10.28.2004

The Difficulty of Post-Modernism

Post-modernism isn't terribly difficult to understand. Simply put: everything is ambiguous. Everything is subjective and open to interpretation by the individual. Now my colleagues might say I'm trivialize a broad and diverse area of study but that is the definition I use tonight. And since post-modernism lets me define my terms, I am right.

The difficult thing about post-modernism isn't disproving that it's wrong. To me the difficulty lies in that there may be some truth to the precepts it engenders. As a Christian I realize that there is truth in this world. For there to be truth there must exist absolutes which I have no problem with. What I do struggle with is that not everything is absolute. I'm sure I shocked some people who know me with that statement.

Truth is, no pun intended, that God is infinitely more complex and amazing then we can ever fathom. The problem that modernism and black-and-white thinking has caused is that we've forgotten that fact and limited God to a small cubicle. While Jesus is the right and only way, and yes the road is narrow, perhaps its not quite as narrow as we think.

I'll leave it at that for now because my dear friend Gabe is about to enlighten me. Take care!


3 comments:

Peter Rice said...

Brother Blackwell, I commend you for having the courage and gusto to tackle the issue of postmodernism. I myself am always a little daunted by the task, firstly because I know our good friend Gabriel P. will always be there to rebuff our every advance against the bunk philosophy, and secondly because it's such a pervasive and amorphous philosophical bend that it innately has a remarkable and snakelike aptitude for evading the sharpened axe of debunkery.

That said, let me comment on the "good side" of postmodernism: It completely sabotages the defunct but lingering philosophy of modernism--the worldview that human beings can perceive and manipulate and come to know reality so well, so flawlessly, that ultimate truth bows down cowering before our mighty hands (and the microscopes, scalpels, and flasks they carry). That's what I like about "postmodernism," and I think that's what Gabe likes about it too--it does a good job, via its arguments, its rhetoric, of blasting modernism out of the water.

What I don't like about "postmodernism," primarily, is its frequent, insane use as a tool for completely obliterating reason and rationality (e.g. everything I have written thusfar can be dismissed as utterly rational, utterly modern). The end result of taking this completely "postmodern" line, which many people are willing to do in certain arenas, is simple epistemological nihilism--no one can know anything about anything. But that skewer is used with terrible bias: Postmodern writers are perfectly content to use the methods, yea, even the spirit of modernism--but only as long as they are using it for some perceived good. Thus some writers delight in debunking modernism via its own epistemology, in using logic to prove that logic can't prove anything. Having laid out of the groundwork, having proven, having girded, having secured themselves philosophically, they then proceed to debunk (often rather smugly) anything that employs or even smacks a hint of modernism--not caring to notice all the while that their own philosophical undergirding rests on that same root. To quote Blake, everything is ambiguous--except the Fact of ambiguity itself. This breed of postmodernism is completely self-contradictory--boot it.

To me the slightly less annoying usage of "postmodernism" occurs when people use it as a sort of buzz word (a tired and trite one at that) to refer to anything that has a bizarre, uncommon, or even merely awkward approach to thinking--or even to pure noise itself. A friend of mine recently told me of a band (which is or at least was apparently growing in popularity) whose whole show, whose whole sound, is based entirely on the concept of making noise. A hard-core groupie actually got up the courage to ask to join the band. The main noise-maker's reply was something to the effect of, "Do you want in because you think it's cool, or are you serious about the noise?" Are you serious about the noise? Yeah, I think a lot of "postmodern" thinkers are, and that's exactly the point: The world doesn't need more noise--it's needs grace and light.

Gabe Peterson, eat your heart out. If you dismiss he offhandedly as a "modernist," I will seriously consider flying to America just to pimp slap you. (You know I love you like a brother.)

P.S. Blake, I am going to post this on my own blog too. I didn't intend to write so much, but now that I am thoroughly exhausted, I need to put some of this ink to my own site--take care, bro!

Anonymous said...

Ok dude, I responded and defined myself more clearly.
http://gabepeterson.blogspot.com/2004/10/what-i-mean-by-using-word-post-modern.html#comments

It's long, but good. You'll enjoy it and it will make you think. I promise.

Gp

Gabe said...

Ok dude, I responded and defined myself more clearly.
http://gabepeterson.blogspot.com/2004/10/what-i-mean-by-using-word-post-modern.html#comments

It's long, but good. You'll enjoy it and it will make you think. I promise.

Gp