Postmodern Amnesia

I believe that the emergence of postmodernism is closely related to the emergence of this new moment of late consumer or multinational capitalism.  I believe also that its formal features in many ways express the deeper logic of this particular social system.  I will only be able, however, to show this for one major theme: namely the disappearance of a sense of history, the way in which our entire contemporary social system has little by little begun to lose its capacity to retain its own past, has begun to live in a perpetual present and in a perpetual change that obliterates traditions of the kind which all earlier social information have had, in one way or another, to preserve.  Think only of the media exhaustion of news: of how Nixon and, even more so, Kennedy, are figures from a now distant past.  One is tempted to say that the very function of the news media is to relegate such recent historical experiences as rapidly as possible into the past.  The informational function of the media would thus be to help us forget, to serve as the very agents and mechanisms for our historical amnesia. (20)

Fredric Jameson | “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” in The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998.

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