Esther’s Space- journey through my life

September 25, 2007

I can spell Jameson, so it’s not a bad start

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 9:48 pm

Okay, I guess I need to wrap up what we were talking about in class, as just an attempt at solidifying my understanding of Jameson’s idea of Postmodernism. Maybe we’ll even get a little application in here.

  1. Postmodernism is a historical period and not a style. (pages 3-4)
  2. The current postmodern world is void of a true understanding of history. Instead individuals create a false representation of history based on misassociated signifiers.
  3. As a result of the rules of modernism being disassembled, items and individuals that were once inherently culturally significant are losing their power of individuality or personal style. (48)
  4. Concurrent with the loss of personal style, Jameson is concerned with the loss of the direct connection between individual and lived history. This is accompanied by a sense that history has been replaced by images that are meant to replace actual history.
  5. Postmodernism is primarily focussed with fragmentation and depthlessness.

That’s enough of that. There are also a number of images and examples that I will not go into right now.

Let’s investigate Jameson’s relationship with cognitive mapping (51). According to, cognitive mapping is

a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, codes, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their everyday spatial environment.

For Jameson, postmodernism represents a scary world in which all traditional markers are removed, and therefore individuals have no perspective or basis on which they can develop a cognitive map to determine their current location or their ideal end location. In this article, such a situation is referred to as “disalienation in the traditional city…” (51).

Jameson’s skepticism of the modern city is very similar to his skepticism of modern art, which we described in class. Again, he feels as if the traditional objects are capable of leading the observer in a direct line to ‘true’ history, and that modern objects are completely void of historical significance. But, my question is, are these ‘traditional objects’ inherently historical signifiers, or is this ability to historically signify lost with different styles or time periods? Here are photos of houses from the romantic, modernist, and postmodernist styles.


Before I go any further, I feel it is necessary to inform you, my dear Watson, that postmodernism does, indeed, seem to be a style of its own, just as romanticism and modernism are. hmmm

But, back to the question. So, does the middle (glass) house represent an awareness of the time period and cultural situation that it was born of more than the others do? I think not. It seems clear that the architectural styles of any given period are a direct result of the time period it emerged from. In the romantic period, there was a continual nostalgia for the past, which leads us to Roman columns and ornamental bits that are meant to indicate the grandeur of the past. And the cycle continues. It would therefore appear that architecture, like any other form of expression is not capable of freely indicating a direct line to Jameson’s ‘organic’ history. Instead, it is also influenced by the numerous images of history that have been incorporated into the social consciousness.  We are again left with the problem that if books cannot tell us history, our memories cannot be relied upon, and art is incapable of capturing even just a moment of pure or true historicity,  where can it be found?



  1. i would first like to say that i guessed on how to spell his name also and my title was almost “Jameson… is that spelled right?” but i didnt’ think i needed to share to the whole class taht i was too lazy to look it up. ANYWAYs i really liked your “sum it up” list because it helped me focus. and getting on to an intelligent point, i’m trying to figure out your last paragraph. what i’m gathering is that we as a culture are just continuing to build upon the past, taking images and ideas from each consecutive moment in history since the dawn of time. this has been happening in some way, evolving for thousends of years. so why are we at this crisis now? where can we go from here? when we can no longer look at our present period and say “this is wrong, lets do it this way” how can we evolve from such a mass of unrealiability and missinformation? whew. i hope that made sense.

    Comment by hannahzel — September 26, 2007 @ 12:06 am

  2. Esther! You go girl! While Malpas does a nice job explaining the larger conceptual essence of Jameson, a good summary of these finer points in appreciated.

    The only thing I would question is the phrase “Misassociated signifiers”… Does that mean they have been wrongly assigned? If Jameson believes the signifiers refer nostalgically to a non-existent history, perhaps “disassoiated” signifiers would be a better term. What do you think?

    As for this:

    We are again left with the problem that if books cannot tell us history, our memories cannot be relied upon, and art is incapable of capturing even just a moment of pure or true historicity, where can it be found?

    All I can say is, “effed” if I know~! 🙂

    Comment by Kim Clune — September 29, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

  3. […] To the Class Experts on Lyotard 2007.09.29  To Hannah on Fight Club, the book 2007.09.29  To Esther on Jameson 2007.10.04  To Zena on Fight Club, the book 2007.10.04  To Tammy on Fight Club, the […]

    Pingback by Self Analysis « BRAIN DRAIN — October 16, 2007 @ 1:11 am

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