” The postmodernist elements of our culture are to us like water to the fish: we live and breathe in them everyday, but we take them so much for granted that it is very difficult for us to see them.Perhaps the most general characteristics of postmodernism are fragmentation and pluralism.In the arena of morals one might say “Sex should only happen in marriage,” in which case the experience of sex in marriage is “privileged” and sex out of wedlock is “marginalized.” Derrida argues that all language is made up of these binaries, and they are always socially and politically loaded.“Deconstruction” is the practice of identifying these power-loaded binaries and restructuring them so that the marginalized or “unprivileged” end of the binary can be consciously focused upon and favored.
In the postmodern worldview, transience, flux, and fragmentation describe our growing sense of how things really are. Our media-generated, consumer culture daily offers us a thousand choices for who we should be like, what we should value, and how we can attain worth and significance. So, for example, tennis pro Andre Agassi can say “Image is everything! The recent, wildly successful sitcom “Seinfeld” vaunts itself as a “show about nothing.” Isolated, narcissistic, urban, “thirty-something singles” float through their existences trying to make sense out of what they ultimately perceive to be a meaningless, patchwork world.
It is also postmodern–as are most TV sitcoms today–in its radical, up-front play with “moralities” altered at the characters’ whim; there is no one morality. From the modernist perspective, truth was largely relative, but the possibility of universals in knowledge remained conceivable.
In the postmodern model, we don’t really “know” anything; rather, we “interpret.” Postmodernist education says “Pick a worldview,” as if only a choice of clothing style were at issue, “and create your interpretations accordingly,” since are only language constructions put in place by those who have influence and power.
Some Examples The central characteristics of postmodernism present us with a radically different way of looking at life.
At this point, however, we need to remember the proverb that says “If you want to know about water, don’t ask a fish!