Notes for Fredric Jameson Postmodermins, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Key concepts: late capitalism, object position, subjectivity.
Culture studies cannot reveal postmodern philosophical objects but computer technology can (Turkle).
Related theorists: Gibson, Turkle.
Definition of postmodernism is consumption of sheer commodification as a process.
Footnote near Gibson quote laments no chapter on cyberpunk; Hunger Games as complications of consumption of commodification.
Focus on relationship to capitalist state overshadows nuanced connection to cybernetics.
It is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to
think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to
think historically in the first place. . . . Postmodernism,
postmodern consciousness, may then amount to not much more than
theorizing its own condition of possibility, which consists primarily
in the sheer enumeration of changes and modifications. . . .
Postmodernism is what you have when the modernization process is
complete and nature is gone for good. . . . So, in postmodern
culture, “culture” has become a product in its own right; the
market has become a substitute for itself and fully as much a
commodity as any of the items it includes within itself: modernism
was still minimally and tendentially the critique of the commodity
and the effort to make it transcend itself. Postmodernism
is the consumption of sheer commodification as a process.
“life-style” of the superstate therefore stands in relationship
to Marx's “fetishism” of commodities as the most advanced
monotheisms to primitive animisms or the most rudimentary idol
(xi-xii) First, the theory seems necessarily imperfect or impure: in the present case, owing to the “contradiction” whereby Oliva's (or Lyotard's) perception of everything significant about the disappearance of master narratives has itself to be couched in narrative form. . . . Postmodernism is not the cultural dominant of a wholly new social order (the rumor about which, under the name of “postindustrial society,” ran through the media a few years ago), but only the reflex and the concomitant of yet another systemic modification of capitalism itself.
(xii) But this unforeseeable return of narrative as the narrative of the end of narratives, this return of history in the midst of the prognosis of the demise of historical telos, suggests a second feature of postmodernism theory which requires attention, namely, the way in which virtually any observation about the present can be mobilized in the very search for the present itself and pressed into service as a symptom and an index of the deeper logic of the postmodern, which imperceptibly turns into its own theory and the theory of itself.
Resounding next after rewriting operation as unknown known transcoding rubrics.
But this prodigious rewriting operation – which can lead to whole
new perspectives on subjectivity as well as on the object world –
has the additional result, already touched on above, that everything
is grist for its mill and that analyses like the one proposed here
are easily reabsorbed into the project as a set of usefully
unfamiliar transcoding rubrics.
(xiv) The fundamental ideological task of the new concept, however, must remain that of coordinating new forms of practice and social and mental habits (that is finally what I take [Raymond] Williams to have had in mind by the notion of a “structure of feeling”) with the new forms of economic production and organization thrown up by the modification of capitalism – the new global division of labor – in recent years.
(xv) I have reprinted my program analysis of the postmodern (“The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism”) without significant modifications, since the attention it received at the time (1984) lends it the additional interest of a historical document; other features of the postmodern that have seemed to impose themselves since then are discussed in the conclusion.
Emphasis on visual textuality, video as distinctive new medium of postmodernism.
(xv) The remainder of this volume turns essentially on four themes:
interpretation, Utopia, survivals of the modern, and “returns of
the repressed” of historicity, none of which were present in these
forms in my original essay. The problem of interpretation is raised
by the nature of the new textuality itself, which, when mainly
visual, seems to leave no room for interpretation of the older kind,
or, when mainly temporal in its “total flow,” leaves no time for
it either. . . . video can lay some claims to being postmodernism's
most distinctive new medium, a medium which, at its best, is a whole
new form in itself.
(xvi) if postmodernism is the substitute for the sixties and the compensation for their political failure, the question of Utopia would seem to be a crucial test of what is left of our capacity to imagine change at all.
(xvi) Theory – I here prefer the more cumbersome formula “theoretical discourse” - has seemed unique, if not privileged, among the postmodern arts and genres in its occasional capacity to defy the gravity of the zeitgeist and to produce schools, movements, and even avant-gardes where they are no longer supposed to exist.
Nature of text replaces work.
it has more to do with the nature of postmodern texts themselves,
which is to say, the nature of a text
the first place, since that is a postmodern category and phenomenon
which has replaced the older one of “work.”
(xix) Besides the forms of transnational business mentioned above, its features include the new international division of labor, a vertiginous new dynamic in international banking and the stock exchanges (including the enormous Second and Third World debt), new forms of media interrelationship (very much including transportation systems such as containerization), computers and automation, the flight of production to advanced Third World areas, along with all the more familiar social consequences, including the crisis of traditional labor, the emergence of yuppies, and gentrification on a now-global scale.
(xx) Thus the economic preparation of postmodernism or late capitalism began in the 1950s, after the wartime shortages of consumer goods and spare parts had been made up, and new products and new technologies (not least those of the media) could be pioneered. On the other hand, the psychic habitus of the new age demands the absolute break, strengthened by a generational rupture, achieved more properly in the 1960s (it being understood that economic development does not then pause for that, but very much continues along its own level and according to its own logic).
(xx-xxi) Meanwhile, it is my sense that both levels in question, infrastructure and superstructures – the economic system and the cultural “structure of feeling” - somehow crystallized in the great shock of the crises of 1973 (the oil crisis, the end of the international gold standard, for all intents and purposes the end of the great wave of “wars of national liberation” and the beginning of the end of traditional communism), which, now that the dust clouds have rolled away, disclose the existence, already in place, of a strange new landscape: the landscape the essays in this book try to describe (along with an increasing number of other probes and hypothetical accounts).
(xxi) What “late” generally conveys is rather the sense that something has changed, that things are different, that we have gone through a transformation of the life world which is somehow decisive but incomparable with the older convulsions of modernization and industrialization, less perceptible and dramatic, somehow, but more permanent precisely because more thoroughgoing and all-pervasive.
Jameson has a big picture life work.
(xxii) The materials assembled in the present volume constitute the third and last section of the penultimate subdivision of a larger project entitled The Poetics of Social Forms.
The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
(2) It is in the realm of architecture, however, that modifications in aesthetic production are most dramatically visible, and that their theoretical problems have been most centrally raised and articulated; it was indeed from architectural debates that my own conception of postmodernism – as it will be outlined in the following pages – initially began to emerge.
Popular Culture Association conference proceedings exemplify fascination with degraded landscape of schlock and kitsch, effacement of frontier between high and mass culture.
one fundamental feature of all the postmodernisms enumerated above:
namely, the effacement in them of the older (essentially
high-modernist) frontier between high culture and so-called mass or
commercial culture, and the emergence of new kinds of texts infused
with the forms, categories, and contents of that very culture
industry so passionately denounced by all the ideologues of the
modern, from Leavis and the American New Criticism all the way to
Adorno and the Frankfurt School. The postmodernisms have, in fact,
been fascinated precisely by this whole “degraded” landscape of
schlock and kitsch . . . materials they no longer simply “quote,”
as a Joyce or a Mahler might have done, but incorporate into their
(3) The Marxist tradition has therefore resisted them with vehemence, with the signal exception of the economist Ernest Mandel, whose book Late Capitalism sets out not merely to anatomize the historic originality of this new society (which he sees as a third stage or moment in the evolution of capital) but also to demonstrate that it is, if anything, a purer stage of capitalism than any of the moments that preceded it . . . every position on postmodernism in culture – whether apologia or stigmatization – is also at one and the same time, and necessarily, an implicitly or explicitly political stance on the nature of multinational capitalism today.
Underside of culture: Kittler, Zizek?
(5) Of all the arts, architecture is the closest constitutively to the economic, with which, in the form of commissions and land values, it has a virtually unmediated relationship. It will therefore not be surprising to find the extraordinary flowering of the new postmodern architecture grounded in the patronage of multinational business, whose expansion and development is strictly contemporaneous with it. . . . this whole global, yet American, postmodern culture is the internal and superstructural expression of a whole new wave of American military and economic domination throughout the world: in this sense, as throughout class history, the underside of culture is blood, torture, death, and terror.
Totalizing dynamic of system: Bogost.
(5) And it is certain that there is a strange quasi-Sartrean irony – a “winner loses” logic – which tends to surround any effort to describe a “system,” a totalizing dynamic, as these are detected in the movement of contemporary society.
OGorman residue of scholarship linked to new media; new depthlessness.
(6) The postmodern is, however, the force field in which very
different kinds of cultural impulses – what Raymond Williams has
usefully termed “residual” and “emergent” forms of cultural
production – must make their way.
(6) The exposition will take up in turn the following constitutive features of the postmodern: a new depthlessness . . . a consequent weakening of historicity . . . a whole new type of emotional ground tone – what I will call “intensities” . . . the deep constitutive relationships of all this to a whole new technology.
(7) I will briefly suggest, in the first interpretative option, that the willed and violent transformation of a drab peasant object world into the most glorious materialization of pure color in oil paint is to be seen as a Utopian gesture, an act of compensation which ends up producing a whole new Utopian realm of the senses, or at least of that supreme sense – sight, the visual, the eye – which it now reconstitutes for us as a semiautonomous space in its own right, a part of some new division of labor in the body of capital, some new fragmentation of the emergent sensorium which replicates the specializations and divisions of capitalist life at the same time that it seeks in precisely such fragmentation a desperate Utopian compensation for them.
(7) There is, to be sure, a second reading of Van Gogh [peasant shoes painting] which can hardly be ignored when we gaze at this particular painting, and that is Heidegger's central analysis in Der Ursprung des Kustwerkes, which is organized around the idea that the work of art emerges within the gap between Earth and World, or what I would prefer to translate as the meaningless materiality of the body and nature and the meaning endowment of history and of the social.
(8-9) There is therefore in Warhol no way to complete the hermeneutic gesture and restore to these oddments that whole larger lived context of the dance hall or the ball, the world of jetset fashion of glamour magazines.
(9) Although this kind of death of the world of appearance becomes thematized in certain of Warhol's pieces, most notably the traffic accidents or the electric chair series, this is not, I think, a matter of content any longer but of some more fundamental mutation both in the object world itself – now become a set of texts or simulacra – and in the disposition of the subject.
Waning effect, poststructuralist critique of hermeneutic depth model; compare to Turkle.
All of which brings me to a third feature to be developed here, what
I will call the waning
of affect in
(12) What we can at least suggest is that the poststructuralist critique of the hermeneutic, of what I will shortly call the depth model, is useful for us as a very significant symptom of the very postmodernist culture which is our subject here.
(12) What replaces these various depth models is for the most part a conception of practices, discourses, and textual play, whose new syntagmatic structures we will examine later on; let it suffice now to observe that here too depth is replaced by surface, or by multiple surfaces (what if often called intertextuality is in that sense no longer a matter of depth).
(14) This shift in the dynamics of cultural pathology can be characterized as one in which the alienation of the subject is displaced by the latter's fragmentation.
(15) The end of the bourgeois ego, or monad, no doubt brings with it the end of the psychopathologies of the ego – what I have been calling the waning of affect. But it means the end of much more – the end, for example, of style, in the sense of the unique and the personal, the end of the distinctive individual brush stroke (as symbolized by the emergent primacy of mechanical reproduction).
Pastiche versus parody; Adorno.
The disappearance of the individual subject, along with its formal
consequence, the increasing unavailability of the personal style,
engender the well-nigh universal practice today of what may be called
This concept, which we owe to Thomas Mann (in Doktor
who owed it in turn to Adorno's great work on the two paths of
advanced musical experimentation (Schoenberg's innovative
planification and Stravinsky's irrational eclecticism), is to be
sharply distinguished from the more readily received idea of
(17) If the ideas of a ruling class were once the dominant (or hegemonic) ideology of bourgeois society, the advanced capitalist countries today are now a field of stylistic and discursive heterogeneity without a norm.
(17) It would therefore begin to seem that Adorno's prophetic diagnosis has been realized, albeit in a negative way: not Schonberg (the sterility of whose achieved system he already glimpsed) but Stravinsky is the true precursor of postmodern cultural production.
Simulacra via programming further ties computer technology to postmodernism.
It is for such objects that we may reserve Plato's conception of the
“simulacrum,” the identical copy for which no original has ever
(18) In faithful conformity to poststructuralist linguistic theory, the past as “referent” finds itself gradually bracketed, and then effaced altogether, leaving us with nothing but texts.
(19) Nostalgia films restructure the whole issue of pastiche and project it onto a collective and social level, where the desperate attempt to appropriate a missing past is now refracted through the iron law of fashion change and the emergent ideology of the generation.
(20) The work remake is, however, anachronistic to the degree to which our awareness of the preexistence of other versions (previous films of the novel as well as the novel itself) is now a constitutive and essential part of the film's structure: we are now, in other words, in “intertextuality” as a deliberate, built-in feature of the aesthetic effect and as the operator of a new connotation of “pastness” and pseudohistorical depth, in which the history of aesthetic styles displaces “real” history.
Add the out-of-programs option (Big Other responds).
(25) If there is any realism left here, it is a “realism” that is meant to derive from the shock of grasping that confinement and of slowly becoming aware of a new and original historical situation in which we are condemned to seek History by way of our own pop images and simulacra of that history, which itself remains forever out of reach.
Flat ontology and alien phenomenology.
(25) The crisis in historicity now dictates a return, in a new way, to the question of temporal organization in general in the postmodern force field, and indeed, to the problem of the form that time, temporality, and the syntagmatic will be able to take in a culture increasingly dominated by space and spatial logic.
Very briefly, Lacan describes schizophrenia as a breakdown in the
signifying chain, that is, the interlocking syntagmatic series of
signifiers which constitutes an utterance or a meaning. . . . Meaning
on the new view is generated by the movement from signifier to
signifier. . . . When that relationship breaks down, when the links
of the signifying chain snap, then we have schizophrenia in the form
of a rubble of distinct and unrelated signifiers. . . first, that
personal identity is itself the effect of a certain temporal
unification of past and future with one's present; and, second, that
such active temporal unification is itself a function of language, or
better still of the sentence, as it moves along its hermeneutic
circle through time. If we are unable to unify the past, present, and
future of the sentence, then we are similarly unable to unify the
past, present, and future of our own biographical experience or
(31) The postmodernist viewer, however, is called upon to do the impossible, namely, to see all the screens at once, in their radical and random difference; such a viewer is asked to follow the evolutionary mutation of David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth (who watches fifty-seven television screens simultaneously) and to rise somehow to a level at which the vivid perception of radical difference is in and of itself a new mode of grasping what used to be called relationship: something for which the word collage is still only a very feeble name.
(34) perhaps one might want to yoke the two notions [of Burke and Kant] together in the form of something like a camp or “hysterical” sublime.
(35) Yet technology may well serve as adequate shorthand to designate that enormous properly human and anti-natural power of dead human labor up in our machinery – an alienated power, what Sartre calls the counterfinality of the practico-inert, which turns back on and against us in unrecognizable forms and seems to constitute the massive dystopian horizon of our collective as well as our indivdiual praxis.
(36) It is appropriate to recall the excitement of machinery in the moment of capital preceding our own, the exhilaration of futurism, most notably, and of Marinetti's celebration of the machine gun and the motorcar.
Re-evaluate representationality of technological artifacts via Walkman study nodding towards Apple.
(36-37) It is immediately obvious that the technology of our own
moment no longer possesses this same capacity for representation . .
. but rather the computer, whose outer shell has no emblematic or
visual power, or even the casings of the various media themselves, as
with that home appliance called television which articulates nothing
but rather implodes, carrying its flattened image surface within
(37-38) I want to suggest that our faulty representations of some immense communicational and computer network are themselves but a distorted figuration of something even deeper, namely, the whole world system of a present-day multinational capitalism. . . . It is in terms of that enormous and threatening, yet only dimly perceivable, other reality of economic and social institutions that, in my opinion, the postmodern sublime can alone be adequately theorized.
So would he recommend scholars train for postmodern studies by working in industry, cyberpunk cybersage: recall Jameson note about wishing he had included more on cyberpunk.
(38) Such narratives, which first tried to find expression through the generic structure of the spy novel, have only recently crystallized in a new type of science fiction, called cyberpunk, which is fully as much an expression of transnational corporate realities as it is of global paranoia itself: William Gibson's representational innovations, indeed, mark his work as an exceptional literary realization within a predominantly visual or aural postmodern production.
Hyperspace points to misperceived inner worlds of objects; Bogost.
I am proposing the notion that we are here in the presence of
something like a mutation in built space itself. My implication is
that we ourselves, the human subjects who happen into this new space,
have not kept pace with that evolution; there has been a mutation in
the object unaccompanied as yet by any equivalent mutation in the
subject. We do not yet possess the perceptual equipment to match this
as I will call it, in part because our perceptual habits were formed
in that colder kind of space I have called the space of high
(40) I believe that, with a certain number of other characteristic postmodern buildings, such as the Beaubourg in Paris or the Eaton Centre in Toronto, the Bonaventure aspires to being a total space, a complete world, a kind of miniature city; to this new total space, meanwhile, corresponds a new collective practice, a new mode in which individuals move and congregate, something like the practice of a new and historically original kind of hypercrowd.
(42) Here the narrative stroll has been underscored, symbolized, reified, and replaced by a transportation machine which becomes the allegorical signifier of that older promenade we are no longer allowed to conduct on our own: and this is a dialectical intensification of the autoreferentiality of all modern culture, which tends to turn upon itself and designate its own cultural production as its content.
(44) It may now be suggested that this alarming disjunction point between the body and its built environment – which is to the initial bewilderment of the older modernism as the velocities of spacecraft to those of the automobile – can itself stand as the symbol and analogon of that even sharper dilemma which is the incapacity of our minds, at least at present, to map the great global multinational and decentered communicational network in which we find ourselves caught as individual subjects.
(45) Benjamin's account of Baudelaire, and of the emergence of modernism from a new experience of city technology which transcends all the older habits of bodily perception, is both singularly relevant and singularly antiquated in the light of this new and virtually unimaginable quantum leap in technological alienation. . . . In this new machine, which does not, like the older modernist machinery of the locomotive or the airplane, represent motion, but which can only be represented in motion, something of the mystery of the new postmodernist space is concentrated.
(47) We are somehow to lift our minds to a point at which it is possible to understand that capitalism is at one and the same time the best thing that has ever happened to the human race, and the worst.
(48) a prodigious expansion of culture throughout the social realm, to the point at which everything in our social life – form economic value and state power to practices and to the very structure of the psyche itself – can be said to have become “cultural” in some original and yet untheorized sense.
(48) What the burden of our preceding demonstration suggests, however, is that distance in general (including “critical distance” in particular) has very precisely been abolished in the new space of postmodernism.
(49) The argument for a certain authenticity in these otherwise patently ideological productions depends on the prior proposition that we have been calling postmodern (or multinational) space is not merely a cultural ideology or fantasy but has genuine historical (and socioeconomic) reality as a third great original expansion of capitalism around the globe (after the earlier expansions of the national market and the older imperialist system, which each had their own cultural specificity and generated new types of space appropriate to their dynamics).
Aesthetic of cognitive mapping.
The cultural model I will propose similarly foregrounds the cognitive
and pedagogical dimensions of political art and culture, dimensions
stressed in very different ways by both Lukacs and Brecht (for the
distinct moments of realism and modernism, respectivley).
(51) I will therefore provisionally define the aesthetic of this new (and hypothetical) cultural form as an aesthetic of cognitive mapping.
(51) Surely this is exactly what the cognitive map is called upon to do in the narrower framework of daily life in the physical city: to enable a situational representation on the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable totality which is the ensemble of society's structures as a whole.
(54) The political form of postmodernism, if there ever is any, will have as its vocation the invention and projection of a global cognitive mapping, on a social as well as a spatial scale.
Theories of the Postmodern
Postmodernism assumes radical split between consumer society and earlier forms of capitalism.
(55) Indeed, the very enabling premise of the debate turns on an
initial, strategic presupposition about our social system: to grant
some historic originality to a postmodernist culture is also
implicitly to affirm some radical structural difference between what
is sometimes called consumer society and earlier moments of the
capitalism from which it emerged.
(55-56) On the whole, four general positions on postmodernism may be disengaged from the variety of recent pronouncements on the subject.
(56) One can, for example, salute the arrival of postmodernism from an essentially antimodernist standpoint.
(58) We are indebted to Jurgen Habermas for this dramatic reversal and rearticulation of what remains the affirmation of the supreme value of the modern and the repudiation of the theory and practice of postmodernism.
(59) The two final positions on the subject thus logically prove to be a positive and negative assessment, respectively, of a postmodernism now assimilated back into the high-modernist tradition.
Quandrants of anti-modernist, pro-modernist against pro-postmodernist and anti-postmodernist, represented by Wolfe, Jencks, Lyotard, Tafuri, and Kramer, Habermas, respectively.
(61-62) The combination scheme
outlined above can now be schematically represented as follows, the
plus and minus signs designating the politically progressive or
reactionary functions of the positions in question.
(62) In place of the temptation either to denounce the complacencies of postmodernism as some final symptom of decadence or to salute the new forms as the harbingers of a new technological and technocratic Utopia, it seems more appropriate to assess the new cultural production within the working hypothesis of a general modification of culture itself with the social restructuring of late capitalism as a system.
(63) Indeed, it can be argued that the emergence of high modernism is itself contemporaneous with the first great expansion of a recognizably mass culture.
(64) Postmodernism theory seems indeed to be a ceaseless process of internal rollover in which the position of the observer is turned inside out and the tabulation recontinued on some larger scale.
Postpone gratification of chronological understanding in ascesis of the diachronic.
(66) What rescues the new schema from the aporias of the dualisms enumerated here then also offers a kind of intellectual training in leaving the dates out, a kind of ascesis of the diachronic in which we learn to postpone the final gratification of the chronological as a mode of understanding, a gratification that would in any case involve getting out of the system itself, of which, however the two or three terms rehearsed here are the internal, infinitely substitutable elements.
Surrealism Without the Unconscious
Spatial Equivalents of the World System
Reading and the Division of Labor
Basis of discussion is Claude Simon 1971 nouveau roman novel Les corps conducteurs as exemplary of experimental high literature, which demand a particular reading practice that might be considered postmodern, and is certainly ubiquitous in current digital cultural practices; working these alien, narrative matricies following laws of an artificial genre empties the rich subject and its deep phenomenological experience.
(132) Does experimental high
literature of this type have any sociological value, and does it tell
us anything about its social context and the evolution of late
capitalism or its culture?
(132) Some will remember what reading a nouveau roman felt like. Les corps conducteurs begins with window displays in a downtown street. . . . We learn to make an inventory of these plot strings and to coordinate them—something done in two contradictory operations—by learning to tell them apart and by conjecturing their larger interrelationship.
(133) This peculiar alternation within Simon's oeuvre must serve as our starting point, since it does not seem to be a matter of development or evolution but rather of the optional availability of two distinct narrative matricies. . . . This is, then, in the largest sense what is postmodern about Simon: the evident emptiness of that subject beyond all phenomenology, its capacity to embrace another style as though it were another world.
(134-135) But the mode of Faulknerian modernism in Simon does not alternate with the practice of another style (personal style in that sense being preeminently a modernist phenomenon), but instead with something rather different, which it may be appropriate to characterize as the codification of the laws of a new “artificial” genre. . . . The postmodern period, however, eschews temporality for space and has generally grown skeptical about deep phenomenological experience in gneral, and the very concept of perception itself in particular (see Derrida). Robbe-Grillet's manifestos can in this respect be read today less as an affirmation of the visual over the other senses than as a radical repudiation of phenomenological perception as such.
Strong articulation of postmodern critique of subjectivity, the virtuality of the subject position, including social dimension of objects and experiences so important to Latour and Bogost, with Las Meninas as virtual allegory and Simon novels as teaching texts.
(136-137) The sentence sequence leaves the reading mind without an object, which it therefore conveniently supplies itself in the form of an ideal or imaginary literary referent, a kind of subliminal or archetypal image in which a colorless surface oscillates back and forth in time between dull indistinction and the heightened perception of varied points. . . . In effect, the reader seems unable to conclude that language has broken down (something which would leave her or him without any subject position whatsoever), and therefore—as in a reverse shot in film—constructs some new imaginary object to justify the persistence of the subject position already achieved. . . . Thus there is an exchange and a dialectical multiplication of imaginary entities between subject and object—or rather between subject position and what we must now call object position—which confirms Foucault's choice, in The Order of Things, of Las Meninas as a virtual allegory of the construction of the subject (very much including that “vanishing point” which is the putative “subjectivity” of the writer or artist). . . . The subject is certainly no mere “effect” of the object, but it would not be nearly so erroneous to suggest that the subject position is just such an effect. Meanwhile, it must be understood that what is meant by object here is not some mere perceptual aggregate of physical things, but a social configuration or ensemble of social relationships (even physical perception and seemingly rock-bottom experiences of the body and of matter being mediated by the social). What one concludes from such an argument is not that the “unified” subject is unreal or undesirable and inauthentic, but rather that it is dependent for its construction and existence on a certain kind of society and is menaced, undermined, problematized, or fragmented by other social arrangements. At any rate, something like this is what I take to be the allegorical lesson of Simon's novels (or at least his nouveau roman sequence) for questions of subjectivity.
Reading separates into distributed operations, including dealing with the material signifier, objects with histories; image culture rises into study.
(140-142) what I want to argue here
is that in the nouveau
roman, reading undergoes
a remarkable specialization and, very much like older handicraft
activity at the onset of the industrial revolution, is dissociated
into a variety of distinct processes according to the general law of
the division of labor. . . . As such, Niklas Luhmann's
more general theory of differentiation seems very relevant indeed. .
. . These last correspond to what I have called, above, the
degradation of the signified into its material signifier
or, if you prefer, the eclipse of
the illusion of transparency, the unexpected transformation of a
meaning into an object, or, better still, its deconcealment
as something already reified,
something already opaque in advance, whether that opacity be revealed
as the sound and complexion of words or as their printed reproduction
and the meaningless spatiality of individual letters. . . . Here,
then, the materialization of the signified by quotation, described
above, is replicated diegetically or narratively on the level of the
sign as a whole, with new and unexpected results: these passages now
lift us from the realm of linguistic problematics and linguistic
philosophy into that of image society and the media.
. . . it would seem to consist essentially in the inevitable presence
of noise as
such within any communicational system.
(142-143) Any inspection of our own mental processes when we begin to read a nouveau roman discloses the presence of new operations as well as that fission and reproduction by multiplication attributed by Luhmann to his differentiating subsystems. . . . The operation of identification, then, is both combined with and differentiated from that of reordering segments in chronological time and that other process of cross-referencing or cross-relating strings of events—something which in turn reintroduces all the other operations all over again.
Transformation of reading experience to systems of unit operations and nonterritorialized mental activities.
Meanwhile, in this situation in which mental activities are colonized
and miniaturized, specialized, reorganized like some enormous modern
automated factory somewhere, other kinds of mental activities fall
out and lead a somewhat different, unorganized or marginal existence
within the reading process. . . . But this extraordinary feeling of
aesthetic relief has very little in common with the Aristotelean
emotion that accompanies a more traditional mimesis of a completed
(144) The realist temptation, of course, involves the reassembling of all the raw materials into a single unified action, something which is not frustrated only because of the random presence of other aleatory materials, as we shall see. But there is also something that might be called a modernist interpretative temptation: that of reading the very form of the novel as a stream of perceptions. . . . The analysis of image culture (including its aesthetic products, such as the one of Claude Simon) can thus only be meaningful if it leads us to rethink the “image” itself in some nontraditional and nonphenomenological way.
(145) At best a PREPARE TO TERMINATE! On the order of our earlier videotext, it would seem—if read as a climax rather than one textual event among others—to inflect the structuralist reading back on the modernist one and to reinvent the now outmoded aestheticizing self-designations and autoreferentialities of this last.
(146) We have to read these sentences word by word, and that is something already fairly unusual (and painfully unfamiliar) in an information society in which a premium is placed on briefing and instant recognition, so that sentences are either skimmed or preprepared for rapid assimilation as so many signs.
Can specialized practice of reading experimental high literature represent nonalienated intellectual labor in an achievable utopia?
(146) Is it possible, then, that the reading of so specialized and highly technical an elite literary artifact as Les corps conducteurs might offer a figure or analogon for nonaliented labor and for the Utopian experience of a radically different, alternate society?
Strong statement about closed book relation to production against which democratic rationalizations, open source, and informed dilettantism respond; play, serious games, hobbies also mediated by specialized knowledge.
(147) Specialization, and everything esoteric that accompanies it
(special training, collective division of labor, unique technologies,
a guild or professionalist mentality, along with the simple
indifference that accompanies activities from which we are excluded),
characterizes both high art and mass culture: the whole elaborate
machinery of contemporary postelectronic music, on the one hand, and
the systems of television production, on the other, are not, for
example, environments in which most people feel at home, and in any
case they inspire very little optimism about the potential control or
mastery over processes, oneself, and nature and collective destiny,
which nonalienated labor necessarily includes and projects. Thus the
older Romantic analogy tends to remain a dead letter because the very
artistic production held up as a Utopian model for alternative social
living is itself a closed book.
(147) As for play, it may also no longer mean very much as a reminder and an alternative experience in a situation in which leisure is as commodified as work.
(148) we will not be surprised by the paradoxical discovery that the hobby has itself been organized and institutionalized in groups like Oulipo.
Ideology loses its virulence subsumed in rapid succession of material signifiers of visual culture.
(150) Perhaps, indeed, this is how ideology ends, on some postmodern replay of the fifties end-of-ideology theses—not by evaporating in the general wallowing around in free elections and consumers' goods but rather by being inscribed in the Mobius strip of the media in such a way that what used to be virulent, subversive, or at least offensive ideas have now been transformed into so many material signifiers at which you gaze for a moment an then pass on.
Too many private perspectives to take any one seriously.
(150-151) For us today, it is generally the case that what looks like
realism turns out at best to offer unmediated access only to what we
think about reality, to our images and ideological stereotypes about
it (as in Doctorow). That is, of course, also part of the Real, and
very much so indeed! But it is also characteristic of our period that
we are very disinclined to think so, and that nothing chills us more,
or is more calculated to break contact, than the discovery that this
or that view of things is in reality “merely” someone else's
projection. It needs to be labeled as such as stamped as “Jamesian”
point of view: only in the population explosion of the postmodern
there have come to be too many of these private worldviews, personal
styles, or points of view for anyone to take them seriously, as was
done in the modern period.
(151) Rather, it tells of contradictions as such, which constitute the deepest form of social reality in our prehistory and must stand in for the “referent” for a long time to come.
(151) either we read the whole thing as one elaborate point of view . . . or else we follow Simon's own lead and see these pages as a verbal equivalent of Rauschenberg's great collage installations.
Object of modern media is inauthentic body without organs.
(152) I have, of course, followed Adorno here in defending the proposition that the work of art registers the logic of social development, production, and contradiction in ways usefully more precise than are available elsewhere, but there is now a distinction to be made between the symptomaticity of high art in the modernist period (in which it stands in radical opposition to the nascent media or culture industry as such) and that of a residual elite culture in our own postmodern age, in which, owing in part to the democratization of culture generally, these two modes (high and low culture) have begun to fold back into one another. . . . Paradoxically, this last, the inauthentic body which constitutes a visual unity and reinforces our sense or illusion of the unity of the personality—the body without organs—is the object of the pornographic and the glossy contents of so many images or strips of film.
I. Prolegomena to Future Confrontations Between the Modern and the Postmodern
(297) The overhasty unconscious then rapidly assembles the image of a small, painstakingly reproduced nostalgia restaurant – decorated with old photographs, with Soviet waiters sluggishly serving bad Russian food – hidden away within some gleaming new pank-and-blue architectural extravaganza.
From Robotic Poetics boundary of fantasy engineering legal now versus legal in 50-75 years like MAME and musical virtual realities.
(298-299) As far as taste is concerned (and as readers of the preceding chapters will have become aware), culturally I write as a relatively enthusiastic consumer of postmodernism, at least of some parts of it: I like the architecture and a lot of the newer visual work, in particular the newer photography. . . . My sense is that this is essentially a visual culture, wired for sound – but one where the linguistic element . . . is slack and flabby, and not to be made interesting without ingenuity, daring, and keen motivation.
Next to mention digital, computer synthesized sounds including music and speech, speech getting us into high speed symbolic decoding functions; Sterne can be invoked leading to Goodman on audio virtual reality production direction.
(299) Music, however (after Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Thomas Mann), ought to lead us into something more interesting and complicated than mere opinion.
MTV leads right into current immersive virtual reality combining visual and audio, where Sterne can be used to interpret spatialization of music in listening practices; omnipresence of reproducible events like NPR versus great works, boundary with simulation as sound track production, cartoon as early VR.
(299-300) MTV above all can be taken as a spatialization of music, or, if you prefer, as the telltale revelation that it had already, on our time, become profoundly spatialized in the first place. . . . You no longer offer a musical object for contemplating and gustation; you wire up the context and make space musical around the consumer. In that situation, narrative offers multiple and proteiform mediations between the sounds in time and the body in place, coordinating a narrativized visual fragment – an image shared marked as narrative, which does not have to come from any story you ever heard of – with an event on the sound track. . . . here, as in the video form more generally, the older paradigm – that lights up in genealogical hindsight as this one's predecessor (but not the basic influence on it) – is animation itself. The cartoon – particularly in its more delirious and surreal varieties – was the first laboratory in which “text” tried out its vocation to mediate between sight and sound (think of Walt's own lowbrow obsession with highbrow music) and ended up spatializing time.
An interesting statement about human behavior and conclusion.
(301) We do, however, make comparisons of this kind and seem to enjoy the process, however meaningless it may be; one can therefore only conclude that such compulsive matchings and rankings must mean something else.
Catachresis four-term metaphor; cultural unconscious analysis pattern suggested that later is applied to technology systems analysis.
(301) All the enumeration of sheerly cultural traits comes down to this catachresis, or four-term metaphor. . . . they extend far beyond the aesthetic or the cultural as such, becoming meaningful or intelligible only when they reach the terrain of the production of material life and the limits and potentialities it (dialectically) imposes on human praxis, including cultural praxis.
II. Notes Toward a Theory of the Modern
Textuality becomes turn into code transformation.
(302) The “classics” of the modern can certainly be postmodernized, or transformed into “texts,” if not into precursors of “textuality.”
Writing/code same operation as human-oriented arguments occur in machine-invented associations, the unit operation: Jameson is clearly a writer not a coder; he can only think of awful fates straying into the machinic, feels impossible dual task of studying modern objects of the built environment in situated context and depth.
(302-303) As for the mainstream moderns, however, those waiting patiently in line for a room in just such a museum, any number of them seem capable of a thoroughgoing rewriting into the postmodern text. . . . But boredom is a very useful instrument with which to explore the past, and to stage a meeting between it and the present.
Immaculation as task for cybersage, or is it ridiculous to attempt.
(303-304) As for the others who did survive – at the price of a certain renovation or “immaculation,” a certain Umfunktionierung. . . . A comparative lexicon would be a four- or five-dimensional affair, registering the chronological appearance of these terms in the various language groups, while recording the uneven development observable between them. . . . one must, in other words, not only deduce modernism from modernization, but also scan the sedimented traces of modernization within the aesthetic work itself.
Bourdieu genius, Turkle surface space versus depth (units to galaxies of meaning): epistemological spirit of modernism is the impossible universal application of Socrates method of division, hinting at silly-named Ulmer methods to derive significance from analyzing individual life stories instead of great works.
(306-307) That objective possibility is now given, not in subjective talent as such or some inner richness or inspiration, but rather in strategies of a well-nigh military character, based on superiority of technique and terrain, assessment of the counterforces, a shrewd maximization of one's own specifc and idiosyncratic resources. . . . This is, it seems to me, a properly postmodern revision in biographical historiography, which characteristically substitutes the horizontal for the vertical, space for time, system for depth.
SCA of virtual realities only likely places to find such phenomena.
Modernism must thus be seen as uniquely corresponding to an uneven
moment of social development, or what Ernst Bloch called the
“simultaneity of the nonsimultaneous,” the “synchronicity of
the nonsynchronous” (Gleichzeitigkeit
the coexistence of realities from radically different moments of
history – handicrafts alongside the great cartels, peasant fields
with the Krupp factories or the Ford plant in the distance.
(309) In the postmodern, then, the past itself has disappeared (along with the well-known “sense of the past” or historicity and collective memory). Where its buildings still remain, renovation and restoration allow them to be transferred to the present in their entirety as those other, very different and postmodern things called simulacra.
(310) The word new doesn't seem to have the same resonance for us any longer; the word itself is no longer new or pristine. What does that suggest about the postmodern experience of time or change or history?
(312) It is because the object world, in the throes of industrialization and modernization, seems to tremble at the brink of an equally momentous and even Utopian transformation that the “self” can also be felt to be on the point of change.
Cultural Reification and the “Relief” of the Postmodern
(313) If modernism thought of itself as a prodigious revolution in cultural production, however, postmodernism thinks of itself as a renewal of production as such after a long period of ossification and dwelling among dead monuments.
Again nod to Ulmer to instantiate this recommendation of overdetermination in ambivalence.
(314) What we need to invent is a notion of “overdetermination in ambivalence” in which works become endowed with associations at one and the same time “plebian” and “bureaucratic,” with the not unexpected political confusion inherent in such ambivalence.
Reification not neutral, concretization has unconscious like an individual human though those traces seem to be effaced by flattening industrial processes, like the history of ancient forests in refined petroleum.
(314) Postmodern “things” are in any case not the kind Marx had
in mind, even the “cash nexus” in current banking practices is a
good deal more glamorous than anything Carlyle can have “libidinally
(314) The other definition of reification that has been important in recent years is the “effacement of the traces of production” form the object itself, form the commodity thereby produced.
Promethean inferiority complex as comportment toward technology: we are shamed of our unknowing relationship to the culture we nevertheless created as we are towards technological artifacts.
(315) I want to suggest that something like the subalternity –
Gunther Anders years ago in a somewhat different connection called it
Promethean shame, a Promethean inferiority complex in front of the
machine – is what we now feel for culture more generally.
(317) It comes before us, no questions asked, as something we could not begin to imagine doing for ourselves.
Do not expect anything fantastic to emerge from playfulness of form.
(317-318) A playfulness of form, the aleatory production of new ones or joyous cannibilization of the old, will not put you in so relaxed and receptive a disposition that, by happy accident, “great” or “significant” form will come into being anyhow.
Groups and Representation
(318) For everything that has been said in the preceding section suggests that the cultural and artistic dimension of postmodernism is popular (if not populist), and that it dismantles many of the barriers to cultural consumption that seemed implicit in modernism.
American tendential immiseration, rhetoric of pluralism registered in progress of schizophrenic collective consciousness, what I used to call very stupid phenomena.
(320) What really needs to be explained here is not the ideological exploitation but rather the capacity of a postmodern public to conceive of two such radically incommensurable and contradictory representations all at once: the tendential immiseration of American society (filed away under the rubric of “drugs”) and the self-congratulatory rhetoric of pluralism (generally activated in contact with the topic of socialist societies). Any adequate theory of the postmodern ought to register this historic progress in schizophrenic collective consciousness, and I will offer an explanation for it later on.
Cyberpunk as joyous resignation of individual determination by schizophrenic collective consciousness.
(321) “Immortality” and the joint-stock company do nothing to change this; but one has not grasped the spirit and the impulse of the imagination of the multinationals in postmodernism, which in new writing like cyberpunk determines an orgy of language and representation, an excess of representational consumption, if this heightened intensity is not grasped as sheer compensation, as a way of talking yourself into it and making, more than a virtue, a genuine pleasure and jouissance out of necessity, turning resignation into excitement and the baleful persistence of the past and its prose into a high and an addiction. This is surely the most crucial terrain of ideological struggle today.
Language overdetermines like panopticon; totalization including language, built environment, and their emergent cultural forms, overdetermines perception and action.
(322) This is the sense in which, even if Big Brother is not everywhere watching you, Language is: media and specialized or expert language that seeks tirelessly to classify and categorize, to transform the individual into the labeled group, and to constrict and expel the last spaces for what was in Wittgenstein or Heidegger, in existentialism or in traditional individualism, the unique and the unnameable, the mystical private property of the ineffable and the unspeakable horror of the incomparable.
The Anxiety of Utopia
(332) If the meaning of a word is its use, we can best grasp “totalization” in Sartre through its function – to envelope and find a least common denominator for the twin human activities of perception and action.
(333) The hostility to the concept of “totalization” would thus seem to be most plausibly decoded as a systematic repudiation of notions and ideals of praxis as such, or of the collective project.
(338) Derrida's conception of supplementarity has often been enlisted in the anti-Utopian arsenal of polemic weapons and arguments; it may now be preferable to see whether it cannot be read in a somewhat different way as an ensemble of consequences to be drawn about the sentence itself.
The Ideology of Difference
(341) Ethnicity in the postmodern, in other words – neo-ethnicity – is something of a yuppie phenomenon, and thereby without too many mediations a matter of fashion and the market.
(344) What is at stake here, as the work of the most brilliant of such thinkers, Lucio Colletti, emblematically testifies, is the rolling back of Hegel and Marx by way of the conceptual discrediting of contradiction and dialectical opposition.
(345) I think one cannot too often emphasize the logical possibility, alongside the old close, centered subject of inner-directed individualism and the new non-subject of the fragmented or schizophrenic self, of a third term which would be very precisely the non-centered subject that is a part of an organic group or collective.
(350) A new kind of fear – rather than Lenin's famous bribes – now seals this system in, since you have a personal stake in its smooth and unobstructed reproduction, something beginning to happen so fast it is no longer visible. Nor is your fear, now systemic, visible, either, having been experientially repressed; the need to avoid evaluations of the system as a whole is now an integral part of its own internal organization as well as its various ideologies.
(351) It is like left-handed people being forced to use tools made for right-handers: the knowledge is built into the consumption, which it discounts in advance.
(351) Adorno and Horkheimer's intuition of the ideology of the thing is even more profoundly true today than it was then. For that very reason – its very universalization and interiorization – it is less visible as such and has been transformed into a veritable second nature.
(353) The crucial nexus that demands investigation, then, is the way in which the very representation of the media itself manages to represent the market, and vice versa, while “democracy” (not generally in our system represented or indeed representable) steams off of each as a connotation and one of the more recognizable of the thirty-seven flavors.
(355) this event [JFK assassination] was also something like the coming of age of the whole media culture that had been set in place in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Suddenly, and for a brief moment (which lasted, however, several long days), television showed what it could really do and what it really meant – a prodigious new display of synchronicity and a communicational situation that amounted to a dialectical leap over anything hitherto suspected.
Demographies of the Postmodern
(356-357) To speak, however, of the role of the media globally in terms of what its virtually a literal figure of enlightenment, that is, of the reduction of public state violence by means of the glare of worldwide information, is perhaps to set things backward. . . . The West thus has the impression that without much warning and unexpectedly it now confronts a range of genuine and collective subjects who were not there before, or not visible, or – using Kant's great concept – were still minor and under tutelage. . . . Such media developments now seem to mobilize what Habermas calls a “public sphere,” as though those people were not in it before, not visible, not public somehow, but have become so by virtue of their new existence as recognized or acknowledged subjects.
Non-centered collective subject identity.
(358-359) We need to explore the possibility that there exists, in
what quaintly used to be called the moral realm, something roughly
equivalent to the dizziness of crowds for the individual body itself:
the premonition that the more other people we recognize, even within
the mind, the more peculiarly precarious becomes the status of our
own hitherto unique and “incomparable” consciousness or “self.”
. . . The materialist reversal inherent in demography also flips over
the rug of this still anthropomorphic history, but substitutes for it
not so much statistical aggregates as the sheer being of natural
(360) The present is thus like some new thriving and developing nation-state, whose numbers and prosperity make it an unexpected rival for the old traditional ones. . . . now that we, the living, have the preponderance, the authority of the dead – hitherto on sheer numbers – diminishes at a dizzying rate (along with all the other forms of authority and legitimacy).
(361-362) As far as I know, the only philosopher to have taken demography seriously, and to have produced concepts on the basis of an evidently idiosyncratic lived experience of it, was Jean-Paul Sartre, who wanted to children as a result, but whose other historic philosophical originality – to have made a philosophical problem out of that peculiar thing we all take for granted, namely, the existence of other people – may, in fact, turn out to be the consequence of this one, rather than the other way round. . . . The Sartrean character would seem to have launched a preemptive strike or probe: to imagine, mentally to encompass in advance, those numerical multitudes that, ignored, might otherwise ontologically overwhelm you.
From catatonic TV to Internet identity, perhaps tying to Turkle.
(363) This now starts to become postmodern, however, in the planetary influence it exerts over temporal thoughts and the possibility of representing them. . . . namely, the concept of synchronicity itself, the ultimate limit of representation until you reach television, at which point all these unimaginably multiple bulbs light up again, the metaphysical problem they seemed to designate and to rehearse vanishes away, and postmodern global space replaces and annuls the Sartrean problematic of totalization. . . . Global totality is now drawn back inside the monad, on flickering screen, and the “interior,” once the heroic proving ground of existentialism and its anxieties, now becomes as self-sufficient as a light show of the inner life of a catatonic.
(364) The notion of a predominance of space in the postcontemporary era we owe to Henri Lefebvre.
(364-365) In effect, Lefebvre called for a new kind of spatial imagination capable of confronting the past in a new way and reading its less tangible secrets off the template of its spatial structures – body, cosmos, city, as all those marked the more intangible organization of cultural and libidinal economies and linguistic forms.
Quite an image of postmodern schizo-fragmentation.
(372) This differentiation and specialization or semiautonomization of reality is then prior to what happens in the psyche – postmodern schizo-fragmentation as opposed to modern or modernist anxieties and hysterias – which takes the form of the world it models and seeks to reproduce in the form of experience as well as of concepts, with results as disastrous as those that would be encountered by a relatively simple natural organism given to mimetic camouflage and trying to a approximate the op art laser dimensionality of a science-fictional environment of the far future.
Postmodern mode of totalizing eloquently described.
(373) “We” thus turn out to be whatever we are in, confront,
inhabit, or habitually move through, provided it is understood that
under current conditions we are obliged to renegotiate all those
spaces or channels back and forth ceaselessly in a single Joycean
day. . . . such interfection is then the very prototype of what we
may call the postmodern mode of totalizing.
(376) As an ideology which is also a reality, the “postmodern” cannot be disproved insofar as its fundamental feature is the radical separation of all the levels and voices whose recombination in their totality could alone disprove it.
IX. Decadence, Fundamentalism, and Hightech
Example of a Latour litany, which Bogost deploys for alien phenomenology, from The Pasteurization of France.
(378) Latour has cooked up a wonderful table of the synonyms and disguises of this view of Western exceptionalism, in which a number of old Marxist friends will also be found.
Heidegger break down inspired focus for postmodern technology self-evidence incorporates realization of futility of understanding the undisturbed totality of countless intertwined systems that operate reality.
(385) unlike the delight of the modern in its projection of wonder-working machinery, its delight with the very breakdown of that machinery at the critical point is subject to the gravest misunderstaning if we do not realize that this is precisely how postmodern technology consumes and celebrates itself.
X. The Production of Theoretical Discourse
Codes and transcoding from worldviews.
(393-394) a linguistic solution nonetheless remains, and it turns on what has hitherto been called transcoding. For alongside the perspective in which my language comments on that of another, there is a somewhat longer vista in which both languages derive from larger families that used to be called weltanschauungen, or worldviews, but which have today become recognized as “codes.”
Invokes Baudrillard, Lacan, Latour, Rorty, Stuart Hall discussing hegemony of secular postmodern idiolects.
(395) Hegemony here means the possibility of recoding vast quantities
of preexisting discourse (in other languages) into the new
(395) Instead, they are the most visible and dramatic, owing to the naked deployment of the semiotic code itself, last and most visible of the secular postmodern idiolects.
XI. How to Map a Totality
Culture studies cannot reveal postmodern philosophical objects but computer technology can (Turkle): look towards platforms studies of Atari, MAME, pmrek, perhaps alien phenomenology, where Jameson jumps back into cultural observations.
(408) the tactical decision to stage the account in cultural terms
has made for a relative absence of any identification of properly
postmodern “ideologies,” something I have tried partially to
rectify in the subsequent chapter on the ideology of the market. . .
. I have mainly singled out intellectual and social phenomena like
“poststructuralism” and the “new social movements,” thus
giving the impression, against my own deepest political convictions,
that all the “enemies” were on the left.
(408) It is within the possibilities of late capitalism that people glimpse “the main change,” “go for it,” make money, and reorganize firms in new ways (just like artists or generals, ideologists or gallery owners).
(408) (It would, however, be desirable to link up this account of agency with that other very rich (psychoanalytic) tradition of psychic and ideological “subject positions.”)
Cognitive mapping especially useful for studying artificial automata, programmable objects exhibiting subjectivity.
In contrast, what I have called cognitive mapping may be identified
as a more modernist strategy, which retains an impossible concept of
totality whose representational failure seemed for the moment as
useful and productive as its (inconceivable) success. . . . The three
types of space I
have in mind are all the result of discontinuous expansion of quantum
leaps in the enlargement of capital, in the latter's penetration and
colonization of hitherto uncommodified areas.
(410) The first of these three kinds of space is that of classical or market capitalism in terms of a logic of the grid . . . the desacralization of the world . . . slow colonization of use value by exchange value . . . the standardization of both subject and object.
Beautifully stated version of Fuller great pirates losing their grip on totality.
(410-411) Too rapidly we can say that, while in older societies and perhaps even in the early stages of market capital, the immediate and limited experience of individuals is still able to encompass and coincide with the true economic and social form that governs that experience, in the next moment these two levels drift ever further apart and really begin to constitute themselves into the opposition the classical dialectic describes as Wesen and Erscheinung, essence and appearance, structure and lived experience.
Global social and machine operations are both absent causes that are tracked via their symptoms.
(411) these new and enormous global realities are inaccessible to any
individual subject or consciousness . . . something like an absent
causes, one that can never emerge into the presence of perception.
Yet this absent cause can find figures through which to express
itself in distorted and symbolic ways.
(412) In this context, what I want to suggest is that these forms, whose content is generally that of privatized middle-class life, nonetheless stand as symptoms and distorted expressions of the penetration even of middle-class lived experience by this strange new global relativity of the colonial network. The one is then the figure, however deformed and symbolically rewritten, of the latter; and I take it that this figural process will remain central in all later attempts to restructure the form of the work of art to accommodate content that must radically resist and escape artistic figuration.
Saturation of visual and auditory space.
(413) the disorientation of the saturated space will be the most
useful guiding thread in the present context.
(414) such strategy is bound and shackled to the city form itself.
(414) But what would happen if you conquered a whole series of large key urban centers in succession?
Can we transfer this image to technological urban centers such as software APIs, Internet search results, and so on: what then of alienation and unmappability with respect to technological systems, as he extends it to political experience below?
(415) And the Detroit experience may now specify more concretely what
is meant by the slogan of cognitive mapping,m which can now be
characterized as something of a synthesis between Althusser and Kevin
Lynch. . . . Drawing on the downtowns of Boston, Jersey City, and Los
Angeles, and by means of interviews and questionnaires in which
subjects were asked to draw their city context from memory, Lynch
suggests that urban alienation is directly proportional to the mental
unmappability of local cityscapes.
(415-416) something like a spatial analogue of Althusser's great formulation of ideology itself, as “the Imaginary representation of the subject's relationship to his or her Real conditions of existence.” Whatever its defects and problems, this positive conception of ideology as a necessary function in any form of social life has the great merit of stressing the gap between the local positioning of the individual subject and the totality of class structures in which he or she is situated, a gap between phenomenological perception and a reality that transcends all individual thinking or experience. . . . A secondary premise must, however, also be argued – namely, that the incapacity to map spatially is as crippling to political experience as the analogous incapacity to map spatially is for urban experience. It follows that an aesthetic of cognitive mapping in this sense is an integral part of any socialist political project.
Triangulation method also employed by Hayles.
(417) What now seems clear is that this kind of triangulation is historically specific and has its deeper relationship with the structural dilemmas posed by postmodernism as such.
Are we there yet, the later form of capitalism postmodernism spanned from the previous?
(417) for the moment, global capital seems able to follow its own nature and inclinations, without the traditional precautions. Here, then, we have yet another “definition” of postmodernism, and a useful one indeed, which only an ostrich will wish to accuse of “pessimism.” The postmodern may well in that sense be little more than a transitional period between two stages of capitalism, in which the earlier forms of the economic are in the process of being restructured on a global scale, including the older forms of labor and its traditional organizational institutions and concepts.
Cognitive mapping as code word for class consciousness.
(417-418) “Cognitive mapping” was in reality nothing but a code
word for “class consciousness.”
(418) “We have to name the system”: this high point of the sixties finds an unexpected revival in the postmodernism debate.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodermins, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durhman, NC: Duke University Press, 1991. Print.