Metamodernisme en kuns : diepte, affek en betrokkenheid in Vlakwater (2015) deur Ingrid Winterbach en De consequenties (2014) deur Nina Weijers

Vermaak, Janet (2019-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The relevance of postmodernism and the ideas of poststructuralist thinkers have been brought into question since as early as the ninteties, and today many theoreticians attempt to name the structure of feeling that comes after postmodernism. Thomas Vaessens (2009) notices a tendency in contemporary literature to criticise postmodernism, without diverting from postmodern ways of thinking. He refers to this critique on postmodernism from within postmodern structures, as “late postmodernism”. Vermeulen and Van den Akker (2017) use the term “metamodernism” to describe a contemporary structure of feeling oscillating between a typically modern engagement and a characteristically postmodern indifference, between irony and sincerity, belief and scepticism, a continual unsuccessful negotiation between different poles. This thesis is a comparative study of Vlakwater (2015) by Ingrid Winterbach and De consequenties (2014) by Niña Weijers, two novels that can both be described as “late postmodern”, since the inadequacies of postmodernism are exposed from within postmodern thought structures. In both novels, a “metamodern” structure of feeling is made manifest by a renewed yearning for the stability of depth structures, an affective turn and a desire for meaningful relationships with the other, and a revived interest in engaged art. Both novels reflect on the role of art after postmodernism and on the relationship between art and life, ethics and aesthetics, autonomy and engagement. Firstly, the metamodern reconsideration of postmodern depthlessness is discussed. Vermeulen (2015) states that depth structures are once again sought after in metamodern art, but that this metamodern depth can be described as a simulation of depth, or a performative revaluation of depth. Secondly, subjectivity and relationality are examined as important aspects of the affective turn in metamodern art. This metamodern modality of affect is characterised by an (affected) sensitivity towards the self and the other, which leads to a relational understanding of identity. The fact that the main characters in both novels are artists, invites contemplation on the nature of art and literature. The poetical statements made in the two novels illustrate the influence of the metamodern structure of feeling on the aesthetic views of the artist-characters, and important questions are raised regarding the role of art in a metamodern society. Although metamodernism takes on different forms in the two novels, both Vlakwater and De consequenties demonstrate that postmodern theories and techniques are no longer relevant for expressing contemporary experiences.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Reeds in die negentigerjare word die geldigheid van die postmodernisme en die idees van poststrukturalistiese denkers al in twyfel getrek, en verskeie teoretici onderneem vandag om die gevoelstruktuur wat die postmodernisme opvolg, te benoem. Thomas Vaessens (2009) bemerk dat daar in hedendaagse literatuur dikwels kritiek gelewer word op die postmodernisme, sonder dat daar afgewyk word van postmoderne denkwyses, ’n verskynsel wat hy “laatpostmodernisme” noem. Vermeulen en Van den Akker (2017) gebruik die term “metamodernisme” om ’n hedendaagse gevoelstruktuur te beskryf wat ossilleer tussen ’n tipies moderne betrokkenheid en ’n kenmerkende postmoderne onverskilligheid, tussen ironie en opregtheid, geloof en skeptisisme, ’n voortdurende onsuksesvolle onderhandeling tussen verskillende pole. Hierdie tesis is ’n vergelykende studie van twee romans, Vlakwater (2015) deur Ingrid Winterbach en De consequenties (2014) deur Niña Weijers, wat beide as “laatpostmodernisties” beskou kan word, in die sin dat die begrensinge van die postmodernisme blootgelê word vanuit postmoderne denkstrukture. In beide romans manifesteer ook ’n “metamoderne” gevoelstruktuur, wat gekenmerk word deur ’n hernude soeke na die vastigheid van dieptestrukture, na affektiewe verhoudings met die ander, en na betrokkenheid in kuns. Beide romans besin oor die rol van kuns ná die postmodernisme en oor die verhouding tussen kuns en lewe, etiek en estetiek, outonomie en betrokkenheid. Eerstens word die metamoderne heroorweging van die diepteloosheid van die postmodernisme bespreek. Vermeulen (2015) beweer dat daar opnuut ’n soeke is na dieptestrukture in metamoderne kuns, maar dat hierdie metamoderne diepte beskryf kan word as ’n simulasie van diepte, of ’n performatiewe herevaluering van diepte. Tweedens word subjektiwiteit en relasionaliteit ondersoek as faktore wat ’n rol speel by die affektiewe wending in metamoderne kuns. Hierdie metamoderne modaliteit van affek, word gekenmerk deur ’n (geaffekteerde) sensitiwiteit teenoor die self en die ander wat uitloop op ’n relasionele opvatting van identiteit. Die feit dat die hoofkarakters in beide romans kunstenaars is, lei tot refleksie oor die aard van kuns en literatuur. Die poëtikale uitsprake wat gemaak word in die twee romans illustreer die invloed van die metamoderne gevoelstruktuur op die kunsopvatting van die kunstenaarkarakters en opper belangrike vrae oor die rol van kuns in ’n metamoderne samelewing. Hoewel metamodernisme op verskillende maniere in die twee romans manifesteer, demonstreer beide Vlakwater en De consequenties dat postmoderne teorieë en tegnieke nie meer geskik is om uitdrukking te gee aan hedendaagse ervarings nie.

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