Re: unusual language [postmodernism]

Jeffrey R Galin (
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 13:08:26 -0400

On Fri, 11 Oct 1996, Bob King wrote:
> 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.

I don't think many would argue with you Bob that the epistme of Western
culture is build on a scientific model. But, a totally scientific
understanding of cultural change fails on a wide range of accounts to
explain cultural shifts across the spectum of daily life, partricularly in
aesthetic pursuits. Here is where I fundamentally disagree with your
assessment. I'd argue that the everything else that you call secondary
(the bracketing off of aesthetics in particular) is problematic in your
definitino of postmodern. Perhaps here you could fill in gaps for me in
the field of science. How would you demarcate modernism from
postmodernism (categories developed within the field of literature) within
the scientific field? I realize that just because the terms were named by
English types that it does not mean that modernism and pomo don't exist
outside of the realm of cultural studies. But, if science is the sole
foundation for the current episteme, wouldn't we still be a modernist
epoch? Has the scientific basis to life the universe and everything
changed sufficiently over teh past 30 years to call it "post"?

I know you are busy today, but I do look forward to your thoughts
at some point.

BTW Marcy, it is conversations like these that help us to call
into question our current practices. And, of course, not settling for the
right model of teaching, but always looking to question what we do. Thus,
Steve Krause and others, maybe you could help me understand why the
"decentered" teacherless classroom has gravitated to the surface as the
preimment pomo pedagogy. Gerald Graff, Henry Giroux, Ira Shor, and Mary
Louise Pratt (to name a few) might argue differently.

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