Metamodernism / by Chris Hall

"We must go forth and oscillate."  from the Metamodernist Manifesto.

It is always best to be true to yourself, to follow the beat of your own drum.  But it can be a lonely path, sometimes, hence my search to find world views and philosophies similar to my own.  It is good to have a sense of community, to maybe have a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.  And when you have ambitions to Change the World, it is also good to have a team for validation and mutual support.  

I've looked into Altermodernism and Hypermodernism as Postmodern replacements.  They are too close to Postmodernism.  Neomodernism and Remodernism (while attractive) might be too obsessed with the past and nostalgia... (The Stuckists embrace being "stuck."), even to the point of rejecting all abstract art.  

Just recently I came across an article in Hyperallergic which proposed yet another replacement for Postmodernism.  It is called Metamodernism...

The article quotes liberally from Timotheus Vermeulen's and Robin van den Akker's essay, Notes on Metamodernism, that was originally published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Culture in 2010.  The essay describes Metamodernism in terms of a generational shift:

Indeed, if, simplistically put, the modern outlook vis-à-vis idealism and ideals could be characterized as fanatic and/or naive, and the postmodern mindset as apathetic and/or skeptic, the current generation’s attitude — for it is, and very much so, an attitude tied to a generation —can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism.

The metamodern, therefore, “oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naïveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity.”

The Hyperallergic article goes on to say that, "We are too far removed from the early 20th century’s wars and revolutions to believe that art can truly be an agent of change, but we also recognize that it must be something more than hollow commentary. To paraphrase one of the essay’s subtitles, the metamodern is art after the death of art."

For years I've been disgusted by the ideas presented by Postmodernism (though my art aesthetics may reflect it at times).  I've always preferred to champion my Modernist heroes, who believed (perhaps naively) that Art Can Change The World.  And I want to believe this, too!  To me, the Postmodernists were/are cynical/jaded/apolitical artists reflecting the Aesthetics of Surrender, embracing the Nihilist position that nothing matters, that everything is meaningless.  I can not stand by this.  It is hard to believe that there is a meaning to it all, that Art Matters, but I try to hold on to this belief. 

The Modernists were Fanatic Hot-Blooded Creatures of Revolution.  I, too, am a Fanatic Hot-Blooded Creature of Revolution. Still, I understand melancholy, disappointment, doubt, and skepticism.    I understand the concept of Weltschmerz (world pain).  I just can not wallow in it... I go there, but I refuse to stay there.... I always fight my way out of it.  Like the X-Files poster says, "I Want to Believe," but I also want to do so with sense of caution, with pragmatism.

I might just be down with this newish thing called Metamodernism.  Here is a link to their manifesto:  metamodernism.org, and to their website:  metamodernism.com.


Am I alone in this? Who else is with me?  I look forward to reading  Timotheus Vermeulen's and Robin van den Akker's essay, Notes on Metamodernism and to investigating this new rabbit hole a bit further.  

"We must go forth and oscillate."  Finally, an art movement that embraces my bi-polar tendencies.