Saturday, May 26, 2007
Who can now recall the allusive, vaguely prissy style of Jean-Francois Lyotard?
"What then, is the postmodern? What place does it or does it not occupy in the vertiginous work of the questions hurled at the rules of image and narration? It is undoubtedly part of the modern. All that has been received, if only yesterday (modo, modo, Petronius used to say), must be suspected. What space does Cézanne challenge? The Impressionists'. What object do Picasso and Braque attack? Cézanne's."
"In an amazing acceleration, the generations precipitate themselves. A work can become modern only if it is first postmodern. Postmodernism thus understood is not modernism at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant."
And in fact Lyotard is here close to recapitulating the historico-philosophical system his work sets out to undermine: the graduated unfolding of the Western Spirit: pontiff upon pontiff: each stage in turn precipitating the substrate of its successor, formally:
Maggot - Caster - Maggot
(a system that incidentally erases the influence on cubism, for instance, of non-western art and mass-market kitsch art)
Lyotard's work, in contrast to this, is understood to exemplify "incredulity towards meta-narratives". But is this really an attack on something fundamental? Or rather a grandiose way of querying the persuasive but ultimately faulty metaphysics of television? That by its academic nature cannot but eternalise a problematic that is very much historically specific?