A topic that came up as we were discussing “Posts” and The Theory Toolbox was how an aspect postmodernism is its concern with the reflectivity of art and media (i.e. Seinfeld being a sitcom about sitcoms, Warhol’s work being art about art, etc.) This topic was really interesting to me. It is something I have actually thought a lot about before. If modernist artists tries to convey truth and reality through their art, what if there were a way to convey the nature of art through art. I think this is my personal favorite aspect of postmodernism (though I do realize that’s not all there is to postmodernism.) However, I feel like taking art to that level can be dangerous in the sense that it risks losing some creativity and a sense of real purpose. I think that with a topic so delicate, it is easy to sort of fake it, to simply mock art through a sloppy imitation and state that what you have done is create something of your own, a piece that comments on art in general. I think that if this is done, the creation is merely a joke and should not be taken seriously. That being said, I think the risk is something very much worthwhile, and I am thankful that past artists have been willing to take it and delve into the realm of reflectivity. All art should not be simply an artist’s attempt at revealing truth and reality (though I think that this is a wonderful purpose for art, and it is in fact my favorite). It offers another view and another side of art when an artist takes this reflective approach. I simply have to trust in the integrity and the honest intention of the artist, that he or she desires to create something that reveals the nature of art, and not an imitation or talentless product, a joke. Though, I can definitely appreciate a good joke if it is done well and with good intentions. For example, if someone wanted to put together a talentless pile of nothing and call it art simply for the sake of trolling art snobs, I would love it!
In class on Wednesday, the distinction between history and historiography was brought up. This was a really interesting part of our discussion for me personally, mostly because my idea of “history” has always been the written out chapters in textbooks, the stories told by others, and the memorization of dates, names, and events. The topic of historiography versus history made me think about history as more of an abstract idea, a concept of the past and it’s purpose. This realization led to me thinking of historiography, the ‘writing down of history,’ or the choosing of what is important and noteworthy, as our way of applying history to our lives. Lately in class, we have been discussing how the media (television shows, magazines, etc.) are designed to give us what we want to see, read, and hear. Well, I think this is largely what every social and cultural construct is designed to do. This is what literature can do, and this is what history seems to be able to do as well. The difference is that written works from the past can be revisited, and we can determine from them what must have been important or new at a given time. It is argued that these works cannot capture history fully, because they were written by biased individuals who had opinions about what was important, and because these individuals cannot have possibly included everything in their work. I agree, I think that this history cannot in fact be written down, because it is abstract. We cannot make something abstract become concrete, simply because not all nouns represent something physical. How could a person paint a picture of love? They could paint their idea of love in the form of two people embracing, or of a mother holding her child. But at the end of the day neither of these things epitomize love. This is why historiography, and what we generally think of when we hear ‘history,’ is an art of its own, and it should be appreciated as such. When a work of art is critiqued, the critic may say ‘I think that the artist should have incorporated this’ or ‘I think that the piece lacks that,’ in an effort to improve or expand a work, to help it become more complete. This is how written accounts of history should be viewed and discussed, not with cynicism or even with mere doubt, but with concern for the validity and verisimilitude of it.