A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present

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Verso, 2002 - Philosophy - 250 pages
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The concepts of modernity and modernism are amongst the most controversial and vigorously debated in contemporary philosophy and cultural theory. In this new intervention, Fredric Jameson—perhaps the most influential and persuasive theorist of postmodernity—excavates and explores these notions in a fresh and illuminating manner.

The extraordinary revival of discussions of modernity, as well as of new theories of artistic modernism, demands attention in its own right. It seems clear that the (provisional) disappearance of alternatives to capitalism plays its part in the universal attempt to revive 'modernity' as a social ideal. Yet the paradoxes of the concept illustrate its legitimate history and suggest some rules for avoiding its misuse as well.

In this major new interpretation of the problematic, Jameson concludes that both concepts are tainted, but nonetheless yield clues as to the nature of the phenomena they purported to theorize. His judicious and vigilant probing of both terms—which can probably not be banished at this late date—helps us clarify our present political and artistic situations.

 

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Contents

Regressions of the Current Age
1
II faut etre absolument moderne
211
Notes
217

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Page 233 - In the world of the symbol it would be possible for the image to coincide with the substance, since the substance and its representation do not differ in their being but only in their extension: they are part and whole of the same set of categories. Their relationship is one of simultaneity, which, in truth, is spatial in kind, and in which the intervention of time is merely a matter of contingency, whereas, in the world of allegory, time is the originary constitutive category.

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About the author (2002)

Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) began teaching sociology at the Université de Paris-X in 1966. He retired from academia in 1987 to write books and travel until his death in 2007. His many works include Simulations and Simulacra, America, The Perfect Crime, The System of Objects, Passwords, The Transparency of Evil, The Spirit of Terrorism, and Fragments, among others.

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and is the author of Illuminations, The Arcades Project, and The Origin of German Tragic Drama.

Andrew Boyd is a writer and activist living in New York. He is the author of Life's Little Deconstruction Book: Self-Help for the Post-Hip

Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) was a German poet, playwright, and theater director. An influential theater practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the Berliner Ensemble—the post-war theater company operated by Brecht and his wife and long-time collaborator, the actress Helene Weigel—with its internationally acclaimed productions.

Christopher Hill (1912–2003) was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and later became Master of the college. His celebrated and influential works include Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, The World Turned Upside Down and A Turbulent, Seditious and Fractious People: John Bunyan and His Church.

A Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Eric Hobsbawm is the author of more than twenty books of history, including The Age of Revolution and The Age of Extremes. He lives in London.

Fredric Jameson is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University. The author of numerous books, he has over the last three decades developed a richly nuanced vision of Western culture's relation to political economy. He was a recipient of the 2008 Holberg International Memorial Prize. He is the author of many books, including Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Cultural Turn, A Singular Modernity, The Modernist Papers, Archaeologies of the Future, Brecht and Method, Ideologies of Theory, Valences of the Dialectic, The Hegel Variations and Representing Capital.

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