After Modernism Comes... What?

Thomas Hastings E-mail:

Postmodernism: Of, relating to, or being any of several movements (as in art, architecture, or literature) that are reactions against the philosophy and practices of modern movements and are typically marked by revival of traditional elements and techniques.

Post-modernism is an extremely ambiguous and complex word that has no clear meaning, as our friends at Webster's can attest to. No one truly knows if the word requires a hyphen or not. Then why is it that everyone from Bill Clinton to the Dalai Lama himself seem to be using the word to describe any contemporary issue?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that we, specifically meaning westerners (the rest of the planet doesn't seem as affected) live in pretty complicated world. Thanks to the toys of modern technology , we can now access tremendous amounts of information at the click of a button. We have achieved a level of civilization that would amaze even a courtier of the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Instead of making our lives easier, which was their original intent, machines have made our lives more convoluted. So do deal with all these issues, a new style of thinking was required. Modernism couldn't do the job; its outdated thinking was more suited to the first half of the twentieth century. Hence, soon after World War Two, the term postmodernism was invented.

Post-modernism has no precise meaning, but its usage has evolved into three main categories: I am going to tackle the last two topics because the second one relates best to our class and the third one is the most interesting.