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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - Against Conclusions


Nothing ever ends.

Dr. Manhattan, in Moore and Gibbons's Watchmen

Curiosity and idle chatter, in their ambiguity [that is, in the way they uproot concepts from the phenomena that give them their true meaning], ensure that what is genuinely and newly created is outdated as soon as it emerges before the public. It can first become free in its positive possibilities only when the idle chatter covering it over has become ineffectual and the “common” interest has died away.

Heidegger (BT 218/SZ 174)

As a vague but trendy ideological buzzword, “postmodernism” had its heyday in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, running its course through humanities departments like the proverbial bull through the china shop, shattering established literary traditions (much as Watchmen deconstructed the hero) until finally even postmodernism's most enthusiastic early proponents began to turn against it, loudly proclaiming the “end of theory” and calling for a return to the simple reading of literature (as if there had ever been any such “simple reading” in literature departments, and “literature” and “theory” had not always walked down the halls of the academy with their hands entwined). Today many mainstream philosophers seem relieved to have weathered the postmodern storm more or less unscathed. Some even evince an unmistakable air of superiority for not having allowed themselves to get caught up in the culture wars (as if defending a tradition against various “postmodern” critiques, usually by trying to ignore them, was not itself to take a side).

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Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity
  • Online ISBN: 9780511976605
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