Part XIII of a series about the possibility of a rebirth of Social Realism in the Post Postmodern (Popomo). These are some rough ruminations based on my second LATE NIGHT reading of “Notes on Metamodernism” by Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker. *1
Structure Types - it appears to me that all of the following are related in that they all are random, though in different ways.
Rhizomatic –Felix Gauttari and Gilles Deleuze – A Thousand Plateaus (1980)*2
Parataxis – A group of related ideas, statements, concepts, words, put together in no apparent order. What are the similarities or differences to/with Rhizomatic structures?
Pastiche – a hodge-podge a group of seemingly unrelated things hastily put together, as in ET’s communication device. In literature, a hodge-podge of different styles or imitation of various styles in one work.
Metaxis (Gk) Plato – suspension between and among oppositions.
Nicholas Baurriaud – altermodernism- Vermeulen and Van den Akker argue that Baurriaud confuses knowledge with being / “epistemology with ontology.” However, Hegelian precepts maintain that knowledge and being are of necessity one or human beings would be incapable of functioning within the physical world. I certainly find that knowledge is necessary to functioning well in the physical world. I know that the stove burner is hot from past experience (I accidentally touched it when I was five years old and was physically burned). Thus there is a link between my having been burned (being in the world) and my knowledge of “how to BE” safe in the world. In any event, I’m not at all certain that Verveulen and Van den Akker’s position is any less flawed than Baurriaud’s. Actually I like both explanations of a possible Post Postmodern world despite actual and/or imagined flaws.
Vermeulen and Van den Akker say that epistemologically the metamodern thinks in an “as if” mode, to paraphrase, and liken that to Kant’s notion that humankind performs “as if” it were working toward a goal of perfection even though it knows it isn’t doing so. At the same time, they state the following.
“If you will forgive us for the banality of the metaphor for a moment, the metamodern thus willfully adopts a kind of donkey-and-carrot double-bind. Like a donkey it chases a carrot that it never manages to eat because the carrot is always just beyond its reach. But precisely because it never manages to eat the carrot, it never ends its chase, setting foot in moral realms the modern donkey (having eaten its carrot elsewhere) will never encounter, entering political domains the postmodern donkey (having abandoned the chase) will never come across.
I have a problem deciphering / understanding these statements, because the authors slide from the “metamodern,” to the modern and postmodern without giving notice of the slippery slide from one to the other.
German philosopher Eric Voegelin - One of the claims of the postmodern was that it surrounded and included the modern in its very opposition to the idealism/utopism of modernism. Through Voegelin, via Plato Vermeulen and Van den Akker stake the claim that metamodernism includes but does not occupy the modern or postmodern, that instead it exists, around, through and inbetween them. What is the difference?
The clearest description Vermeulen and Van den Akker provide for the difference between the modern, postmodern, and metamodern.
“CEOs and politicians, architects, and artists alike are formulating anew a narrative of longing structured by and conditioned on a belief (“yes we can”, “change we can believe in”) that was long repressed, for a possibility (a “better” future) that was long forgotten. 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.”
Vermeulen and Van den Akker refer to Hegel’s philosophy as “positive idealism” instead of absolute idealism - the generally accepted name for Hegelian idealism - in order to oppose it to Kant’s negative idealism. I need to investigate that change. I know Hegel was reacting to Kant. Do others place the two in opposition?
Vermeulen and Van den Akker point to a rebirth of theism as a metamodern strategy in the arts via German philosopher Raoul Eshelman’s “performatism." I wonder if the word, “theism” isn't awkward as it implies a Western belief in a singular God active in the personal sense as in Western Christian evangelical practice – whereas Vermeulen and Van den Akker claim a process that is between / among other middle-eastern and eastern practices as well. Of course their own description of the metamodern allows for such inaccuracies since the metamodern is not absolute in its own metaxic performance.
It would appear that the postmodern used one strategy among others in the attempt to void absolutes, that is to list binary oppositions, and play with each individually and/or together. However, the “metamodern” would place these binary oppositions in a relationship to one another that can only be described as three dimensional, in motion, and where any opposition can be connected to or disconnected to any other(s) at any time. This model is much more transparent than Vermeulen and Van den Akker’s use of Delleuze and Guattari’s 2- dimensional Rhizomatic model.
*1 Vermeulen, Timotheus and Van den Akker, “Notes on Metamodernism, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture eISSN 2000-4214, on the Web at http://www.aestheticsandculture.net/index.php/jac/article/view/5677/6306, Viewed Wednesday, 7:57 PM, May 4, 2011. This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Responsible editor: Astrid Söderbergh Widding.
*2 Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix A Thousand Plateaus, trans.Brian Masumi. London and New York: Continuum (2004)
*3 Vermeulen, Timotheus and Van den Akker, “Notes on Metamodernism, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture eISSN 2000-4214, on the Web at http://www.aestheticsandculture.net/index.php/jac/article/view/5677/6306, Viewed Wednesday, 7:57 PM, May 4, 2011. This journal is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Responsible editor: Astrid Söderbergh Widding.