Post What?


  • Doug Henwood





I'm certainly not the first to point out that postmodernism is an ideology that depends crucially on the denial of history; indeed, this was a theme of Monthly Review's special issue last summer on the topic. Sometimes this is explicitly theorized—an embrace of discontinuity, a celebration of the fragmentation of time, space, and historical experience that liberates us from the dead hand of master narratives. This view seems badly infected by the French taste for fashion, in which new truths are announced with the turn of the season, rendering wrong everything you thought you ever knew. In its vulgar version, the street postmodernism of newspapers and slick magazines, it's more a matter of simple forgetfulness—journalists rarely know or remember anything that happened the week before last, let alone in the 1970s. Perversely, this forgetfulness may actually provide an opening; as a friend of mine once put it, in a jaded society with no historical memory, maybe the only way to shock people with something apparently new is by reviving something really old-she was specifically talking about Marxism.

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