The Postmodern Problem and Linguistic-Structuralism
Referential value is annihilated, giving the structural play of value the upper hand. The structural dimension becomes autonomous by excluding the referential dimension, and is instituted upon the death of reference. The systems of reference for production, signification, the affect, substance and history, all this equivalence to a "real" content, loading the sign with the burden of "utility," with gravity--its form of representative equivalence--all this is over with.
-- Jean Baudrillard ( 1976/ 1993, p. 6)
Defining postmodernism is a difficult task. Hall and Neitz ( 1993) note that "it is not possible to consider any specific viewpoint as representative of postmodernism and thus it is difficult to discuss postmodernism in general" (p. 247). From the subjective standpoint of the postmodernist, it is not only an impossible task, it is a task that should not be undertaken at all. Advocates claim that the quality of ambiguity is an essential attribute of the moment-the postmodern is a fin-de-siècle crisis--and attempts to categorize the movement are by definition modernist and thus deny the very phenomenon they try to capture. A definition of postmodernism is perhaps an oxymoron: at the core of the postmodern is the irreversible breakdown of categorical distinctions; reality is the sign, and the sign is free-floating and a reality unto it-