Marguerite Van Cook has written a thoughtfull essay on postmodernism, http://hoodedutilitarian.com/2012/07/the-postmodern-sublime-a-different-kind-of-crazy/ Is a grreat read, and I am responding. I think that Marguerite Van Cook dwell on the idea of postmodernism as a response to a crisis of ontological identification, and the harm that ‘late stage’ capitalism does to all of us. In this sense it is an economic analysis, and given how what looked like late stage capitalism 30 years ago, when at least there was some sort of balancing force in the counterbalance of the cold war, and what was still then a communist China, the extreme form of global capitalism we currently suffer makes that world look almost attractive.
Consider another reading of postmodernism; one steeped more in the history of technology than money. In this sense what if the journey to our current post-Gutenberg culture, where the printed word has been usurped by the network. In this reading, the steps to postmodernism thus far, were seminal but also in their infancy. While the network back then, consisted mostly of broad cast networks of television, and reproductions were achieved via capitalist franchises more than via linked sets of propaganda and content as well as commerce that we travel these days.
In this reading of postmodernism, one does not have to take a desperate position; one can dismiss the institutions of power as morally irrelevant, and navigate a more community based approach to life. I know that the aperture of the culture is a wreck, but despite this I insist on living a good life can be the artist, and philosopher’s creed. I can strive to do good work and establish my voice in eddies of our overlapping networked communities, can be a means of distribution. This is not to say that we are not overwhelmed by the oligarchy of money and power, it is to say we can live our lives ‘as if those crushing mechanisms did not control so much of what we think. We can intervene in small ways by establishing our voices outside the institutions of power, and propagate that voice across our networked communities and step back and examine the effect of that. Our voice then becomes somewhat striped of its context de-contextualized in some particular way, as the new voice takes on a context unique to each community that the voice radiates within, even though the voice radiates from one place i.e. the place of the subject.
For me, this offers hope, and can be mediated by thinking of the history of technology as much as the history of the economy.