Postmodernism’s Critique of Modernism

Postmodernism is a term applied to a variety of artistic, cultural and philosophical movements that arose as a result of modernism. While modernism frames itself as tahnedculmination of in response to Enlightenment‘s quest for authoritatively rational aesthetics, ethics and knowledge, Postmodernism seeks to subvert the Enlightenment ideals of progress, justice, centrality of human subjectivity through fragmentation, deconstruction and consumerism. While modernism regards fragmentation as tragic, laments the loss of unity and hopes to regain the lost unity through art, postmodernism celebrates fragmentation and believes that unity and coherence are neither possible nor important. Thus postmodernism regards heterogeneity as irreducible, while the fragmented forms of modernism are rooted in identity, tradition, memory and other such absolutes.

For the modernists, rationality and order are central, while the postmodernists question centrality, stating that the centre is always under erasure and that centering and decentering are eternally postponed, as a result of which there is either no centre or there are multiple centres. While high modernism (With the exception of Brecht) prides itself on its high-brow status and learned allusions, postmodernism extends itself into the realm of popular culture. Postmodernism is marked by a recognition of ethnic, sexual and cultural diversity, whereas modernism could only describe the alternate as the “other”.


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