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Reflections now and then

Postmodern colors

Greenberg provides an interesting insight into modernism. He says (or thats what I grasp) that the break from the past, especially the tendency to do away with set standards or levels would have happened anyway, especially with industrialization, redistribution of wealth, war, etc. Modernism was NOT all that, instead it was a reaction against this tendency to do away with the notion of quality.

Postmodernists are throwing high fives at the presumed death of Modernism, now values could be relaxed even further, ultimately all difference between what is good and what isnt will be blurred and we will perhaps wallow in a soup of grey noise. Greenberg argues that modernism will continue to thrive against this renewed vigour of the dadaists, as a beacon for standards and values. But that is a rather negative look at postmodernism, and stuffy glorification of modernist thoughts.

Trying to preserve standards is one thing. I try to understand value and support that. But one of the evils of Modernism had (also) been to try bring universality to these standards, disregarding independent opinion. What is good for one may not be good for another! The good thing about post Modernism, as I understand it, is not about blurring the differences between the low and the high ends of art, or celebrating the low as the high. Human mind, despite media hype invariably identifies quality in its respective context. It is about relaxing the stanglehold of universality, about context based appreciation of art.

The blonde white babes may have made way to the likes of Naomi Campbell, the truth is that given a choice in a bevy of dark-complexioned ladies, a larger proportion of males, lascivious or not, will still prefer to take a second look at Ms Campbell (over most of the others on 'display'). If this statement reads wholly out of sync with modern sensitivities, then we must be kidding ourselves! Why didnt we have that fantastic actress, Whoopie Goldberg in the lead role of "Ghost", instead of Demi moore? And no, I am NOT referring to racial prejudices for color. The answer, however difficult to stomach lies somwhere deep within us, and is abundant in examples of nature.

Why do you think the peacock has such a long and intricately decorated tail, even though it's difficult to escape predators with such baggage? Given the context, we invariably opt for the 'better' one. Think about "The Singing Nun", can you imagine anyone other than Ms Goldberg in that role? But then, the context was different! PostModernism has opened up an opportunity to celebrate quality within multiple contexts. The tendency to relax or redefine standards of appreciation were there at the beginning of Modernism, and it will be there in the future. When such forces become dominant (what with galleries investing huge sums to procure and display rotting-shark soup in glass containers), individuals who opt to differ will always construct autonomous standards for identification and appreciation of quality. 'Real' high art will continue to thrive.


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