image source: The Andy Warhol Museum
  Frederic Jameson  &
Andy Warhol


General Arguments
Jameson's Article--
an Outline
Andy Warhol
Relevant Links

Frederic 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 commodification
competitive capitalism 
cultural dominant
cultural logic
overall commodification
[post-industrial society as defined by Daniel Bell 3. flatness, desubjectivization, simulacrum, lack of history (see The Deconstruction of Expression) 4. Postmodern Styles: nostalgia film, parody and pastiche; hyperspace

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.
3. Jameson's influence on Taiwan and mainland China.

Questions: 1. 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?

(made according to the version in Docherty, Thomas, ed. Postmodernism: A Reader. New York: Harvester, 1993.
Boldfaces are added by Kate Liu.)
General Definitions -- Postmodernism is seen as quotes: "The 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 1960s" (62) quotes: quotes: ". . . 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" (64-65).

I.  From the Waning of Affect to The Deconstruction of Expression

quotes: "The 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 style, 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." (72)

 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
3. Existentialism
authenticity vs. inauthenticity
visual collage; simulacra
4. Hegelian Dialectics of History
--reconciliation, synthesis
5. structualism's
opposition between the signifier and the signified 
poststructuralism's breaking the signifying chain (schizophrenia); textual play
Modern --
individualist, symbolic, talent/auteur-centered, 
dominant sentiments: anxiety and alienation
playfulness, pastiche  and lack of critical distance; fragmentation of the subject
 the so-called international style (Le Corbusier)
Wells Fargo Court (?)
Westin Bonaventure Hotel
painting of the peasant shoes
 (The "realist" pathos of Walker Evans )
Picasso's Guernica
Andy Warhol's Diamond Dust Shoes
Munch's The ScreamSicueiros's Echo
 Diego Rivera Man at the Crossroad

2. The Postmodern and the Past

3. Schizophrenia: the breakdown of time and the signifying chain quotes: "I would 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 one another.

quotes: "In 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 (Anti-Utopianism)
quotes: Such 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 simulacrum.

5. Postmodernism and the City --

quotes: "this 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." 6. The Abolition of Critical Distance

quotes: the 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.

Relevant Links
  • Frederic Jameson