Life of Riley: The postmodern condition


Life of Riley

The postmodern condition

'Tis a matter of some conjecture in those circles within which I am sometimes known to loop, that one must acquaint oneself of all the contemporary theories. That they are modern is nowadays not enough. To warrant one's interest, a body of ideas should preferably pass muster as postmodern to be in vogue.

If you are like me, keeping up with the Joneses — if they are of an academic bent and proclaim to be practising postmodernists — is hard yakka. Simply talking to them can be a chore. I suspect that we don't even speak the same language.

So me and them are somewhat distant and our discourse tends to be strained. I always come away thinking, what on earth are they talking about?

Later, I feel such an ignoramus. Shouldn't I be — just for the sake of argument — more familiar with modern French philosophy. Oops! Sorry. There I go again, showing how much of a dullard I am. I meant, postmodern French philosophy.

At least I try. I'm open to discourse; to the narrative; to any textual feeling I can find within my contemporary deconstructed being. I'm willing to be re-made into a postmodern man — at least on weekends. I'm hip. I'm a with-it kind of guy.

But I have this problem. If the "modern" has had its day — I understand it was all the rage for a time — I don't much care for the afterglow. If we are supposedly past the modern — beyond it, gone where no other -ism has gone before — then I demand a re-match. We was robbed!

I'm not ready to say bye-bye to the days of yore. I'm not finished with the past. And, I dare say, the past isn't finished with me.

Don't you go thinking that I'm some cantankerous old bastard stuck in his ways because I can't hack the new stuff. I believe; the postmodern does exist. I've seen it, read it, felt it ... done lunch with it. And I don't much care for it! It stinks.

Phew! Does it stink! It pongs like nothing else.

To find the source of this stench one need only follow one's nose through the image, spectacle and discourse listed in anyone's standard guide to the postmodern condition. You're sure to feel ever so arty and touched by it all. But as you exit back to the everyday, consider this: that's it!

Postmodernism is a novel and obscure way of saying that this is the best of all possible worlds.

By Dave Riley