Re: Of Postmodernism, Spins, and What The Hell (fwd)
Thu, 30 May 1996 11:14:16 EST

Bob Parks writes:
>>>...It isn't clear to me what postmodernists would substitute, except as
>>>Lois has hinted, a revolution of permanent deconstruction.
>>Gary replies: What Postmodernists would substitute for what?
>> And, what do you mean by 'a revolution of permanent
>> deconstruction.' What would that look/feel like?
>I was suggesting that it isn't clear to me what postmodernists would
>substitute for the aspirations of a modernist to comprehend reality from an
>"objective" point of view. The postmodernist points out that when we study
>human beings, at least, we can never truly be an observer, because we are
>participants always in the human venture.

I think that there are several postmodern replies to the dissolution
of the grand narratives of modernity. I can think of two. First,
many postmodernists center their discussions around the notion of
_dialogicality_, a notion imported from Bakhtin and others. Any statement
about the world, about selves, etc. is founded in dialogue. Under
modernism, everything is explained using some grand narrative, and thus
ideas that don't fit the grand narrative are marginalized. Postmodernism
would encourage the dissolution of grand narratives and the inclusion of
all groups within dialouge about any given issue. Within dialgoue, there
would be no necessary allegiance to any grand narrative, no necessity
to be consistent with any ideological assumptions. There would be a sense
of pragmatism here, and dialogue would produce solutions (solutions to
social problems, solutions about how to characterize the world) the value
of which would be determined by what works best in the context in question
and with the interlocutors in question.

A second solution, related to the first, is what Gergen calls "serious
play". If we reject grand narratives, then the issue becomes one of
playing with language, playing with ideas of how to construct events.
However, such play is not just academic. In the world in which we have to
act, we can play with our interpretations and solutions in a serious way
-- trying out one construction, then another, in order to see what works.

Mike Mascolo