Monday, 3 October 2011

Research Notes 1 - The Condition of Postmodernity by David Harvey

Harvey David, (1990), The Condition of Post modernity, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford


  • Sea change in cultural and political economic practices since 1972, emergence of new ways to experience space and time
  • Relation between rise of Post Modernist cultural forms and new round time-space compression
  • "But it seemed as if the clamour of post modernist arguments increased rather than diminished with time. Once connected with Post Structuralism, Post Industrialism and a whole arsenal of other 'new ideas', ... " (Harvey, 1990)
  • In Part 1 section Max Webber talks of 'the highest ideals, which moves us most forcefully, are always formed only in the struggle with other ideals which are just as sacred to others as ours are to us.'

Part 1 - The Passage from Modernity to Post Modernity in contemporary culture

  • Idea of 'Post Modernism' emerged from anti - modernism to become a cultural aesthetic in it's own right
  • Sixties - people in the city were relatively free to act or become what they want - open to will and imagination
  • Soft city records Le Corbusier's Modernist style of architecture but also Barthes one of the central figures in the rise of Postmodernism
  • Example - Cindy Sherman that apparently are different women in different walks of life but the catalogue tells us that they are the same woman in different guises making Sherman important in the movement
  • "No one exactly agrees as to what is meant by the term, except perhaps, that 'Postmodernism represents some kind of reaction to or departure from, 'modernism'. Since the modernism is also very confused, the reaction or departure known as 'Postmodernism' is doubly so." (Harvey, 1990)
  • Turning away from the nightmare of modernity as it's manipulative reason and fetish of totality is replaced with laid back pluralism of Post modernity
Modernity and Modernism

  • "To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are" (Harvey, 1990: 10)
  • Modernity = Insecurity
  • Post Modernity = used to the continually changing meanings that contradicts the experience of yesterday
  • Modernity came to focus in the 18th century - 'Enlightenment Project' - intellectual effort to develop science, universal morality, law and autonomous art according to their inner logic
  • revealed power and dark side of our own human natures
  • questioned the relation of means and ends - who possesses the claim to superior reason
  • 'Creative Destruction' - reaction to unity
  • "If creative destruction was an essential condition of modernity, then perhaps the artist as individual had a heroic role to play..." (Harvey, 1990: 19)
  • Modernism in the beginning set out to be preoccupied with language and representing eternal truth
  • Enlightenment Project tried to state 'there is only one possible answer to any question'
  • Artists relate to events and issues around them, construct ways of seeing and representing which have social meanings

  • "battle ground of conflicting opinions" , political forces that can no longer be ignored
  • Table Pg 43

  • Foucaults ideas - a fecund source for post modernist argument
  • Derrida considers a collage, montage as primary form of Postmodern discourse
  • Text/image provides signification which is neither inivocal nor stable
  • "The simple Post Modernist answer is that since coherent representation and action are either repressive or illusionary" (Harvey, 1990: 52)
  • Postmodernity abandons historical continuity and memory and finds/ absorps aspects of the present
  • accepted in metropolitan cultures in cinema, television, film, fashion
Post modernISM or postMODERNISM?

  • important to acknowledging multiple forms of otherness
  • celebrating what is masked and covered up
Part 4 - The Condition of Post Modernity

Post Modernism as the mirror of mirrors

  • Post Modernism is not historical or geographical
  • no escape from evaluations that are anything other self and referential

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