Saturday, 17 July 2010

Previous uses of the term metamodernism

We feel we need to justify our use of the term metamodernism. In a future post we will explain its etymological origin and its relationship to the Platonic/Voegelin concept of metaxis. Here we will briefly refer to some of the term's previous uses. Although we are the first to use the term metamodernism to describe the current structure of feeling in terms of an oscillation between a modern hope and a postmodern disappointment (a mutual re-signification, if you will, of one by the other), we are not the first to use the term per se. It has been used in writings on law, politics, economics, data analysis and architecture as far back as the 1970s. Most significantly, it has been used with some frequency in literature studies. Here it has been applied in order to describe a post-modern alternative to postmodernism as presented in the works of authors as far apart as Blake and Guy Davenport. The literary theorist Alexandra Dimitrescu, for example, describes metamodernism in terms of the integration and interconnectedness of contrary approaches. We would like to stress however that our conception of metamodernism is by no means aligned to these notions, nor is it derived from them. It is in so far related to these notions that it too negotiates between the modern and the postmodern. But the function, structure and nature of the negotiation we perceive are entirely our own and, as far as we can see, wholly unrelated to the previous perceptions. Metamodernism as we conceive it does not integrate; but neither does it exclude. It oscillates. That is to say, it both-neither integrates and-nor excludes - desires a sens and-nor doubts of the sense of it all, longs and-nor laments, constructs and-nor deconstructs...

Image: Kaye Donachie, Early Morning Hours of the Night (2003). Courtesy Maureen Paley

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