Choicelessness

Thesis Dump :: Pastiche

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsnavely on June 11, 2007

Part II: Pastiche as Technique

The word “pastiche” here dually connotes imitation and collection. Pastiche imitation appears frequently as non-satirical work done as homage: for example, Raymond Chandler’s adoption and extension of Dashiell Hammett’s work or the sculptures and paintings of Takashi Murakami. The second meaning of pastiche is that of a collection, hodgepodge, or jumble. Quentin Tarantino – in his sampling and recombining of grind house and blaxploitation films—falls into this category. As is perhaps evident in these examples, the concept of pastiche circumscribed by the thesis conflicts with Frederic Jameson’s definition of pastiche as “a neutral practice of … mimicry, without any of parody’s ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter” (Jameson, 17). Although pastiche is not ironic, as Tarantino and Chandler demonstrate it need not be humorless; neither the outcome and nor the intention of pastiche is neutrality. Implicitly, pastiche requires both intention and curation. In Tarantino’s case for example, the director has deliberately sampled from outside the established canon of films, curating his own canon of “B-flicks”, borrowing not only characters (and sometimes actors and actresses) but also plots, pacing, cinematography and other formal devices from these films. Tarantino’s juxtaposition of Greenburgian notions of avant-garde and kitsch are evident in a variety of other media— “low-art” or mass culture reused as “high-art”. Although architecture has made attempts to incorporate this paradigm into built work, mechanisms of kitsch like pastiche have required a timeline and economy that hindered their production. By the time kitsch is built, it is no longer kitsch.

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2 Responses

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  1. annie said, on June 29, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    hi john! thanks for the link…
    i enjoyed reading about your thesis–and pastiche was in my mind as i started reading the new ondaatje novel…he is talking about collage but the quote seemed apt–pardon it’s length here, but i think it offers a personal architecture as a pastiche of experience that scaffolds the self..and DNA as pastiche! our genetic codes and quirks, not ironic but certianly not devoid of humor.
    now, onddatje:
    “there was a purple flower in february called shooting star. there were the sticks of willow that Coop cut down and strapped to my broken wrist…everything is biographical, lucian freud says. what we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. everything is collage, even genetics.”
    so now i will continue to read instead of continuing my own thesis… :-)

  2. johnsnavely said, on July 2, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    hey Annie!
    Thanks for the comment. How’s the book treating you? I read a review of it in the New Yorker which seemed to both love and hate Ondaatje. Mostly, the reviewer seemed to object to the “pastiche-ness” of his work, allowances could be made for cobbled plots, but not for collaged characters.

    At any rate, it’s beautiful passage you’ve selected and something to think about…


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