Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Imagine if, in Samuel Beckett’s play, Godot actually did come – and he was just a regular guy. This, for Slavoj Zizek, encapsulates the difference between modernism and postmodernism. (3) The procedures of modernism correspond to that period of capitalism in which the subject that was supposedly constitutive of society was fragmented, reified, isolated from others by the very rationality it had set in motion. So, the key figure in modernism is the absent centre, the emptiness that enables any social structure but which, at the same time, cannot be found within it: everything revolves around the moment that Godot will come, but he never does. Postmodernism, on the other hand, occurs when the subject is imploded into the technological network. Long ago, the entire public world became available on the television in the formerly private home, and now everyone walks around with a cell phone, an iPod and a laptop in a laptop bag, with a different brand-name emblazoned boldly upon every article of clothing. Baudrillard describes this as “obscenity”, when the subject is struck with “too great a proximity of everything” (4). Postmodernism, then, is a matter of overwhelming presence; that is, an obscene, dull intimacy with the object(s) that defines the system.--Asad Haider. A student at Cornell University, he serves popcorn at the Cornell Cinema


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