seems to anticipate During's argument that "representations which claim to reflect, or intend to produce, a distinctively postcolonial reality" are in fact "already postmodern images" "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" While the term postmodern scarcely appears in Horrocks's essay, like During, Horrocks emphasizes the "invention" of a national "reality" and a national literature. These local cultural battles, as in the United States, involved a network of relations and affiliations that extended beyond the boundary of the nation.
Wilcox had completed his PhD at the University of California, Irvine, in , and so brought to New Zealand his knowledge of North American theory along with a sense of his new home's provinciality. Though his essay ends by suggesting the ability of New Zealand postmodernism to engage "the crisis of authority vested in Western European culture and its 'master narratives,'" Wilcox reinforces the spatial and temporal hierarchies that attend periodization He clings to the authority of Euro-American theorists such as Lyotard and Jameson in criticizing the anachronistic use of the term postmodernism in New Zealand.
For Wilcox, New Zealand's anachronistic use of postmodernism reflects the country's "cultural lag" and the fact that it "is not properly a consumer society" When During published his essay on postmodernism in the New Zealand literary journal Landfall , he was teaching at the University of Melbourne, an experience that presumably prompted his comparison between the "postcolonised discourse" of New Zealand and the "import rhetoric" with which he characterized Australia's embrace of French theory "Postmodernism or Postcolonialism" This geographical contrast echoes During's own interweaving of postcolonial and postmodern discourse through which he positions himself simultaneously within a national literary conversation and the international networks of the burgeoning field of literary theory.