Skip to main content

How Postmodernism Has Erased Boundaries.

One of the most important traits of Postmodern world is that it has erased boundaries which have existed, for better or worse we don't know.

The Starry night by Vincent Van Gogh and The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp.

The Starry night by Vincent Van Gogh and The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp.

Erasure of boundaries in Postmodern world.

What is erasure of boundary?

Erasure of boundaries is one of the traits of the Post-modern period. What is art or what is trash? We cannot separate the two. Erasure of boundaries is a key terminology in postmodernism that diminishes the clear distinction between good and evil or positive and negative.

In a postmodern world, people fail to distinguish between good and evil because these notions have been merged. There is no boundary. Like films, they are for commercial purposes, money, and business but we can’t ignore the artistic side of the film, the philosophical part.

Films teach us knowledge but they are also a business. If we only accept the high art then we are ignoring the commercial part. The nature of things has changed because of technology. Erasure of boundary exists not only in art but in every aspect of the post-modern world.

How Art has no boundary in Postmodern period.

Erasure of boundary in Art is very relevant as before art was something done by an artist like a painting he made with his hand, that used to be called art. Something that reflected talent and proficiency but in the postmodern world art has changed its meaning.

Now art depends on the presentation instead of its meaning or talent. Now if the presentation is done right it would be called an art. For example, the painting ‘The Starry Night’ by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh would be called an art as it showed talent and hard work and was considered his best work as he painted it from his memory.

A lot of people associate different meanings with the painting many people believe The Starry Night is an expression of Van Gogh's mental health. The vibrant blues are a common color during his bouts of mental illness. His fascination with stars, death, and transcendence is evident in the starry sky he painted or it reflects his direct observations of his view of the countryside from his window as well as the memories and emotions this view evoked in him.

Opposite of this “The Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp is a urinal placed inside a museum for exhibition. It’s just a store-bought urinal, no talent is shown by the Duchamp in its making or styling, he just bought it and placed it in a place that would call it art.

In Postmodern period Presentation matters.

As long as it is presented right even if it has no meaning it would be called Art in the Postmodern period. There is no difference between High art or Low art, now it’s just Art because in post-modern only the presentation or image of art matters, not its intrinsic value but what it claims to be.

Erasure of boundary in social system.

Like art, there is erasure of boundaries in the rigid social system. Modernism was the period where fixed versions of everything were found, a particular version is true.

Works of literature reflect this erasure.

In the postmodern period, the very existence of these concepts was questioned. Like morality. There is no fixed version of morality anymore. The novel ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ is a good representation of postmodern morality. The main character Kya is abandoned by her family and has to raise herself.

When she is older she falls in love with a boy, who later leaves her but never alone. Scared for her life she murders him. But we never see Kya as a murderer, she somehow becomes a symbol of empowerment. How she took matters into her own hand and later she becomes a very successful writer after being acquitted of murder. In the Modernism period, she would be seen as a murderer and nothing more but now she is a lot more than being a murderer. She is seen as a self-sufficient woman. This is another example of how morality has changed in the postmodern world.

Consumer culture has been changed.

Before the post-modern period consumption was limited because there weren’t many modes of consumption. There were limited advertisements and limited possibilities.

Due to the media and communication revolution back in the sixties, the mode of consumption changed. Because of this, there is more superficiality in society and we are consuming everything all the time not knowing if it is good for us or not, or do we need it or not.

Revolution of media plays a big role in Erasure of boundaries.

Before a demand used to arise and then a product would be created but now the product is created before and then demand for it is made by using media and advertisement. Immediate dissatisfaction sets in after we buy something, we are getting greedy, and need everything.

Before we would have to save money to buy and were satisfied when we got it. Before things were bought for need now it’s more for desires and greed. There is erasure of boundary between consumption.

Our desires and greed are manipulated.

For example, my mother used to buy just two or three dresses for formal functions and there wasn’t much choice to choose from. Now there is a dress for every single occasion and there are tons of designers to choose from and it’s not that clothes are old they keep changing to adjust to desires. Before they were bought to fulfill needs now they are bought just because of greed and desire.

Scroll to Continue

And corporations know how to manipulate our greed, they would make eye-catching advertisements and they release at least four collections every year. So, our consumption has no boundary anymore.

Hard to distinguish between good and bad Knowledge.

Like our consumption Knowledge has changed too. It is hard to distinguish between good and bad knowledge. During Socrates and Aristotle’s time, knowledge was verbal and was purely given to enhance human life and experiences. First, we cannot distinguish between good and bad knowledge.

One way to know good knowledge was it was government approved and would appear in texts books but now every single person has internet access and they can upload or write about anything and as long as it is written it would be considered knowledge. Even if it is utterly useless. Now there is no authority for legitimizing knowledge.

Like, an expert answering questions on how to solve a problem, this would be considered good, it is an expert in their field and they are trying to help people solve problems.

In contrast to this some kid sitting at home doing experiments and putting bath bombs in his swimming pool to see what happens. We see that it clogs the pump and creates a mess and all that water is wasted. People seeing this experiment will try to do it themselves and would also end up creating a mess. So, there is a difference between good and bad knowledge just because knowledge is created using dominant cultural tools like visuality then it would be considered knowledge.

Conformity and conflict go together.

Consumption changed our culture and that changed the way we look at the world as there is conformity and conflict within a society. Transgenders have existed since mankind but they were never given any importance.

In Pakistan, they were not even allowed to have National identity cards in universities, only two options of male and female were given to check. Peoples were rigid in their sexual orientation or they weren’t accepted by society, now people are open to different sexual orientations.

At least now they are not rigid they are exposed to the idea of people having other orientations other than being straight. Transgenders are given identity and are allowed in universities.

This conformity with conflict goes hand in hand, within a family, even the family systems have changed. The one authority at the home is not listened to anymore. There are various versions of everything available and everybody has gotten a voice. This creates conflict. Dogmatic ways of following orders are not possible anymore.

Conclusion.

In conclusion, I would say erasure of boundary is happening in every aspect of our postmodern life. From knowledge to art to culture and moral values etc. There is no set standard anymore to evaluate a certain thing.

Art has lost its meaning, if you present it well even if it has no intrinsic value it would be called art. Knowledge as long as it is written or by using visual elements would be considered knowledge even if it is gibberish.

Moral values have been muddled as right and wrong are not black and white but grey now. The concept of conformity and conflict now go hand in hand together. If we are conforming some other group is in conflict over it.

So, erasure of boundary in every sphere of postmodern life is happening. It is one of the most defining traits of the postmodern period.

Sources.

Sarfraz, Haroon Akhter, Amer, The Postmodern criticism (2014)

https://www.academia.edu/9873794/Haroon_Sarfraz_Amer_Akhter_Postmodern_Criticism#:~:text=%E2%80%9CErasure%20of%20Boundaries%E2%80%9D%20is%20an,to%20the%20highly%20esteemed%20ones. (accessed on August 6 2022)

Noor, Laiba, Erasure of Boundaries in the Movie "Blade Runner 1982", Hubpages

https://discover.hubpages.com/entertainment/Erasure-of-Boundaries-in-the-Movie-Blade-Runner-1982 (accessed on August 6 2022)

Moquim, Faizan, The Erasure of Subject: Postmodern Reflections, H-Announce

https://networks.h-net.org/node/73374/announcements/4152535/erasure-subject-postmodern-reflections (accessed on August 6 2022)

Related Articles