Re: unusual language [postmodernism]

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 07:37:50 -0400

On Wed, 9 Oct 1996, Jeffrey R Galin wrote:

> Seems to me that Rue's question about the strip mall is more
> on target than figuring out who said what first in print.

Interesting to me that strip malls, the Las Vegas strip, and Los Angeles
tend to be thought of as canonical or primary texts of pomo! Maybe in
part because _Time_ magazine somehow figured out that postmodernism was a
new style of architecture! Seriously, pomo has been presented as a new
style, not as an epistemology, for the most part -- and that alone has
caused a lot of confusion, sending Baudrillard for example on a
wild goose chase looking for the real pomo holy site (is it L.A., is it
Santa Barbara) where's pomo Mecca? :) There's a basic confusion afoot, I
think, between media philosophy and postmodern philosophy -- created by,
guess, who, the media, and guess who benefits from that confusion! Media
is all about creating confusion and insecurity, so that it can sell people
things to soften or stylize the confusion and insecurity. When we buy
into the notion that pomo is this uncentered, undefinable thing, we're
really speaking what the media has spoken to us, I think. . .

> Ultimately, a ranking of authorities serves as much to priviledge
> and exclude as does overly jargony prose. It is one form of elitism.
> This is the paradox I was trying to point out in Beth's suggestion about
> Lyotard.

But we don't have any trouble figuring that Einstein wrote some primary
texts! Are we elitists in this? I'm wondering whether elitism is a
misdirect, in other words, either way: when Beth figures the authors of
that CFP as elitists, but not herself, or when you figure Beth is an
elitist. Let's face it, we all make these sorts of decisions and
determinations. The interversity just gives us a place to work our
whiles, as Eric said recently.

I think we're all putting forth our own set of primaries. For me, the
"text" of the material/ideological practices of constructivism and science
are primary to understanding pomo. I think I can make a pretty good case
for that. For Beth, the primaries are Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault. I
imagine you have yours, too. So, as Nick said, it may be best to just
talk about each other's canonical texts and say why we each think we're on
to something. I think the entire world of letters is, in our era, a giant
secondary text! I'd like to know why some people would include so-and-so
in their list of primaries, because I don't know anything about, because
chances are I don't know a think about so-and-so (unless she's been on the
cover of _Time_ :)