The Parameters of Postmodernism

By Nicholas Zurbrugg | Go to book overview

associates with conventional modes of "growth" and "linear development."2 Likewise, both reject the symbolist antirhetoric that Beckett equates with the harmonious "indirect and comparative" observations of modernists such as Proust. 3

Evincing neither the realist's "plausible concatenation" nor the modernist's "transcendental aperception," Beckett's and Brecht's antinarratives precipitate peculiarly unharmonious evocations of existence, bequeathing the Beckettian challenge, "Make sense who may," or the Brechtian protest, "That's extraordinary, hardly believable."4 The contrasting implications of the Beckettian challenge and the Brechtian protest epitomize the bifurcation between the political and apolitical modes of early European postmodern antinarrative. As the examples from Beckett's and Brecht's poetry in the following section indicate, Beckett's antinarratives respond primarily to his sense of the inadequacy of language and the anguish of survival and self-knowledge, whereas Brechtian antinarrative tends to address wider social and ideological issues, such as the "great man" theory of history. Considered from the European perspective, postmodern antinarrative is usually misinterpreted from either an excessively Beckettian perspective or an excessively Brechtian perspective.

Transfixed by Beckett's provocative avowal that "to be an artist is to fail as no other dare fail,"5 Beckettian devotees tend to caricature postmodern literature in terms of a hypothetically pervasive "poetics of failure," "art of failure," "logic of failure," or "fidelity to failure."6 Equally misleading Brechtian readings of postmodern writings convince critics such as Catherine Belsey that most responses to expressive realism are interrogative attempts to "write a new kind of text, foregrounding contradiction" in the Brechtian manner, thereby "distancing the audience from both text and ideology" ( Critical Practice, 128). As becomes evident, these predominantly European variants of postmodern creativity beg comparison with a third, predominantly North American mode of antinarrative peculiar to the work of multimedia postmoderns such as John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and Robert Wilson.

-22-

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The Parameters of Postmodernism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Notes xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Anti-Art or Ante-Art? 1
  • Notes 3
  • Monumental Art or Submonumental Art? 4
  • Notes 5
  • Eagleton and the Apocalyptic Fallacy 5
  • Notes 6
  • Introducing the B-Effect 7
  • Notes 8
  • Introducing the C-Eftect 9
  • Notes 10
  • Deploring/Exploring Hyperspace: Jameson and Cage 11
  • Notes 12
  • Stupefaction or Enlivenment? 13
  • Notes 14
  • Benjamin and the Loss of Aura 15
  • Notes 16
  • Barthes, Belsey, and the Death Of> the Author 16
  • Notes 17
  • Bürger and the Death of the Avant-Garde 19
  • Notes 20
  • Bonito-Oliva, Baudrillard, and the Collapse of the New 20
  • Notes 21
  • Beckett, Brecht, and the Attractions of Antinarrative 22
  • Notes 23
  • Beckett's Poetics of Failure/Brecht's Poetics of Interrogation 24
  • Notes 26
  • Beckett, Brecht, and the Groan of the Text 26
  • Warhol and the Grin of the Text 27
  • Notes 28
  • Eagleton, Jameson, and Dehistoricized Culture 29
  • Notes 30
  • Cage, Kostelanetz, and Value Judgments 31
  • Notes 32
  • Jameson, Rauschenberg, and Premature Exasperation 33
  • Note 34
  • Cage, Rauschenberg, and Ryman 34
  • Notes 35
  • Cage and Consumption 36
  • Notes 37
  • Collective Narrative and the Struggle with Simulacra 37
  • Notes 38
  • Depersonalized Culture or Repersonalized Culture? 40
  • Notes 41
  • Cage and the Antilogic of the Text 42
  • Notes 44
  • Beckett, Cage, and Nothing 44
  • Notes 45
  • Beckett, Cage, and Programmatic Composition 46
  • Notes 47
  • Purposeful Purposelessness or Nothing to Be Done? 48
  • Notes 49
  • Jameson, Bourdieu, and the Destruction of Art and Taste 49
  • Notes 50
  • Chion, Cage, and New Aesthetic Rationales 50
  • Notes 51
  • Postmodernism's Purist Aesthetic 52
  • Notes 53
  • Postmodernism's Hybrid Aesthetic 54
  • Notes 55
  • Feldman, Crazy Contradiction, and the Conceptual, Artistic Life 55
  • Notes 56
  • Pure "H" -- Habermas and Communicative Rationality 57
  • Notes 60
  • Beuys, Adorno, and the Silence of Marcel Duchamp 61
  • Notes 64
  • Beuys, Cage, Buchloh, and the B-B Effect 65
  • Notes 68
  • Jappe, Jameson, and the Concept of Utopia 69
  • Notes 70
  • Bense, Concrete Poetry, and the Dwindling of the Poetic Element 71
  • Notes 72
  • Chopin, Human Vitality, and Technological Civilization 74
  • Notes 75
  • Conz and the New Saints of the Avant-Garde 75
  • Note 76
  • A Problem in Design: Lax and Mann 77
  • Notes 80
  • Postmodernism at Two Speeds: Hassan, Janco, and Seuphor 82
  • Notes 85
  • Rainer, Robbe-Grillet, Reich, and the Turn to Interobjectivity 86
  • Notes 88
  • Robbe-Grillet and the Re-Turn to the Subjective Type of Writing 88
  • Notes 89
  • Rainer and the Re-Turn to Identity 91
  • Notes 92
  • Reich and the Re-Turn to Historical Realities 92
  • Notes 93
  • Multimedia Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Gaburo and Ashley 94
  • Notes 97
  • Monk and the Re-Turn to Recurrence 98
  • Umberto Eco and the Re-Turn to the Middle Ages 100
  • Notes 103
  • Grass and the Destruction of Mankind 104
  • Notes 106
  • Grass, Mann, and the Re-Turn to Forbidden Literature 107
  • Notes 109
  • Ernst, Carrington, and the Re-Turn of Surrealism 110
  • Notes 111
  • Carrington, Cage, Beuys, and the Poetics of Resistance 113
  • Notes 114
  • Cage, Carrington, Barthes, Burroughs, Bense: From Artha to Moksha 114
  • Notes 115
  • Cage, Wolf, and the Re-Turn to the Third Alternative 116
  • Wolf, Mann, and the Authority of Literary Genres 119
  • Müller, Beuys, and the Elevation of the Berlin Wall 121
  • Notes 122
  • Müller, Brecht, and the Petrification of Hope 123
  • Notes 125
  • Müller, Wilson, and the Re-Turn to the Classics 126
  • Notes 129
  • Huyssen and the Endgame of the Avant-Garde 130
  • Note 131
  • Huyssen, Popper, and the Electrification of the Avant-Garde 133
  • Notes 136
  • BuñUel, Breton, Benjamin, Baudrillard, and the Myths of Mechanical Depersonalization 138
  • Notes 139
  • Delillo, Müller, Lyotard, Kroker, and the Panic Sensibility 140
  • Notes 142
  • Ballard, the Kindness of Women, and Catharsis 143
  • Notes 144
  • Beyond the Disappearance of Value: Anderson and Acker 145
  • Notes 147
  • Toward Effective Communication: Kruger and Holzer 148
  • Note 149
  • Appropriation, Neutralization, and Reconciliation: Tillers and Johnson 150
  • Notes 152
  • Independent Internationalism: Finlay and Lax 153
  • Notes 154
  • Anderson and American Active Freedom 156
  • Notes 157
  • Glass and Wilson: Alienation Effect or Empathy Effect? 158
  • Notes 159
  • Burroughs, Walker, and the Pattern of Chaos 159
  • Notes 160
  • Beckett, Warrilow, and the Clarity of Spirit 160
  • Note 161
  • Considered in Diagrammatic Summary: The Phases of Postmodernism 162
  • The Modes of Modernism and Postmodernism 164
  • Baudrillard or Cage? Degeneration or Affirmation? 166
  • Notes 167
  • Burt, Wendt, and the Positive Parameters of Postmodernism I 168
  • Notes 170
  • Index 171
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