Week 12. Paradigm shift? Postmodernism. Hollywood’s Recovery, Desperately Seeking Meta Theory and the Deconstructed Image: Scott, Stone, Lynch, Borden, Seidelman.
Paradigm shift? Postmodernism
Readings: Thompson & Bordwell, Part Six Chapter 27 American Cinema and the Entertainment Economy: The 1980’s and after. pp 680-703
Screening: Eraserhead (1976) David Lynch; Taxi Driver(1976) Martin Scorsese;or Bladerunner(1982) Ridley Scott; The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1986) Denys Arcand.
2) Who is afraid of postmodernism?
3) An impressionistic Overview: Modernist/Postmodernist and Modernism/ Postmodernism distinctions and privileged terms.
4) Focus: A Reading of Scott’s Bladerunner (1982).
Pomo Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982)
Sources:Ihab Hassan, Matei Calinescu, Madun Sarap, J-F Lyotard, Fred Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, Hal Foster, Christopher Norris, Terry Eagleton, Andrew Parkin, Bruce Barber, et. al.
Select Bibliography: (handout).
The 1980’sushered in what some writers (among them J-F Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard and Fred Jameson have referred to as a paradigm shift, temperature change - a move from the modern to the postmodern era; “an epistemological tear along the fabric of modernity” (Friedberg, Anne. 1995:60).
Several theorists: Jurgen Habermas, Christopher Norris, Alex Callinicos, doubt the existence of post(-)modernism, either with, or without, the hyphen.
And then there is Bruno Latour’s:
“We have never been modern” (1992).
Pomo-ism (post-modernism with or without the hyphen) wasinstituted at different times for various disciplines: history 1950’s ; architecture, 1972; Sociology, 1960’s; literature mid 1960’s; visual arts, 1980’s, and film 1980’s.
The historian Arnold Toynbee introduced the epithet/term post-modern in the early 1950's arguing that modernism ended with the C19th or even earlier and postmodernism began in the C20th.
David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd;
1972: a precise date!! The destruction of themodernist (form follows function) Pruitt Igoe Estate (described as a ghetto) in Philadelphia on July 15th, 1972 at 3.30pm
Publications by October magazine writers Craig Owens, Douglas Crimp,Hal Foster
and many others.
According to Madan Sarup, 1989Postmodernism’ exhibits four principal critiques:
The Cartesian cogito knowable, conscious reasoning self is questioned. Structuralism (Claude Levi Strauss) called the human subject -the centre of being - and "the spoilt brat of philosophy." Some post-structuralists wished to `dissolve' the subject' thus implicitly privileging structure at the expense of the subject. For others, subject hood and identity is everything!
That there is no overall pattern or evolution to history (e.g. historical materialism); that is no single vector to history but historiesherstories (pl); and possibly, no history!
Semiotic theory leading toward the analysis/interpretation of meta-textuality/ sliding signifieds. For example Derrida's system of floating signifiers and Umberto Eco's “Open Text”.
Structuralism recognizes meaning within or behind texts (immanent meaning) which has to be closed, while post-structuralism stresses the interaction of the reader and text as the basis for the production of meaning.
Modernity / Postmodernity
Nuclear Threat Environmental Threat
Resource Economy Information Economy
Corporate Capitalism Multi-National capitalism
Mass production Micro-marketing
Class Struggle No historically privileged
World RevolutionLocal resistances
History single vectorHistories (plural)
Class politicsIdentity politics
Hetero-culturalismMulti- culturalism; pluralism
T.S. Eliot TheWasteland T. Pynchon Entropy
Author Authority Reader authority
Innovation dissociationNew languages/ genre mixing,
World as text New concepts of textual(dis-) order
Universal truth claimsRelativism
Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926)Bladerunner (Scott, 1982)
Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)Pulp Fiction (Tarantino 1995)
Peyton Place TV seriesTwin Peaks (Lynch, 1990)
Dracula (Browning, 1931) Scream (1996)
Star Trek.S.T. The Next Generation
The Ed Sullivan ShowMTV
The Flintstones TheSimpsons; Beavis and Butthead
Televising eventsTelevision is event
Distinct genres Different sound bites
Hollywood Hegemony- National Cinemas Masculine/feminineAndrogyny, hybridity
who said gender?
Paris/London, New York Las Vegas Los Angeles,
Form follows function/ Complexity and
Modernist Architecture contradiction
Urbanism: human supremacy nature in doubt
Nature destroyed late conservation
City as cosmos Sci-Fi McLuhan's Global village
Futurist city Interplanetary colonization
Technologism: City Machine
Worker management workless society
labour differentiationAndroids, Robots,
Food chain problems Health food & organic alternatives
Flux and decay Body/city Urban renewal
Panoptical PrisonsPrison riots, urban crime
Fragmentation ( Picasso)Allegorized images (Salle)
Organicist sculpture (Moore)Orlan (Body as sculpture)
Art from Earth (Mod sculptors) Earthworks:Robert Morris
Runaway technologyNew tech materials valorized
Progress in Tech inventionHypertech valorization
Change old tech &LuddismArts reaction against tech
New technology technophiliaNew Tech Luddism
Content (immanent meaning)Context (interpreted meaning)
finite object, originality Simulacrum representation
Genre Multi-genre/no genre
Quotation Irony parody
Single vector art history Cultural histories (plural)
Art history (connoisseurship) Cultural Studies/Visual culture
Artist as hero Collaboration between artists
Alienated genius figure artist as entrepreneur
Suitable case for treatment Analyst/psychic
Temporal spatial finitudeTemporal-spatial infinitude
RelativityBlack holes/Worm holes
Empiricism triumphantEmpiricism questioned
The body inviolateGenetic engineering cloning
Seven types of ambiguityMultiplicity of ambiguities
TheoryImpossibility of theory
Biologically naturaltechno-bio replicants
Quest for Democracy Democracy(?)
The film’s narrative reveals a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 where Replicants genetically engineered beings visually indistinguishable from adult humans—produced by the all-powerful Tyrell Corporation -- “from off world” are being hunted down [retired] by “blade runner” Richard Dekhard.
Deckard is given the task of tracking down Leon and three other replicants—Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah)—These replicants—Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models—have a four-year lifespan as a failsafe to prevent them from developing emotions and desire.