“Transcendence Under Particular, Artificial Conditions”

Don’t read this post if you don’t want to know how “Life of Pi” ends.

“A systematic attempt to define post-postmodernism in aesthetic terms has been undertaken by the German-American Slavist Raoul Eshelman in his book Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism (Aurora, Colorado: Davies Group 2008, ISBN 978-1-888570-41-0).[18] Eshelman, who coined the term “performatism” in 2000,[7] attempts to show that works in the new epoch are constructed in such a way as to bring about a unified, aesthetically mediated experience of transcendence. Performatism does this by creating closed works of art that force viewers to identify with simple, opaque characters or situations and to experience beauty, love, belief and transcendence under particular, artificial conditions. Eshelman applies this model to literature, movies, architecture, philosophy and art. Examples of performatist works cited by Eshelman include Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, the movie American Beauty, Sir Norman Foster’s renovation of the Berlin Reichstag, the philosophy of Jean-Luc Marion and Vanessa Beecroft’s performances.” – Wikipedia entry on Post Postmodernism

This says something important to my experience. I’m not entirely sure what, but I can point in its direction. Take “Life of Pi.” You’re trundling along toward certain death in your tiny boat, but you’ve come to terms with your tiger. Then something happens that is beyond reason or understanding, yet tangibly changes the course of your life. You are saved, yet opened to unimaginable terrors. Finally you are carried to the far shore, returned to the world, forever made different, but somehow more whole. Is that a metaphor for life, the spiritual journey, both? I’m not going to say.


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One Response to ““Transcendence Under Particular, Artificial Conditions””

  1. Quanta Says:

    I’m not very familiar with the book, but it was the last paragraph of your post that really got me.

    You describe very closely an initiation that I went through when I was younger involving crossing a dark, choppy sea on a small boat….with a “God-like” figure accompanying me without intervening….and my arrival at a shore ringed with rusty obstacles…where I faced a life-changing challenge that I survived intact.

    I’m leaving out a lot of detail, but imagine my surprise when I read my story being told by another experiencer….she was taken to the same shore….she faced the same obstacles…still we have not met, and she probably doesn’t know I read of her identical experience…and she probably hasn’t read mine.

    Among billions of people, how did I find her story – or, how did her story find me? How could this unlikely place be real, metaphorically or not, to two people independent of one another? I may know the answer, but like you, I’m not going to say…

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