Category Archives: philosophy

The Death of Postmodernism

means the arrival of what Kirby called pseudo-modernism in 2006:

To a degree, pseudo-modernism is no more than a technologically motivated shift to the cultural centre of something which has always existed (similarly, metafiction has always existed, but was never so fetishised as it was by postmodernism). Television has always used audience participation, just as theatre and other performing arts did before it; but as an option, not as a necessity: pseudo-modern TV programmes have participation built into them. There have long been very ‘active’ cultural forms, too, from carnival to pantomime. But none of these implied a written or otherwise material text, and so they dwelt in the margins of a culture which fetishised such texts – whereas the pseudo-modern text, with all its peculiarities, stands as the central, dominant, paradigmatic form of cultural product today, although culture, in its margins, still knows other kinds. Nor should these other kinds be stigmatised as ‘passive’ against pseudo-modernity’s ‘activity’. Reading, listening, watching always had their kinds of activity; but there is a physicality to the actions of the pseudo-modern text-maker, and a necessity to his or her actions as regards the composition of the text, as well as a domination which has changed the cultural balance of power (note how cinema and TV, yesterday’s giants, have bowed before it). It forms the twenty-first century’s social-historical-cultural hegemony. Moreover, the activity of pseudo-modernism has its own specificity: it is electronic, and textual, but ephemeral.

I spent half the night worrying about this, particularly considering how much time I spend mucking around the internet.

‘In Cookie-Monster related news’

Tim Carmody on Cookie Monster:

Not to get all Lacanian up in this mug, but it’s all about the mouth, and the regulation of desire in accordance with learning of language and letters.

Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus thought the best way to teach children how to learn the alphabet was to bake letter-shaped cookies for them to eat. I know one monster who would definitely approve.

Mysogyny, Labels, Isms, et cetera

Zach Weiner:

Part of my distrust of terms comes from a funny experience I had coming out of college. Allow me a brief digression: I went to a liberal west coast school. The kind of school where many of the kids manage to be oppressed and wealthy and socialist all at the same time. A frequent topic of discussion was the “inherent sexism” of the English language. There were two main lines of argument – 1) in English, the default pronoun is “he” 2) English contains a number of words, such as “bitch” and “pussy” that combine an insult with femaleness. So as not to digress too far, suffice it to say that I think these arguments are unconvincing. At the least, they require a lot of nuanced (even statistical) explanation in order to claim them as true. That said, this sort of thing was my impression of how “sexism” worked in society.

Then I moved to LA to get into the film business. In LA, it is considered acceptable to ask a potential secretary to send headshots. In LA, it is acceptable for a casting director to say “could you play that role blacker” as a way to say “act loud and dumb.” In LA, you hear people describe homosexuals who’ve died of AIDS as having “died of assfucking.” In LA, you hear even nice people say “women can’t be funny.” These aren’t exaggerations – these are things I experienced. Having seen these things, it was incredible for me to look back at the way that, in college, we’d parse the tiny details of language to try to locate some sexism. In Hollywood, it was real sexism, without doubt or hesitation. It was people holding back women (and other groups) actively and overtly.

It occurred to me what a bizarre thing it is that “sexism” blankets both the experience I had in college AND the experience I had in LA.