Of Postmodernism, Spins, and What The Hell (fwd)

Lois Shawver (rathbone@crl.com)
Wed, 29 May 1996 11:58:32 -0700 (PDT)

Gary accidentally sent this note directly to me and asked if I would
forward it to the list.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Dear Lois,

Thanks for your posting. I'm delighted you're there.

Having reviewed your comments, I'd like to take my thought a little
further, because --- after all --- the whole point of having a
term/word/thought/idea is to allow us to observe a phenomenon which we
couldn't (clearly) until then.

New thought: Positionality. As in 'having, or taking, a position on a
person, matter, or process. Similar to pre-judice.

As I have listened to people, observed myself, and watched videos in the
time since Lois helped me begin to think seriously about Postmodernism,
I believe I observe that Modernists are people who are unconsciously
positional...unwittingly prejudiced so in favor of their own point of
view in a matter that they cannot, in good faith, or at all, even
consider that an alternate point of view could be legitimate. A kind of
intense absolutism. And all outside the effective awareness of the

Hence, "socialism is bad." "Capitalism sucks." "Men are pigs." "Women
should be kept out of the boardroom and...." And so forth.

Postmodernists, perhaps, are not necessarily better, smarter, or nicer
people. But they do have less 'functional fixity' regarding the
unilateral value and importance of their own views. They honestly can
consider the possibility that they are full of shit in a given matter,
however unlikely it may seem to them.

Another cultural example: Archie Bunker and his wife, Edith, in relation
to their daughter, Gloria, and her husband 'Meathead,' in the 70s US
sitcom "All In The Family."

Incidentally, I am not trying to be 'riht' here...I am trying to be
postmodern and inquire, discover, find out, investigate where the
evidence takes me. I wish to be accurate, grounded, effective. 'Right'
partakes of a moral judgment, not a scientific conclusion.

FOR WHAT ITS'S WORTH: I also came across two observations re:
Postmodernism that you may find as interesting as I did:

1. Trying to define 'postmodern' is like trying to nail mercury.
2. The 'Modern' period of history began with Columbus' arrival in
what is now the US, and ended with Neil Armstrong's step onto the

This is an exciting conversation for me. I look forward to hearing from
you, Lois, and everyone else who cares to join in.

Best wishes, Gary