This is a blog of random thoughts as I try to make my way in this pomo lit world.
Some characteristics listed in different sources:
- exploring subjectivism (turning from omniscient 3rd person narrative to inner states of consciousness)
- fragmentariness in narrative and character construction
- many similarities to existential crisis and literature, but seen more in a society than in an individual
- emphasis on pastiche, parody, magic realism
- breaking down of distinct between high and low culture
- emphasize metaphor and symbol
Overall, they all relate to doubt, which is the reason for any worldview change. (Note: I use the term “worldview” as cultural anthropologists do, not as some churches have been in the habit of using. So I would see an Asian worldview, a Western worldview, an African worldview, etc.) For example, Descartes doubted that the physics handed down via the authority of Aristotle was correct, so he proposed knowing by our own experience. He meant an “objective” experience found in empirical data instead of the subjective way of knowing truth from authority that had been used in the Middle Ages.
So here we have doubt again. The stories past down, at the very least, our biased, if not persuasive of a particular agenda. Who can blame these questions? Scientific progress, which was supposed to improve human life (which, according to Enlightenment, always progresses and gets better) produced things like the atomic bomb and 9/11. So how exactly are we better? Trusted corporations such as Enron and politicians can’t be trusted. The church falls in shambles around us. Who can we trust?
What is real?
And the literature reflects this.
Apart from the literature side, I have been studying postmodernism as a cultural anthropologist. In many ways, we are reading to pre-modernism with a twist. We have questions that modernism can no longer answer. The world just doesn’t fit anymore. It seems to me that postmodern literature is an attempt to deal with these questions. Maybe some of the literature is poorly written. Maybe some of it answers questions in ways that I would not answer the questions, or even asks questions that I would not ask. Maybe some of it has a structure that is different than our traditional novels, like the changing structure of architecture and music.
Some examples of postmodern literature (I’m including films as a literature):
Toni Morrison, Beloved
D. DeLillo, White Noise
Stephen King, The Stand
Run, Lola, Run
**addendum: Since posting this, I would like to add two books to the list. Straight Up by Lisa Samson, and a book coming soon to a bookstore near you by an up-and-coming author, My Name Is Russell Fink (tentatively titled) by Mike Snyder.
So these are my beginning musings on a long trek. Any thoughts?