Sunday, July 19, 2009

Theorized into Submission

We might as well say it, none of the “ism” terms stay in one ideological location—even with a prevailing idea that concepts and their definitions are fixed, there is incredible fluidity in how notions go off the reservation, so to speak “Modernism” proper has it's left and right wings, whether Bauhaus or Albert Speer, and it is important to note that a host of Modernist poetry’s early geniuses, Ezra Pound and Eliot in particular, were notably conservative and pugnaciously anti-Semitic. Part of bringing a revolutionizing the way we saw the world (with it in mind to change the world) meant, in the long wrong, in ridding the planet of particular ethnic groups who only diluted the clarity and brought falseness to the world. As the term "postmodernism" is used, in most instances, as a term meant to describe the clusters of habits that characterize a current age against previous ones, it only makes perverted sense that the polarities intuitively use the same devices to achieve fear-driven agendas, rhetorical tweaking assumed. If I had to clue some one in as to what deconstruction is, I would step back from my usual shuffle about it being a type of extreme investigative process into the reliability of text to contain anything of the phenomenal world, and would instead point to the series of state and federal cases involving election results.

The debacle in the Gore v Bush concern was a genuine Post Modern Moment; Republicans had to temporarily forgo an Absolutist agenda and assume the rhetoric of legalesed deconstruction to confuse, blur and disgorge their oppositions' Grundissian rants. Matters that once seemed clear and fixed in their symbolic authority to a truth we all yield to suddenly seem less firm, in fact wobbly simply because one man wouldn't yield the game. The right isn't afraid to name, nor to advance their cause. There is a living embodiment of political will behind their description the current situation, and it would be Post Modern Tragedy that we've theorized ourselves into submission.

The American Left certainly wasn't afraid of offending political sensibilities while there was a Viet Nam war through which the ultimately unprovable historical determinism could be obscured by a conflict whose obscenity over rode local matters. But with the end of the war, the left here about receded to theory, unwilling, I think , to realize something fundamentally decent about Americans and their sense of fairness to the right cause, and it seemed to matter little to the intellectual elite to deal with practical matters of policy , county, state and federal.

The left, in general, became generalized in theory and law, and reduced everything to an eviscerated discourse of euphemistic speech that was not allowed to defile a sense of neutrality: things ceased to have names, only vague descriptions , and in this atmosphere any talk about identifying problems about what sickens the Nation became impossible . Rather than action to change social relations, real practice, a fight for change was reduced to a ideologically perplexed course in etiquette, the practice of which made humans confront each other in ways that were nervous, nervous, ultimately insane.

Gramsci wound up in prison, but he didn't write manuals for non-offensive language in the work place: he never lost his belief that theory needed to stop somewhere, that abstruse descriptions had to halt at the right juncture and some remedy, based on sane analysis, had to be effected. One's knowledge of what produces alienation and states where exploitation is possible needed to be matched with solutions."Guts" comes to mind, courage, old fashioned and romantic virtues , but still ways to talk about the world, the city where we might live, and within in, a way to imagine and realize the ways to make it maybe make it more workable than it was then when we entered into it, knowing only hunger and the feeling of cold earth. The exact problem with postmodern theory, the intellectual and not the aesthetic texts, is that it's turned into a self-conscious wallow (often disguised under the rubric of being "self-reflective") that brandishes the idea that an awareness of it's own social construction somehow advances bold, better human freedom. As Derrida was obsessed with the undecidablity of texts to crystallize phenomenon external to it’s own system-making tendency, Baudrillard in turn concerned himself with providing a sociology of how our terms of self-empowerment are , in fact, the chains that keep us at our stations, the ugly bottom half of post modernist comes a bit clearer: it’s useless, surrender to the inevitable, every good we might ever had has been tried and failed terribly. Post modernist intent can be a resource hogging neocons best friend, as it offers an enlightened version of apathy. What it does is make the nominal partisans of just causes weak and immobile, ready to have their own conventional wisdom used against them, as they were during The Miami Chad Trials, by a foe that's true to its own cause enough to use any weapon it can lay its hands on in order to make the world theirs and sterile under one Totalizing God, who, I suspect, isn't likely to have much truck with language theory.