Someone in my Twitter feed about a month ago mentioned the term Metamodernity. That spurred some comments, comments which showed that others were aware of it and it is a thing. That stoked my curiosity. So after a quick google search to learn more, I downloaded the book Metamodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World by Lene Anderson. Here are some highlights.
Will not try to summarize the book, define the term, or otherwise review. Will just present a few things I highlighted. There's no pattern to what strikes my fancy and leads me to highlight a given passage other than momentary whim. Am sure to have missed some interesting ones.
Humans are a pattern seeking and pattern recognizing species in need for love and search for meaning.
Yes, I think so. We see patterns where there are none. We are stubborn about it sometimes.
A common denominator for all the Axial Age religions that have survived until our time is that they have provided us with symbolic worlds expressing the core moral and existential struggles of humans in big societies, and none of the stories can be taken at face value. The theologians and storytellers of the pre-modern era were not simpletons, their stories have lasted exactly because they contain several layers and we need to dig into them, and keep digging if we want to understand the stories—and ourselves.
This idea of an age of similar and parallel developments which occurred simultaneously across a broad stretch of the ancient world from Greece, to the Mideast, to India and to China is fascinating to me. It is called the Axial Age. It was first proposed and described by Karl Jaspers for the period, roughly, of 3rd to 8th century BCE. It fits in with my view that our religions have evolved through the centuries as our societies have developed. How can it be otherwise?New situations, new problems call for different doctrines and new theologies. (Have referred to the Axial Age in two previous posts). Jeremiah and the Block Chain and The Second Axial Period.
What is new in metamodernity compared to postmodernism is that meaning can be judged according to its depth, and this depth is defined by the richness of its connectedness in the meaning making fabric, the epistemology.
This may be the author's own desire and goal for metamodernity. But why not? At the beginning one can hope to influence a movement in what one believes is a positive direction. If metamodernity addresses the issue of meaning, that would be an advantage over postmodernism which is often perceived by many as subtractive of meaning.
We are also creatures of habit, and we have a natural resistance towards knowledge that goes against what we already know. It is not so much that we are allergic to new knowledge; it is the dismissal of old knowledge that is painful. It is letting go that hurts. Accepting that our defining cultural code does not hold all the answers is terrifying. It is particularly hard if that code and the knowledge that it holds came from people we love and trust, or from authorities that we love to trust.
This squares with my seventy years of life experience. It was easy for me as a teenager in the 1960's to see how lots of older folks were allergic to the new thinking about civil rights and women's rights and many other things like music and hair styles which most of us now take for granted. Those things were not as disorienting for my older loved ones as changes occurring in our religious heritage. Our church had a firm set of answers and questioning those answers was terrifying and had to be resisted. As an young adult I lost confidence that our distinctive religious heritage had the answers. Have been searching ever since for something that could provide a similar comfort and assurance I felt growing up. Would like to think I've learned and made reasonable changes. Now I'm the old guy. What views/feelings am I holding onto which are now outdated? I'm still looking. Will continue to explore Metamodernity.