Melati Suryodarmo (b. in 1969 in Surakarta, Indonesia, lives and works in Braunschweig, Germany) performes EXERGIE- Butter dance, an older piece but shown for the first time at Lilith. 20 blocks of butter in a square on the black dance carpet. Suryodarmo enters the space, dressed in a black tight dress and red high heels. She steps on the pieces of butter. She starts to dance to the sound of indonesian shamanistic drums. She dances and falls, hitting the floor hard, rising, and continuously being on the verge of standing, slipping and falling in the butter. After twenty minutes Suryodarmo rises one last time, covered in butter, and leaves the space.
You Tube Description of “Butter Dance”.
When Physicist Alan Sokal had finally heard enough of the postmodern intellectual twaddle such as the YouTube video above, he opted to detonate a stupidity bomb that would wipe out the intellectual respect accorded to Postmodern Thought. He wrote an article entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.”
The article was deliberate bunk designed to prove that Postmodernism had no remaining legitimate academic rigor and was philosophically dead. The article, and other spoofs such as random “pomo article generators” effectively mocked the poseurs. Yet sadly the Postmodern Philosophy had proven as destructive as it was now hollow and phony. In part because it was based upon solidly reasoned principles that were twisted as a weapon to undermine contemporary society.
French Philosopher Michel Foucault may have contributed legitimately to intellectual thought when he conjectured that modern “science” and modern “knowledge” were not epistemologically ingenuous. They were both often corrupted to prop up normative social constructs instead of contributing positive facts. Nobody with any memory of the Climategate Scandal at East Anglia University could argue that Foucault’s radicalism had no factual gravamen.
Based upon this cogent observation, readers and fans of Foucault*, blended this into a noxious gallimaufry with Marxism, Weberian Theory, Fraudianism, Aesthetic Modernism and virtually every other intellectual fad infesting Europe in the Early Decades of the 20th Century to give birth to the Borg Philosophy known as Postmodernism.
More important than the Dog’s Breakfast of incoherent theories, based upon a brilliant and obvious timeless truth, was the fact that Postmodern philosophers developed a heuristic to make their philosophy practicable and dangerous. This methodology, termed “Deconstruction”, involved disassembling any belief, theory or idea to determine the extent to which it was based upon what Kant would call “Pure Reason” rather than supposition.
Deconstruction is like any other tool in the tool kit. It can be positive if it allows you to accurately throw the Red B— S— Flag when you hear propaganda. It can be noxious when it is used in a targeted manner to destroy the faiths and suppositions that make modern and peaceful coexistence possible. This gave me an entirely new and less favorable interpretation of the enjoyably tuneful Talking Heads Song “Burning Down The House”.
I would argue that much of what the social revolutions have done to undermine and weaken modern cultural institution such as marriage, patriotism and rule of law, comes from the indiscriminate and feckless deconstruction of norms for the sake of cultural vandalism. Once they’ve “pulled up The Roots” and “Burned Down The House”, nothing is left to replace it with. And yet it seems that this was the entire purpose of the Postmodern Experiment. The Right Stuff describes how Deconstruction has corroded our society below.
It seems strange that a philosophy that is seemingly so absurd could have so much unseen power in today’s culture and could have contributed to the takedown of so many social institutions. The family, masculinity, femininity, capitalism, nationalism, patriarchy and even orthodox Marxist socialism have all been under assault from this school. This illustrates the social power of critical theory and deconstructionism. The theories are prima facie ridiculous, but they slowly and surely chip away at the foundation of a culture as they are intended to do. This is the intentional strategy of critical theory.
Rather than just accepting the fact that we’re all on an intellectual “Road to Nowhere” perhaps we should delineate an After-Modern system of belief that recognizes the failure of the modern without giving in to the nihilistic unreason of Postmodernisms deliberate non-sense. As Spengler wrote of Philosophy in Decline of The West:
Philosophy, the love of Wisdom, is at the very bottom defence against the incomprehensible.
Thus we must destroy any vestige of the postmodern in our culture for we are literally blind and stupid when we succumb to the temptation to stop making sense.
*-Particularly at The Frankfurt School