Saturday, 17 June 2017


The idea of modernism and postmodernism have always fascinated me, to the extent where I have declared myself 'not interested' in reading all of 'the usual classics' (the Brontes, Dickens, y'know...), because they say little to me about my life, whereas the general jankiness of the more recent movements packs a properer punch. Anyway, here we all are, sitting in a rainbow, and then I read this article by Alison Gibbons, saying [postmodernism] is dead (though I guess certain people have been variously saying it was never alive, or died longer ago... Many opinions, I'm sure), but they're not saying it's dead they're just saying that its techniques are being used in different ways, and for different aims. The facets of production, style and whatnot can be the same, but the idea is that, rather than the literature (and the experimentalism) being the point in and of itself, now it is suggested that the helmsperson is steering the authorial ship towards specific issues, racism being an example.

I had a few problems with the article, not least that I've heard this argument for justice before, in some article about the necessity of climate change fiction, but honestly I'm not sure how much I buy it. I'm not convinced on the level of distribution (is fiction read by the people it needs to be? Obviously any one person can be inspired to make a change, but I'm talking 'will it convince Trump to stop being a nob, or will it make old Enid Fairbottom from down the road take her recycling more seriously?' Will most of the liberal folk that need no encouragement to consume literature not already have these views - much like sharing Corbyn memes on Facebook that only your similarly-minded friends see?) and the efficacy of the form itself (do we change our lives because of fiction, or do we feel stimulated, but not act? Do we, in the end, simply feel entertained? Of course that depends on the person (a lazy, narcissistic, anxious arsehole like myself is not moved to change very easily) and the potency of the piece (clearly your Margaret Atwoods are adept at creating narratives that get large swathes of people engaging meaningfully with topics and enjoying/getting freaked out by what she's saying).

Also, I question the labelling of it. I know this was quite a wee article, y'know, not some thesis dissecting millions of examples, but I wondered 'who actually says it's even waning in popularity?' Then I thought, 'you can trust the TLS, surely, they know what they're on about'. Then I thought that labelling something as dying, or whatever, could directly change someone's perceptions, even if there's no evidence. It's sort of like sticking a pube into someone's ice-cream. You made the choice to do it, and even if it's only touching one chocolate chip, the rest of the mint-choc-chip laden cone might well be chucked. Stupid analogy and an over-exaggeration, but, I suppose all I'm saying is, it's weird to call it 'as it's happening'. Feels a bit soon. Gibbons does address this, saying that the situation's "in flux", but if I'm writing a post, and there's a logical contradiction in the reason for writing it, sometimes I just have to say 'bin it'. What's the point in publishing it if you're not confident that there's any point, any benefit?

Though I suppose she's at least created debate. Which is more than I'm doing.

I'm just rambling.

Where's that delete button...

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