I've begun some research into postmodernism in film, and thought you might find these notes useful. We are essentially creating a pastiche, representing parts of the past out of context, with a history/future that represents our purpose.
What’s new in film and why it makes us feel so strange.
M. Keith Booker, 2007
United States of America: Praeger Publishers
Booker begins by establishing the elusive nature of Postmodernism; stating that as a “historical and cultural phenomenom” it often runs somewhat “counter to the dictates of what has come to be regarded as “common sense,”… difficult for the ordinary person to grasp”. But he goes on to stress the importance of understanding, pointing out postmodernism’s “impact on virtually every area of contemporary cultural production”. Being still quite vague in my understanding of postmodernism, I hope to discern its relevance and consequences through this book. The briefing Phil gave on Wednesday piqued my curiosity and I’m keen to get to grips with this, even if it seems like grasping at smoke.
The author’s promise to reference contemporary and popular films is encouraging, and his initial analysis of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) is certainly interesting. He states the importance of understanding that Lynch’s intentions are not to portray reality, but rather “other representations of reality”. Its ambiguous time period, “removed from history”, allows it to exist as more of an “idea than as a reality,” becoming a vehicle for thought and message than true representation. While its inspirations are clearly drawn from the 1950s, the “logic of them film seems specifically meant to undermine the kinds of idealized visions of small-town, nuclear family life”.
Then, Booker goes on to state this as a defining feature of Postmodern art, that “pastiche”, a “cannibalization of all the styles of the past” that undermines past values, portraying them merely as images, “spectacles”. As Phil did, Booker brings up the schizophrenic nature of Postmodernism, that the “loss of individual temporal continuity… contributes to a larger loss of any sense of historical continuity…experience of the pass [becomes] irrelevant”. Its fractal natures leads to the confusion of “ontological levels and boundaries,” a questioning of existence and its logic.
How does Booker’s introduction leave me then? I have slightly better understanding of what postmodernism actually means in terms of noticing it and it applicability. I also begin to perceive the importance of striving to understand and digest it, and the uses the knowledge has. I’m keen to explore its fractious nature, and fully comprehend the use of pastiche and historical in-continuity. It tantalizing and I’m looking forward to exploring it more…