The title of this piece is an obvious provocation; a smirking discussion point fashioned into an entity that can act as click-bait, a joke (and as with most jokes, a little bit of a truth) and also as the moral of our story.
Post-modernism has always had a paradoxical fascination with finality; with deconstruction and death. Indeed its reign over thought snowballs into a slew of epoch “deaths” including, but not limited to: the death of the author, the death of structuralism & grand narratives (and thus the death of history), the death of colonialism, the death of gender etc. etc.
And for discourse and exploration, the gravitas attached to these paradigm shifts has helped to propel frank and open discussion as well as volatile dismantlement into new depths of influence; important discussion has been made here and helped by the attached seriousness of such claims; but the obsession with finality and decay remains consistent and also fundamentally thorny.
Except, in many ways, Post-modernism never submits its own agenda and epoch to this cultural death-wish, never martyrs or temporarily martyrs itself or its own grand narrative in accordance with its own scripture; seemingly to prefer itself as a catch-all term to describe everything since death and doubt reigned, since things got ‘modern’, and not then allowing itself to ‘die’ in a similar process of deconstruction and doubting and instead pervading every facet of denomination, and therefore simplifying ideas to collectivist streamlined assemblage. And in this ‘catch-all’ nature the only thing left in its wake of death are the zombies of proximity; those that would decry elitism from a vantage point of intellectual elitism, using an elitist and singular narrative of ‘destroying elitist narratives’ to create a paradoxical dictatorship. Whilst it’s important not to talk of this as some conspiracy; it is in a sense a conceptual and headless structure fashioned by the reactionary field of Post- modernism, and, as with most things of this nature, the stereotype exists in subconscious assemble from multifarious nodes of projection.
And in accordance with its own death-wish, I would ask Post-modernism to jump itself into the fire of deconstruction that it perpetuated and ‘die’ in that volatile and temporary and most meta of ways, to then allow new ideas to rise from the pseudo- ashes.
In this day and age, this pattern of un-death has meant all cultural discourse is seeped in post-modernism and all labels and demarcations are seeped in it as well, and what we’re left with in opposition to this are the reactionary dialogues, that seem somehow more imbued with the rhetoric and ‘catch-all’ nature in their desire to stick close as an enemy and thus live as its offspring and reflection.
This subconscious tendency is leading to the zombification of ideas, it breeds a generation unaware of the insight it offers and only aware of its preoccupations as the cultural norm and the standardized perspective, which causes the conversation to eat itself and self-cannibalise until we all actually, properly, y’know, die.
The narratives of cannon and establishment, as well as ‘narratives’ as fixed entities entirely (even if volatile and subjective), are not being explored even as temporalities, and learning and contextualisation are at times suffering due to this.
We need new ideas unafraid to stretch beyond and stand completely untouched and devoid of the label and prefix and tendency; influence of course remains at a subconscious level yes as always and even this is reactionary to an extent, but ideas and new terms and schools not all encompassed by the paradox of elitism or the reactionary oppositionism of the current climate are an ideal that needs to be strived toward and experimented with – we need people unafraid to posit things beyond this standardized echo chamber of influence and outside of the conversation that is eating itself in a strange loop of logic ceilings, we need to place things adjacent-to and outside-of that enlightening and embittering process.
Of course, these ‘things’ don’t ‘die’, for they were never even alive, and they remain insightful and educational, when committed to the volatile and vigorous dismantling and designifying process of true exploration.
And so by your own naïve and jaded momentum; I commit you to meta-pseudo- post-death, post-modernism – and set you free!
Words, Moss James – @moss_james
Illustration, Bobby Sanderson – @bobbysanderson