What IS Postmodernism anyway?

I’m afraid i’ll sound awfully ignorant but that can’t be helped.

Everywhere I look there is postmodernism. From postmodernist comedians to postmodern comic books. Just the other day I was shocked to find that one of my favorite writers is postmodern. (Haruki Murakami if you care.)

I gather it’s a sistem of analysis based on culture. I hear irony is a great part of that.

Okay, wich culture, what kind of irony and am I even right about those last two?


Well all i know is that my highschool ethics book said that while modern teenagers looked for comunitarism (Just another brick in the wall…) postmodern teenagers look for individualism.

what is art?

This question has been answered already in this thread and this one.

A good example of postmodernist literature is ‘History of the World in 13 1/2 chapters’ by Julian Barnes. Does away with minor things such as plot, characters etc. Seems pretentious and rather pointless to me. one of the least enjoyable books I have read for a while.

“its wierd for the sake of being wierd” - Moe Syzlak

It’s been a long time since I took Derrida and Foucault. But here are the details I can remember.

Postmodernism is largely founded on cultural and moral relativism. No one culture or moral code can have any claim to objectivity. Postmodernism is heavily wrapped up with deconstruction – which questions the assumptions behind things. A couple of popular assumption by professors who describe themselves as postmodern are that history is dead and literature has no meaning. There is also the assumption that everything is culturally constructed.

That’s most of what I can say without bringing this into great debates. I’m not a fan of the philosophy at all. In my experience postmodernism encourages a cynical, morally relativistic point of view, and is responsible for a lot of bad literature.

shudders at the thought of reading Alain Robbe-Grillet’s work again

Oops, someone got a C in pomo lit. :wink:

But, of course, as Steven Pinker points out, culture, itself, is constructed by humans. It doesn’t descend upon us from outer space. We are born with the capacity to create and interpret culture. So, what does this do to that assertion? Maybe nothing, but the conversation intruiges me. Is that ironic? Not only that, but one of the apparent tenets of this brand of philosophy, or whatever it might be called, is an icky self-centeredness. Well, at least I’m not schizophrenic, are we?

I am by no means an expert on postmodernism, but I think a place to start would be in trying to understand the following (paraphrased) statement by Jean-Francois Lyotard (seen by many as a postmodernist, although I don’t think he necessarily considers himself one):

“Postmodernism’s attitude is one of incredulity towards all metanarratives.”

As a start, try these sites:




Here’s also a list of book’s that I found useful:

Primer to Postmodernity by Joseph Natoli

Introducing Postmodernism by Richard Appignanesi, et al

Post-Modernism and the Social Sciences by Pauline Rosenau

Postmodernism, Or, The Logic of Late Capitalism by Fredric Jameson


Sorry, book links don’t work. Just do a Google search on the titles and authors and you should be given links to Amazon.com and other book retailers.