"This sentence serves no logical purpose." This sentence is confusing at first, but looking at it from a postmodern perspective may shed some light on what to make of it. However, one must understand what postmodernism is in order to use the perspective. What is it and how does it relate to the above sentence?
Many definitions are given for postmodernism. Originally it was used to describe a movement in architecture and the arts. The movement rejected the clean, efficient lines of modernism and aimed to add more character. According to Andy Crouch there are three main concepts behind it (Crouch 2-6). Perhaps the most common is the notion hearing what the marginalized have to say. Rather than accepting the opinions of the elite, postmodernists aim to approach a problem from as many angles as possible when searching for solutions. Another way people view postmodernism is through all the choices consumer capitalism has brought forth. People have more options when it comes to what to eat, what to wear, or what to watch on T.V. than ever before.
These two definitions of postmodernism are seemingly unrelated, but both lead to the third description: skepticism of the truth (Crouch 4). By focusing on the marginalized, that is seeing more than just the dominant or elite point of view, one often is lead to question what was once considered truth. Are true statements actually true or do they just appear true from a certain perspective (3)? Postmodernists do not simply accept what one person passes off as truth because it may be an attempt to gain power.
The problem with postmodernism, argues New York Times writer, Richard Bernstein, is that it allows for ideas to be broken into multiple arguments or view points, each seeming equally valid, meaning there is no clear dominant argument (Bernstein 6). This can be viewed as positive or negative. On the one hand, no clear dominant argument means no clear solution to an issue. On the other hand, there is an opportunity for everyone's opinion to be heard. Clearly postmodern thinking requires one to think beyond the basics. Jonathan Petty sums it up well by explaining that postmodern thinkers use experiences, participation, and images to build connections (Petty 26).
Bernstein suggests that Madonna embodied postmodernism because she used many different styles and identities (Bernstein 16). If Madonna was the postmodernist of the 80s, Lady Gaga is the postmodernist of today. She uses her outfits to make statements, such as with the dress made out of meat that she wore to the Video Music Awards. The dress, which received a lot of media attention, gave a different perspective to feeling comfortable in one's skin.
Petty believes the era of postmodernism will last between 2,000 and 5,000 years. Elisabeth Hickey, writer for the Washington Times, seems to agree, stating that it will last until someone is able to contrive a "Theory of Everything" (Hickey 52). During the modern era people believed science would eventually answer all questions about life, leaving no more mysteries. However, after many, many years scientists still cannot explain why we are here or what our greater purpose is. To back up her statement, Hickey quotes Mr. Pinkerton, a former employee of Mr. George H. Bush, when he says "Postmodernists . . . know that one size does not fit all: There is no one solution, only solutions" (35).
this in mind, take another look at the sentence, "This sentence serves no
logical purpose." Approaching it from a postmodernist perspective one can see
how the sentence can be assigned more than one meaning. First, it can be taken
to be a statement of truth: the sentence has no meaning and therefore should be
ignored. Further consideration may lead one to wonder if it serves no purpose,
why would someone go to the trouble of recording it? Perhaps it is not telling
the truth after all, demonstrating the skepticism of truth characteristic to postmodernism.
If the statement is false, then it must in fact have a purpose. Discerning the
purpose is not an easy task. Perhaps the statement is meant to follow and
describe another, or maybe it is meant to lead the reader astray. There is no
clear answer here.
Much like postmodernism itself, the statement is incredibly ambiguous. given to a room full of people, a single conclusions would not be reached. Because there is no one agreed upon explanation, can either serve a logical purpose? Since everyone has their own view, different conclusions will always be drawn. As mentioned earlier, that may not be a terrible thing. More viewpoints leads to a better understanding, allowing people to draw a more informed conclusion.