Can we be individual in the postmodern age?

In Jameson’s text Postmodernism and Consumer Society he discusses the ‘death of the subject,’ the end of Individuality. He talks about the Modernist views of a unique self, your own unique vision of the world, your own unmistakable style. However did that really ever exist? You can imagine if we didn’t have Internet, TV and Mass media our knowledge and information on the outside world would be pretty limited. We would certainly have less to influence our style, therefore believing it to be unique to us. But would the reality be that there would be many people with the same style, just unaware of the others actions? So is individuality ‘…a philosophical and cultural mystification which sought to persuade people that they ‘had’ individual subjects and possessed some unique personal identity.’ (Jameson 1998 p4)
Or is it that all the ideas and stylistic approaches have been done; only a certain number of combinations are possible? Jameson believes we have lost our ability to represent the present and that ‘…It is no longer clear what the artists and writers of the present period should be doing… All that is left is to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum.’ (Jameson 1998 p4) He makes it sound like a depressing time to be an artist. It’s easy to see why the loss of individuality would seem like a bad thing but why not look at it differently. The same things influence us all from our education to mass media, advertising and popular culture. If we are all receiving similar information we are more likely to be interested in similar ideas. Postmodernism in part is the fragmentation of social groups requires we fit in to one of the many fragmented groups giving us a sense of identity and individuality. So even if it’s impossible to be individual anymore we can still have a strong sense of identity through finding out where our interests lie and what makes us tick.
What do you think?

Kerri Butterworth

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One Response to Can we be individual in the postmodern age?

  1. you could say that no one has ever been ‘indivdual’ especialy within art, there are always ‘isms’ people following a particular style or skill, or designing work for a client or benifactor. artists have always had to pander to other people’s ideas, and those ideas themselves are a product of society and it’s conventions.
    within others areas of life and culture for instance clothing and fashion, it has either been for practical purposes and there fore not very individual in style or for the richer classes it has been an exact replica of what ever is the passing fashion.
    people can be individual but there are so many people in the world so who knows if out there some-where there isn’t some-one just like you.
    to add to that, a lot of people now don’t want to be individual, they all want to be somebody else, often exactly like some-one else, usually ‘famous’, they look at pictures to get the same clothes, hair, accesories, tans, phones, anything they can to be like some-one else. they are an individual person but they are not an ‘idividual’.
    abi mitchell

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