The Redeemed Imagination

“The virtue of the imagination is its reaching, by intuition and intensity of gaze (not by reasoning, but by its authoritative opening and revealing power), a more essential truth than is seen at the surface of things.”

—John Ruskin

Few concepts in contemporary intellectual debate are more hotly contested than the idea of the postmodern.  The term designates, in its primary meaning, a movement in contemporary art away from the austere and often tragic sensibility of high modernism toward a more “playful” celebration of fragmentation, discontinuity, and “depthlessness.”  In this sense, postmodern has been commonly employed since the 1960’s to characterize a range of otherwise disparate styles of art, from Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s-soup-can silkscreens to Robert Mapplethorpe’s grotesque photographic self-portraits.  By the late 1970’s, the cognate postmodernism was frequently employed to describe a cognitive break with the foundational philosophical assumptions of the modern era.  More recently, however, the adjectival use of postmodern has proliferated like bad money.  In popular usage, postmodern art has been joined by a glad-handing host of eager wannabes: Meet postmodern science, postmodern ministry, and postmodern principles...

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