Remembering the Spruce Goose

Alan Liu

in Local Transcendence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780226486956
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226486970 | DOI:
Remembering the Spruce Goose

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Whether we read Jean Baudrillard on Disneyland, Fredric Jameson on the Hotel Bonaventure, Jean-François Lyotard on the “Pacific Wall,” or Paul Virilio on Howard Hughes, we know that southern California—more broadly, the North American Pacific Rim—has become the commonplace of the postmodern world. This chapter examines historicism, postmodernism, and romanticism and considers yet another Pacific Rim commonplace to challenge the very theory of the commonplace that underlies postmodernist thought. The theory is that, at the center of popular culture, there is a commonplace that once functioned as an agora (place of public assembly or marketplace) but that is now dysfunctional—that no longer grounds the truth difference between agora and allegory or between reality and hyperreality, that fractures the universality of ethical standards, that similarly scandalizes the generality of aesthetic criteria, and that at last revokes the very language pragmatics designed to negotiate agreement on (and between) truth, morality, and art claims. In the agora, where people once spoke the mutuality of their cognition and, hence, recognized each other, there remains only something other than total cognition.

Keywords: cognition; commonplace; historicism; romanticism; postmodernism; popular culture; agora; paragmatics; truth; morality

Chapter.  5453 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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