Re: unusual language [postmodernism]

Bob King (kingbx@HAMLET.UNCG.EDU)
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 11:53:53 -0400

On Fri, 11 Oct 1996, Jeffrey R Galin wrote:

> If the primary texts that Beth names are in
> fact the center of postmodernism rather than the cultural artifacts that
> we have been listing over the past few days

I'm still arguing that the central text of pomo is the saturation of
society by a scientific model of truth (a complex model wherein there is
truth, but it's subject to change). I think all of the rest is secondary;
each community interprets this overall changeover in language that suits
it. This makes all of pomo theory academic Letters' response to the
gradual epistemic change which has been going full steam since Galileo
convinced the pope that science could exist alongside a religious model of
truth. For several hundred years this co-existence or apartheid has been
possible to maintain -- not so possible now, because Letters is now fully
saturated with scientific epistemology in daily praxis thanks to immersion
in the material practices of computer mediated writing. The various
"languages" I mentioned in my last post (Lettermanese, high pomoese, etc.)
are all, for me, on equal ground as linguistic devices for understanding
our current stage in what is a long-term historical/cultural process.

>, and if folks will only ever
> understand postmodernism if they read the print products of theorists,
> then the society that is supposedly postmodern is likely never to
> understand itself. This means that the elite academics who write this
> theory end up defining society and thereby dominating it. (nice paradox
> there).

Good point, but I'm not at all sure Letters scholarship is dominant.
Check out where the money flows in research institutions and you'll find,
I think, more headed to the Physics dept. than the English dept!

But, beyond that anyway, I'm still saying that if we want to understand
pomo, we have to stop thinking about Derrida, Las Vegas, etc. and start
thinking about the history and philosophy of science, and it's relation to
competing epistemes. Las Vegas and Derrida are, ultimately, both
interesting diversions (Baudrillard kind of lives out this truth :)

> The regime of truth is certainly a shifting
> center. It serves as a basis for the claims to truth that all of us make
> on a daily basis. Postmodernism asserts, however, that this regime is not
> stable over time, that there are not immutable truths.

Yes! A complex model of truth that science has held to for hundreds of
years, and before that repressed traditions of matriarchy and mysticism
held to for maybe thousands of years! Letters is just getting around to,
and working out the details of, this "new" theory?

> Seems to me his journal is calling
> for an understanding of how the everday world reveals itself as the
> primary post modern text.

If so, then I think this journal will continue to ignore the epistemic
process that informs the changes in the everyday world!

Lots of interesting stuff in your message Jeff, but I'm time crunched