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The Commodification of Opposition: Notes on the Postmodern Image in Heiner Müller's "Hamletmaschine"

Douglas Nash
Monatshefte
Vol. 81, No. 3 (Fall, 1989), pp. 298-311
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30153179
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Commodification of Opposition: Notes on the Postmodern Image in Heiner Müller's "Hamletmaschine"
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Abstract

The subversive nature of Heiner Müller's 1978 play, Hamletmaschine, considered by some to be an exemplary case of postmodern oppositionalism, nevertheless becomes suspect when seen in the light of Fredric Jameson's 1984 essay, "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." Jameson characterizes present-day culture as depthless, the result of recent transformation in the world economy and its accompanying technology of reproduction. Similarly, Miller's play attacks depth by draining aesthetic and historical traditions of meaning; the critical attitude of the play is transmitted through flattened-out imagery which, devoid of any purposeoriented message, would seem to converge with the very modes of representation used by contemporary video culture. A recent production of Hamletmaschine by director Robert Wilson implies the effect of such imagery is anything but seditious, hence calling into question the possibility for oppositionalism in a postmodern world.

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