By Gerard Delanty
A brand new method of conceptualizing the modernity-postmodernity debate, and an exhilarating new method of the roots of up to date social concept
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Extra resources for Modernity and Postmodernity : Knowledge, Power and the Self
Aside from the example of the avant-garde, in most of its guises, in particular in painting, the tensions of modern society are represented in an anti-representational form, and in many cases border on an extreme reflexivity and preoccupation with abstractness. But it would be a mistake to reduce all of modernism either to the politicized avantgarde or the de-politicized formalism of early expressionism and its quest 18 MODERNITY AND POSTMODERNITY for a spiritual order. Too much of the debate on modernity and modernism has resolved around the example of the avant-garde to the neglect of the historical time consciousness of modernism.
If the conventional divide between modernity and postmodernity can be relativized according to one's reading of modernity, the divide between modernity and its predecessors can also be relativized. The idea of modernity can be projected back into history, producing what is in fact a series of contested modernities (see Bourricaud, 1987; Pocock, 1987; Schabert, 1986). In the next chapter this will be explored by looking at the rupture between modernity and its premodern antecedents in yet a further attempt to show that modernity is an essentially contested term.
The idea of modernity in Kant, Hegel, Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel was far from the totalizing notion of a metanarrative or a disciplinary and rationalistic order, and as Johan Goudsblom (1980) has argued, the idea of nihilism is deeply embedded in western culture. In a seminal essay, Gerald Graff attacked the 'myth of the postmodern breakthrough', claiming it was in fact part of the logic of modernism: 'Though it looks back mockingly on the modernist tradition and professes to have got beyond it, postmodern literature remains tied to that tradition and unable to break with it' (Graff, 1979, p.
Modernity and Postmodernity : Knowledge, Power and the Self by Gerard Delanty