Leading into the Future IX: Fragmented and Inconsistent Images

Leading into the Future IX: Fragmented and Inconsistent Images

Heaps of Fragments

A few years after Gitlin, Frederic Jameson (1991) wrote about the “heaps of fragments” (a pastiche) in the production of postmodern culture—though he declares:

. . . the description of postmodernism [is] something for which the word fragmentation remains much too weak and primitive a term . . . particularly since it is now no longer a matter of the breakup of some preexisting older organic totality, but rather the emergence of the multiple in new and unexpected ways, unrelated strings of events, types of discourse, modes of classification, and compartments of reality. (Jameson, 1991, p. 25)

Jameson sometimes uses two other terms, random pluralism and pastiche (a clustering of mimicry and blank parody) to address the issue of fragmentation. Random pluralism is found in the hand-me-down scrapes of culture and images from the modern and even premodern era in our postmodern world. These remnants are inextricably interwoven with new and surprising cultural elements (Jameson’s pastiche) to produce a fragmented and inconsistent image of our time.

Such a world tends to deny the continuity of tradition and undermines the certainty of specific social constructions of reality. History, according to both Jameson and Gitlin, has been ruptured. We live in an era that need pay little attention to the past. As Jameson (1991, p. 36) observed, over half the people who have ever lived on earth are still alive: “the present is thus like some new thriving and developing nation-state, whose numbers and prosperity make it an unexpected rival for the old traditional ones.”


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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