Can Metamodernism, based in the exchange and continual revision of ideas, offer an alternative to the cultural problems of postmodernism and relativism?
Previous articles have discussed the negative tendencies exhibited by the modern left and some of the reasons why we need a new left. Now it’s time to reflect on more positive elements, a viable alternative to the problematic postmodernism. Many see such a solution in the philosophy of Metamodernism.
In recent years there has been a small but increasingly organised left-wing opposition to postmodernism and cultural relativism. With luck, skill and determination, this could coalesce into the movement we desperately need.
We can describe this new approach as having a ‘Metamodern’ philosophy, meaning ‘beyond Modernism.’ In this period, there will be a mass of conflicting beliefs and approaches, as there should be. This article will focus on the most interesting and hopeful elements as I see them.
What is Metamodernism?
First of all, Metamodernism accepts the universal truth of an existence external to ourselves. Without this, all knowledge is meaningless. If what we think creates the world, then we don’t have to learn, because our perceptions will become reality. In this case, we may as well continue to believe in a universe with continuity, history, and independent operation, because if it does not already exist, we will imagine it into existence regardless.
Metamodernism is also turning a page on the old debate over the human ability to understand the world around us. It may have been difficult for earlier philosophers to understand how the brain creates simulations, or models, of objects and mechanisms.
“Metamodernism is also turning a page on the old debate over the human ability to understand the world around us”
We can now see the human neurological network as a series of signals and processors. We experience stimuli from the external world through our senses. These stimuli are then processed first by the relevant receiving parts of the body, and then by several areas of the brain. The signals received by the brain stimulate memories which trigger emotions and thoughts. These emotions and thoughts may then trigger further emotions and thoughts, but also then inform our desires and finally our actions.
Striking a balance: individuality, impulses, and improvement
Not only can this help us understand humanity, it can help us improve as individuals as well. For example, if we are careful and methodical, we can plan our meals in order to obtain healthy levels of nutrients we need to thrive. Even at such a healthy standard, however, we may continue to feel hungry. But obeying this signal and continuing to eat would be a mistake; we can process this signal and determine it to be erroneous.
To obey our instincts, to give in to our urges against rational thought, is to discard one of the greatest gifts evolution has given us: the ability to determine, for ourselves, how to process the information our brains receive.
“To obey our instincts, to give in to our urges against rational thought, is to discard one of the greatest gifts evolution has given us: the ability to determine, for ourselves, how to process the information our brains receive”
Of course, just as foolish would be to suppress or ignore these signals without at least fully investigating their origins. For example, humans are social creatures and the vast majority of us desire companionship. In this case, regardless of what our goals in life may be, it would be foolish to isolate ourselves entirely from others given the potential psychological repercussions.
But rational thought in itself is not enough is not necessarily optimal. The recent popularity of mindfulness demonstrates that, just as we may be driven by unwanted emotions, we may also be driven by unwanted thoughts. Being able to calm the mind, that is, to recognise our thoughts without allowing them to dominate further thoughts and ultimately our actions, is a vital skill we must develop.
Rather than deny our natures, we should instead seek the healthiest methods of managing our desires, impulses, and natural tendencies. Metamodernism, therefore, understands that criticising the individual choices of others can be necessary for the advancement of humanity, regardless of whether those choices impact the world around them or not.
If we aim to end authoritarianism, we must approach freedom as responsible adults, not petulant teenagers. If we are prepared to declare ‘no gods, no masters’, then we must each be our own god and our own master.
Relativity and Social Constructs
Although partially unshackled from instinctive action, our conscious minds are still dependent on sensory input. Our perception of the universe will therefore always be limited by the finite time and space which we occupy. No mortal being can fully comprehend reality, since we can only ever see a small part of it at a time. It is our perspective that is relative, not the universe itself.
“It is our perspective that is relative, not the universe itself”
The task of the Metamodern analyst, scientist, or philosopher, therefore, is not to reveal a fundamental truth about the universe, but to improve upon the models we use. We must acknowledge that categorisation is a human behaviour that is necessary to understand a complicated world, and thus reject a simple dichotomy between what is real and what is a social construct. Everything is a social construct, in the sense that our conceptions of things are only internal representations of external reality; the question is whether those constructs improve or diminish our ability to make practical sense of the world.
Metamodernism recognises the patterns and systems that govern the movements and behaviours of people, but also understands that an individual is far more complex than the sum of interactions between a few of these systems. Dismissing or judging a person without acknowledging anything more than the social groups into which these individuals fall is a deeply flawed and dangerous approach.
“Dismissing or judging a person without understanding anything more than the social groups into which these individuals fall is a deeply flawed and dangerous approach”
In the modern world, we must rely continually on the judgements and conclusions of others. When we accept a ride in a car from another person, we are trusting that person with our life. Not only that, but the designers of the car, the other drivers on the road, the urban planners who laid out the roads, and so on.
When our trust in other people becomes shaken, it can impact our ability to navigate, literally and metaphorically, through the world. Politics is becoming increasingly about choosing between two apparently comparable sources of evidence, each claiming the opposite. The side we end up on is, therefore, often determined by whom we trust.
The real meaning of Enlightenment
Metamodernism cautiously seeks reliable sources of information and doesn’t shy away from conflicting viewpoints if they can offer unique or interesting perspectives. If we can establish networks of trustworthy individuals and organisations, we can compensate for our limited perspectives by exploring multiple angles.
Ideas develop and spread according to the size of the networks in which people operate. The Earth contains billions of people, and the more we connect those people together in a healthy and productive fashion, the more accurate our understanding of the universe should become.
“The Earth contains billions of people, and the more we connect those people together in a healthy and productive fashion, the more accurate our understanding of the universe should become”
The power of democracy only becomes truly apparent when people share and discuss their views with each other in a constructive manner. Imagine an election more like an academic examination. Each ‘voter’, upon stepping into their booth, rather than being asked to pick between the red team or blue team, is instead asked to solve a simple algebraic equation. Could you do it? Could the average person do it? Depending on the difficulty of the question, the possibility of a correct answer winning the majority of the vote may be very slim.
Now imagine people were told what the question was going to be in advance, and were allowed to confer with each other. Answering the question would become trivial for anyone who was prepared to listen to a trustworthy source.
Metamodernism sees itself as the latest part of a global, historical struggle to discern truth from error and justice from injustice. Rather than believing the Enlightenment to be the sole province of rich, white European men, Metamodernists conceive of a greater Enlightenment that connects philosophers, radicals, and iconoclasts from every century and every corner of the globe.
Enlightenment is a direction, not a destination, and anyone who believes he or she has achieved it is most assuredly going the wrong way. Every egalitarian movement thus far in history has failed because we did not yet understand how to resist tyranny and how to mobilise to prevent it from emerging within ourselves. We must give this past struggle meaning by learning from mistakes and doing better this time.
“Enlightenment is a direction, not a destination, and anyone who believes he or she has achieved it is most assuredly going the wrong way”
Once we have been armed with the understanding of our own limitations Metamodernism supplies us, we can begin to construct a new basis for moving towards freedom and equality.
This will be the topic of my next article.
Posted by james aird
17 February, 2019 at 12:27 pm
try asking post modernists whether or not it is true that there is no such thing as truth
Posted by Corrie
23 September, 2018 at 3:25 pm
Great article. This is really just thought-out postmodernism; “metamodernism” is a good term. It’s basically how I always though postmodernism should be interpreted, but clearly hasn’t been happening.
Posted by Eugene Donnini
27 May, 2018 at 5:38 am
A Critique of Luke Turner's Meta Modernist Manifesto - by Eugene Donnini Metamodernism, is primarily a disillusioned, left-wing reaction to modernism and postmodernism, which does not challenge the philosophical and other premises, ideas and ideologies that underlie these modernisms, but has perched itself on a metaphorical fence between them, where it seeks mediations in the form of relationships and intercessions with both, believing this will somehow lead to an increase in knowledge. Up until quite recently, most material relating to metamodernism has been reticent about defining what exactly metamodernism is, apart from a feelings based phenomenon in the predominantly left-wing bourgeois arts and literary communities. This is, as far as I know, a first attempt by a meta modernist to write a Manifesto, in other words, a public declaration, a step forward into the arena of serious social, political and philosophical discourse. It is also a step that is fraught with danger because now meta modernists will have to defend their positions (or lack of) and will no longer be able to retreat into aesthetic generalizations, pompous romantic delusions, and vagarities. Imagine my disappointment after reading Turner's Manifesto and discovering it was nothing more than a further reiteration of the above. Metamodernism is not an upward or liberating movement but a kind of entrapment spawned from a disillusion with the irrationality of postmodernism ( but still not able to let it go!) and to a lesser degree, modernism; a movement held captive in a kind of willing incarceration by what it finds problematic but lacks the will to challenge or oppose. 1/ ::: We recognize oscillation to be the natural order of the world. What does oscillation mean but to move back and forth in a regular rhythm, in other words, to return to the place you started, which meta modernists believe is indicative of the natural order of the world. Perhaps that is natural order as in relates to their ideas, but the real world is a world marked by indifference. Only in the diminutive human realm is there natural order i.e. a moral source from which natural law seeks to derive its authority. t was the 18th century Enlightenment period, le Siècle des Lumières (the period of lights) or, The Age of Reason, that was one of the first in human history to derive the source of natural order, not from religious institutions, but from humanity itself, which, at the time, was a relatively new development – a development that gave birth and expression to a range of ideas centred on human reason and scientific empiricism (evidence based knowledge), as the primary sources of authority and legitimacy from which natural order and natural law are determined. This development came to create a set of ideals and implement ideas such as liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, the importance of family and family values, individual liberty, private property, free speech, a free press and the separation of church and state...a movement that modernists, and particularly postmodernists, abhored and mostly rejected. Outside the human realm of these inventions and discoveries, there is no Ipso facto, natural order, because law and morality do not exist there. A lion, for example, is not moral or ethical when it pounces on its prey; when a volcano explodes it is not concerned with the village below. It is oscillation alone that has relevance to the relationship metamodernism has to modernism and postmodernism, between which it "oscillates". One is reminded of a prisoner walking back and forth in a cage and occasionally banging his head against the bars. 2/ ::: We must liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological nativity and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child. There was no modernist movement in philosophy, but only within the arts and the literati, which greatly influenced philosophical thought, and arose out of the rebellious mood at the beginning of the twentieth century. Modernism was a radical, primarily left-wing approach that yearned to revitalize the way modern civilization viewed life, art, politics, and science. This rebellious attitude that flourished between 1900 and 1930 had, as its basis, the rejection of European culture for having become too corrupt, complacent and lethargic, ailing because it was bound by the artificialities of a society that was too preoccupied with image and afraid of change. This dissatisfaction with the moral bankruptcy of everything European led modern thinkers and artists to explore other alternatives, especially primitive cultures. I don't see any lack of experience, wisdom or judgment in the modernist movement, or any overt naivety although during its later stages it was prone to a few excesses. An important factor to remember here is that the modernists were searching for ways to revitalize Western civilization. However, Turner's bastard child, postmodernism was different in terms of its objectives and intent. Vindictive, malevolent and poisoned by resentment, postmodernism was not interested in revitalizing the West, but destroying it, root and branch. The reaction against modernism with the rise of the postmodernists would not have been possible without giving MARXISM pride of place in the arts, in literature, philosophy and social science. After the failure of the Fourth Communist Internationale, following the demise of the Soviet Union, Marxist intellectuals had become disheartened by the murderous nature of this regime. But their belief in Marxism still lit up their black souls, and they soon convinced themselves that the Soviet Union "wasn't real socialism" anyway, attributing its failure to corrupt leaders and/or their misinterpretation of holy Marxist writ, of which most believed the mass murderer Leon Trotsky was the true prophet and messiah. They knew Marx's proletarian dictatorship would probably never succeed through the brute force and genocidal murder, Marx wrote was a prerequisite to Utopia (most of the West's proletariat actually prospered after WW2), so they decided to employ another method of imposing Marxist ideas and concepts from within the institutions of the West, a kind of intellectually nourished malignancy they hoped would eventually metastasize through the whole body and destroy it. Let's take a closer look at postmodernism which shares the metamodernist's belief in the naivety of the modernist movement. We'll begin with the works of Antonio Gramsci (the grand old man of contemporary Italian Marxism, who described himself as a postmodernist) whose writings appeared on university and school syllabi along with sociological and other works by Frankfurte Schule Marxists (Jewish and other academic defectors from Soviet and Nazi occupation) and postmodern philosophers such as Foucault, Baudrillard and others. Foucault was well known in France as a radical left activist. Baudrillard was also a man of the left. The focus of his education and work was based on classical Marxism and on the development of a postmodern Marxism, something he and Gramsci had in common. These philosophers and ideologues were few of many who shared a common goal: to subvert and destroy Western civilization by the insidious injections of Marxist ideology and ideas into its institutions – ideas which in many case were ANTONYMOUS but unambiguously opposed the rights of the individual, the structure of the family, free speech, a free press, private property and so on...ideas that were in essence totalitarian and radically antithetical to the principles of the Enlightenment, which were based on the primacy of truth, reason, human dignity and the freedom and sovereignty of the individual. Truth, which was the guiding light of the Enlightenment, for the postmodernists was no longer important and was given equal status to lies, the proviso being to use any means necessary if it brought them closer to attaining power and the West closer to total destruction. Satre was right when he said that postmodern philosophy had its beginnings in the inescapable horizon of Marxism. It is hard to see why Turner and the metamodernists consider postmodernism insincere. It was very sincere about its mission. Turner did mention postmodernism's use of antonymous (contradictory) ideas and philosophies which he doesn't seem to oppose, but rather incorporate into metamodernism methodology or whatever you want to call it. The third declaration of the Manifesto seems, among other things, a pompous acceptance and assertion of the postmodern Marxist use of antonymous ideas: 3/ ::: The movement shall henceforth be enabled by way of an oscillation, between positions with diametrically opposed ideas operating like the pulsating polarities of a colossal electric machine propelling the world into action. I'll examine declaration 4 in two parts, and show how it perfectly illustrates the thrashings of the imprisoned metamodernist mind and movement. The language itself seems trapped: 4/1 ::: We acknowledge the limitations inherent to all movement and Experience and the futility of any attempt to transcend the boundaries set forth therein. Not very inspiring, but in tune with a metamodernist caged mentality. Let's look at some of these phrases e.g. the limitations inherent to all movement. What he is saying here is that movement itself is limited. This may, in some cases, be relatively true, (what goes up must come down - Isaac Newton) but in terms of movement itself, is patently false. Simplistically speaking, a horse was once considered the fastest expression of movement. Then came cars, airplanes, spaceships and the possibility of human beings traveling at the speed of light. If we acknowledge the latest findings in the study of physics, even faster speeds may be possible. Special Relativity itself was preceded by Einstein’s own more powerful General Relativity (1915), in which faster than light travel is possible under certain conditions. As for human experience, it is not separate from movement but has defined and unraveled its possibilities through scientific investigation, again, a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment rejected by most postmodernists, as being merely an expression of Western cultural imperialism, which is far from the truth. 4/2 ::: The essential incompleteness of a system should necessitate an adherence not in order to achieve a given end or be slaves to its course, but rather perchance to glimpse by proxy some hidden exteriority. Existence is enriched if we set about our task as 'if' those limits might be exceeded for such action unfolds the world. A system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method, which usually happens for a series of outcomes or specific goals. Turner assumes that systems are incomplete. His assumption is false. There are many systems that are complete and produce goals and outcomes on all levels. For example, in the 19th century the French physicist Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, who studied thermodynamics, pioneered the development of the concept of a system in the natural sciences. In 1824 he studied the system which he called the working substance (typically a body of water vapor) in steam engines, in regards to the system's ability to do work when heat is applied to it. The working substance could be put in contact with either a boiler, a cold reservoir (a stream of cold water), or a piston (to which the working body could do work by pushing on it). In 1850, the German physicist Rudolf Clausius generalized this picture to include the concept of the surroundings and began to use the term working body when referring to the system. Here we have an example of a working system that has achieved its goal or given ends. Perhaps Turner is referring to a political system in which he thinks it would be best for those who strive not to expect to reach a goal or end or be slaves to its course, but in the process of their futile striving, by proxy (the authority given to a group, an organization or individual to act on your behalf) to give you a glimpse of some hidden exterior existence. He then assumes that existence is somehow enriched by all this and that is how the world unfolds, which it seems for meta modernists works best when you let someone or something else unfold it for you. This is the sort of reasoning you get when art and its fellow travelers want to consider themselves equal to science, as learned, authoritative researchers into the working nature of the world i.e. as discoverers of knowledge and truth. 5/1 ::: All things are caught within the irrevocable slide towards a state of maximum entropic dissemblance. Let me break this jibberish down. For a start. the phrase all things, since he uses no qualifier, would, as it is written, mean the whole of existence: the stars, the planets, the moon, the earth and every living thing, which Turner sees as caught in a not able to be changed slide towards a state of maximum entropic dissemblance. I would say, in retrospect, this is how meta modernists view themselves! But what does he mean by maximum entropic dissemblance? According to the Cambridge Dictionary dissemblance means the act of hiding something such as the truth or your real intentions. So what he is saying is that the whole of existence is trapped in a downslide where its real intentions are hidden, intentions that it knows about. This is the literal interpretation of what he has written, which doesn't seem to make much sense. Let's see, if by examining the second part, if we can come up with anything closer to a clear definition. 5/2 ::: Artistic creation is contingent upon the origination or revelation of difference therein. Affect at its zenith is the unmediated experience of difference in itself. It must be art’s role to explore the promise of its own paradoxical ambition by coaxing excess towards presence. Turner's reference to art, is again so badly written and quite difficult to decipher. One can only infer what he means in relation to what he has just said. His muddy references to artistic creation I would say, at a guess, means that art within the context of this dissemblance accentuates what is different by imposing a kind of order on it, which is the revelation of difference, the affect at its zenith. Thus, he concludes by telling us that the role of art is somehow paradoxical and this paradox itself is coaxing excess towards presence. Turner's writing is like the order out of chaos production of a Google online postmodern text generator! I suppose you could break all this stuff down to one simple paragraph: existence is hiding something from us and art can tell us. little by little, what it is... The reverence in which Turner and the meta modernists hold art is curious, and why they would want to give it equal status to science even more curious. Turner considers art as some sort of angel of light that brings order to chaos, which is ridiculous. Putting all ethical, moral and virtue signaling considerations aside, historically, art has also brought chaos to order, and has often sold itself like a cheap whore to the highest bidder, enabled the rise to power of Marxist, fascist and Nazi dictators and down through the centuries has been financed by money lenders and other unscrupulous interests. Today, the art and literary establishment are complicit in the repression of free speech, of artistic and literary censorship, and of giving legitimacy to pseudo-scientific Marxist theories and Orwellian government policies and legislation. 6/1 ::: The present is a symptom of the twin birth of immediacy and obsolescence. Today we are nostalgists as much as we are futurists. What I think he means here is that we live in the present between the past and the future, where we yearn for the past and dream and hope for a brighter future, and that these experiences and feelings occur simultaneously. So? 6/2 ::: The new technology enables the simultaneous experience and enactment of events from a in light of new technology in a multiplicity of positions. far from signaling its demise, these emergent networks facilitate the democratization of history illuminating the forking paths along which its grand narratives may navigate the here and now. The invention of new technologies in the age of instant communication allows us to examine our immediate/obsolescence from a multiplicity of positions. Turner believes this does not signal any sort of demise, but opens up history in a kind of democratic process - I would add without the concomitant of responsiblity - which allows all the past grand narratives from a multiplicity of positions to find their way into the here and now, impact upon it and upon us and thereafter make life better for us all, a proposition for which all evidence is lacking. What Turner has done is to create a kind of extreme left-wing open border, anything goes policy for history. This mode of thinking is an example of the death throes of degenerate postmodern Marxism, as it presupposes that these grand narratives are somehow equal in terms of their value and contributions to humanity and therefore should be let in and are not to be looked at in any context which would impose value judgements on them. According to metamodernism's idea of relative grand narratives, the grand narrative of Nazism or extreme Islamic fundamentalism should not be judged, discriminated against or excluded, after all, one grand narrative is as good as another and no one has the right to discriminate, when these narrative are coming at you along those folking paths of history into the here and now, like a million refugees pouring into a country that lacks the resources to sustain and integrate them. The next proclamation is the most foolish of all and demonstrates the utter Lucy in the sky with diamonds lunacy of metamodernism. What Turner is again reiterating is that art is of equal (not different) value to science as a source of knowledge. 7/ ::: Just as science strives for poetic elegance, artists might assume a quest for truth. All information is grounds for knowledge, whether empirical or aphoristic, no matter its truth value. We should embrace the scientific-poetic synthesis and informed naivety of a magical realism. Error breeds sense. Here we see the Marxist equality principle once again stepping in to arbitrate, NO MATTER ITS TRUTH VALUE, between art and science. This is a very revealing phrase, where the value of truth itself, in good old Marxist postmodern style, is devalued or of equal value to other values, or perhaps given no value at all. To be untruthful then, when required, being of equal or more value than the truth. The statement that science strives for poetic elegance is ridiculous and a little less so the statement artists might assume a quest for truth. The problem being is that the difference between artistic truth and scientific truth is as broad as the grand canyon and twice as deep. Nothing could be further from the truth! Art is capable, at best, of occasional insights and of revealing truths, but truths of quite a different nature to scientific truths. Often, artistic truths are fueled by the biases of political ideology or the need to expound an ethical or moral (or lack of) imperative or position. Scientific truths are devoid of all moral or feeling based presuppositions and are primarily focused on understanding, exposing and utilizing the stuff of the world, through scientific reasoning, usually for the purpose of benefiting humankind and to increase real knowledge about the world, how it works and how it relates to the realm of human existence. Turners belief that all information is grounds for knowledge is true, and has some relative value. But this is nothing new. His idea of wrapping up art and science in the same package as a kind of scientific-poetic synthesis is absurd and an illustration of metamodern Marxism disappearing up its own increasingly irrelevant rear end. Turner then hopes that all this will lead to a magical realism, and even if it messes up, the error of doing so will be worth the effort and breed sense. This idea of learning from one's mistakes is nothing new. The final proclamation in the Manifesto is yet another example of empty, metamodernist, grandiloquent gobbledygook. 8 ::: We propose a pragmatic romanticism unhindered by ideological anchorage. Thus metamodernism shall be defined as the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons. we must go forth and oscillate! The concept of pragmatic romanticism unhindered by ideological anchorage, has been one expounded by many postmodern scholars which basically means we should love life more than its meaning which is usually related to a political or religious ideology. But Ideologies can be found at every level of human existence and many have no relation to politics or religion, and involve a comprehensive set of normal beliefs. But to love something because it means nothing? Why would you love it then? And lets say that what you loved was lost or ceased to exist. I mean, if it meant nothing to you in the first place, why twould you care about it, grieve for or suffer its loss? At this stage Turner and the meta modernists from the confines of their cages lose even the will to act decisively, to take a stand, to grab the metaphorical hammer of truth, will and reason and dismantle the bars of their cages. But they won't do that. They would rather remain incarcerated, prisoners of their own devices, sitting on a fence in the middle of a cage, balancing indecisively between and beyond irony and insincerity, naivety and knowledge, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt. In other words, they would rather do nothing or let others do something for them.
It is hard not to feel at odd with any term that would try to prefix the word modernism with a new caviar in front of it. Modernism has been already so beaten up to rendition with all sort of prefixes, that bringing a new one and expecting that no one will notice builds the case for an elephant in the room, but unfortunately, like the emperor, that elephant is fully clothed. It is a known fact that delusion uses rational thinking for its means even when is completely uninterested to prove itself rational. What is today unheard of and becoming alarmingly common is how delusion is conquering more and more terrains while zealously guarding them with the firm and tall flags of rationality. In the landscape of today's Western intelligentsia, Metamodernism is one of the torchbearer of such delusion. Metamodernism is political correctness taken to a high new level, which can be described as that of a Philosophical Mademoiselle of Rationality. This rationality is the ambassador of a kind of compassion that doesn’t want to appear harsh but neither mellow. As a Mademoiselle she has a kind of thinking that doesn’t want to appear argumentative but neither too pleasing. Metamodernism is the ultimate Entropy-Zombie-Zone-like and rationally Shiny-Armour Knight-like mental mindset ever created for deep thinking on the already dried out puddles of cynical Postmodernism. Postmodernism, however, had a solid philosophical foundation, along side its pastiche, kitsch, artistic, sociological, and political turns. Metamodernism, contrastingly, lacks by all account of any philosophical gravitas. Its notion of sincerity is more on the side of irony than on the side of sincerity despite their effort to say otherwise. It seeks to neutralise and also listen to extremes, but it has its mannerism for synthetic outcomes and acted out ecological non-one-sidednesses. Metamodernism produces true sincerity as a collateral effect of its own "in between" oscillations. It self-congratulate itself for being trapped in Marvel's movies clichés echosystem, dreaming in the in between of Spiderman's naive honesty and Deadpool's ironic selfishness. They are making up their mind like an old modernist would, but just a little, the postmodern trauma rehab has still a great impact on them. Metamodernism wants to include literally everything but metaphorically. It is the personification of Lady Justice, but with a twist: It wears a blindfold with holes, it preaches a balance while it leans more to one side unaware and instead of carrying a sword it meticulously holds syringes in her hands to vaccinate all sort of rationality’s loopholes. Metamodernism‘s “meta”, like with Platonic metaxy, wished to mean “an ontological betweenness”, but ends up truly meaning “after”, like in “post” of postmodern, but actually better, post-postmodern, like Aristotle’s work “after” Physics, Metaphysics. Derrida's Pharmakon wasn't meant to be poisonous, but it ended up delivery a poisonous bite to deconstruction. Metamodernism's sincerity is not meant to be artificially performative, but it ends up being a highly educated performative histrionism on sincery and knidness, as if Marina Abramovic's performaces had parasitically inoculated into our daily lives as a Manifesto Software loaded into our brains. Sincerity has never been so joyfully vaccinated, even as a placebo. Postmodern cynicism was supposed to be ironic, but not too ironic. Metamodernism sincerity is supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt, but its "oscillation" has not less of paranoia than its postmodern cynical counterpart. Both still conserve the pathos of their mise-en-scène and choreographic fakery. Metamodernism is a revival of postmodernism, like its dolly, adult and truly evolved side but with “oscillation” as a buzzword replacing the old postmodern “flux” and with romanticism (“oscillating” romanticism to be precise) replacing the old relativistic cynicism. Metamodernism is a “semantic” turn that diligently tries to purge a new Zeitgeist for millennials and delivers a Zombie with a graduation gown.
Hi everyone, first of all I'd like to say I'm very grateful to the attention my article has received from the philosophy community, and I really appreciate both the positive and the constructive comments. However, I'd like to address some issues. First of all, I want to be clear that my understanding of postmodernism, which you can read in my previous article in this series, is not derived primarily from philosophers themselves but by the political and social phenomena that can loosely be grouped under the term. Just as you can understand that 'postmodernism' might mean something different in the art and architecture worlds, hopefully you can understand it means something slightly different here than what you might be used to within philosophy. If I were to discuss Marxism, for example, I would only be interested in Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and so on insofar as they are interpreted by modern Marxists. What would be important to me is how Marxism is practised in the world. Secondly, throughout this series, I've received more criticism for what I've left out than for what I've actually mentioned. I can understand the frustration from people who are particularly interested in one element or another, but you have to bear in mind this is the third article in a series which will end somewhere in the double digits. Finally, if you simply want to state your opinion on the article, that's fine, you can do so here, and I'm not going to engage in a defence or argue with your interpretation. But if you want to discuss any of it with me and others, you can join me in our forums. I've created a thread specifically for this series which you can find here: https://conatusnews.com/forums/topic/plan-d-discussion-thread/
Posted by Rafael Serna
12 November, 2017 at 11:26 am
Why the name 'meta-modernism'? The notion 'post-modernism' was chosen to achieve exactly the same goal, i would argue, as your approach: to criticize the big narratives of modernity. one central idea of that modernity is enlightenment as it was thought of by white, male europeans. you now criticize postmodernism as one of those onesided narratives. For some of those thinkers rightfully so, i think. But Critical Theory for instance was always sceptic of the 'postmodernist movement' and tried to approach the divide of social constructionism and realism as well as the problematic notion of justice (you do not explicate what ou mean with justice either, nor do you reflect that it could be one of those big narratives thought of by white, male and rich europeans) with dialectical thinking, to show they are interwoven. And at the same time critical theorists criticize the problematic sides of enlightenment, while pushing the emancipatory sides forward. That of course, for them, is only possible in a cirique of capitalism as well. Therefore your call for the search for the 'healthiest methods of managing our desires, impulses, and natural tendencies' sounds awfully like a dogma of biopolitic capitalism (yes, i used foucaults notion. but hey, postmodernism/poststructuralism is not all bad). Maybe it would be wise to first look around, what other approaches try to think about the same problems, before putting forward a call for 'metamodernism' and by that, opening up to the same problematic meander some of the 'post'-modernists have lost themselves in.
Posted by Paul Athes
11 November, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Finally! My thoughts from 2012-2013 came to reality and someone had the guts to write about it. I have always talked about metamodernism in some classes when I was studying philosophy but nobody, not even myself, took it seriously. To answer the question you have to search if postmodernism. Personally, I have always doubted the profoundness of postmodernistic culture. For instance, romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu is considered to be a valuable postmodernist writer, but there's a lack of profound feelings in his work. Metamodernism should be oriented beyond the surface. Postmodernism lacked credibility in terms of popularity. Maybe metamodernism will help postmodernism to have a valuable place within the popular culture. Hard to say and to be honest, hard to believe. Anyway, I believe every great philosophical idea from the past will have a meta in the future. Maybe I am bit crazy, but am I the only who thinks metaromantism sounds really cool? Or who knows, maybe it's about time that some crazy philosopher should try to invent a new cultural era, but given the materialistic we are all living in, it's highly unlikely for that to ever happen. P.S. I have just found out your site and I'll be a constant follower from now on. Cheers and keep up with the good work.
Nice thinking! I think you're taking a step towards an -ism which is easier to define than postmodernism, and that's certainly something we might need for the discussion to move forward. I just want to point out that there is not really anything new in your thinking that can replace postmodernism; many postmodern thinkers would probably agree with your thought. This is not a synthesis of postmodernism. But postmodernism is still such an I'll defined train of thought so this could be the start of something new.
Posted by Richard Britton
11 November, 2017 at 9:52 am
This is a very interesting article. However the movement of metamodernism is based on a straw man and generalised perception of what postmodernism is. Often deconstruction theory is lumped together with postmodernism, however many deconstructionists have not denied an external truth, but instead have claimed discourse cannot obtain it. Derrida, for example, has never claimed (or needed to claim) that there is no external truth outside of perception. Another issue - not all approaches classed under postmodernism posit the relativism metamodernism assumes of it. And some postmodernisms do what metamodernism claims it is able to do without some of the latter's clumsy presuppositions and flawed analogies (the computer / brain analogy is old and highly flawed).
Posted by Bunny Whisperer
9 November, 2017 at 5:33 am
This is a very helpful piece, and provides an optimistic roadmap for how the left might productively proceed. Just a few thoughts. "Everything is a social construct; the only question is whether that construct improves or diminishes our ability to make practical sense of the world." This statement seems to make two opposing assumptions: 1 that everything is a construct, and 2 that there is a world (a real world) to which these social constructs may or may not approximate, and presumably some 'constructs' do this better than others? Perhaps a useful way forward might be to distinguish the coherence theory of truth from the correspondence theory. The correspondence assumes a real world independent of human minds, and also acknowledges that various paradigms, theories or constructs/models can be tested for their practical usefulness at any given time in history. This allows for scientific falsification, empiricism, and an interdisciplinary, inclusive search for the truth ABOUT a real world.
Posted by Luke Cusick
8 November, 2017 at 8:57 pm
This is really interesting - I've been worried for a long time about how to combat the circular logic and faulty morality of Postmodernism. Thank you.