I’ve been brushing up on my postmodernist theory this week. I’m not sure why exactly. I still have a few university text books in my possession, from twenty years ago, and I spotted John Docker’s Postmodernism and Popular Culture on my bookshelf and started leafing through it. No doubt there are more up-to-date overviews of Postmodern theory available, but as academic books go, it’s quite accessible.
I was reading about Frederic Jameson’s, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, in which he discusses the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles as postmodern space (although other cultural theorists say it’s actually Late Modernist architecture due to the lack of pastiche, blah, blah, blah…) and I started wondering if I’d ever stayed there. I’ve definitely been to a hotel in the states with glass elevators and a revolving restaurant, but really don’t remember much about it. Perhaps there are lots of similar hotels in California?
Anyway, this memory loss is quite postmodern in itself, as my amnesia puts me in mind of Blade Runner’s Nexus 6 replicants, who can pass as humans, partly because they have implanted memories. Perhaps I’m a robot?
I also stumbled across Donna Haraway’s, A Cyborg Manifesto, written in 1984, which is incredibly prescient and actually highlights much of what I dislike about destructive postmodern Feminist ideology, in that it sees all established taxonomies as problematic and envisages the “utopian dream” of a “world without gender”. In Haraway’s view the hybridisation of people and technology (I guess what we, nowadays, would call transhumanism) provides a challenge to dualities such as human/machine, natural/artificial, self/other and so on. I’d say it was all pretty wacky, if it wasn’t actually happening at this moment.
My brain is currently a jumble of all the things I’ve seen and read this week and I find that the only way to make sense of them is to write – but not fiction, because it’s like when you have too many windows open on your computer and your screen freezes.
I could try writing a dystopian story, in which the hero goes to a hotel in a desert and can’t find the entrance and then gets lost in its city-like interior space, which is a jumble of stylistic parodies and has a confusing layout and perhaps this experience would induce in the hero, “a state of terror proper to the schizophrenic, of too great a proximity of everything which touches, invests and penetrates without resistance”, as described by Baudrillard. Perhaps the hero will never be able to find his way out and will be doomed to wander the corridors forever?
I have been that person. As a child, I would be sent out with an empty ice bucket and some unfamiliar money and somehow end up getting lost and wandering round the hotel for hours, because for some reason, even if I could remember our room number, it seemed to bear no relation to what I was experiencing. If you watch the video below, you will discover that the Hotel Bonaventure has the effect on visitors of making their internal GPS systems malfunction.
I’m not sure if Will Self ever gets lost*, but he managed to walk from London to New York without getting run over; which, considering the unfriendliness of urban planners towards pedestrians, is quite an achievement. I also read his Psychogeography this week and found it entertaining. My brain being what it is at the moment, I can’t think of anything else to say.
I should probably read something less stimulating next.
*If Will Self does ever get lost, then he probably says he was being a Situationist, to save face.