2004/12/06

On Postmodernism (1)

Post-modernism, I think, is vastly different from what Western, right and left, thinkers are making about it. Let's start with modernism, it divides roughly in 3 distinct periods:

- early modernity: from the renaissance till 1900 rejecting religious art painters will satisfy the demands of early capitalism for portraits and landscapes.

- modernity: starting around 1900, it corresponds to the radical rejection of the visual representation model of the first degree image that falls on our retina. Influenced by new technologies, the introduction of speed in daily life and new scientific paradigms in the forming, painters and thinkers are searching for higher level visual representations, they intuitively sense that there are other dimensions to reality than this first degree vision transmitted by the retina to the brain.

- Late modernity: after decades of searches and experimentations in visual rendering and two world wars that crudely exposed men's absurdity visual arts were declared clinically dead around the seventies. "Whatever" could now be presented as art by audacious merchant-artists and critics, curators, collectors swallowed the sham. Some initiated the concept of post-modernism, an approach that tried to put the existing knowledge into perspective saying that it was only the particular form of thought of the hegemonic culture of the day. This rejection manifested itself in minimal, conceptual visual forms as if its creators were announcing the end of times. Post modernism is kind of the product of a "intellectuel de chambre" and in that sense it appears as totally marginal on the world stage of real life.

Western thinkers are indeed privileging the Western internal tendencies to the point of blacking out all that may be going on externally in the rest of the world. They act a little bit as if they were thinking that they are the center of the world forgetting that a nation of a billion and a half who think they are the center of the world since 3000 years already is finally shaping itself as the next center of economic and cultural power in the world.

It seems to me that what is going on outside of the West is indeed bound to have gradually a decisive impact on the West itself. The awakening I believe shall be rude because there is no doubt that the foundations of our Western civilization are already crumbling. We are nowadays economically so totally dependent on science that the conclusions arrived at by scientists will, there should be no doubt about it, shake our certainties. There is indeed a convergence in the building between science and the foundations of the Chinese civilization which I believe is bound to lead to the most fundamental revolution in Western thought since the early days of Western civilization itself. A very readable account of what is going on in the scientific community is given by Mitchell Waldrop in his books "Chaos" and "Complexity", by Fritjof Capra in "The Tao of Physics" (1975), "The Turning Point" (1982), "Uncommon Wisdom" (1988), and "The Web of Life" (1996), by Ilia Prigogine in "Order Out of Chaos", "Exploring Complexity", "The End of Certainty, Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature", "Is Future Given?" , Dr. Chaim H. Tejman, "Grand Unified Theory: Wave Theory" and the many others.

I believe that the recognition of the principle of spontaneous emergence, systemic auto-regulation/self-organization and the theories relating to the macro reality as quantum physics, string theory, wave theory,... are engendering a what will be a whole new form of consciousness in the West.
When one couples this new scientific paradigm with economic globalization and the shock of philosophic wisdoms that will ensue, one gets a glimpse of what post-modernism will be all about in the realm of culture and one starts to understand the real illusionary nature of late modernism.

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