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December 1993


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Chris White <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 2 Dec 1993 08:15:32 PST
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> "Cinema and the Postmodern" -- okay, I'm going to ask the obvious,
> because I fear we have all been taken to the Emporer's tailors.
> The postmodern WHAT?   Have we reached a point in intellectual discourse
> where we no longer need nouns?  Or is it implied that we will all fill
> in our own?  (your noun here).
> The postmodern CONDITION?  The postmodern SENSIBILITY?
> The postmodern ETHOS?      "THINGS Postmodern"?
> As nebulous as these are, they are more precise -- and better English --
> than "the postmodern."   The state of the English language is precisely
> what is at issue.  What passes for profound theoretical insight today
> is all too often merely a cynical (or desperate) manipulation of language
> to give the appearance of complex thought.
> I see the problem as having originated in attempts to translate into
> English the Althusserian "problematique."  With little thought, it became
> in English "the problematic," and soon it was simply chic to use
> adjectives as nouns -- regardless of the fact that this type of discourse
> has no substance.  It was FUN!  And no one had to be precise any longer.
> The burden of thinking clearly and concretely was lifted!
> What a relief!   And we could sound 'French' too.
> A scant few have pointed to the smoke and mirrors:
> Kevin Robins and Kevin McDonnell in their 1980 essay, "Marxist Cultural
> Theory: the Althusserian Smokescreen";
> E.P. Thompson, of course, in his classic 1978 diatribe,
> "The Poverty of Theory";
> Noel Carroll in his 1983 piece, "Address to the Heathen," and, more
> recently, in his book MYSTIFYING MOVIES.  If you're out there, Noel,
> thank you.
> To talk of "cinema and the postmodern" is to use English words,
> but NOT (and I daresay intentionally) to form an English sentence,
> or a completed thought.  Am I splitting hairs?  It may seem that way,
> but I think you all know that this tendency to evade meaning is
> running rampant, and that it has even developed a kind rationalization:
> i.e. that 'meaning' is unstable, that there is no 'meaning,'
> that we should therefore enjoy the 'play' of language, the free play
> of signifiers, and stop trying to mean -- STOP MAKING SENSE.
> It is one of the most elaborate cop-outs ever concocted,
> and its appeal is obvious.  To strive for the kind of clarity which
> Orwell exemplified is difficult indeed.  Thank you Mr. Derrida for
> relieving us of the necessity.
> All this over a noun?  Perhaps if they'd called it "Cinema and
> What would have been wrong with "Cinema and Postmodernism"?
> (answer: not pretentious enough)
>         -- Derek Bouse
Derek - Prozac may be of
[   {{{{{    |   Chris White                                ]
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[   ~~~~~    |   Dammit, Jim.  I'm a writer, not a doctor!  ]