Friday, June 26, 2009

Prof Frederic Jameson in the Belgrade Cultural Centre

By Natasa Tepavcevic
Belgrade, June 22, ( Serbia Today) - On Friday, 19th June and Saturday, 20th June, Frederic Jameson has been the special guest of the One Writer's Festival 2009, dedicated to contemporary reception of the Avant-garde and Modernism in Serbian literature and to the Serbian writer Momčilo Nastasijević.
Fredric R. Jameson (1934, Cleveland, Ohio, USA) is professor of Literature at Duke University. Professor Jameson received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1959 and taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California before coming to Duke in 1985. His books include Postmodernism, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991, which won the MLA Lowell Award), Seeds of Time (1994), Brecht and Method (1998), and The Cultural Turn (1998), A Singular Modernity (2002), Archaeologies of the Future (2005) and Jameson on Jameson (2007). His most recent work, Valences of the Dialectic, will appear in the fall of 2009 (Verso Press). He received the Holberg Prize in 2008.
His most frequently taught courses cover modernism, Third World literature and cinema, Marx & Freud, the modern French novel and cinema, and the Frankfurt School. Among Professor Jameson's ongoing concern is the need to analyze literature as an encoding of political and social imperatives, and the interpretation of modernist and postmodernist assumptions through a rethinking of Marxist methodology.
In Belgrade he decided to talk on two issues: -Realism and Affect and - Postmodernism and Globalization
In all his essays, Jameson explores theoretical territory, brings back ideas, explains and criticizes them, and does so both inventively and systematically. The "system" he helps to construct is a set of critical attitudes rather than a stale enclosure of interpretive rules, and those attitudes have changed the shape of American thought about literature and culture, not only in the academy but also in the literate press.
First lecture he has started with explanation of position from where he is talking about realism. At the very beginning, he wanted to underline that we can not discussing realism as the think itself, instead of that we can talk about appearance of realism in 18th and 19th century and disappearance of realism at the end of 19th century. In this sense, he refuses to define realism as the think itself. Continuation of lecture has been dedicated to exploring the “moment of realism” through three literature traditions: French, German and English tradition. As the key terms he use: de-temporality, de-narration and de- chronology. In the potentiality of realism breakdown he found the question of affect important. He explained affect as something opposite than emotion. This distinction he has made in this way: affect is physiological state and emotion is state of mind, but affect always want to have predominance. He keep forward with explanation of forms in which affect can be found through the examples from modernism.
Second lecture entitled “Postmodernism and Globalization” he started with explanation of distinction between postmodernism as artistic style and post-modernity as word/term for whole economic and culture system today. Contemporary art is product of post-modern society. Term contemporary impose end of temporality. Present is just construction. In this sense, Jameson was talking about transformation of our subjectivity. He compares production of art with finance, system of art function as system of economy. But who create art when artist is no longer personality-was one of the questions mentioned by Frederic Jameson. He continues with conclusion: production of art or knowledge production has its socio-political consequences. Globalization has aim to expand culture all over the world. Can we de-link art from culture or is history continuation or channel, were also the questions for debate. In all respects, Jameson said, any talk about future first has to confront globalization. The new freedom, post-modernity associated with new artistic relativism, with the eruption of all kind of local and national expression in historical seen. Economy system dictates canonization of literary texts on a basis what they make available. Art market determines what the work of art is, and what it is not, that is to say, who or what can be an applicant for the work of art. “That’s really sad, still there are many parts of world, as East European countries, West Balkan and so on, they instinctive desirable to be read by the West, translated on English language, to be seen and observed by the particular Other”, said Jameson. This imbalance allows us to move on in materialistic dimension of globalization, which has indeed to do with the fear of universal standardization. Everyone can observe reorganization of everything in terms of money, and there is no possible return. What Jameson wanted to analyze is the question: Is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the capitalism?
He finishes with optimistic statement. Wherever is enthusiasm, there is also the utopia. He suggests that the task of current and future workers in the field of culture is just to step out and to make visible the only present of utopian impulse in all seen post-utopian, even cynical practices and projects. We have to re-open the possibilities of action in the post-modernity stricken of possibilities, said Jameson.

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