Living in the Age of Metamodernism

According to experts, we are now (in 2017) living in what many now call a Metamodern Age. It is a new cultural movement that has arrived on the scene in America. It’s meaning and purpose lies beyond the Modern Age of the early 20th century – where people naively believed in a hope-filled future embraced by the promise of technology and social unity – and the late 20th century Post-Modern hostile reaction to it starting in the late 1960’s and ending in 2015 – a troubled time where there was great doubt and skepticism about the previous Modern Age and its ability to serve all the needs of Humanity.

Metamodernism in the Wiki is described as such….

“…the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety [Modernism] and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child [Post-Modernism]”

In the Metamodern Age according to the Wiki we are entering a period where we waffle between a re-embrace of older Modern values (pre-1965) – a renewed naive belief that technology and some “global future” can be re-envisioned where we are all equal and provided for – and the continued challenge, rebellion, and doubt about our Digital Age, Modern society, and its shallow value systems.

But it’s an understanding of the two systems, Modern hope and Post-Modern doubt, and the ability to move between them and beyond them to some new acceptance of our bipolar views of society, that I think is really interesting and explains a lot. What that involves I am still trying to discover. But Metamodernism appears to be a re-investigation of the Self, a heartfelt desire for our lost Humanity, and an exploration of our own psychology separate from the Modern World that increasingly consumes us. And so my studies of Mythopoeia fit into that nicely. Yet something very confused and bipolar sleeps there.

You see the Metamodern in film and story now…..there’s a lot of mockery of culture and people in film (mockumentaries, half-sincere comedic films, etc.), stereotypical views of the past and people that appear very disingenuous, and a very disturbing “oversimplification” by young minds of what were once complex and intellectually cultivated and educated ideas 50 years ago. Yet they are attempts at questioning the past, sincere parodies of past generations half-embraced yet-half misunderstood.

In parallel to this movement is a re-investigation of meaning through an early, super-naive, almost sappy and immature re-exploration of some other early 20th century, well-respected ideals in cinema and entertainment that Postmodern skepticism destroyed in the 1980’s – ideals of true love, of family, of loving-thy-neighbor, of respect for the disenfranchised, of true loyalty, altruism, a return to art for art’s sake, the sanctity of secular religious expression (beyond fundamentalism), challenges to our failed business ethics, rejection of moral relativism, re-emergence of multiculturalism, and other more noble value systems we all saw die away in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The young people are bringing them back.

All these were values of people born at the beginning of the 20th century. They were views my grandfather had in the Modern Age that died in the 1950’s. And so young people today appear to be rediscovering the “Holy Grail of their Humanity” alone defying the angst of the Postmodern Baby Boomers. They appear to be embracing older values of Modern society destroyed long ago by their Boomer parents who got trapped in the drugs, violence, and rebellion of the troublesome yet spiritually free 1970’s.

The umbilical cord that once connected those values to us before 1965 – of faith, family, and of morality – had been long since been cut 50 years prior, separating us from them entirely.

But the instinct to embrace the older cultural values remain in our kids, though they have long since died in us and in the society we have created for them. That is to me the essence of what Metamodernism is…..the long, dark, dusty road of self-rediscovery of the deep, loving Humanity that must live again instinctively in our young people.

Our kids today without mentors to guide them towards those older values must rediscover them in themselves, not through the society which used to cultivate them so profoundly prior to 1965, but through the sanctity of their Natural hearts and minds.

That’s what is changing via Metamodernism today.

The Wiki on Metamodernism also mentions a new “neo-Romanticism” in the arts, too, which is interesting to me, as I remember in the Post-Modern 1980’s how there was a lot of dark art forms, gothic trends, and deeply subversive art and music…..art where ideals of beauty or realism or classical forms were obliterated, torn down, laughed at as dead art forms. The idea of drawing Greek figures, painting pictures of old trees, reading hopeful Modernist literature, listening to albums prior to the 1950’s (“Before Elvis there was nothing” – John Lennon), or studying ancient history was meaningful to me in 1987, yet to my peers it was a joke, history and historical meaning being utterly meaningless to the avant garde, the rebellious musicians and artists, and the drug-addicted generations of that time. Such was the scourge that was Postmodernism after 1980 in American culture.

But I sense today in Metamodernism that there’s a return to something true and genuine……a lost desire for the more morally comprehensive, respectable, and valuable aspects of the human heart….a return to an older America and it’s better more Modernist self that was lost 50 years ago. And yet it feels immature, unformed from some primal clay, deep but still a form of naive teenage rebellion, filled yet with challenges and skepticism about past generations rising up in parallel to its better half. It feels like the boy still trapped in the young man’s body. And that feels really bipolar.

I feel that conflict in not just my own writing and views today, but in America especially post-election, where we want to somehow go back to a Trump America of 60 years ago that may have some limited value, yet choose today to forget that same past and instead move forward, embracing the new world that’s here in this Digital Global Age of hope and change.

In that sense the experts are right: Metamodernism explains our confusion, the doubt and yet hope so many Americans now feel about their own futures in 2017.

But there is hope in this dualistic system that merges Modernism and Postmodernism into one. Where Modernism attached meaning to a dimly veiled hopeful future, and Post-Modernism was so much about deconstruction and acceptance of the present, Metamodernism may be moving from a “perceived ambivalence” into the timeless fantasy world of the psychological self in seeking meaning from the Self. In other words, as Metamodern views evolve, moving past parody and shared emotion today, the young people that embrace it may need to take their own more serious and “rebellious path” into the Self as the prior two movements did in history. The priorities of the individual then can move beyond the shared cultural needs and discover a new spirtualism that’s been lost in both Modernism and Postmodernism today in 2017.

But what would the Metamodern man or woman be ultimately seeking in its rebellion and acceptance as it becomes more serious and determined? I argue it’s seeking reconnection to the Humanity of the denied-Self of the modernist moment via the re-embrace of the distant past and its teachings where society had once come together as one beyond the family unity to move the country towards a greater good. Modernism before 1965 was a time when society was fresh and new to the world and connected with Natural Law versus man-made law and just awakening from its mythological truths to more intellectual scientific truth.

It’s this seeking of Truth via the knowledge of our ancestors and our origins as more spiritual yet animalistic unconscious beings that then I am hoping becomes important to the new Metamodern movement. It’s that discovery that I am hoping comes forward in the years ahead, because Modern Culture still adamantly denies us its spiritual benefits.

To do that we must desire a new spiritualism that a digital future, religious expression, and the more recent rebellious immoral drug-addicted society of the past cannot currently provide. And so I’m “hopeful” that young people move past the conflicts of this early form of Metamodernism and embrace the deeper mythology of the Self that’s needed from it in the years ahead. They most move beyond parody and cynism and embrace the serious in some form as well.

This spiritual exploration can only be found in the exploration of ancient texts, religious rediscovery, philosophy, philology, and looking closely at the history of our past in all its ugliness and glory. For great truth awaits there that’s been lost to us today.

No future can be embraced until the past is fully known. Living in a modern consumer-driven, marriage-driven, money-driven shallow world may allow us to connect with our emotions and each other. But to connect with our spiritual self and the larger universe that spawned us will require a deeper sincerity beyond the embrace of irony, parody, rewriting of history, and love of technology. People are needing something more beyond emotion, attention, resources, love, power, and money alone.

It will require a deeper rebellion of all those things in seeking the true value and mythical mystery of the Self that our ancestors found but modern people still deny. Once we all embrace and explore the mythological depths inside us, we then will enter a new blossoming age of rich, deep, emotional and spiritual lives that reinvent our religions, our global society, the role of government, and the ability for the society to nurture the people in it beyond just our social needs, shallow institutions, global resource wars, political views, narrow-minded radical religions, and easily corrupted and perverted  monetary systems.

The spiritual and mythological needs remain in the society and in the individual, needs which no entertainment-oriented, cultural, religious, governmental, or social system has yet fulfilled or provided the past 100 years. That to me is the goal of Metamodernism as it evolves in the years ahead.

– the Author

Addendum: Please read more about Metamodernism here: http://www.whatismetamodern.com

#mythopoeia #metamodernsism #phantammeron



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  1. LC Ceriello says:

    Great to “meet” you also, and thank you for linking to our blog! –Linda

  2. The Author says:

    Thank you Greg and Linda. I am so glad to meet you and find others that share these views. I think they are fascinating and important, as I feel we are on the doorstep of a new paradigm shift culturally. I have posted a link to your information in the blog post above. Thanks again and I will be reading your blog! – EM Stokely

  3. LC Ceriello says:

    Hi there– Greg and Linda here –we write and research about metamodernism and so we stumbled upon your blog post.

    Since you mentioned being interested in “Modern hope and Post-Modern doubt, and the ability to move between them and beyond them to some new acceptance of our bipolar views of society”– which was nicely put– we thought we’d pass along a few links for you and your readers.
    We have a blog in which we identify metamodern instantiations in pop culture (e.g., songs, films, cultural, political and spiritual moves, etc. — http://www.whatismetamodern.com.
    And if you’re interested in design and advertising in particular, you may be interested to check out our post on an exemplar of metamodern product design at http://whatismetamodern.com/post/133072906732/quirky-marketing It provides a nice contrast with your observations about the postmodern elements of Wacky Packs (which we also feel epitomize pomo).
    Cheers!

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