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Postmodern Infotainment: I Rrivolously Link - You Decide
February 21, 2003 4:48 PM   Subscribe

How to Speak and Write Postmodern. Here is an etymology of the word postmodern--it begins with Walter Toynbee. Who'd athunk? All of this comes from Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought . The names lead not to essays but thorough links pages, like Ludwig Wittgenstein or Edmund Husserl. All the usual suspects are here--your Adorno, Baudrillard and the infamous Frankfurt School. *spooky ghost voice* Whoo-oo-oo! */spooky ghost voice* Well, there is Edward Said, but that one confuses me--I mean I read Edmund Husserl, and he, sir, is no Edmund Husserl. He actually makes sense. Which is more than I can say for Edmund Husserl. And it's all one huge page so you can scroll on down. Even I can do that. Hope I didn't brain my damage! To trump the smarty-pants who's going to link the Postmodernism Generator, I'm upping the ante--here's your Postmodern Mr. T.
                                                             Hey man, This time we're gonna do it my way!
posted by y2karl (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am baffled by that last line.
posted by y2karl at 4:50 PM on February 21, 2003


said's not postmodern - he's smart enough to say things sufficiently sensible that they don't need verbal wankery.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:05 PM on February 21, 2003


I'm going to be postmodern and disobey these rules entirely.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:06 PM on February 21, 2003


The first link is so absolutely on the mark it is scary. My best friend and his wife are professors of English, and have their PhD's in this line. When I bust his chops about this sort of linguistic quackery, the best I have every heard is that.."Well....you HAVE to say it like that", or "well...you know, if YOU ever got your shit together as far as this stuff." Postmodernism is something created by academics, for academics, and serves no purpose other than prolonging the careers and edifying the egos of its practitionors. THANK YOU for this link. It's already been forwarded.
posted by timsteil at 5:15 PM on February 21, 2003


But you have to agree this has nothing to do with invading Iraq.
posted by y2karl at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2003


also.....be sure to check out aldaily.com, and scroll down to find the postmodern generator on the left margin....proves the point even further.
posted by timsteil at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2003


But you have to agree this has nothing to do with invading Iraq.

Oh, I could link it up...hand me that ream of paper...
posted by Opus Dark at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2003


Actually, timsteil, I got that from Everything Postmodern--the MOST comprehensive list of postmodern links on the web today!--from the All Else page there, where it's blurbed thusly:

--caused quite a controversy on alt.postmodern. Geez people lighten up.


It was an inside job. How doubly ironic, how utterly postmodern.
posted by y2karl at 5:29 PM on February 21, 2003


That first link is brilliant. Or should I say: Your primary intertextual hyper-text reference provides persuasive and appropriately deconstructive satire, however, one must by very nature of the discourse analyze the inherent cultural biases and malapropisms of both the hyper-text referer, the author of said article, as well as referee, ie, the reader.

Fuck I can't do this anymore. So much for grad school.
posted by pinto at 5:45 PM on February 21, 2003


Take the word ``views''. Postmodernspeak would change that to ``voices'', or better, ``vocalities'', or even better, ``multivocalities''. Add an adjective like ``intertextual'', and you're covered. ``

Yah, that's pretty much comedy gold, alright...

The Miscellany page is from where that first link came. It's got stuff like detritus.net - your home for appropriation, cultural recycling, recombinant art, etc--that's kinda cute. But where do these people get the time?
posted by y2karl at 5:52 PM on February 21, 2003


Sweet FPP, y2karl.
posted by trharlan at 5:54 PM on February 21, 2003


From my perspective, nothing that any of you have said makes any sense.

Or translated into layman's terms: "I'm right. You're wrong."
posted by tgrundke at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2003


This page will self-deconstruct in sixty seconds...
posted by thomas j wise at 6:54 PM on February 21, 2003


FPP?


explain?
posted by timsteil at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2003


FPP = Foucaultian Post-heideggerianistic Platititudinism

Or, Front Page Post, if you're too uncultured.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:59 PM on February 21, 2003


To be honest, I find Said pretty incoherent. Hitchens is a more eloquent, coherent, persuasive and capable voice for the Palestinian cause, and there are some fairly serious methodological problems in Said's conception of "post-colonial studies". He gets away with more than he properly should by playing up the "Palestinian intellectual" angle.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2003


Well, first Wittgenstein says that reflexive self-consciousness can arise only in a linguistic community. Then here come the primatologists showing that chimps are self-aware, which means (assuming you tag along with Ludwig here) that whatever visual-gestural thing the chimps are doing counts as language, at least enough to support reflexive self-consciousness (which makes every single little bit of Chomsky trivial and beside the point.) Then there's Postmodern pooh. All of which three, taken together, excused us from paying any attention to lit-crit ever since Le Cru et le Cuit turned out to be silly. Which is a bloody good thing, because learning to do partial differential equations in our head was a LOT OF FUCKING WORK and we're not sure we could have done anything else at the same time.
posted by jfuller at 8:53 PM on February 21, 2003


Nice post. Some postmodernist traits have died after falling out of chic, though many remain, and many of us hope a time will come before more people realize the emporer has no clothes. I think I'd rather read the Mr. T tract than anything by Adorno.
posted by Karl at 9:23 PM on February 21, 2003


I heard this one chick at a sorority describe this "postmodernism" to this other chick once, and I have to say, I'm firmly against it. It uses a lot of words I don't know, and appears to be making references to things I haven't read. If a subject requires any knowlege to understand, I don't like it. So let's make fun of it some more!
posted by rusty at 10:13 PM on February 21, 2003


Oh, just get the right buzzwords and catchphrases in any sequence, and you too can explore the implications of epistemological deconstructionism in the contextual realities of capitalistic semiotics according to uncontested principles of decentralized thought versus Baudrillardist simulacra. (via the Postmodernism Generator.)
posted by brownpau at 10:39 PM on February 21, 2003


I heard this one chick at a sorority describe this "postmodernism" to this other chick once, and I have to say, I'm firmly against it. It uses a lot of words I don't know, and appears to be making references to things I haven't read. If a subject requires any knowlege to understand, I don't like it. So let's make fun of it some more.

The infamous Sokal hoax proves, to me at least, that there's something fundamentally wrong with the type of language being used in typically post-modern fields of study.
posted by Hildago at 11:17 PM on February 21, 2003


I'm either way on postmodernism, depending upon local microclimate conditions. I mean, when you read the stuff, your first impulse is to roll the eyes and yet, Rusty nails it going the other way--it's scary to think they might know what they're talking about. Well, maybe some of them--and don't send me crap abput that fake paper, I've seen it.

On language, jfuller, not so fast: the language gene makes Chomsky every bit on the money. Chimp hand gestures aren't ASL, anymore than chimp termite digging tools aren't surgical lasers. You don't get culture without language and language, it would seem, has a genetic component. .

I was late to the party and just read about the language gene in relationship to the recent finding about Mungo Man, a burial in Australia--it's 42,000 years old. The article tied that in with the migrations of early modern man out of Africa--I mean, man, we got to Australia fast--maybe because we were talking rather than jumping up and down, flopping their our hands on the ground and screaming. I oversimplify, of course, but you catch my drift here, I think...

And if you do, it means you'll have to give the Chomsky his due.¦þ
posted by y2karl at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2003


postmodernism has led me to my own school...referential reconstrucionism....no offense big K but it was Arnold Toynbee whom used the term....and as a historical referent concerning the philosophy of History which some academe think does not exist....a Philosophy of History. (Y Gasset, toynbee, Carr etc.) and if anyone can understand the poetry of Charles Bernstein please let me know....
'In the how to speak' section Karl puts up, the author states an example: "Contemporary buildings are alienating" which won't get you chesse at the postmodern convention (let alone a verbal handjob from that grad student)....((Blame the Sopranos i'm watching ))

But this similar lyric (sentences) got it's author much fame...

"Asleep in perfect blue buildings/beside a green apple sea/ gonna get me a little Oblivion.....baby/ Try to keep myself away from me (myself and) me/ It's 4:30 a.m. on a tuesday/it doesnt get much worse then this/ In beds in little rooms in buildings in the middle of these lives which are completly meaningless/ help me stay awake...I'm fallin"

-Counting Crows.

Postmodernism is a sham.
posted by clavdivs at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2003


mefi gold Y2K
posted by clavdivs at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2003


Arnold *smacks forehead* no wonder it looked wrong.
posted by y2karl at 10:32 AM on February 22, 2003


The "language gene" is a hypothesis, and not much better founded than the "Chinese discovered Kansas" one. Chomsky is still a smart dog who barked up the wrong tree decades ago and won't give it up. Nobody knows how or when language came to be, and human languages definitely aren't superficially different variants of the same template (start with NP and VP, shake, add lexicon).
posted by languagehat at 10:47 AM on February 22, 2003


In a report being published online today by the journal Nature, Dr. Paabo says the FOXP2 gene has remained largely unaltered during the evolution of mammals, but suddenly changed in humans after the hominid line had split off from the chimpanzee line of descent.

The changes in the human gene affect the structure of the protein it specifies at two sites, Dr. Paabo's team reports. One of them slightly alters the protein's shape; the other gives it a new role in the signaling circuitry of human cells.

The changes indicate that the gene has been under strong evolutionary pressure in humans. Also, the human form of the gene, with its two changes, seems to have become universal in the human population, suggesting that it conferred some overwhelming benefit.


For a hypothesis, it's rather plausible. So, I'm guessing I know where you stand on Nostratic and such?
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on February 22, 2003


The infamous Sokal hoax proves, to me at least, that there's something fundamentally wrong with the type of language being used in typically post-modern fields of study.

you know, I just went and read the first half of that paper, and the language is not especially opaque. You can claim the thesis is unsupportable, but he doesn't pull it off by making it impossible to understand. He pulls it off by being a physics professor and quoting other physicists, interpreting relativity and quantum mechanics as proof that reality is not absolute.

What probably threw the social text people was the scientific stuff, which they probably didn't understand well enough. They should've known it was a hoax just because hard science always looks down on social science, so such a breathless support from a physics prof should've made them suspicious. Instead they were flattered... d'oh.

re: the language gene, etc, maybe the important distinction is between categorical and concrete language - the chimps may have mastered concrete language but that's not the important part of human linguistic capability. People with aphasia who lose their abilities with categorical language have been described as losing their humanity; they're concerned merely with completing tasks or responding to commands and fail to recognize patterns or understand interconnections. They don't have ideas.
posted by mdn at 11:29 AM on February 22, 2003


Ah, I didn't recognize the name Sokal. To which we must connect the name Bogdanov--the two brothers accused of publishing four fraudulent papers in physics jornals and even getting Phds from Bourgoyne University.

On October 23rd I decided to post an article about this to sci.physics.research, a physics discussion group I help moderate. Entitled Physics bitten by reverse Alan Sokal hoax?, it brought widespread attention to the Bogdanov affair. It also started a a fascinating discussion on sci.physics.research, to which Sokal and the Bogdanov themselves eventually contributed.

There does seem to be some controversy over whether there deliberate fraud involved but if true, it rather bites Alan Sokal on the ass.

Sartre suggests that darn use of capitalist postdialectic theory to attack and modify sexual identity. Fool! It could be jibba jabba'd that crazy the darn subject gunna be interpolated into a prepatriarchial narrative that crazy includes culture as a whole. Not again--if you know what I mean.
posted by y2karl at 11:53 AM on February 22, 2003


y2karl, I did not know about Bogdanov. This is very good news for an English major whose friends are physicists.
posted by Hildago at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2003


People pick on pomo criticism because it parodies itself frequently and vigorously enough.

My favorite example is A.H. Itwaru's Negative Ecstasy: The Star Trek Seductions and Other Mass Deceptions. While, alas, I've lost my own copy of this opus, you can find the Star Trek parts here, probably violating copyright. There are also such things as a truly cutting deconstruction of the CN Tower... apparently towers are phallic; I hadn't noticed before.

The title part is, as far as it goes, the sort of criticism of Star Trek that any bright undergrad could whip up -- blah blah colonialist blah phallus blah blah; it reminds me of 30 high school students Finding The Symbolism in Old Man and the Sea -- but it becomes truly funny when it falls on its face. There are numerous misspellings, including the names of characters and the shows themselves, the author asserts that O'Brien is a Scottish name, etc.

It's clear from context that the author is not actually familiar with the show, but that does not stop him from pigeonholing it as a memetic-warfare CONstruct of modern technophallism instead of observating it to be a neo-marxian criticism of modern consumerist society and exPRESSing its valorization and empowerment of a dissident, oppressed minority of those who dare to vocalize in ways unapproved-of by the dominant patriarchal/capitalist media-state.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2003


it's scary to think they might know what they're talking about

Of course they know what they're talking about. Critical theory isn't science, it's all made up! They made it up, and then talked about it, so there's nothing surprising about the fact that they know what they're talking about.

Postmodernism, as conventionally understood (not as misunderstood by the ignorant mind you) is generally about textual analysis and interpretation. Just like Marxist analysis is correct as long as it remains internally consistent, and new criticism is correct as long as it remains internally consistent, so is deconstruction theory correct, and post-feminism, and so forth. They're just different ways of talking about texts. Each one can shed light on its subject matter in different ways, and can prompt you to maybe see the world in a way you hadn't thought of before. But it's never going to be a matter of one way or another somehow "winning," or being "proven right."

What I've found bizarre for going on a decade now is how postmodern modes of critique in particular have grabbed the public's imagination, and can continue to provoke such strong responses in people who fundamentally have no idea what they are. It's like if everyone went around arguing about the basic assumptions and methods in one particularly esoteric branch of poetic theory, and got really upset about it and everything, without having read any of the actual poems or critical works about them.

I guess if people did actually go and study postmodern thought they'd be terribly disappointed. "Oh, you mean it's just all about how we read stuff? How... dull." Or maybe you'd be like a few of us and find it fascinating, but no way could you continue to believe that it's in any way important or something to be getting upset over. (Unless you are a college professor and make a living by getting upset over unimportant things.)

And just like bad science (of which there is no lack) doesn't prove that science is stupid, bad and misbegotten pomo criticism doesn't prove anything except for the stupidity of the author (and/or editors that accepted it). For example, the idea of "deconstructing" the CN tower is retarded. It doesn't even make sense. It would be like a mathematician trying to find the derivative of "sadness."

Anyway, this has been your biannual token defense of postmodern critique in the face of the standard uninformed jeering. I expect I'll be back in six months to do it again, and I look forward to seeing you all there!
posted by rusty at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2003


Your statement is internally consistent, that's for sure.
posted by y2karl at 2:28 PM on February 22, 2003


And just like bad science (of which there is no lack) doesn't prove that science is stupid, bad and misbegotten pomo criticism doesn't prove anything except for the stupidity of the author (and/or editors that accepted it).

Agreement. I should have added that people pick on pomo criticism because it parodies itself frequently and vigorously enough

*AND*

because substantial numbers of people end up getting exposed to it in college or elsewhere. No data handy, but I'm willing to bet my car that far more people have been forced to read some pomo-ish criticism (including laughably bad stuff) at the hands of an English or Cultural Studies TA than have been forced to read arguably-bad physics articles by the Bogdanov Brothers, or that have been forced to read any of the vast reams of bad and/or impenetrable poli-sci in the APSR or AJPS.

I don't know that pomo criticism has a higher idiot quotient than any other academic endeavor, but it does stick its head out of the trenches more often and so gets shot at more.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:18 PM on February 22, 2003


Postmodernism is a sham.

Saith MeFi's most esteemed postmodern artifact.

In character.
In palimpsest.
In scrutable.
In describably delicious
...and high in protean.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:34 PM on February 22, 2003


Your statement is internally consistent, that's for sure.

And elegantly true, I forgot to add.
posted by y2karl at 9:28 PM on February 22, 2003


Spam would have been more accurate.
so...postmodernismisasoldas Spam

{everyone needs a good clarification, like using a shiny loupe}
posted by clavdivs at 10:41 AM on February 23, 2003


Your fan dancing doesn't fool us, Gypsy Rose clavdivs.
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on February 23, 2003


no ones dancing karl. this mode of literature is a sham and all the pros know it. any one want to have a serious conversation of this subject, that is fine. But i see nothing but glad-handing here other then your attempt to educate which is good...good post.
posted by clavdivs at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2003


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