Part 1 of the Theory Of Emanism series
This is a metamodern story.
It’s a story of how modernism leads to postmodernism, which in turn leads to metamodernism. It’s the story of what came before and hopefully will point to what comes next. To what comes after. I say hopefully because we are told we may be on the brink of extinction, I personal agree but I don’t think we will go extinct. Anyway what a better time to have an old-new perspective to view the world with.
This is a story of how and why animism, leads to totemism, shamanism, paganism, polytheism and monotheism all the way up to atheism. This is the story of what lies beyond. This is a story about science. This is a story about art. This is a story about religion.
This story asks: Can we discover the immaterial?
This story asks: Can we go beyond ideology?
My first instinct is to say no. We can’t go beyond ideology. Ideology means a systems of ideas (especially those that inform political and economic policy, but what doesn’t?). It’s impossible to go beyond ideas and systems of ideas. A system is simply a group of interacting and interdependent things.
From my perspective ideology is pervasive, we can’t escape it. Language is an ideology. Each word that makes up a language is an ideology. Each word carries a description and that description is in itself a system of ideas. Each letter carries a meaning, and has a system of ideas associated with it. You get the picture. Some disagree with me, that’s fine. If you do please stay with us, and keep an open mind.
Yet, despite my initial feeling that we can’t escape ideology, as I’ll go on to show, everything is possible. Despite the all pervasiveness of ideology in the human realm I’ve realised that we can go beyond it. To go beyond ideology, to go beyond the ideas and the systems of ideas that support those ideas, we simply can meditate on Emptiness, and listen to the Void as Daoist sages advise.
We can enter into trance states through dance as the Xhosan Bushmen of South Africa do. We would have to approach nothing. Before we get lost in nothing let’s go back to go forward. As you can tell, we’re in for a hell of a ride. The only way out is through.
This is a metamodern story. Although metamodernism is here it’s still largely unknown. I also want to begin with the idea that atheism is postmodern. That’s how I got here. Arguing on the Internet with atheists, as a non-theist who was conflicted. Conflicted by atheist misunderstandings about the importance of religion and conflicted by the many truths that are found in religion, hidden in metaphor.
To understand metamodernism we must go back again, to modernism. These phrases, modernism, postmodernism, metamodernism, are ways of thinking. Ways of looking at the world. This can be in any mode of thought and seeing: art, science, religion, economics, and philosophy. These constructs are far from separate as we like to believe and are instead an interconnected, interactive root system. These root systems in nature are called rhizomes. Each point in a rhizome connects to all others. Humanity is a rhizome, connected and not separate from the rhizome of nature.
Keeping them separate is what has brought us to the brink of the Industrially Caused Ecological Shift (ICES). The ICES that has driven many species to extinction. The ICES that will drive many more to extinction. But that’s enough fear and death mongering. I’d like us all to take a deep breath and relax for a couple of seconds. We can’t get through ICES without keeping a clear and calm mind. This is the most important thing. Keep calm and carry on, without the stiff upper lip, let it quiver if it must, let it crease and curve. It’s all in the curls.
Back to our story: In a nutshell Modernism constructs, Postmodernism deconstructs, and Metamodernism reconstructs by oscillating between the two with aim of going beyond both. More to the point these three paradigms provide the grounds for their respective constructions, deconstructions, and reconstructions to emerge, to emanate. Although these three ways of looking at the world have their peak moments they have all existed together throughout the entirety of humanities existence, as a rhizome.
These stages don’t really start or end, in fact by the end of this I will convince you nothing begins or stops. They swell up as memes across all of humanity, over time, overlapping like waves in the sea of existence. Modernist construction peaks in the period between the mid 19th century to 20th century. Postmodernist deconstruction begins to peaks at around mid 20th century to mid 21st century. Metamodernism begins to peak at around the middle of 21st century to 22nd century.
It’s important for us to say that. The 22nd century. The 22nd century, that we are the caretakers of. The 22nd century for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The meek shall inherit the earth, a wise man once said. What legacy will we leave in the 22nd century for the meek?
Modernism relates to classical science with the construction of many of the laws that govern the universe. Modernism relates to the industrial revolution. Postmodernism relates to quantum science and the deconstruction of the atom into quantum particles and quanta (packets of energy). Postmodernism relates to the aftermath of the World Wars, and the the detonation of the Atom bomb.
Modernity’s classical science assumed an objective observer. Postmodernity’s quantum science found observation affects the fundamental particles of reality (they called it the observer effect). It also found that there is a fundamental uncertainty that comes with measurement (they called it the uncertainty principle). What we thought we knew was deconstructed by how we thought we knew it.
Modernism constructs the unification of theism and statism. With god slowly becoming the state. Postmodernism favours softer sciences such as sociology over harder sciences like physics. Immaterialism, agnosticism, theism, and classical science claim to know concretely as part of modernity, even if it’s just knowing that we cannot know god.
Materialism (informed by classical sciences progress), gnosticism, atheism and quantum mechanics point to the relative possibilities and viewpoints of postmodernity Postmodernism takes this view and begins to deconstruct the unification of church and state with secularism.
We have science as part of modernism pushing over a plateau with the construction of the atom bomb, nuclear fission, harnessing the suns energy, and the deconstruction it caused when dropped on Hiroshima. Neil Armstrong’s moon walk cemented the handover. The view of Earth that mission provided deconstructed our view as mere earthlings. We became universal beings on a living spaceship. Postmodernism begins to peak and plateau with Martin Luther king, deconstructing the church and state. His effect was political and religious, as a person he wasn’t especially either. He was a leader of a war for social justice, fighting the inequitable status quo.
I could continue with the effect of sciences knowledge and explanations for existence. The Big Bang, entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, e=mc ². Religion gets thoroughly deconstructed, it is declared that “God is Dead” I invoke metatheism as a Burning Spear thrown back and forth modernity and postmodernity when I say: “Jah no Dead, Jah no Dead, Jah no Dead, Jah no Dead, Jah no Dead, Oh! Oh, no no, Jah no Dead”.
I could continue with the dissatisfaction with the state. The controversy of Thatcher, Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes, the way Obama has led to Trump. The disappointment of Blair, Brown, Clegg, Cameron, Brexit, and the ideas of May. I think I’ve said enough, or have I said too much? (Its we in the corner, it’s we in the spotlight, losing our religion)
Metamodernism, will peak mid 21st century. Oscillating and learning from all the entirety of history (especially now history has been declared as having ended), discovering, deconstructing, improving on and reconstructing the underlying meta-ideologies and meta-systems which we live under. The ideology of ideologies. The systems of systems. Meta means after, above, beyond, change, self-referring. Metamodernism in science is the emergence of quantum biology. (I’m aware of the Eurocentric-Anglo-American bias of this piece, I’ll address that later)
Part 2: ‘Meta Nothing?’, can be found here