To further illustrate the point, consider the following portraits. Richard Barsam uses these paintings in a discussion of form and content in his excellent text Looking at Movies, but I think the lesson is applicable here as well. The Matisse portrait illustrates the transition between Fauvism and Modernism, and the latter is well represented by Edward Hopper’s work. The third work, a populist, minimalist piece, shows the human figure as I imagine a postmodernist would view it.
I believe the generalizations outlined in the textual and visual examples above have come to manifest themselves (to a material extent) in our present rhetorical situation. Obfuscation and artifice seem more in line with the argumentative and persuasive impulses of our politicized, postmodern present, while I personally cleave to the more authentic, sincere ethic that Gergen associates with modernism. Where modernism seems a movement born out of practical necessity, postmodernism seems more a product of “play,” a concept Lanham delves into with great precision in his text. There is room for both within the modern rhetorical tradition, of course, but the modern view strikes me as more useful in a philosophical consideration of reality.