Chapter 14: “Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” by Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson represents the other side of the postmodern coin: he is a Marxist who, in true dialectical fashion, emphasizes the good and the bad within any given scenario or development; to this end, while critiquing postmodernism he places his critique within a framework for advancing the struggle for universal emancipation. His thesis (of considering postmodernism as the cultural expression of what Ernst Mandel has dubbed Late Capitalism) directly opposes the other theorists in this reader by his promotion of what they would call “metanarrative”.
In this abridged version of Jameson’s piece, his central argument is that postmodernism emerged from a historical rift in consciousness in which individuals have lost their ability to conceive of coherent experiences across the temporal fold. It is this fracturing of comprehension, which in turn, has allowed the various cultural and artistic manifestations of what has been called postmodernism to become the dominant U.S current in academic and cultural expression. Jameson views present society as something lost in the history of the present by means of the simulacrum and mass produced images which glorify a non-existent reality. From this mistaken logic grows a plural ideological discourse which emphasizes the different and discursive as the non-ideological. In elucidating on this concept Jameson utilizes books, photos, history, and film. Meant as an outline on his views on the cultural aspects of postmodernity, the entry is a powerful attack on not only postmodern theory in general but reactionary stances which sprout from the former. Dense in content it should be approached by anyone well read in a diverse range of subject matter, least the un-read be tricked into believing it is a chapter to be read with ease.
Jameson’s entry here is vital for it shows the reader the other side of the postmodern debate. It reveals the underpinnings of many of the concepts talked about previously while adding a critical lens to their perception. In taking a hardline Leftist stance towards these issues Jameson is in fact inversing not merely the potential for revolutionary movements in a new age but also inversing the “meaning” of postmodernism proper by introducing non-discursive aspects into discourse thereby creating a hybrid of Leftism and progressivism. Truly a unique combination.