• "Social Sciences"
  • Date:04-01-98(SSC-No.002)
  • Size:44,868 Kb.
  • Words: 6980

What's Postmodern Anyway?

Alexei ZVEREV

Postmodernism is now found everywhere except, perhaps, in Hellenic art. At any rate it is found even in the art of the Renaissance.

The American culturologist P. Munz counts its history from Joseph de Maistre who announced as far back as the end of the 18th century that there is no humankind as such but only Frenchmen, Lithuanians, Prussians, etc. In other words, he only recognized the reality of the particular and insisted on the ephemeral nature of all generalizations, claiming universality. Is that not the essence of postmodernist perception of the world? It is a mystery how postmodernist condition happened to preceed the modern which is traditionally believed to have outlived the French Revolution and some even think that modernism did not actually start even then. But the inquisitive researcher is not perplexed by chronological inconsistencies at all.

Thought is always carried away with a search for signs and seers, and they readily reveal themselves when you deal with such broad notions as the particular and the universal, or plurality and unity. Departing from the traditional understanding of unity, Ludovico Ariosto preferred to use unexpected turns of the plot, he valued unpredictability in the development of the various lines of the plot, he tended to broaden the space of action, avoiding stability and rationalism. According to the American scholar R.H. Makinney, this is precisely what postmodernism is all about. Compare the above to the modernist Torquato Tasso who did not trust plurality and strived to achieve certain unity in his works, that is, he believed in a universal truth of a transcendental nature.

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