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Shandean Postscripts to Politics, Philosophy, & Culture - The Shiny Confidence Game of "Postmodernism"

About The Shiny Confidence Game of "Postmodernism"

Previous Entry The Shiny Confidence Game of "Postmodernism" May. 7th, 2008 @ 05:16 am Next Entry

This is a quote from Jean-Francois Lyotard, "On the Post Postmodern," Eyeline 6 (Nov. 1987). Lyotard is talking about his book The Postmodern Condition.

I told stories in the book, I referred to a quantity of books I'd never read. Apparently it impressed people, it's all a bit of a parody.... I remember an Italian architect who bawled me out because he said the whole thing could have been done much more simply.... I wanted to say first that it's the worst of my books, they're almost all bad, but that one's the worst... really that book relates to a specific circumstance, it belongs to the satirical genre.

Whatr do you say to something like this? "Oh well, I knew it was a joke all along, too bad so many people took it so seriously." How is that for a reply? Or possibly: "It was just a way to make the rent. What did you expect? Integrity? Philosophy? Clear thinking?"

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From:darkthirty
Date: May 7th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
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I have never been able to read anything by the man, but there does seem to be in that statement a pretty harsh criticism of a kind of fandom in academia, where it really should have no place.

The danger, of course, is that difficult might come to mean devious - it`s happened to Lacan`s work at times, on no good grounds.

For some reason, I am reminded that I resented Oprah's book club hoopla long before she became a fan of that somewhat creepy Eckhart Tolle, even though most of the books she picked were great reads, because of the potential for her to start promoting such stupid things. That is the danger in all this, isn`t it, though, stupidity...
From:(Anonymous)
Date: September 25th, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
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I came across this quote too.

It is worth noting that this bizarre proclamation has been addressed by extremely few scholars; in general it has gone completely under the radar. This is either because the source is somewhat obscure, or that it has been downplayed, or a combination of both.

It is also worth noting that nowhere else (to my knowledge) has Lyotard elaborated on these claims.

It would also be interesting to see how those scholars who continue to employ Lyotard's ideas from the PMC would react to these comments (though such scholars are a dying breed). Would they follow suit and say their work is also satirical? Or would they be forced to admit that they had fallen prey to an elaborate ruse?

Another possibility, and which I think is more likely, is that Lyotard was simply covering up for the conspicuous shortcomings (that is, nonsense) in his work, which probably became more apparent to him over time. It's the equivalent of someone making a stupid remark, and in the face of criticism saying, "I was just joking." I sincerely doubt that he had planned for the PMC to be a parody. Lyotard makes claims of equal preposterousness to those in the PMC elsewhere. Are we to believe that Lyotard was being uniformly ironic?

Although, if this is the case, he is a brilliant satirist.
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