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The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium

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Massive geopolitical shifts and dramatic developments in computerization and biotechnology are heralding the transformation from the modern to the postmodern age. We are confronted with altered modes of work, communication, and entertainment; new postindustrial and political networks; novel approaches to warfare; genetic engineering; and even cloning. This compelling book Massive geopolitical shifts and dramatic developments in computerization and biotechnology are heralding the transformation from the modern to the postmodern age. We are confronted with altered modes of work, communication, and entertainment; new postindustrial and political networks; novel approaches to warfare; genetic engineering; and even cloning. This compelling book explores the challenges to theory, politics, and human identity that we face on the threshold of the third millennium. It follows on the success of Best and Kellner s two previous books: Postmodern Theory, acclaimed as the best critical introduction to the field, and The Postmodern Turn, which provides a powerful mapping of postmodern developments in the arts, politics, science, and theory. In The Postmodern Adventure, Best and Kellner analyze a broad array of literary, cultural, and political phenomena--from fiction, film, science, and the Internet, to globalization and the rise of a transnational image culture. They use the best of modern and postmodern perspectives to illuminate contemporary life and to strive for a just and viable future. Gold Medal Winner in Philosophy--ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards


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Massive geopolitical shifts and dramatic developments in computerization and biotechnology are heralding the transformation from the modern to the postmodern age. We are confronted with altered modes of work, communication, and entertainment; new postindustrial and political networks; novel approaches to warfare; genetic engineering; and even cloning. This compelling book Massive geopolitical shifts and dramatic developments in computerization and biotechnology are heralding the transformation from the modern to the postmodern age. We are confronted with altered modes of work, communication, and entertainment; new postindustrial and political networks; novel approaches to warfare; genetic engineering; and even cloning. This compelling book explores the challenges to theory, politics, and human identity that we face on the threshold of the third millennium. It follows on the success of Best and Kellner s two previous books: Postmodern Theory, acclaimed as the best critical introduction to the field, and The Postmodern Turn, which provides a powerful mapping of postmodern developments in the arts, politics, science, and theory. In The Postmodern Adventure, Best and Kellner analyze a broad array of literary, cultural, and political phenomena--from fiction, film, science, and the Internet, to globalization and the rise of a transnational image culture. They use the best of modern and postmodern perspectives to illuminate contemporary life and to strive for a just and viable future. Gold Medal Winner in Philosophy--ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards

43 review for The Postmodern Adventure: Science, Technology, and Cultural Studies at the Third Millennium

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    I read Best and Kellner's 1991 book, Postmodern Theory some time in the mid-'90s and was impressed with the academic rigor and practicality they brought to the discussion. In a local thrift store, I happened upon this volume, published 10 years later, and the third in their series of postmodern books. It did not disappoint! Letting them frame their own stance seems preferable to some bungling paraphrase I might attempt: “With the belief that modern theories and politics have become reductive, i I read Best and Kellner's 1991 book, Postmodern Theory some time in the mid-'90s and was impressed with the academic rigor and practicality they brought to the discussion. In a local thrift store, I happened upon this volume, published 10 years later, and the third in their series of postmodern books. It did not disappoint! Letting them frame their own stance seems preferable to some bungling paraphrase I might attempt: “With the belief that modern theories and politics have become reductive, illusory, and arrogant, diverse postmodern theories, artists, and activists emphasize the countervalues of multiplicity and difference, antirealism, aesthetic irony and appropriation, ecological perspective, and a proliferation of diverse forms of struggle. We share many of these positions, but advocate the reconstruction and improvement of the best elements of modern theory, culture, society, and politics, rather than their abandonment, as in some extreme versions of postmodern theory.” With any nonfiction book like this, one worries that references to artistic works and technology will have become irrelevant, too dated, etc., so I was immediately surprised at how well most of these held up and that there were still "discoveries" I'd never even heard of some 17 years after this book was published. A lot of people find postmodernism to be either confusing or just complete bunk. But I think the key question really boils down to this: Can we still approach the world with the same thinking given the intersection of changes amidst science, technology, and global capitalism? Best and Kellner argue quite convincingly that we cannot. We’re facing a reality distorted at so many turns and society can no longer rely solely on modernism—much less strict dualities, master narratives, objective reality, etc. Extreme forms of postmodernism seem to argue for a kind of meaningless pastiche approach to thinking, a sort of negation of what is, but this book argues for keeping the best of the old and embracing what’s needed in the new. It might help to think of postmodernism as more a set of symptoms that may require us to let go of restrictive, binary thinking. What the hell does that mean? Well, it means we’re living in an era where reality tries to catch up with imagery (think young girls trying to diet or exercise to look like TV or magazine images of beauty that are impossible to achieve because they’ve been digitally altered; or, as an example from this book, actual changes to the body to reflect “ideals” such as the extreme plastic surgery embraced by Cyndy Jackson, the “Barbie girl”). It means the dividing lines between man/woman, person/machine, and life/death are blurring. And it may manifest itself in growing pains such as the attempt to collectively deal with individual identities (see the current alphabet soup that refers to gender identity, sexual identity, and subsequent pronoun preferences). We have synthetic organs, technological enhancements, and certain areas of social progress and/or research that can no longer function without machine learning or advanced computing. “Since the opening of modernity, then, human beings have had to confront four major discontinuities which they had created in order to establish their alleged radical uniqueness and special status. In each case, “rational man” had to rethink its identity to overcome false dichotomies and illusions of separation from the cosmos [Copernicus--accepting the sun as the center of the universe], the animal world [Darwin--accepting evolution and our connection to the animal kingdom], the unconscious [Freud—accepting the influence of the will, instincts, and unconscious upon our actions/reasoning], and the machines [accepting where machines end and humans begin and/or the blurring of those lines] it had invented.” This volume supposes that a fifth discontinuity might consist of discovering other life in the cosmos and/or new life forms through species mixing or through technology (genetic engineering, cloning, etc.). The lines between reality and spectacle are further muddled by the megaspectacle--think of the 1st Gulf War: “… a study by communications researchers revealed that heavy TV watchers actually knew less about the events and facts of the war than those who got their information elsewhere… ” Not only does reality become a type of entertainment or sensational distraction, but video compels a viewer to immediately accept what is viewed just to keep up with the stream of information; whereas, alternatively, consuming information by reading allows readers to stop and question, re-read, even pause to fact check. Video discourages this. It dictates both the pace and depth of understanding. Life becomes like Plato’s cave but with the shadows now digitized and state/corporate-controlled. On top of all this is an economic market with international corporations often more powerful than many countries able to control or direct social behaviors and changes to meet a bottom line instead of some shared set of values or future notion of collective good. I could go on and on with what I personally see as more contemporary examples of postmodern life (genetic editing technology like CRISPR, DNA as a type of “wetware” storage device, regrowing organs/parts from STEM cells, the erasure of the line between fact and opinion, tradition/spirituality being replaced by “lifestyles”, the almost constant type of narcissistic documentation and/or reflection social media encourages, technology shaping our behaviors, the virtualization of war with killing done at greater distances through screens or machines like drones, the disconnect between what we consume and how/where it is consumed, etc., etc.), but the point is that to keep pace with these changes, to be aware of what is at stake, we need an informed public willing to look beyond short-term, seemingly selfish benefit. And we can no longer rely on the same set of lenses that got us here. -------------------------------------------------------------- WORDS I’LL LIKELY FORGET SHORTLY AFTER READING THE NEXT BOOK I GET TO EVEN THOUGH I LOOKED THEM UP FOR THIS BOOK interregnum | gauchisme | ludic | recrudescence | exobiology | flaneur | novophobia (fear of new things)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott Phillips

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    Terri

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    Melinda91

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    Jef Allbright

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  39. 5 out of 5

    Steffi ~mereadingbooks~

  40. 5 out of 5

    Dave Mills

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  42. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

  43. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Bird

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