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Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,857 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Paperback, 438 pages
Published 1992 by Duke Univ Press (first published 1991)
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3.98  · 
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 ·  5,857 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
greg got me to read this. finished it in a laundromat in w.phila and stared into the swirling machine for an hour afterward just trying to cope.
Jun 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: postmodernism
I agree with the reviewer who said: simply read the first essay ("Culture"; which is a slightly edited version of a famous paper published in 1984), and leave it at that. There are some marvelous insights on the problem of postmodernism and the spectacularization of contemporary capitalism; but also plenty of jargon, meandering, and (not to judge) also lots of engagement with arcane theoretical issues that are way beyond my present ken. The next several chapters look like case studies, and the l ...more
David M
Arguably the main problem with this book can be found in the subtitle. The concept 'late capitalism,' as developed by Ernest Mandel, refers to the postwar global economy; that is, the compromise of state regulated capital and social democracy. By the time Jameson wrote these essays, capitalism was already moving on to a later stage called 'neoliberalism.'

At the heart of this book, then, is a shotgun wedding between vivid, up-to-date aesthetic practices and an increasingly outmoded economic conc
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
If you're involved in the fields of literary, cultural, or media studies, you should read this book -- or at least the introduction and first few essays;however, be prepared for a slow and painful experience. Jameson's language is dense and his ideas are complex (to put it lightly). Before attempting to read this book you should have a basic understanding of Marxism and semiotics. I'm not saying this to sound like a hot-shot smarty pants. If someone hadn't explained these things to me first, I w ...more
I'll start by saying that Jameson knows his shit. As this qualifier suggests, there's something that needs qualifying. Throughout the book, self-awareness is a giant elephant in the room. By not taking a stance on various postmodernists (Haacke, Gehry, Claude Simon, et al), Jameson starts to function as an apologist rather than as an observer of it. Furthermore, his approach is intensely historicist, dismissing the myriad alternatives to his theory. So can anything valuable be ascertained from t ...more
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dan by: Chris K.
Jameson's book is the gold standard against which I rank similar studies (Linda Hutcheon's A Poetics of Postmodernism, Jean-François Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge). It expands an article Jameson wrote that first appeared in New Left Review in 1984. Here, along with an historic analysis of postmodernism, Jameson also discusses intellectual positions on the moment, as well as writing about specific texts, including Claude Simon's Conducting Bodies: A Novel, the video Al ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Paul De Man
Shelves: theory
Officially, half of my summer reading is completed. I'm not sure I know exactly what to say after this. I've got a much better understanding of some of the aspects of postmodernism, how Marxist analysis plays out over many different forms, what tensions exist between the two and weather they're relevant or not.

My favorite moment: Jameson pwns Paul De Man and most of deconstruction-post structuralism in one chapter, rendering it almost silly. But there is still much to be learned from this entir
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because I've a module on postmodernist literature and I find postmodernism in itself fascinating. What I didn't expect is an incredibly dense collection of essays that 1/4 bored me to tears, 3/4 gave me a migraine while trying to decipher the text even with my understanding of the other theories, concepts, etc. referred here. Even so, it can be said that Jameson's arguments and ideas are interesting and compelling (it certainly does give one a solid perspective to look at p ...more
Gabriel Congdon
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good riddance.
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
why frederic jameson’s ensemble of material-semiotic linkages collected under the deployment of jean-francois lyotard’s term “postmodernism” matters to those attached to political engagement is chiefly due to the sheer descriptive economy re: that space wherein any political matter can ever occur. to map cognition is to see capitalism, to see gentrification, to see blood on the sharing economy, to see columbus in every artisinal cheese store and parklet in the san francisco mission district, to ...more
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
essential for anyone who has an interest in late capitalism and why we are the way we are.

I did find this hard going though. Jameson's verbosity, sadly, doesn't seem to me to be an acting out of being intelligence. I do think the dude DOES think in that way. If you get through it though (disclaimer: I read fairly carefully, but skipped chapters on film, space, architecture and video) the insights are scintillating. It could, however, do with more jokes -- my favourite parts are when Jameson make
Ted Burke
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a key book for those struggling to comprehend the verbal murk that constituted post modernist theory , which is a shame, because Fredrick Jameson cannot help but add his own murk to this occasionally useful overview of a directionless philosophical inclination. He certainly brings a lot of reading into his digressive discussions and reveals how much the idea of post modern strategy--Lyotard's notion that the Grand Narrative that unified all accounts of our history, purpose and collective ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ugh. Jameson is influential for a reason -- he has some really important thoughts on 'postmodernism' and contemporary society -- but the interesting nuggets of these essays are buried within mounds of awful subclauses, of subclauses, within further subclauses, and relentless 'academese'...

I don't mind if books of 'theory' are hard going, in fact this is often a necessity, but in this case this often appears entirely unnecessary (possibly intentionally so?). Much of this book reads as if it was b
Oliver Bateman
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Owing to the fact that I assigned this book to my graduate students, I can finally say that a) I finished it, b) I taught it, and c) I love/hate it. Jameson's effort to link Marxist analysis with postmodern critique is at points inspired, and some of his own source analyses (the films Something Wild and Blue Velvet, Frank Gehry's house, etc.) are excellent, but the "theory" section of the book (a look two theorists, with only DeMan being truly notable) that stretches from p. 178 to p. 280 is abs ...more
Jan 22, 2009 is currently reading it
Too long, too difficult--and too worthwhile to ignore. Even if one isn't interested in post-Marxist dialogues at the end of the 20th century--and I'm not, or only to a certain point which Jameson reaches on about page three--there's enough ideas for everyone and anyone in this book about what happened and is happening in American culture after WWII.
Bryce Wilson
May 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I'm not going to lie Jameson verbally owns my ass.

Though I might not agree with his philosophy trying to argue with it is like trying to argue with The Architect in The Matrix.

You just ain't gonna win.

(Runs back to his vernacular based books as quick as he can.)
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I only read the first three essays, because it's an enormous book that only gets more specific in it's analysis, but I got what I came for, which was an analysis of postmodernism as both a cultural episteme AND an investigation of what we mean when we call something "postmodern".
Mar 12, 2008 is currently reading it
I'm gonna a rip Jameson a new asshole. Strikes me as one of them God paradoxa: Can one rip Jameson an asshole when, in fact, his is the biggest asshole one can find?
Nov 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
Essential Reading. Jameson's discourse is profound and necessary to navigate the postmodern cultural landscape - Read it!
Dec 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recently reread this book for class and it is just as amazing as ever. Though a little hard to follow at times, Jameson accurately and almost flawlessly describes the post-modern human condition.
Tom L
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
a healthy dose of cognitive mapping for a dislocated and decentred era
Leonard Houx
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Like a lot of academic books, this is really more of a series of articles united by a subject (postmodernism) than a single treatise--and it is better read that way. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, like me. I enjoyed and learned the most from his introduction, his chapter on architecture and his chapter on theory.

That said, I see why many treat it as such an essential text.
a reading and lukewarm critique of postmodernism by marxist under its slight influence. develops thematically by area of interest, rather than chronologically or schematically by author or text.
Lidiana de Moraes
A never-ending reading... Fredric Jameson's writing is the sort that should be re-read constantly to help us understand what's going on in society.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, art, favorites
Fredric Jameson is not as terribly dense as some other writers and thinkers out there (don't know if that was a compliment or what...) I didn't seem to think that this book was as terribly hard to read as some other reviewers but I would say that potential readers definitely have to be in the right mood for the book. Some of the sections are more drawn out (ie. less fun to read) than they probably needed to be. However, elaboration and digression are common in these kinds of books where the auth ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read just a few chapters of this collection, which were relevant for my diss. That being said, I liked Jameson more than I thought I would. In the past whenever I've tried to read his work I was really put off because I get the sense (I still have this sense, just it didn't bother me as much this time) that he fundamentally doesn't like postmodernism and wishes it were something more like modernism. Much of his analysis of postmodernism highlights the instability, the superficiality, and the d ...more
Andrew Rothmund
Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non
Excellent insights if you have the patience for Jameson's truly abysmal writing. With evidence of purposeful pedantry missing, I can only guess that Jameson is too caught up in his wild and sometimes brilliant abstractions to spend any time figuring out how to actually communicate them clearly. Considering the popularity of this book, we should ask whether he has the resources for an editor who won't let clumbsy phrasing and excessive parenthetical statements (among other red marks) interfere wi ...more
Chris Drew
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though slightly dated I found it remarkably relevant. Jameson does a great job of elaborating on and exemplifying his points, and makes a great case for examining 'postmodernism' (a term he admits to using reluctantly) as a reflection (or symptom) of late capitalism. He ties his argument together with examinations of history and culture that range from architecture to MTV and provide interesting and thoughtful bases for the notions of human development his work asserts. Ultimately the book's goa ...more
Chelsea Szendi
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
I give five stars to the New Left Review article Jameson published in 1984 and which he then fleshed out into this book, which (perhaps unfairly) gets only four because it exhausted me. Read the New Left Review article, then visit this book for any cultural medium of particular interest to you, then read the Perry Anderson "The Origins of Postmodernity" and call it a day. Except even that will probably take you a week. Don't worry. It's be a good week.

I particularly like that Jameson spends so m
Strand McCutchen
May 29, 2007 is currently reading it
[ Cratylism] - A philosophy taking after the Platonic dialogue of Cratylus, in which Cratylus argues that language is natural rather than conventional.
"It thus turns out that it is not only in love, cratylism, and botany that the supreme act of nomination wields a material impact and, like lightning striking from the superstructure back to the base, fuses its unlikely materials into a gleaming lump or lava surface."
--Introduction p. xiii
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Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends—he once described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism. Jameson's best-known books include Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, The Political Unconscious, and Marxism and Form.

Jameson i
“It is safest to grasp the concept of the postmodern as an attempt to think the present historically in an age that has forgotten how to think historically in the first place.” 11 likes
“Insofar as the theorist wins, therefore, by constructing an increasingly closed and terrifying machine, to that very degree he loses, since the critical capacity of his work is thereby paralysed, and the impulses of negation and revolt, not to speak of those of social transformation, are increasingly perceived as vain and trivial in the face of the model itself.” 8 likes
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