From The LA Review Of Books-‘Death By Prefix? The Paradoxical Life Of Modernist Studies’-Also, Barbie And Civilization

Full piece here.

What is modernism, exactly? This blog is still trying to work towards a definition:

‘Like many scholars of modernism, I’m often asked two questions: What is modernism? And why is modernist studies, it seems, all the rage right now? I don’t have a good, succinct answer to either question — and I’ve no doubt frustrated plenty of friends because of that — but the reasons why I don’t are pretty telling.’

From the comments:

‘The most useful definition of modernist fiction I’ve encountered comes from Brian McHale’s Postmodernist Fiction. He says modernist fiction tends to “foreground epistemological questions” such as “How can I interpret the world I’m part of? What is there to be known?Who knows it? What are the limits of that knowledge?” In contrast, postmodernist fiction tends to “foreground ontological questions” such as “What is a world? What kinds of worlds are there and how are they constituted? What happens when…boundaries between worlds are violated?’


As previously posted: -Daniel Dennett: ‘Postmodernism And Truth’Repost-‘Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?’Land Art Links Along A With A Quite Modernist W.S. Merwin PoemWilliam Logan At The New Criterion: ‘Pound’s Metro’…Monday Poem: ‘A Pact’ By Ezra Pound

Of some note: James Lileks responds to an Atlantic piece

‘There is no morality in art. There is morality in religion; there are philosophical objectives embedded in politics. The two are intertwined in a society and reflected in its art. When you sever art from its cultural moorings and make “newness” the overriding criterion by which the merits of a work are judged, then anything is possible. This results in crap. Not always’

James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, the Bauhaus, the imagists, the futurists etc.  Some of those influences have morphed into post-modernism or where such currents have flowed and keep flowing.

Lileks’ take:

The primary urge of the revolutionary and the modernist and the adolescent: impatience.’

About that new Barbie movie…

Here’s my riff without having seen the thing (alas, the cardinal sin). Maybe I shouldn’t be forgiven.

I’m guessing its director is grounding herself in a kind of epistemological feminism which grounds itself in the Bloomsbury Group, Virginia Woolf, and, say, Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Here’s Greta Gerwig getting the treatment reserved for those in the bully pulpit (of course radicalism within postmodernism never inhabits the bully pulpit in good faith…without blame and utopian visioneering).

It’s sad to see actual talent, creativity and some vision hitched to such an idea-wagon.

What am I talking about?: We still have a lot of men and women not just having sex, but building trust and respect and tending to the garden of love (daily, patient work). Out of this comes the covenant of marriage, where each works to provide the cradle of safety, love and then structure, punishment and expectation for all of our future citizens.

Such people are known as ‘good citizens’ and ‘good parents.’ They know the world ain’t perfect and is full of suffering and patient duty. They often have jobs they don’t like. These people usually make rules and laws that are ‘square.’

These people are still there, but square views currently form a minority in the cultural, intellectual and entertainment spheres (as elite as many are). As square and sometimes unyielding and crushingly stupid such views can be when it comes to artistic creation, we need this family structure to form a civil society and have laws.

We have managed to create a creative, intellectual and elite class of people gone real and fake radical, denouncing anything remotely square, even within themselves. And they’re telling stories.

How did we get here? Rough men populated the mountains east of L.A. to mine ore from the ground (whoring, drinking, fighting and sometimes ‘murderin’…breaking their bodies in the mines, solving daily problems with ingenuity, some cool engineering and camaraderie).

A little later, there settled storytellin’ men into L.A.

These men built studios, gathering the latest visual technology from far and wide. The business was much more built on good writers with actual life experience and maybe something to say. But there was also some whoring, drinking, fighting and somewhat less murderin’.

I can tolerate some misandry and cutting men down to size, as long as it’s well done. Oh, plenty of good women writers have stuff to say about that. In fact, I’m guessing ‘Barbie’ is probably well-made in terms of the apparatus (production, scoring, latest technology, some character stuff). There’s probably some good narrative structure.

But it’s also probably got a lot of internal logic which leads to oppressor/oppressed victimhood, pitting the sexes against one another, and nihilistic despair and therapeutic Self-help.

We’re slowly civilizing, but, right into the radicalism that’s caused so much un-civilization in Europe these past centuries.

Ultimately, the internal logic of such radical feminism encourages bouts of cynical self-loathing, world-hating and man-hating (woman-hating too), and a revolutionary terrorism against all existing rules and laws.

Not exactly good for civilization, and certainly not for young girls and boys, who will become future people holding civilization up.

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