ON POST-MODERNISM

ENG_CD_0615

Why do we like to hear stories? Because they’re simple and straightforward and they make sense in retrospect; and what I mean by that is that when you arrive at the moment of climax and look back at what has transpired to bring you to that point, you invariably say to yourself: “I didn’t see that coming. But with the benefit of hindsight, it was bound to happen. ” And it was bound to happen because the author contrived that it should. But each story only represents part of the history we all share and creating it is akin to removing a single thread from a bolt of woven fabric with a complex and sometimes incomprehensible pattern. In its isolation, you can appreciate the elegant simplicity of the thread’s inherent structure, the pureness of its colour, the integrity of its purpose, its strength and its fragility. But life isn’t like that. Life is random. Life is chaotic. And despite our efforts and intentions, life is still pretty much a cocktail of chance and circumstance. But above all, life is unfair. Life is not a story, nor a series of stories, nor is it a complex interweaving of story lines that intersect and separate and perhaps even intersect again. Life is. Life happens. Shit happens; and it stinks, and you have to clean it off your shoe and for days afterwards you keep finding more bits of it that you swear weren’t there yesterday, but you have no choice but to hold your nose and grit your teeth and wipe it off because, when shit happens, it happens to you. So the purpose of the story is to facilitate our escape from that. No matter how violent, no matter how sordid, no matter how discomfiting it is for the protagonists travailing in its midst, you, the reader, can enjoy it because it is simple, it happens at its own pace following its own inherent logic, and best of all, it isn’t happening to you. You are merely an observer; an innocent by-stander. And then along came the post-modernists; and now there is shit everywhere. They bring us stories in their uber-reality with inconsequential details littering the pages: distractions, diversions – reality in all its mundane absurdity. Those pouting intellectuals with their smug self-awareness and lexical pyrotechnics, their intertextuality and unreliable narrators, their historiographic metafictions and poioumena and fabulation, have muddied the waters by taking an art form and turning it into a mirror. In their stories, we are not looking at some ideal we aspire to become, nor some archetype of evil from whom we want to and can easily distinguish ourselves, but the flawed, uncertain, anxious individuals we recognise as ourselves, the ones who are confounded by a life which appears to serve no other purpose than to perpetuate the species, give more power to the already powerful and add wealth to the already rich. For this reason, we need stories more than ever. Stories are windows to the future we all dream will become a reality; whereas mirrors only pander to vanity or despair.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “ON POST-MODERNISM

    • Thanks John. I’m not suprised that WordPress has given up signalling my posts because I wasn’t exactly “born to blog” and my posts are few and far between these days. But it was really good to hear from you. Cheers, Keith

  1. “Those pouting intellectuals with their smug self-awareness and lexical pyrotechnics …”
    My goodness, you have a way with words! And I love the thesis you put forth in your last paragraph too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s