Windows on the World as a Parade of the Postmodern FeaturesZafer Şafak
Generally, postmodernism, which roughly emerges in the 1960s and despite slowing down its effect up to the last years of the 1980s, is a stance recurring even after this period, by problematizing the economic, cultural, and political principles as well as premises of modernism. Postmodernism, which has made a profound effect in fields ranging from philosophy to architecture to technology to performing arts, has exerted its influence primarily in literature in terms of the novel genre. The postmodern novel, which draws attention through such qualities with regard to the negation of the thematic and stylistic/ formal unity in contrast to the traditional novel, is incorporated by the criticism of the political economy and mostly by popular culture criticism, which turns its back on reality on the basis of fiction. Although Windows on the World, by the French novelist and critic Frédéric Beigbeder, seemingly narrates the 9/11 attacks through its nonlinear and metanarrative discourse, which indeed examines family and social structure, the effects of globalism on, individuals and an increasing discontent against the Eurocentric view with a mixture of irony. Although the demolition of the World Trade Center can be fixed to a particular time, it still preserves its effects and bears palimpsestic concerns as the event itself triggers a period marked by declaring war on war, attempting to finalize a situation by means of local or proxy groups, which they consider as a trouble for themselves, and a re-manifestation of cultural problems via their snowballing effect. Within this frame, the objective of the study is to discuss the novel Windows on the World in the context of postmodern features by including cultural criticism.
Postmodern Ögelerin Bir Geçit Töreni Olarak Kuzey Kulesi 107. KatZafer Şafak
Postmodernizm en genel çerçevesiyle 1960’lı yıllardan başlayıp 1980’lerin sonunda hız kesmekle beraber sonrasında da zaman zaman etkisini gösteren ve modernizmin ekonomik, politik ve kültürel ilkelerini ve varsayımlarını sorunsallaştıran bir tutumdur. Felsefeden mimariye, teknolojiden sahne sanatlarına etkisini hissettiren postmodernizm, edebiyat alanındaki yansımasını ağırlıklı olarak roman türünde göstermiştir. Geleneksel romana zıt bir şekilde tematik ve biçimsel bütünlüğü yadsıyan özellikleriyle dikkat çeken postmodern roman, gerçeğe yaslanan kurgusal zeminindeki ekonomi-politik ve daha çok da popüler kültür eleştiriyle eklemlenir. Fransız yazar ve eleştirmen Frédéric Beigbeder’in Kuzey Kulesi 107. Kat adlı romanı görünüşte 11 Eylül saldırısını anlatmakla beraber çizgisel olmayan ve üstkurmaca anlatımıyla 20. yüzyılın özellikle son çeyreğinde ve hemen sonrasında derin bir biçimde değişen aile ve toplumsal yapıyı, küreselleşmenin bireyler üzerindeki etkilerini, avrupamerkezci anlayışa karşı yükselen hoşnutsuzluğu ironiyle harmanlayarak irdeler. Tarihin belli bir dönemine sabitlenebilmekle beraber Dünya Ticaret Merkezi’nin yıkılması, savaşa karşı savaş açma ya da kendine sorun olarak gördüğü durumu yerel gruplar vasıtasıyla savaşarak sonuçlandırmaya çalışma döneminin fitilini ateşlemesi ve kültürel sorunların topaklaşarak kendilerini yeniden belli etmeleri sebebiyle palimpsestik bir anlam taşır ve etkisini hâlâ muhafaza eder. Bu çerçevede çalışmanın amacı, Kuzey Kulesi 107. Kat romanını kurgu içerisindeki kültür eleştirisine de yer vererek postmodern anlatı izleğinde kullanılan özellikleri irdelemektir.
Windows on the World is a novel by French literary critic and novelist Frédéric Beigbeder, in which he, on the surface, narrates the demolition of the World Trade Center in 2001 through the deployment of elements of postmodern fictional thematic and formal peculiarities. Although the novel apparently depicts the destruction of the Twin Towers, it turns out to be the cultural, political, economic, and colonial criticism of world affairs. Through the employment of historiographical metafiction, Frédéric Beigbeder re-writes the globally influential terrorist attack by blending his narrative with such postmodern fictional features as pastiche, nonlinear narration, fragmentation in character, setting and time, paranoia, short circuits, and double-binds. The novel Windows on the World, which oscillates between reality and fiction, portrays the colonial aspect of Western countries and the relationship of the so-called “Third World” countries to these powers that prove to be ambivalent within the discourse of postcolonial criticism. It is highlighted, despite the fact that 9/11 attacks can be fixed at a certain date, and its far-reaching impacts stand out to be recurring, somewhat palimpsestic, which triggers new kinds of terror waging strategies mostly in the form of war on war in the way of proxy wars. Hence, reading the novel in question, within the context of postmodern inclinations and features, as well as paying critical attention to socio-cultural and economic variables that have been mostly molded by the media, provides a productive basin on the grasp of ongoing and/or never-ceasing events after the attacks mentioned in Beigbeder’s narrative. As the study focuses on the discussion of the novel Windows on the World in the context of postmodern features, it does so by including cultural criticism, postmodern thinker or philosophers, and we try to present their arguments. However, since the complete discussion of postmodernism is beyond the scope and objective of this study, the discussion of postmodernism is curtailed in relation to the relevance to the issue at hand. Accordinly, Jean Baudrillard’s concept of simulacra, Jean-François Lyotard’s grand narratives, and petit récits are explained, and a brief mention of antipostmodern arguments are cited as the background to the study. While discussing the novel through the lenses of postmodern literary devices within the particular parenthesis of cultural criticism, irony and humor are seen to be blended with subtle and acute evaluations and judgments. This is particularly at stake when doublebinds, intertextuality, and short circuits, which are postmodern literary devices, the meanings and the functions of which are dealt with in the study, are heavily employed. Beigbeder, who conceives the media as a kind of battlefield, organizes his narrative in the form of a minute by minute presentation of the attack in the form of online broadcasting, which is, reminiscent of newscasts. To add a further dimension to the postmodern narrative techniques, the reality of the novel is constantly fragmented through “insignificant” details, such as the difficulty of parenting at an age when responsibility is perceived as an obstacle to freedom. This suspense-like technique, which is used in movies to maintain mostly the feeling of excitement, is now used as an opportunity to fragment the smooth exposition of the events taking place in the novel. It can be regarded both as a chance to comment on the widespread crisis of culture nurtured by postmodern milieu and as a ramification of fragmentation on a thematic level. In stark contrast to the prescriptive nature of traditional novels, in which the novelist usually had an inclination to order a peremptory conduct to be followed without fail, Beigbeder’s novel proves to be descriptive, which solely ends up with diagnosing the ills of the society. Although Windows on the World, by the French novelist and critic Frédéric Beigbeder, seemingly narrates the 9/11 attacks through its nonlinear and metanarrative discourse, it indeed deals with such cultural variables as family and social structure, the effects of globalism on individuals, and an increasing discontent against the Eurocentric view with a mixture of irony. Thus, discussing and examining the novel in the context of postmodern features by the inclusion of cultural criticism will prove beneficial both for the understanding of the literary stance in question, its literary devices, and ongoing conflicts that broke out after the 9/11 attacks.