The Origins of Postmodernity

The Origins of Postmodernity

The Origins of Postmodernity

The Origins of Postmodernity

Synopsis

A scorching indictment of the decision to close fire companies in New York City & a frightening study of the way misguided & malevolent social policy can spark a chain reaction of enormous & unforeseen urban collapse.

Excerpt

This essay started when I was asked to introduce a new collection of writings by Fredric Jameson, The Cultural Turn. In the event, it became too long for the purpose. In publishing it as a text by itself, however, I have not wanted to alter its form: it is best read in conjunction with the volume that inspired it. Although I have never written about a body of work that I did not, in one way or another, admire, an element of resistance was in the past always an ingredient in the impulse to do so. Intellectual admiration is in any case one thing, political sympathy another. This short book tries do something else, which I have always found difficult: to express a sense of the achievement of a thinker with whom, it might be said, I lack the safety of sufficient distance. I have no assurance that I have succeeded. But some larger debate around Jameson's work in general is overdue, and this attempt may at least help to encourage it.

The title of the text has a two-fold reference. The principal aim of the essay is to offer a more historical account of the origins of the idea of postmodernity than is currently available: one that tries to set its different sources more precisely in their spatial, political and intellectual settings, and with greater attention to temporal sequence -- also topical focus -- than has become customary. Only against this background, my argument goes, does the peculiar stamp of Jameson's contribution emerge in full relief. A secondary purpose is to suggest, more tentatively, some of the conditions that may have released the postmodern -- not as idea, but as phenomenon. In part, these are comments that seek to revise an earlier attempt to sketch the premises of . . .

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