Monday, April 28, 2014

What happened to the Individual?

Everything is changing.
The traditional is exchanged for the revolutionary.
Or at least a play on the traditional. A spin off.

We are past the time of modern art. We are in a world of Postmodernism.

Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism and consumer Society" gives us a look into the confusing and debated world of Postmodernism.

Postmodernism is a reaction against the modern, whether it be art, architecture, music, literature, or life.

Jameson cites musicians such as Philip Glass, John Cage and Terry Riley as Postmodern musicians. At the time of their initial compositions and their introduction into the public eye they were very  revolutionary and misunderstood.
In today's society, they are just musicians. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just excellent composers who did some weird things a while back.

Postmodernism such as this emerged from "specific reactions against the established forms of high modernism, against this or that dominant high modernism which conquered the university, the museum, the art gallery network and the foundations" (Richter 1956).

But if the world is constantly evolving is it really that strange for people to react to the past and form a new future? I think not. It has been happening since day one. In this sense, everything is post-something else. As human beings our tastes, opinions and emotions are constantly changing. And this is a good thing.

But according to Jameson there are main features of postmodernism that contrast this view of emerging individuality.

Pastiche and Parody are these main features, and are very similar.

Parody- "Capitalizes on the uniqueness of these styles and seizes on their idiosyncrasies and eccentricities to produce and imitation that mocks the original" (1957).

Pastiche- "is like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique style, the wearing of a stylistic mask, speech in a dead language; but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without parody's ulterior motive, without the satirical impulse, without laughter, without that still latent feeling that there exists something normal compared with which what is being imitated is rather comic" (1958).

Jameson brings up a topic which is generally called "death of the subject"; it is "the end of individualism".
There are two camps to this topic:

One believes that once upon a time there was individualism, but today it no longer exists.

The other believes that individualism never really existed in the first place.

Jameson's reaction to this? Pastiche. "In a world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible, all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak though the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum." This means that postmodern art will be about art itself, and include messages about "the necessary failure of art and the aesthetic, the failure of the new, the imprisonment in the past" (1959).

This is all rather depressing. If art is a failure, why create? If there is no more individuality are we all drones? Have we ever been individual?

How? Why? When? Ugh.

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