Esther’s Space- journey through my life

September 15, 2007

This is the Lyotard Blog

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 10:54 pm

Shoot, I got so excited, I ran ahead of myself and already ranted and raved about “Fight Club.” (And, because it can’t possibly hurt to say it one more time, I enjoy watching Pitt & Norton, and I motion that this entire class be taught using cinematic examples, because I would much rather spend 2 hours of my life with actors instead of the performances of theorists such as Lyotard).


Anywho, onto the theories of our friend, Jean-Francois (who isn’t as tough without the squiggle under the C) Lyotard. He writes:

  • “A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end, but in the nascent state, and this state is constant.” (79)
  • “The grammar and vocabulary of literary language are no longer accepted as given; rather, they appear as academic forms, as rituals originating in piety (as Nietzsche said) which prevent the unpresentable from being put forward.” (80-81)
  • “The postmodern would be that which, in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself…” (81)

Working backwards, I understand Lyotard’s definition of a postmodern to be the ability for writers (or any artists) to do away with set rules in an effort to produce a work that illustrates something that was previously only a concept that could not be paired with a direct image. However, this process is postmodern, but the results are modernist, since they are examples of a human’s ability to ‘realize’ his/her environment. Lyotard is very fond of the concept of postmodern artists gesturing at a creation that is only suggested at by their work, but requires greater investigation to actually be articulated.

Theory in practice:


This beauty is called “Vooki” or “The Wave” and is located in Helsinki. Jean-Francois would have much to say about this, I’m sure. To do a postmodern reading of this sculpture, we would simply have to say that the artist is trying to articulate an idea. But we cannot define this idea because then we would have rendered this work to be modernist. It sort of takes the fun out of it. I understand Lyotard’s sentiments, but I think that the process of discovering the purpose (or purposelessnous) of a piece is much more interesting and valuable. With Lyotard’s definition of postmodernism, I constantly feel as though truth is running through my fingers like water, and though my hands are wet, I haven’t actually accomplished anything. Maybe he prefers this constant state of nascence, but I’m not a fan.


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