Article Title

Postmodern Temptations


Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991. Pp. xxii, 438. $34.95 (cloth), $19.95 (paper).

Pereat mundus, fiat philosophia, fiat philosophus, fiam!

Fredric Jameson has long been among our most sophisticated and influential cultural critics. Combining Marxism and structuralism, Jameson's persistent effort has been to locate and fix the social dimensions of structural cultural patterns. In his most recent book, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Jameson applies this perspective to the important phenomenon of postmodernism. The book ought to be required reading for the many legal academics who have greeted the advent of postmodernism with unrestrained enthusiasm. Jameson, through close attention to the actual cultural manifestations of postmodernism, tells a far darker tale.

Postmodernism, Jameson tells us, expresses "an inverted millenarianism in which premonitions of the future, catastrophic or redemptive, have been replaced by senses of the end of this or that." The postmodern condition defines itself through its interrogation of the great movements of the past, especially of modernism. It is thus a particular way of organizing experience and most specifically of structuring time. In the postmodern moment the great upward march of history seems suddenly to have culminated and ceased. As Jameson explains, "[i]t is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place."