Meanwhile, I’m trying. God knows.
But mother unearthed each small
bloodmain under her gauzed wrists.
She fought a strange compulsion
to press her mouth against her
right pulse, taste the throbbing
veiny eels her crooked lovers forsook
drink from blind lakes of their leaving,
undo their digging
Airea D. Matthews, from “Sexton Texts During Polar Vortex,” published in Four Way Review
Contemporary network culture facilitates the proliferation and transformation of imagery at an unprecedented and exponential rate. Our experience of the present has come to reflect the bewilderingly complex and diffuse temporal terrain in which we now operate. We no longer simply partake in a blinkered march towards the future, consigning the past to the scrapheap like some unloved beige-boxed bundle of obsolescence. We are nostalgists as much as we are futurists. We blissfully relive the 8-bit primitivism of a bygone age, preserved forever by the endless archival capacity of the internet, whilst utilising those same networks to shape the fantastical landscapes of tomorrow. We conflate the mechanical idiosyncrasies of disparate eras, basking in the hazy, saturated glow of Hipstamatic analogue simulations that render digital ugliness beautiful, whilst enjoying all the ease and immediacy of the modern cameraphone. Furthermore, we harbour nostalgia for a past-future, one that never came to pass, for the promise of flying cars, jetpacks and hoverboards that failed to materialise (but that we secretly hope still might). We are thus cynics, and yet eternal optimists, our technologies driving our melancholia and invention in equal measure. The emergent metamodern condition allows us to face all directions in time at once, oscillating between the promises and pitfalls of the past, present and future.
We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.
We must liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child.
Movement shall henceforth be enabled by way of an oscillation between positions, with diametrically opposed ideas operating like the pulsating polarities of a colossal electric machine, propelling the world into action.
We acknowledge the limitations inherent to all movement and experience, and the futility of any attempt to transcend the boundaries set forth therein. The essential incompleteness of a system should necessitate an adherence, not in order to achieve a given end or be slaves to its course, but rather perchance to glimpse by proxy some hidden exteriority. Existence is enriched if we set about our task as if those limits might be exceeded, for such action unfolds the world.
All things are caught within the irrevocable slide towards a state of maximum entropic dissemblance. Artistic creation is contingent upon the origination or revelation of difference therein. Affect at its zenith is the unmediated experience of difference in itself. It must be art’s role to explore the promise of its own paradoxical ambition by coaxing excess towards presence.
The present is a symptom of the twin birth of immediacy and obsolescence. Today, we are nostalgists as much as we are futurists. The new technology enables the simultaneous experience and enactment of events from a multiplicity of positions. Far from signalling its demise, these emergent networks facilitate the democratisation of history, illuminating the forking paths along which its grand narratives may navigate the here and now.
Just as science strives for poetic elegance, artists might assume a quest for truth. All information is grounds for knowledge, whether empirical or aphoristic, no matter its truth-value. We should embrace the scientific-poetic synthesis and informed naivety of a magical realism. Error breeds sense.
We propose a pragmatic romanticism unhindered by ideological anchorage. Thus, metamodernism shall be defined as the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons. We must go forth and oscillate!