Умберто Эко

Postmodernism: ironic look back

Postmodernism is a worldview that arose in the 60s of the 20th century as a reaction to modernism, which, despite its claims to universality and impartiality, was a product of a specific historical and cultural context. Postmodernists believe that all worldviews reflect the biases of their creators and therefore do not pretend to offer a universal interpretation of reality. They emphasize the role of language in constructing reality and the impossibility of objective knowledge.

One of the main features of postmodernism is the use of irony and parody. Postmodernists believe that all grand narratives, including those of science and religion, are inadequate and therefore need to be mocked and deconstructed. They use irony to expose the contradictions and inconsistencies inherent in any ideology, including their own.

Umberto Eco, an Italian philosopher and writer, was one of the chief proponents of postmodernism. In his essay "Travels in Hyperreality," Eco explores the phenomenon of the simulacrum, which he defines as a copy without an original. He argues that in a culture driven by the mass media, the distinction between reality and fiction becomes blurred, and people become more interested in simulating reality rather than experiencing it.

Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose" is a prime example of postmodernism. The novel is set in a medieval monastery and tells the story of a monk who investigates a series of murders. Although the novel is a historical fiction, Eco uses it to critique modern society and its obsession with rationality. He introduces elements of fantasy and satire to disrupt the reader's expectations and make them aware of the constructedness of the narrative.

Another example of postmodern irony is the phenomenon of "Museum of the Unwanted," which Eco describes in his essay "Travels in Hyperreality." The museum consists of rejected objects from other museums and institutions and is intended to expose the arbitrariness of the selection process in cultural institutions. The museum is both a parody of the traditional museum and a critique of the idea of cultural value.

In conclusion, postmodernism is characterized by an ironic attitude towards all grand narratives and a recognition of the role of language in constructing reality. Umberto Eco's works illustrate these features through their use of irony and parody to expose the constructedness of reality and challenge the assumptions of modernity.