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Tag Archives: post modernism

For reference, I want to refer to this video, but I’m not going to embed it because I know I have been spamming a lot of videos at my DW followers lately.

Also, I’m not one of those people who worships at the altar of David Foster Wallace as The Other Great Voice Of Generation X Who Killed Himself (the first, and ultimate, is of course Kurt Cobain) mostly because of factors like the ones pointed out in this article. Yes, people are only human, we all have flaws, etc. I never said I reviled him, just that I don’t revere him like a lot of other people seem to.

However, he has a point about the dangers of irony.

Criticism of irony has come up a lot these days, especially when it’s not irony; when it’s being used to mask the truth, as modern Nazis seem to have adopted as their best praxis in order to evade criticism. (Googling search terms like “Ironic Nazis” and “Ironic White Supremacists” brings up a host of articles like this one. I’m not sure which one best defines the problem.)

I was born at what one pundit on Twitter yesterday referred to as “the ass-end of Generation X.”

When I was coming of age, the biggest entertainment powerhouses on TV were Friends and Seinfeld (FYI, modern Nazis, Pepes, Kekistanis, etc. fucking love Seinfeld. IDK.) The takeaway from both shows is basically this: people are flakes and are fucking fake. Even your friends. Especially your friends. People who feel very strongly about things are annoying because nothing is worth feeling very strongly about. Very little in life gets resolved, especially in a 30 minute time block – but this is how real life is, and expecting anything to be different is unrealistic, and will just make the Universe disappoint you over and over again.

And a lot of this stems from a backlash against what we seemed to loathe about what we interpreted as the Baby Boomer inauthenticity, and what the Boomers themselves revolted against with movements like Punk and Pop Art. Without the twee, Father Knows Best sentimentalism of the older Boomer and Greatest Generation set, the younger Boomer and early-stage Gen X edgelords who rebelled against them would never had existed.

Right now I can think of three or four close friends who are 3-7 years younger than me, all born between 1980 and 1985. I love these people, but they sometimes drive me to distraction, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. But before I had this epiphany, when I tried to define it, it was like this: it felt to me felt like they belonged in a Wes Anderson movie. Their speech and mannerisms make them seem as if they are always trying to be the human equivalent of a warm cup of tea or a fuzzy blanket.

And I can’t stand it. I can only take this in very small doses. And I think this is because to me, this feels inauthentic. It feels like it must be a mask for, or an evasion of, a greater cynicism. Their mannerisms feel like affectations, I always assumed that they were affectations, and it actively costs me more emotional energy to deal with them.

And I always harbored suspicions that this was maybe the point: that it was some kind of powerplay that they’d adopted to deal with how cynical the world is. But because some of these folks are not neurotypical, I felt like an asshole for feeling this way, for having so much trouble with it. Because for all I knew, they had watched a bunch of Wes Anderson movies in an attempt to learn how to interact, and who was I to judge?

I am not one of those people who like to rant about Millennials, because I never wanted to be a part of the contingent that has been literally and figuratively trying to beat them up for their lunch money since before they even came of age. But I wonder if other Gen Xers feel this way, if this is behind some of the misplaced rage at “The Millennial Generation.”

It’s weird, but before the recent analysis of the effect that cynicism and irony have had on this culture, I didn’t really have a way to put these feelings into words, except as I already described above. The idea that they themselves were behaving due to a generational shift, and a backlash against our perceived irony and nihilism and cynicism, never occurred to me until recently.

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SNL Wes Anderson from Hybrid Collective on Vimeo.

DISCLAIMER: I am a cis-appearing, though non-gender-conforming/nonbinary white woman. Both my recent 23andMe.com and Ancestry.com tests confirm this conclusively. The origin point of my DNA is like a Venn Diagram of whiteness. As Beavis and Butthead once said of Kip Winger’s teeth: I’m “Hwhite.”

So, this is in no way an attempt to speak to, or for, the Black experience in America. This is just my hot take on Kanye West’s recent visit to the White House, and his support for Donald Trump in general.

EDIT: And this post has also been somewhat revised, due to a discussion I had with the friend in an anecdote which was previously referenced in this post. I removed the anecdote because it appears that it resulted from a misunderstanding. Anyway:

This week, we watched Kanye West proudly proclaim his support of a racist who is who is widely known and criticized for practicing discrimination against African Americans, whose father was a Klan member whose antics drew the ire of noted antifascist musician Woody Guthrie.

Well, not at first. First, I assumed, as many have, that this is a flagrant attempt by a known narcissist and attention-seeker to seek more attention. Others have assumed, probably rightly, that if Kanye were to join the many voices speaking out against Trump, he would simply be one of a crowd. This way, he gets to stand out and be loud and noticed, the way he likes to be. For Kanye, no publicity is bad publicity.

But then I thought back on his desire to abolish the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, the Amendment ending slavery in America, that I realized this is basically what Kanye is doing. He talks about how this is because he doesn’t want to be a part of “victimhood culture. But what he is talking about is not a rejection of “victimhood culture,” it is basically an erasure of the past. He has re-written the past in his mind to be something different.

And this is what reactionaries do. They create a fake past, a golden age. “Reject the future,” they say. “Reject progress. It’s an illusion. Go back to this imaginary fantasia with me, where I and everyone else whom I have not othered/rejected as part of the “out group” in my mind were exalted and had everything we needed.”

This imaginary fantasia relies on everyone else, even (especially) the people they have othered/rejected as part of the “out group” to either play along or disappear, or it doesn’t work. This is what is behind a great deal of the reactionary rage and resentment seen among Trump supporters in America. We aren’t playing their game right, but there is no other place they want to quit to take their ball home to.

Mother Russia beacons, seemingly a white conservative utopia – but that would mean actually having to live there, giving up the rights of Habeus Corpus, Due Process, Right to Assemble, and Free Speech that they enjoy here in America; in short, the lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed. And as they might discover, no utopia is ever really complete without a few crimes against humanity, a few mass graves along the way.

But back to Kanye, and the subject of Post-Modernism.

Post Modernism is usually presented as being impossible to simply define, but I have always interpreted one facet of it as a rejection and/or deconstruction of past values. The things our ancestors once thought of as important are no longer considered part of the crucial makeup of society, and are perhaps even utterly meaningless.

Recently, Conservative, Fascist and “Alt-Right” thinkers on Youtube and beyond have appropriated the word “Post Modern” as a shorthand alongside their other favorite phrase “Cultural Marxism” for what they see as the Left’s rejection of the “good old days”/”The Natural Order Of Things As God Himself Intended.”

Never mind the fact that the Frankfurt School, which currently occupies that same scary place under the bed in the Fascist collective consciousness as George Soros, roundly decried post-modernism as objectionable, a wrong turn in our society’s evolution.

But guys, there is nothing more post-modern than rewriting entire events of the past in our heads – say, the period of slavery in America – to be something different so that it doesn’t make us feel bad. It’s erasure. It’s repression. It’s a denial of things that actually occurred, saying that the actual historical past as it actually, objectively happened is meaningless, that the struggles and suffering of large groups of people are effectively meaningless. And it generally never works out they way we think it will when we do this.

The entire reactionary/fascist mindset relies on rewriting and re-interpreting huge chunks of the past for them to cling to, so they get to postpone the future for just a little while longer.

Meanwhile, if I could build a time machine, I’d go back to the past: to bring back 2005 Kanye so he could confront 2018 Kanye.

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