missing randy david's class
This is one semester I will not forget because of the professor above. The way he engages the Socio 275 class into critical thinking will leave an indelible mark in my memory and perhaps in my teaching. Definitely my competitive and uber humble classmates shall be remembered, too: Arthur (who reported on Baudrillard‘s Simulacra and Simulation and Harvey‘s The Conditions of Postmodernity), Fr. Wayan (who did Lyotard‘s Postmodern Condition and Hardt and Negri‘s Empire), Corinne (who “specialized” in the Italian, hard-core Catholic (!), existentialist philosopher Gianni Vattimo and his The End of Modernity and Nihilism and Emancipation, Karen (who precisely simplified Baumann and a book called Return to Aesthetics, which contains essays on Kant and other ‘aestheticians’), and Tita Jane (who wrestled with Libidinal Economy just so we can understand Lyotard like we did when she reported on Postmodern Turn by Best and Kellner).
If ever I become mature in writing and thinking it is because I see the beauty and dignity in the elegance of Randy David’s speech acts and authoring. It is also because of the sort of training I had in reading and reporting and writing about what I believe to be the most difficult text he gave our class, Jameson‘s Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (because I am the Comparative Literature major daw). It was an almost impossible feat finishing a five-page (single-spaced!) write up on the convoluted 400+page Jameson tome (but after gettting a smile and “very good” from E. San Juan when I reported in 2007 Jameson’s more convoluted Political Unconscious, nothing is impossible!).
I have watched Prof. Randy talk on his TV shows when I was in high school and read him in his Inquirer column and his Nation, Self, and Citizenship. But listening once a week to his lecture is, if I may exaggerate, so life-changing, that after our first meeting, I wrote in my notebook:
It was a mind-blowing session. I was taken away not just by his looks and mastery of language/s but by his detached way of lecturing but which is also a way of making me feel a sense of belongingness in sociology.
How clear and comprehensive and logical could he get in discussing matters of state, of economy, of politics, of society, of the self, of globalization, and of postmodernism, without getting lost, not in a single second.
Sure I’ve heard many of his statements and quotations from philosophers and socio-political thinkers, but it’s more gripping, more engaging with the Sociologist himself who punctuates his sentences with dramatic pauses or a gaze beyond the walls of Palma Hall or with the rising of voice and slowing down of his manner of speaking. Such dignity I find in the profession of teaching grounded on a vision of genuine or authentic scholarship and a note of hope for his countrymen.
The moment he entered the classroom and mouthed his apologies for being 30minute late, I was blown away.
After checking form 5s he directly talked about postmodernity as if it was a topic resumed from a previous discussion or as if he just continued a conversation interrupted a few minutes ago.
With ease and eloquence he fluidly characterized PM then proceeded to differentiate it from modernity through elaborate examples, drawing mainly from the arts. With mundane things and ordinary events he was able to compare two complex concepts.
More engaging was his narration of the status quo and current state of affairs around the globe. Especially America’s global economic crises caused by its accumulation of debts. All the world’s uncertainty as to how to respond to these crises, let alone resolve, are how he described PM. Indeed, “everything solid melts into the air.”
Anyhow, here are my lecture notes:
? trend, form of sensibility
? round about the decade of 21st century
?changes in sensibility associated with PM appeared earlier in art and literature far ahead in the social sciences where there is still an ongoing dispute as to what PM is (not that it matters when PM came first) and what is modern
? Latin: modo, good has come now
?modernity came to be associated with something fixed.
Jean Francois LYOTARD
?contemporary philosopher on PM (which marked the death of metanarratives of science and history as moving in a linear pattern)
? definition of MODERNITY: “everything solid melts into air”—Marx is POSTMODERNITY to Randy. Whereas, everything includes modes of production, ideologies, ideas, and everything that you believe in, into air refers to their diffusion over time.
?The last metanarrative/ meta-narrative of last men (classless society)
?That history has been ended is rather premature
?neither communist nor capitalist
?altogether different type of capitalism, what they have there
Meta—all-embracing kind of narrative
e.g. narratives about SELF or GOD
On god: I like the kind of pious life these people (who believe in God) live. It gives you confidence. Since PM makes you less certain of self, less confident in the rationality of what I do. If estimation of yourself is subject to uncertainty, your actions are uncertain.
Marxist has childlike simplicity.
POSTMODERNISM IN ART
?it’s going to be pointless to what the realist has done to painting
?refusal to subjugate Cezanne’s art of pure representation of real objects in the real world.
?abstract expressionism and the gift of perception
?that’s why the world was shaken by Picasso (e.g. his Des Mademoiselles d’Avignon)
?Start where the people are so you could CONNECT, else you alienate.
?Is this what you’re supposed to know?
?Living in this kind of society and this kind of time, what should I know?
?What is good for you to know? What do I want in my life?
?Unless you know, things become CONTINGENCIES OF HABIT
?e.g. reading Foucault, Heidegger (sheer intelligence), Wittgenstein (as if he knows nothing. Sheer originality)
?mosquito: flying sense of universe ? (if the mosquito happens to be the center)
?skepticism and doubt rather than truth
?layers of onion skin, nothing underneath
?seeming hopelessness of all—inevitable conclusion
? SCHOPENHAUER with therefore inevitably say let me come out. I wish I have not been born
?most natural conclusion would therefore be Life is a constant struggle. Yes to life! Embrace it!
?SCHOPENHAUER: despair; NIETZSCHE: belief in nothing, yes to life. Why? Because there’s nothing else to do.
?despise systems and “systematuzers” (morality, ethics) since there is not one way of living life. There is no one system, only beauty.
?IN Greek tragedy, the chorus tells you what to do, how to feel. You know it’s going to happen but you embrace it.
?The ungrounded hope of a nihilist which believes in nothing.
?If there is nothing else you can believe in, you can believe in hope.
?e.g. B. Obama—person of ungrounded hope (CHANGE we can believe in) since American capitalism has become so complex that it’s pointless to blame CEOs. Any kind of simplistic morality is pediatric.
?hope in hope
?hope is productive
?hope is better than despair
?hope is ironic: cling to your beliefs as if validity is certain despite the fact that it’s groundless
?philosophers of irony: Foucault, Derrida (will diminish your confidence)
?philosophers of perfection Marx, Heidegger
European—brooding pessimism [France: realm of PM]
Inexplicable humorist [Baudrillard, Deleuze, Guattari]
German—maybe it’s the weather. Too much Heidegger—pancreatic cancer.
Foucault, Nietzsche—not constantly dark
French has sunny disposition in life.
MODERN SOCIETY—functionality (less decoration, less frills), everything has utility
Opposite: too much attention to memory, symbolism, impracticality, what it reminds you in the past
?minimalist rather than maximal flourish
?dealing with what people can do rather than what they are, as if they have no past
?Your identity does not constitute a baggage for you. Family means nothing.
?In contrast to the past social order that places importance on hierarchy and identity.
?It’s also very fast by the way. Traditional society is not very fast at all, where what is valued is not efficiency, but emotions.
e.g. McDo discourse
confined to the business of the day
consciousness of time
attention to what people do
sometimes people are bitchy
?suspend anger because not your personality is assaulted. Pinoys are so personal.
?You’re easily wounded because of hierarchies.
?very hierarchized society
ZYGMUNT BAUMANN: liquid. Fluid. Not solid.
?style of thinking
?particular conduct of life
?expression in the world (as in art)
?form of sensibility
?where the most trivial could be important
?questioning of certitudes and of applicability of a moral, general code
?liquidity of things, ephemeral structures, questioning of functionality
e.g. adaptive use of façade [superficial façade, PM loob]
?pastiche, palimpsest of structures
?What people produce is more radical than the way they think.
e.g. permutations of family structure in a global migratory age
(long distance parenting bridged by media)
Obama: PM president
(thanks to blogging)
?PM: Internet spirituality
?US: credit economy—derivatives
Securitized debts, bonds, mild run
?decentered world and the global capitalist economy [Have we seen the bottom yet?]
?unpredictability of it all
?lack of center; questioning of science itself
?capitalism and schizophrenia
?COMPLEXITIES breed complexities, and nobody knows the answers. (I don’t know anymore whether those things are valid)
?SEMANTIC LAG: what we do is far more complex than what we can grasp to make sense of the world to represent experiences. Hence, new vocabulary is needed.
?STRONG POETS are capable of spinning words ; no final meanings.
?LYOTARD’S The Postmodern Condition.