Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Postmodern Paradox - John Haber

Start with a poet, a tireless defender of avant-garde painting: This life, this modern life, is a hospital where each patient is obsessed with the desire to change beds. Charles Baudelaire preceded Modernism, but he did not require the gift of prophecy. It is not just his love of Edouard Manet's generation and a new French taste. No, he breathed the modern condition and its artistic form in the night air of the city.

If there is a postmodern condition, it cannot even be stated consistently much less cured. Like a right-wing fantasies of the welfare state, Postmodernism is a hospital where the beds must remain empty.

Modernism demanded one thing: make it new. If I discard it, I have to find something else, something new. And so I am modernist. If I discard the aim of making it new, then I must do something other than Modernism. But that means something new. Instead of the postmodern condition, one ought to speak of a postmodern paradox.


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