Fredric Jameson and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

The New Consumption Patterns

While Fredric Jameson and his cultural logic of late capitalism came out into a complex matter, social theorists are increasingly preoccupied with the question of whether society, as well as theories, have undergone dramatic changes or not entered the 21st century. According to Jürgen Habermas and Anthony Giddens, people still live in modern society, so that, to research society, the old way is the cue. On the other hand, a group of theorists assumes that society has changed dramatically. The quality is now different, and they call it a postmodern society.

Postmodern life creates new consumption patterns, is a characteristic of postmodern life, and allows people or consumers to enjoy anything in this era of life. Due to delusion, work is the identity of the human being himself. Position determines existence itself to become a school of thought and even enters the realm of philosophical thought, namely into modernism and postmodernism.

The Acquaintance of Capitalism

According to Barry Smart, there are three views among postmodernism:

  1. Firstly, the extreme stance, claiming that modern society has been cut off by contact, and utterly postmodern culture has replaced it.
  2. Secondly, even though there have been changes, the position states that postmodernism has emerged and continues developing modernism. Thinkers like Fredric Jameson and Chantal Mouffe and modern feminist thinkers continue to establish what has changed and shifted in the late capitalism era of cultural logic.
  3. Thirdly, Smart’s own stance regarding the views of modernism and postmodernism as the age itself.

As a result, for Smart, the two periods are involved in a series of long-term relationships. However, postmodernism continues to show the limitations of modernism.

Meanwhile, Jameson’s acquaintance with capitalism began in the thought pattern of Jean-Paul Sartre about existentialism. Jameson’s ideas describing the theoretical and political formation of Marxism reflect the influence of his thinking. Even though Karl Marx, as the initiator of understanding, is very well known in social science in America. However, this influence mainly came from European intellectuals seeking protection from World War II.

The Cultural Criticism of Western Marxism

Jameson emerged and analyzed the problems of capitalism in the early 1960s. Criticism of Western Marxism, at the time, has not been warm among American academics. Jameson’s research on criticism of capitalism is the Frankfurt retainer’s thoughts, in addition to Sartre, such as Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, and others. They regard social and cultural criticism as an integral feature of the theory of Marxism.

The foundation of failure of historicity built by the subject results in the issue not having the ability to trace the past, present, and future. According to Jameson, the subject is a modern maze. There is a substitute for products so fast and a simple lifestyle. In this condition, the issue cannot evolve along with the evolution of the objects around it. Production and consumption, so hyper, hold the subject in space until it mutates into hyperspace.

In such space, the issue continues to spin endlessly on his confusion in the face of world development by capitalism. Carrying Hegel and Marx’s thoughts, Jameson attempted to pursue a possible condition of historicity. The result would be the forerunner to the death of the subject in late capitalism.

Jameson and the Marxists

Jameson and the Marxists believed that the world was not just what we see it, a combination of facts. Instead, the world is a process of interpretation itself. The process depends, then, on the dominant ideology in society. Therefore, the public wants to know the forms of performance and understand the doctrine that works in the object’s environment around the interpreted item.

Jameson made an essential contribution to the interpretation project, formulating a metacritical questioning of the interpretation politics. Called meta-critic, Jameson’s proposal is a criticism of criticism. Believing in all forms of performance, a complaint has a political dimension. It is formed in terms of relationships with others, is created by the socio-economic reality lies and determines the relationship itself.

The History of Interpretation

The politics of interpretation are closely related to history. Jameson believes that history is shaped by understanding. Care is needed when understanding the various narratives contained in history. However, interpretations are also influenced by the existence of previous history. The high relativity and reciprocal relationship associated with historical fact and interpretation raise questions about finding the most appropriate narrative. Deconstructivism answers that there is no absolute truth.

Marx himself returned everything to the economic aspect. More specifically, it is multiplying interpretations of the industrial proletariat class. Unlike many other Marxists, Jameson refers to all forms of performance to history, and history provides a basis for judging the struggle for interpretation. History in specific contexts is not natural history but rather a horizon covering all arrangements.

The Political Unconscious

Jameson’s unification between Marxist dialectics and psychoanalysis is very comprehensive through his analysis in a book entitled The Political Unconscious. Jameson explains the methodological implications, trend analysis, and different emphases on each of Jameson’s concepts. Jameson focused his discussion on the idea of mediation. A narrative can become a medium that bridges individual experiences with their social totality through processes called transcoding. Mediation is a classical dialectical term for a relationship between formal analysis of art and its social basis.

According to Daniel Bell, there is a new social structure, known as post-industrial society, consumer, media, information, electronic, and other organizations in the early 1960s. The birth of a new reality is the focal point where postmodernism is a complement to modernism. Apart from being considered unsuccessful in elevating modern humans’ dignity, others argue that postmodernism is a paradox compared to modernism. The most influential cultural critic, Fredric Jameson, finally expressed this opinion in his book Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, explaining postmodernism discourse in culture by exposing postmodernism elements.

The Individual Subjectivity of Simulacrum

One of the signs of postmodernism is characterized by pretense or commonly known as the waning of affect. This phenomenon provides a lot of fundamental changes, both changes in the world of archetype and changes in the world of subjectivity. The difference in the world of the subject, or simulacrum, is the loss of the individual’s existence. It has a unique and personal expression or style and authentic feelings of individualism. Moreover, the individual subject, in postmodernism, tends to be fragmented, divided into the realm of personal emotions.

In contrast to modern era, cases of the commodification of influencers, content creators, or celebrities form self-branding on social media. Such constructions are a mere spectacle, for Jameson, and do not necessarily represent the influencer’s true personality. After all, its phenomenon causes the emergence of a strange euphoria; when the body is in contact with electronic media, a pretense or image appears in each individual when on social media. This point distorts reality, impacts mental health, such as the rejection of character due to the audience with its publicity.

The Pastiche Phenomenon

Further with Jameson’s point of view, the opulence of postmodernism cannibalizes or randomly imitates the past styles. After that, this understanding leads the public to a critical concept in postmodernism, namely the pastiche, a raw imitation or imitation of original works without ulterior motives, without crucial explanations, without a sense of humor, or parody. The emergence of this phenomenon is a symptom of the collapse of historicity, a break with history, and at the same time, a sign of our inability to represent the present experience itself.

The pastiche phenomenon is also often visualized in contemporary films, emphasizing artificial images with the story’s content as if they were real. In fact, such cultural consumption does not at all refer to the reality of the context. People only “accept” stories of imitation creations to forget about the histories where they exist in society’s social medium.

Schizophrenia

In addition to the term pastiche, Fredric Jameson also uses the term schizophrenia, a concept about a postmodernist society that tends to look into the cultural logic of late capitalism and constantly consume it to meet individual tastes and desires. Besides providing traps and co-optation of particular subjects, postmodernism’s global cultural space offers two forms of cultural resistance strategies to counter postmodernism’s logic. The first is the homeopathic strategy, creating cultural disturbances, making practices meaningful against, and rejecting commodification values.

The second is the cognitive mapping strategy, which encourages individuals and society to create a new political culture by realizing postmodernism’s truth. Indirectly, postmodernism invites people to understand their respective positions, in addition to holding the principles of life and maintaining their identity, so that they are not easily carried away by the swift currents of postmodernism. Above all, Jameson opposes the essence of the reality of the life of the consumerist society.

Modernism’s Explicit Criticism

To explain the nature of the relationship between cultural production and social life, especially in the United States today, is a significant objection to postmodernism concepts. All the things mentioned are not new but are abundant in modernism or commonly referred to as high modernism. One kind of answer to whether we really need the concept of postmodernism raises the whole issue of periodicity and how a historian determines the radical separation between two distinct periods. Things that were not dominant in the previous period or system are less critical anymore. In this sense, everything we have described here can also be found in earlier periods, especially modernism.

So by turning to the link between cultural production and general social life, old or classical modernism is an oppositional art; it appeared in business society as scandalous and offensive to the middle-class public. An insult to good taste and common sense, or, as Freud and Marcuse might say, a provocative challenge to the principles of reality and performance which prevailed in the middle-class society of the early 20th century. Modernism, in general, did not fit into Victorian furnishings, with traditional moral taboos, or with the conventions of polite society. In other words, high modernism’s explicit political content is primarily implicit in its usual ways; it is always dangerous and explosive, subversive to the established order.

Commodities

Shorty, both modern society consider the form and content of contemporary art to be unacceptable and embarrassing. The most offensive forms of this art, called explicit sex matter, are all taken for granted and commercially successful, unlike the old high modernism productions. This means that if contemporary art has all the same characteristics as old modernism, contemporary art is still not firmly positioned in society’s culture.

That is to say in one respect, the production of commodities and mainly clothing, furniture, buildings, and other artifacts are now closely linked to the stylistic changes brought about by artistic experimentation. When modernism was high and aesthetically dominant, it was firmly established in academia and was therefore considered academic in nature by a whole new generation of poets, painters, and musicians.

Replicating Capitalism’s Logic

Likewise to conclude, The two features of postmodernism regarding transforming reality into images, the fragmentation of time into the present eternal series, are extraordinarily consistent with this process. In addition, It must take the form of a question about the value of the new art; subsequently, there is a kind of agreement that the old modernism functions against the society in various ways, referred as critical, hostile, competitive, subversive, and opposition. Can postmodernism and its social moment also say the same thing? Postmodernism replicates or reinforces consumer capitalism’s logic, but there are also many ways for postmodernism to counter this logic. However, if left alone, it will make people forget to become agents and mechanisms of our historical amnesia.

Bibliography

About the author

Salman Al Farisi is the owner of Calxylian and is an elitist who has enjoyed and studied various mediums. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2020 from the Haluoleo University, Indonesia, where he studied English Literature, Film Criticism, Cultural Studies, Literary Theory, and Literary Criticism. He lives in Kendari in his mom's basement, now unemployed and ghostwriter, life with his cats, and is looking for the future.

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