Reading 15 – Jameson

The onset of postmodernism has become a capitalist driven cultural movement, seemingly necessary in today’s commodity and possession driven market. Frederic Jameson, in his essay entitled Post Modernism or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, identifies postmodernism as an aesthetic, prevalent throughout the arts as he analyzes similarities and differences apparent among pieces from the time of high modernism and contemporary art of the time of the writing. Jameson considers this progression or changes in culture as being directly tied to a growing capitalism; Jameson writes, “Every position on postmodernism in culture – whether apologia or stigmatization – is also at one and the same time, and necessarily, an implicitly or explicitly political stance on the nature of multinational capitalism today.” The effect of capitalism on western society has resulted in the free market whereby choice resides with the consumer. Choice is a notion not entirely approached by Jameson, but nonetheless, is an apparent conflicting idea with his discourse on aesthetic production. Regardless, it has all resulted in postmodernism’s “own offensive features… [which] no longer scandalize anyone and are not only received with the greatest complacency but have themselves become institutionalized and are at one with the official culture of western society.” This is ultimately summed up in the title to the first section “The Deconstruction of Expression.” So it becomes apparent that the history of art and expression has seemingly waned in its ability to affect the human condition; postmodernism became a direct response to this banality. As postmodernism delved into the past, deconstructing that which came before it and reinvigorating a societal appetite, it took on a “pop history” character. Jameson conveys this idea in discussing the novel, “The historical novel can no longer set out to represent the historical past; it can only ‘represent’ our ideas and stereotypes about the past.” This, for me, encapsulates Jameson’s overarching argument that postmodernism, at its best and worst, is a distorted representation of pure ideologies from the past.


About jasonsedar

My final year of architecture school at the University of Calgary!
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