PARADIGMS: MODERNIST v. POSTMODERNIST THOUGHT
Department of Criminal Justice
Northeastern Illinois University
version from Humanity and Society (19(1): 1-22, 1995;
and revised in Dragan Milovanovic, Postmodern Criminology.
New York: Garland Publishing, 1997)
recent days, much has been said of a postmodernist
analysis in the social sciences. Indeed, a number
of comparisons occasionally arise in the literature
between modernist and postmodernist analysis, usually
as an introduction to some further study. Little,
however, has appeared that takes as its primary goal
a comparison of the two perspectives. Accordingly,
this essay is more didactic and pedagogical in orientation.
We have identified eight dimensions as a basis of
comparison. Although presented as dichotomies, the
differences often fall along a continuum; some tend
toward further polarization, others become discontinuities,
such as the differences between the centered and
decentered subject, the privileging of disorder rather
than order, the emphasis on Pathos rather than Logos,
considerable amount of literature from those who
are committed to the modernist approach is of a defensive
sort when confronted with the epistemological directions
advocated by postmodernist analysis. The first tactic
generally is to dismiss its claims as old wine in
new bottles, followed by incorporating the postmodernist
premises and concepts within the discourse of modernist
thought. Much effort, then, is taken to undo the
postmodernist's concepts by way of a discursive reorientation,
at the conclusion of which modernist thinkers hope
to say, "There, I told you so! Old wine in new
bottles!" This attempt fails, however, even
though in some instances several modernist thinkers
did in fact anticipate some aspects of the postmodern
paradigm. It is necessary to recognize that postmodernist
analysis is indeed premised on radically new concepts,
and discursive redefinitions will not help further
progressive thought in the social sciences. What
we do have are dueling paradigms: the modernist versus
thought had its origins in the Enlightenment period.
This era was a celebration of the liberating potentials
of the social sciences, the materialistic gains of
capitalism, new forms of rational thought, due process
safeguards, abstract rights applicable to all, and
the individual it was a time of great optimism (Milovanovic,
1992a, 1994a; Dews, 1987; Sarup, 1989; Lyotard, 1984;
Baker, 1993). Postmodernists are fundamentally opposed
to modernist thought. Sensitized by the insights
of some of the classic thinkers, ranging from Marx,
to Weber, to Durkheim, Freud, and the critical thought
of the Frankfurt School, postmodernist thought emerged
with a new intensity in the late 1980s and early
1990s. "Let us wage a war on totality" states
one of its key exponents (Lyotard, 1984: 82). Most
of the key concepts of modernist thought were critically
examined and found to be wanting. Entrenched bureaucratic
powers, monopolies, the manipulative advertisement
industry, dominant and totalizing discourses, and
the ideology of the legal apparatus were seen as
exerting repressive powers. In fact, the notion of
the individual free, self-determining, reflective,
and the center of activity was seen as an ideological
construction, nowhere more apparent than in the notion
of the juridic subject, the so-called reasonable
man in law. Rather than the notion of the individual,
the centered subject, the postmodernists were to
advocate the notion of the decentered subject.
analysis had its roots in French thought, particularly
during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Here, with
the continued disillusionment with conventional critical
thought a transition from Hegelian to Nietzschean
thought took place. Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Lyotard,
Baudrillard, Foucault, Kristeva and many others were
to emerge bearing the banner of postmodernist thinking.
Feminists from the postmodern tradition were to become
key thinkers. Such theorists as Irigaray, Moi, and
Cixous were to apply much of this thought to gender
construction. The central figure in developing alternative
notions of the subject, the determining effects of
discourse, and the nature of the symbolic order was
Jacques Lacan. New-wave postmodernist thinkers are
likely to draw from chaos theory, Godel's theorem,
catastrophe theory, quantum mechanics, and topology
theory. Novel conceptions of space, time, causality,
subjectivity, the role of discourse, desire, social
structure, roles, social change, knowledge, and the
nature of harm, justice, and the law were developed
and continue to be developed in postmodernist thought.
The call is for the abandonment of a center, privileged
reference points, fixed subjects, first principles,
and an origin (Sarup, 1989: 59).
essay will outline the differences between the modernist
and the postmodernist paradigm. As Thomas Kuhn said
many years ago, paradigms tend to crystallize around
key validity claims that become premises for scientific
thought. "Normal science" tends to work
out the implications of this general body of knowledge(s)
through, for example, deductive logic. Occasionally,
as in the case of postmodernist thought, a revolutionary
new science with entirely new premises develops and
becomes the body of knowledge from which new questions
are asked and entirely new discoveries are made.
versus postmodernist thought
clarify some of the more salient differences, we
have selected eight dimensions for comparison. These
dimensions include the nature of: (1) society and
social structure, (2) social roles, (3) subjectivity/agency,
(4) discourse, (5) knowledge, (6) space/time, (7)
causality, and (8) social change. This essay will
highlight the major differences that have emerged
by the early 1990s. Accordingly, we will list the
dimensions and comment briefly on each. We should
add, whereas the modernist assumptions seem more
descriptive, the postmodernist add a prescriptive
dimension. Contrary to many modernist critics, postmodernism
is not fatalistic, cynical, and nonvisionary; rather,
what the new paradigm offers is a more intense critique
of what is, and transformative visions of what could
Society and Social Structure
equilibrium; homeostasis; tension reduction; order;
homogeneity; consensus; stasis; normativity; foundationalism;
logocentricism; totality; closure; transcendental
signifiers; structural functionalism.
far-from-equilibrium conditions; flux; change; chance;
spontaneity; irony; orderly disorder; heterogeneity;
diversity; intensity; paralogism; toleration for
the incommensurable; dissipative structures; antifoundationalism;
fragmentation; coupling; impossibility of formal
closure; structural dislocations/undecidability;
Modernist Thought. Much of the dominant literature
of modernist thought can be traced to the work of
structural functionalism or totalizing theory. Theorists
such as Durkheim, Luhmann (1985) and Parson, stand
out as exemplary. A good part of this literature
rests on an underlying homeostatic, tension-reduction,
or equilibrium model. Freud, for example, rests his
views on some conception of tension-reduction as
the operative force in social structural development.
Perhaps we can trace much of this to Newtonian physics
and its influence. The central question is one of
order. It is seen as desirable without further explanation.
In fact, some, such as Parsons, define deviance in
terms of distance from some assumed acceptable standard
thought is focused on totalizing theory the search
for overencompassing theories of society and social
development. Some discoverable foundation was said
to exist. At the center, a logos was said to be at
play; whether, for example, as in Weber's forces
of rationalization, Freud's homeostasis, or as in
Hegel's Absolute Spirit. These logics slumbered in
anticipation of their correct articulation. These
were the transcendental signifiers that were discoverable.
of the often-mentioned consensus paradigm, too, can
be placed within the modernist paradigm. Thus metanarratives
are still replete with assumptions of homogeneity,
desirability of consensus, order, etc.
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernist thought, although
still emerging, and which initially found its basis
in its critique of modernism, has found grounding
in the insights of chaos theory, Godel's theorem,
catastrophe theory, quantum mechanics, emerging cosmological
insights, topology theory, and Lacanian thought to
name a few. Postmodernists begin their analysis with
privileging disorder rather than order. Their starting
point is paralogism: privileging instabilities (Lyotard,
1984). Accordingly, this model begins with far-from-equilibrium
conditions as being the more "natural" state,
and places a premium on flux, nonlinear change, chance,
spontaneity, intensity, indeterminacy, irony, and
orderly disorder. No permanent stable order is possible
or even desirable. No center or foundation exists.
Godel's theorem (1962), describing the impossibility
of formal closure, dictates that the search for an
overall, all-encompassing totalizing theory is an
illusory exercise. In fact, as we shall show below,
since no precise center exists, or since no possibility
exists for precisely specifying initial conditions,
then, the process of iteration will produce disproportional
and unanticipated effects.
structures" are offered as relatively stable
societal structures that remain sensitive and responsive
to their environment (Baker, 1993; see also Unger's
suggestion for the establishment of criticizable
institutions, 1987; see also Leifer on organizational
transformations, 1989). This concept implies both
relative stability as well as continuous change (i.e.,
order and disorder). Contrary to structural functionalism
and its privileging of homeostasis, postmodernists
see the desirability of ongoing flux and continuous
change captured by the notion of far-from-equilibrium
conditions. It is within these conditions that dissipative
some have offered the notion of structural coupling
and constitutive theory to explain the movement of
information between structure and environment (Luhmann,
1992; Hunt, 1993; Jessop, 1990; Henry and Milovanovic,
1991, 1996). Implied is the coexistence of multiple
sites of determinants whose unique historical articulations
are never precisely predictable. Due to inherent
uncertainties in initial conditions, iterative practices
produce the unpredictable. Here, the focal concern
is on tolerance and support for the incommensurable.
Assumed is the existence of perpetual fragmentation,
deconstruction, and reconstruction. Advocated is
the facilitation of the emergence of marginalized,
disenfranchised, disempowered, and other excluded
voices. Noteworthy in the analysis of societal structure
by way of postmodernist analysis is Unger's work
on an empowered democracy (1987), even if he didn't
explicitly state his affinity with postmodernist
thought. In his offerings, orderly disorder should
be privileged. During the 1960s and 1970s, the development
of the conflict paradigm in the social sciences marked
some movement toward the postmodernist approach,
but the promise fell short.
theory is increasingly becoming a key element in
postmodern analysis. The founding figures include
Ilya Prigogine, Henri Poincare, Mitchell Feigenbaum,
Benoit Mandelbrot, and Edward Lorenz (see the overview
by Briggs and Peat, 1989; Gleick, 1987; Stewart,
1989). We find application of chaos theory to psychoanalysis
(Deleuze and Guattari, 1987; Milovanovic, 1992a,
1993a); to literature (Serres, 1982a, 1982b; Hayles,
1990, 1991); to criminology (T.R.Young, 1991a; Pepinsky,
1991); to law (Brion, 1991; Milovanovic, 1993a);
to psychology (Butz, 1991, 1992a, 1992b); to sociology
(Young, 1991b, 1992; Baker, 1993); to business and
management (Leifer, 1989); and to political science
(Unger, 1987). Others such as Charles Sanders Peirce
anticipated some dimensions of this approach (see
especially his essay on the doctrine of chance and
necessity, 1940: 157-73; and his notion of pure play
or musement, 1934: 313-16).
and Lacanian thought, rather than Hegelian thought,
are inspirational to postmodernist thinkers. Feminist
postmodernists traced to the former have perhaps
contributed the most important insights. Julia Kristeva,
Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, and Toril Moi, to a
considerable extent, have borrowed ideas from them
in their elaboration of given phallocentric social
structures and their possible alternatives (a useful
overview is found in Sellers, 1991; Grosz, 1990;
for an application in law, see Cornell, 1991, 1993;
Milovanovic, 1994a: Chapter 6, 1994b).
role-taking; socialization; integration; centripetal;
closure; static; dichotomies; system serving; primacy
to the "me"; limit attractors; symphony
role-making; role-jumbling; variability; centrifugal;
openness; porous boundaries; testing boundaries;
primacy to the dialectic between the "I-me";
privileging the "I"; strange attractors;
torus; jazz player.
Modernist Thought. The modernist view tends to rely
on a Parsonian construct of a role in which centripetal
forces of society socialize the person into accepting
the obligations and expectations that pertain to
him/her. This, then, becomes the question of functional
integration. Accordingly, roles tend to become dichotomized
male/female, employer/employee, good guy/bad guy,
etc. In the specified balance of the I-me that many
social theorists advocate (Durkheim, Mead, etc.),
great weight is placed on the dominance of the "me," that
part of the self that dresses itself up with the
persona demanded by the situation, struts upon the
stage, and plays its part with various degrees of
success to various audiences. A person is relegated
to role-taking. The operative metaphor we offer is
a member of a symphony orchestra.
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernists see things
differently. Roles are essentially unstable and are
in a dialectical relationship between centrifugal
and centripetal forces. And this is desirable. Whereas
roles in the modernist view would be similar to what
chaos theorists refer to as limit attractors (they
tend toward stereotypical closure), roles in postmodernist
analysis would be very much like torus or strange
attractors. A strange attractor can appear as two
butterfly wings where instances of behavior may occur
in one (i.e., a person's conduct is situated in the
illegal underworld), and in the other (i.e., a person's
conduct is in the legitimate world). Where the two
cross, maximal indeterminacy prevails. When instances
of behavior are plotted in phase space (a diagrammatical
depiction), what appears over time is some degree
of global patterning (the distinct wings of the butterfly),
but at any instance, that is at any specific location,
variability and indeterminacy prevail (from quantum
mechanics' uncertainty principle, one cannot at the
same time predict location and momentum). There exists,
in other words, local indeterminacy but a relative
global stability, an orderly disorder. A person's
fate is relegated to role-making (Young, 1994).
George Herbert Mead's framework, role-making would
indicate the active contribution of the "I." Unger's
notion of role-jumbling would be another example
(1987). Harraway's idea of a postmodernist identity
would be another (1991). Others have advocated a
simultaneous disidentification and identification
with various discursive subject positions, a process
by which reidentifications are produced (JanMohammed,
1993; McLaren, 1994a). "It is...a process of
forming affiliations with other positions, of defining
equivalences and constructing alliances" (JanMohammed,
1993: 111). In fact, Lacan's view is that the person
is decentered and is always subject to imaginary
and symbolic play, and therefore a stable moi is
illusory. Stability can only be maintained by the
impositions of external forces (i.e., manipulative
powers of political forces and the advertisement
industry; the violence of a phallocentric symbolic
order, etc.). For the postmodernist view, the call
is to be a jazz player and poet.
centered; the individual; transparent; reflective;
self-directing; whole; positivistic; the "oversocialized" conception;
juridic subject; homo-duplex; homoeconomicus; homeostatic;
passivity; the "good," interpellated, spoken
subject; transcendental self; cartesian; cogito,
ergo sum; logos; rational man; conscious, autonomous
being; desire centered on lack.
decentered subject; polyvocal; polyvalent; parljtre;
l'jtre parlant; pathos; subject-in-process; schema
L and schema R; subject of desire; activity; subject
of disidentification; assumption of one's desire;
effects of the unconscious; positive/productive desire;
will to power.
Modernist Thought. Modernist thought has privileged
the idea of the individual, a person who is assumed
to be conscious, whole, self-directing, reflective,
unitary, and transparent. In its extreme we have
what had been characterized in the 1960s by Dennis
Wrong and picked up in the critical literature as
the "oversocialized conception of man." Other
conceptions cling to a homo-duplex view in which
human nature is said to be a balance of egoism and
altruism. Here individual desires are said to be
in need of synchronization with given sociopolitical
systems. Alternatively, we have homoeconomicus. The
Enlightenment period was one in which the individual
or the centered subject was discovered. This conception
of the transcendental self, the cartesian subject,
has been incorporated in the legal sphere as the
juridic subject, the reasonable man/woman in law.
Nowhere better has it been expressed than in Cogito,
ergo sum. Desire, for the modernists, is inscribed
on the body; it is territorialized (Deleuze and Guattari,
1987). As Foucault would point out, the desiring
subject becomes a body of passivity and economic/political
utility (1977). Desire must be tamed, captured within
the coordinates of various dominant discourses. Here
desire begins with a lack, the price it pays for
its inauguration into the Symbolic Order, and the
biography of the self is one in which repetition
drives the organism in its attempt to fill the void
(see also Dews, 1987: 132, 135). In the more passive
form of adaptation, the person is driven toward homeostasis,
tension-reduction, catharsis, etc. The subject is
said to be interpellated into her/his discursive
subject-positions necessitated by the imperatives
of a smoothly functioning socioeconomic political
order. Thus we have the interpellated (Althusser,
1971), spoken (Silverman, 1982) or the good subject
(Pecheux, 1982). In the more active form of adaptation,
expressions of alienation, despair, resistance and
opposition produce the oppositional subject caught
within the "discourse of the hysteric" (Lacan,
1991a; Milovanovic, 1993a).
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernist thought has
offered the idea of the decentered subject. The subject
is more determined than determining, is less internally
unified than a desiring subject caught within the
constraints of various discourses and their structuring
properties. Kristeva has referred to the person (Bartlett
and Kennedy, 1991a: 387-9) as the subject-in-process;
Lacan, l'jtre parlant or the parljtre (the speaking
being, or the speaking); and much African-American
feminist analysis in law, for example, has argued
for the polyvocal, polyvalent nature of consciousness
(Harris, 1991: 235-62; Matsuda, 1989; Williams, 1987,
1991; Bartlett and Kennedy, 1991a: 387-9). Perhaps
the clearest exposition of the decentered subject
has been provided by Lacan in his schema L (1977).
This four-cornered schema proposes two diagonally
intersecting axes: one represents an unconscious/symbolic
axis, the other the imaginary axis. Here the subject
is drawn over all four corners of this schema; s/he
is simultaneously caught in the working of the symbolic
and imaginary axes. The unconscious/symbolic axis
has at one end of the pole the grammatical "I";
at the opposite end, the Other, the sphere of the
unconscious structured like a language. The second
axis, the imaginary axis, has at one end the imaginary
construction of the self (moi); the opposite end
that of the other, the entity through whom the self
establishes itself as a coherent (be it illusory),
whole being. Lacan's more dynamic models of Schema
L appear as the "graphs of desire" and
Schema R (1977; see also Milovanovic's expose, 1992a;
on Schema R, see Milovanovic, 1994a).
modernist's view of the subject often centers on
the idea that desire emerges from "lack," and
is predicated on the need for keeping desire in check
its free-flowing expression being said to be inherently
subversive or disruptive in ongoing social activity.
postmodernists add that the desiring subject is imprisoned
within restrictive discourses; at one extreme in
discourses of the master, where subjects enact key
master signifiers producing and reproducing the dominant
order; at the other, in the discourses of the hysteric,
where despairing subjects find no adequate signifiers
with which to embody their desire (Lacan, 1991a;
Bracher, 1988, 1993; Milovanovic, 1993a, 1993b).
Oppressive discursive structures interpellate subjects
as supports of system needs (Althusser, 1971; see
also Silverman's analysis of the manipulative media
effects, 1983). In either case hegemony is easily
offer both a more passive and a more active form
of disruptions. In the more passive form, we have
the notion of disruptive voices, such as in the notion
of dilire, a disruptive language of the body (Lecercle,
1985, 1990); or in minor literatureand the rhizome
(Deleuze and Guattari, 1986, 1987); or in the notion
of noise or the parasite (Serres, 1982a: 65-70; Hayles,
1990: 197-208); or in the nonlinear discursive disruptions
of the enthymeme that intrudes on any linear discursive
constructions (Knoespel, 1985); or, finally, in Lacan's
notion of an alternative form of jouissance, a jouissance
of the body, a view that initiated much debate over
the desirability of an jcriture fjminine(Lacan, 1985:
145). In the more active form, postmodernists offer
a dialogically based pedagogy whereby the cultural
revolutionary or revolutionary subject enters a dialogical
encounter with the oppressed in coproducing key master
signifiers and replacement discourses that more accurately
reflect the given repressive order (see Lacan's discourse
of the analyst in combination with the discourse
of the hysteric, Milovanovic, 1993a; see also Freire,
1985; McLaren 1994a; Aronowitz and Giroux, 1985).
postmodernists, desire can "be conceived as
a forward movement, a flight towards an object which
always eludes our grasp, the attempt, never successful
but never frustrating, to reach the unattainable
by exploring the paths of the possible" (Lecercle,
1985: 196). Here desire, contrary to merely responding
to lack and being a negative, conservative force,
is seen as equated with positive processes (Dews,
1987: 132, 135-6), a will to power, defined as "the
principle of the synthesis of forces" (Deleuze,
1983: 50). Nietzsche, not Hegel, is the key figure.
Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the rhizomebrings
out the nonlinear paths taken by desire seeking expression
at each level of semiotic production (Milovanovic,
postmodernists, desire is liberating, joyous, ironic,
playful, and a positive force. Ultimately, the "hero" (or
Nietzsche's overman as opposed to the common man
[woman]), must avow her/his desire and act in conformity
with it (Lacan, 1992: 309, 319-21; Lacan, 1977: 275;
Lee, 1990: 95-9, 168-70; Rajchman, 1991: 42-3). 4.
instrumental; uniaccentual; global; neutral; dominant;
master/university discourse; primacy to paradigm/syntagm;
major literature; readerly text; production/reproduction;
referential signifier and text; privileging of master
signifiers and "natural" categories; privileging
multiaccentual; fractal signifiers; regime of signs;
discourse of the hysteric/analyst; linguistic coordinate
systems; discursive formations; borromean knots;
capitonnage; symptoms; objet petit (a); primacy to
the semiotic axes metaphor/metonymy, condensation/displacement;
minor literature; writerly text; nonreferential text;
hyperreal; cyberspace; verb forms. Commentary: a.
Modernist Thought. The Modernist paradigm assumes
that discourse is neutral; it is but an instrument
for use to express rationally developed projects
of an inherently centered subject. In fact, some
transcendental signifiers exist at the center of
social structure and phenomena that are discoverable.
Assumed, most often, is an ongoing dominant discourse
that is seen as adequate for providing the medium
for expression, whether for dominant or subordinate
couplet, the signifier (the word), and the signified
(that which it expresses) are said to stabilize and
crystallize in conventional understandings (uniaccentuality).
Signifiers are more often said to be referential:
they point to something outside themselves, to some "concrete" reality
(naturalism). Modernists are more likely to assume
these natural categories rather than treating them
as semiotically variable concepts (the Sapir-Whorf
linguistic relativity principle anticipated many
of the insights of postmodernist analysis). Modernist
discourse celebrates the noun rather than the verb
forms (Bohm, 1980). It is much more likely to make
use of master signifiers such as prediction, falsification,
replication, generalization, operationalization,
objectivity, value freedom, etc.; these are "givens" in
investigations (Young, 1994).
are more likely to focus on the most conscious level
of semiotic production. Consciously constructed discourses
are coordinated by two axes: the paradigmatic axis,
which is a vertical structure, if you will, that
provides word choices, a dictionary of sorts. The
horizontal axis, the syntagmatic axis, stands for
the grammatical and linear placement of signifiers.
The two axes work together to produce meaning. Debates
that do question the nature of dominant discourses
often are centered on the differences between an
oppressive master discourse versus an ostensibly
liberating discourse of the university (on the nature
of the four main discourses master, university, hysteric,
and analyst, see Lacan, 1991a; Bracher, 1988, 1993;
Milovanovic, 1993a). The evolution of history, for
the modernist thinker, is often seen as the progressive
victory of the discourse of the university over the
discourse of the master. Discursive production, in
modernist thought, is much more likely to produce
the readerly text (Barthes, 1974; Silverman, 1982)
and major literature (Deleuze and Guattari, 1986).
This text is a linear reading (or viewing) with the
organizing principle of noncontradiction. Its goal
is closure. Its effect is the production and reproduction
of conventionality. Interpreters and viewers are
encouraged to assume conventional discursive subject-positions
and fill in the gaps by use of dominant symbolic
forms. b. Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernist thought
does not assume a neutral discourse. There are many
discourses reflective of local sites of production,
each, in turn, existing with a potential for the
embodiment of desire in signifiers and for the constructions
of realities. The sign, composed of signifier and
signified, finds its natural state as being in flux.
The signified is multiaccentual, the site of diverse
struggles (Volosinov, 1986). The paradigm-syntagm
semiotic axis is only the most manifest level of
semiotic production, the most conscious. Two other
levels have been identified and work at the unconscious
level: the condensation-displacement semiotic axis,
and the metaphoric-metonymic semiotic axis (Milovanovic,
it is argued, begins at a deeper level of the psychic
apparatus and undergoes embodiment for Freud, "figuration";
for Lacan, essentially "fantasy," $ a by
the contributory work ("overdetermination")
of these two axes they are the coordinating mechanisms
which provide temporary anchorings to the floating
signifiers found in the Other, the sphere of the
unconscious , finally reaching the level of a particular
historically rooted and stabilized discourse or linguistic
coordinate system. It is here where final embodiment
must be completed in the paradigm-syntagm semiotic
axis (i.e., a particular word or utterance is vocalized).
It was Freud who began this analysis with his investigation
of dream work as the "royal road to the unconscious." It
was Lacan who added the metaphoric-metonymic semiotic
axis. Much of the investigation of the effects of
language by modernists is focused merely on the surface
structure of paradigm-syntagm (in law, for example,
see Greimas, 1990; Jackson, 1988; Landowski, 1991).
Postmodernists identify the violence of language
(Lecercle, 1985, 1990). Linguistic repression and
alienation are the results of historically situated
hegemonic discourses (see also the notion of the
regime of signs of Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, and
their notion of minor versus major literature 1986;
see also Foucault's notion of discursive formations
and the epistemes 1973; Milovanovic's notion of linguistic
coordinate systems 1992a, 1992b; Pecheux's notion
of discursive formations, 1982).
as we have previously said (1992a), Lacan has offered
four intersubjectively structured discourses (1991a;
Bracher, 1988, 1993; Milovanovic, 1993a; Arrigo,
1993a, 1993b). Desire, it is argued, has various
forms of embodiment in these structured discourses.
Different discourses may, on the one hand, be manipulative
and repressive in the expression of desire; and,
on the other, offer greater possibilities of expression
to these same desires.
would celebrate the writerly text (Barthes, 1974;
Silverman, 1982). This text is seen as being more
subversive than a readerly text. Encouraged in the
viewer/interpreter is "an infinite play of signification;
in it there can be no transcendental signified, only
provisional ones which function in turn as signifiers" (Silverman,
1982: 246). For the writerly form, deconstruction
of the text is celebrated with the purpose of uncovering
hidden or repressed voices (consider feminist's celebration
of investigating "her/story" rather than
history). This strategy, the postmodernists would
say, is particularly important in a contemporary
society characterized as producing the nonreferential
and autonomous hyperreal (Baudrillard, 1981), and
the new order of cyberspace (Gibson, 1984).
Deleuze and Guattari (1986) have offered the idea
of minor literature,which tends toward a deterritorialization,
manifest in the carnivalesque genre or other forms
expressive of dilire (Lecercle, 1985), such as in
the writings of E.E.Cummings, Franz Kafka, and James
Joyce. In this spirit, David Bohm (1980) has advocated
the privileging and the further development of the
verb over the noun form; this would allow us to transcend
the limiting metaphysics and metanarratives embedded
in subject-verbobject discursive forms (consider,
too, Benjamin Whorf's investigations of the Hopi
global; dominant; discourse of the master and university;
grand narrative; totalizing; binary (as in law);
logos; education as liberating; Truth; privileging
scientific knowledge; absolute postulates; axiomizability;
deductive logic; banking education; closure.
local; repressed voices; constitutive processes;
metanarratives; power/knowledge; fragmented; contingent
and provisional truths; Pathos; discourse of hysteric
and analyst; knowledge for sale; education as ideology
and functional; narrative knowledge; noise, the parasite;
enthymemes; the rhizome; dilire; incompleteness;
undecidability; dialogic pedagogy; abduction.
Modernist Thought. Enlightenment thought tended toward
a totalizing Truth centered on an ostensibly discoverable
logos. Driven by formal rational methods, one inevitably
dominant and globalizing thought would result. Lyotard,
for example, has explained how scientific knowledge
has usurped narrative knowledge (1984; see also Sarup,
1989: 120-1; Hayles, 1990: 209-10; see also Habermas'
point concerning the establishment of new steering
mechanisms based on power and money that fuel purposive
rational action, 1987). Narrative knowledge, on the
other hand, is based on myth, legend, tales, stories,
etc., which provided the wherewithal of being in
society (see also Habermas' idea of communicative
or symbolic communication, 1987). Whereas scientific
knowledge tends toward closure, narrative knowledge
embraces imaginary free play.
has provided the mechanism for the production of
knowledge and the reconstitution of Truths in his
analysis of the discourses of the master and university.
For the former, knowledge and ideology are embedded
in dominant discourse. Since this discourse is the
one which is seen as relevant and since subjects
must situate themselves within it, they too are subject
to its interpellative effects (Althusser, 1971; Milovanovic,
1988a). Thus conventional knowledge is more likely
to be reconstituted by way of the readerly text,
major literature, or the discourse of the master
and university. The search for Truth by the modernists
was inevitably guided by the ideal of establishing
Absolute Postulates from which all other "facts" can
be explained by linear, deductive logic. Efficiency
and competency in the educative process are geared
toward a banking education whereby conventional master
signifiers or their derivatives are stored to be
capitalized (Freire, 1985).
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernists, on the other
hand, view knowledge as always fragmented, partial,
and contingent (see also, Sarup, 1989; Dews, 1987;
Lyotard, 1984). It always has multiple sites of production
(Geertz, 1983). It is derived from a dialogic pedagogy
where novel signifiers are coproduced in the process
of critique and the development of a language of
possibility (Freire, 1985). It is more likely to
reflect Pathos, human suffering, than Logos. Since
there are many truths and no over-encompassing Truth
is possible (following Godel's undecidability theorem,
1962), knowledge defies closure or being stored passively
as in a banking education. In fact, following chaos'
idea of iteration, the unpredictable and unanticipated
are likely to continuously appear.
celebrate local knowledge. Dominant and global knowledge
always subverts voices that otherwise seek expression,
either directly or indirectly; by the demand that
all desire must be embodied within dominant concepts,
signifiers, and linguistic coordinate systems, or
by way of translation (intertextuality) from their
more unique concrete form into abstract categories
of law and bureaucracy. Postmodernists, however,
view local knowledge(s) as not necessarily subsumable
under one grand narrative or logic (Godel's theorem).
view subjects within a social formation as thwarted
in their attempts to be true to their desires. Even
so, "space" does exist for possible articulation
of desire. The destabilizing effects of noise, the
parasite, the work of the rhizome, minor literatures,
the nonlinear disruptions of enthymemes, and the
subversive writerly text always threaten dominant
forms of knowledge. Denied subjects may be oppositional,
as in the discourse of the hysteric; or revolutionary,
as in the discourse of the analyst/hysteric (Milovanovic,
1993a, 1993b). For postmodernists, knowledge is always
both relational and positional (Kerruish, 1991).
Accordingly, standpoints are always situated in social
relations and within ideologies (p. 187). Power and
knowledge are intricately connected and hierarchically
arranged (see Dew's useful discussion of Foucault,
Nietzsche, Lyotard, 1987). To enter a discursive
formation (legal, medical, scientific, political,
etc.) is to enter the logic and rationality embedded
within it (Foucault, 1973; Pitkin, 1971); thus, truth
postmodernist analysis has been poignant as to the
explanation of the construction of the phallic Symbolic
order, gender roles, and possible alternative knowledges
(see especially Cornell, 1991, 1993; Brennan, 1993).
Investigations on the contribution of the imaginary
sphere and its possible impact on reconstructing
myths have been illuminating (Arrigo, 1993b, 1993c).
Constitutive theory has also offered the notion of
replacement discourses (Henry and Milovanovic, 1991;
Milovanovic, 1993a, 1993b). This new knowledge is
based on contingent and provisional truths, subject
to further reflection and historicity.
notion of abduction offered by Charles S. Peirce
is more accurately reflective of the postmodernist
epistemology than deductive logic. Here, Absolute
Postulates or major premises never achieve stability;
rather, creative free play guides the formulation
of tentative propositions. As Nancy Fraser and Linda
Nicholson have said, postmodernist critique:
free of any universalist theoretical ground. No longer
anchored philosophically, the very shape or character
of social criticism changes; it becomes more pragmatic,
ad hoc, contextual, and local...[t]here are no special
tribunals set apart from the sites where inquiry
is practiced, [but only] ... the plural, local, and
immanent (cited in Bartlett and Kennedy, 1991b: 388).
three-dimensional space; integral; homogeneous; striated
space; Newtonian mechanics; Euclidean geometry; Cartesian
coordinates; quantitative; differential equations
and continuities; reversibility of time.
multidimensional; smooth; fractal; imaginary; quantum
mechanics/relativity; implicate (enfolded) order;
non-Euclidean geometry; holographic; topology theory;
qualitative; twister space (imaginary); cyberspace;
nonlinear; nonreversible time.
Modernist Thought. Modernist thought rests on Newtonian
mechanics. This classical view in physics rests on
notions of absolute space and time. This in turn
is connected with the existence of determinism within
systems: if we know the positions, masses, and velocities
of a particle at one time we can accurately determine
their positions and velocities at all later times
(Bohm, 1980: 121). Newtonian physics and Euclidean
geometry, with its use of Cartesian coordinates,
is the map or blueprint of space on which modernists
construct the social world. It is what Deleuze and
Guattari refer to as striated space (1987: 488):
it consists of space with whole-number dimensions
where constant direction can be describable and end-states
predictable. Drawing from Descartes' coordinate grid
of an x-axis perpendicularly intersecting with a
y-axis, a point could be located anywhere in two-dimensional
space (similarly with 3-D space, with an added z-axis).
Thus the equation, y = 3x, can be identified on this
graph. At one stroke geometry and algebra are linked.
And Newton refined this further with his calculus
with its differential equations. Now a continuous
change in one variable can be shown to produce a
calculable change in the other. And just as time
flows forward, it can flow backward in a predictable
way: the romantic past, the "good old days," can
model has been incorporated in the social sciences.
A person's life course, for example, could be plotted
with precision if we could discover appropriate determinants.
This is the basis of positivism. It is by a striated
space (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987) that science progresses
and by which desire can be territorialized on the
body (1986) by a political economy. But striated
space needs its discrete variables with whole-number
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernists see things
differently. Quantum mechanics, non-Euclidean geometry,
string theory, twister space, topology theory, and
chaos theory, to name a few of the most prominent
approaches, have offered alternative conceptions.
The question of a dimension and prediction becomes
problematic. Nuclear physicists, for example, faced
with trying to reconcile general relativity theory
with quantum mechanics, have come up with infinities.
By adding space dimensions to their equations, these
begin to drop out of the equation. At 10-D in one
model and 26D in another, they disappear (Peat, 1988;
Kaku, 1994). The 3-D model we see is perhaps just
an explicate order with the rest of the dimensions
rolled up tightly (compactified). This compactified
order is the enfolded or implicate order (Bohm, 1980),
said to have its origins moments after the Big Bang.
theory has developed the idea of fractal dimensions.
Rather than having whole dimensions we can refer
to a space with 1= dimensions, 1 , etc. (A point
has a dimension of zero, a line a dimension of one;
a plane, two; a volume, three.) A coastline, for
example, can have a fractal dimension between one
and two. So, for example, contrary to the Boolean
logic of doctrinal legal analysis, truths are always
fractal in form. Deleuze and Guattari have developed
the idea of a smooth space, which is continuous,
not discrete. The notion of fractals is in accord
with smooth space (1987), and, as we shall show below,
fields. It is within smooth space that becoming occurs;
but progress and conventional science is done in
striated space (p. 486; see also Bergson, 1958; Serres,
others, such as the noted mathematician Penrose,
have constructed a view of space in terms of imaginary
numbers, a twister space (Peat, 1988: Chapter 8;
Penrose, 1989: 87-98). Chaos theorists, such as Mandelbrot,
made use of complex numbers in the form of z = x
+ iy, where i is an imaginary number (the square
root of -1). By further plotting z = z 2 + c and
by taking the result and reiterating by the use of
the same formula, they were to find enormously complex
and esthetically appealing figures (see Penrose,
1989: 92-4). Yet others have relied on the hologram
to indicate how inscriptions of phenomena are encoded
and how they can be revealed with their multidimensional
splendor (Bohm, 1980: 150; Pribram, 1977). Finally,
we note the field of topology, the qualitative math
which offers alternative ways of conceptualizing
phenomena without the use of math. Here, in what
is often called the "rubber math," figures
are twisted, pulled, and reshaped in various ways.
Breaking and gluing are not legitimate operations.
Breaking produces entirely new forms. Much current
thinking in nuclear- and astrophysics relies on topology
theory (Peat, 1988; Kaku, 1994).
has made use of topology to explain such things as
the structure of the psychic apparatus by using borromean
knots, Mobius bands, the torus, and projective geometry
(the cross-cap) (see also Milovanovic, 1993b, 1994c;
Granon-Lafont, 1985, 1990; Vappereau, 1988; for an
introduction to topology theory, see Hilbert and
Cohn-Vossen, 1952; Weeks, 1985; for non-Euclidean
geometry, see Russell, 1956). In fact, in 4-D space
the borromean knot of Lacan is no longer knotted.
The cross-cap, which topologically portrays the working
of schema R and how desire is embodied as a result
of the effects of the Symbolic, Imaginary, and Real
Orders, can also be presented in 3-D or 4-D space
(Milovanovic, 1994c; Hilbert and Cohn-Vossen, 1952).
It is not without effect when we move from 3-D to
4-D space (Rucker, 1984; Banchoff, 1990; for the
contributions of nonEuclidean geometry and 4-D space
on cubism in art, see Henderson, 1983). Much needs
to be done in the analysis of the effects of these
novel conceptions. Thus, for the postmodernists,
several notions of space are currently being explored
and incorporated in their analysis of the subject,
discourse, causality, and society: multiple dimensional
(Peat, 1988), fractal (Mandelbrot, 1983), holographic
(Talbot, 1991; Bohm, 1980: Pribram, 1977), enfolded/implicate
order (Bohm, 1980; Bohm and Peat, 1987), cyberspace
(Gibson, 1984), hyperreal (Baudrillard, 1981), smooth
space (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987), twister space
(Penrose, 1989; see also Peat, 1988), and topological
(Lacan, 1976, 1987a; Peat, 1988; Granon-Lafont, 1985,
1990; Vappereau, 1988; Milovanovic, 1993b, 1994c;
Lem, 1984). T.R. Young has been succinct in indicating
the relevance of these notions in that an alternative
space is open for the development of conceptions
of "human agency in ways not possible in those
dynamics privileged by Newtonian physics, Aristotelian
logic, Euclidean geometry and the linear causality
they presume" (1992: 447). And there can be
no return to the nostalgic "good old days":
time is irreversible; since initial conditions are
undecidable, then, with the passage of time and iteration,
there can be no return to some decidable state.
linear; proportional effects; positivism; determinism;
classical physics; I. Newton; "God does not
play dice"; certainty; grand theorizing; predictability;
future fixed by past; particle effects.
nonlinear; disproportional effects; genealogy; rhizome;
chance; contingency; quantum mechanics; uncertainty;
iteration; catastrophe theory; paradoxical; discontinuities;
singularities; field effects.
Modernist Thought. Modernist thought rests on the
determinism of Newtonian physics. It appears most
often in the form of positivism. Modernist thought
would assume that given some incremental increase
in some identified cause or determinant, a proportional
and linear increase in the effect will result. The
basic unit of analysis is particles (i.e., assumed
autonomous individuals, social "elements," and
discrete categories) and their contributory effects.
The use of cartesian coordinates, whole-number dimensions,
calculus, etc., in a few words, striated space, is
what makes possible a highly predictive mathematics.
Even Einstein refused to accept much of quantum mechanics
that came after him, particularly the notion that
God plays dice.
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernists see things
differently. Chaos theory, Godel's theorem, and quantum
mechanics stipulate that proportional effects do
not necessarily follow some incremental increase
of an input variable. Uncertainty, indeterminacy,
and disproportional (nonlinear) effects are all underlying
assumptions and worthy of inquiry in explaining an
event (genealogy). In the extreme, a butterfly flapping
its wings in East Asia produces a hurricane in Warren,
Ohio. Key thinkers here are Edward Lorenz, Benoit
Mandelbrot, and Stephen Smale (see the excellent
overview by Gleick, 1987; Briggs and Peat, 1989).
In fact, in the extreme, something can emerge out
of nothing at points identified as singularities;
this is the sphere of order arising out of disorder.
current approaches within chaos theory are making
their impact: one, focused more on order that exists
in an otherwise apparently disorderly state of affairs
(Hayles, 1991: 12; see Feigenbaum, 1980; Shaw, 1981);
the second, focused more on how, in fact, order arises
out of chaotic systems order out of disorder or self-organization
(Hayles, 1991: 12; 1990: 1-28; see also Prigogine
and Stengers, 1984; Thom, 1975). A growing number
of applications is taking place. See particularly
Unger's application in his prescription for an empowered
notion of iteration is a central concept of postmodernism.
Simply, it means recomputing with answers obtained
from some formula. Continuous feedback and iteration
produces disproportional (not linear) effects. Derrida
has applied it to how words obtain new meaning in
new contexts (1976; see also Balkan, 1987); in law,
for example, the "original intent" of the "founding
fathers" undergoes modification over time and
can not be reconstructed. The point being made is
that because of minute initial uncertainties however
small, consider Godel's theorem , when iteration
proceeds these are amplified, producing indeterminacies
(Hayles, 1990: 183; Lyotard, 1984: 55). Thus, rather
than celebrating global theory, chaos theorists and
postmodernists look to local knowledges, where small
changes can produce large effects (Hayles, 1990:
211). In other words, postmodernists see otherwise
small contributions as having profound possibilities.
Yes, one "small" person's actions can make
a difference! One person's involvement in a demonstration,
petition signature, act of civil disobedience, or "speaking
up," can, in the long run, have greater effects
than anticipated. Causation can be attributed to
field rather than particle effects (Bohm, 1980; Bohm
and Peat, 1987). Borrowing from Bohm's insights concerning
the quantum potential and the enfolded order where
all is interconnected, rather than focusing, as the
modernists do, on particles, points and point events,
all of which are narrowly spatiotemporally defined
(analogously, consider the subject in traditional
positivistic sciences: an object, located socioeconomically,
who has engaged in some act at a particular time
and place), the unit of analysis, for postmodernists,
should be a field with its moments, duration, intensities,
flows, displacements of libidinal energy. Moments,
unlike point events, have fluctuating time-space
coordinates that defy precise measurement (Bohm,
1980: 207). Within this field, heterogeneous intensities
can affect movement, even if they are not immediately
discernible or linear and/or local. Nonlinear and
nonlocal factors, therefore, even at a distance,
can have a noticeable effect (Bohm and Peat, 1987:
88-93, 182-3). Research awaits in drawing out the
implications of moving from 3-D to 4-D space, i.e.,
what is knotted in the former becomes unknotted in
the latter (Rucker, 1984; Kaku, 1994; consider Lacan's
borromean knot in 4-D space, as discussed in Milovanovic,
the postmodern view, certainties that do appear are
often the creation of subjects: Nietzsche has shown,
for example, how a subject in need of "horizons" finds
semiotic fictions that produce the appearance of
a centered subject; Peirce, anticipating chaos, has
shown how free will is often created after the event
as the "facts" are rearranged to fit a
deterministic model and individual authorship (1923:
47); legal realists, in the early part of this century,
have shown that what creates order in legal decision-making
is not syllogistic reasoning and a formally rational
legal systems, but ex post facto constructions; and
so forth. For postmodernists, especially Nietzsche
and Foucault, it is the "fear of the chaotic
and the unclassifiable" (Dews, 1987: 186) that
accounts for the order we attribute to nature.
evolutionary; Darwinian; rationalization; linear;
Absolute Spirit; dialectical materialism; praxis;
Hegel; reaction and negation; reversal of hierarchies;
reduction of complexity; stable premises for action;
history as progress; variation, selection, and transmission;
oppositional subject; discourse of the hysteric.
genealogy; transpraxis; standpoint epistemology(ies);
Pure Play/musement; rhizome; disidentification; play
of the imaginary; dialectics of struggle; affirmative
action; deconstruction and reconstruction; proliferation
of complexity; premises of action based on tolerability;
overcoming panopticism; d_pens_, mimeses; multiplicities
of resistance to power; assuming one's desire; dialogism;
conscientization, language of possibility; revolutionary
subject; discourse of the hysteric/analyst.
Modernist Thought. Modernist thought often sees change
in terms of evolutionary theory, in various versions
of Darwinian dynamics, particularly in terms of some "invisible
hand" at work, or some working out of a logic,
as in the Absolute Spirit of Hegel, or in forces
of rationalization as in Weber, or in dialectical
materialism as in Marx. What often underlies these
approaches is some linear conception of historical
change. Perhaps praxis is the upper limit of modernist
thought. In the most liberal modernist view, Hegel's
master-slave dialectic is a key parable of change.
It is premised on reaction-negation dynamics. The
slave (the oppressed) only creates value by a double
negation. Nothing new is offered. The limits of an
alternative vision remain tied to the initial logic
of the major premise of the master-slave dialectic
that falls on the side of the master. At best we
have the oppositional subject who finds her/himself
in the discourse of the hysteric, sometimes slipping
into nihilistic and fatalist stances in neither case
offering anything new; at worst, a subject that inadvertently
recreates the dominant repressive order (hegemony).
Modernist thought that often takes the form of evolutionary
theory of change attempts to account for three phenomena:
variation, selection, and transmission (Sinclair,
1992: 95; Luhmann, 1985: 249; see also Sinclair's
critique of evolutionary theory of law, 1987). Luhmann's
analysis is instructive. He tells us that the continuous
differentiation of society tends to produce an excess
of possibilities (1985: 237; see also Manning's application
to police bureaucracies and how diverse voices are
channeled into "relevant" categories, 1988).
Given this creation of excesses, law, Luhmann claims,
functions to reduce complexity so that subjects may
plan within certain discernible horizons which, in
turn, produce predictability in social planning.
Social change is therefore a linear affair with continuous
adjustments of social institutions to continuous
processes of differentiation.
Postmodernist Thought. Postmodernist thought focuses
more on nonlinear conceptions of historical change,
genealogical analysis, and transpraxis, a materialistically
based politics that includes a language of critique
and possibility (Freire, 1985; McLaren, 1994a; Aronowitz
and Giroux, 1985). Postmodernists are in general
agreement that, in studying historical change, much
room must be made for the contributions of contingency,
irony, the spontaneous, and the marginal. Nietzsche,
once again, is the dominant thinker (1980; see also
Love, 1986; Deleuze, 1983).
version of the master-slave dialectic is key for
postmodernists. Here, rather than reaction-negation
dynamics as in Hegel, an inherently conservative
approach, Nietzsche's position advocates active change.
This includes deconstruction and reconstruction as
inseparable elements. This has been captured by the
idea of a transpraxis rather than a praxis (Henry
and Milovanovic, 1991, 1993b; Milovanovic, 1993b).
prominent in recent days are feminist postmodernist
theorists who have built on various versions of Lacanian
psychoanalytic semiotics as well as those who have
developed a standpoint theory aided especially by
numerous productive critiques. Accordingly, Cornell
has identified the contributions of the imaginary
and the rethinking of the myth (1991, 1993; Cixous,
1986; Arrigo, 1993a); Cornell (1991: 147) and Grant
(1993: 116) have noted that given ideologies "leave
some critical space" or "slippage" (in
this context Peirce's notion of musement or pure
play is also relevant [1934: 313-16]); Kristeva has
focused on the idea that semiotic processes that
are situated in the form of the readerly text of
Barthes are faced with semiotic overflow at privileged
moments specified as the subversive triad: "madness,
holiness and poetry" (cited in Grosz, 1990:
153); Pecheux has focused on the notion of dis-identification
(1982); Irigaray on mimeses(1985; see also Cornell's
commentary, 1991: 147-50); Lacan on the discourse
of the analyst (1991a; see also Bracher, 1993); Milovanovic
on the revolutionary subject (composite of the hysteric
and analyst, 1993a) and on knot-breaking (1993b).
Some current trends in postmodernist analysis draw
out the implications for social change from Freire
(1985), whose work lies between modernist and postmodernist
analysis. The wherewithal of the revolutionary subject
and social change may be fruitfully situated in the
integration of Lacan's work on the discourse of the
hysteric/analyst with Freire's notion of conscientization
rooted in social struggles over signification. In
this integration, structure and subjectivity, material
conditions and ideology, the macro and the microsociological,
critique and visions for change, undecidability and
decidability, can be reconciled. The signifier can
be rooted in the concrete, historical arena of struggles;
it can attain provisional decidability and a contingent
universality in producing utopian visions of what
could be, and contribute, by way of a dialogic pedagogy,
to the subject-in-process (generally, see, McLaren,
1994a; Ebert, 1991a; Zavarzadeh and Morton, 1990;
too, are concerned with the possible negative and
unintended effects of struggles against oppression
and hierarchy. Reaction-negation dynamics may at
times lead to what Nietzsche referred to as ressentiment
as well as to new master discourses, forms of political
correctness, exorcism (Milovanovic, 1991b), and dogma.
Transpraxis, however, has as a central element the
privileging of reflexivity of thought and the specification
of contingent and provisional foundational political
positions for social change (i.e., contingent universalities
can become the basis for political alliances and
agendas for change, McLaren, 1994a).
ethical principles that may come into play, for the
postmodernists, perhaps Lacan's idea of "assuming
one's desire" will become a key one. Faced with
the passivity of the common man (woman), Lacan advocates
that the hero is the one who does not betray her/his
desire; meaning, s/he will act in conformity with
it and not embrace the offerings of manipulative
powers that offer an abundance of substitute materials,
or what Lacan referred to as objets petit(a) (Lacan,
1992: 309, 319-21; Lacan, 1977: 275; Lee, 1990: 95-9,
168-70; Rajchman, 1991: 42-3). Here, the productive
use of desire is advocated, not one based on lack,
tension-reduction, and stasis. Thus a sociopolitical
system that maximizes the opportunities for avowing
one's desire is a good one; conversely, hierarchical
systems, whether under the name of capitalism or
socialism, that systematically disavow subjects'
desire, are bad ones. Elsewhere, a postmodernist
definition of crime/harm has been offered based on
harm inflicted (Henry and Milovanovic, 1993a).
faced with the question of variation, selection,
and transmission, opt for the development of the
greatest variation, the most expansive form of retaining
local sites of production, and the most optimal mechanisms
for transmission. Accordingly, faced with an increasingly
differentiating society with "excesses in possibilities," and
the modernist's call for ways of reducing complexity
the most extreme form being in pastiche (Jameson,
1984; Sarup, 1989: 133, 145), an imitation of dead
styles as models for action , the central challenge
of the postmodernist alternative is to create new
cultural styles that privilege chance, spontaneity,
irony, intensity, etc., while still providing some
dissipative horizons within which the subject may
essay has presented some of the salient differences
between modernist and postmodernist thought. Contrary
to modernist critics, a new paradigm is upon us.
And it is neither fatalistic nor nihilistic; nor
is it without visions of what could be. We were especially
concerned with the possibilities of a new transpraxis
and the development of replacement discourses. It
might be argued that the postmodernist paradigm may
take on the form of a normal science and tend toward
closure. But, unlike the modernist enterprise, there
are intrinsic forces that militate against closure
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