Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Zone 9 - Critical Regionalism

all out of the Constructivist Moment, by Barrett Watten:

The discourses of the modern and postmodern call for a critical regionalism

briefly, Zone 8, Detroit..." remains a moment of negativity to the postmodern fantasy built in Los Angeles...(there is) the tradition in postmodern critical theory that has tended to universalize Los Angeles as the site for the postmodern..."

back to zone 9: "Herr's account of a critical regionalism thus would supplant the dissociation of the center/periphery model with a series of interlocking terms that would specify the position within an overarching modernity of specific cultural regions, employing a "methodology" etc..toward a reconciliation of the local and the global. She outlines several practical steps -

*pursue a negative dialectics that addresses cross-regional specificity
*imagine a comparative history/sociology
*scrutinize utopian views of the future
*study the location and interpretation of assemblages

A critical regionalism moves beyond the center/periphery model that distorts the perception of the border as negativity and threat; rather the border becomes an internal limit within an encompassing whole."

**my thoughts**
Critical regionalism - looks like a worthy project. But has anyone done this as far as southern California is concerned? To my knowledge there is only City of Quartz by Mike Davis, but if you add critique of the entertainment industry in now you have dozens of books, Unreality Industry, Amusing Ourselves to Death etc..

"Moving beyond the center/periphery model" because of border disturbance - yes his concern is with places like 8 Mile, or some of those exposed areas of new wilderness - the bushes, the rabbits etc., that exclaim a social failure or fracture. I'm not sure how "internal limit" can be made less threatening, Eminem (Rabbit) movies hardly cover the ground exposed. This connects me back to the point from Zone 8:

Detroit... remains a moment of negativity to the postmodern fantasy built in Los Angeles...(there is) the tradition in postmodern critical theory that has tended to universalize Los Angeles as the site for the postmodern...

In a discussion with a friend, the possibility that the postmodern fantasy simply converts arose. The reason for the conversion is border disturbance, agents or groups that act ambiguously within the decayed space and the "progressive" space, because they harmonize not quite with either one. The postmodern fantasy, therefore, converts from one region to another in order to cover up the disturbance at the border of the previous Fantastic location, to subdue the Other who emerges as an autonomous challenge to the Fantasy.

I'm wondering especially if Mr. Burke or Prof. Wallace would have a thought on that, though as usual comments are open to anyone.


TED BURKE said...

Los Angeles is the post modernist poster city most likely because it aligns itself well with the PoMo stress on things being decentered. Los Angeles is decentered, surely, and that is what makes it an especially brutal place to live. The city has an economic vitality, though, due in large measure to media concentration; industries that slice and dice various generic narrative strategies and markets them globally. The city's physical ambiguity of the place is matched by the splayed contents of its principle industries.

Detroit was, of course, once a grand and prosperous community, but fell victim when it couldn't adapt to economic facts of life; the city and the state that depends mostly on the success of one industry will suffer greatly trends and tides turn against it. What the city ought to have done is build a diversivified industrial base, a safeguard to the community's financial health should one set of companies fall on hardships it cannot recover from. Detroit didn't do that though, and remains a PoMo city in the sense that their's is a fate awarded those who have the hubris to assume their current good fortunes will endure forever. Detroit's haven't and it is likely to struggle for decades to come. I am saying this as a Detroiter.

skyplumber said...
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