Postmodernity and Cross-Culturalism

Postmodernity and Cross-Culturalism

Postmodernity and Cross-Culturalism

Postmodernity and Cross-Culturalism

Synopsis

"This collection of eleven essays with an introduction examines postmodernity, a contiguous literary movement from modernity in cross-culturalism. In the west, modernity, which flourished in the early decades of the twentieth century, is characterized by a synchronic and nonnarrative mode of thought and a manner of writing in opposition to mimetic realism. Whereas the text of modernity thrived on its rhythms, symbols, and representations of beauty, and above all on its impersonality, postmodernity in the late decades of the twentieth century sought relationships outside the text - those between literature and history, philosophy, psychology, society, and culture. The exploration of such relationships is literary to postmodernity as it is ancillary to modernity." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Yoshinobu Hakutani

Cross-culturalism in Eastern and Western literatures has produced an anomalous effect. Whereas a major aspect of modernity in the West was largely determined by the classic tradition of Eastern literature and philosophy, postmodernity in Western literature invariably looked toward the future. Historically, postmodernity is regarded as a movement clearly distinguished from modernity, but a version of modernity, represented by such Western writers as James, Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Hemingway, and Faulkner, created its elitist forms of aesthetics. Another version of modernity, advocated by such writers as Proust and Joyce, reacted against the movement buttressed by tradition and classicism and sought the freedom of expression and representation. the latter group of modernists were, indeed, precursors of postmodernity. Readers, deeply concerned with contemporary society and culture, lost their zeal for the authorial, self-centered sentiments exemplified by Eliot's tradition, Yeats's ceremony, and Hemingway's code of honor. Such elitist orders of life looked remote and quaint to postmodern readers, who inhabited a capitalistic society increasingly dominated by journalism and popular culture.

If modernity is characterized by elitism and high culture, postmodernity smacks of democracy and low culture. Postmodernists tend to parody past art, refrain from all absolutes, and deconstruct established images and ideas. Unlike Pound, who in “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” laments over a culture filled with “mendacities” and “the classics in paraphrase,” a postmodernist is inclined to deal with copies more seriously than with originals. As a deconstructor, a postmodernist is fascinated not by the signified but by their “free signifiers.” Postmodern writers, as in contemporary visual arts, refuse to acknowledge any limits to the world of imaginary representation, whether it is a psychologically autonomous entity or a physically constructed realm fully integrated with the world of historical experience. the predominant modes of postmodernity are not as controlled and disciplined as those of modernity: the postmodern modes of expression tend to be ironic, parodie, digressive, and complex.

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