What's the Point?
The sentence "This sentence serves no logical purpose" may be viewed from many different perspectives, understood in many different ways to mean many different things. Due however to set parameters, the author will be addressing this sentence from one specific point of view, postmodernism, and based on his understanding of this movement in the history of ideas, will discuss how this sentence illustrates postmodernism.
In order to orient the reader with some of the subject material of this essay and to begin deconstructing this sentence the author will present a few definitions, beginning with modernism. According to the encyclopedia Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History "The term 'modernism' encompasses a diversity of artistic and cultural movements that erupted across Europe, found focus in London, and launched the careers of a number of expatriate US artists and writers during the period from 1890 to 1930". Some of more commonly known characteristics of the modernism include, the desire to establish order from chaos, to build a frame in which all things fit, to gain knowledge through reasoning, and to know truth through scientific knowledge. Having defined modernism in this way the author will refer back to this definition later when discussing the sentence. Defining post modernism poses a greater challenge, because "'There is no unified postmodern theory, or even a coherent set of positions'"(qtd. in Best and Keller 2). Postmodernism would not encourage creating an absolute definition, and some would even say there "may be just as many postmodernisms as there are postmodernists" (qtd. in Featherstone 207). While some of the trademarks of modernism are establishing order, creating systems in which things fit and using a scientific approach to discover truths, postmodernism stands in stark contrast. Commonly accepted trademarks of postmodernism include, but are not limited to, skepticism of things established i.e. truths and authorities, focus on the marginalized, and being a response to advanced consumer capitalism. As is its nature, postmodernism can mean many things and be applied to many disciplines, not all of its meanings though are applicable in the present situation. Those which are, postmodernist skepticism and postmodernism's connection to consumer culture, will be discussed further. Another well known aspect of postmodernism is deconstruction, a term coined by Jacques Derrida, which the author will view in more depth while discussing how the sentence "This sentence serves no logical purpose" illustrates postmodernism.
Deconstruction, often associated with post-modernism, is a noodle in the bowl of soup that is post-modernism which the author would like to take out and examine in relation to the sentence being examined. Deconstruction, in short, says that no truth or meaning is stable, it is instead always changing, and according to The Columbia Encyclopedia, "meaning includes what is left out of the text or ignored or silenced by it". In relation to the sentence around which this essay is formed, it is difficult for one to determine what or if anything is being left out and how that would affect the meaning of it. With the word "purpose" for example, a definition of which can be "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc." (dictionary.com) one could easily say the "purpose" of the sentence is to explain that it has no purpose, proving the sentence to be untrue but confirming the truth of the postmodernist philosophy of deconstruction. If then, there is information that was left out of the sentence the author could conclude that the purpose would be made clear with that information included. This conclusion, this statement of purpose of the sentence, could prove entirely unsatisfactory to someone who is an ingrained part the consumerist society that seems to fit right in with postmodernism.
Looking at this sentence as someone who adheres to the parameters of a consumerist society, one may say that the sentence is true, because it does not serve a purpose, in that the reader of the sentence gains nothing from it. With this take on the sentence, based on Blake's theory, the sentence illustrates postmodernism by offering nothing useful to the consumer in the same way that postmodernism "has nothing positive to offer educational theory" (Cole, Hill, Rikowski, 195). If the author were to look at this sentence as one who adheres to modernism, and stands opposed to postmodernism, the illustration there of would be even clearer.
As a modernist, one would likely use reason to define the sentence as a paradox. The paradox being, that simply by existing the sentence serves some purpose. As the reader can see, postmodernism opposes all that modernism is, and offers an alternative
Based on the author's understanding of postmodernism, the focused upon sentence illustrates postmodernism through how it connects to deconstruction, advanced consumer capitalism, and loosely how it opposes modernism.