Archive for the ‘postmodernism’ Category
I don’t know if this is quite what Leithart had in mind but aren’t they stunning? (So long as you don’t have to wear them, of course!)
A few weeks ago, I noticed that Dell have a new advertising slogan for their computers: Now Available in Beautiful.
I’m pretty excited about this new trend to make useful objects more beautiful. My first car was navy blue, which I loved because it went with all my clothes. My current laptop is a Sony VAIO in charcoal grey with tiny light grey flowers on it. It’s so cute that the man at Circuit City who recently upgraded my memory card commented on it in an envious fashion.
Obviously, this is not an entirely new idea. The arts and crafts movement was all about making useful things beautiful. It does seem to have taken the electronics and car industries a very long time to catch onto this. Or indeed to realise that quite a lot of their customers aren’t men.
I hadn’t realised that it was a part of the postmodernist movement but Leithart thinks so:
The wall of separation between art and life has become permeable in both directions, as everyday objects are treated as art objects and as aesthetic motivations and themes infiltrate everyday life. A key feature of the postmodern ethos is thus the “aestheticization of everyday life.”
Solomon Among the Postmoderns, 48, citing Featherstone.
Mechanical clocks became widespread during the late eighteenth century, creating a uniform “empty” time, a process that reached its climax in the twentieth century, where the uniformity of time is immediately evident in the worldwide standardization of calendars and the subordination of local timekeeping to an increasingle globalized method of dating. The turn from second to third millenium was celebrated throughout the world, even in cultures that have no apparent reason to date time from the incarnation of Christ. This uniformity could be achieved only by detaching time from place and by emptying time of its particular and local qualities. All of this, further, expresses the modern effort to control time, and effort betrayed by talk of “time management,” “budgeting time,” saving time,” and so forth. For Renaissance humanists, the temporality of life was a sign that life eluded human control. Mutability could not be checked or arrested ro controlled. Moderns, by contrast, strive to be accountants and rational managers of time. As Lewis Mumford has said, “The clock, not the steam-engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age.” (p. 29)
Though often presented, by both advocates and detractors, as something unprecedented in the history of culture, virtually nothing about postmodernity is wholly new. If postmodernism is skepticism about dogma, there have been skeptics before – the word skeptic is, after all, derived from ancient Greek. If postmodernism is a carnivalesque society, the phantasmagoria of consumer culture, Disneyland writ large, entertainment culture conquering all culture, that trend started nearly as soon as there were movies and perhaps even defore – Americans have always wanted to be entertained. If postmodernity is the shifting parade of fashion and the search for ever new sensations and experiences, that would be nothing new to the bohemian denizens of Europe’s great nineteenth century cities. If postmodernism is tragic resignation, so was Stoicism; if it is tragic joy, so was Epicureanism; if it is the aestheticization of daily life, daily life as performance, Baldassare Castiglione’s courtier would find himself well at home in the postmodern world, and so would Oscar Wilde. If postmodernism unveils the fact that reality is socially constructed, it finds a precursor in the Christian thinker Giambattista Vico, who identified the “true” with the “made”. If postmodern artists employ pastiche and bricolage, assembling shards of shattered tradition on a depthless surface, they have a grandfather in the archmodernist, T. S. Eliot. If postmodernism recognises the theatricality of politics, so did Shakespeare and Machiavellu, and medieval power radiated from Christian spectacle. If postmodern novelists break the fictional frame to reveal and revel in the fictionality of their fictions, they are in the venerable company of Miguel de Cervantes and Laurence Sterne, for the European novel was deconstructed as soon as it was constructed.
When we try to find out what makes postmodernism new, we are again faced with the challenge of beginnings. As Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9) (p.35-36)
No doubt there will be more nuggets to come.