REALITY ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE: Theatrical Politics, Ready-to-Wear Religions, Global Myths, and Other Wonders of the Postmodern World by Walter Truett Anderson

REALITY ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE: Theatrical Politics, Ready-to-Wear Religions, Global Myths, and Other Wonders of the Postmodern World

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The busy, eye-catching title tips the reader of what to expect here: a sociocultural look at the perils and doubtful joys of living in the postmodern world. Anderson (The Upstart Spring, 1983) brings to this thorny subject a sharp investigator's knowledge, the ability to break down abstractions and make them recognizable, and a lively, wry style. Anderson divides postmodernism into its various elements--politics and religion, art and philosophy--discussing how each has undergone a transvaluation from the absolute to the relative in an amazingly short amount of time. He finds that there is no longer one presiding reality for, say, politics, but many, depending upon the participant and circumstances. What the postmodern has created, then, is ""SCR,"" a social construction of reality, in which a ready-to-wear vision of the world shifts and changes according to the occasion. As the author indicates, the moral consequences can be devastating. For example, the deconstructionist movement in art, with its emphasis on the subjective, is causing confusion about the meaning of the text, in the same way as there is confusion about the sacredness and meaning of the Bible among the fundamentalists and relativists. However, anderson's view is not entirely bleak. Instead, he sees an opportunity heralding ""a true age of liberation"" in which we can unshackle ourselves from outworn belief systems. What is emerging, he argues, is the growing awareness of the need for new beliefs, based on the sophisticated assumption that we know them to be only constructions, created to satisfy our craving for belief. Understanding them to be a necessary fiction, we can ""step out"" and ""step back in"" to their mode as easily as slipping on a jacket. The final authority is ourself. A provocative distillation of contemporary knowledge, stating in a beguiling way the challenges facing a new global era in which the only certainty is uncertainty.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harper & Row