File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 68

Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2001 23:56:33 +1000
Subject: Re: The Goths

It's an interesting direction Eric has taken. What would a postmodern
religion look like?
I've been trying to construct a question that will do it justice ... but so
far have only come up with this:
Is a meta-narrative still a metanarrative if one's faith in it requires a
suspension of disbelief?
If the opium is found to be a placebo, can the patient nevertheless
reconstruct the effect?


At 10:10 PM 6/15/01 -0500, Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:
>In order that Steve and I don't continue at loggerheads on this subject
>of postmodern religion, I want to acknowledge a few of the positions we
>share in common.
>1. We are both atheists.
>2. We both think that theology has no epistemological function regarding
>matters of fact.
>3. We both share a similar political perspective and have concerns about
>religion as ideology.
>4. Neither one of us wants to "justify God's ways to man" in the sense
>of being apologists for religion.
>So what is our dispute really about then?
>I have been pondering this question and here is my take on it.  (Steve
>may well disagree.)
>If we take Lyotard's thesis of the post-modern condition as the end of
>metanarratives in a quasi-sociological way, then the empirical question
>presents itself - With the decline of the Grand Narrative, would one
>expect to see the decline of religion or its proliferation?
>Steve has made it clear that his position is that religion will
>decline.  My position is that religions will proliferate, although I
>need to qualify what I mean by this.  I am not talking about the Faith
>of our Fathers, despite the undeniable resurgence of fundamentalism
>throughout the world as a reactive response to globalism.  
>The kind of religion I am talking about as post-modern religion is
>closer perhaps to what the media would label cultist in a pejorative
>way.  It is religion that tends to be marginal rather than conventional,
>not so much theistic as exotic, not so much moralistic as therapeutic
>and one that allows its participants to playfully explore new
>possibilities of self outside the confines of the mainstream worldview. 
>(By self here, I do not mean the self as an ontological or metaphysical
>principle, but the self as a kind of style, a rewriting of one's
>inscribed identity, the self as a signature. - "signed, moi!")
>On the whole, I think this constitutes a healthy sign because it
>indicates a greater differentiation and complexity in contemporary
>culture - more singularities - sure signs of the postmodern.  However,
>many of these sects are clearly dysfunctional and politically
>reactionary.  I don't want to come across here as an advocate for
>Heaven's Gate.
>While thinking about these questions after reading Reg's post, the
>thought occurred to me, can the Goth movement be described as a kind of
>postmodern religion in the sense I am attempting to describe?  I think
>it is, but I want to throw the question out there to stimulate further
>Goths also have a particular interest for me because they are linked,
>however tangentially, with the earlier Gothic movement that historically
>had a major role in the manifestation of the sublime within Romantic
>Here is what Reg said:
>"While the comments below are fair enough they can be expanded at least
>far enough to include a contrasting element, thus adding a dynamic
>effect. There is, after all, an equally strong movement esp among young
>people to appropriate tribal personae, which works against the heirarchy
>of capital. They are, nevertheless, stakeholders in a pop industry
>(music, fashion) which favours working class "authenticity" and
>"integrity" while being sublimely unsentimental about what these terms
>really mean. I experience the aesthetics of terror every weekend when my
>glam-Goth daughter goes out with her neo-Punk pals, ready to lord it
>over those 'stupid, fawning rich kids who try to suck up for some street
>cred'. It's not just social cache though, because that street cred
>translates into a powerful and burgeoning segment of the West's 
>economy ... and the kids all know it. "
>So, how about it, is this a case of a postmodern religion? And, if not,
>why not?  
>I am not asking this question sociologically as much as philosophically,
>I am attempting to see this as enthusiasm in the Kantian sense as a
>possible sign of history.  (keeping in mind that enthusiasm literally
>means "infused with God".) 


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