If Modernity, or Modernism, is our Antiquity, then its ruins have become every bit as fascinating, poignant and morbid as those of the Greeks or Romans were to the 18th century.
There’s a gulf, certainly, between Benjamin’s concern for a revolutionary redemption and the Futurist fetish for inbuilt obsolescence, but both are Modernisms equally hostile to ‘heritage’. This is what is meant by erasing the traces – outrunning the old world before it has the chance to catch up with you. [Owen Hatherley Miltant Modernism]
“I came into writing and describing and filming the world at the very moment that those old left-wing certainties were beginning to collapse, certainties that said somehow progress and modernity were on a inevitable path towards a particular destination in history. But it was also equally obvious to me the right-wing reaction—where you just bring a market force in to create a form of stability that goes nowhere—was equally not going to work. And I became interested in examining how ideas have led us to this position in ways that those who had the ideas didn’t really intend. People like Weber who were, in a sense, conservative sociologists of the late nineteenth century were looking at the consequences of rationality. At how scientific ideas were used by those in power in modern society—and what the consequences then were. I think this is still incredibly important to look at today. And above all Weber’s writings about bureaucracy. One of things I’m fascinated by at the moment is the rise of managerial theory….
they’re also expressions of something that Weber wrote about back in nineteenth century which he called the “iron cage,” about how rationality, when applied to social situations to try and control and manage societies, would often lead to absurd outcomes…
HUO: The artist Paul Chan says that in art, and in general, we should just stop quoting. Would you agree?
AC: Yes, he’s absolutely right, because my working theory is that we live in a managerial age, which doesn’t want to look to the future. It just wants to manage the present. A lot of art has become a way of looking back at the last sixty years of the modernist project, which we feel has failed. It’s almost like a lost world, and we are cataloging it, quoting it, reconfiguring it, filing it away into sliding drawers as though we were bureaucrats with no idea what any of it means. They’ve got nothing to say about it except that they know it didn’t work. It’s not moving onwards—we’re just like academic archaeologists. It’s terribly, terribly conservative and static, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe in a reactionary, conservative age, that’s what art finds itself doing. The problem is that it pretends to be experimental and forward-looking. But to be honest, in some ways I’m just as guilty. What I do is not so different—using all sorts of fragments from the past to examine the present. Maybe this is simply the iron cage of our time—we’re like archaeologists going back into the recent past, continually refiguring it, surrounding it with quotations. It’s a terrible, terrible prison, but we don’t know how to break out of it.” [Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Adam Curtis]
“While there are, of course, many definitions of the term ‘postmodernism’, one way of looking at it is from an artistic or aesthetic perspective. It relates the term ‘postmodernism’ to the rise of a style or movement within the western art world in which ‘innovation’ is no longer a challenge, but a ‘blast from the past’, and moreover a millstone around the neck of the individual artist. All this is linked to the more cultural philosophical reading of the term, namely as the rise of a new era—postmodernism/postmodernity—which is characterized by a feeling of widespread disbelief at the Grand Narratives of modernity: communism, socialism, fascism. After all, these Grand Narratives once believed humanity to be capable of realizing values such as liberty, equality, fraternity, and authenticity, but one after another ended in totalitarianism and terror, and left humanity exposed.
…‘metamodernism’ could be considered the dominant structure of feeling of a generation born in the peak of ‘postmodernism’, roughly between 1960 and 1990. A generation that grew up in economic prosperity, but which, because of the financial crisis, witnessed the collapse of the neo-capitalist dream and, as a result, the evaporation of the political essence of the 1990s. A generation, moreover, that experienced abundance, but is confronted with an ecological crisis and the necessity of limitation. A generation that experienced years of irony and skepticism, and because of that suffers from what American writer David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) once referred to as ‘analysis paralysis’, the inability to make a choice or decision, but still needs to make choices and decisions in order not to perish. In short: a one-hand-other-hand generation that has a lot to choose from and faces important choices, but has difficulty making them because there is no comfortable lead—no universal Grand Narrative—to base a choice on, and that is, moreover, quite skeptical towards the universal power of Grand Narratives.” [Niels van Poecke Beyond Postmodern Narcolepsy]
“Ontologically, metamodernism oscillates between the modern and the postmodern. It 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. Indeed, by oscillating to and fro or back and forth, the metamodern negotiates between the modern and the postmodern. One should be careful not to think of this oscillation as a balance however; rather, it is a pendulum swinging between 2, 3, 5, 10, innumerable poles. Each time the metamodern enthusiasm swings toward fanaticism, gravity pulls it back toward irony; the moment its irony sways toward apathy, gravity pulls it back toward enthusiasm….
If the modern thus expresses itself by way of a utopic syntaxis, and the postmodern expresses itself by means of a dystopic parataxis, the metamodern, it appears, exposes itself through a-topic metaxis. The Greek–English lexicon translates atopos (ατoπoς), respectively, as strange, extraordinary, and paradoxical. However, most theorists and critics have insisted on its literal meaning: a place (topos) that is no (a) place. We could say thus that atopos is, impossibly, at once a place and not a place, a territory without boundaries, a position without parameters. We have already described metaxis as being simultaneously here, there, and nowhere. In addition, taxis (τα′≌ις) means ordering. Thus, if the modern suggests a temporal ordering, and the postmodern implies a spatial disordering, then the metamodern should be understood as a spacetime that is both—neither ordered and disordered. Metamodernism displaces the parameters of the present with those of a future presence that is futureless; and it displaces the boundaries of our place with those of a surreal place that is placeless. For indeed, that is the “destiny” of the metamodern wo/man: to pursue a horizon that is forever receding.” [Notes on Metamodernism Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker]