Voyou Désœuvré

Interesting piece on the increasingly non-contemporary nature of post-modernism (via Warren Ellis):

The academy, perhaps especially in Britain, is today so swamped by the assumptions and practices of market economics that it is deeply implausible for academics to tell their students they inhabit a postmodern world where a multiplicity of ideologies, world-views and voices can be heard. Their every step hounded by market economics, academics cannot preach multiplicity when their lives are dominated by what amounts in practice to consumer fanaticism. The world has narrowed intellectually, not broadened, in the last ten years. Where Lyotard saw the eclipse of Grand Narratives, pseudo-modernism sees the ideology of globalised market economics raised to the level of the sole and over-powering regulator of all social activity – monopolistic, all-engulfing, all-explaining, all-structuring, as every academic must disagreeably recognise. Pseudo-modernism is of course consumerist and conformist, a matter of moving around the world as it is given or sold.

The article is (perhaps rather appropriately) low on context; “pseudo-modernism” is not, after all, simply a brute fact, but has a specific relationship to the way in which post-modernism has played itself out over the last 30 years.


  1. Owen, 10:41 am, February 15, 2008

    Interesting…I wouldn’t necessarily agree with his idea of what constitutes Postmodernism however – Pynchon or Gibson are Modernists in my book, Rushdie or Amis postmodernists. But in architecture it’s certainly the case that everywhere other than in spec housing (neo-Victorian still pretty big outside of London) postmodernist buildings, in the Jencks/Venturi sense of historically allusive, ‘witty’, eclectic etc, simply don’t get built anywhere anymore – old postmodernists like Terry Farrell now make a jollier Modernism. I’d often thought of this trend (exemplified by the total dominance of Norman Foster) vas Marc Auge’s ‘supermodernism’, but ‘pseudomodernism’ is probably better – Modernism without the politics or the utopianism.

    This seems to me to suggestively link with how neoliberalism is now so often administered by ex-socialists rather than its natural functionaries, the fundamentalist Right. Pomo as the aesthetic of neoliberalism has been replaced, much as the face of neoliberalism is now concerned and compassionate, Caroline Flint rather than Norman Tebbit.

    Postmodernism as vanishing mediator, anyone…?

Post a comment