RARA-AVIS: Postmodernism and literature

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 21 Mar 2007

David in quotes. Me without.

"Well, if no others here are going to play devil's advocate, I guess I will."

Go for it! It's well worth discussing. Postmodern thought permeates the air we breathe. More on topic, it's had a profound impact on the hardboiled and noir books we read. I've already mentioned a few in an earlier post. I could add John Barth to that list. I interpret his The Road as a slightly tongue-in-cheek play between an existentialist doctor, a pomo protagonist, and an Enlightenment modern. It actually prefigures the birth of postmodernism by a year or few. Stewart astutely mentions Sallis. I've heard that Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 19 and some of Robee-Grillet show pomo influence, but I haven't had the pleasure.

"Some of the work is definitely pseudo-intellectual horseshit, but not all of it. Even academic critics of Foucault, for example, acknowledge the depth, scope, and importance of his work."

Shame on you. That's an ad populum argument.
'Everybody who is somebody thinks he is wonderful, so it must be so.' Logical fallacy number one.

"Foucault did not have as shallow a theory of power as Miker's summary might have you believe."

If you are saying that several books cannot be adequately summarized in a few short paragraphs, I have no problem with that. Nevertheless, just for the record, here's Foucault: 'No power is exercised without the extraction appropriation, distribution or retension of knowledge. At this level, we do not have knowledge on the on hand and society on the other, or science and state; we have the basic forms of power/knowledge.'

"Second, postmodern philosophers have been equally attacked by the Right and Left, so to consider them all leftists is ironic when the likes of Derrida have been critiqued as Nazis by some on the Left."

The Nazi accusation is sloppy reasoning. It is based on the postmodern deconstruction of Enlightenment ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. The Lefties who are doing the Nazi name-calling are making the faulty assumption that just because the pomos are not opposed to fascism, they must be in favor of it. Postmodernism is very closely associated with leftist thought. We could easily pursue this, but it hardly seems worth it.

"I could say a lot more about the origins of the questioning of modernism and its relation to the rationalism of systematic genocides in the 20th century..."

Oh yeah. The Enlightenment is the reason for the Holocaust. What a classic piece of postmodern thought.

"I got so tired of defending popular fiction from academic snobbery in grad school that it is a little disheartening to have to defend important academic work from anti-intellectual snobbery here at RARA AVIS..."

My stance is anti-postmodern. Equating anti-postmodern with anti-intellectual is logical fallacy number two, equivocation. Didn't they teach you that in school? Anyway, seems like there's a lot of that going around these days. Jim did a wonderful job of it when he turned my declaration that "Art has no moral obligation" into "Artists have no moral obligation." Art. Artist. What's the difference? But I diverge.


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