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From: "Jonathan Laidlow" <LAIDLOJM@hhs.bham.ac.uk>
Subject: (urth) postmodernity
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 11:28:30 GMT

Jeremy wrote:
"While I'm looking at Jim, I have to disagree with this wretched label"postmodernity" 
again and always, I think certainly Fouc. would have aproblem with that label, as do I. 
According to Perry Anderson (the Thunderbirds guy, no not really) the first idea of a 
postmodernism arose inthe 1930s in Hispanic America (Federico de Onis; Borges was 
an "ultramodernismo"), and has had many incarnations since then, none of whichhave 
ever circulated around F. I can handle poststructuralist since that's at least historically 
accurate. (Bit tetchy about this as just came fromweekend meeting in downtown DC 
where all sorts of critical theory wastarred and dismissed as bugaboo pomo.)"
I dunno  - sounds a bit reactionary just to dismiss the whole shebang. I think its worth 
remembering the root of the phrase: post-modernity, and recognising its roots as a 
reaction against modernism. And then to recall that there is a difference between 
Modernism (capital 'M') and modernism. The former describes a specific type of artistic 
production mostly in the first half of the century which presented itself as a reaction 
against prior forms of representation. The latter is similar except we are allowed to have 
multiple modernisms - all of them reactions against  the old and finding a way of 
representing something 'new' in our culture. I know there was one around the beginning 
of the eighteenth century (probably more).

I think Foucault feeds into post-modernist thought, but that post-modernist thought too 
often descends into plurality and indecision. P/m does, after all, tend to describe certain 
aspects of late 20th century life rather well. I like Jameson on changes in art based on 
changes in late capitalism, Baudrillard is wordy but interesting on simulations and changes 
in the nature of what we define as 'real' and how we represent it. Note that I'm not trying 
to follow the argument that reality itself has changed in some ineffable way, but that our 
methods of representing it have.  The most important theme for me is the way that p/m 
allows plurality, and for repressed discourses to have their own space and identity. Many 
would doubtless disagree with me.

Fave excellent post-modern novel: Don Delillo, White Noise. Read it.

Not likely to suggest that Wolfe is post-modern. But William Gibson is.

Visit Ultan's Library - A Gene Wolfe web resource
Jonathan Laidlow
University of Birmingham, UK

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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