I believe that with sufficient ridicule this empty, wearisome topic will simply go away.
That's what I thought maybe two or three years ago. But I kept asking myself, what the fuck is going on with this stuff? Why screw up the language and the thought and the history all at the same time? But this position didn't hold for long. There is something there, but what?
I just tried to write a letter to my stepfather who lives in Japan, and explain what I've been reading and thinking. This morning I re-read what I wrote and I discovered it was complete un-intelligible.
Here's the extremely short form and hopefully more intelligible version.
The Modernism that the Enlightenment dreamed up as the future, failed at its very inception with the failure of the French Revolution and the failure of the Napoleonic wars to transform Europe into a unified group of republics under French hegemony. In the wake of those catastrophes, there was a tremendous intellectual reaction and revolt. We call part of this reaction romanticism (at least in writing and painting).
Some similar kind of failure has occurred in the last third of the twentieth century and it has spawn a wave of intellectual revolts and reactions. Since we are in the middle of living it, we can't quite name it, but whatever could be circumscribed by the title post-modern or post-structural writing is definitely part of the reaction to yet another failure of a modernist project.
Say modernism is the ideal to make the world safe for democracy with equality, prosperity, and justice for all. Well that ain't happening and its getting worse, not better--that's the failure.
So, I am interested in reading pomo work to figure out both what the intellectual reaction is, and how that sheds light on the larger systemic failure of what could be called a modernist dream of truth, justice, and prosperity for all.