Friday, October 21, 2005

modernism vs. postmodernism, or, the post where I lose all 3 of my readers

the moment comes, I lose all 3 of my readers, but that's cool. This is a place for organizing or keeping thoughts and today I'm going to remind myself why I think postmodernism is not a "radical break with modernism" but rather A REVOLT WITHIN MODERNISM AGAINST A CERTAIN FORM OF 'HIGH MODERNISM' as represented, say, in the architecture of Mies van der Rohe. So, a passing moment or style of modernism.

Here is Hassan's schematic but handy list of differences. I like how one of the earliest "modernist" avant-gardes is po-mo in it.

modernism. . . . . . . . . . post-modernism
romanticism/Symbolism. . . . . . paraphysics/Dadaism
form (conjunctive, closed). . . . . . antiform (disjunctive, open)
purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . play
design. . . . . . . . . . . . . chance
hierarchy. . . . . . . . . . . . anarchy
mastery/logos . . . . . . . . . exhaustion/silence
art object/finished work . . . . . . process/performance/happening
distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . participation
creation/totalization/synthesis . . . . decreation/deconstruction/antithesis
presence . . . . . . . . . . . . . absence
centring . . . . . . . . . . . . dispersal
genre/boundary . . . . . . . . . . text/intertext
semantics . . . . . . . . . . . . . rhetoric
paradigm (substitution in semiotics)* . . syntagm (positioning in semiotics)*
hypotaxis . . . . . . . . . . . . . parataxis
metaphor* . . . . . . . . . . . . metonymy*
selection . . . . . . . . . . . . combination
root/depth. . . . . . . . . . . rhizome/surface
interpretation/reading . . . . . . against interpretation/misreading
signified . . . . . . . . . . . . . signifier
lisible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . scriptible
narrative/grande histoire . . . . . anti-narrative/petite histoire
master code . . . . . . . . . . . . idiolect
symptom . . . . . . . . . . . . desire
type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . mutant
genital/phallic. . . . . . . . polymorphous/androgynous
paranoia . . . . . . . . . . schizophrenia
origin/cause . . . . . . . . difference-difference/trace
God the Father . . . . . . . . . The Holy Ghost
metaphysics . . . . . . . . . . . . irony
determinacy . . . . . . . . . . indeterminacy
transcendence . . . . . . . . immanence

*an interesting fluttering of these categories:
Whilst syntagmatic relations are possibilities of combination, paradigmatic relations are functional contrasts - they involve differentiation. Temporally, syntagmatic relations refer intratextually to other signifiers co-present within the text, whilst paradigmatic relations refer intertextually to signifiers which are absent from the text (Saussure 1983, 122; Saussure 1974, 123). The 'value' of a sign is determined by both its paradigmatic and its syntagmatic relations. Syntagms and paradigms provide a structural context within which signs make sense; they are the structural forms through which signs are organized into codes.


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