At the beginning of quarantine I read the Listening Society by Hanzi Freinacht. I was obsessed with it. I asked everyone what they thought of it. Finally I found a discord group where people talked about it. I first learned about the term metamodernism from reading the Listening Society. It is a term originally used to describe contemporary art.
If post-modern describes an either/or perspective and povs like cultural relativity and irony among other things, metamodernism describes a both/and perspective – irony and earnestness, autofiction, cultural relativity and hierarchy.
What is the use of these labels? Enlightenment, romanticism, modernity, post-modernity, metamodernity. There is a certain word view and perspective that these movements represent. This short hand, or signature still has some meaning. The describe a certain orientation if not a metaphysics.
What interests me about metamodernity are the generative aspects of the orientation. Metamodernity is about combining things that seem paradoxical, it is about creating new genres and perhaps destroying genres. I am really interested in things beyond metamodernism. I an interested in the role of inner life, feelings, and emotions in the listening society. In Freinacht’s books what interests me as well is what populates one of these phases, the symbolic codes, the reasoning structures. This essay refers to metamodernity as a new kind of sensuality. And perhaps it is – perhaps it is the “erotics of art” that Susan Sontag talks about in maybe Against Interpretation or something.
The abs-tract-organization in one of their essays on quotes heavily from González, Metamodern Aliens in Postmodern Jerusalem (1996), and situates this as one of the origins of metamodernism not the 20teens art theorists. It comes out of post-colonial studies. (This is a great resource- I still have not exhausted it).
“González cites Zymunt Bauman’s description of modernity as a self-deception, concealing its own parochiality, and that postmodernity knows better…“that Lyotard’s definition of the postmodern may very well serve as a sort of “Cold War weapon” of neocolonialism.” AND “At the same time, however, a hermeneutic of suspicion leads us to wonder what hidden agendas lie behind the postmodern critique of modernity.” This last bit is from Ricoeur, it is about understanding we gain through interpretation rather than observation. I am discussed this before. If interpretation is post-modern, what is metamodern?
Perhaps metamodernism is occult. Occult is what is hidden. It is not necessarily magic. It is the noumena of kant, the realm of the forms for Plato. What is the form of understanding native to the occult? It can be one of two things? It is subjective (or inner work, or feeling) OR it is mediation. We access the hidden through some method of mediation, either a spell or a medium, or a tool, a journey to find the man behind the curtain (of the wizard of Oz). But also as we work with the tool the tool works on us. By going on the journey we are transformed and able to see behind the curtain. What is the practice for the occult? Toolmaking. As Borgmann says, quoted in the abs-tract essays:
“But the postmodern condition also holds the possibility that we may recognize technology and pass through it to another beginning, one I have suggested we call metamodernism.” — Borgmann (1992)
Hanzi would disagree if we are linking occult with magic. But occult is not magic necessarily -it is what is hidden. I am not sure what to call magic. It would be some causal relationship between something. I don’t even think you can talk about magic per se, but maybe you need to talk about sympathetic magic or different types of magic, like you talk about different types of medicine (allopathic and homeopathic etc).
I am going to end this with an attempt to close down another tab – Game B. Game B is a way to describe the civilization operating system that comes after Game A – which is the western status quo. Now I am not sure how I feel like that. Because most of the world, like all of china perhaps does not experience the western status quo, but maybe they do via mcdonalds and hollywood. I dont know. From this article Game B is
” 1)self-organizational 2) network-oriented, 3) decentralized, and 4) metastable for an extended period of time”
There is this idea that Game B is focused on developing self-sovereignty and inner life. And Game A is focused on control and conformity – it is subjective vs objective.
Now in covid, there are these things called pods arising. These are small groups – subcommunities that are self organizing and taking care of one another, it is sort of like a grass roots Game B.