Postmodern Anxiety & the Aesthetics of Destruction Essay

Postmodern Anxiety & the Aesthetics of Destruction Essay

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Postmodern Anxiety & the Aesthetics of Destruction


To borrow a term from the seminal postmodern scholarship of Ihab Hassan, we are living in a moment of indeterminacy. As linearity went the way of modernism, today's culture is one of interconnectivity, webs and networks. We privilege teamwork, democracy, easy and equal access to knowledge above all else. Aesthetics of art and the rhetoric of corporation (that is in turn borrowed from artistic practices) are changing as a result. Formalism has given way to more open creativity. Companies are “flat” or horizontally-integrated, workers may even be skilled beyond menial tasks. But what gets lost in this tangled utopia of webs and equality is determinable truth. Because of the new corporate rhetoric its easy to forget that we are still undeniably situated in a hegemonic, global, (late-)capitalist culture. And although because of increases in technology, the general public has access to more knowledge than ever before, with these advances also comes unparallel access to a proliferation of useless information.

What results from this fetishizing of democratization on all fronts is a tension between revelation and concealment, sense and nonsense. The cultural anxiety, which this in turn creates, has led the United States into a war against a faceless enemy for the second time in only a few decades. The indeterminate form of communism which we once fruitlessly battled has today taken on the amorphous visage of terrorism. Ultimately, this ideology of war, created by the uneasiness of a culture of indeterminacy, is just as transparent as the technological interfaces (computer and television screens) that its images are projected on. Current artistic practices mirror this war-motivati...


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Jeffords, Susan & Rabinovitz, Lauren ed. Seeing Through the Media: The Persian Gulf

War. Rutgers University Press, New Jersey : 1994.

Metzger, Gustav.< http://www.391.org/manifestos/1960metzger.htm> 5 May 2005

Nike buys streets and squares: Guerrilla marketing or collective hallucination? 10 Oct. 2003. < http://www.0100101110101101.org/texts/nike_prelease1-en.html>. 5 May 2005.

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