POST-MODERNISM… STILL NOT A THING! HULK’S RESPONSE TO SAM STRANGE

September 10, 2011

SAM STRANGE IS A MYSTERIOUS INTERNET PERSONALITY AND FREQUENT BADASS DIGEST CONTRIBUTOR WHO CLAIMS TO HAVE MADE MOVIES AND WRITES ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES.  IT/HE’S HILARIOUS.

HE ALSO HAS A BLOG. AND ON THIS BLOG HE RECENTLY WROTE A GREAT RESPONSE TO HULK’S POST MODERNISM… NOT A THING! ESSAY. RATHER THAN BE OBTUSE AND PASTE HIS WHOLE ARTICLE, YOU SHOULD CLICK AND READ IT. IT NOT HULK-SIZED (HE HAVE THE SOUL OF WIT… YOU KNOW, BREVITY… UNLIKE HULK). BUT BASICALLY HE BROACH THE SUBJECT AND PUT FORTH EXAMPLES THAT BEST CHARACTERIZE WHAT POST-MODERNISM REALLY MEANS. IT REALLY WELL-PUT AND HULK WAS TRYING TO WRITE A COMMENT, BUT FAILED FOR SOME REASON. BUT THIS ACTUALLY GOOD BECAUSE THE COMMENT WORKS BETTER AS A “PART TWO” TO THE ORIGINAL POST. SO HERE WE GO.

THE FOLLOWING IS HULK’S LETTER OF RESPONSE:

HELLO MR. STRANGE. HULK THANK FOR THE GREAT RESPONSE. THIS IS SORT OF THE EXACT KIND OF DISCUSSION HULK WAS LOOKING FOR GOING. IN OUR CORRESPONDENCE, HULK PROMISED A SHORT ANSWER… THAT SO HERE’S THE BEST TRY.

HULK SUPPOSES THE PROBLEM IS ULTIMATELY IN THE WORD AND NOT YOUR ASSESSMENT.

WHAT YOU SPEAK OF IS, INDEED, ACCURATE AS BEING LIKELY OUTSIDE THE DEFINITION OF TRADITIONAL MODERNISM. THOUGH HULK ARGUES SELF-REFERENTIALISM ISN’T OUTSIDE THE MODERNIST TEXT (JUST LIKE THE QWANTZ CARTOON’S STATEMENT ON POST-MODERNISM), BUT HULK UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IDEA NOT SO POPULAR. STILL, IF HULK HAD TO BOIL IT DOWN INTO A SIMPLE SENTENCE IT WOULD BE THE FOLLOWING, “POST-MODERNISM IS NOT OUTSIDE THE TEXT OF MODERNISM.” HECK, PUT IT THAT WAY AND IT SOUNDS FAIRLY STRAIGHT-FORWARD.

BUT THERE IS A LARGER WAY THAT YOU ARE, OF COURSE, RIGHT. WHAT SHAKESPEARE WAS DOING LATE CAREER, PARTICULARLY WITH YOUR GREAT CYMBELINE EXAMPLE AND HULK’S EXAMPLE OF SHAKESPEARE PLAYING PROSPERO… WELL IF THOSE THINGS AREN’T CLOSE TO WHAT WE CONSIDER “POST-MODERN” THAN HULK DOESN’T KNOW WHAT ELSE COULD BE.

SO THE PROBLEM JUST COMES BACK TO THE DAMN WORD ITSELF: “POST-MODERN.” UGH. PERHAPS IT JUST AS SIMPLE AS HULK THINKING THE WORD JUST NO GOOD. A WORD HAS TO MEAN SOMETHING AND IT, QUITE FRANKLY, JUST DOESN’T CONVEY INFORMATION CORRECTLY FOR HULK TO THINK IT HAS ANY PRACTICAL USE. EVEN IN THE HIGHEST-BROW ACADEMIC CONVERSATION, IN ORDER TO USE THE WORD YOU HAVE TO DEFINE HOW YOU USING IT BEFORE USING IT. AND THAT HULK’S PROBLEM, REALLY. IT NOT CONVEYING INFORMATION CORRECTLY.

ITS AN ARGUMENT HULK HAS ALL THE TIME. WORDS HAVE TO MEAN SOMETHING THAT CLEAR. AND HULK TOTALLY AWARE THAT PART OF POST-MODERNISM IMPLIES THE INHERENT LACK OF CLARITY, BUT THERE’S A RELFEXIVE WAY THAT WORKS WHICH HULK FINDS DOWNRIGHT PREHISTORIC. MEANING WHAT POST-MODERNISM DOESN’T REALIZE IS THAT IT IS PRECISELY THE HUMAN INCLINATION TO STRIVE FORWARD AND USE WORDS TO DEFINE, COMMUNICATE, AND MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD PRECISELY BECAUSE NOT UNDERSTANDING THINGS IS THE FIRST OBSTACLE IN SURVIVAL. THUS CLARITY AND UNDERSTANDING ARE NOT ONLY IMPORTANT BUT A PART OF OUR NATURAL INSTINCT (A PRETTY DAMN OBVIOUS ONE AT THAT IF HULK SAY SO HULK-SELF). WE USE WORDS AS THE MOST BASIC PART OF STEPPING OUT OF THE PRIMORDIAL SLIME. MEANING THE PRESENCE OF A LACK OF OBJECTIVE TRUTH IS JUST AS OBVIOUS, MAKING THE VERY BASIC PURSUIT OF SOME KIND OF OBJECTIVE TRUTH, LIKE HAVING A SINGLE WORD FOR “MOTHER” OR “IRRIGATION,” SO DAMN INTRINSIC TO OUR VERY NATURE. HECK COMING WITH THESE WORDS ACTUALLY DOES ALL OF SOCIETIES’ HEAVY LIFTING IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT. AND WHAT’S MADDENING ABOUT POST-MODERNISM IS THAT NOT ONLY DOES THE THEORY ITSELF NOT REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS, BUT THE WORD FOR THE THEORY RUNS COUNTER TO IT.

HULK GUESS HULK IS ACTUALLY CALLING POST-MODERNISM (NOT AS YOU QUALIFY IT, BUT AS HULK DOES) INHUMAN.

SO WHAT WOULD HULK CALL WHAT SHAKESPEARE WAS DOING?

HULK ARGUE USING PLAIN OLD “META” NOT ONLY SUFFICES BUT JUST PLAIN WORKS BETTER.

FOR ONE, IT’S SPECIFIC. PEOPLE UNFORTUNATELY USE THE WORD META TO IMPLY SOME SORTA JERK-OFF MENTALITY, BUT HULK NOT THINK THAT THE CASE AT ALL. CAUSE ALL META MEANS IS SELF-AWARENESS, WHETHER ONE THAT INFORMS THE NARRATIVE OR IS EVEN INCLUDED IN THE NARRATIVE. BUT IT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU STATE, AND UNLIKE USING “POST-MODERNISM” MEANS ONLY WHAT YOU MEAN. AND HULK ARGUE SELF-AWARENESS AND META BEEN A PART OF ART SINCE THE BEGINNING REALLY (THE WORD META IS GREEK, AND THEY ACTUALLY USED IT HOW WE USE IT. WHICH IS PRETTY NEAT IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT).

FOR EXAMPLE, IF WE GOING DOWN THIS CLARITY ROUTE YOU CAN SAY “COMMUNITY” IS RATHER META AND HULK WOULD UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN. IF YOU SAID COMMUNITY IS RATHER POST-MODERN AT TIMES, HULK WOULDN’T. AND THAT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE HULK NOT ON THE POST-MODERN TRAIN, BUT BECAUSE THE WORD SO MUCH LESS CLEAR… AND THAT’S THE THING ABOUT WORD CHOICE.

AND BEYOND ALL THIS, MAYBE IT MEANS HULK HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE BROADNESS OF MOST TREND DESIGNATION. MODERNISM MAY BE JUST AS UNFAIR AND POST-MODERNISM TO THE ARTISTS IT DESCRIBES. BUT IF HULK WAS MORE LENIENT ON TRENDS… WELL… MAYBE HULK COULD SAY POST-MODERNISM REFLECTS A LARGE TREND OF SHIFTING MODERNIST ABSTRACT STYLE TO A LARGELY META ONE … YOU KNOW WHAT… HULK ACTUALLY KINDA HAPPY WITH THAT TO BE HONEST. BUT STILL, HULK PRETTY SURE THAT NOT WHAT REALLY HAPPENING.

IT ALSO RUNS CONTRARY TO SOMETHING HULK ALMOST SAID IN THE LAST EASSY. BECAUSE HULK WANTED TO END THE ESSAY ON THE BAMFORD JOKE, DIDN’T GET TO SAY THE FOLLOWING: “SO IF HULK BELIEVES ALL WORDS SHOULD BE ABLE TO BE EXPLAINED IN A SINGLE SENTENCE, HERE’S HULK’S SUPER-DICKISH DEFINITION: POST-MODERNISM IS THE POORLY CONCEIVED ACADEMIC THEORY THAT TRIES (AND FAILS) TO COMBINE SEVERAL MODERNIST STYLINGS INTO A COHERENT SINGULAR TREND, THUS DISAPPOINTING SEVERAL LATE-PERIOD MODERNISTS TRYING TO COME WITH TO GRIPS WITH THE FACT THEY’VE GONE AS FAR AS THEY COULD GO WITH A CENTURY OLD TREND INSTEAD OF A DECADE OLD ONE.

… YEAH. THAT WOULD BE SUPER-DICKISH. AND ALSO PRETTY UNFAIR. SO HULK WILL SCRATCH THAT.

HULK’S ARGUMENT PRETTY MUCH COME DOWN TO USEFULNESS. HULK FEEL YOU COULD MAKE WHAT SHAKESPEARE WAS DOING SO MUCH MORE CLEAR BY USING THE WORD META, OR DISCUSSING IT IN OTHER TERMS, WITHOUT EVER INVITING THE WORD POST-MODERN INTO THE DISCUSSION. BECAUSE PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH POST-MODERNISM IS THAT WHEN WE BRING IT UP, WE ARE SUDDENLY DISCUSSING POST-MODERNISM (AND ALL THE PROBLEMS THAT GO WITH IT) INSTEAD OF THE POINT OF WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT. MEANING POST-MODERNISM IS SADLY, ONLY A CONVERSATION ABOUT POST-MODERNISM.

AND PERHAPS THE MOST TELLING THING IS THAT AS SOON “THE SIMPSONS” WENT POST-MODERN IT WAS ESSENTIALLY THEIR DEATH KNEEL… BOO THAT.

CHEERS MON FRER,

<3HULK

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9 Responses to “POST-MODERNISM… STILL NOT A THING! HULK’S RESPONSE TO SAM STRANGE”

  1. I’m with ya. The issue will likely never go away because people need a word for when something redefines modern (becomes more modern than the last modern thing), and this is where the ball landed. It’s a 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong kind of thing.

    At the end of your first article, you went with objectivism. I like that a lot more than “meta” when it comes to the Shakespeare example. To me, meta means characters themselves have an objective view of their own narrative. But you’re right. The word “meta” doesn’t sit well with me due to worthless cultural reasons.

    The best part of this whole thing is that we’re both two vaguely fictional Internet characters having a discussion about semantics of narrative theory. Whatever it’s called, we’re doing something right.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      HULK LAUGH. BEST PART INDEED.

      AND HULK LIKE META BETTER THAN OBJECTIVISM SO IT NOT MISTAKEN FOR RANDIAN NONSENSE… WAIT… OH NO! HULK GUESS WORDS NOT CLEAR, THERE NO OBJECTIVE VALUES!

      WE DISCOVERED TRUE POST-MODERNISM! THE WORLD IS IMPLODING!

  2. Lara said

    EVEN IN THE HIGHEST-BROW ACADEMIC CONVERSATION, IN ORDER TO USE THE WORD YOU HAVE TO DEFINE HOW YOU USING IT BEFORE USING IT. AND THAT HULK’S PROBLEM, REALLY. IT NOT CONVEYING INFORMATION CORRECTLY.

    —> But this is always the case in academia: one always has to give a working definition. It doesn’t matter if one’s talking about concepts that are fairly easy to grasp (like “genre”) or more complex ideas (like “post-modernism”).

  3. [...] MODERNISM… STILL NOT A THING! (A RESPONSE TO SAM [...]

  4. Hellestal said

    If you need a better term, maybe what you’re talking about is *recursive modernism*. Ugly maybe but it communicates. It gets the idea across.

    You’re not moving beyond the themes of modernism. It’s not something entirely new, it’s not post-anything. The wrinkle is only that the vehicle that is carrying these modernist themes can also, with enough skill from the creator, carry itself as well. Meta? Sure, but of a specific kind. Shakespeare puts his staff away, and that’s not a clever one-liner that breaks the fourth wall for five seconds and is irrelevant thereafter. The underlying themes matter. Giving up the magic manages to be an self-reflecting piece that is fully integrated with the rest of the modernist ideas of his final play. Recursive. You repeatedly apply the rule to itself to get subtly different and deeper results.

  5. I find that something is missing in accepting the all reaction as modernism definition ~ and I think that thing is (un)consciousness, or more simply, grasp. With the Shakespeare example, if we believe he intended to subvert his own types of story-telling when crafting Cymbeline, then I agree that it is meta AND modern. If we, instead, believe that he did not grasp that what he was writing told a story of Shakespeare subverting his own style AND created the play Cymbeline, then OUR reading would be postmodern.

    Which, yes, is to say that post-modernity coexists with modernity, has no essential life of it’s own, and is more of an interpretive or reading device than a way of authoring. I cannot write a post-modern script, but I can read one and write about one.

  6. Though I may be conflating postmodern with poststructural. I am not trying to speak about intertextuality, but the presumed unconscious critique within the creation would seem to be the nugget which all the definitions indicate, but don’t grasp, and which is not explicitly “modernism.”

  7. I just finished reading your take down of “Eat, Pray, Love” and I think (without having seen the movie, though I am eager to now) it is an example of what I am trying to get at. Gilbert presumably did not intend to create an artifact which perfectly illustrates the banal narcissism of contemporary American entitlement, but it appears that she has, two times over! And it isn’t irony, or watching something ironically. It is actually a demonstration: a story about an entitled narcissistic person, who writes her story without self-awareness, and gets it made into a movie.

    Am I making sense? The film sounds truly horrible, but so is “Birth of a Nation.”

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