Friday, April 13, 2007

A definition of Postmodernism

George Aichele says: “there is no single, widely accepted definition of postmodernism. Nor is there a single postmodern standpoint on any given topic…. [T]hat particular discussion [of the meanings of postmodernism] … is itself in some ways highly symptomatic of postmodernism.” (Sign, Text, Scripture: Semiotics and the Bible, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997, p15)

Aichele goes on: “I somewhat arbitrarily adopt for my purposes the well-known definition of the French Philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard:

The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself; that which denies itself the solace of good forms, the consensus of a taste which would make it possible to share collectively the nostalgia for the unattainable; that which searches for new presentations, not in order to enjoy them but in order to impart a stronger sense of the unpresentable.

Lyotard, J-F., The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge trans. Bennington & Massumi (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1984) p81

Well, from my no doubt culture bound perspective, this seems to me to deny itself the solaces of making sense and saying what it means. Its more like hints at descriptions than a useful definition, because, really, what is it on about? Unpresentable? Impenetrable.

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