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Week 12 Paradigm shift? Postmodernism. Hollywood’s Recovery, Desperately Seeking Meta Theory and the Deconstructed Image: Scott, Stone, Lynch, Borden,

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Presentation on theme: "Week 12 Paradigm shift? Postmodernism. Hollywood’s Recovery, Desperately Seeking Meta Theory and the Deconstructed Image: Scott, Stone, Lynch, Borden,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Week 12 Paradigm shift? Postmodernism

2 Hollywood’s Recovery, Desperately Seeking Meta Theory and the Deconstructed Image: Scott, Stone, Lynch, Borden, Seidelman. Readings: Thompson & Bordwell, Part Six Chapter 27 American Cinema and the Entertainment Economy: The 1980’s and after. pp 680-703

3 Screening Screening: Eraserhead (1976) David Lynch; Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese; or Bladerunner (1982) Ridley Scott; The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (1986) Denys Arcand.

4 Lecture Plan 1) Introduction: 2) Who is afraid of postmodernism? 3) An impressionistic Overview: Modernist/Postmodernist and Modernism/ Postmodernism distinctions and privileged terms. 4) Focus: A Reading of Scott’s Bladerunner (1982). 5) Conclusion.

5 [Modernism/Postmodernism] Pomo Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982)


7 Sources Sources: Ihab Hassan, Matei Calinescu, Madun Sarap, J-F Lyotard, Fred Jameson, Jean Baudrillard, Hal Foster, Christopher Norris, Terry Eagleton, Andrew Parkin, Bruce Barber, et. al. Select Bibliography: (handout).

8 Introduction The 1980’s ushered in what some writers (among them J-F Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard and Fred Jameson have referred to as a paradigm shift, temperature change - a move from the modern to the postmodern era; “an epistemological tear along the fabric of modernity” (Friedberg, Anne. 1995:60).

9 'Postism' a problem? Several theorists: Jurgen Habermas, Christopher Norris, Alex Callinicos, doubt the existence of post(-)modernism, either with, or without, the hyphen. And then there is Bruno Latour’s: “We have never been modern” (1992).


11 Computer manipulated image for a book cover of Will Self's Great Apes

12 Periodisation Pomo-ism (post-modernism with or without the hyphen) was instituted at different times for various disciplines: history 1950’s ; architecture, 1972; Sociology, 1960’s; literature mid 1960’s; visual arts, 1980’s, and film 1980’s.

13 History The historian Arnold Toynbee introduced the epithet/term post-modern in the early 1950's arguing that modernism ended with the C19th or even earlier and postmodernism began in the C20th.


15 Sociology David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd;

16 Literature The 1960's -but possibly in the 1930's with Federic de Onis’ use of the term postmodernismo; and writers Corvalan, Harry Levin, Irving Howe (1967), “Mass society and postmodern fiction” Partisan Review.Other authors: Leslie Fiedler, George Steiner.

17 Irving Howe (1967), “Mass society and postmodern fiction”

18 Architecture 1972: a precise date!! The destruction of the modernist (form follows function) Pruitt Igoe Estate (described as a ghetto) in Philadelphia on July 15th, 1972 at 3.30pm




22 Visual Arts (1980’s) Publications by October magazine writers Craig Owens, Douglas Crimp, Hal Foster and many others.










32 Postism According to Madan Sarup, 1989 Postmodernism’ exhibits four principal critiques:

33 1) Critique of the subject The Cartesian cogito knowable, conscious reasoning self is questioned. Structuralism (Claude Levi Strauss) called the human subject -the centre of being - and "the spoilt brat of philosophy." Some post- structuralists wished to `dissolve' the subject' thus implicitly privileging structure at the expense of the subject. For others, subject hood and identity is everything!





38 2) Critique of historicism That there is no overall pattern or evolution to history (e.g. historical materialism); that is no single vector to history but histories herstories (pl); and possibly, no history!


40 3) Critique of meaning Semiotic theory leading toward the analysis/interpretation of meta-textuality/ sliding signifieds. For example Derrida's system of floating signifiers and Umberto Eco's “Open Text”.


42 4) Critique of philosophy Structuralism recognizes meaning within or behind texts (immanent meaning) which has to be closed, while post-structuralism stresses the interaction of the reader and text as the basis for the production of meaning.



45 General distinctions (and privileged terms) Modernity / Postmodernity and Modernism/ Postmodernism. [Modernism][Postmodernism]

46 General/Economy Nuclear Threat Environmental Threat Industrialism Post-Industrialism Resource Economy Information Economy Fordism Post-Fordism Corporate Capitalism Multi-National capitalism Mass production Micro-marketing Class Struggle No historically privileged revolutionary subject


48 History/Social Movements NationalismLocalism/globalism World RevolutionLocal resistances History single vectorHistories (plural) HomogeneityHeterogeneity/pluralism Class politicsIdentity politics Hetero-culturalismMulti- culturalism; pluralism



51 Culture/Literature T.S. Eliot The Wasteland T. Pynchon Entropy Author Authority Reader authority ExperimentalismRecycling Innovation dissociationNew languages/ genre mixing, World as text New concepts of textual (dis-) order Universal truth claimsRelativism AnalysisInterpretation




55 Film/Television Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926)Bladerunner (Scott, 1982) Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)Pulp Fiction (Tarantino 1995) Peyton Place TV seriesTwin Peaks (Lynch, 1990) Dracula (Browning, 1931) Scream (1996) Star Trek.S.T. The Next Generation The Ed Sullivan ShowMTV The Flintstones The Simpsons; Beavis and Butthead



58 Cinema Television 2 SpectacularUltra spectacular Televising eventsTelevision is event Documentary Fiction Distinct genres Different sound bites Hollywood Hegemony- National Cinemas Masculine/feminineAndrogyny, hybridity [trans/cross gendered] who said gender?



61 \ Architecture and City Paris/London, New York Las Vegas Los Angeles, Form follows function/ Complexity and Modernist Architecture contradiction Urbanism: human supremacy nature in doubt Nature destroyed late conservation City as cosmos Sci-Fi McLuhan's Global village Futurist city Interplanetary colonization






67 Technologism: City Machine Fragmentation anarchy Worker management workless society (Taylorism) Extreme technical labour differentiationAndroids, Robots, Decadism Millennialism Food chain problems Health food & organic alternatives Flux and decay Body/city Urban renewal Panoptical PrisonsPrison riots, urban crime







74 Visual Arts Fragmentation ( Picasso)Allegorized images (Salle) Organicist sculpture (Moore)Orlan (Body as sculpture) Art from Earth (Mod sculptors) Earthworks:Robert Morris Runaway technologyNew tech materials valorized Progress in Tech inventionHypertech valorization Change old tech &LuddismArts reaction against tech New technology technophiliaNew Tech Luddism Content (immanent meaning)Context (interpreted meaning)


76 Visual Arts 2 Reduction, abstraction Copy finite object, originality Simulacrum representation MetaphorAllegory ReductivismRecidivism Order/disorderDisordered order Genre Multi-genre/no genre Quotation Irony parody ObjectPerformance


78 Visual Arts 3 Entropy Neg/entropy Single vector art history Cultural histories (plural) Art history (connoisseurship) Cultural Studies/Visual culture Artist as hero Collaboration between artists Alienated genius figure artist as entrepreneur Suitable case for treatment Analyst/psychic

79 Technology RealityVirtual Reality LogicParalogic StructureDeconstruction Temporal spatial finitudeTemporal-spatial infinitude RelativityBlack holes/Worm holes Empiricism triumphantEmpiricism questioned The body inviolateGenetic engineering cloning Analogue Digital



82 Science & Technology 2 Seven types of ambiguityMultiplicity of ambiguities StructureAgency TheoryImpossibility of theory DehumanizationRehumanization Biologically naturaltechno-bio replicants EntropyNeg-entropy Fascism/apathyAnarchy/Fascismcrypto-fascism apathy Quest for Democracy Democracy(?) [][]



85 Bladerunner (1982): Directed by Ridley Scott Produced by Michael Deeley Written by Screenplay: Hampton Fancher David Peoples Novel: Philip K. Dick Title: William S. Burroughs Alan E. Nourse

86 Cast Harrison Ford Rutger Hauer Sean Young Edward James Olmos M. Emmet Walsh Daryl Hannah Music by Vangelis

87 The quintessential pomo film? Based on Philip K Dick’s novel “Do Androids dream of electric Sheep?” A futuristic neo film noir

88 Baudrillard’s “simulacrum theory” The film’s narrative reveals a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 where Replicants genetically engineered beings visually indistinguishable from adult humans—produced by the all-powerful Tyrell Corporation -- “from off world” are being hunted down [retired] by “blade runner” Richard Dekhard.

89 Deckard is given the task of tracking down Leon and three other replicants—Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah)—These replicants—Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models—have a four-year lifespan as a failsafe to prevent them from developing emotions and desire.

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