Saturday, August 8, 2009

Turning Away / Turning Toward

Yesterday, a turn away from the world meant a turn towards the self: a turn away from Marxism meant a turn toward psychoanalysis: in that case, the Real was still somehow present, if only as an aching throb, an open wound. Today, even psychoanalysis and desire must be shunned as being too modern, and as requiring an assessment of late capitalism that the postmodern subject cannot tolerate. What offers itself as a substitute is then art and religion, pseudo-aestheticism in the form we have examined it here and its ghostly afterimages in the slow rotation of the religion of art into the art of religion.

(Fredric Jameson, "Transformations of the Image in Postmodernity," The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998 (London: Verso, 1998) 134)

In the balanced dialectic of the statement, the presence of the "Real" in Marxism and psychoanalysis (even if present only as an open wound) is matched by its pseudo-aestheticism of the permutations of the relationship between art and religion (art as religion, religion of art, and art of religion). The implication is that the art/religion "pseudo-aesthetics" of late capitalist postmodernity is marked by the absence of the "Real." In this assessment, is the Real's absence equivalent to its nonexistence--a complete vanishing into nonbeing? Does the Real's absence necessarily mean the presence of the False, the Pseudo? Or, if the Real's absence indicates its nonexistence, would that not make its implicated opposition--the False--also nonexistent? If there is no Real there can be no Unreal, unless the point is that the Pseudo screens the Real, distorts our perspective (a more modernist maneuver).

No comments: