Postmodernanybody have a sensible definition?
Posted 13 November 2003 - 04:45 PM
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:01 PM
In time I stopped asking, because I had settled in my mind (1) that postmodernism was so idiosyncratically used as to defy common definition and (2) that it was a transition term for an age that had not named itself.
I’m not sure where usage of the term stands in the aesthetic world, and even less so in the field of dance. Artistically, the most I can gather is that postmodernism represents the final coup d'état over what I have called "the tyranny of virtuosity." The problem is that postmodernism replaces virtuosity with nothing — or, worse, with the tyranny of self-esteem. But, as noted, these are personal conclusions, and I’m certain the term is more canonized in general artistic use. Still, I would guess nonetheless that even in this context its staying power will be very short indeed.
Finally, I can report that at least in the field of social theory "postmodernism" is very rarely used anymore, for the post-modern age has found an identity: Globalism.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:05 PM
drval01, on Nov 13 2003, 09:01 PM, said:
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:06 PM
Wow! I agree. Not that transition terms can't be useful, but....
In dance it's usually applied to the experiments of the Judson Church era, I think because people looked at what was happening and realized that it wasn't Graham any more, it wasn't Modern Dance so it had to be something else. I was blissfully unaware that other disciplines used "postmodernism" for years
When I encountered it in architecture, I was puzzled, because, while "eclecticism" might be a characteristic of the Judson movement, "whimsy" sure wasn't.
I went to dear old Google and put in postmodernism and this site came up. Looks pretty definitive, for those who want to dive in:
I hope Drew sees this thread, because she'll be able to give a more complete definition -- and a more sympathetic one!
drval01, thank you for that -- I didn't know of "globalism" except in the political sense, but I can see how it applies to what's being programmed today in dance.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:08 PM
As an old school philologist both of these definitions suit me just fine. :rolleyes:
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:13 PM
In ballet, you might call the classical narrative ballet modernist. This happens, then that, then that, then she dies and that's the end of the story. A linear plot line can be traced through it all.
Postmodern thinking came about with greater awareness of other cultures. Suddenly you had two people, one saying "A is true" and the other saying "A is false". We see this all the time when you bring any two religions together, for example.
Postmodernism lives in constant tension. You don't live with "either A or B" but "both A and B". It questions the idea of one absolute truth --- replacing it with a truth that is relative to the observer. The postmodernist doesn't seek to resolve tension in his life --- but rather to get the right amount of tension between conflicting goals so life can be lived inbetween. Kind of like winding up a violin on each end until it sounds the right note.
The web is also postmodern. No longer do we sit down and read a whole document --- we jump from hyperlink to hyperlink. There is no longer a single linear narritive thread to it all.
My AD's dances are also postmodern in their narrative. Yes, they are narritive --- but only to a point. The narrative comes in bits and snatches that can be arranged --- or rearranged --- according to the viewer. You cannot sit down and write out a libretto to the action you see happening on stage.
Postmodern architecture shows a similar strand. It borrows from any and all styles it sees fit. You might get a modernist cube sticking out of a wall of classical columns, for example. I can point to several postmodern architectural elements around Boston, but it wouldn't mean much to someone who doesn't know Boston. But we should be glad for it. Postmodern architecture finally put an end to modern architecutre --- and its associated barren concrete walls and brutalist concepts.
We're entering a postmodern age. Generation X and Y are definitely postmodern, the web generation. If you're older than that and you don't have some sense of sympathy to postmodernism, you will lose your grandchildren.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:22 PM
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:31 PM
The safest definition in dance is the one Alexandra posted earlier; post-modern dance refers to dance beginning with that of the Judson Church group that comes after the practitioners of Modern Dance.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 06:37 PM
Posted 13 November 2003 - 07:06 PM
citibob, on Nov 13 2003, 09:13 PM, said:
One is always entering the postmodern as the present advances. The problem is, you can't get ahead of the present unless you prove Einstein wrong. And any thing already done is already past. Next! Furthermore, Gen X and Gen Y are not postmodern, they're here now. A statement like this is nearly as irritating to me as "children are the future of the (whatever)". And? So? What have we done for them lately except lip service?
Posted 13 November 2003 - 08:05 PM
Posted 13 November 2003 - 08:14 PM
I would use the term "avant-garde" to describe postmodern dance. It involves the audience in the production prcess as much as, if not more so than, with the finished product. Personally, it doesn't do much for me. Give me a good story ballet any day.
Posted 13 November 2003 - 08:20 PM
A very interesting article in today's ArtsJournal newsletter about a nostalgia for Modernism in the post-9/11 world. For those interested in Po-Mo (postmodernism) or curious about what the heck it is, this article in The Statesman explains a lot:
Ransom exhibit reminds us we are all moderns now
The advent of 9/11 spelled not only the end of irony, but also of irony's close cousin, postmodernism.
That late 20th-century cultural movement, which bounced from the street to the college classroom with the ease of a hip-hop lyric, mixed high art with popular culture, radical politics with rarefied theory, fragments from the known past with a suggestion that there could be no definitive human expression.
Posted 14 November 2003 - 01:09 AM
Alexandra, on Nov 13 2003, 11:20 PM, said:
Posted 14 November 2003 - 01:56 AM
Also, we can't trust anything that happened in the past.
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