Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
THE AGE OF UNIVERSALISM

Mikhail Epstein

The last decades of the twentieth century will perhaps go down in the history of culture as the age of new universalism. All artistic styles and trends, all philosophical schools have come to the point of exhaustion in their competition for the best presentation of and mastery over reality.

Hence the characterization of the new era by means of prefixes, such as "post" and "trans": postmodernism, trans-avant-garde, post- structuralism. But it is evident that things characterized in this way betray their dependence on the very states of affairs which they strive to transcend.

The key point here is that the avant-garde and structuralism were chronologically the last schools to develop individual artistic and philosophical languages that were presented as "other" and "more authentic" in relation to the preceding ones. The situation has now changed. No mono-language nor single methodology can lay claim to a complete conquest of the real or the ousting of earlier methods. All the languages and codes used by humankind to communicate with itself, all the philosophical schools and artistic trends, have now become signs of a cultural metalanguage. They are like piano keys on which new, polyphonic symphonies of the human spirit are played out. No one would think of claiming that one piano

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