“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Postmodern blues, running all around my head.

The postmodernist exhibition was entertaining enough I suppose. The V&A curators have understandably concentrated on the physical products of postmodernism - everything from architecture to those fucking awful New Romantic bands. What I find depressing about it all is that whereas modernism, for all it's many failings, was a movement dedicated to the possibility of improving the lives of the many, postmodernism was largely about the accumulation of wealth and the triumph of the individual. If the movement was not directly responsible for the neoconservative project it's only responses were to warmly embrace the project or else descend into a drug fueled spiral of self destruction.
The academic left and the arty farties have both got slightly moist over postmodernism and here at least the sheer impenetrable nature of the ideas have resulted in some saving humor. The art world gave us Piero Manzoni who famously canned (and sold!) his own poo labelled "Genuine 100% Artist's Shit". But my favourite is the scam pulled by physicist Alan Sokal who, pissed off to the back teeth with all that relativism and what he saw as the betrayal of the Enlightenment, wrote a long and suitably dense and obscure article for the postmodernist journal Social Text on the unlikely subject of a postmodern and relativist physics. The article was complete gibberish but there was much need for the changing of underwear in the Social Text editorial office - and later much postmodernist egg on face when Sokal owned up to the spoof. Happy days!

2 comments:

Nick said...

Manzoni admitted a couple of years ago that of course he didn't shit in a tin and that they were full of plaster of paris. The price in the international art market then plummeted

henry said...

I always preferred the 'anarchistic' definition that Postmodernism is Today's view of what Yesterday thought Tomorrow was going to be like...

... and since the "modernist" promise only really arrived for working class people in the UK (indoor toilets, central heating, household appliances, personal transport, accessible air travel &tc) 30 years after the posh buggers got their hands on it, it seems they got bored, lost interest and started fantasising about a world where the working class (and all their common habits) just ceased to exist. At all.

But then again, looking back to all those yesterdays, you can see now that their vision of tomorrow never really had much of a place for us anyway - hence all those stupid robots....

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