Why Jameson’s Piece is Postmodern

Initially written to entertain myself??until I accidentally learned something.

The Twist

?The?Scream?The one thing Frederick Jameson fears most in ?The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” is postmodernism. He believes that?the loss of a?modernist code or the historicity in?art & lit?renders it?powerless. But what about his theory itself? It seems to me that Jameson, in talking about the postmodern, ironically,?becomes postmodern.?While incorporating paintings, photography, architecture, poetry and prose, all encapsulated within a recognizable theoretical framework, is he not using?various recognizable forms to present the unrepresentable??

The Sting

Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants. Had?Jameson left the reader to come to his or her own conclusion, my theory might have had a chance. Instead, we are directed to a specifically unified?interpretation from the author, killing my fun altogether.

Seriously: Words vs. Meaning

My prior argument seems about as sound as Jameson’s after today’s class discussion. While there is an element of “truth” in the argument that late capitalism drives the art market, I have a hard time believing?accusations?of postmodern ?depthlessness? and lack of context. So what can I gain from a piece I don’t feel I can connect with?

I?m trying hard to hold fast to history as a lived moment of human experience rather than some nonexistent, objective Truth or, as Aliya said, ?another metanarrative.? I think what throws me is the terminology rather than the idea. Baudrillard’s “simulacra” (copies of copies with no identifiable source) serves me better. Unfortunately, I can?t find a way to apply this to Jameson’s assessment of Warhol because I feel Warhol?s message was larger than Jameson gives credit for. So?

Preliminary Apology

I?m sorry to return to?my?lingering??The Last King of Scotland? argument.? I made a new connection today. I hope you’ll stick around to read it. (I probably won?t be able to let this go until I resolve myfascination with” andbrutal distaste for” the film’s end result.)

Film Example: “The Last King of Scotland”

This movie is ?based on true events? about a very real Ugandan dictator, but his life is revealed through the perception of a fictional doctor. This doctor is not simply narrating. He is the main character with significant influence on very disturbing events within the film, yet it is never made clear that he is fictitious. Then, in the DVD special features, Ugandan extras said they are glad children?can watch this film and finally learn about Ugandan history.

(BIG) PROBLEM!

This isn?t history! It?s not even comparable to studying Native American perspectives?amid an overabundance?of British colonization literature. This is purely fiction and claims itself as such? in the extras. Of course, if you don?t watch the extras, you have no way of knowing to what extent the story has been created for the sake of entertainment. Will Ugandan children know? I think not.

Finally, Why Jameson Matters

I find it confusing to have experienced a?very?upsetting reaction to a movie that rocked my world. Ugandan children will learn from a presentation that represents nothing that ever took place. I think this?misrepresentation (although if it never happened it can’t be misrepresented) is what deeply disturbs Jameson. This nostalgia for historical format produces nothing real. This is where I begin to find value in Jameson’s argument.

I should start with this question: Why does this film affect me more than the thought of “Titanic” being our most prevalent reference to the actual ship sinking? (That said, should I be equally outraged?) I suspect?the difference?stems from my?access to other informational resources if I decide I want to explore them. Ugandan children do not have that privilege. It deeply upsets me that this movie?will likely be a child?s only (and brutal) source of information.

In this sense, I feel that corporate interest in box office performance is?a poignant?example of imperialistic?governance over point of view. How very arrogant to insert a white and highly educated man within the complicated Ugandan cultural structure and sell him as truth sayer, OR is this a critical commentary on white society’s rejection of?information from a black?society? I understand the enormous power of art in delivering powerful messages, and now also how inextricably capitalism infiltrates it with corruption.?In the end, the white guy is the hero. Victory?goes to?the dominant culture?in possession of enough money to?keep it that way. With this dominant/oppressive late capitalist relationship, third world, culturally based?education systems seem impossible to build, yet the quirky playfulness of pop culture is forced upon them in the name of that same almighty buck.

So, it seems my understanding of the?postmodern is two-fold. To those in the dominant culture?it?will be entertaining and maybe even valuable and enlightening. To those without access to education it will be devoid of?”historicity”?(pastiche) and they won’t even know it. How’s that for two very different metanarratives about postmodernism?!

End-trails

  1. Is?the postmodern?as elite as the modern, requiring education to appreciate while that same education is robbed from the lower classes by a capitalistic system that, by default, requires an underclass to exist?
  2. If postmodern art is driven by late capitalism, and following the line of logic I just laid out, doesn’t that make postmodernism corrupt by default?
  3. If either of these questions ring true, then are commercial artists?complicit in?the continuance of?oppression?

This is all so very pessimistic.

Comments

  1. I know; on one hand I do understand Jameson’s hesitance towards the capitalist control of what people see and how America is viewed. However I feel that he is confused as to how postmodernism as an art form is in a way separate from the capitalist avenue in which people must get their voices heard. Where postmodernism falls apart for me with the whole referencing of the past is that in fact it does become pastiche and nostalgia because there is no education to make the people aware of the connection between the past and the present. So in that respect no postmodernism may not have depth because it is no longer locked into the elitist circle that once was modernism. And as Jameson notes that really this is the purest form of capitalism in which it has taken culture and made it into a merchandise and therefore any commentary of culture becomes merchandise as well because it is apart of it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Club – The Movie 2007.09.20? Futurism in Fight Club?(add-on to previous post) 2007.09.25 ?Why Jameson?s Piece is Postmodern 2007.09.29? Life in Dying 2007.10.02 ?Fight Club Environmentalism 2007.10.05? Making Sense (???) […]

  2. […] Club – The Movie 2007.09.20? Futurism in Fight Club?(add-on to previous post) 2007.09.25 ?Why Jameson?s Piece is Postmodern 2007.09.29? Life in Dying 2007.10.02 ?Fight Club Environmentalism 2007.10.05? Making Sense (???) […]

  3. […] 09/30/2007- Kim C. Jameson […]

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