Not Nec. The Market

Kevin Sawad Brooks ksbrooks at
Tue Apr 9 06:31:39 MDT 1996

On Thu, 4 Apr 1996, Marni Blivice wrote:
>      Waugh's _Practicing Postmodernism/Reading Modernism_ (New York: Edward
>      Arnold, 1992), and came across this section in the Introduction:
>      "It is a common enough view of the postmodern as a fall from the
>      oppositional autonomy of Romanticism and Modernism into the
>      commodified complicality with mass culture which is the most obvious
>      sign that capitalism has at last invaded all, leaving no space outside
>      its logic of appropriation... we can no longer talk of Art at all.
>      'Style' is commodity, art losses its identity along with its autonomy
>      and like anything, including knowledge, is recycled as a consumer
>      product" (8).

>      I am looking for relationships developed differently.
>      Contemporary art objects are not nec. created by and for the market.
>      Such Western, non-commodified art objects and production, because of
>      its physical locality, though, do relate back/forth/through the market
>      and contain, now and again, uncanny market auras.

Certainly my writing (from a 'man') will leave itself
as open to question as that from anyone else ('man' or
'woman'), but I'd like to contribute the following:

I do not know with certainty, because I've never read Waugh's
book, if the author writes from a 'modernist,' 'postmodernist,'
or yet another unnamed perspective.  I mean, I don't know
which -- if not all -- of these Waugh would want to claim as
her point-of-view.  Possibly many of us would not want to be
pinned to one view, though it is rare to find a
self-proclaimed 'modernist' anymore -- I think for reasons
other than self-awareness about the paradox or *aporia*
(rhetorical doubt) involved in such an assertion.

Having said that, it sounds to me as if Waugh aligns herself,
and would claim to write from the 'point-of-view' (call it what
you will) of postmodernism(s).  In any case, your citation
makes it sound as if Waugh works with the terms 'modernism' and
'postmodernism' as distinct and ordered sequentially.  As such,
Waugh asserts a postmodernist 'autonomy' as well.  Pomo, then,
becomes a closed system, as closed as any modernism or Romanticism
against which so many pomo-ists define their project (or
non-project?)  One question that is asked often of such claims
is why, if these two *epistemes* are separate (but are they equal?),
is postmodernism written in the same line with modernism or
Romanticism?  Seemingly, the two (or 3) cannot be separate, and the
repetition of this trope of distinction suggests that what is
going on in these writings is a 'repression' (in psychoanalytic
terms).  One might, faced with this critique (a critique which I
don't claim as only mine), want to say that the differences
between the 2 or 3 *periods* is actually grey, rather than black & white.
But for reasons that would take too much space here, I don't
think this is a politically and philosophically rigorous
space to want to occupy as a critic.  With regard to some of what
I can't say in this small space about this 'grey' issue, I'd
like to mention as a ref Derrida's "Structure Sign and Play" in
*Writing and Difference*.

Now, having questioned postmodernism's autonomy, or (indirect)
claims to such, I would have to turn and say that no artwork
comes into being outside of an economic system, as its meanings
as artwork would, of necessity, be part of an economy of meaning,
a symbolic economy, of which money (a financial system) is also
an example and a part.  Lets live with that.  But lets also work
with that -- I mean to suggest that symbolic exchange can never
be symmetrical, and in practice and theory there's always an
excess or a residue not *accounted* for by the exchange.  What is
this residue?  I'm not sure it can be defined.  But
having read Derrida's *Given Time I: Counterfeit Money*, I would
say that this unaccountable-for *thing* (Heideggerian *Sache*)
is time.  For time cannot be traded or given away, though we often
say we do (but is saying the same as doing what one says?).

Ok, I've gone on enough!


Take an object                 Take a canvas
Do something to it             Put a mark on it              Jasper
Do something else to it        Put another mark on it        Johns
"      "       "   "  "        "      "      "   "  "

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