Modernism and postmodernism
O gentlemen, the time of life is short!
If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
And if we live, we live to tread on kings.
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 5.2.82–7.
So we should not expect Foucault to give us a philosophical theory that
deploys … notions. Still, philosophy is more than theories.
‘Foucault and Epistemology’ by Richard Rorty in David Couzens Hoy
(ed.), Foucault: A Critical Reader1
Foucault: the catcher in the modern rye
When discussing modernity, one
’ in nationalism studies is therefore reproduced in studies
about Croatia. Attempts to understand Croatian national identity have tended
to articulate both modernism and primordialism in their most polemic forms.
Those who consider Croatian national identity from a modernist perspective
reproduce that approach in its most instrumental form. For example, David
Campbell suggested that we should treat issues of nationalism and national
identity ‘as questions of history violently
nonetheless, albeit in inverted form. 1
Whitlock’s argument alerts us to the dangers in
seeking to work outside discursive convention. The endeavour to locate
Europeans in Kenya, unlike those to whom we are accustomed, may well
result in our finding people and experiences that are in fact well
within the parameters of colonial common sense. Yet the dialectic
relation that Whitlock identifies between the utopian
in a review of Lewis’s Dodsworth in the Bookman in 1929:
The fact is, if you go to look at a landscape, or to observe a country you
won’t much do so, your impressions being too self-conscious; whereas, if
you live and are your normal self and, above all, suffer in any given environment, that environment will eat itself into your mind and come back
to you in moments of emotion and you will be part of that environment
and you will know it. It is because Mr. Dodsworth suffers and endures in
odd places all over the European and semi-European
term of oﬃce with rather less interest in the global than in the local. In the
ﬁrst ﬂush of the new presidency the Spanish-speaking Bush suggested a
renewed interest in the southern and northern borders of the United
States. Britain meanwhile, repeatedly debated the thorny issue of its relationship to continental Europe, and within Europe, a new generation of
political leaders has brought with it fresh ideas of where and whether allegiances should be forged and maintained. The geo-political map has registered substantial changes in the last two decades of the
institutionalisation of synchronous sound to the advent of video production, it delineates an
epoch of sorts, or episteme. After all, this period also extends
from the rise of fascism to the final throes of the Cold War. As
such, it encompasses an intellectual and social landscape associated with so-called ‘late modernism’, and the films discussed
often involve major cities of modernism at historically eventful junctures (London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo,
or Barcelona), rendering them as mosaics of shapes, spaces,
and incidental gestures rather than monumental and pristine
Perhaps because, as Peter Conrad suggests, to Hemingway ‘the language
which offered to give an account of [the war] had given up, or died of
shame’ (Modern Times, Modern Places: Life and Art in the Twentieth
Century, London, Thames & Hudson, 1998, p. 213).
6 In Paroles d’un combattant (1920), quoted by Jay Winter in Sites of
Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History
(Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 184.
7 Peter Childs provides a pertinent reminder, however, that for modernists
in general language
Travel fiction and travelling fiction from D.H. Lawrence to Tim Parks
reception of Lawrence’s Englishness in
an international perspective’ in Christa Jansohn and Dieter Mehl (eds), The
Reception of D.H. Lawrence in Europe (London: Continuum, 2007), p. 14.
5 D.H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia in Simonetta de Filippis, Paul Eggert and
Mara Kalnins (eds), D.H. Lawrence in Italy (London: Penguin, 2007). Further
references to this collection are given in parenthesis after quotations in the
6 See Amit Chaudhuri, D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’ (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
2003); Peter Childs, Modernism and the Post-Colonial (London: Continuum
‘To Gerhardt, There, Among Europe’s
Things of Which He Has Written Us
in His “Brief an Creeley und Olson”’:
Olson on history, in dialogue
In 1954 Charles Olson wrote a short review of Ernst Robert Curtius’
European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. I take this review as
my prompt to sketch Olson’s understanding of history, and the ways in
which his American historical stance related to his sense of European
historicism, ‘the historism […] plaguing all Europeans’ as the review
has it.1 Reading Olson in his role of poet-historian implies that
One of the consequences for Orson Welles of working in Europe was that
it took a long time, often years, for him to complete a film once begun,
and, because he was subject to constraints imposed by a lack of funding,
these productions had a ‘make-do’ quality to them, not exactly improvisation so much as resourcefulness. When costumes did not materialise
for a scene in Othello (1952) because they had not been paid for, Welles
shot the scene in a Turkish bath where costumes were not necessary.
Similarly, studio set-ups were often not available to him