Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

Excerpt

“Post-postmodernism” is an ugly word. And not in the sense that swear words or racial slurs are ugly, or even in the way that “rightsizing” or “outsourcing” are ugly words (which is to say, evasive spin-doctored words that try to paper over something foul). Post-postmodernism is, one might say, just plain ugly: it’s infelicitous, difficult both to read and to say, as well as nonsensically redundant. What can the double prefix “post-post” possibly mean? Insofar as postmodernism was supposed to signal the end of modernism’s fetish of the “new,” strictly speaking, nothing can come after or “post-” postmodernism, which ushered in the never-ending end of everything (painting, philosophy, the novel, love, irony, whatever).

But at the same time, there are a number of things to recommend the title “Post- Postmodernism” over its undoubtedly more felicitous rivals—such as “After Postmodernism,” “The End(s) of Postmodernism,” “Postmodernism’s Wake,” “Postmodernism 2.0,” “Overcoming Postmodernism,” “Whatever Happened to Postmodernism?,” and so on. For my purposes, the least mellifluous part of the word (the stammering “postpost”) is the thing that most strongly recommends it, insofar as the conception of post-postmodernism that I’ll be outlining here is hardly an outright overcoming of postmodernism. Rather, post-postmodernism marks an intensification and mutation within postmodernism (which in its turn was of course a historical mutation and intensification of certain tendencies within modernism).

So the initial “post” in the word is less a marker of postmodernism’s having finally used up its shelf life at the theory store than it is a marker of postmodernism’s having mutated, passed beyond a certain tipping point to become something recognizably different in its contours and workings; but in any case, it’s not something that’s absolutely foreign to whatever it was before. (Think of the way that a tropical storm passes a certain . . .

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