09 November 2010

Kata sumbebekos.

A happy accident, that the roll of the die (down to 8 sides now!) should have me end up reading Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs directly after my visit to Montaigne-land, because the gentlemen have so much in common: curiosity, quotability, rambling prose style, obsession with the details of everyday, "low" culture. I can't tell you how many times I laughed aloud or blurted out "Exactly!" to the page. A worthy successor indeed!

At one point, Klosterman defines (in a footnote) the oft-tossed-about term "postmodern" as "Any art that is conscious of the fact that it is, in fact, art." I love the unfussy clarity of this definition, though it's unfortunate (and not Klosterman's doing in the least) that the semantic chunks of the word itself place it somewhere in time--I have no idea when. When was "modern"? The 1930s?--because that misleads one to think of art of this kind only being produced within a certain chronological era, when certainly one can find works that embody Klosterman's definition throughout history: say, Tristram Shandy, one of the most postmodern novels I've ever read, despite its being written shortly after the novel was invented (1759-1769). Thinking about the postmodern also got me thinking about what I'll refer to as post-postmodern (although I know that has a critical definition that doesn't jibe with how I'm using it). Art that knows it's art is taken for granted these days. The "new" prevailing mode of art (and I'm using "art" in a less restrictive sense, to mean not objects sequestered in galleries, but cultural expressions of all kinds), I think, is the remix or the mash-up; the unprecedented access to the history of human information and creation collapses the centuries, making it natural and obvious to combine and reshuffle songs or words or images from everywhere--essentially, making Montaigne-ism the dominant artistic manner. It's a great time to be alive.

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