PostMod.Essay - Post-modern texts force us to look at our...

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Post-modern texts force us to look at our world from a different perspective; they incite us to question what most would commonly accept as true, or real, and they challenge the way we understand textual representation of the world around us. These aspects of postmodern texts, but also more broadly, postmodern literary theory, are reflected in the text ‘Mirror Cartoon’. The cartoon shows us a man standing in front of a mirror. This man is standing in a contorted pose, yet the mirror, which is itself disfigured and contorted, reflects an image of the man standing up perfectly straight. For us, the responder to the text, the mirror does not accurately reflect the figure’s true form, but for the figure, the reflection is real, it is his reality. This text, on a deeper level, shows us that composers, in their texts, only represent reality as they see it, and that their compositions are but one perspective of reality. We can extrapolate from this that language, and the texts shaped by it, can only represent different ‘realities’ and can never show us a ‘true’ reality, or an absolute truth of any kind. This idea that texts can never reflect the ‘real’ world is a direct challenge to the nature of representation and is a fundamental part of post-modern theory. Three other texts which are at least in some ways postmodern but which all challenge the nature of representation are A.S. Byatt’s ‘Possession: A Romance’, Sally Potter’s ‘Orlando’ and Andy Warhol’s collection of artworks known as the ‘Campbell Soup Cans’. A.S. Byatt’s ‘Possession: A Romance’ is a text which cannot be wholly classified as postmodern. ‘Possession’ accepts and embraces some of the facets of postmodern theory, whilst discrediting others. One of the most observably postmodern aspects of Byatt’s novel is her clever intermixing and blurring of the boundaries between fact and fiction. In ‘Possession’ Byatt creates many fictional Victorian period personalities, such as the prominent Randolph Henry Ash and his eventual lover and intellectual companion, Christabel LaMotte. Byatt places these, and other, entirely fictional characters in situations with people who we commonly accept have existed. Some examples of such situations include the luncheon at which Christabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash first met, a luncheon which was hosted by Henry Crabb-Robinson, a prominent Mid-Victorian lawyer and socialite. Another such example could be the frequent references to past meetings and correspondences between late Romantic era poets S.T. Coleridge and William Wordsworth and the fictional poet Randolph Henry Ash. The effect of this blurring of the boundaries between the real and the fictional is a highlighting of the dubious nature of what we accept as our history. Through incorporating these fictional, however plausible, alternative narratives alongside many historically accepted narratives, Byatt exposes the fallacy and precariousness of constructing meaning, and subsequently order, from
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This note was uploaded on 10/26/2008 for the course ARTSGEN 1005 taught by Professor Mannigan during the Winter '05 term at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

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PostMod.Essay - Post-modern texts force us to look at our...

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