Meta I

When we say that metamodernism is a structure of feeling, we intend to say, very much like Fredric Jameson and, later, David Harvey when they describe postmodernism, that it is a sensibility that is widespread enough to be called structural (or as the cultural historian Ben Cranfield recently paraphrased it in a brilliant talk about the “emergent” in art at UCL, a “feeling that structures” (2015, unpublished conference paper), yet that cannot be reduced to one particular strategy. For Jameson, for instance, postmodernism was the structure of feeling of endings – the end of History, the end of “ideology”, the end of the social, the end of art; one that was expressed in many different forms: pastiche, eclecticism, the nostalgia film, photorealism and so on. For us, metamodernism is a structure of feeling associated with the increasingly widespread sentiment that each of these debates are kickstarted, not as project perhaps as much as a projection, the premise on which new projects may be endeavoured. This structure of feeling, however, too, finds its expression in many different formal languages that have been described in detail by others: the new sincerity, quirky, freak folk, New Romanticism, new materialism, speculative realism, to name just a few. In any case, the 2000s are the defining period for the shift from postmodernism to metamodernism to occur (just as the sixties were the defining transitional period for the shift from modernism to postmodernism). [Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker on Misunderstandings and Clarifications]

Sterling RubyWIDW. RED RIFT. 2018

In a 2015 essay, metamodernism theorist Timotheus Vermeulen proposed the term depthiness to to try to name a certain phenomenon observable in much of contemporary art and culture. He quotes a piece of dialogue from Lena Dunham’s show Girls: “Just because it’s fake doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.” Depthiness, explains Vermeulen, is a play on both Frederick Jameson’s term “Depthlessness” (from his book The Postmodern Condition), and Steven Colbert’s satirical term “Truthiness.” The basic idea is that, whereas modernist art was confident in its ability to evoke a deeper, underlying, “real” truth with its representations, and postmodernism rejected as naive such attempts at depth, and instead made surface its focus, metamodern works play in an awareness of the postmodern skepticism of depth, and yet choose to perform or fabricate depth, or do whatever it takes to render the experience of it. Whether or not Anthony James is aware of the theoretical notions of depthiness or metamodernism, this work of his does seem to render a sensory experience of both. [Greg Dember on MetaModernism]

There is a strand within the newly emerging Speculative Realist philosophies called Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) that seeks to place all objects, rather than man alone, at the centre of existence. Its speculations attempt to escape what has become known as the correlationist trap, described by Quentin Meillassoux in After Finitude as “the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other.” The anthropocentrism that has dominated philosophical discourse since Kant’s Copernican Revolution, and the resultant split that such thinking necessitates between man and the world, is here being radically rethought. As Graham Harman states, “the human/world relation is just a special case of the relation between any two entities whatsoever.” Harman, alongside Levi Bryant, Tim Morton and Ian Bogost, proposes an object-oriented philosophy that would instate a flat ontology, removing the primacy of human-object relations, thus granting all objects similar ontological status. The worldview advocated by OOO approaches something akin to panpsychism, or as Harman prefers to call it, “polypsychism”, whereby all objects are considered to actually “perceive” their relations to other objects. [Luke Turner The New Aesthetic’s Speculative Promise]

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