9/22/07

Postmodern posing in Istanbul



Being postmodern is all the rage, and s/he who (re?)reifies their imagined Selves without re-course to a discursive deconstruction free(-d) from the gaze of the Other, is still a s(elf-s)lave to the En“light”enment. Aight?


Does (Is?)tanbul really exist? Do we? Are these spatio-temporal matrices we In-habit merely composed of agonistic interstices where defunct enlightenment-inseminated textualities subjugate our actual states of sim(syn)ple existence to form subjectivized simulacra of other-Others? Is this all horse manure?

The answer to all of the above (including the picture) is, yes, it’s all horse manure. Plus it’s bad for your eyes and may even cause hair to grow on your palms. But that doesn’t matter because postmodern-ism-ity-ish-ness (pick which suffix you think is correct) is now fashionable. In a city like Istanbul where everybody’s looking for the next hot trend with which to give themselves a sense of super uniqueness to rub in other people’s faces, postmodernismation has paved the way. But why?

First of all, postmodernisming is only for the overeducated. After all, it’s full of recondite terms and snazzy Greco-Latin neologisms that can only ever be useful in an otiose academic environment, but also because the more educated you get, the more you realize that traditional modes of identification – namely nationalism and religion – are crap. Thus the educated young Turk, bored by the usual discourses of the aforementioned ideological straightjackets, is relieved to find something a little more challenging and palatable for intellectual nourishment than myths of Central Asian she-wolves or fairy tales with angels and prophets.

Secondly, in a classist society like we have in Turkey, trends are not only a good way to distinguish yourself from other classes of people, but also from those within your own class. After all, we don’t seek to differentiate ourselves on an individual level (individualism in Turkey equals ostracism), but instead seek to fit into the trends dominating the class of people we belong to, thereby choosing to differentiate ourselves within the safety of a herd. So, for example, while the upper middle class like to pride themselves on being “white (European) Turks” (read: wanna-be-white-Turks-who-have-a-complex-about-being-Turkish) so as to differentiate themselves from “black (Anatolian) Turks” (on whom they like to place the entire onus of the Turkish stereotype in Western eyes while exculpating themselves of said onus), those self-described “postmodern white Turks” among them can further distinguish themselves as a subclass of “intellectual (entel) Turks” who are (read the rest of the sentence with sarcastic tone) above such paradigmatically textualized discourses of identity power politics that feed their ideo-subjectivity by self-Othering with the aim of Othering others not like themselves (viz. tosspots).

Thirdly, postmodern discourse has nomenclature that’s hard to understand, and so when you say something really hard to understand you tend to think that it is therefore really intelligent. Thus, guys like to use it to try and impress chicks and get laid, while girls use it to let guys know that they are not one of those chicks to whom they can just spout off postmodern drivel thinking they’re going to succeed in impressing them into getting laid.

Fourthly, postmodernalizing is now trendier as a rebellious image than Marxism. Aging Marxists tend to become postmodernnessists because they can still uphold a counter-culture stance without having to be revolutionary about it (revolutions are hell on the knees), while Gen-X and Gen-Y postmodernites like to sound radical without having to get off their spoilt privileged lazy slacker asses to be politically active enough to actually make a change instead of bitching and moaning all the time (example: me). After all, the monolithic relativism (a PA-RA-DOX if you will) of postmodernismity is a good excuse for not doing anything, or taking any stances other than anti-stances, and is thus a convenient way to justify our natural inclination to indolence and inertia.

Fifthly, postmodernicality is a good look because you can be stylish but brooding at the same time. Plus you can wear lots of black and thus look thin while pretending there’s a philosophical reason to why you’re wearing black. Guys can go with a shaved head for that futuristic Foucaultian look, while girls can sport rectangular specs as they sit at cafes doing their look-at-me-with-furrowed-brows-reading-some-smug-European-designer-academic’s-postmodern-ouvre-with-sleek-cover-design-that’s-ideal-for-being-seen-reading-with thing, which just made me top my own record for hyphen abuse.

Sixthly, thanks to postmodernismness you can indulge all your guilty pleasures with a clear conscience by saying things like “I’m not just watching Survivor, I’m deconstructing Survivor”. A trip to Pizza Hut can become a pop-cultural case study, while surfing porn can be “a hermeneutic study into the objectification of sexual otherness in contemporary... uh... in in... contempo...” oh no, too late, I’m not interested anymore.

Finally, you can go one step beyond and be post-postmodern, like you’re so over having been over modernism that you can go back to your comfy convenient modern bourgeois life but this time around live it out as a hypercritique of itself, thus possibly starting the next big trend where driving to the mall in a station wagon while listening to Coldplay becomes a radical artistic post-postmodern “happening”.

The only thing I left out is a definition of what “postmodern” actually means, but nobody really knows, and even if they did, defining it would be such a pre-postmodern thing to do that only a post-postmodernist could do it without sounding like a post-premodern hypocrite, so let’s just say it’s a pile of horse shit and leave it at that.