Becoming heavily tattooed in the postmodern West: sacred rite, 'Modern Primitivism', or profane simulation?

This paper was produced for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Hons.). 

This thesis critically examines Modern Primitives by investigating the origin of its ideas, the epistemological climate in which it developed, and its influence on contemporary ideas about tattoo. Then, through an analysis of contemporary qualitative studies, it asks whether becoming heavily tattooed in the postmodern West can still be sacred or transformative when divorced from Modern Primitivist philosophies. In so doing, it explores: tattoo as profane simulation, tattoo as a means of constructing and manifesting identity, and the function of pain in encountering the sacred through tattoo.

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What is Nihilism, with reference to Turgenev's Fathers and Sons and Michel Houellebecq's Whatever?

Since the Industrial Revolution, Western society has enjoyed profoundly better living conditions.  Affordable and easily accessible medicines, movement, commerce, and an overwhelmingly greater sense of freedom are noteworthy examples.  However, paralleling the proliferation of empirical comfort is the decline in ecclesiastical belief.  With the reduction of the old authority - the Christian Church - Western society has experienced a crisis of meaning, and consequently, an increase in the belief in nothing.  In this paper, I will first discuss what it means to believe in nothing, followed by the consequences of such convictions.  I will then highlight and discuss the different ways in which nihilism becomes evident, and influential, through two pieces of literature more than one hundred and thirty years divided.

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Understanding The Postmodern Condition through Don DeLillo’s White Noise

This paper was produced for partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.

In this paper, I analyse Don DeLillo’s dystopian novel, White Noise, to demonstrate concepts of the postmodern and the postmodern condition. Differentiating between the aesthetic focus of postmodernism and cultural purview of postmodernity, I describe their various contested meanings while keeping in mind that White Noise is not postmodern in style; rather, it is a commentary on the postmodern condition. DeLillo’s protagonist, Jack Gladney, is a modern man in a postmodern society, in constant friction with the changing status of knowledge. Employing Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality, we find Gladney occupying an increasingly simulational and nonreferential world. Through Gladney’s obstinately modernist frame of perspective, DeLillo confronts the reader with a disturbing reality.

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