Tag Archives: post-modernism

A literary fall from grace?

While reading hannahm’s post, the idea of “the self-referential loop leading only to, according to him, ‘Armageddon'” made me reconceive the loop using a familiar Christian theme, namely Adam and Eve’s fall from grace and how post-modernism represents a literary fall. The post-modern attitude of hyper-self-awareness, unrelenting irony, and overbearing cynicism seems to mirror Adam and Eve’s post-lapsarian self-consciousness and the Christian attitude about sin and salvation.

It seems that post-modernism, as a fall, was rooted in a desire for knowledge. In a sense, authors seem to have plucked a forbidden fruit of knowledge when they started to examine structure, form, and their own embededness in not only litearture, but language itself. “If realism called it like it saw it” (EUP, 34), those authors could frolick in the garden and un-selfconsciously write earnest prose. Now, all too aware of literary nakedness, they are “oglers” who also “tend to dislike being objects of people’s attention” (E Unibus Pluram, 21). We cannot escape the notion that we our embeded in language and (re)meditate our worlds through various lens. This knowledge makes us feel naked and vulnerable. It leads to “this very personal axiety about our prettiness” and so we clothe that nakedness in grogeous swaths of irony and intelligence. DFW says: “we all recognize the [pop] reference [but are] all a little uneasy about how we all recognize such a reference” (EUP, 42). In a way, we all make crude jokes about each other’s nakedness, but are uneasy about the fact that we even see that nakedness.

When DFW calls for Anti-Rebels to “risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs” (EUP, 81), etc., he is calling for them to appear completely naked in the public eye. However, it seems like we will never be able return to a time when we were unaware of our literary nakedness, and so maybe it’s impossible for these Anti-Rebels to truly expose themselves without any sort of discomfort and self-consciousness. DFW himself seems to try to bare himself, but ends up using irony anyway. He aches to expose his soul, but cannot bear the public eye.

Is true love possible in a world where our acute awareness of nakedness makes us distinguish between Self and Other?