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postmodernism defined

1998-07-01 07:00:00+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

So I was reading Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images, and I ran across this doozy:

To deconstruct a "text" (a term defined broadly enough to include the Declaration of Independence and a Van Gogh painting) means to pick it apart, in search of ways in which it fails to make the points it seems to be trying to make. Why would someone want to "read" (defined equally broadly) like that? In order to experience the impossibility of anyone writing or saying (or painting) something this is perfectly clear, the impossibility of constructing a theory or method of inquiry that will answer all the questions or the impossibility of fully comprehending weighty matters, like death.

-- Jacques Derrida

I think that pretty much sums up Postmodernism: Pick a piece of art with a simplistic enough message that you can sum it up in a sound bite, then look for flaws in the mechanics of the execution until you can convince yourself that it's saying the opposite.

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-05-04 20:36:05.445217+00 by: ebradway


Let's try this another way... Post-modernism isn't about trying to find some niddling detail in the execution that yields an interpretation that's opposite of the simple message conveyed... It's looking at the subtle ways in which other messages - those that get carried into the medium by the artists place in society.

In the history of cartography, this is very, very clear. The cartographer's own point of view had not been deconstructed until around the late 1970s and early 1980s when J. Brian Harley started "Deconstructing the Map" as representations of power. Maps convey power relationships. Those power relationships are structured by masculinity.

Post-modernism is about looking at how themes and messages are conveyed through the media (art, writing, architecture, maps) that were not the direct intention of the artist, but rather, an artifact of his or her place in society.

Derrida's take, like much of his philosophy, is an over-simplification.