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Monday, February 07, 2011

Postmodernism or the Cultural logic of late Capitalism- Frederic Jameson

the following is a write up on Postmodernism or the Cultural logic of late Capitalism by Rungkan Leelasopawut


In this essay, Jameson lays out the differences in culture between the modern and postmodern periods. He also devotes a lot of time to the effects of these changes on the individual. Jameson is concerned with the cultural expressions and aesthetics associated with the different systems of production. He is not interested in a mechanism of change. This is a primarily descriptive article. Jameson draws on the fields of architecture, art and other culturally expressive forms to illustrate his arguments. The heaviest emphasis is placed on architecture. It is essential to grasp postmodernism as discussed here not as a style, but as a dominant cultural form indicative of late capitalism.

Postmodernism is differentiated from other cultural forms by its emphasis on fragmentation. Fragmentation of the subject replaces the alienation of the subject which characterized modernism. Postmodernism is concerned with all surface, no substance. There is a loss of the center. Postmodernist works are often characterized by a lack of depth, a flatness. Individuals are no longer anomic, because there is nothing from which one can sever ties. The liberation from the anxiety which characterized anomie may also mean a liberation from every other kind of feeling as well. This is not to say that the cultural products of the postmodern era are utterly devoid of feeling, but rather that such feelings are now free-floating and impersonal. Also distinctive of the late capitalist age is its focus on commodification and the recycling of old images and commodities. A prime example of this is Warhol's work, as well as Warhol himself. Jameson refers to this cultural recycling as historicism - the random cannibalization of all styles of the past. It is an increasing primacy of the 'neo' and a world transformed into sheer images of itself. the actual organic tie of history to past events is being lost.

All of these cultural forms are indicative of postmodernism, late capitalism, or what Jameson calls 'present-day multinational capitalism.' (Yessirree, Jameson is a Marxist.) Jameson claims that there has been a radical shift in our surrounding material world and the ways in which it works. He refers to an architectural example, a postmodern building Symbolic of the multinational world space which we function in daily. We, the human subjects who occupy this new space have not kept pace with the evolution which produced it. There has been a mutation in the object, unaccompanied as yet by an equivalent mutation in the subject; we do not yet possesses the perceptual equipment to match this new hyperspace. Therein lies the source of our fragmentation as individuals.

This latest mutation in space, postmodern hyperspace, (the Bonaventura hotel is the example) has finally succeeded in transcending the capacities of the individual human body to locate itself, to organize its immediate surroundings perceptually, and cognitively to map its position in a mappable external world. This is the symbol and analougue of our inability at present to map the great global multinational and decentered communicational network in which we find ourselves caught as individual subjects. We are now a world where spatial differentiation is more important than temporal differentiation, which was dominant in past eras. Late capitalism aspires to a total space, a vastness of scale heretofore unknown.

To conclude, Jameson maintains that postmodernisms not only a currently fashionable style but the cultural dominant. Jameson points out that what modernists were once considered to be great aesthetic and highly creative and represent the urbanization is now changed. Post modernism is something that has great significant impact in every aspects of our daily live. Whether we want it or not, we will be forced to imbibe it by any means. Post modernism is nothing but the influence of media or so- called mass culture. Post modernism in short can be called as the capitalism or mass culture. Therefore post modernism has the culture of popularity.

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