Pomo and Buddhist Musings

John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 16 Feb 1994 11:36:08 JST

Steve Swidler writes,

"The idea that we are only continually presenting texts to one another
and never revealing the true or essential self has alway struck me as
rather poststructural modern..."

Why assume that "the true or essential self" exists? My reading
suggests that the truly postmodern position is that there's nothing but
texts presenting to each other. The self, the author, the nation state,
the work of art--all conceived as monadic units in "modern thought"
are revealed to be nothing but intersections in shifting webs of cross

What is curious to me about this is how close it comes to certain
streams of Buddhist thought in which the end of profound meditation is
the realization of "non-self" and "the emptiness of all things," a decisive
and radical step beyond Hindu (and also Cartesian) philosophies where
doubt ends in discovery of an absolute self (universal in the one;
individual in the other).

Makes me wonder about the wisdom of linking pomo thought too
tightly to late (i.e., consumer) capitalism...

Any thoughts out there?

"Making Symbols is My Business"--John McCreery (JLM@twics.com)