The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond (2006)

Core postmodern concepts like the hyperreal and simulacra are more relevant and true than they have ever been.
Furthermore, the article claims that postmodern is characterized by an ironic self awareness, and never has this idea been more prominent in culture. In recent years I have noticed that TV commercials have become more and more self-aware. Take for example a recent commercial by what I believe was Verizon. It says something like “More coverage, more data.” and then another actor comes into screen saying “and more people saying more.” If this isn’t ironic self awareness, I’m not sure what is.

Those are postmodern concepts about culture. But the postmodern metaphysical and epistemological nihilism are, as another commenter said, basically bedrock in terms of philosophy.

.. The core of postmodernism is that we have exhausted modernity — and indeed there are no trends that are “new under the sun anymore”, not just because everything has been done before (which is almost true), but because society doesn’t care about following this or that form en masse anymore and then proceeding to another (e.g. how baroque turned romantic, turned 12-tone, etc. or similarly in any other sphere).

Instead, everything is fragmented, and everybody (artist or not) can do whatever they please and have an audience/followers. There is no canon and no single “normative” culture the way it was 80 or 100 or 150 years ago.

Plus, nothing is able to baffle anyone anymore — in the way that each generation before could shock some part of the established culture (up to perhaps punk, but probably not even that, and not even 50s rock n’ roll — it only shocked the most conservative parts of society, and had no problem being marketed, sold, and dominating the airwaves in record time).

Postmodernism is also about having access to all the cultural production and modes of the past, and the internet and co made that even more so. Artists, politicians, marketeers, etc can borrow from any period, and repackage and resell everything, combine it, etc.

All of these things are what are described as the “postmodern condition” by the now dead French theorists of the postmodernism.

And none of those things is going away.

Even a total return to modernism or classicism across all artists for example, would still be postmodern — because before post-modernism art didn’t regress to previous periods, it invented new modes.

.. Nothing is fragmented, because everything has been reduced to transactionalism.
You can do whatever you like, as long as you’re trying to make money (or sometimes more abstract social credit) by selling it/you as hard as possible to your customers.

And there are only potential customers now – not audiences in the old scene-with-common-values sense.

Postmodernism, such as it is, is now a marketing gimmick, occasionally used to add some spicy irony to make sales efforts more successful.

The real horror is that this applies everywhere – not just in commerce, but in the arts, the sciences, academia, and especially in politics.

Why “America First” Means “Europe United”

despite the formation of an anti-establishment coalition government in Italy, and the rise of populist parties across Europe, opinion polls suggest that support for the EU is now higher than it has been in decades. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, if a referendum on EU membership were held today, 83% of Europeans would vote to remain in the bloc; and a record-high 60% regard EU membership as a “good thing” for their country.

.. In other words, while populism can certainly sow political divisions within the EU, there is little evidence that Brexit itself has caused a domino effect.

The Brexit ringleader Nigel Farage might like to think that Italy’s new populist government represents a success for his brand of go-it-alone nationalism, but it turns out that Europe’s populists are of a different breed than those in the UK. Though financial markets have  at the prospect that Italy’s new leaders could drive their country out of the eurozone, polling conducted after the election in March showed that 60-72% of Italians would not support such a move.

.. Just 32% of citizens believe that “things are going in the right direction” for the EU

.. Trump’s tariffs have thus provided a perfect opportunity for Germany’s grand-coalition government to meet Macron halfway on his ambitious proposals to reform the EU and the eurozone.

.. Trump revels in the chaos he sows. He regards international relations as a zero-sum game of winners and losers, and, to the extent that his foreign and trade policies make any sense at all, they are transactional. By contrast, the EU’s modus operandi is one of collaboration and compromise. And now that these two worldviews are colliding, each is likely to be emboldened.

 

Michael Cohen, ‘Ultimate Trump Loyalist,’ Now in the Sights of the F.B.I.

During the presidential campaign, Michael D. Cohen got a Google alert for a breaking story: “Russian President Vladimir Putin Praises Donald Trump as ‘Talented’ and ‘Very Colorful.’”

For most American politicians, that article in December 2015 would hardly have been welcome news. But Mr. Cohen, whose role as personal lawyer and fixer for President Trump has been firmly rooted in the transactional world of his boss, saw opportunity. He emailed an old friend who had been talking about seeking Kremlin support to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and sent him the article.

“Now is the time,” Mr. Cohen wrote. “Call me.”

.. Mr. Trump values few things more than loyalty, but secrecy is one of them. For years, to keep the circle of people involved as small as possible, he chose to have Mr. Cohen serve as his legal attack dog from a perch inside Trump Tower in Manhattan instead of having outside counsel deal with his problems, according to two people familiar with their relationship.

.. In private, Mr. Cohen has compared himself to Tom Hagen, the smooth consigliere to the mafia family in the movie “The Godfather.”

.. The lawyer seemed to relish his reputation as Mr. Trump’s “pit bull” and embraced an aggressive — some say bullying — approach to solving problems.

.. he never got a senior administration job, which people who know him say he expected

.. Another payment that the F.B.I. is said to be investigating, for $150,000, was made by American Media Inc., the parent company of The National Enquirer.

.. Mr. Trump, who was from Queens, and the Bronx-born Mr. Pecker viewed themselves as outsiders looking in at an elitist Manhattan establishment.

.. Several people close to A.M.I. and Mr. Cohen have said that the lawyer was in regular contact with company executives during the presidential campaign, when The Enquirer regularly heralded Mr. Trump and attacked his rivals.

.. A.M.I. had shared Ms. McDougal’s allegations with Mr. Cohen, though the company said it did so only as part of efforts to corroborate her story, which it said it could not do.

.. The Times reported that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was looking into$150,000 donation to Mr. Trump’s charitable foundation from a Ukrainian billionaire that was solicited by Mr. Cohen during the 2016 campaign.

.. Mr. Mueller has examined Mr. Cohen’s postelection role in forwarding to the administration a Ukraine-Russia peace proposal pushed by a Ukrainian lawmaker.

.. Mr. Cohen wasted no time, arranging for Mr. Trump to sign a letter of intent for the Moscow tower deal. But the project seemed to stall in the coming months.

Rather than let it go, Mr. Cohen reached out directly to Mr. Putin’s press secretary in January 2016, asking for assistance. Later, he asserted that his effort was unsuccessful.

Mike Pompeo Is Good for Diplomacy

dwell for a moment on the awfulness of Tillerson.

He came to office with no discernible worldview other than the jaded transactionalism he acquired as ExxonMobil’s C.E.O. He leaves office with no discernible accomplishment except a broken department and a traumatized staff.

Six of the 10 top positions at State are vacant; even now the United States does not have an ambassador to South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa or the European Union, among other posts.

.. he did seem to figure out that Vladimir Putin is a bad guy. But that’s progress only because he was previously the Russian despot’s premier apologist.

.. he opposed the president’s two best foreign policy decisions: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and decertifying the Iran deal.

.. Some secretaries of state — Colin Powell, for instance — alienate their bosses by siding with the bureaucracy. Others, like Henry Kissinger, do the opposite. Tillerson is the rare bird who managed to do both.

.. unlike Tillerson, he will have credibility with foreign governments. Just as importantly, he’s been willing to contradict the president, meaning he’ll be able to act as a check on him, too.

Trump isn’t going to be disciplined by someone whose views are dovish or establishmentarian. But he might listen to, and be tempered by, a responsible hawk.

.. The notion that Kim Jong-un is going to abandon his nuclear arsenal is risible. What, other than reunification of Korea on Pyongyang’s terms, would Kim exchange his arsenal for?

Equally risible is the idea that his regime will ever abide by the terms of a deal. North Korea violates every agreement it signs.

.. might strike it at South Korea’s and perhaps Japan’s expense. This president has never been particularly fond of our two closest Asian allies, much less of the cost to the United States of aiding in their defense.

.. The promise of Pompeo is that he can provide ballast against some of Trump’s other gusts, particularly when it comes to the Kremlin.

  • On Syria, he dismisses the possibility of a collaborative relationship with Russia.
  • On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he insists, “America has an obligation to push back.”
  • On WikiLeaks, he calls it a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
  • On Russian interference in the U.S. election, he acknowledges it as incontrovertible fact and warns of the “Gerasimov doctrine” — the Russian conviction that it can use disinformation to win a bloodless war with the West.

.. If the thought that Putin has strings to pull with this president alarms you, Pompeo’s presence should be reassuring. However much you might otherwise disagree with him, the guy who graduated first in his class from West Point is not a Russian stooge.

.. he’d be smart to model his behavior on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the administration’s one undisputed star, who thrives in his job because he’s plainly not afraid of losing it, much less of speaking his mind.