Post-Modernism Hunting Snipes and attempting to find a definition for postmodernity Postmodern literature is intrinsically difficult to define. It is a combination of many movements starting around the end of WWII and extending up to the present, but a timeline is little help, due to the fragmented and disjointed nature of postmodernism. Postmodern literature is perhaps most easily defined by what it rejects and reacts against: Traditional power structures (hierarchies). Singular explanations of truth and good. The idea that reason will save humanity. “Postmodernism is among other things a sick joke at the expense of revolutionary avant-gardism.” -Terry Eagleton Order and Reason: The Pre-WWII World Ride of the Valkeries Where did order and reason take us? Hitler used evolutionary theory, in the form of Social Darwinism, to explain and support his ideals of a Master Race. The utopian ideals of Marxism led to repressive regimes. Scientific advancement leads to horrifically powerful weapons. Does this accurately reflect the world in the aftermath of World War II? Post Postmodernists reacted to the horrors of WWII I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. -J. Robert Oppenheimer -Theodore Adorno Postmodernism is also a reaction to civilian technology In addition to the horror of the second world war, postmodernists saw the world rapidly changing as new technologies appeared. 1) Airplane travel becomes commonplace and accessible. 2) Workplaces continue to become more mechanized. 3) Television changes peoples relationship to their homes, entertainment, and information. 4) Humans reach the moon. 5) Personal computing arrives and becomes a major factor of human life. These and other changes magnify the postmodern feeling that old methods are inadequate. Postmodern Reaction Having watched as order and reason birthed unimagined horrors into the world, Characteristics of Postmodern Literature: artists began questioning and rejecting traditional power structures and ideas. • Temporal Disorder • Pastiche • Fragmentation • Looseness of Association • Paranoia • Vicious Circles While postmodernism is actually an umbrella term that covers many movements from the 1940s to the present, several major characteristics hold these movements loosely together. (Matos, 2014) Grand Narratives: Hero’s journey, etc. Many postmodern texts exhibit abandonment of traditional plot structures Stems from distrust of grand texts and metanarratives Authoritarianism Additionally, postmodernist’s rejection of authoritarianism extends to themselves as artists. While the author creates the work, postmodern theory holds that the interpretation of that work is entirely up to the reader; the author cannot be expected to provide meaning, and so readers should cease looking for the author’s intentions. In 1967, postmodern author Roland Barthes published an essay titled “The Death of the Author”. So the question is, who wrote the essay? #foodforthought Meta-fiction Another key component of postmodern fiction is the use of meta-fiction as a literary device. Meta-fiction is fiction that draws attention to the fact that it is fiction by becoming self aware. Don’t worry, we’ll take a look at a sample in a moment. Tracer by Robert Rauschenberg Combination of styles and mediums High and Low Art combined Lack of formal structure What does it mean? Figure it out for yourself. You’ll Be Shot Postmodernism and the American Dream Kurt Vonnegut, considered a postmodern author (enjoy Slaughterhouse-Five next year if you get Mr. Mooney), had a word for nations: Granfalloons. Granfalloon: "a proud and meaningless association of human beings“ –Vonnegut With this as our definition, we see that, in the postmodern view, national identity is merely an attempt to hold together a hopelessly heterogeneous population. Furthermore, the postmodern premise that experience is inherently subjective and individual, would point to a mistrust of ideas such as the American Dream, which are, in fact Grand Narratives. This interpretation may not be what the postmodernists themselves intend, but their position is severely weakened by the idea that the author’s intentions are irrelevant.