What We Believe, How We See It
Post Modernism: A Basic Overview
Post modernism is a very fleeting subject because not everyone accepts it or confirms it as a true school of thought. An easy way to think of post modernism is to think about a very skeptical individual who questions everything. That’s post modernism for you: the man who tries to find out as much of the ‘truth’ hidden in the world as possible while forming his own individual truth. In other words, what you believe is what your truth is. And this topic is highly touched upon in Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum” and Butler’s “The Postmodern Condition”. Both stories, overall, give the reader a different view of the world that we live in, establishing the ‘individual’ over the public majority as a means to find their sense of reality.
Are you still confused? If so, here’s a video where researchers ‘try’ to explain what postmodernism is:
And, if all else fails, just think of post modernism as the school of thought with many ‘quotation’ marks to emphasize their skepticism of many modern day (or postmodern day?) ideas.
After reading Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum” and Butler’s “The Postmodern Condition”, I can see some similarities in the way that they present their interpretations of post modernist ideas. From my understanding, post-modernism covers a wide range of topics but the overall theme of it seems spiral around one person’s notion of truth. For example, if I believed that I had seen aliens in my backyard, and truly believed it, then the truth is whatever I perceived it to be. Postmodernism deals with similar aspects of my description. In short “believing is seeing”, according to this way of thought.
I Believe, Therefore I See
In Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum”, there is even an entry in which a man is describing an incident that happened to a girl that he was interviewing. Apparently, the girl had been attacked by a floating bear head.In the text it goes on to state that “ She’d have seen the devil, if she hadn’t been brought up on ‘The Bionic Man’ and all those ‘Star Trek’ reruns. She is clued into the main vein. And she knows that it happened to her. I got out ten minutes before the heavy UFO boys showed up with the polygraph”,(Gibson, pg.461). The man who said this was obviously joking about the situation, but he was referring to the fact that what that girl saw was shaped by what the media had brought into this world, and it obviously gave way to her vivid ‘electrical floating bear head’ attack. Basically, the media spoon fed the girl and shaped her understanding of the world around her.He doesn’t state that the girl was lying, only that what she saw was true only to her and her beliefs.
Criticize Everything to Understand Everything
Another key concept seen in the texts is the concept of criticism and rejection of an already established fact. Be ready to hear many of these types of discussions when delving into the world of post modernism, because it’s full of such statements. Whether it’s rejection of scientific inquiries or well known truths, post modernists look behind the ‘known’ to find a truth well hidden. Butler’s “The Postmodern Condition”, also touches upon this notion when it states that “ We are simply enclosed in a media-dominated world of signs… They are mere simulacra, which replace real things and their actual relationships (only truly known to those on the left, who see through such illusions) in a process which Baudrillard calls hyper realization”,(Butler, pg.114). In this, it was referring to how the media sways our thoughts, and only by rejecting what the media is portraying can we really see the truth on the other side. All in all, when trying to grasp this concept, I find it easier to think ‘reject everything, form my own opinions’. When using this technique, you’ll be sure to find subtle postmodern ideas throughout the text.
Altogether, both of the text offer some interesting viewpoints on society and it’s idea of a perfect society. Most notably, in Gibson’s idea of a perfect society he claims that it would be a bad thing for an american society to be perfect. From what I read, he was most likely addressing the idea of the ‘ideal’ society that Hitler imagined for himself: one composed of an all Aryan race of people. I concluded this because he mentions Hitler throughout his essay and even talks to a black man complaining about the world in which we live in to where he concludes “ ‘That’s right,’ I said, ‘or even worse, it could be perfect.’ He watched me as I headed down the street with my little bundle of condensed catastrophe”,(Gibson, pg.465). This was referring to the visions he had from his ‘perfect’ society, one with a monotone air to it and without individual thoughts. In contrast to the direct approach of Gibson, Butler merely examines the relationship of postmodern thoughts. For example he says that “Postmodernists are by and large pessimists, many of them haunted by lost Marxist revolutionary hopes, and the beliefs and the art they inspire are often negative rather than constructive”,(Butler, pg.114). From this I believe that whatever ‘perfect’ society the postmodernists come up with in Butler’s text, will be one full of imperfections due to the pessimistic nature of postmodernists. From how he views them, they will only see works that they inspire to be doom and gloom, with no hope of ever finding the truth. Hopefully, the future will be a brighter one than what they perceive, otherwise, what would be the point of striving for a perfect society if it’s just going to be the embodiment of imperfection?
For more information on the topic of postmodernism, you can look at “12 Major Key ideas of Postmodern Social Theory — Explained!” by Puja Mondal.