trenchant.org

by adam mathes
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Pretentious

(It’s hard for me to take this entry seriously, since it mentions college lectures, postmodernism, ambiguity, and the Magnetic Fields. I feel like this sort of thing should be written by an English graduate student, the kind I’d mock.

But I’ve had far too many beers to care about that right now.)

When I was first exposed to postmodernism my freshman year of college (which seems like an eternity ago) we read Don DeLillo’s White Noise and Fredric Jameson’s The Cultural Turn.

I mostly remember running around saying everything was pastiche for about a month after that, much to my friends’ annoyance. (This was freshman year, I hadn’t shed all my friends yet.)

One of the things Ramon, our professor, tried to explain to us about the postmodern, particularly in relation to certain parts of White Noise, was that things that had ambiguity really had double meanings. Not that it was unclear as to what the correct meaning was, but that it really had two meanings. So in some cases, at the same time what was being expressed could be both ironic and serious. Simultaneously both meanings were entirely valid, and to really understand the postmodern you needed to be comfortable with that.

I don’t think I ever really understood what he meant until I heard the lyric “No one will ever love you honestly” from the Magnetic Fields (from the 69 Love Songs.)

There’s just something quite beautiful about the ambiguity there, particularly in the way the lyric is sung. Written, I think the presence or lack of the comma before honestly nearly destroys it, but it’s sung so perfectly that I can never hear it too many times.

There’s just something about that song. Or perhaps it’s just the right background music to the self-pity I’ve been shamelessly wallowing in this week.



On that note, I’m off to Chicago for a hopefully rat-free weekend. Updates will likely resume sometime next week.

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