In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Dmitry Khanin THE POSTMODERN POSTURE Postmodernists—the sectarians ofour day—proclaim that the old kingdom of historical narrative and historical subject has perished, and is now being replaced by a new one of ahistorical discourses and ahistorical characters. According to these prophets, "history" is anyway just changes in ways of talking about history. Anyone who does not agree with the ahistoricity of the postmodern world oudook may be accused—and tried on the spot—of defending the cause of the totalitarian Reason against the most liberating movement of today. This postmodernist abuse of history is paradoxical, since the very notion of history coming to its end and giving way to the ahistorical kingdom of freedom and merry debauchery is itself a very old idea, even a mythological one. The description ofhistory as marching toward its own demise relies on a whole tradition which portrays history as a drama. Aristode's conception of tragedy as a sequence of actions culminating in a dénouement has no doubt shaped this view of historical process. Christian and other religious millenarians have announced the end of history already many times. Yet another notorious instance of such eschatological daydreaming is the futurology of Karl Marx, who envisaged the kingdom of communism as occupying this same ahistorical space. A rather obsolete idea, perhaps, but it seems still to attract postmodernists, though they give it a characteristic twist, since they sincerely believe theory, discourse, écriture (i.e., theoretico-symbolical activity) are much more important than any actual historical contentprocesses and events. One of the most notable spokesmen for this approach is Arthur Danto, who insists that world history evolved in a good Hegelian manner until the theorists came to understand that history depends on their Philosophy and Literature, © 1990, 14: 239-247 240Philosophy and Literature texts much more than theorists themselves depend on historical processes and events.1 Many theoreticians working in an otherwise Marxist tradition similarly are glad to assert with FredricJameson that we must say farewell to Marx's positivistic illusion that history is driven by laws disguised as economic forces.2 In the epoch of "late capitalism," says Jameson, consumption gains the upper hand over production and becomes the mainspring of history. Of course, in light of recent doings in Europe I am tempted to ask if we owe it to postmodernists—and their ahistorical, inconsistent, and generally confounding claims about history lying in ruins—that the Berlin Wall actually is in ruins and Vaclav Havel is president of Czechoslovakia. Even more daring theorists may now declare an era of "very late capitalism." Here it will not be merely the mass media that act transformatively on society (as McLuhan claimed), but rather consumer goods themselves, like state-of-the-art washing machines or French perfumes , which create a new aura of intellectual discourse. TL· Postmodern Scene: Excremental Culture and Hyper-AesÜietics, a book by two Canadian authors, Arthur Kroker and David Cook, promotes such a sea change in the theoretical landscape and along the way presents a joyous recapitulation ofthe latest fads in postmodern thinking. The new apostolic generation ofpostmodern critics seems to enjoy the beautiful new things that can be bought for bucks, worrying at the same time that bucks may be losing some of their purchasing power. Like Hari-Krishnas dancing in the street they luckily possess a sort of happy consciousness which also recalls their puritanical great grandfathers who regarded profligacy as the greatest sin and much preferred saving to spending. In what follows I want to draw a portrait of this new postmodern posture. A few main assumptions underlie Kroker's and Cook's wake for postmodernism, which, in its peculiar genre of philosophic obituary, epitomizes and thus prepares for future oblivion views which were exceedingly popular in the preceding decade. First of all, the authors adopt Baudrillard's equation of Marx and Nietzsche: "Marx and Nietzsche shared a deep and common affinity in meditating upon historical (Christian) and materialistic (capitalist) expressions ofthewill ofpower."3 From Baudrillard's perspective Marx appears as a pathetic romantic who tried to defend the "referential illusion" by renaturalizing concrete labor even though its entirely abstract character was brilliandy revealed in Das Kapital. Baudrillard...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 239-247
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.