ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2017 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mailvox: bad writing is cancer

This is an email from a Castalia House author who shall go unnamed, but obviously isn't John C. Wright.

Well, now you've done it.

One of your strongest points in your discussion with Stefan on Crime and Punishment was how Dostoyevsky focused on the moral decay caused by material naturalism and did not and likely could not possibly have seen its system-wide effects.

Now, today's post about bad writing makes a similar case that Modernism, and in particular its virulent Boomer strain - Postmodernism - is culture cancer.

Many people could see that Modernist literature was, at base and overall, simply not as deep or interesting as those books which had not gottenn caught up in Modernism's well-crafted, insubstantial mopefests.

The clue that Modernism was a dead-end can be found in its best products: As I Lay Dying, The Wasteland, Invisible Man, Heart of Darkness and The Aspern Papers are ALL, at heart, about how writing from a Modernist perspective is a pointless, disjointed exercise that renders a man insignificant. Wait for death, write or don't...in the end Material Man is a Hollow Man. If even Modernist novels don't like Modernist novels, you know you've chanced on a Very Bad Idea.

When the reactionary Post-Modernism came along, the self-defeating problem became clear. There were plenty of sane readers who said, "Okay, that way lies madness. Taken to its logical conclusion, PM could lead to the end of literature!"

It is no coincidence that the era of the blockbuster genre novel exploded in a major response to academic Post-Modernism. Everybody read Dr. Zhivago or Sidney Sheldon. No one read Alphabetical Africa.

BUT...Post-Modernism clearly was not contained to academic literature. Sidney Sheldon's soap operas were not merely pop-classic melodramas, but were materialist ones. The casting couch ultimately made starlets powerful, taboo relationships were taboo because of society's evil, not personal sin. Ursula Le Guin's adventure stories became feminist meditations. Stephen King's pulp adventure horror veered badly into religious ignorance. John Updike was...Updikian.

Now, these books and hundreds more were still, in form, traditional, popular novels. They just had some spots of odd, discolored PostModern crust on them.

The spots showed up in movies and television: Laugh-In, All in the Family, the Brady Bunch, Planet of the Apes, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Heck, the massive blockbuster Jaws opened up with a nude girl being bitten, dragged, mauled and eaten by the literary aquatic symbol for Death incarnate, a "Great White" no less. That's Post-modern action: no heroes, no villains, just young, bare, feminine annihilation.

But those spots are hardly noticed in the work by most people at the time, whether it is a bit of King's "tornado-faced" lady (bad writing) or the now iconic but originally "ironic" "Episode IV" scroll in Star Wars.

But they got everywhere, and, while it occasionally worked (the unvarnished, unapologetic racism in The Godfather I and II was possible under a sort of Post-Modern "honesty" at the time), most of the time, these spots show up as an anachronism, a 'breaking of the fourth wall' or just bad dialogue.

And today?

We don't even have personal pronouns anymore.

Our culture adopted a literature that had, at its core, an anti-communication ethic. The more obscure, the more personal, the more disconnected a "text" was from its meaning, the more "authentic" it was. The more "identity" it had.

Post-Modernism didn't just end literature. It ended communication.

I think that's why there are so many landmines of bad writing today. I think that's why you can emerge from a writing program or college less literate than when you came in, even if you were borderline literate to begin with!

Bad writing is cancer.

Labels:

150 Comments:

Blogger S1AL July 25, 2017 1:08 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous DaveInjustice July 25, 2017 1:09 PM  

"Stephen King's pulp adventure horror veered badly into religious ignorance."

His stories positively reek of gamma male bitterness and projection. He might as well right in brackets [see, can't you tell that I was bullied as a child!?! Can't You!?]

Blogger S1AL July 25, 2017 1:10 PM  

I'm confused on the Star Wars scroll bit. I thought it was an homage.

Blogger Student in Blue July 25, 2017 1:14 PM  

The more obscure, the more personal, the more disconnected a "text" was from its meaning, the more "authentic" it was. The more "identity" it had.

Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner folks! Yet again, they call things bitter, sweet, and sweet bitter.

Blogger Aeoli Pera July 25, 2017 1:16 PM  

Excellent series of posts here.

Blogger Nate July 25, 2017 1:17 PM  

Either I am having unintentional and undue influence on CH authors... or someone sat down and said "I will write this email in the style of Nate." just to screw with us.

let us all hope its the latter.

Blogger Student in Blue July 25, 2017 1:22 PM  

@6. Nate

Not enough "sugartits" in the email to really be in the style of Nate.

Blogger S1AL July 25, 2017 1:22 PM  

Nah, there aren't even any ellipses.

Blogger Student in Blue July 25, 2017 1:22 PM  

...and ellipses...

Anonymous bobdobbs July 25, 2017 1:23 PM  

Wow, I really like the crusty spotty post modern simile. That has legs.

"Imagine, if you will, a pajama footsied gamma with scabbed over pizza face, some spots with fresh red highlights. A pastische of locomotives through the ages similarly spot the PJs. Crusty PJs.

Blogger S1AL July 25, 2017 1:23 PM  

Ahem. There aren't *enough* ellipses. Definitely what I meant to say.

Anonymous Orville July 25, 2017 1:25 PM  

And don't forget the Stephen King Coke bottle bottom glasses. I still say he wandered out in front of that car.

Blogger Nate July 25, 2017 1:29 PM  

"John Updike was...Updikian"

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable July 25, 2017 1:33 PM  

It's not Nick Cole, who's typo-intensive on first drafts. It's obviously not Vox. Not Mulrooney or Kalsi, surely. And we've already ruled out JCW.

Come on, Vox, are you gonna make us speculate?

Good thoughts, BTW.

Blogger S1AL July 25, 2017 1:38 PM  

And not even a single reference to Yankees, damnyankees, Unreconstructed Southron Nationalism, or Kansas City Faggots. Clearly not Nate-inspired.

Anonymous BluePony July 25, 2017 1:39 PM  

I guess I'm just a carcinogen. Oh well. (._. )

Blogger William Hughes July 25, 2017 1:44 PM  

Thank you. This was interesting.

Blogger The Rev July 25, 2017 1:48 PM  

I enjoy "The Waste Land." It does the utter crushing despair of postmodernism very well. What I don't enjoy is everything doing the utter crushing despair of postmodernism (or indeed, the pointless nervous tension of postmodernism).

Blogger dienw July 25, 2017 1:55 PM  

And not even a single reference to Yankees, damnyankees, Unreconstructed Southron Nationalism, or Kansas City Faggots. Clearly not Nate-inspired.

No Glocks....

Blogger Mr.MantraMan July 25, 2017 1:55 PM  

Well most of it went over my head except the last part, "education" is meant to destroy the intellect, because gammas and women.

Blogger tz July 25, 2017 1:57 PM  

Actually this is high art in a satanic sense.
The words, sentences, and paragraphs appear to have meaning - you can diagram the sentences, and look up the words in context, and even pick out the subject of a paragraph.
But those words say nothing, convey nothing. It is noise pretending to be music. Not even bad atonal music. Rhythm, melody and harmony but not music - that has yet to be achieved.
It is litter, not literature.
It is the "debunking" Lewis warned about in the first chapter of Abolition of Man.
It is the deconstruction, the most obvious examples of which are hoax papers that do the above intentionally and with malice aforethought and yet get published and lauded and even reviewed by peers (a recent example suggested a correction to some unintelligible bit of verbal vomit).

The alt-right not only has truth on its side, it has real language and literature, not the random lunatic ravings so can communicate. And we recognize contradiction and hypocrisy. Example: Erick Erickson worries about the "rule of law", then says Trump shouldn't press Sessions to indict Hillary, because it would look "political". But the rule of law means the same law for the beggar and king. The political parallel to the literature is that we've moved from not having a special investigation looking for peccadilloes just to get some low level scalp to ignoring pay to play corruption and a total fail of national security - Clinton has a virtual pardon though she was worse than Snowden because the cuckservatives can't even hold to any consistent or coherent view of "the rule of law". It is now just another buzzword to be used when pragmatic, not principled.

Blogger Durandel Almiras July 25, 2017 2:01 PM  

You could say something similar about modern and post modern philosophy.

Btw, Vox, or another moderator, thank you. The comm box works again on my mobile browsers.

Anonymous BadThink655321 July 25, 2017 2:02 PM  

Hit Like A Cheetah

Anonymous Stickwick July 25, 2017 2:03 PM  

S1AL: I'm confused on the Star Wars scroll bit. I thought it was an homage.

Yeah, I'm confused, too. Lucas said it was intended as an homage to the Flash Gordon serials. ?

That minor detail aside, well said, whoever this was.

I remember taking a creative writing course in high school where we did a sort of literary improv exercise that involved one student starting a story, and then passing it back to the next student who continued it, and so on. Just about every story began with some tedious pop-nihilism scenario. Same with the mini film festival at my little university, celebrating student short films -- virtually all of them were dark and depressing. I dunno if it's just a phase most kids go through thinking that sort of crap is "deep" or "edgy" or what, but doubtless they were influenced by this cultural cancer our mystery author was talking about.

Anonymous Random #57 July 25, 2017 2:04 PM  

@3 S1AL: Lucas isn't particularly good at communication, or his art in general. In the first, later IV movie, the rebels were supposed to be the Viet Cong. His inability to get that across gave us the terrible Ewoks two movies later.

Blogger Ingot9455 July 25, 2017 2:29 PM  

I did like Stephen King's writing about his own accident, where he's in the medevac helicopter being taken to the hospital and the world is going gray, and he's struggling to move his lead-filled hand to tap the EMT in there with him to signal that he can't breathe. And he errantly thinks, "After writing so many horror novels and using so many hackneyed phrases, this is it, right here. This is death's door."

The EMT looks down and says something like, "You're looking a little blue, there," and re-inflates his lung.

Blogger Robert July 25, 2017 2:30 PM  

So Gore Vidal wrote "Julian", which I thought was competent history, if somewhat plodding as a novel. Then he had another book to write on a contract and cranked out "Duluth" which was word salad with no dressing. And some idiots actually think it's genius stuff - because, well, because it's Gore Vidal, dontcha know?
But Joyce and Pound and TS Eliot gave him the idea. I can't let Dylan Thomas or, a fortiori, Bob Dylan off the hook, either.

Anonymous Jill July 25, 2017 2:30 PM  

Modernism is western culture's response to losing God. The sentiments hearken back to Ecclesiastes, but there aren't any conclusions to draw. Even Christians mirrored their culture's angst, but probably because their culture has been coming undone. Mormonism and its mini Rennaisance seem to be proof that an intact culture surrounding a church produces worthwhile art.

Anonymous User July 25, 2017 2:33 PM  

The ultimate punishment for the denizens of the Maths in Anathem was being forced to study and memorize increasingly mind-destroying nonsense. Now you get to pay a quarter million or more for that punishment!

Anonymous Grayman July 25, 2017 2:35 PM  

OT,

Some of the Germans are getting a little fed up with immigrant invaders:

https://youtu.be/F7ROlgIxheo

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 2:35 PM  

Postmodernism shows that artistic excellence requires the artist to be excellent at something. Canonical traditions so important because they define a field to master through talent and labor. Stylistic particulars are secondary to having a set of aspirational standards and expectations to guide progress. Real mastery of an art form can be appreciated way beyond the creator's immediate context as well; that's why the classics are timeless. Sweep away conventions and there is nothing actually to get good at.

It's not unrelated that converged organizations love trumpeting their commitments to excellence without ever even hinting what they are excellent at.

Blogger Ben Cohen July 25, 2017 2:36 PM  

Modern fake architecture is a cancer too.

Anonymous fop July 25, 2017 2:38 PM  

I don't know who wrote this but I suddenly have the strong urge to compost some Updike.

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 2:38 PM  

Post-Modernism didn't just end literature. It ended communication.

This is not an accident. The post-modernists are hoping for revolution, one that is first requires that Western Civilization collapse, through the breakdown of its cultural, religious, and philosophical foundations.

No less than philosopher Josef Pieper noted that the breakdown of society is inevitable once communication based on reality becomes impossible.

...the abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the sophistic abuse of the word, indeed, finds in it the fertile soil in which to hide and grow and get ready, so much so that the latent potential of the totalitarian poison can be ascertained, as it were, by observing the symptom of the public abuse of language. The degradation, too, of man through man, alarmingly evident in the acts of physical violence committed by all tyrannies has its beginning, certainly much less alarmingly, at that almost imperceptible moment when the word loses its dignity.

The dignity of the word, to be sure consists in this: through the word is accomplished what no other means can accomplish, namely, communication based on reality. Once again it becomes evident that both areas, as has to be expected are connected: the relationship based on mere power, and thus the most miserable decay of human interaction, stands in direct proportion to the most devastating breakdown in orientation toward reality.


Anonymous A Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Cents July 25, 2017 2:39 PM  

No idea who wrote this, but it's like looking in the mirror and seeing someone else's face. I never have liked "literature" because of having things like To Kill a Mockingbird and worse crammed in my face in school. Boomers, tell me, was Roots really a high rating miniseries? Because seeing it on the classroom TV was like sitting with Winston Smith in that jail cell, each of us asking the other "Is it over yet? No?". The pinkening of SF was just another round of the same injury and insult. CH has been a real blessing in that area.

This essay clears up a lot of mystery for me. Literature was murdered, deliberately, by nihilists. Just as art was killed by the CIA funded Rothko and others. Just as music was nuked into Glass. It's not an accident, it's malice.

Pushback has already begun, by Providence, and we can all help just by shunning the crap and buying the good stuff. Support real authors. Deny the posers.

Blogger Nate July 25, 2017 2:41 PM  

modern writing is a deadly laser.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 2:42 PM  

Post-Modernism didn't just end literature. It ended communication.

So much so that when people talk about Post-Modernism, I have trouble following, I guess. Every time I start to think I know what it is, someone says something about it that doesn't fit.

Isn't Eco considered a Post-Modernist? How does he fit at all with what's being described here? I've only read a couple of his books, but they didn't seem "anti-communication" to me. Also, I'm having trouble reconciling these two bits:

"Modernism, and in particular its virulent Boomer strain - Postmodernism..."
"When the reactionary Post-Modernism came along,..."

So is Post-Modernism a strain of Modernism, or a reaction to it, or both, or are we talking about two different things being given the same name?

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 2:43 PM  

Also, postmodern gibberish follows the same pattern as the speculative universe proposed by the ancient Gnostics, who rejected the idea that that reality is largely as it is perceived.

Here's what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say on this subject:

The reductio ad absurdum of these unbridled speculations can be seen in the Pitis Sophia, which is light-maidens, paralemptores, spheres, Heimarmene, thirteenæons, light-treasures, realms of the midst, realms of the right and of the left, Jaldabaoth, Adamas, Michael, Gabriel, Christ, the Saviour, and mysteries without number whirl past and return like witches in a dance. The impression created on the same reader can only be fitly described in the words of "Jabberwocky": "gyre and gimble on the wabe".

Anonymous A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Deplorable Cents July 25, 2017 2:46 PM  

modern writing is a deadly laser.



...mounted on a cheetah's back...

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 3:01 PM  

Let me just say, anything that turns a culture away from the True, the Good, and the Beautiful is cancer. This definition is useful for the cultural oncologist to identify societal pathologies, e.g., feminism, post-modernism.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 3:04 PM  

@ 37

It's confusing because the terms do overlap, and differ slightly in different arts. In the visual arts, modernism starts with the complete rejection of tradition, than illusion, then referentiality in general (or ornament in architecture) for meditations on the formal qualities of the medium. Basically abstract scribbles, "collage", and the International Style.

Postmodernism is a return of reference, but since standards have been destroyed, the reference is to whatever you want. Usually some ironic, solipsistic critique of contemporary society or shit of that nature. It manifests in snowflake culture as every statement is valid and anything can be art. If a blank canvas is the pure form of modernism, a crumpled wrapper is the social reference of postmodernism, with bonus points for deconstructing the pretensions of the elitist world of high culture (while living off grants - they do love irony). The relationships in literature are fairly similar. If modernism is the infection, postmodernism is the sore.

Blogger Pseudotsuga July 25, 2017 3:05 PM  

At the risk of gnat-filtering / Aspie focussing:
The original theater release of Star Wars (in 1977) does not contain the words "Episode IV: a New Hope" in the opening screen crawl. Those were added in later, after Lucas realized this was not going to be a one-and-done film.

Nit-picking aside, the fact that Lucas was indeed making an homage to the Flash Gordon serials of his youth with the crawl still makes it a Post Modern film (and now cultural property). Star Wars is a deliberate, conscious reaction to the Modernist dystopian Sci-Fi of the 60s/70s. Logan's Run, Westworld, Silent Running, and so on are examples of what filmmakers thought sci-fi had to be.
Since post-modernism includes the actions of returning to traditional materials and forms (re: Lucas' nostalgia for the past evidenced by his big movie properties American Graffiti, Star Wars based on 30s/40s serials, Raiders of the Lost Ark ditto, 1941 and even the execrable Howard the Duck), we can claim Star Wars as Post-Modern. But what made it work is that Lucas wasn't being ironic -- he truly valued his inspirational references.
.
And now that Disney owns it, the Star Wars franchise is even more referential and post-modern. Nobody ever looks at the films and thinks, "Wow, what meaningful dialog and writing!"

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 3:09 PM  

Speaking of cultural cancer: The conservative movement co-enabled it by their milquetoast, cowardly response to it.

Here again Josef Pieper comes to the rescue. He believed that rightly-ordered anger could serve the good by helping us over come our age's fundamental moral weakness, cowardice. If we remain passive, we're doomed. Pieper again:

Only the combination of the intemperateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration. It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for its decline and fall."

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 3:33 PM  

37. Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 2:42 PM
So is Post-Modernism a strain of Modernism, or a reaction to it, or both, or are we talking about two different things being given the same name?



i believe that your primary problem here is that you are attempting to ascribe a rational and coherent definition to an epistemology which is overtly anti-rational and incoherent.

does Post-Modernism contradict itself? it is large, it contains multitudes.

Anonymous Humpty Dumpty Parumpty July 25, 2017 3:33 PM  

Slightly OT but on point overall: Too good not to share; there is an interesting Spanish language comic strip starring an ideal Gamma archetype, "Silvio José, Emperor". Middle-aged and with a goofy out-of-date 1970's appearance, he imagines every sympathetic person to him to be supplicating to him, evidence of his superiority. Any attempt to regulate him triggers a righteous-victim complex, always unanswerable. Brutal examination of Gammaness, similar to the Ignatius Reilly character of "Confederacy of Dunces"

http://astiberri.com/products/silvio-jose-emperador

Anonymous Takin' a Look July 25, 2017 3:54 PM  

OT-

Relates to the Protocols of The Learned Elders of Wye.

http://www.trunews.com/article/lagarde-says-imf-hq-may-move-to-china-from-dc-in-one-decade

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 3:55 PM  

"Modern fake architecture is a cancer too."

It's actually a far worse cancer than post-modern literature: one can choose not to read Kathy Acker, one cannot choose to live in a large 1st-world city without being daily assaulted by soul-killing visual and spatial monstrosities. Moreover, modernist (not Modern) and post-modernist architecture erases memory of prior tradition in a way literature cannot; you can pick up Jane Austen or Samuel Johnson at will and be back to black. But architecture of necessity knocks down what was there before, and usurps it. Most young people today probably have no idea what their culture's architecture REALLY looked like for millennia. (scratch that -- psych studies have been conducted which show that when a 5-year-old child who has grown up in a skyscraper or a housing project is asked to draw a house, they invariably draw a gable-roofed cottage with a chimney with a corkscrew of smoke spiraling out of it -- something they have never experienced, and rarely even seen.)

Post-modernism of course is not only a dead end, it is a brick wall and a barbed-wire fence in front of the dead end. Pieper's political critique @34 is a devastating knockout blow, but sadly it is only one of many grounds for dismissing po-mo with extreme prejudice.

Modernism, though, is a different animal. People here have a sort of instinctively ornery stance about it, which is their right, and it's probably a very healthy instinct; but I've seen nobody on this thread so far, including the OP, who demonstrates what I would consider a fair-minded understanding of it.

History will judge Modernism for good or ill (as for po-mo, it won't even survive long enough for History's verdict). Not all of it will survive, perhaps not even much of it will survive, but some of it definitely will. Like it or not, and whether it lasts or not, Modernism was a necessary, even vital development, entirely in tune with the Western urge to explore new frontiers: we discovered Antarctica, but then we decided not to live there.

People here, in my view, are mistaken as to the purpose and methods of Modernism. It was not a response to a loss of God or any other type-cast motive. Modernism grew out of the Machine Age (not to be confused with the Industrial Revolution), and out of the realization of artists and writers of the age that consciousness was not being accurately rendered using traditional methods. Traditional methods made use of consciousness, often to highly penetrating effect, but did not truly occupy it in the way they wished to try. Finally, there was the ages-old European restlessness: the realization that after all, one can't just keep on writing Jane Austen over and over til Armageddon. A man with the brilliance and spiritual insight of JC Wright can pull off the titanic task of writing in the more lapidary fashion; everybody else is in a different boat than Wright's Argo.

It's worth remembering that in their time, Euripides, Catullus, Shakespeare, Coleridge and Melville were all considered garish, undisciplined, lurid, nonsensical, and over the top by many a tastemaker.

I say, Read 'em all, and let God sort 'em out.

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 4:03 PM  

Tennyson kinda predicted Modernism when he wrote "one hundred years of Europe, or a cycle of Cathay [China]." Knowing a thing or two about Chinese poetry, I can tell you that while some of it is genuinely exquisite, it sort of says the same thing over and over and over again for thousands of years at a stretch. Even if you can't abide Modernism as a reader or as an art-lover, you should still thank your lucky stars for it.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother July 25, 2017 4:04 PM  

Speaking of cancer:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/former-cia-director-calls-coup-if-trump-fires-mueller

Blogger SDaly July 25, 2017 4:05 PM  

Jill -

I think you are spot on identifying Modernism as Ecclesiates without God.

Anonymous Susan() July 25, 2017 4:15 PM  

Good writing involves being able to think. Not only for yourself, but inspiring others to think deeply as well.

With the massive infection from the PC/Snowflaking/Leftist culture so rampant in our country, thinking for yourself is quickly disappearing.

So expecting decent writing from somebody marinated in that infection is becoming rather a futile exercise for those of us who enjoy reading.

To the commenter above, Roots was indeed a very high rated miniseries. It brought issues to the television that people had not been exposed to before. It was riveting viewing.

Jaws was based on true events that happened in a NJ coastal community during the turn of the last century. About 1920 IIRC. The movie about that story was on Netflix for awhile.

Spielberg lifted many of the actual deaths from the record books for his movie, as did the author Peter Benchley.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 4:21 PM  

i believe that your primary problem here is that you are attempting to ascribe a rational and coherent definition to an epistemology which is overtly anti-rational and incoherent.

So I can't understand it because understanding requires definition, and it can't be defined, by defintion?

Okay, I'll mull that one over. But many people here do appear to understand it. It seems like I should be able to come to whatever understanding of it that they have.

Postmodernism is a return of reference, but since standards have been destroyed, the reference is to whatever you want.

Okay, but then why does the reference have to be to garbage? If a reference is to the Mona Lisa, is it still Postmodernism, or is it then something else? When Roman poets imitated the tropes and forms of Homer, was that Postmodernism, or is it necessary to have gone through Modernism first and lost the knowledge of what was valuable and why? If an artist today reaches back past Modernism for good forms, what's that called?

If it sounds like I'm being facetious, I'm not, I'm grasping. Thanks for helping me get this.

Blogger Jack Ward July 25, 2017 4:22 PM  

@35 You mentioned To Kill a Mockingbird. I and probably others will always wonder if Trueman Capote actually wrote that and handed off to the friend of his youth Harper Lee. Maybe his only real friend ever. Amazing that such talent came from a small Alabama town out in the middle of no where. In my childhood my Grandfather took me there a few times. Ms. Lee is still 'First Lady'of Monroeville,even with her passing on. Monroeville being the county seat of as southern a rural county as anyone could imagine.
The 'they' were gearing up for the assault on the South in the early sixties and Mockingbird came as a gift from heaven. Not that the 'they' would admit to God's heaven.
Theres a reason many in the South still harbor a deep hatred of yankees and federal judges.

Blogger tuberman July 25, 2017 4:26 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger tuberman July 25, 2017 4:32 PM  

2. Dave

"His stories positively reek of gamma male bitterness and projection. He might as well right in brackets [see, can't you tell that I was bullied as a child!?! Can't You!?]"

King's novice novel, "Carrie," staring Stephen King as a GRRRL, having his first period. Apt! And, if magical stares could kill?

Anonymous Johnny Mayonnaise July 25, 2017 4:42 PM  

"John Updike was...Updikian"

And William Shatner is "Shatnerian."

Blogger RobertDWood July 25, 2017 4:49 PM  

David the Good?

Blogger tuberman July 25, 2017 4:50 PM  

"Miss Lonelyhearts," by N.West was, to me, the essence of Modernism, along with the others mentioned in the above article.

They all play with stark, vile, harsh reality as a tool to state that life is meaningless, and intense misery is the stuff of existence. yet, in the end, it is just authors using fanatic's tools to point to how profound their writing, and therefore, these authors, are to see what the riffraff cannot.

Whether the writing is bad or not, these pigs are narcissistic, nihilistic, life hating nutballs.

Anonymous Bz July 25, 2017 4:54 PM  

I've read plenty of enjoyable postmodernist fiction, so I will have to disagree mildly. Examples: Borges, Pynchon, Kundera, Murakami. There are of course numerous bad apples too, but that will sort itself out in time.

Postmodernism in philosophy ... well, my impression from the outside was that it ended in glossolalia -- (((Derrida))), anyone? -- not to mention shame (the (((Sokal))) hoax). They still haven't resolved that as far as I know.

As to (((Philip Glass))), I've found his music rather enjoyable too. Minimalism that tips into movie scores. If you want some villains, look for (((Schönberg))) and the rest. Stockhausen is respected but I never liked his work. (((György Ligeti))) was pretty awful too, though one of his pieces fit the end of "2001" like a glove.

Blogger VFM #7634 July 25, 2017 4:59 PM  

So I can't understand it because understanding requires definition, and it can't be defined, by defintion?

Okay, I'll mull that one over. But many people here do appear to understand it. It seems like I should be able to come to whatever understanding of it that they have.


@52 Cail Corishev
I've seen lots of things that I can't quite define or describe, but which I know are garbage. Postmodernism is yet another example.

His stories positively reek of gamma male bitterness and projection. He might as well right in brackets [see, can't you tell that I was bullied as a child!?! Can't You!?]

@2 Dave
I wondered why I was never able to get into his oeuvre.

@47 two sentries
I would argue that the worst art form of Modernism is Modern music. I can't understand how anybody can listen to it without getting a severe headache.

And I don't think Modernism is at all necessary, nor does it explain things any better than traditional Thomistic scholasticism. It may have provided a basis for capitalism, and a rationale for tossing out God, but that's pretty much it. Science and technology do not fundamentally require a Modern mindset at all.

Anonymous dc of sunsets fame July 25, 2017 4:59 PM  

Let us all have a chuckle at the notion of "Post-Modernist Compueter Code."

Does every computer get its own unique language, just as every Tranny, Dyke and Pepe get Xer own pronoun?

Anonymous Deplorable Winning July 25, 2017 5:06 PM  

A Most Deplorable Paradigm Is More Than Twenty Deplorable Cents wrote:modern writing is a deadly laser.

...mounted on a cheetah's back...


...commanding the flaccid prow of an NGO rapefugee raft...

Blogger JaimeInTexas July 25, 2017 5:09 PM  

Jaws? The female eaten by a shark is a meaning for what ...?
I did not read the book, just saw the movie. Was there something in the book that did not com through in the movie?

To me it was just an unfortunate event that was just the beginning.

Were the series of shark attacks back in the early 1900s also "aquatic symbol for Death incarnate" and "Post-modern action: no heroes, no villains, just young, bare, feminine annihilation." ?

Anonymous Bz July 25, 2017 5:10 PM  

The best postmodernist computer language is of course C+=.

https://github.com/ErisBlastar/cplusequality
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/c-plus-equality-c

Blogger tuberman July 25, 2017 5:13 PM  

I just saw the "Jaws" movie too, and in it were three heroes, all of which were White Males.

Anonymous Frank Lin July 25, 2017 5:17 PM  

Another reason why Libertarian dogmatists are so frustrating. The market will correct itself, any minute now, any minute... any... minute..

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 5:20 PM  

"I would argue that the worst art form of Modernism is Modern music."

Maybe you mean post-modern music? (In which case, agreed, with very few exceptions.) All the same, you can avoid Bang on a Can and Laurie Anderson if it bothers you; if you're in Chicago or London or NYC, there's horror architecture you just can't escape from. If you mean Modern music, which kind? Schoenberg? (We'll make an exception for "Verklaerte Nacht") Alban Berg? (Agreed, "Lulu" is an abomination, "Carmen" is ear-candy.) Gershwin? Shostakovich? Richard Strauss (listen to "Four Last Songs", I defy you to call it cancer! I DEFY, sez I.)? As the humorless lesbian grad student says in the old joke, Define your terms.

"As to (((Philip Glass))), I've found his music rather enjoyable too."

He did some good stuff, it's true. It must be noted that while "Einstein on the Beach" can be enjoyed on its own, at least if you're a weirdo like me, it can't really be understood without the visual "book" which Robert Wilson provided for the stage production. The music doesn't mean 100% of itself without that. Also, I don't think Glass deserves the ((())) treatment, since everything he did was truly sincere, he wasn't seeking to subvert and destroy.

"And I don't think Modernism is at all necessary, nor does it explain things any better than traditional Thomistic scholasticism."

Sez you. Call me when you write something comparable to "The Magic Mountain." Now back to your Summa, if that's what pushes your happy buttons.

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 5:23 PM  

"...commanding the flaccid prow of an NGO rapefugee raft..."

Well, the prow may be flaccid, but I guarantee you the rapefugees are downright priapic.

White wimminz ho! Sorta gives "Land ho!" a whole new meaning. Maybe "Land! Ho's!"

Anonymous Daniel H July 25, 2017 5:29 PM  

@32
>>Modern fake architecture is a cancer too.

Frank Gehry comes to mind. I was just thinking about this fraud the other day. Comparing his work to a building I know very well, Lever House on Park Avenue in NYC. Internet images of Lever House do not do it justice. Has to be seen at street level. A simply, sublime utilitarian office building. Beautifully proportional in several ways: to the street scape, the plot, surrounding office buildings. Well done.

I like Frank LLoyd Wright's work, but Falling Water is a ridiculous gimmick. No sane architect or builder would construct a house over a watercourse, not since about the 13th century anyway. An affront to the natural world too. Well someday it will likely collapse, good riddance.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 5:30 PM  

52. Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 4:21 PM
I can't understand it because understanding requires definition, and it can't be defined, by defintion?


it can't be defined COHERENTLY ( that is, without contradiction ), yes.

"...postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality."

akin to the overt endorsement of irrationality by Fascism. which is why so many parts of Fascism / Nat Soc contradict each other.

they are more concerned with the emotive effect they can induce than they are with coherency of previous or subsequent statements.

Anonymous Sertorius July 25, 2017 5:33 PM  

Bz @59

Ha, glad to see someone sticking up for Modernism and Postmodernism--the Great Questions are often there, if only as palimpsests. Besides, what is the Kek-worshipping Alt-Right if not Postmodern?

At any rate, you and Tipsy above might dip into Phillip Rieff if you've not already. He's best known today for having banged the surprisingly bangable Susan Sontag when she was a undergraduate (to his credit, he did put a ring on it--though the fruit of their union, David Rieff, is a poster child for the concept of the regression to the mean.)
Rieff's "My Life among the Deathworks" especially is a brilliant exploration of both the origins and the consequences of the post-Christian West, though I should warn you that it makes a strong case that regaining the status quo ante will be forever a doomed crusade.

Blogger 4499 July 25, 2017 5:51 PM  

He turned towards her and smiled with his mouse hanging out.

"You're Catholic!" she shrieked.

Anonymous Azimus July 25, 2017 6:04 PM  

I hate to say this on a publisher's blog site, but a lot of what the Anonymous Castalia Author is talking about is why I rarely read a book that is less than 50 years old, Patrick O'Brian being one of my cherished exceptions.

I find it easier to comprehend the satire of rural English society in the late 18th century by Jane Austen than I do to understand book samples on Amazon written in 2017... at least from a fictional standpoint. I am a living anachronism I guess.

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 6:12 PM  

71. Sertorius July 25, 2017 5:33 PM
Besides, what is the Kek-worshipping Alt-Right if not Postmodern?



Sarcasm and Irony do not require the rejection of Objective Truth.

Post-Modernism does.

which is why Sarcasm and Irony and all forms of humor far predate Po-Mo.

that's right, Kekism is the ultimate Reactionary movement.

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 6:20 PM  

OT: In a debate thread on iSteve, a number of lefties are stating that Cultural Marxism simply does not exist. It's fascinating to watch these people state this such emphatic certainty, along the lines of "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!". Are they worried that the rest of us are wising up?

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 6:30 PM  

75. Tipsy July 25, 2017 6:20 PM
Are they worried that the rest of us are wising up?



no, this is the same No True Scotsman ploy they always use.

in a way, it's yet another application of Po-Mo. for, if there is no Objective Truth, then there can be no correct definition of Marxism ( much less Cultural Marxism ), therefore nothing can perfectly conform to the definition which does not exist.

which is why responding to these cretins with anything other than heckling is a waste of time.

by responding to them as though they had made a Serious Assertion, you impute to the Argument a Respect which it does not deserve.

Blogger Francis Parker Yockey July 25, 2017 6:31 PM  

Susan()
"To the commenter above, Roots was indeed a very high rated miniseries. It brought issues to the television that people had not been exposed to before."

And this true story was plagiarized... from a novel written by a white man.

Blogger DemonicProfessorEl July 25, 2017 6:33 PM  

@75 Tipsy

Yeah, they say it doesn't exist because "we don't call it that." Marxists are eternal halfwits. They've basically seen that episode of "South Park" where Kyle's dad says "It's not fascism because we don't call it that." That's their "argument."

Oh, we'll examine culture through a Marxist lens. But it's not Cultural Marxism! It's Critical Theory!

Anonymous Beresford July 25, 2017 6:33 PM  

That's Post-modern action: no heroes, no villains, just young, bare, feminine annihilation.

You lost me there. Read the whole novel or watch the whole movie. Jaws is a modern tale about a dragon terrorizing a village and the brave men who go to face off against the monster, the ultimate hero being the man who conquers his fear because it is his duty as sheriff. The girl eaten at the start is a maiden carried off by the dragon.

Analyzing scenes out of context and drawing parallels that do not exist is what post modernists do. I expected better from a CH author.

Blogger DemonicProfessorEl July 25, 2017 6:36 PM  

Another point on the non-literature of the day and relative to Marxism - for Marxists, all art, literature, music, pop culture are "artifacts" meant to deconstruct and criticize CAPITALISM!! and PATRIARCHY!! and RACISM!!!

I remember that from studying literature in the colleges - every book was a critique on capitalism, even if it was a detective book or something. And if it wasn't a direct critique, it was an artifact to show how racist/sexist/imperialist the writer and culture were. Hemingway is taught to show sexism and toxic masculinity, not to show how a guy deals with shell shock in the wilderness.

Blogger William Meisheid July 25, 2017 6:37 PM  

The whole of the left has become a cancer on the human race. And if indeed that statement is true the problem is the cancer can't be redeemed I can only be destroyed either by the body itself, society, or an outside force .

Blogger William Meisheid July 25, 2017 6:38 PM  

It can only...

Anonymous DirkH July 25, 2017 6:44 PM  

59. Bz July 25, 2017 4:54 PM
"If you want some villains, look for (((Schönberg))) and the rest. Stockhausen is respected but I never liked his work."

Before ((((Adorno))) decided his calling was to destroy the West, he tried to imitate his idol Schoenberg. In my opinion, with great success: His music is shit.

After WW 2, Adorno declared that "After Auschwitz there can only be ugly art and ugly music." But given his early achievements in the music area that is clearly a post facto rationalisation.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 6:51 PM  

@ 52.

The love of garbage in much postmodern art evolved from the modernist transformation of art from something rooted in tradition (mastery of past conventions) to a revolutionary avant garde. The vast social and economic transformations of modern society made it easy to critique the classics as out of touch with the new reality. The Fauves, or wild beasts, were the new paradigm of artist, tearing down stuffy conventions, shocking Victorian lilies, and creating a new cultural order for a new era. This idea of the artist as cultural iconoclast has long outlived it's time. Postmodern artists resemble snowflakes mouthing slogans from a 60 year old civil rights struggle in a world where white genocide is openly cheered.

The "aesthetic" revolution of the avant garde found an ideological fellow traveler in the philosophical and political revolution of Marxism, which metastasized into postmodern debasement and identity politics. Poststructuralist philosophers like Derrida launched a related attack on truth and logos. They are all different threads that share a common hatred for the western (Christian) tradition.

So the garbage is defended as critiquing/deconstructing oppressive, normative conventions of beauty, etc., but it is the high culture equivalent of forced diversity - spit in the face of cultural traditions. And it does defy coherent definition, because it rejects logical coherence (or logocentrism) as another privileged institution to be overthrown. You know postmodernism by its structure, not by specific content.

Anonymous DirkH July 25, 2017 6:53 PM  

@42. Pseudotsuga July 25, 2017 3:05 PM
" Nit-picking aside, the fact that Lucas was indeed making an homage to the Flash Gordon serials of his youth with the crawl still makes it a Post Modern film (and now cultural property). Star Wars is a deliberate, conscious reaction to the Modernist dystopian Sci-Fi of the 60s/70s. Logan's Run, Westworld, Silent Running, and so on are examples of what filmmakers thought sci-fi had to be."

No. the 60ies saw the triumph of the Frankfurt School and post-modernism and all the "anti hero" films you mention. STAR WARS was REACTIONARY. Most of it is stolen directly from John Carter - who is a complete unashamed chauvinist - and, of course was created LOOONG before post-modernism.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 6:59 PM  

Adorno and the Frankfurt School are another dyscivic thread. "Critical Theory" is just a formula for destroying western tradition. Ditto Benjamin and his concept of history as a fragmented collection of motifs, disconnected from any truth value, and free to be repackaged however the writer chooses. There is a direct line from this to SJW historical revisionism.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 7:06 PM  

@ 85

Postmodernism can be reactionary. The very concept of high culture, which the modernists accepted when they dismissed populist art as kitsch (you don't get much more pompous than Clement Greenberg) was seen by postmodernists as another privileged binary structure to overthrow. It's not a coincidence that Lucas turned to source material considered pulp or lowbrow, compared to something like Kubrick's 2001. It's akin to pop art in that way.

Anonymous Tipsy July 25, 2017 7:26 PM  

@76 (BKM) & @78 (DPE). Thanks. Very interesting. An example of PoMo's sophistic word games and rhetorical misdirection as a means to deny the existence of anything that casts an unfavorable light upon the PoMo agenda.

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 7:36 PM  

I don't know why Heart of Darkness is on that list. Though it shares themes similar to modernism/postmodernism--i.e. "existential" angst, nihilism, "staring into the abyss"--it's not modernistic. Conrad is maybe proto-modernist, but he lays his work out in old-fashioned, conventnal ways.

So much so that all the old-fashioned novelists with whom I'm familiar of the modern period, the ones who hated their "experimental" contemporaries, looked up to him. At best, you'll get the anticlimax of finding out Kurtz is a weak little man who has nothing to convey but the ambiguous phrase, "the horror." That's nothing like the epiphany-abusing Joyce and his endless sea of word soup.

You know, people wrote about nihilism before modernism. Even the ones modernists count among their own kind: Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Kierkegaard, etc., weren't modern. Lovecraft was more bleak and and nihilistic than most, but you'd never put him alongside modern degenerates. Because modernism is not subject matter, nor is it a perspective on things. It's technique, as well. And it's about the culture or civilization as a whole, or lackthereof.

Blogger Xellos July 25, 2017 7:44 PM  

@71
Besides, what is the Kek-worshipping Alt-Right if not Postmodern?

Which do you mean? Anons having fun with bizzare coincidences and making variations of a cartoon frog that trigger libtards, or the Kekistani faggots who make IRL rallies over a meme (basically Chanology 2.0)?

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 7:49 PM  

@18-Eliot was of course a reactionary (after a fashion), and people--myself included--tend to forget that part of the motivation behind modernism was to recapture the old meaning in art. Which they did through the technique of tearing down everything then existing, because it wasn't good enough. Things got so bad that they needed a clean slate. Modernists were well aware modernism didn't work. Some wanted to watch the world burn, but most wanted something better. I say they should've just stuck with the pre-modern, which was better, but they didn't have the stomach for it anymore.

That's why there were so many neo-classicists, or would-be neo-classicists among moderns. Eliot included, when he pulled himself away from wallowing in the muck. But that was mostly pretense. They invented idiomatic order, or snatched dead forms of organization from the past, and tried to pass them off in New packages. But people didn't buy it, even ones starving for order. No one listens to Stravinsky's neo-classical pieces, for instance, though everyone still listens to Beethoven and Mozart.

Why is that? Well, it's partly about the wider culture. You can't invent or recreate classic form, even if you're a genius, on your own. That stuff happens gradually or suddenly by accident, but on a cultural or civilizational scale, not an individual one. At most, modernists managed artistic cliques,coach with their own manifestos proclaiming their's was the One, True Way. Which I hardly need point out didn't work.

There was one civilization-wide neo-classical happening in the modern era, and that was in the Monumental Style of architecture. Unfortunately, the Nazis ruined that for a lot of people. It persists, however.

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 8:01 PM  

For those of you who find post-modernism "problematic" (heh, use their words against them) -- if you are not familiar with the site, go have a look at http://whiteinnovations.tumblr.com/page/2 ; there's lots and lots of it. Sound nourishment in a time of famine.

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 8:06 PM  

@87-This is why I don't like the common distinction between post-modernism and modernism, which I don't consider different enough. Both are united by their tearing down the Old Order and leaving nothing lasting in its place.

The idea that high and popular art aren't in separate universes didn't originate with postmodernism. In fact, modernism was really the first era in which High Art was placed in its Ivory Tower. Up until the late 19th century in music, for instance, all the major composers, every single one, wrote in popular idioms. If they hadn't, we wouldn't know their names. It required intermediaries like critics and academics to convince people that a sign of art's seriousness was that regular people couldn't understand it. Modernism was, among other things, the era of academic and critics' art.

We didn't need postmodernism to correct that mistake, because we could've just gone back to the way it was. Of course, you can use post-modernism in a positively reactionary manner to deflate modernist pretension. You can also use modernism itself, for that matter. In certain hands, modernism was about finding the Order to rule all Orders (poorly). A reactionary could use that to correct the mistakes of other aspects of modernism, as well as postmodernism, which in many ways is worse.

Reactionaries above all oughtta be about preserving the Old Order, or that part of it that's still viable. You use postmodernism, if you want, to tear down the ruling PC order, for instance. But then you drop postmodernism, immediately! Don't touch it, except for rearguard action. Because then you must resurrect the old ways or institute the new ways informed by the old ways. And there is no use for postmodernism in that pursuit.

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 8:13 PM  

@71-"Besides, what is the kek-worshipping Alt-Right if not Postmodern?"

Anything, hopefully. You ascribe a ridiculously broad meaning to the term postmodern. Postmodernism didn't invent humor, or even "kek." You're verging on the loony territory of that article Vox posted not long ago about crypto-fascist gamers abandoning objective truth. Gimme a break.

Blogger Pseudotsuga July 25, 2017 8:42 PM  

DirkH wrote:@42. Pseudotsuga July 25, 2017 3:05 PM

" Nit-picking aside, the fact that Lucas was indeed making an homage to the Flash Gordon serials of his youth with the crawl still makes it a Post Modern film (and now cultural property). Star Wars is a deliberate, conscious reaction to the Modernist dystopian Sci-Fi of the 60s/70s. Logan's Run, Westworld, Silent Running, and so on are examples of what filmmakers thought sci-fi had to be."

No. the 60ies saw the triumph of the Frankfurt School and post-modernism and all the "anti hero" films you mention. STAR WARS was REACTIONARY. Most of it is stolen directly from John Carter - who is a complete unashamed chauvinist - and, of course was created LOOONG before post-modernism.


Dirk, we are actually in agreement here. Star Wars was indeed a deliberate reaction, a throwback to the "fun" adventures instead of the "message" anti-hero films. Even Lucas had his dystopian sci-fi day, with THX-1138 (both the film-school version and the re-worked theater release). Apparently his whole early career was reacting against the establishment, but his surprise success with his counter-Hollywood-establishment films (American Graffiti and Star Wars) suddenly made him the establishment. He successfully overturned the "modern," and replaced it with...?

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 9:14 PM  

@93

I agree with that. I'm skewed by a visual arts perspective, where national academies started institutionalizing a high art culture as early as the 17th century. Modernist artists and critics inherited a well defined sense of an art world that may not translate to other media. Your point stands though; go back a bit further, and you get Raphael, who was the most acclaimed, and most popular, painter in Renaissance Rome. In general, modernism retains an idealism, even if only the autonomous formalist idea of art for art's sake, while postmodernism rejects even the possibility of the ideal for pure subjective relativism. Even this is more an evolution than the birth of a new movement though.

Restoration of the old order would require a purging of the art world; the converged granting agencies, academic literature, music, and art history departments, public culture institutions, etc. Acknowledgement that quality exists would also help. I doubt this culture can be reformed. It needs to collapse and be replaced, or supplanted through new alternatives.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 9:29 PM  

"...postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies and various tenets of universalism, including objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, moral universalism, absolute truth, and objective reality."

Okay, that's certainly bad. And it's a common attitude in Gen-X and younger, to be overly skeptical of everything by default. Would it be fair to say Modernism threw out everything before it and replaced it with crap, and Postmodernists recognized that what Modernists told them was true and beautiful was crap, and thus became skeptical of all truth and beauty?

Are Postmodernists simply wrong when they claim Umberto Eco as one of theirs, or do I need to read more of his work to find this in it?

So the garbage is defended as critiquing/deconstructing oppressive, normative conventions of beauty, etc., but it is the high culture equivalent of forced diversity - spit in the face of cultural traditions.

Okay, that makes sense and I think it fits with what Bob is saying. So, if someone goes back past Modernism and brings forward those earlier cultural traditions, respectfully and accurately, not spitting on them, is there a term for that? Or is it too rare to have one yet?

Anonymous two sentries July 25, 2017 10:07 PM  

"respectfully and accurately, not spitting on them, is there a term for that?"

It's typically thought of as some flavor of neo-classicism, but you might want to add a dash of kek to whatever term you settle on.

"Would it be fair to say Modernism threw out everything before it and replaced it with crap,"

No. It would not be fair.

Blogger tublecane July 25, 2017 10:22 PM  

@96-I wasn't thinking in terms of painting, the history of which is not overly familiar to me. When did the big state academies take over what was considered Serious and High Art? The 19th century, after David? That was a mistake, to make the gatekeepers committee-types, and to make narrow the pantheon and make everything so damn solemn. Impressionism was in a sense a reaction to that, the way stern Lenin was a reaction to Tsarist decadence.

Impressionism kicked in the doors and drive the thieves from the temple, according to the lore I hear from the current Art Establishment. Impressionism also killed instruction in painting and ensured that as what was esteemed sunk lower and lower, from Van Gogh (look at my paint!) to Cezanne (what's drawing?) to Malevich (abstraction) to Duchamps (what's art?). More importantly, it went further and further away from what regular people like. That is, when they're given the opportunity to choose.

Until a few years ago, I had no idea what so-called "academic art" was actually like. I'd heard the name, and I know everyone from the Impressionists on talked about them like they were pornographers, or something. But I didn't know anything about Bouguereau, Gerome, Leighton, etc. And you know what? In terms of stuffiness and the remoteness of their subject matter, surely they're "academic." But they also have popular appeal. Much moreso than all the post-impressionists. They did in their day, and they would today, too, if the Art World didn't block public knowledge of their existence.

I call conspiracy! Because I don't know how else it's possible I missed them my entire life. I'm reasonably well-educated (according to the prevailing standards of our civilization), and though I haven't studied painting in depth, I was aware of all the famous names from the 19th century which fit the Narrative of everything being crap until the Impressionists swooped in and saved us. I knew Ingres, Delacroix, Turner Courbet, the pre-Raphaelites, and everyone else who somehow prefigured Impressionism or post-Impressionism. For everyone else between David and Manet, including the Romantics, it's like they didn't exist. Art history was a blank.

But walk into any public-friendly frame/poster store in the country, and flip through their fine art offerings. You'll find the old masters like Raphael and the Impressionists. You won't find much post-Impressionism. But you will find the Academics, because they still appeal to regular people. They could be popular, if the cultural gatekeepers now in power would inform people of their existence, beyond spitting on them from a distance.

Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, action art, op-art, conceptual art, THIS is the real "academic" art, in the sense of being Ivory Tower art, in which regular people have no interest. Even pop-art qualifies, despite its name. That was merely postmodernistic slumming. It wasn't actually popular, but a play on things the public recognizes. All the while retaining the basic modernist assumptions about what makes serious art (Tom Wolfe's Flatness, among other things).

Blogger ((( bob kek mando ))) - ( more Natural Born Kekistani than if my mother was a native of Moorhead MN and my father came from Cockram Mill VA ... so to speak ) July 25, 2017 10:25 PM  

97. Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 9:29 PM
Are Postmodernists simply wrong when they claim Umberto Eco as one of theirs



i enjoyed Foucault's Pendulum. The Name of the Rose was a bit more 'meh' for me, 'Baudolino' was aggravating.

whether or not Eco is supposed to be Po-Mo, i have no idea.

what i DO know is that i would never bother asking a Post Modernist whether he claims Eco or not.

"no Objective Truth", remember?


97. Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 9:29 PM
And it's a common attitude in Gen-X and younger, to be overly skeptical of everything by default.


skepticism is NOT a rejection of Objective Truth.

and, given that current society is drenched in lies and deceit, as a practical matter you can't even survive without an incredulous approach to life.


97. Cail Corishev July 25, 2017 9:29 PM
is there a term for that?


in the Marxist lexicon ( which pretty much everyone uses ), "Reactionary" is probably the term you're looking for.

this is to the Marxists, of course, one of the greatest sins. pretty much on par with having a Bourgeois Consciousness.

whether we want to use Marxist terminology or create a neologism of our own is a different discussion.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 10:32 PM  

You could call them revivalists, or maybe classicists. It isn't really a defined movement, but there is a new and growing interest in classical realist art. It is both heartening, and a bit depressing to see the erosion of skill from pre-modern masters.

If Eco is postmodern, it is because he takes motifs from the past and deploys them freely, even playfully, to his own purposes. The tension between signs as symbolic of higher truth and as self-referential chains of signifiers in Foucault's Pendulum captures Benjamin's replacement of the romantic symbol as an expression of higher truth (Colridge), with allegory, redefined as a detatched, empty signifier. "Allegoresis" is huge in postmodernism because it allows for any violation of source material, but Eco to respectful of the western tradition to really fit.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 10:34 PM  

Will edit next time...

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 11:31 PM  

@ 99

It really starts with Louis XIV extending absolutism to art, but peaks with the David-Ingres era. Converging centralized institutions is nothing new. It is a conspiracy. I first heard about Bouguereau as a whipping boy in a modern art class. Generations of critics and academics have perpetuated a false narrative, where the empty and hideous is profound, while beauty and grace is mere sentiment. "The Painted Word" is still relevant.

Blogger Matthew July 25, 2017 11:43 PM  

There are four good songs by the Grateful Dead, and Uncle John's Band is one of them.

Blogger Matthew July 25, 2017 11:44 PM  

(the other three all have names in them)

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 25, 2017 11:52 PM  

Matthew wrote:There are four good songs by the Grateful Dead, and Uncle John's Band is one of them.
Lotta poor man got the Cumberland blues
he can't win for losing.
Lotta poor man gotta walk the line
just to pay his union dues.
Buddy, can I go now,
can I go down,
take your shift at the mine?


Sorry, Boomer moment.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 25, 2017 11:54 PM  

I don't know, but I been told
it's hard to run with the weight of gold.
Other hand, I've heard it said,
it's just as hard with the weight of lead.
One way or another,
this darkness's got to give.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 25, 2017 11:55 PM  

SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE MATTHEW?!?!?!?!?!?!

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 26, 2017 12:36 AM  

You lost me there. Read the whole novel or watch the whole movie. Jaws is a modern tale about a dragon terrorizing a village and the brave men who go to face off against the monster, the ultimate hero being the man who conquers his fear because it is his duty as sheriff. The girl eaten at the start is a maiden carried off by the dragon.

Analyzing scenes out of context and drawing parallels that do not exist is what post modernists do. I expected better from a CH author.


Whoosh. If it was just a traditional maiden and dragon, why was she literally deconstructed?

Spielberg wasn't a postmodernist in Jaws, but because of postmodernism, he could open his movie with a postmodern shock. At least it worked.

Benchley's book had even more postmodern-influenced stuff in it, if I recall: I think the wife of the cop was a cheating drunk, for no story reason whatsoever.

That stuff happens all the time now in non-postmodern books: pointless vices that don't drive the plot in the name of "realism."

Anonymous London Derriere July 26, 2017 1:40 AM  

"brings forward those earlier cultural traditions, respectfully and accurately, not spitting on them, is there a term for that?:

Something tells me we'd be wise to be patient, and let Mr. Wright supply us with a term.

Blogger SteelPalm July 26, 2017 2:40 AM  

@89 tublecane

I don't know why Heart of Darkness is on that list.

Me neither. Especially since Conrad despised modernist literature and his stated writing ethos was its complete anti-thesis.

It was a discordant blip in an otherwise strong post, which I mostly agree with.

Anonymous Airquote Sarctag July 26, 2017 2:54 AM  

Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light" anyone?

Anonymous Athor Pel July 26, 2017 7:05 AM  

" 101. Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 25, 2017 10:32 PM
You could call them revivalists, or maybe classicists. It isn't really a defined movement, but there is a new and growing interest in classical realist art. It is both heartening, and a bit depressing to see the erosion of skill from pre-modern masters.

If Eco is postmodern, it is because he takes motifs from the past and deploys them freely, even playfully, to his own purposes. The tension between signs as symbolic of higher truth and as self-referential chains of signifiers in Foucault's Pendulum captures Benjamin's replacement of the romantic symbol as an expression of higher truth (Colridge), with allegory, redefined as a detatched, empty signifier. "Allegoresis" is huge in postmodernism because it allows for any violation of source material, but Eco to respectful of the western tradition to really fit.
"



I don't have a problem with the meaning of the above quoted comment. The meaning sounds sensible. The tone on the other hand is pure literature department. It makes my trigger finger twitch.



"71. Anonymous Sertorius July 25, 2017 5:33 PM
Bz @59

Ha, glad to see someone sticking up for Modernism and Postmodernism--the Great Questions are often there, if only as palimpsests. Besides, what is the Kek-worshipping Alt-Right if not Postmodern?
..."


More finger twitching. Po-Mo apologists won't last long outside of a rich economy. The stink of moral relativism is too strong and too likely to get somebody killed.



"71. Anonymous Sertorius July 25, 2017 5:33 PM
...
Rieff's "My Life among the Deathworks" especially is a brilliant exploration of both the origins and the consequences of the post-Christian West, though I should warn you that it makes a strong case that regaining the status quo ante will be forever a doomed crusade.
"


This is the same message sent by every horror movie or novel. That message being despair in the face of Satan's power. It's brain fucking evil is what it is and deserves to die in a fire screaming for the mercy it never granted.

Anonymous Beresford July 26, 2017 7:35 AM  

If it was just a traditional maiden and dragon, why was she literally deconstructed?

Because sharks don't kidnap people.


but because of postmodernism, he could open his movie with a postmodern shock

Whoosh. You are literally proving my point by analyzing a scene outside of its context. The first shark attack establishes the 'villain' and sets the story in motion.

A man doing his duty and overcoming an obstacle is the opposite of postmodernism. If jaws were a postmodernist flick Brody would have shrugged his shoulders and let the shark keep eating people.
Many movies begin with people being killed. Does that make them all post modern?

Anonymous Beresford July 26, 2017 7:41 AM  

If you really want to understand the movie Jaws then watch Spielberg's "Duel". It is the same movie but the shark is a truck and Brody is a henpecked husband who growd a pair at the end. Duel is the movie that got Spielberg started.

Post modernism isn't about character growth, defeating villains, overcoming nature and doing your duty.

Anonymous Beresford July 26, 2017 7:59 AM  

If the author wanted post modern movies then why didn't he pick one of Woody Allen's movies, Pyscho, The Maltese Falcon, any modern comedy where a jew is masquerading as a white beta, whatever silly foreign film Hollywood is raving about or any other movie that lacks character growth, heroism, honor, right and wrong etc.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 26, 2017 9:33 AM  

I don't have a problem with the meaning of the above quoted comment. The meaning sounds sensible. The tone on the other hand is pure literature department. It makes my trigger finger twitch.

Same here (at least the parts I understood). That's also where I start wondering if someone's pulling my leg.

So far I've heard that Postmodernism doesn't like grand narratives, heroes defeating villains, objective truth, or human nature, and that it drags everything down into the gutter. But then I hear that Star Wars is Postmodern. That's the point where I back up and say, "Okay, you guys let me know when you figure out what you're talking about."

I get that something can be hard to define. Take pornography, famously hard to put a legal definition to. But any of us can give a rough definition for it and some examples that we would all agree with, even though we might argue over some edge cases. You have to be able to do that to have a discussion about it. If we're trying to discuss a Thing, and we have contradictory ideas of what the Thing is, we're not going to get very far. We can discuss pornography even though we disagree on whether that scene in Basic Instinct qualifies. But we can't discuss it usefully if I think a painting of a bowl of apples does.

There has to be some rough definition and a handful of agreed-upon examples, or it just looks like everyone's using the term differently to apply to something he does/doesn't like. It's possible that that word salad Vox posted in the other thread, which is aggressively anti-meaning, fits into a category with Star Wars, but I haven't seen a case for that yet.

Anonymous two sentries July 26, 2017 10:34 AM  

"A man doing his duty and overcoming an obstacle is the opposite of postmodernism."

I fully agree with your read on this, and you stated it cogently and concisely. My question is: that story has been told over and over and over again for thousands of years, indeed it is practically embedded in our DNA, for obvious and explicable reasons. Why do you want to hear that story AGAIN? It's like a little kid at bed time, who wants to hear the exact same book as a bedtime story 9,000 f#ckin times. Granted po-mo is not the cure b/c no story at all (this can be interesting in its way, but it's rare). Still, THERE ARE OTHER STORIES. Some people argue that there are really only two stories: a man goes on a journey, and a man fights a battle. This is true in some sort of chthonic way, but for pete's sake, the grumbling here is a bit petulant.

Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is modern in the sense that the prose style mirrors the consciousness of the two main characters. "Lord Jim" for instance is not modern, but same author.

btw, I think Spielberg's best film by a country mile is "Close Encounters" b/c he was writing his autobiography without realizing it, always the best sort of autobiography.

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 26, 2017 10:55 AM  

If the author wanted post modern movies then why didn't he pick one of Woody Allen's movies,

His thesis is that PostModernism infected non-PostModern popular works.

Thus, Sidney Sheldon, Stephen King, and all those other non-PM examples of unwittingly adopting the anticommunication communications. The maiden gets eaten, the scarlet woman is redeemed by whoring, religion is bad in horror instead of what scares Dracula, and so on.

Again, whoosh.

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 26, 2017 11:12 AM  

Before Postmodernism made it okay to target innocent women, Jaws would have opened with the drunk guy bravely/stupidly running into the water and meeting a horrific consequence. That would have been a traditional structure, and traditional motivation for the rest of the movie. It also would have been more realistic (I don't care how drunk you are, any teenaged boy is going into the ocean with a naked girl clearly insisting on sex on the beach.) The maiden, left scared on the beach as the man faces a maneater, can then serve as the figurative maiden to be rescued by Brody.

But, just as PM helped allow Janet Leigh to headline a movie and die 12 minutes in or whatever, PM made it so seamlessly possible for a regular movie to subvert maiden/dragon in the opening scene and 30 years later get people to defend it as a purely traditional, non-postmodern scene.

Conservatism couldn't even conserve a maiden rescue?

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 26, 2017 11:20 AM  

I'm not trying to pull anyone's leg or troll with bullshit jargon. Postmodern thought is a product of converged academia, and uses the linguistic obscurantism of that venue to hide its moral and logical deficiency. The "movement" can be dismissed outright as fraudulent, but analyzing it "on it's terms" involves wallowing in that mudhole. I was trying to get at the "rationale" by which a postmodernist could claim Eco. Postmodernists love "semiotics", which they define as the unrestricted "free play" of signifiers with no fundamental truth value, akin to Derrida's "philosophy" of language. Eco's fluid sign use can be superficially misinterpreted into this way of thinking fairly easily. Redefining allegory from seeing through a glass darkly to any solipsistic violation of the past that you want, so long as it is dismantling traditional western cultural norms, is a consequence of this "thinking."

Postmodernism is used differently in different contexts, which should disqualify it from serious consideration. Frederic Jameson sees it as basically cultural marxism. Others see it as linguistic, artistic, philosophical, etc. It is fundamentally empty. There is no there there. Word salad is is great term because it captures the pure superficiality of something that seems complex but signifies nothing but the writer's own self-importance. In broad strokes, modernism replaces traditional values in ALL cultural domains with something supposedly in tune with the new conditions of modern life. It does this by progressively attacking value systems and replacing them with "modern" alternatives. These take on an infinity of different forms in different contexts, but all share a hostility to traditionalism.

Postmodernism "corrects" this by moving past pure formalism and rejecting any sort of standards at all. It can encompass anything that can be claimed to violate some notion of norm or propriety in the name of irony, subversion, or self-expression, from bringing pulp references into serious cinema in the name of good fun, to praising transexual beauty, to taking a dump in the Louvre, to painting your car to resemble the Mystery Machine, to denying HBD. It is internally inconsistent and inane, and the more you try and make sense of it, the more incoherent and annoying it becomes. It appears to me that postmodernism is pretty much whatever today's "culturati" want it to be, and to these assholes, hostility to pre-modern tradition (white, western, Christian) remains as an article of faith. It has the internal consistency of Dem "resistance" or SJW bravery.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 11:28 AM  

two sentries wrote:Why do you want to hear that story AGAIN?
Because it it is True. Because it is Beautiful.
Why do you want to hear ugly lies?

OpenID timwburke.com July 26, 2017 11:31 AM  

His Jaws example lacks. Everyman Brody did his duty, Quint dies fighting his nemesis, even the intellectual is a Cassandra against the thoughtless. They were heros.
The maiden at the beach has also been thought of as reinforcing traditional values: brazen women will be punished. Look at most slasher movies from the '60s to today. Usually the "final girl" in a horror movie is demure and smart, learning assertion through survival.

Anonymous two sentries July 26, 2017 11:34 AM  

"Postmodern thought is a product of converged academia, and uses the linguistic obscurantism of that venue to hide its moral and logical deficiency."

I wouldn't claim that what I'm about to say is out and out true, it's simply what I've smelled, having swam in the relevant waters, then quickly got out and dried myself off before the ick set in.

Postmodernism in my view began by the serious realization, among perfectly serious artists and intellectuals, that Modernism was running out of steam, and their perfectly reasonable question was, OK, now what? The fact that they chose the wrong answer does not mean the question was (((insincere))). Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol were perfectly serious about what they were doing; the fact that you disapprove (which is a reasonable reaction) does not compromise their sincerity. Frank O'Hara was smarter, more life-experienced, better educated, better read, and more artistically knowledgeable than anyone here, yet he wrote poetry that virtually everybody here would consider horseshit (it wasn't that, not by a country mile, but I'm not gonna die on that hill in a place like this. Your verdict is a perfectly reasonable one, given your chosen parameters.) Again, the fact that you'd hold him in contempt doesn't mean he wasn't serious or sincere (or, in his case, adopting a stance of deliberately sincere flippancy as an artistic strategy.)

It was only after (((certain persons))) realized that this was the next game in town, that it gradually became (((converged))) by themselves, fellow travelers, and people too stupid or too full of shit to see what was going on, and so swam with the current. After that, @121 kicks in and is correct.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 26, 2017 11:59 AM  

I was trying to get at the "rationale" by which a postmodernist could claim Eco.

Gotcha, thanks for explaining.

Postmodernism "corrects" this by moving past pure formalism and rejecting any sort of standards at all. It can encompass anything that can be claimed to violate some notion of norm or propriety in the name of irony, subversion, or self-expression, from bringing pulp references into serious cinema in the name of good fun, to praising transexual beauty, to taking a dump in the Louvre, to painting your car to resemble the Mystery Machine, to denying HBD. It is internally inconsistent and inane, and the more you try and make sense of it, the more incoherent and annoying it becomes.

Okay, if I'm getting it: it's not that Star Wars itself is "internally inconsistent and inane," but that Postmodernism in general is that, so while you might occasionally get a Star Wars, you usually get confusing, depressing, cynical garbage.

And often you get things which have positive elements mixed together with destructive ones, to the point where it's hard for people to tell them apart. So we get arguments over movies where some people point to the (obvious to them) feminism and so on, while others point to the heroic characters and moments. Both are there, thrown together whether the result is coherent or not.

I've been seeing a contradiction between the people saying Postmodernism is, as someone said upthread, about the structure and not the content, which implies that it could result in good -- someone could subvert the conventions of his time, like dreary 1970s sci-fi, and bring together pulp ideas and classic hero stories into something new -- and that would qualify as Postmodern. And on the other hand, those saying it always lowers, never elevates, always snickers at the past, never respects it, in which case that example doesn't fit at all. But maybe it does fit if Postmodernism allows for such happy accidents to occur -- if it sets no rules at all, that follows -- but those go against its general thrust.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 12:35 PM  

two sentries wrote:he fact that you disapprove (which is a reasonable reaction) does not compromise their sincerity. [O'Hara] wrote poetry that virtually everybody here would consider horseshit (it wasn't that, not by a country mile, but I'm not gonna die on that hill in a place like this. Your verdict is a perfectly reasonable one, given your chosen parameters.) Again, the fact that you'd hold him in contempt doesn't mean he wasn't serious or sincere (or, in his case, adopting a stance of deliberately sincere flippancy as an artistic strategy.)
And every Halloween, the great Pumpkin rises and searches the world for the most sincere pumpkin patch.

Who gives a rip for his SINCERITY??? Every SJW I know is sincere to the point to death.

The world is gasping for Truth and Beauty, and assholes like Warhol and O'Hara hand us, not even stones, or snakes. They hand us balloons and those stupid conical party hats then mock us for being hungry.

two sentries wrote:Frank O'Hara was smarter, more life-experienced, better educated, better read, and more artistically knowledgeable than anyone here,
Assertion contrary to evidence.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 12:36 PM  

But at least they are sincere in their mockery of all that is Good.

Anonymous two sentries July 26, 2017 1:52 PM  

"Assertion contrary to evidence."

You frequently demonstrate that you're one of the most intelligent people here, so I tremble at the thought of calling you an idiot, but in this instance....

You're an idiot.

Anonymous two sentries July 26, 2017 1:56 PM  

"Who gives a rip for his SINCERITY???"

Tracing the genealogy of an intellectual movement here, not measuring valences. Movements begin with sincerity, and if they are good movements, ride forward to success. Po-mo ran headlong right into the ditch, but that doesn't mean its origins weren't honorable.

Anonymous two sentries July 26, 2017 2:03 PM  

For instance, in case you didn't realize, Andy Warhol was a superb draftsman, one of the most skilled of his day, who had a highly successful career as a commercial artist, primarily drawing womens shoes for advertisements. He was highly in demand, and walked away from that in order to pursue something considered risky and incomprehensible at the time. You don't have to like or admire his work, (and maybe you shouldn't), but before he turned into a grotesque parody of himself, he was a man with a vision, not a snake-oil salesman, though he portrayed himself as such (it was part of the vision.) Again, I'm not demanding that you like it or respect it, there are very good reasons for taking the stance you take. It's simply not the only informed stance.

Later po-mo types completely misunderstood his product, taking him at his (purported) word -- a mistake he later made himself, to dreadful effect). The fact that yes, you're right, the po-mo art which he and his type spawned turned out to be a hideous mistake, doesn't mean the early practitioners were frauds. They were wrong, but not fraudulently so. Their followers, on the other hand, were willfully, deliberately fraudulent, and worse things too.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 3:18 PM  

two sentries wrote:Tracing the genealogy of an intellectual movement here, not measuring valences. Movements begin with sincerity, and if they are good movements, ride forward to success. Po-mo ran headlong right into the ditch, but that doesn't mean its origins weren't honorable.

So what? So the freak what? Lenin was sincere as he massacred his tens of thousands. Hitler was sincere. FDR was sincere. Lincoln was sincere. Pol Pot was sincere.
Sincerity isn't even really a virtue. It's the lack of a vice.
Sincerity is of no value.
You keep speaking as if sincerity somehow excuses the schlock, the dreck, the GARBAGE these men foisted on the world as a mockery of beauty. Sincere blasphemy is still an abomination. Sincere pederasty still merits a lead injection.

Literally no-one but you cares about their sincerity. They certainly didn't, and said so.

two sentries wrote:but in this instance....
You're an idiot.

You made an obviously false assertion, I called you on it. Where's the idiocy?

I know for a fact there are at least 4 people participating in this discussion who have an IQ at or above 155, and several I don't know as a fact, but would estimate to be at or near that level.
O'Hara may have been smart, but to baldly assert "Frank O'Hara was smarter, more life-experienced, better educated, better read, and more artistically knowledgeable than anyone here" is an obvious lie. His "life experience" was sucking dick among the NYC art scene. That's not "life experience", that's coasting on good looks and reputation. His "artistic knowledge" was used to build the collection at MOMA, which is to say, to anticipate and drive the fads of the modern art scene. This is a substitute for knowledge of art.

Blogger tublecane July 26, 2017 3:21 PM  

@118-"Why do you want to hear that story AGAIN?"

Because it means something. As you said, it's in our DNA. A better question is why are you asking?

"'Heart of Darkness' is modern in the sense that the prose style mirrors the consciousness of the two main characters"

Of course it mirrors Marlow's consciousness, because he's the narrator. But then you'd have to say every novel written in first-person narration that doesn't try to be as straightforward, dry, and objective as possible is modern, which is untenable.

The prose doesn't mirror Kurtz's consciousness at all, not counting his dialogue. One of the main things that stands out to me about the book is that I have no idea what Kurtz's consciousness is like. It's a mystery. That's part of the titular "darkness."

At most you can say Heart of Darkness is a Psychological Novel, though all novels are psychological. It's part of the genre. (Check out the originator: Don Quixote). It's more psychological than others, whatever that means. Let's say it's because the style gets more into the head of at least one character than certain other novels. Is that alone modernistic? No.

We give the moderns a ridiculous amount of credit for things they didn't invent. You're always hearing people associate symbolism, the "unreliable narrator," interior monologue, restrictive point of view, basically everything that gets you away from old-fashioned omniscient third-person narration. And admittedly that's all part of what modernism means, because they were unduly obsessed with locking stories up inside people's heads. However, all those attributes predate modernism. Some of them were around since we don't know when.

Henry James, for instance, gets tagged as proto-modern for being "psychological" and such. But I imagine any fan of modernism and postmodernism unfamiliar with turn of the century Anglo-American literature plopped down in front of one of his books would find them sickeningly narrated. They're full of long introductory passages where he tells you the family history of main characters and actually lays out the setting. He even gives you descriptions of the characters, informing you of all their qualities and telling you what to think of them. He might as well be Charles Dickens.

This is all relative, admittedly. What people want to say is Conrad is close to modern. Chronologically, he certainly is. Not in technique, and not in style.

Blogger tublecane July 26, 2017 3:26 PM  

@120-Everything you mention is certainly subversion of traditional storytelling order. But that alone doesn't make it postmodern. Postmodernism didn't invent playing with people's expectations. This is like how people blame everything wrong with Western Civilization on Cultural Marxism. Yes, it is a bad thing, widespread, and terribly influential, but it's not everything. It's not the Phantom Menace terrorizing us from the shadows everywhere we go.

Postmodernism gets way, way too much credit. Or debit, as it were.

Blogger tublecane July 26, 2017 3:49 PM  

@124-"their perfectly reasonable question was, OK, now what? The fact that they chose the wrong answer..."

Their answer is all I'm interested in. Because they weren't questioners, any more than Marx was essentially a questioner of capitalism. Oh, he "deconstructed" capitalism with a lot of the right sort of questions, but that's not what he was all about. He was an answer man.

Postmodernism didn't just have the wrong answer, they had a non-answer. They proposed to replace modernism with nothing. Which is why I oppose drawing a hard line of distinction between them (The fact that they don't like eachother has no importance to me whatsoever.) It would be like treating Marx as a champion of a Bold, New Way while subtracting every one of his positive communistic solutions from his writings, leaving only critique of the existing order and vague fire and brimstone rhetoric. I'd call that guy fairly bourgeois.

I don't give postmodernism credit for the question, even though modernism in fact was out of steam. They didn't have much steam to begin with. Any reasonable person could, and did, question them before it even got off the ground. Postmoderns were way, way late with their questions. They're like someone who just discovered proletarian revolution today.

What unites the two movements, modernism and postmodernism, is they're both destructive of Western Civilization as built before they arrived. They have different methods. Modernists want to build as they destroy; postmodernists want to play with the rubble. But playing eut h the rubble isn't really its own thing, and doesn't deserve the dignity of a name. So I lump it in with the movement it questioned. They're an offshoot.

They're the revolutionary banging, in fact. Or used to be. Your "now what?" is apposite. Postmoderns are always seeking the next thing, to keep us off balance. Even when we catch them, they pull the lampshade out of their pocket and stick it on their head, hoping you'll think they didn't *really* mean it. Because it must always be now, new, next. Which makes them slaves to fashion. Or just ahead of fashion.

Which must be tiresome, and certainly is tiring. I can imagine fashionistas and trendsetters being earnest, though their job is essentially to be constantly tricking people. But you can be sincere about trickery, I guess.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 3:53 PM  

tublecane wrote:But you can be sincere about trickery, I guess.
c.f. Andy Warhol, whom our interlocutor assures us was so sincere, the great Pumpkin just HAS to come to his pumpkin patch this year.

Blogger tublecane July 26, 2017 4:02 PM  

@131-Sincerity, authenticity, etc. are important to postmodernists, existentialist, and the gang. They hate phonies, along with Holden Caulfield, and if the workaday world is irredeemably "fake" to them, art is doubly so. It is by definition artificial, after all.

This authenticity-hunger is a natural consequence of denying objective reality and pretending we're locked up in systems of abstraction and discourse, or however they pretend to think of the world. That's my guess, anyway. They deny Truth yet value honesty. Which is laudable hypocrisy, in my opinion. But it's not enough.

They're like die-hard revolutionaries, in that all their virtue is wrapped up in one virtue:their dedication to the cause. Anything is permitted, including rampant, intentional dishonesty and phoniness, so long as they're honest about the One, True thing: everyone else is phony.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 4:08 PM  

Who, dammit, WHO! not whom.

tublecane wrote:

This authenticity-hunger is a natural consequence of denying objective reality and pretending we're locked up in systems of abstraction and discourse,

Okay, that explains it, I guess. What a stupid perspective.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 26, 2017 4:51 PM  

Sincerity, but also irony, because when truth and beauty are denied, sincere claims of truth and beauty are necessarily ironic. The only sincerity that matters is the authenticity of personal expression, which eventually gets us to 57 genders.

Star Wars may be postmodern in its willingness to mash up genre conventions, but Lucas, unlike the academic and culture industries, was market facing. If you want to make money, classic traditions like an enjoyable story, great imagery, and characters kids wish they could become really attractive. Cutting public arts funding wouldn't instantly restore tradition, but it would drag the art world back into alignment with things people like to read or look at.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 26, 2017 4:52 PM  

...could be become really attractive

Blogger tublecane July 26, 2017 6:56 PM  

@138-"Star Wars may be postmodern in its willingness to mash up genre conventions"

Postmodernism didn't invent that, though I will concede it is one of postmodernism's preferred technique. Lucas could have been making use of a postmodern technique to tell a story like the old sci-fi serials he enjoyed as a kid, but I don't think so. I just think he was throwing in whatever he could make work from various things he was into at one point in his life because he didn't have enough ideas of his own to fill out the story. Possibly Lucas had been too immersed in media, and had his brained McLuhaned. But in that case he was an involuntary postmodernist.

If it were truly postmodern, it would be about the mashing up. Or about the experience of being lost in the world of media, jumping from one genre to another with no outside reference to stabilize you, or however they might put it in their pretentious language. But that wasn't the point. The point was to make rip-roaring, crowd-pleasing action adventure sci-fi fantasy war romp. (Maybe also to comment on "relevant"--thpugh technically out of date--things like the Vietcong and the Nixon administration, but that didn't come across in the final product, if it was in fact intended.)

That's perfectly old-fashioned. And, again, postmodernism didn't invent genre-mixing.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 26, 2017 7:36 PM  

Postmodernism didn't invent much of anything. Self-referentiality and genre mixing is nothing new. Rabelais may be postmodern in some ways for all I know. There is a chronological element to it; self-referentiality and genre mixing in the wake of modernism in the late 20th century and later. Neoclassicism isn't anything that the Renaissance didn't do, but is distinguished by its place in time.

My quote continues with a but that introduces a reason why Lucas isn't postmodern. One can be postmodern insofar as they subvert genre and not postmodern in the approach to narration at the same time. None of which is a claim for originality, and I'm not sure why absolute originality matters.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 7:45 PM  

I'm not sure why absolute originality matters

Becase some people think "Why would you want to hear that story again?" is a valid critique.

The absolutely original is pointless and overwhelmingly boring.

Anonymous Headcannon July 26, 2017 9:11 PM  

Andy Warhol was making that crap for money and was upfront about it. He didn't give a toss for any sort of art.

Anonymous Uncle John's Band July 26, 2017 9:21 PM  

"The absolutely original is pointless and overwhelmingly boring"

Yeah, you need a way in. One more reason why culture matters.

Anonymous Joe Author July 26, 2017 10:05 PM  

In the end, writers will write what they want to write and people will read what they want to read regardless of elitist protests.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 26, 2017 11:57 PM  

For the last 150 years or so, writers wrote what the gatekeepers at the publishers told them to, and the readers were allowed to read what the gatekeepers decided to publish.
That still hasn't fully changed, ask Nick Cole. There's a lot of money trying to put the gatekeepers back in place.

Blogger tublecane July 27, 2017 12:32 AM  

@141-Absolute originality doesn't matter. Relative originality, even, isn't as important as High Art has made it out to be since I'm not sure when. Certainly romanticism played into it, making art-heroes out of everyone,the prime example being Beethoven (not strictly romantic, but proto-romantic). No one cares about how Bach lived or what epochal innovations he dreamt up. They just like the music.

With modernism High Art became slave to fashion, constantly on the search for the New. Every big name, school, or movement had to like Edison, bringing with them the brand new thing. The thing no one ever thought of before, which will change mankind somehow.

Which has diminishing returns, as you can imagine. For one thing, no one's coming up with new forms. Classical musicians, for instance, pride themselves on having a unique style of harmony. Around the turn of the century they thought the Western tonal system that had been in place for 300-odd years was played out. So instead of being wild originalists like Wagner or Debussy, or dipping into popular/folk music as romantics had, they prided themselves as new Monteverdi (whom I'm crediting for the switch from medieval modes to classical tonality).

But they didn't have a new system, just atonality. Which to almost everyone sounds like nothingness. Some small band of dedicated fanatics stick to the new, but most people abandoned them. In the meantime, they didn't come up with any new forms. They were still using old dances no one had ever heard of, along with opera, overtures, symphonies, sonatas, etc., though admittedly unrecognizable versions.

How many different ways can do a symphony? Or a novel? Or a lyric poem? On the grand scale, not many. You can destroy the form, like Joyce. You can tinker, like Pale Fire,which features a long poem with the story in the endnotes, as I recall. But how new is all of this, really? You find soon newness produces sameness. Because people aren't very original, really. They can easily be self-indulgent, however.

Architecture was the worst. All ugliness, all the time. There were a billion different groups, all of them with their own toy philosophies, all making geometrical boxes. In swoops the postmodernists to save the day, and what do they do? Why they imprint their originality on the form. Originality, in the most juvenile manner, is really all it is at this point. They're not interested in discovering the Platonic Ideal of a house, like the moderns. They want to stand out and play around.

It wasn't always that way. The English novel, for instance, just happened. At the time, no one cared to whom they should attribute the innovation. (Maybe someone did; I don't care. I'm making my point.) Defoe, Richardson, Fielding? Were they inspired by Cervantes? Did Apuleius and Petronius anticipate them? Who cares, besides literary professors?

Blogger tublecane July 27, 2017 12:46 AM  

@141-"One can be postmodern insofar as they subvert genre..."

Yes, they can. I think the point I wanted to make is that just because they subvert, mix, or do whatever with genre (or any element for that matter) in what can be considered a postmodern-y way doesn't mean they're being postmodern. Because postmoderns weren't and aren't the only ones to do that.

That was the point of saying they didn't invent it. Not to say they're at fault for being unoriginal.

"...and not postmodern in the approach to narration at the same time."

Indeed. I think you need not only use a postmodern-y techniques to be postmodern. You have to have postmodern intent. Lucas didn't, because his intent was to make a popcorn flick that people could enjoy in a straightforward manner.

So I wouldn't call him postmodern at all. The genre mixing is coincidental. That's the way the story unfolded for him, because he had trouble writing it as a Dune/Lensman rip-off in an updated Flash Gordon style. He kept adding other things, until it wasn't just Space Opera, but a western pirate WWII Kurosawa film. I think he just threw in a bunch of stuff with which he was familiar.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 27, 2017 12:52 AM  

tublecane wrote:In swoops the postmodernists to save the day, and what do they do? Why they imprint their originality on the form. Originality, in the most juvenile manner, is really all it is at this point. They're not interested in discovering the Platonic Ideal of a house, like the moderns. They want to stand out and play around.

Or, in some cases, take a dump on the sidewalk

Anonymous VFM #6306 July 27, 2017 11:26 AM  

Postmodernism didn't invent playing with people's expectations.

It DID invent raping people's expectations, and convincing them it was both normal and relative.

The slasher movie is a new contribution to society. The Devil's Rejects is surely the pop-product of postmodernism. You can't say it is just an old literary trope of surprise.

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts