423. The gentle (VII)
The term “postmodernism” has been in use for my entire life; many people quibble over it, yet we do exist—so far as I can see—in a postmodern era; although various alternatives have been proposed—from metamodernism to hypermodernism—none have really stuck; and this is because we still live in postmodern times.
In classical times we lived in a white-marbled world where the universe was contained in the Mediterranean basin and harmonious geometric order ruled; we then transitioned to the medieval world, now our cathedral spires reached upwards and Gothic architecture reflected the fact that we feared a twisted fate in Hell or hoped to ascend to Heaven; then modernism arrived, everything was split into atomised billiard balls—mechanic forces and steam finally terminated in the factory production line where everything had fragmented, the classical and medieval worlds had been stripped down and rebuilt as machines; finally, we arrived at postmodernism, the factories are abandoned and the glass from the shattered windows has been melted down to form attractive ornaments to sell online. Everything is liquid and molten, Einstein’s relativity replaced Newton’s billiard balls and now we live among fields and relative truths—Newton true at one level, Einstein another—and in a world where liquids meet and recombine.
The postmodern era is a quicksilver era: in Terminator 2, the T-1000 is postmodern; he can be melted down to mercury and take on new forms at will, the older Terminator—Arnold—remains modernistic; he has distinct individual mechanical components, as with a product from a Ford factory. As with cybernetics, the postmodern era is ecological—a pseudo-ecology. It is our era: even those who oppose postmodernism as deployed by the left—such as Jordan Peterson—do so in a postmodern way; they say that science confirms that pragmatically you are best off if you maintain old religious beliefs. Yet this is not a medieval argument, not for literal Christian truth—the truth; it is a Nietzschean argument: adopt those beliefs that preserve you and make you strong—and Nietzsche was postmodernism’s father.
Nietzsche said: firstly, language makes and remakes reality—the men who name make the world; secondly, everything in life is a power struggle, a struggle mediated through values; thirdly, what is “good” or “bad” is entirely relative to our natures (especially our biological constitution); and fourthly, there is no “truth”, only truths. All that has happened is that leftists have perverted Nietzsche; so they write articles like “Quantum queers: herstories and hestories in the (Man)hattan Project”. Yet Nietzsche never said there was no truth, just there was no the truth: Einstein and Newton are both true at different levels; what is true for you is not true for me, not always; and what is true for one race or tribe, how they experience the world, does not gel with another tribe’s truth.
What is retailed as “postmodernism” inverts Nietzsche, as he warned: it says the weak can reconstruct themselves as strong through value inversion, particularly if they use language to do so—if they “problematise” the strong. They preserve Nietzsche’s individual truth (“Speak my truth”), yet they ignore his biological and tribal truths; and his observation that truths battle each other. Conservatives respond by saying “postmodernism” and Nietzsche are untrue; yet a black woman’s truth is different from a white man’s truth—except at the moment we never hear the black woman’s truth; we hear black finger puppets who speak white progressive or Jewish leftist truths—or some, as with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who speak conservative liberal truths about “objective truth”.
Actually, the real “black woman’s truth” is not something either camp in this debate has any desire to hear: it would be rebarbative to them—an ugly truth. My conclusion: Nietzsche discovered postmodernism and we have still not learned his lesson—we are not postmodern enough. There is no way back, since we know certain truths the classicals and medievals did not. We must become more organic, more relative: more mercurial.