Please explain postmodernism (/r/fuckingphilosophy)

Ok.

Postmodernism means A LOT OF DIFFERENT SHIT, so hold on to your buttholes, kids. Let’s start with what it is not: modernism. Modernism is also another word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, like artists, historians, philosophers, etc, but I’m gonna go ahead and keep talking because fuck it!

Modernism is basically everything from 1600 to 1975. In this fucking time period people had a number of interesting beliefs, like that there is an objective truth, that people can be trusted for being rational actors, there are universal features across different cultures, people have things called “rights” and it’s fucked up when you violate them, and there isn’t a problem that science can’t explain, and that European civilization is the same thing as progress. All of these ideas are outcomes of the biggest circlejerk in all of history, The Enlightenment, when all the rich-ass nice guys from all the corners of the land decided to say fuck religion’s control on society, and fuck the king too, I can think for myself and I want to live in a society where decisions are made by thinking them out.

Post modernism is not that. Postmodernism calls all of that a sham. Objectivity, truth, rights, progress, all illusions. Postmodern critics like Foucault point out that the truth is always the truth of whoever’s in charge, and postmodern artists like Andy Warhol usher in a new age of thinking about meaning as a whole. An easy way of thinking about postmodern is the difference between parody and pastiche, or mashups, if you can’t be fucking bothered to learn a new fucking word. Parody is using a piece of media in a place where it’s not supposed to be and this clash between what it’s supposed to be and where it is is what’s funny. So if I were to sing the Star Spangled Banner and replace all the words with how much America sucks, that’s parody. But if I were to take the Star Spangled Banner and just use it any time at all in any other location, like in a mashup, that’s pastiche. In pastiche, an object’s essence is depleted. It no longer has any rules for how it can be used.

So in general, you know all those BIG ideas you have that organize every other idea you have? Stop using them, shred them into pieces, now they’re only as good for their scrap parts. That’s postmodernism. (Also another reason why deconstuctionism is called deconstructionism!)

Responding to GMO/Vaccination Skepticism

People who can make authoritative claims to knowledge are called experts. Experts are consulted to govern every aspect of our lives, so many people who are anti-GMO or vaccination have some gripe with the establishment or authoritative knowledge. So that’s Foucault and governmentality for you right there. Here’s a reading on the topic.

So here comes the Zizek. Okay, so things aren’t going well in society, wages haven’t kept up with inflation, something just smells foul to the average person. What will replace the faith that people had in institutions? Other things. New statues will come in to replace the old statues. Instead of scrutinizing over the nutrition facts side of the box of cereal, people will move to organic or gluten free stuff in the belief that such things are any better. This idol Zizek calls the Big Other, the total sum of what you tell yourself that will maintain order in your life.

And then finally something of my own observations. It’s getting really bizarre seeing everything getting contested in the public media in all the wrong ways, like a politicalization of everything. Suddenly climate scientists have agendas and can’t be trusted, food scientists and GMO food can’t be trusted, drug companies can’t be trusted (that one is probably true though). People are kind of cherry picking their facts and then putting a reassuring story over everything else they don’t understand. (Like I don’t understand how global warming actually works or how bad it will be but I accept it because it makes sense that after thousands of years of trashing the planet something would go wrong. So perhaps that’s to be expected, no one can know everything, but if nothing’s unbiased anymore common discourse has failed.) And this is happening on both sides of the aisle in America; conservatives are obfuscating economic outrage with moral outrage, and liberals aren’t talking about that a key part of Obamacare was an increase in taxes if you don’t have health insurance and are just dismissing it as Republican nonsense. It’s like, pick your worldview and we’ll hook you up with an appropriate fact sheet to convince you your way of life is the only way to live. The matrix of common ground is shrinking and independent cultural-political ways of life are growing.

All of this makes me think that objectivity is getting harder and harder to sustain, if it was ever possible.

You may be living in the last days of the republic, friend.