Saturday, May 3, 2008

Beckett and Development

You know, I don't really know why more developers and otherwise techy types don't love postmodernism.

I love postmodernism. It's the one period that, on it's own, can get me tossing the kids at my mother and putting my butt on a train into DC. I hated it that I never got to study it in grade school, as any time after WWI or II, the budget and time generally ran out.

With postmodernism, you don't need to worry about what went before. The author doesn't write about the way the dew falls off of the leaves, or the way the heroine's red hair dances in the wind, all the while meaning to talk about the way these things are affecting the subject. A postmodern artist will just say it, if it's that damn important. What's important is cut down, too. Who needs chapters of material that set up the world? A story is a story, no matter where it is. If it needs to be on a farm or in a shop, then assume the reader knows what a shop or farm is and move on.

Also, with postmodernism, you get a chance to take it as is. You don't get this with Shakespeare. Shakespeare's works are great, don't get me wrong, but there's four hundred years worth of people talking about Shakespeare, out there. There's not much chance you're going to have a take on something that someone, somewhere, has already said. It reminds me of my high school English teacher who would shoot down some of our more creative interpretations with a "If that were valid, someone much more worldly and apt to turn in assignments on time would have said it already."

I mean, we're already on recursing Shakespeare, writing plays about his plays.

You also get to forget all the old symbolism. In older literature, we are inundated with references to the Bible, mythology, famous (always famous) works of literature... and it almost always means the same thing. After a while, you're wondering if the whole Christ/Icarus/etc figure thing hasn't jumped the shark a bit.

When I mention to my tech friends that I like postmodernism, I get 'looks.' Blank looks. Disgusted looks. Looks like I admitted a strange fetish casually over morning coffee. I don't get the fear of it. After all, I don't need to know when a po-mo author was born, or where. I just need to get to reading. I don't need to cut through layers of description about castles and forests and ladies dresses. I don't need to worry about what other people thing about it. It can cross cultures as is, and can be interpreted in a number of ways without having post-docs burning you in effigy.

It's the way most of them seem to want to develop, or what they see as 'beautiful code.' Pure and functional, all on its own. Reusable for other systems. Not bogged down in a history of infighting and red tape and better practices that really weren't.

We already translate literature into other languages. Maybe we need to start translating literature into perl. That, or start handing them copies of Waiting for Godot when departmental abusrdism gets a bit high. At least they'd know they're not alone in their featureless landscape.

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