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Contemporaneity and Antagonism in Modernist and Postmodern Aesthetics

Contemporaneity and Antagonism in Modernist and Postmodern Aesthetics GilliaN B. Pierce When Paul de Man writes in Blindness and Insight about the tension between literary modernity and literary history--a locus of antagonism, in his view--he seems in many ways to be prefiguring current discussions of contemporaneity as the term has been used recently in art critical and theoretical circles. De Man reflects that "there may well be an inherent contradiction between modernity, which is a way of acting and behaving, and such terms as `reflection' or `ideas' that play an important part in literature and history. The spontaneity of being modern conflicts with the claim to think and write about modernity" (142). Substituting here the term "contemporaneity" as a formulation for our current way of relating to the present, we arrive at a succinct description of the field of antagonism the idea of contemporaneity is meant to evoke. In discussions of contemporaneity, as in de Man's formulation above, the present becomes eternal through a constant reflective practice and a recognition of its own incessant incipience. Has the postmodern moment therefore passed? Discussions of contemporaneity appear to mark a new stage of postmodernism and to describe what Okwui Enwezor refers to as the antagonisms of the "postcolonial http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Contemporaneity and Antagonism in Modernist and Postmodern Aesthetics

The Comparatist , Volume 37 (1) – May 12, 2013

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
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Abstract

GilliaN B. Pierce When Paul de Man writes in Blindness and Insight about the tension between literary modernity and literary history--a locus of antagonism, in his view--he seems in many ways to be prefiguring current discussions of contemporaneity as the term has been used recently in art critical and theoretical circles. De Man reflects that "there may well be an inherent contradiction between modernity, which is a way of acting and behaving, and such terms as `reflection' or `ideas' that play an important part in literature and history. The spontaneity of being modern conflicts with the claim to think and write about modernity" (142). Substituting here the term "contemporaneity" as a formulation for our current way of relating to the present, we arrive at a succinct description of the field of antagonism the idea of contemporaneity is meant to evoke. In discussions of contemporaneity, as in de Man's formulation above, the present becomes eternal through a constant reflective practice and a recognition of its own incessant incipience. Has the postmodern moment therefore passed? Discussions of contemporaneity appear to mark a new stage of postmodernism and to describe what Okwui Enwezor refers to as the antagonisms of the "postcolonial

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 12, 2013

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