This site is supported by Nobility Studios.

2 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Blogged here

Is post-modernism really dead, finally, after a thousand articles and books arrogantly, yet prematurely announced its death? Or perhaps tomorrow belongs to it because postmodernism is born post-humously? Kirby made a strong case in his article, Death of Postmodernism and Beyond (2006), in which he claims that the Internet is essentially proof that the zeitgeist has lurched from the text back to the reader -- now an active participant in the creation of text.

The audience has ascended over the artist; no longer passive worshipers at the altar of the omnipresent spectacle since the contributions of the individual have become necessary (participating by voting off contestants, replying to questions via Twitter, blogging, posting photos on Instagram, sharing content on FaceBook, etc.) for the product. In addition, postmodernism's native irony was finally overturned after 9/11, where ignorance and fanaticism broke loose from the margins. However, this was no relapse back to the radical individualism of modernism. Kirby locates pseudomodernism within the individual's creation of a world of "nowhere of silent autism," an "infantile playing with toys" that replaces modernism's neurosis and postmodernism's narcissism.

One of the toys of pseudo-modernism is retro-modernism - a revitalizing force of fetishtic nostalgia that recycles dominant fashions of pop culture. For some, this was considered a negative trend, because that direction of the zeitgeist was a confession that we no longer could create original work. But this confession was also a revelation that the dominant paradigm could no longer serve as a monolithic frame of values or fashion, that diversity or tolerance no longer allowed the marginalization of any trend.

Kirby's argument is persuasive, because he points at the foundational texts of postmodern with Derrida and Foucault, whose seminal work were emergent in the late 60s and 70s. He cites White Noise, The Crying Lot of 49, Pale Fire, Slaughterhouse 5, Neuromancer as "Mum and Dad's culture," as foundational texts that could not imagine the new technologies and communication media of the last two decades. While the argument that the zeitgeist has passed is pretty convincing, this only assumes that the zeitgeist has a fixed amount of time, that it cannot continue influencing more than a single generation.

As for the argument that the text gives away to the reader, that is already part and parcel of postmodernism, particularly the late Roland Barthes in the Death of the Author essay (1967) that announced the birth of the reader and proposed a hypertext that called for multiple authors. This clearly anticipates Kirby's pseudomodernist version of active readers, if not necessarily the Internet itself. The only difference between classical postmodernism and pseudo-modernism is the presence of globalized discourse of the political and cultural context in the latter.

Perhaps pseudo-modernism is less a child of post-modernism, and more of a limited interpretation of a single narrative that survived the death of grand narratives, one that includes the interesting pop culture dichotomy of Bret Easton Ellis - Old Empire and Post-Empire. Old Empire is closer to modernism's serious political correctness, while Post-Empire is the rejection of this seriousness as a hypocritical oppressive regime, and hovers closer to pseudomodernist rejection of the authoritative text. But what does Post-Empire have to do with postmodernity, except an attitude of affirmation that wears a cynical smile? Is its dichotomy the move from Empire representation to Post-Empire affirmation? If the postmodern is about the crisis of critical distance, then the Post-Empire adds a layer of dormant cruelty to this aesthetic barrenness. If the postmodern is Andy Warhol's Factory building lithographs, then the Post-Empire is Warhol and friends celebrating on the disfigured bodies of the undocumented workers who brought the lithographs into the Factory. Therefore, the difference between the postmodern and the Post-Empire is that of degree -- one of violence.


Edited by The Heretic
3 people like this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Other Post-Postmodernisms: a glossary


As for pseudo-modernism, it is interesting to note that the creator of that concept, Kirby has re-christened it as digimodernism, the contraction of "digital modernism." This redefinition re-centers the original conception as the intersection between textuality, and digital technology, where the text is "reformulated by the fingers and thumbs - the digits - clicking and keying and pressing in the positive acts of partial or obscurely collective textual elaboration." (Digimodernism, p. 1)

In this 2009 book, Kirby scales back from his early overstatements in his provocative paper and concedes that digimodernism is more of a "modulated continuity" than a rupture with postmodernism, largely because it is historically adjacent and is expressed through the same cultural forms. (Digimodernism, p. 2) Instead of postmodernism's absolute break in human experience, digimodernity is just "another stage within modernity, a shift from one phase of its history into another." (p. 3)

If digimodernism/pseudomodernism is just another stage within modernity, then it does not necessarily constitute the entire cultural paradigm, and that it may coexist with other "-modernism" candidates, such as automodernism, complexism, hypermodernism, altermodernism, and post-postmodernism. Really.


In 2009, an exhibition at Tate Triennial announced the revival of the Avant-Garde, a new era fed up with the "marshy delta" of postmodernism, and celebrated a return to art. Bold curator Nicolas Bourriaud proposed this concept as an extension of hypermodernism, where socioglobalization and autonomy are blended with "aesthetic universalism." In its manifesto, altermodernism will replace multiculturalism with"creolization," an aesthetic framework that starts from the globalized viewpoint, which means artists or writers travel through cultures and invent new pathways between various formats of communication. In essence, the ultimate purpose of altermodernism is the translation of cultural values of varied groups and connect them to the global network. Basically, the artist has gone rogue, independent of her home culture, freed of her theoretical and aesthetic chains.

However, it must be said that this emphasization on a global network or the globalized viewpoint hearkens back to the old modernist reality of a monolithic culture, and seems to be a retromodernist relapse of the older cultural paradigm. Many critics have already disparaged this pretense to aesthetic progression as a sinister, politically twisted theory. Personally, I see altermodernism as an unironic remake of postmodernism, but formatted in a classic manifesto from the early 20th century. Altermodernism is postmodernism rebranded.


Science, as technology, is a liberating factor and constitutes the ideological ground of automodernity. Robert Samuels asserts that the capacity of automated technologies to allow the individual a greater share of control actually erodes the experience of cultural and social negotiation. He accuses postmodern theorists of neglecting the psychological aspect of individual autonomy. Instead of postmodernism's denial of universal ideals, automodernism proposes that modern technology grants the individual "technological neutrality, universalized information, and individual power," even if it appears illusory.

In other words, privileging psychological determinism over social intervention, automodernism reveals how the current generation, via technologies, are promoting the discourse of globalized politics. Instead of postmodernist skepticism of agency, automodernism returns autonomy to individuals. Indeed, some sense of agency is to be celebrated, but then again, this fetish with subjective psychology only obscures or presents a masquerade that hides its postmodern roots. Plus this brings up an interesting point - why would a world full of autonomous individuals be at all concerned with the patronage of any cultural ism? :noidea:


Phillip Galanter proposes a new cultural paradigm that goes even further in regarding the synthesis of technology and art, where the sciences & the humanities are reconciled "through a higher synthesis of the modern and the postmodern." Although Galanter favors postmodernism' tolerance of racial, ethnic, religious & sexual difference in the political and aesthetic sphere, he rejects its ironic and self-referential meta excesses. Moreover, Galanter accuses the native skeptical and nihilistic disposition of postmodernism that permits an intellectual apathy that submarines all foundations as mere shared realities and word play entirely relative to a presupposed culture.

Instead, complexism is oriented towards a reality of co-evolution where the hierarchies of modernism are converted into mutual relationships that allow robust discourse. Galanter praises the old Futurists who championed a dynamism inherent in the racecar, a cultural ideology that the blazing speed of new technological systems are expressed in art. This in turn inspires a visceral aesthetic experience in the spectator, and helps include her and the artist in a collective sharing of experience. Unlike digimodernism or automodernism, complexism is all about how the subject experiences art. Moreover, unlike the narcissistic intent of automodernism, the complexist aesthetic experience is dependent on automatic physiological reflexes. Therefore, autonomy is not necessary, as it is in digimodernism where anxiety is solved by the manipulations of technology for the user's own goals. Unlike digimodernism, complexism affirms the characteristic chaos of postmodernism, although it admits that a "visceral appreciation of the world can be deterministic yet unpredictable" should be promoted.


Likely the oldest of the posts. Much like complexism and digimodernism, hypermodernism is all about reuniting science with the art, although it remains loyal to the diversity that postmodernism championed. But hypermodernism goes further in the discourse of globalization. Ronnie Lippens, the foremost authority of hypermodernism, claims that the international socio-economic/political/technological development has resulted in a "globalized space where social energies are whirling unbounded... through obsolete boundaries from the past... to be used in ever proliferating de/re/constructions, de/re/differentiations, de/re/traditionalizations, and de/re/subjectifications." (Chaohybrids, p.)

The hypermodernist heroine is more free, since she lives in a society where technology and standards are always evolving. This both intensifies and redeems the modernist experience, which is in complete opposition to postmodernism' denial of a reality that improves for the better, regardless of whether the present is more valuable than the past. Alas, the hypermodernist yearning for an accelerated, liberal modernist experience is only a nostalgic glance towards the past while wielding the technological improvement of the future.


Post-post? Sounds like a stutter or a bad joke. In 2012, Nealon published a book titled Post-Postmodernism: or, The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism, a take off of Fredric Jameson's 1984 classic of postmodernism. It basically argues that instead of moving beyond postmodernism, we are experiencing an intensification of postmodern fragmentation. Nealon confesses that double P is not something different from the original P, but an indicator that it has grown beyond its original state back in Jameson's eighties.


Unlike modernism or postmodernism, the failure to actually build a robost method of criticism prevent these candidates from emerging as the authoritative ideology of the zeitgeist. Moreover, the very existence of contesting ideologies, each asserting supremacy, only reinforces the inherent fragmentation of postmodernism, the splintered state of truth, which is interestingly enough similar to the early days of modernism. It all comes down to two things: either the candidates have not successfully determined an ideology, or they are all abortive attempts of redescriptions of postmodernist ideology. All these candidates to the epitaph of postmodernism have a little maturation to go before they can successfully knock off the champion of the current paradigm.

1 person likes this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now