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Postmodernism Disrobed: Jean Baudrillard V.S. Stanley Fish

1263 words - 5 pages

Rao Fu Borden
Writing 2Professor: John WilliamsFeb-18th-09Postmodernism Disrobed: Jean Baudrillard V.S. Stanley FishIn writing this close reading assignment, I have struggled with my desire to write something about Jean Baudrillard and Stanley Fish without being too negative. In seeking to understand postmodernism through Baudrillard's and Fish's writings, for they are both considered the iconic figures in postmodern sociology, I have twisted my brain, but not learned much. Baudrillard and Fish both wrote articles exploring the lack of interrelation between subjectivity and objectivity. I disagree with both of them, but I found Fish's writing more convincing, because Fish engaged himself with his readers more.In "The Map Precedes the Territory", Baudrillard portrays the postmodern world as a "hyperreal"( Baudrillard 80) society, where "the map precedes the territory,"(80) meaning that the idealized models and images are replacing the reality. According to Baudrillard, there is not a connection between the objects and their simulacra, so it is impossible to understand the truth. Unfortunately, in the postmodern world, only simulacra matter.Reading Baudrillard's article was an acid experience. First, the purpose of Baudrillard's article seems evasive. One can only guess that Baudrillard was criticizing postmodernism by the derogatory words he applied. "This was the approach of Jesuits … Behind the baroque of images hides the grey eminence of politics." (80) However, he never points out who has interest in dismantling the connection between the reality and the simulacra, nor did he explain the effects on human life when the simulacra lost connection with reality.Stanley Fish, on the other hand, has a much clear theme. In "How to Recognize a Poem When You See One," Fish argues that there is not a clear line between the subjectivity and objectivity, "all objects are made and not found." Fish makes reference to his anecdote; giving examples in great detail of how his students recognized five names he put on the blackboard as a Christian poem. From his teaching experience, Fish concludes that "poems are products of social and cultural patterns of thought." This means that culture affects people so deeply to the degree they think alike, and interpret objects in unanimity, such as recognizing poetic characteristics in a string of names.Beside the ambiguous purpose of the article, the layout of "The Map Precedes the Territory" is also confusing. Baudrillard did not provide any evidence explaining how he arrived at his opinion. He did not give one example to illustrate his point either.When he mentions "…now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra," (81) it sounds more like a catharsis as opposed to a purely academic statement. Also, in a relatively short article, Baudrillard took a whole paragraph to repeat the descriptions of the four phases of image. Compare "This would be the successive phases of the image...

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