How do you quantify the effects of things that don't happen to you? "The whole point of living in a culture is that much of the labor of perception and judgment is done for you, spread through media, and absorbed through an imperceptible process that has no single author." (previously; via)
Lee McIntyre writes The Attack on Truth for The Chonicle of Higher Education
"Second, it is a mistake to pit post-modernism and social constructivism against evolutionary psychology as though they are in an intellectual death match that only one side can win. This tribalistic, us-versus-them thinking isn't helpful to science. Much like partitioning the causes of human behavior into nurture versus nature or culture versus biology or learned versus innate, social constructivism versus evolutionary psychology is a false dichotomy that may feel intuitively correct but should not be utilized very often by serious scientists (exceptions include behavioral genetics studies)."
"With a bit of panic and a lot of excitement about debasing my philosophical heroes, I will attempt to place the dick pic at the intersection of anatomical and juridical photography, the #selfie, pornography, and finally, the global brand." [NSFW] [more inside]
Toiletpaper Magazine was founded by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. Their work - some contemporary nod to Surreal and Postmodern art - is oddly familiar, yet not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. As visually stimulating as a publication can get these days, Toiletpaper hooks you, knocks your socks off, keeps you guessing. [more inside]
In 2004 Joseph Kahn directed the hyper-kinetic, poorly reviewed motorcycle action movie Torque. It was Kahn's directorial debut, and though he was tapped for (one of many) failed Neuromancer adaptations, he devoted the next six years to a largely self financed project: the horror-comedy farce Detention. Noted cultural critic Steven Shaviro discusses in this essay why Detention, despite also being reviewed negatively, is one of his favorite movies of the decade. Shaviro's review contains major spoilers for the plot, and it's probably best to go into the movie blind. A brief non-spoiler synopsis is available below the jump. [more inside]
What Happens When 'The Simpsons' Becomes Dad Humor? With a ratings-smashing marathon running on FXX and a streaming app due to launch in October, perhaps now is the time to ask an impertinent question: When will The Simpsons become passé? Culture has moved on from The Simpsons, despite the show’s unwillingness to pass into comedy Valhalla. In other words, Simpsons is becoming dad humor: structures so well trod that they can never again surprise, no matter how perfectly crafted. The aesthetic earmarks of this mid-90s humor juggernaut are becoming as antiquated as puns and pies-in-the-face.
Italo Calvino profiled on the BBC TV show Book Mark in 1985: [SLYT] Rare interview with the great Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels.
From behind the New Yorker's temporarily removed paywall, a postmodern murder mystery from Poland in 2007.
The baffling tweets of Jaden Smith make a surprising amount of sense when repurposed into Garfield comics.
The New Yorker is publishing excerpts from Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, translated by Martin McLaughlin, on its book blog. (via) [more inside]
Illegals -- Aliens as oppressed or oppressing groups in Avatar, Super 8, Attack the Block and... Alf? (Previously)
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix. Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
Koolaid Man in Second Life: “Maybe the Internet is for me what Paris in the 20s was for Joyce, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein or New York in 50s was for Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg.” Jon Rafman (previously with the 9eyes Google Streetview blog) gives guided tours of Secondlife, and records some of his experiences. Being related to Secondlife, some content is naturally not work safe. [more inside]
The David Foster Wallace Audio Project, a still-growing collection of interviews, radio profiles, and readings (including staged ones of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men).
William Chace, former university president (Wesleyan and Emory) and Eng. Prof., on the decline of the English department, with lots of good ideas for why and how, as well as some thoughts on what to do about it. (Albeit no explicit blame to the true scourge: postmodernism and the relativity of it all…).
"We could all do worse than to write like Saul Bellow. And when I say write like Saul Bellow, I mean be Saul Bellow. And when I say be Saul Bellow, I mean unzip the skin from his body and wear it as a sort of Saul Bellow suit so that we can get cozy in it and truly inhabit it and understand the Old Macher." [more inside]
French Theory. "This is drivel about drivel — “metadrivel” as some stucturalist, post-structuralist or deconstructionist might say."
A society without power relations can only be an abstraction. Which, be it said in passing, makes all the more politically necessary the analysis of power relations in a given society, their historical formation, the source of their strength or fragility, the conditions which are necessary to transform some or to abolish others. For to say that there cannot be a society without power relations is not to say either that those which are established are necessary or, in any case, that power constitutes a fatality at the heart of societies, such that it cannot be undermined. Instead, I would say that the analysis, elaboration, and bringing into question of power relations and the "agonism" between power relations and the intransitivity of freedom is a permanent political task inherent in all social existence."Saint" Michel Foucault (1926-1984) transformed Western thought. Institutions -- prisons, asylums, clinics -- define the rhythm of our daily existence; Foucault found that they also determine the way we think. The search for the political and philosophical implications of this insight led him to biology and economics, linguistics and the study of sexuality. In Foucault's eyes, intellectual activity, however radical, could never be divorced from the techniques of power. This is why some have accused him of political quietism. Other critics say he was simply a bad scholar. Who was the real Foucault? "Anarchist, leftist, ostentatious or disguised Marxist, nihilist, explicit or secret anti-Marxist, technocrat in the service of Gaullism, new liberal," gay saint, charlatan, or something else entirely? Perhaps we have posed the question incorrectly...
"Bloggers are nihilists because they are 'good for nothing'. They post into Nirvana and have turned their futility into a productive force." "Blogging, the nihilist impulse," based on a lecture by Geert Lovink.
Made in Criticalland. Sociologist Bruno Latour reflects upon the way social construction and social critique have been instrumentalised by lobbyists, conspiracy theorists, "instant revisionists" and other unsavory people: We, in the academy, like to use more elevated causes–society, discourse, knowledge-slash-power, fields of forces, empires, capitalism–while conspiracists like to portray a miserable bunch of greedy people with dark intents, but I find something troublingly similar in the structure of the explanation, in the first movement of disbelief and, then, in the wheeling of causal explanations coming out of the deep Dark below. This from the guy who, thanks to his Relativistic account of Einstein's relativity, was one of the targets of the Sokal hoax.
Meditations on: the poetic and profane; on silence; death; catastrophe; Cage — and yet more strangeness and beauty from David Ralph Lichtensteiger's travels within the world of 20th C. avant garde music and postmodernism.
Characterizing a Fogbank. A prominent analytic philosopher discusses whether postmodernism is worth taking seriously.
Greeks, postmodernity, and the rethinking of democracy Found this fascinating interview on openDemocracy by way of meat-eating leftist. Greek opposition minister George Papandreou, son of former socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, says some interesting things about the changing nature of representative democracy and the new fluidity of citizens' political and social identities. Given our diminishing democracy in this country, it is refreshing to hear a politician say that individuals in society need to be empowered and that political leaders must listen to and trust individuals.
Nick Hornby discusses pop music in this NY Times essay: "Maybe this split is inevitable in any medium where there is real money to be made: it has certainly happened in film, for example, and even literature was a form of pop culture, once upon a time. It takes big business a couple of decades to work out how best to exploit a cultural form; once that has happened, 'that high-low fork in the road' is unavoidable, and the middle way begins to look impossibly daunting. It now requires more bravery than one would ever have thought necessary to try and march straight on, to choose neither the high road nor the low. Who has the nerve to pick up where Dickens or John Ford left off? In other words, who wants to make art that is committed and authentic and intelligent, but that sets out to include, rather than exclude? To do so would run the risk of seeming not only sincere and uncool - a stranger to all notions of postmodernism - but arrogant and vaultingly ambitious as well."
How To Deconstruct Almost Anything. An engineer visits the world of postmodern literary criticism.
Art or Crap? A quiz.
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!
Hey man, This time we're gonna do it my way!
Postmodernism is hard to define; however it is easy enough to apply to academic writing. The ideas set forward by Foucault have now been (successfully?) combined with computer programming. Not sure what it all means? Take a look at some background reading for art-theory-challenged.
Here's a take on the ways in which American society might change. Interesting in itself but it adds little to what's already been posted here before. The purpose is not more of the same arrrgghh, history just chaaaaanged guff. The purpose of linking is for any anti-post-modernists to gloat at the author, Francis Fukuyama, who has at least once before proclaimed the end of history.