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!