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Transcript of Postmodern life
Two words that describe my trip to England are pastiche and disorder. Why you might ask?
Well, back in 2007 my whole family, including my extended family, and I decided to take a trip to England for two weeks. Now, this might seem like a very modernist vacation, however; it was all over the place creating lots of disorder.
is a postmodern element when things are stuck together and they do not match and that was exactly, our vacation. Over the two weeks we traveled all over England, from the rural highlands to busy London. In the matter of two days I went from the city of London to the sea side town of Lyme Regis, two completely different settings that do not match at all.
Did someone just say Netflix?
As most teenagers in today's postmodern society I have a avid fascination with television shows. Often in my down time I will spend hours watching episodes of Sherlock, Orange is the New Black or Friends until I have finished the season, or even the entire series. While watching these shows I buy into the characters and it feels as though I am those characters; my reality is based off of the reality of the characters. Shows that affected me the most are shows like Friends where I dream of living in New York City with my close friends like Ross, Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Pheobe and Joe do. As Barry Burke explains:
"real life is what we see on television, television becomes real life" (Burke 3).
Burke is voicing what I am buying into; that television creates a hyperreality. As I am the person that is watching the show my reality becomes the one that is portrayed in the show. We try to act like the people in the media constructions. Burke talks about this when he references Krishan Kumar:
"for them the media today do not so much communicate as construct" (Burke 3).
The media constructs a basic reality that is found in television shows that make people like me want to be the characters and continue to watch the shows.
I just wanted to start off by talking about who influenced by love for music growing up. Music has always been important in my family and my family has greatly impacted what I chose to listen to growing up. My mum loves music and often went to concerts when she was younger like The Clash, The Cure, The Who, The Cult etc... Growing up my mum heavily influenced my music choice, and I began to like the same bands and act the same as she did when she was a teenager. Felluga comments on Baudrillard's theory about simulations and simulacra by saying:
"reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world" (Felluga 2)
. In this case my life is the reality, and the model is my mother; I am merely an imitation of her personality and her tastes as I grow up in my own version of reality.
Online Shopping anyone?
Nothing lures me in more like browsing a few (dozen) web pages and purchasing a few dozen articles of clothing. As of lately, I have become obsessed with a little thing called online shopping. This addiction started when TD Canada Trust decided to send me a debit visa; it has the capabilities of a visa but without having to go into debt; basically my dream. Now, even at one o'clock in the morning, I can shop at whatever store I want without having to leave my bed.
The thing that I love the most about online shopping is the occasional free shipping option. Whenever I enter a website and see the little box in the corner I automatically look and see if it says "FREE SHIPPING." Usually free shipping means having to spend a certain amount of money, but that is the clever act of consumerism. Jessup cites Baudrillard by saying:
“instead of consuming goods themselves, we consume the meaning of goods as constructed through advertising and display” (Jessup 3).
The advertising of free shipping on web pages is what entices me to buy from them; if there had not been a box saying free shipping then I would have moved on to the next website until I found one with free shipping. I would do this because I am a consumer, I buy into the goods by the act of advertising because of how nice or cheap they are perceived to be. Thus my online shopping obsession is definitely postmodern.
My postmodern yet modern life
But where do I begin?
When this project first got assigned I thought instantly that I was a completely postmodern person. Instantly I referenced myself to being a consumerist and a fan of the media. However; I was surprised to find that due to my acceptance of the meta narratives in my life, I am also a modernist.
I found my life is best explained by the words of Klages: "postmodernism is hard to define, because it is a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including art, architecture, music, film, literature, sociology, communications, fashion, and technology"(Klages 1). In once sentence Klages helped me make sense of why I am stuck in between; because postmodernism is such a wide variety of different elements it would make sense for me to say that yes, my music taste is postmodern but my values are not.
Thank you, Klages for helping me grasp my postmodern modern life.
Now lets begin...
Online shopping started out as a fun hobby; when I was bored I would shop online. Now, it has become a habit; something I primarily do when I feel sad, or to relieve stress. One of the basic acts of consumerism in a postmodern society according to McGregor is to consume because we feel lonely.
“Consumerism, in postmodern times, feeds on feelings of malaise, alienation, and discontent” (McGregor 8).
McGregor states that consumerism is largely based on feeding people products to make them feel better; they might be sad but buying products is said to fill the void in their hearts.
"Driven by this horrible alienation and unhappiness from failed hopes, desires and expectations, we enter into a relentless cycle of buying to fill the gap" (McGregor 10)
. McGregor is explaining how consumers like I, shop to replace the horrid feelings that we have. I fill the void by consuming thus I conform to the grand narrative of consumerism that makes up a postmodern society.
A common example when I consume products to fill the gap is after I fail something; usually a test. After I get a mark back that isn't satisfactory for me, especially if I worked hard on it, I will start to feel depressed and not good enough. I cheer myself up by doing some online shopping because for me clothes always make me feel better.
The advertising on one of my favorite online shops- yes there is free shipping with no minimum purchase
As my parents are not too good with organization, my trip was very postmodern. After we arrived in Bath we rented a car and basically just drove. There was no set plan of how many days we were going to stay in each place, or where we were going to stay for that matter; we just traveled without a destination. I saw more then I have ever saw from that trip; one day we were in Whales visiting Conway Castle, the next day we were in London at Buckingham Palace and then suddenly a few days later at Lyme Regis at the typical English sea side.
Postmodernism according to Klages is unlike modernism because postmodernism is all about disorder and moving away from the meta narratives:
“In other words, every attempt to create “order” always demands the creation of an equal amount of “disorder” (Klages 4).
The order in the trip was England itself, and the disorder was the rest; the driving with no directions. Klages also talks about how disorder is characterized as
"chaotic and bad" (Klages 4).
My trip was definitely chaotic; several times we got lost particularly in the countryside and my dad had trouble with the roundabouts which definitely made the trip more chaotic.
Another characterization of a postmodern era according to McGregor is the irrational. Modernists are all about rationalization whereas postmodernists are not. "
Once postmodernism rejected rationalization, it opened the way for inefficiency, unpredictability..."(McGregor 10).
Unpredictability as McGregor states is a perfect postmodern way to describe my vacation. My vacation was irrational, it was also unpredictable, I found myself asking the question "Where are we going next?" and no one knowing the answer because there was no set answer; I would have to wait and see where we would arrive next. Another irrational element in my vacation was not booking any hotels previous to the vacation; we stayed where ever we ended up. The irrationality and disorder made my trip to England a very post modern trip and a lot more exciting for me.
I also wanted to incorporate a picture of my extended family who took the trip with me so I have a separate photo of them not from the same vacation
I was the one taking the picture with
my poor photography skills
In this postmodern era there are a variety of different kinds of music from many different bands that can be described as copies of bands before their time, thus making them a second order simulacra. Felluga comments on Baudrillard's theory of simulacra by talking about what he meant about a second order simulacra.
"The distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it" (Felluga 2).
The Arctic Monkeys, my favorite band, are a perfect example of second order simulacra. They are said to be the new best band of the decade, following another well known band; The Beatles. Reviews from countless different music cites say that in fact, the Arctic Monkeys have an resemblance to The Beatles. However; the second order simulacra comes in because The Beatles are the original and the Arctic Monkeys are the copy of the original. I compared the sound of their music to the sound of The Beatles and came to the conclusion that like The Beatles classic rock sound, the Arctic Monkeys produce music along the similar lines, but with slightly more of a new wave vibe.
Baudrillard says: "
never again will the real have to be produced...leaving room for only the orbital recurrence and the simulated generation of difference" (Baudrillard 2).
As Baudrillard states there is no longer a real and it is replaced with simulated versions, like in this postmodern society many people know of the simulacra; the Arctic Monkeys but the original is slowly fading away till it is completely gone.
A specific example of simulacra:
The Arctic Monkeys simulated The Beatles when they preformed a song by The Beatles at the 2012 Summer Olympics. They took the original piece of music written and sung by The Beatles; the song "Come Together" and sung it to their own tune. Thus they altered the original song making it a copy.
Notice how they each have four members in each band?
Coincidence I think not...
What are Meta narratives?
According to Klages meta narratives are the critique of the following:
“Postmodernism then is the critique of grand narratives, the awareness that such narratives serve to mask the contradictions and instabilities that are inherent in any social organization or practice” (Klages 4)
. Klages is explaining that in a postmodern society there a rebellion of the big picture stories; the realization that the big ideas aren't always right way to do things.
Challenging the meta narratives
in my life:
1. After high school you must go to university so you can get a high paying job
When analyzing my life and thinking of meta narratives I easily found one that I succumb to that makes me more of a modernist. I do not challenge the meta narrative even though I know that post secondary education may not get me a higher paying job. I know there are apprenticeships and colleges that could also get me a successful jobs but instead I accept the meta narrative and continue to strive to get into the universities of my choice.
When I was a meek, little grade ten I got called down into guidance to talk about the big, bad scary word known as my future. I immediately replied with "I'm going to university!" Looking back on it even then I accepted the meta narrative of a post secondary education before I even knew what I was doing with my life. While I was growing up I never considered the possibilities other then going to university. I was always told by the people around me that in order to become successful I have to go to university. Knowledge by university I assumed, was always going to make me successful. Klages talks about knowledge in a modern society and what exactly it was used for:
"knowledge, however, was good for its own sake; one gained knowledge, via education, in order to be knowledgeable in general, to become an educated person" (Klages 4)
. As Klages states university is the norm for me thus making me more of a modernist in that sense. I never considered the idea of taking a year off, or coming back for 12b; the meta narrative of a post secondary education has been set in my mind since I was young and even now I am set on working hard this year in order to go to university so I can get a high paying job out of it.
2. People have to eat meat; animals are food
Generally a common meta narrative in our society is that humans eat meat, as well as animals are used for meat. It goes without question that the average person will eat the meat of an animal without it being a second thought to them. Meat offers a source of protein, and is included in the 5 food groups of healthy living. Ever since the beginning of time people ate meat including animals such as cows, chickens and lambs. To me, this is a meta narrative that I challenged because I am a vegetarian.
Vegetarianism is nothing short of common in our family. My extended family on my mum's side are all vegetarians so it wasn't a decision for me; it was something that I was born into. When I was young I never thought twice about it being a big deal until I reached elementary school, when I realized that it was common practice to eat meat. As I grew older and understood more about the cruelty of animals in the making of meat I discovered why my parents raised me as vegetarian and how it was the right choice.
Vegetarianism to me, is a mini narrative because as Klages describes:
"postmodern "mini-narratives" are always situational provisional, contingent, and temporary, making no claim to universality, truth, reason, or stability" (Klages 4)
. As Klages states, after I rejected the meta narrative that I have to eat meat, I then favored the mini narrative of being a vegetarian. It is in no way the truth, but it is something that I have made a temporary part of my life. Being a vegetarian is a mini narrative that I have adjusted with; it is a contradiction to the grand narrative which is humans have to eat meat.
Tofu is hands down on
of my favorite things
Tis almost the end...
While analyzing my life with the help of some postmodern theorists including McGregor, Baudrillard, Klages, Felluga, Burke and Jessup I have successfully determined that my life is extremely postmodern. There is, however; a small part of me that is modern; when I succumb to the meta narrative instead of challenging it. Throughout my research on postmodern I found out that I am most definitely a consumer, my family vacations always create a lot of disorder, I buy into the media and my taste in music is definitely postmodern. I also challenge the meta narratives in life which results in my very post modern existence.
Baudrillard, Jean. “Simulacra and Simulations.”
Stanford University Press. 1988. Web.
16 December 2013.
Burke, Barry. “Post-modernism and
Post-modernity.” (2000). n.d. Web. 18
Felluga, Dino. “Modules on Baudrillard: On
Postmodernity.” Introductory Guide to Critical
Theory. 28 Nov 2003. Purdue U. 19 December 2013.
Jessup, Michael. “Truth: The First Casualty of Postmodern
Consumerism.” Christian Scholar’s
Review. XXX.3 (2001). 289-304. Web.
19 December 2013.
Klages, Mary. “Postmodernism.” n.p., 21 April 2003.
Web. 19 December 2013.
McGregor, Sue. “Postmodernism, Consumerism, and A
Culture of Peace.” n.p., 3 October 2003. Web. 18
Order Vrs Disorder
View from the London Eye
Me circa 2007
My music influence
My favorite band a second order simulacra of my other favorite
Come Together Arctic Monkeys addition
Post secondary education= high paying job
My top choice university; since I was
around 15 I knew I wanted to go there
Consumerism via the internet
Media and my reality