Dead Trees | Testament

Guiding Framework: Metamodernism

excerpted from SHARE📤: Generation Z and Collaborative Authorship in the Metamodern Era

"Grand narratives are as necessary as they are problematic."
(Vermeulen, 2012)

"This is fine."
(Green, 2013)

"O brave new world, / That has such people in't!"
(Shakespeare, ~1610)

"All your base are belong to us.
(Zero Wing, 1992 as cited in Roberts, 2000)

It has been proposed by countless scholars in recent decades that the postmodern paradigm might in fact have been surpassed by a new paradigm. Metamodernism has been postulated as this new theoretical framework, one which has been described by Dumitrescu (2007) as "a set of maps under continuous revision, focusing not only on accurate representation, but also on pinpointing connections between various points of reference” and "a boat being built or repaired as it sails, or a palace or house under continuous construction." Arguing that metamodernism is an evolution of postmodernism, Dumitrescu defined metamodernism as "a period term and a cultural phenomenon, partly concurring with (post)modernism, partly emerging from it and as a reaction to it (especially to its fragmentarism, individualism, excessive analyticity, and extreme specialization)" (2007). Dumitrescu further wrote, "Postmodernism, for example, acknowledged the existence of peripheral outlooks, but a certain tendency towards integration of diverse points of view and of placing them in fertile dialogue, surpasses postmodernism. Whereas fragmentarism characterises postmodernism, integration is a feature of metamodernism" (2007).

An aesthetic treatise entitled "Notes on Metamodernism" is widely considered to be a foundational manifesto on this proposed new intellectual movement. Authors Vermeulen and Van den Akker (2010) suggest that metamodernism is the zeitgeist of the post-Millennium era. The authors assert that a metamodern framework provides one means of reconciling the fruitless pessimism of postmodernism with the blithe optimism of modernism:

Ontologically, metamodernism oscillates between the modern and the postmodern. It oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naïveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity. Indeed, by oscillating to and fro or back and forth, the metamodern negotiates between the modern and the postmodern. ... Indeed, if, simplistically put, the modern outlook vis-à-vis idealism and ideals could be characterized as fanatic and/or naive, and the postmodern mindset as apathetic and/or skeptic, the current generation's attitude – for it is, and very much so, an attitude tied to a generation – can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism (Vermeulen & Van den Akker, 2010, p. 4-5).

Vermeulen and Van den Akker’s conceptualization of metamodernism has inspired and been expounded upon further by Turner (2011), who in his Metamodernist Manifesto defined the new paradigm 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." In more direct relevance to our complex relationship with technology, Turner asserted that such a lens "enables the simultaneous experience and enactment of events from a multiplicity of positions" (2011).

The inheritors of the modern era were accurately predicted to be defined by crisis, per the seminal "Fourth Turning" generational theory (Strauss & Howe, 1997). As an example, some members of Generation Z in the United States have given themselves another nickname: the School-Shooting Generation. Their childhoods were spent in the shadows of September 11 and economic decline and they have come of age under global political upheaval and the looming threat of environmental catastrophe. As such, members of Generation Z are potentially well-poised to offer critiques of the hegemonic structures under which they are being asked to be learn. This is in comportment with more recent writings by Turner, who in defining metamodernism asserted that "increasingly speculative modes of thought are thriving...as well as movements like Occupy, the Tea Party, and the rise of extremist political factions (for better or worse), empowered by network culture" (2015). A recent statement by one of the most globally prominent members of Generation Z is a prime example of how this generation's sentiments oscillate between the fanatical and the practical, a plural viewpoint that is best enabled by a metamodern paradigm. In a public address given during the Global Climate Strike on September 20, 2019, climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke on behalf of her generational cohort and posed the rhetorical question: "Why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? That is being stolen for profit?"

*The Ship of Theseus thought experiment, which asks whether a thing can still be defined as being the same thing if all its component parts have been gradually replaced. In other words, at what point is something new created, and at what point was the original copy lost? More to the point, has metamodernism already quietly become the new paradigm?



Dumitrescu, A. (2007). Interconnections in Blakean and Metamodern Space. Double Diagogues, 7. Retrieved from DoubleDiaglogues.com
Green, KC (2013). On Fire. Gunshow [webcomic]. Retrieved from GunshowComic.com
LeRoy, M. (Producer), & Fleming, V. (Director). (1939, August 25). The Wizard of Oz [Motion picture]. United States: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Roberts, J. J. (2000). Invasion of The Gabber Robots [Recorded by The Laziest Men on Mars]. Online digital release [mp3]. San Diego, CA: MP3.com.
Shakespeare, W. (~1610). The Tempest.
Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1997). The Fourth Turning: An American prophecy. New York: Broadway Books.
Thunberg, G. (2019, September 20). Global Climate Strike. Public address conducted outside the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York City, NY.
Turner, L. (2011). Metamodernist Manifesto. Retrieved from Metamodernism.org
Turner, L. (2015, January 5). Metamodernism: A Brief Introduction. Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Retrieved from QueenMobs.com
Vermeulen, T., & Van den Akker, R. (2010). Notes on Metamodernism. Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, 2, 1-14.
Vermeulen, T. (2012). Timotheus Vermeulen talks to Cher Potter (C. Potter, Interviewer). Tank Magazine, 55. Retrieved from TankMagazine.com
Zero Wing [Computer software]. (1992). London: Sega.

The Paradox of Quantum Superposition

An image of the World Trade Center in New York City under a bright blue sky. Pink text over the empty sky reads 'Hang In There!' The image is intended to be reminiscent of the once-popular motivational poster featuring a cat hanging in a precarious position.

Writing about the themes of the 2016 album NEWS AT 11 by 猫 シ Corp., Reddit user djproject noted how the record has an "an artistic/literary precedent...found in [a section from] William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust," which they summarized as being about "living in the moment before the moment, when everything still seem[s] possible:"

It's all now you see. Yesterday won't be over until tomorrow and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago; or to anyone who ever sailed a skiff under a quilt sail, the moment in 1492 when somebody thought This is it: the absolute edge of no return, to turn back now and make home or sail irrevocably on and either find land or plunge over the world's roaring rim.

Whenever we want it, there is the instant when it's still not yet nine o'clock on that September morning in 2001. The towers can reinhale billowing plumes of smoke and flame as two airplanes spring tail-first from pristinely reassembled glass, shunting backward through the clear blue skies to undepart from their runways. This time, maybe this time, a last-minute guilty conscience could lead valiant airport security teams to daringly apprehend 19 would-be saboteurs before boarding. It's times like these you would be able to look at the New York City skyline and see shining twin rectangles flickering, blinking, stuttering, deciding whether or not to exist.

However, it's also been said that "nostalgia is golden poison." Referencing the frequent invocation of Faulker's aforementioned passage, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, "No one, in Shelby Foote fashion, should ever earnestly offer up this quote. People who do sound foolish." "This Time, Maybe This Time" romanticizes the South's "Lost Cause" during the Civil War in much the same way vaporwave music romanticizes the pre-9/11 world. While an era of American optimism might have came to an abrupt end on September 11, 2001, the last two decades of the Twentieth Century were as much a time of great social injustice and upheaval as the preceding 80 years. Perhaps what we are mourning is the much-promised "End of History"...

Ask yourself:

Could this meeting be a Zoom?
Could this zoom be a phone call?
Could this phone call be an email?
Could this email be a text?
Could this text be unsent?

Could we in silence retreat to the forest?
Could we, by game trails and forgotten paths, vanish into the trees?

(Evans, 2021)

"Behold! I Show You A Mystery"

The Carrington Event
Causal Loop: Link playing the "Song of Storms" to Guru-Guru as a child after learning it from him as an adult.
The Ship of Theseus
The Mountains of the Moon
Toynbee tiles
The Belt of Venus
Fata Morgana
Brocken spectre
Largest organisms
The Year Without A Summer
Silurian Hypothesis
The Hanseatic League
Schrödinger's cat
apotropaic magic
Null Island
slipstream (genre)
Truth Coming Out of Her Well
The Course of Empire
Max Headroom signal hijacking
list of artificial objects leaving the Solar System
Indigo children
Matthew 7:3, The Mote and The Beam
Deities & Demigods
Hilma af Klint
Testament (1983)
asterism (typography)
list of atmospheric optical phenomena
Lawrence Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
4B Movement and 6B4T Movement
Pioneer 10
The Circular Ruins
grunge speak
Gifted education
Planets beyond Neptune
Planet Nine
Blood Pit
Orion (Star Trek)
Surrender Dorothy
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom


Cap'n Crunch and Gender Stereotypes (Sharp, 2011)
Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide
Directionless And Lost: What It Means To Be A Millennial (Elliott, 2020)
Ecco the Dolphin glitch art is all your vaporwave dreams come true (Priestman, 2015)
Everything Must Go: Why We'll Never Stop Mourning The American Mall (Loofbourow, 2021)
Aesthetic Interference: On Those Photos from Ankara (Archambeau, 2016)
The Polygons of Another World (Sanglard, 2020)
Living Among the Dying - 2019 In Review (Grace, 2020)
A Maze of Murderscapes: Metroid II (Holiwell, 2015)
The Coronation of Meghna Jayantha (Horti, 2020)
There is no off position on the genius glitch: loving a disappearing Dave (Diduck, 2016)
Relive USA’s retro-trash late-night series from the ‘90s, Reel Wild Cinema (Blevins, 2015)
The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (Toa, 2012)
A Visual Taxonomy of UFO Self-Publishing (Bertash, 2021)
Exorcism a la MS-DOS: Airdorf’s Game You Should Try, In Good Faith (Dennis, 2020)
I want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and I’m not kidding (Lawhead, 2020)
A Year Later, I Still Can't Stop Thinking About Disco Elysium (Price, 2021)
Towards ‘A Level Playing Field’: A Participatory Study of Autistic University Students’ Experiences with Academic Support in England (Dexter et al, 2021))
Satisfaction Guaranteed: Techno-Orientalism In Vaporwave 'My life will be short. So on the days I can, I really live': 30 dying people explain what really matters (Kelly, 2024)
Regrets of the Dying
How To Clear Out Your Zombie Apps and Online Accounts (Nield, 2019)
Hard Hats in the Mushroom Kingdom
The Fey Candy Man: Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka Is Unlike Any Other (Asher-Perrin, 2023)
The Eerie, Influential Afterlife of Ecco the Dolphin (Rodrigues, 2022)
Is Super Mario Wonder’s Prince Florian a Nod to the Mario Anime?
Theory and Conjecture: In Search of... and the Golden Age of Paranormal TV
The 'Cold Jupiter' Factor
The Case for Planet Pluto
Other Worlds
Why Planets Will Never Be Defined
What Is A Planet?
The Death of the 10th Planet
What is a Planet?
Sad About Pluto? How about 110 Planets in the Solar System Instead?
Discovery of a Candidate Inner Oort Cloud Planetoid
The Origin of the Elements
Twee Whistler: Internet Core

"A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit." - Elton Trueblood, The Life We Prize (1951)
"If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain."

Important Moments In Television
Heaven Sent (Dr. Who)
Mr. Robot, Season 2, Episode 2: "eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc" in which Scott Knowles is forced to burn $5.9 million in Central Park
Mr. Robot, Season 2, Episode 11: mind awake, body asleep
The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeoisie (1984)
Mr. Robot on TuneFind
Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 5: "Closer Than Sisters" in which Vanessa Ives says, while looking at a taxidermied crow, "The most challenging bit is the eyes. They're glass, of course, so by nature are dead and dull. But that wouldn't do for my great predator. So I put mirrors behind the glass eyes, so they would spark. You see?" To which Captain Branson remarks, "It's like they're alive." To which Vanessa Ives whispers in response, "They are. I would put mirrors behind the entire world if I could."

Renay Mandel Corren (May 10, 1937 - December 11, 2021)

This is how the world ends
Not in mushroom clouds or supernovae
But privately and intimately
A family drama