The online journal The Chronicle Review does the worrying population of undecided readers a favor in their current edition with a forum entitled
"The Birth, Death and Birth of Postmodernism". It's a forum of ten contributors with varying stakes in the floating crap game that is the postmodern condition each attempts to essay forth on. What has happened since Fredric Jameson essay " Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” from the New Left Review and the publication of Lyotard's groundswell book The Post Modern Condition , published years ago. Without recycling some notions of my own that are available elsewhere on this blog, we can say that the idea of postmodernism arose from the relativistic rigors--ironic, no?--of late 20th century philosophy , an ambiguous set of arguments and anti- arguments -that sought to undermine the whole notion of authority, meaning-giving, and power, essentially setting out to disrupt and overturn The Enlightenment (or advance it, depending on which seat you were sitting in some of the frothy debates of the time). It was a set of ambiguities that applied to every topic that would come to your tongue, something that would explain/unexplain everything, it was a term that joined the term "existential" as a go-to word when middlebrows, those readers who skim or depend on book reviews for their book information, would drop like a bag of nickles whenever they wanted to sound like the beneficiaries of a college education. Like existential, as well, it soon enough became a buzz phrase that singled the presence of the middlebrow conversationalist who hadn't more than an in-lawish relationship to concepts, names and books under discussion. Using it seemed pretentious. It died, and academics moved to new ways to confound others and themselves. And yet the term now has currency again, it is reborn , revived, and more hated than it ever has been. So we have ten bright people giving an overview the history of postmodernism, its use in academica, how misreading ruined political action. The fascinatingly Chicken Little-ish Jordan Peterson was rummaging around his desk full of 80s tropes and happened upon the ever sexy and ambiguous phrase "Postmodernism" and set it aside for use as a strawman , a concept to blame for why everything has gone wrong with our culture. He tosses in the term 'Cultural Marxism" to sweeten his little vat of ill-tidings,and has handily reintroduced some basically obsolete terms back into the daily discussion of Big Ideas. It is , though, an old game blamed long and vainly, empty of real concepts. Peterson is a smart guy, a cunning debater, but what he's selling an empty box, basically repackaging the Fall From Grace , the expulsion for the Garden of Eden. His problem is that he and his fans presuppose there was a time when things made sense, were normal, were stable and adhering to the Way Things Ought to Be. Normal, stable for who? Post modernism had been a term that had currency once, was over used in all media sectors, and soon enough fell on the pile of academic words, like "existential" , that cannot not be used in any meaningful way to address our current mess, lest one provoke sneers , laughs, and parody. This is a little forum comprised of many interesting thinkers , writers, intellectuals who offer their view on the current state of what we mean or don't mean by the use f the term "postmodernism" and cultural Marxism, and the many infinite ways a useful term became garbled in a culture that cannot function without loud noise , friction and bull horned assholism.