A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present by Fredric Jameson

By Fredric Jameson

The ideas of modernity and modernism are among the main arguable and vigorously debated in modern philosophy and cultural concept. during this intervention, Fredric Jameson--perhaps the main influential and persuasive theorist of postmodernity--excavates and explores those notions in a clean and illuminating manner.

The awesome revival of discussions of modernity, in addition to of latest theories of inventive modernism, calls for realization in its personal correct. it kind of feels transparent that the (provisional) disappearance of possible choices to capitalism performs its half within the common try to revive ‘modernity’ as a social perfect. but the paradoxes of the idea that illustrate its valid background and recommend a few principles for averting its misuse as well.

In this significant interpretation of the frustrating, Jameson concludes that either strategies are tainted, yet still yield clues as to the character of the phenomena they alleged to theorize. His really appropriate and vigilant probing of either terms--which can most likely now not be banished at this overdue date--helps us make clear our current political and creative situations.

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I would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities, the SUNY Research Foundation, and various deans of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton for granting me funding and time in which to write. Nathan W. Dean, vice provost for graduate studies and research, has consistently supported my need for time to complete the manuscript. A canny physicist, he has illuminated some of the scientific concepts on which I draw. I owe a significant debt to John Kuehl, whose suggestions improved first the Gaddis chapter and then the whole book.

In short, like any significant change in reality, the latest one has rattled windows in every house on the block. " 23 I've called the new mode actualism to suggest both kinship with and difference from realism. My term derives from a distinction Heisenberg makes as he discusses the dubious reality of particles as mathematical forms. "Would you call such. mathematical forms 'actual' or 'real'? "24 With its roots not in things but in acts, relations, and motions, actualism describes a literature that abandons the old mechanistic reality without losing interest in the external world.

American fiction20th centuryHistory and criticism. 2. Physics in literature. 3. Literature and scienceUnited StatesHistory20th century. 4. Postmodernism (Literature)United States. 5. Quantum theory in literature. I. Title. 5409356-dc20 91-36805 CIP The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. Page v FOR ADAM AND MICHAEL Page vii Contents Preface ix Chapter One ACTUALISM Fiction in the Quantum Universe 1 Chapter Two THOMAS PYNCHON Gravity's Rainbow and the Fiction of Quantum Continuity 27 Chapter Three ROBERT COOVER The Public Burning and the Accidents of History 66 Chapter Four WILLIAM GADDIS J R and the Matter of Energy 93 Chapter Five JOHN BARTH L E T T E R S and the Relative Frame 124 Chapter Six MARGARET ATWOOD Cat's Eye and the Subjective Author 159 Chapter Seven DONALD BARTHELME Paradise and the Uncertain Principles of Actualism 190 Chapter Eight BEYOND THE BORDERS Actualism in the Quantum Universe 218 Notes 239 Bibliography 257 Index 271 Page ix PREFACE I began work on this book when a relatively simple problem turned complex: I was exploring the influence that Vladimir Nabokov had on Thomas Pynchon, who took a course from Nabokov at Cornell.

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