Metamodern Zeitgeist

This research work springs from a perception that the debate about postmodernism has waned and globalization has risen as “master signifier of our time” (Huyssen 1). Yet, in the realm of theory a new term, that of metamodernism, slowly gains ground.1

Metamodernism is related to globalization in that both imply some sort of integration: An integration of psychic agencies is sought in metamodernism, while globalization is predicated upon an integration of resources and activities.2

However the use of such different suffixes as “-ism” and “-ization” points to a distinction between a theory, an “ism”, and a process by means of which a certain situation or state of affairs comes into being, an “-ization.” Accordingly, globalization is the process by which the world becomes global, a global village. The postmodern city, in which the individual lives a secluded existence, organized by the bureaucratic apparatus, and sorely cut off from the rhythms of nature, contrasts with the global village, supposedly characterized not by individualism and fragmentation, but by interconnections and a sense of community.4

In his blog post ‘Origins of Metamodernism‘, Gary Forrester writes:

“Nearly everyone has known for years that postmodernism is no longer adequate to describe the artistic and cultural inclinations that have emerged since the 1990s.  Artists and thinkers have grown weary of irony, sarcasm, detachment, and cool.  Many names have been proposed for new ways of thinking and feeling: the New Sincerity; aftermodernism; post-postmodernism; Stuckism.

But metamodernism is more comprehensive, and is preferred for many reasons.”

Metamodernism relates to aspects of globalization in that it is a search for the unity of the self, and for renewed connections with nature and one’s fellows. Metamodernism may be regarded as the outcome of a gradual process of metamodernization, which stands for a departure from, concomitant with re-crystallizations of, some of the values of modernity and postmodernity: rationality is respected as in modernity, but dethroned from its position of queen faculty; openness and flexibility are valued as with postmodernism, but not to the extreme that “everything goes.”

A few of the uses of metamodernism are listed and discussed in the pages below. However, this list is not exhaustive. It is my hope that the ‘Metamodermisn – a new paradigm’ blog will generate a healthy dialogue around the uses of the term.

These definitions are briefly analysed on the subsequent pages.

1 For what this is worth, a term search for metamodernism results in over 60,000 sites, and since 2010 Metamodernism has its own wikipedia page and a series of related sites, most of which are independent of this site or its author.

2 “Globalization is a process that encompasses the causes, course, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and non-human activities” (1). See Nayef.R.F. Al-Rodhan and Gérard A. Stoudmann, “Definitions of Globalization: A Comprehensive Overview and a Proposed Definition,” Program on the Geopolitical Implications of Globalization and Transnational Security. Geneva: Centre for Security Policy (2006).

3 In Postmodernism or the Logic of Late Capitalism Frederick Jameson criticizes postmodernism from a Marxist stance, and talks of “the atomic fragmentation and individualism of capitalism” (379).

4 See Herbert Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962).

© Copyright note. The text above is an adapted excerpt from Alexandra Dumitrescu, Towards a Metamodern Literature, PhD thesis manuscript


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