Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Review of Introducing PostModernism
To say that “Introducing Postmodernism” by Richard Appignanesi and Chris Garratt was one of the most unique and stylistically interesting books I have ever read would be a huge understatement. This book is in many ways a history book on a subject that almost refuses to have a history, Postmodernism. The book is put together like a giant comic book of some sorts with cartoons illustrating the points and definitions. It was broken up in 3 sections dealing with the rise of postmodern art, theory and history. It became quite apparent that there was much overlap of these three subjects that linked the whole ideology of postmodernism.
I have never been more surprised with how challenging a book was then by this piece. At first glance I thought I would breeze through it and be done with it relatively quickly and easily, I was wrong. This book challenged the way I think through subjects that I have not studied before. I found myself reading and re-reading sections, I actually had to read through the whole 1st section about Postmodern Art 2 times and still do not really feel I grasp what was said. I often found myself frustrated with the book as I would want a black and white definition that many times was not offered, which after finishing the book may be the whole point. As I did start to get through this book I started to see that the way the book was structured was becoming more assessable to me and in many ways it started to open up to me. This book has provided many lights into the culture where I currently am engaged in ministry.
I currently oversee my church’s college ministry and spend a few of my days each week on the campus of the University of New Mexico a school with an enrollment of 35,000. Much of my time on campus at UNM is spent in prayer for the people of the campus and also in studying the atmosphere and attitudes of the people there. This book in a lot of ways was a textbook to the lab I have when I step foot on the campus. I see people walking around refusing to think in absolute terms and molding their beliefs around barely recognizable structures of religion and social systems. This book has in a lot of ways given what I saw before some history and understanding into how we got here. Although I believe it is in the last few chapters that the current flow of our culture is most apparent.
I agree with the idea the authors bring up, that Postmodernism is not a new thing, but just an extension of Modernism. I see this in how quickly much of culture is moving from a Post modernistic mindset back to a Romantic one. Romanticism was what the book said would be the only thing that would kill off Postmodernism and I think we are seeing it. The rise of books such as “The Secret” and “The New Earth” that Oprah seems so passionate about show a move towards a Gnostic, transcendental, spiritual realm that is a characteristic of romanticism.
As a believer, I see us in a world that is constantly searching for something to satisfy its’ soul. There is no stability or constant that anyone can hold onto and “new” things rise up that are really not new at all. For us we must understand these “new” trends and ideologies in order to point people to where these things fail and are really broken cisterns. Only by studying do we see its’ cracks and flaws that enable us to show the only news that is constant, that does not change, that offers hope our world is so desperate to find, The Gospel.
You can purchase "Introducing Postmodernism" Here