The Seeds of Time
Long considered the foremost American Marxist theorist, Fredric Jameson continues his investigation of postmodernism under late capitalism in The Seeds of Time. In three parts Jameson presents the problem of Utopia, attempting to diagnose the cultural present and to open a perspective on the future of a world that is all but impossible to predict with any certainty - "a telling of the future", as Jameson calls it, "with an imperfect deck". "The Antinomies of Postmodernity" highlights the seemingly unresolvable paradoxes of intellectual debate in the age of postmodernity. Jameson suggests that these paradoxes revolve around the idea of "nature", the terms of antifoundationalism and antiessentialism, and contemporary society's inability or refusal to consider the idea of Utopia. The chapter attempts to sketch the "unrepresentable exterior" of these debates - which is the locus of the future according to Jameson. In "Utopia, Modernism, and Death", Jameson meditates on the fascinating and terrifying Utopian fiction Chevengur, written in the 1920s by the Soviet author Andrei Platonov. He discusses the unique character of Utopian visions in the Second World of communism, where commodity fetishism has not had as profound an effect on social relations as we have seen in the First World under late capitalism. The Seeds of Time continues in "The Constraints of Postmodernism" with an examination of contemporary architectural trends, in an attempt to suggest the limits of the postmodern. By delineating these limits, Jameson stakes out a prediction of the boundaries of postmodernity - the "unrepresentable exterior" approached in Part One - which we need to recognize and surpass.
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