image source: The
Andy Warhol Museum
Frederic Jameson &
Jameson's General Arguments
Focus & Thesis:
1. three stages of capitalism//three stages
of cultural dominant // three cultural logic
2. the cultural logic of postmodernism--overall
[post-industrial society as defined
by Daniel Bell
3. flatness, desubjectivization, simulacrum,
lack of history (see The Deconstruction of Expression)
a switch from goods - producing industry to
pre-eminence of professional and technical
theoretical knowledge, techonolgy and
information as the major mode of commodity. ]
4. Postmodern Styles: nostalgia
film, parody and pastiche; hyperspace
from alienation in Modern society to depthlessness
in postmodern society
1. Jameson as a Marxist. -- "Always
historicize"; Insists on a "real sense of history" or cognitive mapping.
Some Marxist key concepts:
2. Jameson's importance in his theory on Postmodernism,
and Postmodernism vs. Third-World national allegory.
fetishism -- "the endowment of an object of
a body part with unusual degree of power or erotic allure, as in the case
of cultures that attribute magical powers or erotic allure to idols or
Karl Marx's commodity fetishism
-- the way that capitalist emphasis on the abstract value of commodities
conceals the underlying social relations of their producers.
Psychoanalysis -- According to Freud,
sexual fascination with objects like shoes or garter belts is rooted in
a compromise made by the male child upon discovering that the woman does
not have a penis. Since this raises the intolerable possibility that
his own penis may be lost, he partially refuses to accept what he has seen
by turning some other object into a substitute for the missing organ (and
simultaneously developing a strong aversion to the female genitals). (The
Columbia Dictionary 109).
reification -- the reduction of the value
of an object (a commodity, and, by extension, a human being such as Marilyn
Monroe) to exchange value and the domination of the human world by the
world of objects. The consumer in a commodity society reifies the
commodity and feel satisfied both materially and spiritually by owning
3. Jameson's influence on Taiwan and mainland
Is postmodernism really in lack of critical distance from capitalist idelogies?
Or which kinds of postmodernism are not critical?
2. Are postmodern
works separate from their living (social and historical) context
or how do they relate to it?
3. How do individual
subjects diappear in the postmodern age? Or do they really disappear?
If so, what comes instead?
according to the version in Docherty, Thomas, ed. Postmodernism: A Reader.
New York: Harvester, 1993.
are added by Kate Liu.)
-- Postmodernism is seen as
case for its existence depends on the hypothesis of some radical break
or coupure, generally traced back to the end of the 1950s or the early
making a radical
break from High Modernism (abstract expressionism in painting, existentialism
in phiolosophy, the final forms of representation in the novel).
a cultural dominant, but not a style.
-- Jameson comments on the breaking of the boundaries between high
art and popular culture in a critical way. Pay attention to the negative
terms he uses.
postmodernisms have, in fact, been fascinated precisely by this whole "degraded"
landscape of schlock and kitsch, of TV series and Reader's Digest culture,
of advertising and motels, of the late show and the grade-B Hollywood film,
of so-called paraliterature, with its airport paperback categories of the
gothic and the romance, the popular biography, the murder mystery, and
the science fiction or fantasy novel: materials they no longer simply "quote;'
as a Joyce or a Mahler might have done, but incorporate into their very
. . the social position of the older modernism, or better still, its passionate
repudiation by an older Victorian and post- Victorian bourgeoisie, for
whom its forms and ethos are recieved as being variously ugly, dissonant,
obscure, scandalous, immoral, subversive and generally anti-social.
It will be argued here that a mutation in the sphere of culture has rendered
such attitudes archaic. . . . [Picasso and Joyce . . .now strike
us . . . as rather 'realistic'; and this is the result of canonization
and an academic institutionalization of the modern movement generally"
A Cultural Dominant -- Jameson
here gives a good example of our historicity by showing the different
receptions of modernism/postmodernism by people of different periods in
From the Waning of Affect to The Deconstruction
end of the bourgeois ego, or monad, no doubt brings with it the end of
the psychopathologies of that ego--what I have been calling the waning
of affect. But it means the end of much more--the end, for example, of
in the sense of the unique and the personal, the end of the distinctive
individual brush stroke (as symbolized by the emergent primacy of mechanical
reproduction). As for expression and feelings or emotions, the liberation,
in contemporary society, from the older anomie
of the centered subject
may also mean not merely a liberation from anxiety but a liberation
from every other kind of feeling as well, since there is no longer
a self present to do the feeling. This is not to say that the cultural
products of the postmodern era are utterly devoid of feeling, but rather
that such feelings--which it may be better and more accurate, following
J.-F. Lyotard, to call "intensities"--are now free-floating and impersonal
and tend to be dominated by a peculiar kind of euphoria, a matter to
which we will want to return later on."
five models of depth vs.
three kinds of depthlessness p. 70
|1. interpretive/hermeneutic depth
of inside and outside, essence and appearance
|2. Freudian's structure
of consciousness (the latent and the manifest)
||lack of subjective depth
authenticity vs. inauthenticity
|visual collage; simulacra
|4. Hegelian Dialectics of History
opposition between the signifier
and the signified
|poststructuralism's breaking the signifying
chain (schizophrenia); textual play
2. The Postmodern
and the Past
the breakdown of time and the signifying chain
Pastiche Eclipses Parody-- style becomes codes,
Nostalgia Film -- the past becomes a composite
of stereotypes, spectacles; no stars (with 'personality' in the older sense),
Loss of Radical Past (e.g. Doctorow)
would like...to characterize the postmodernist experience of form with
what will seem, I hope, a paradoxical slogan: namely the proposition that
difference relates. Our own recent criticism, from Macherey on, has been
concerned to stress the heterogeneity and profound discontinuities of the
work of art, no longer unified or organic, but now virtual grab-bag
or lumber room of disjointed sub-systems and random raw materials and impulses
of all kinds. The former work of art, in other words, has now turned
out to be a text, whose reading proceeds by differentiation rather
than by unification.
Theories of difference, however, have tended to stress disjuntion to the
point at which the materials of the text, including
its words and sentences, tend to fall apart into random and inert passivity,
into a set of elements which entertain purely external separations from
collage (e.g. the poem "China"
by Bob Perelman
the most interesting postmodernist works, however, one can detect a more
positive conception of relationship which restores its proper tension to
the notion of difference itself. This new mode of relationship through
difference may sometimes be an achieved new and original way of thinking
and perceiving; more often it takes the form of an impossible imperative
to achieve that new mutation in what can perhaps no longer by called consciousness."
(Jameson 1984: 75)
4. Late Capitalism & High-Tech Paranoia
machines are indeed machines of reproduction rather than of production,
and they make very different demands on our capacity for aesthetic representation
than did the relatively mimetic idolatry of the older machinery of the
futurist moment, of some older speed-and-energy sculpture. Here we have
less to do with kinetic energy than with all kinds of new reproductive
processes; and in the weaker productions of postmodernism the aesthetic
embodiment of such processes often tends to slip back more comfortably
into a mere thematic representation of content-into narratives which are
about the processes of reproduction and include movie cameras, video, tape
recorders, the whole technology of the production and reproduction of the
5. Postmodernism and the City
disjunction from the surrounding city is different from that of the monuments
of the International Style, in which the act of disjunction was violent,
visible, and had a very real symbolic significance."
Bonadventure as a complete world, a
mini city with no obvious entry; glass skin
6. The Abolition of Critical Distance
glass skin -- "the glass skin
achieves a peculiar and placeless dissociation of the Bonaventure from
its neighborhood: it is not even an exterior, inasmuch as when you seek
to look at the hotel’s outer walls you cannot see the hotel itself but
only the distorted images of everything that surrounds it. "
the escalators and elevators -- "Here
the narrative stroll has been underscored, symbolized, reified, and replaced
by a transportation machine which becomes the allegorical signifier of
that older promenade we are no longer allowed to conduct on our own: and
this is a dialectical intensification of the autoreferentiality
of all modern culture, which tends to turn upon itself and designate its
own cultural production as its content. . . . But
even this vertical movement is contained: the elevator lifts you to one
of those revolving cocktail lounges, in which, seated, you are again passively
rotated about and offered a contemplative spectacle of the city itself,
now transformed into its own images by the glass windows through which
you view it. " (pp. 82-83) ". . .this latest mutation in space--postmodern
hyperspace--has finally succeeded in transcending the capacities of the
individual human body to locate itself, to organize its immediate surroundings
perceptually, and cognitively to map its position in a mappable external
new political art
(if it is possible at all) will have to hold to the truth of postmodernism,
that is to say, to its fundamental object-the world space of multinational
capital--at the same time at which it achieves a breakthrough to some
as yet unimaginable new mode of representing this last, in which we may
again begin to grasp our positioning as individual and collective subjects
and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized
by our spatial as well as our social confusion. The political form of postmodernism,
if there ever is any, will have as its vocation the invention and projection
of a global cognitive mapping, on a social as well as a spatial scale.
of "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" (Society
of Social Research Page, U. Chicago) (local
REVIEW: FREDRIC JAMESON:POSTMODERNISM, OR, THE CULTURAL LOGIC OF
LATE CAPITALISM (local)
An exhaustive bibliography of works by and about Fredric
Jameson is available as part of the Wellek
Library Lecturer Bibliograpies.
Jameson (bibliography) (UC Irvine Critical Theory Resource/Eddie Yeghiayan,
U. Calif. Irvine)
Page (Campus Community, Southern Oregon U.)--still empty (Oct 8. 1998)
in the Lobby of the Bonaventure Hotel: The Case of Fredric Jameson"
(Re:WIRED; Workshop for the Invention and Research of Electronic Discourse,
U. of Florida)
Jameson and the Limits of Postmodern Theory -- Sean Homer (Centre
for Psychotherapeutic Studies, U ),. Sheffield
Lacan -- Steven Helmling
Postmodernism -- Jim English
Pleasure: Jameson and Eagleton -- Steven Helmling
video 'according to Fredric Jameson' -- Robart Pahlavi Bowie
Jameson By Douglas Kellner