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My Postmodern Life

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Andrew Belford

on 9 June 2014

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Transcript of My Postmodern Life

"A smile is the universal welcome."
- Max Eastman
Throughout this unit, I have been very vocal with how I feel about postmodernism. I feel that postmodernism is outdated, as it applies culturally to the generation it was invented in and not ours. Simply put, I despise postmodernism. I think it is over-hyped paranoia that is based off of rebelling simply for the point of rebelling, and I find the idea of all truths being held to equal value, even if they contradict each other, absolutely ridiculous. Taking this into consideration, you can probably already assume where I am going with this project...
Good day Mr. Rigas!
As Oscar Wilde so eloquently put it, "When you assume, you make an a** out of you and me". Although the only thing I can think of when I imagine the creation of postmodernism is "activists" sitting around a bonfire in tie dye shirts singing kumbaya, it pains me to say that the postmodern elements of my life are evident and can not be ignored. My life IS postmodern. From challenging the metanarrative of the nuclear family to representing the idea of character fragmentation, my life is engulfed in postmodern ideas and aspects. So, removing any emotional or intellectual attachment I have to the idea of postmodernism, I will now explain how my life is everything that postmodernism suggests it should be.
Character Fragmentation
“We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it's our job to invent something better.”
- Chuck Palahniuk,
“We no longer live life. We consume it.”
- Vicki Robin
"The process of self-identification, where people develop a sense of who they are and what they want through the products they consume" (Jessup).

Up until the end of grade 11, I used to let my mom choose every article of clothing I would wear. I would come home, there would be a new shirt or pair of shorts in my dresser, and I would put it on without thinking twice about what other people would think about it or if it was brand name. However, I developed a fixation on consumerism and big brands. My best friend had recently gotten me into fashion after one of his friends had done the same for him. Neither of us cared about what we wore or the big brand names, but we eventually both fell victim to consumerist culture. Now everything I wear comes from one of the brand name companies. Whether it's Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, or Tommy Hilfiger, I feel the need to sport their logo and announce to everyone in ear shot that I'm doing so. Consumerism is not about liking the product as much as it is about establishing yourself as relatable to other people who support or advertise the product, which it what I've come to do with fashion. Media places an image of what you should be wearing, and what kind of person you'll be perceived as based off of what you're wearing, which is what ignites the obsession with consumerism in our society. I recently decided that I needed a job. Instead of applying at a food court or a recreational facility, I waited until the job fair on March 1st, 2014, as a designer mall was opening up. Having a job at a designer store could support the image I was trying to project and also make the image more affordable with the discounts I would get on the merchandise. After applying, I received calls from two stores. One store could give me a job right away, and I would be more likely to get more hours through working there. The other store was more high class, meaning I would get less hours and would have to wait until I was 18 to start working there. However, because the latter store is known as “more fashionable”, and therefore the status of working there and the clothing itself is more desirable, I waited for the second job, showing how my life is surrounded by an obsession with the post-modern concept of consumerism.

Is My Life Postmodern?
Andrew Belford
With the drummer of Said The Whale
Pastiche is the blending together of genres that usually would not mix. There are a bountiful amount of examples showing how my life is pastiche, and is therefore postmodern. First off, I would like to state how I am pastiche when it comes to the media that fills my life. An example would be the television I watch. Three of my favourite shows are Gravity Falls, which is an adventure/dramedy/mystery/fantasy/supernatural show on the Disney channel, Lost, which is an ABC-produced adventure/mystery/supernatural/science fiction show, and Wipeout, which is a game show with comedic elements. These three shows are not similar at all, and they are not targeted towards the same audience, but I watch all three and like them all equally, showing how I am pastiche when it comes to the media in my life. Next, there are the books I read. One of my favourite books is the adventure/fantasy book called Fergus Crane, while another one of my favourites is the postmodern-themed Fight Club, and finally, I am an avid reader of the Foxtrot comedic comic strip series. These three literary works have nothing in common besides starting with the letter f, as their genres are completely different, yet once again, in my pastiche life, they are all equal. Yet another example would be my music taste. Going with the three example format once again, three of my favourite music genres are indie rock, which includes music like the Neon Trees, The Black Keys, and Said The Whale, R&B, which includes Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and Gnarls Barkley, and folk music, like Ed Sheeran, Passenger, and Lewis Watson. These genres of music are nothing alike, but that does not matter to me as I enjoy all of them, and hold them all equally. Through the TV shows I watch, the books I read, and the music I listen to, I prove that my life is a mix of genres that are all held equally in my mind, showing how my life is not only pastiche, but post-modern.
"We must begin to understand the nature of intertextuality... the manner by which texts, poems, and novels respond to other texts. After all, all cats may be black at night, but not to other cats."
- Henry Louis Gates
"An attempt to integrate art and life -- the inclusion of popular forms, popular culture, everyday reality" (Lye). In "Some Attributes of Post-Modernist Literature", Lye discusses how post-modernists attempt to incorporate art in life, which is the basis of intertextuality.

Intertextuality is probably the easiest postmodern theme to fight for, as intertextuality is obviously in all of our lives. Other forms of art are incorporated into our lives every day; the tv shows we watch, the books we read, the music we hear etc. They are also incorporated in what we say, the references we make, and the attractions we visit. Personally, I obviously read, watch tv, and listen to music everyday, incorporating the works of others into my life. I have also adopted many of the phrases coined by other people and the media as catchphrases in my everyday life. Specifically, when in a debate with my friends, when I am mocking an argument they used that they believe has proven their point (which really has not), I use the quote "Team Rocket's Blasting off again" (which was made popular by the Pokemon anime series) to ironically feign defeat, successfully incorporating another work of art in my life. Also, our friend's and family's lives are incorporated into our own lives every day. An example of intertextuality in my life was during halloween. My friends Justin and Karen (you may have heard of them!) were getting dressed up in a bacon and eggs themed costume for the halloween dance. My friend Cody and I heard about this, so we decided that we should incorporate their lives in ours by basing our costumes off of theirs. Simply because our friends were dressing up in these costumes, Cody and I went to the store and bought the couple's costume made by the same company; the peanut butter and jelly costume. This could have been viewed as consumerism if we bought the costumes just because we wanted the, but because we bought them to joke around with our friends, incorporating an aspect of their lives, it shows the intertextuality in my life.
“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”
- Abraham Lincoln
"Many postmodernists would argue that image is everything, image is reality" (Burke). In Burke's article "Post-modernism and Post-modernity", he mentions how post-modernists believe that one's image becomes their reality. I believe that even if something is fake about a person (a president who does not lead, a plumber who does not really know what he/she is doing, etc), their image becomes who they are.

What our society seems to be just figuring out now is that everything is no always what it seems. People take the minimal information they know, and use it to base entire perceptions off of people. Unless a person is close with me, I am probably not what they expect. For example, I am the arts representative on the school's student council. With this position, most people would expect me to be involved in the three main forms of arm; visual, musical, and dramatic. However, the only form of art that I am thoroughly involved in is the musical aspect. I have acted in two plays, but both of them were musicals, and I was only involved in the plays for the musical aspect. Also, I have never taken a drama class in all of high school, and admittedly, I am not very good at acting. When it comes to visual arts, I have absolutely NO talent. I have not taken a visual arts class since grade 8, and have not been involved in any visual arts extra-curriculars in my entire life. When assigned a task concerning the visual arts on student council, I would either make arrangements with my visual artistically talented partner for her to take care of it, or I would have my mom help me with what I needed to know. An outsider would view me as someone thoroughly involved in the arts, but that is not the case. Another example of how appearance does not represent reality in my life is my position as president of Music Council. Although I am president, the only music I do is singing, and less-than-mediocre guitar and piano playing. I am supposed to represent all aspects of music as president, but I really only represent the vocal aspect of music. My position as chair is also questioned because I do not do the most leading or work in the council; it is simply a title. My friend Emma is currently the secretary of music council, yet she runs every meeting and does most of the work, so although to anyone outside of music council, I am known as the chair, everyone in music council knows that Emma acts the part. Finally, based on my recent acceptance to a medical science program, it would appear that I am naturally gifted at science and math and am a natural worker. This is also simply an illusion, as my work ethic after being accepted university is at an all time low, and math and science are probably my worst two subjects in school. I am not naturally good at them, as most people would assume, but since I want to go into medicine, I have to work hard to make sure I get the marks I need. This is ironic since post-acceptance, my work ethic has gone way down. What people see and the way things actually are are often way different, especially in my life, as it is surrounded by the theme of appearance vs reality
Appearance vs. Reality
Challenging a Metanarrative: Religion
Challenging a Metanarrative: The Nuclear Family
So, in conclusion...
"The knowledge produced by science is "truth," and is eternal" (Klages). In Klages article "Postmodernism", she says that science can explain all and is a truth, and I personally believe that the world was created by science and not by a higher power.

In my everyday life, I challenge the metanarrative of religion. I was never raised with a religious influence, so whenever I was asked what religion I was, I would always answer “I don't know”. Eventually, I decided that I had to figure out if I believed in God or not. After thinking over the whole concept of religion, it made no sense to me, and from that day I've been agnostic, or specifically, an agnostic theist. An agnostic theist is someone who personally does not believe in God, but does not deny the existence of God, because no one can truly say if God does or does not exist. With my whole family being non-religious, I have noticed the older they get in age, the more they turn to religion. I believe this to be them trying to cover their bases; they think that if they pretend to start believing now, if God does exist, they will be let into heaven. I completely disagree with this, as I am a person who does not like to turn to religion with my problems, and I do not think that everyone happens for a reason in one divine plan. I think life is better classified as a random string of events, and I can never truly except one truth for how we got here or what the meaning of life is because no one can ever be one hundred percent certain, meaning accepting an absolute truth would be absolutely bizarre. Therefore, since when it comes to religion and the creation of the world I refuse to only accept one truth, I post-modernly defy the metanarrative of religion and instead hold multiple truths to equal value, even if they are contradictory.
"Take the notions of being black, gay or thin. These are identities that are socially constructed, and given meaning by our fragmented society" (Burke). In Burke's article "Post-modernism and Post-modernity", he explains that groups that we're classified into are simply determined by society, even though we should not be classified as one of these things, or separated by our differences.

The postmodern idea that I am most in agreement with is the idea of character fragmentation. No matter who a person is, from what their job is to what eye colour they have, it is impossible to sum up a person with one trait or one classification. Personally, I can be classified in many groups, and I am known as many things to many people. In broad classifications, among other things, I am white, I am Canadian, I am male, I am a teenager, and I am a student. I am known by these reputations to everyone as in our society, these are unchanging facts. However, even though I can be described by all of these things, I can not be described by only one of them, and have to be classified using a mixture. I believe that who I am also depends on the situation and who I am with, because you are not going to always act the same. In terms of character and emotion, who I am depends on the situation. For example, although I am usually a very docile person, I have an insanely jealous personality. It is not something that I am proud of and I am constantly trying to work on it, but when any guy even talks to a girl I like, I can not handle it. In another example, when I am around an employer or someone with authority, I am a lot more serious than I would be around my friends. In specific terms, I am many things to many people. As one of the Arts Reps on our Student Council and the president of our Music Council, I am known as a councilman, an artist, and a leader to many members of the student body. To a lot of my peers that I help with homework and schoolwork in general, I am known as an intellectual or an academic. To my cast mates or audience members from Garden City Production's adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar and Sir Winston Churchill's production of A Christmas Carol, I am known as an actor. To my vocal teacher, guitar teacher, music teachers, ensemble members and audience members, I am known as a musician and a vocalist. As you can see by the few examples that I have given, there are many qualities that make up who I am and many different characters that am known as/classified as. However, it is obvious that I can not be classified as just one thing, representing the theme of character fragmentation in my life.
"Boy, your little knees must be sore... from jumping to conclusions!"
- Toby Determined from
Gravity Falls
In today's society, there is possibly nothing that fascinates the public more than technology. Having the most technologically advanced phone, computer, tablet, etc has become a necessity for many people, as our society has been swallowed by a technology obsession. Personally, I prove technoculture in my day -to-day life by having extremely outdated technology. My phone and my laptop are both more than three years old, which may not seem like much, but when concerning technology in our society, my devices are practically viewed as prehistoric. This has caused some of my peers to refer to my technology as “dinosaurs” even though they are not more than four years old, showing how our culture really does have a fixation on technology. Even though I have this older pieces of technology, I am still obsessed with technology as much as everyone else is. I constantly complain about needing new technology, as the one's I own are not advanced and do not have the same features. I am also still glued to the “ancient” pieces of technology I own. Working on this project right now, I am having trouble avoiding constantly checking my phone or using this computer for something else. With the endless possibilities with technology, it is hard not to develop an obsession with it. The convenience with being able to talk to someone at any time, how these devices have become so much more than their original use, and how it is basically a societal expectation to be updated with the newest gadget is not only why technoculture exists in my post-modern life, but why it exists in general.
In my opinion, post-modernism is one of the most useless inventions ever created; it constantly contradicts itself, does not add any extra meaning to the world, and I still do not understand it's necessity to the grade 12 English course. However, after studying the terms and techniques that go along with it, it is impossible to say my life is not post-modern. With character fragmentation, minimalism, technoculture, intertextuality, appearance vs. reality, consumerism, and the challenging of two metanarratives (religion and the idea of the nuclear family), it is evident that my life will forever be post-modern, and surprisingly, I would not have it any other way.
"There is a rejection of truth as a coherent set of ethical precepts and standards for moral behaviour" (Jessup). In "Truth: The First Casualty of Postmodern Consumerism", Jessup explains the concept of metanarratives, and how they have to always hold true. When our class was first introduced to the idea of post-modernism, we were told about the idea of the nuclear family. The definition of the nuclear family is a family consisting of a father, mother, son, and daughter. This ideal family and lifestyle is supposed to be the ideal situation, but my family life challenges that metanarrative. To start off, my family has 6 people; a father, a mother, two daughters, and two sons. Although we technically have two children too many, I believe this situation is better for my family. There is a difference between the bond between brother and sister, the bond between sisters, and the bond between brothers, and my family situation lets us experience all of that. Also, my parents are separated, so I just live with my mom. This situation is more ideal for my family because when my dad was around, my parents would fight all the time, and everyone in the house would be on edge. Now that I live with only one parent, there is less tension in the house, and it is therefore more peaceful and enjoyable for everyone. My family life rebels against the idea of the nuclear family, challenging the metanarrative that the nuclear family is ideal, but I think my family situation is much more unique, and it functions better for me.
“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
- Richard Dawkins,
The God Delusion
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