What is Metamodernism?

Since (in a previous post) I just wailed on Postmodernism, (as I like to do Science, and, PoMo was explicitly anti-Science, and is all about Science Denial – which is a terrible idea; it can get you dead!)

So… I had now, better talk about: Metamodernism.

Okay, then, so – What is it?

…Good question.

Well; you could read this HuffPost article on it, by Abramson (2014) .

And also, this one: Ten Basic Principles of Metamodernism (Abramson 2015)

And also, these:

Modernism, Postmodernism, and Metamodernism: A Critique (Yousef 2017)

An introduction to metamodernism: The cultural philosophy of the digital age
Anne-Laure Le Cunff (no date)

What Is Metamodernism and Why Does It Matter? Metamodernism and the structure of feeling. (Dember 2020)

What Is Metamodernism? Metamodernism is the cultural code that comes after postmodernism. (Henriques 2020)

Metamodernism (Wikipedia, accessed 29 Sep 2021)

…So, who’s right?

Whose (or, which) definition of Metamodernism, is: the least-worst?

(The above is just a random, lazy, sampling of articles / definitions / explanations of Metamodernism.)

(But, which is, the least-inaccurate, the truest, most reliable, most useful) one to use?


My jury’s still out.

(I really need to read all the definitions that exist, and then, think on it more.)

(I also really like it when people say: Sorry, but I don’t have enough accurate information to have an opinion on that topic, yet. I wish more people would do this, rather than jumping to incorrect conclusions based on insufficient information, and then, stating it with a tone of authority.)

…Hmm, maybe, that’s a Metamodernist attitude…?

Not sure.

Regardless, if I even understand what metamodernism is (if it’s about: engagement, affect, and storytelling), then one of my personal favourite Metamodernist-styled articles is:

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). The Systems Model of Creativity and Its Applications. Chapter 25, in D. K. Simonton (Ed.), The Wiley Handbook of Genius (pp. 533-545). Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

The Wiley Handbook of Genius (2014)

The Wiley Handbook of Genius (ed: Simonton 2014)

As, it’s a story of how the discipline and domain of Positive Psychology came about…

Also – below is a definition of Metamodernism I came up with (or cobbled together).

This, at least, is how I currently understand it. (And, Metamodernism may well evolve…)

Metamodernism – Is an Internet-Era Philosophy, and a cultural movement currently in the zeitgeist; a new and useful combination of (1) Modernism, and (2) the very-few useful elements of Postmodernism.

`Metamodernists aim — much like the World War I-era avant-gardists of Western and Central Europe did — to honor and enact both Life and Art simultaneously’ (Abramson, 2014, online).

Metamodernism is often about engagement, affect, and storytelling

Metamodernism uses Boolean logic of `AND/ALSO’ style holistic thinking (analysis, and then synthesis), rather than the old-school (postmodernist) `EITHER/OR’ binary opposites.

So less like this: (below is like Postmodernism)

Pomo - binaries things are either good or bad

And as far as I can see, Metamodernism is more like this: (shades of grey; look at the whole picture, and also the details)

Symmetrical Bell Curve - Velikovsky 2017

In short, I suspect MetaModernism is a (metaphorical) Trojan Horse…?

Trojan Horse

But of course – like any meme (idea, process or product) can be used for good – and/also evil – or both or neither. Or something in between. And, all of these. Depends who’s doing it and why.)

A classic Metamodernist lecture is Randy Pausch’s very-inspiring The Last Lecture (2007).

I also read the book when it first came out:

The Last Lecture – (Pausch 2008)

And years ago I also played around with Pausch’s game/storytelling educational coding software, ALICE (below), to prototype some videogames,

Anyway so – Metamodernism: Storytelling, affect and engagement.

Randy Pausch famously (apparently) said:

`Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.’

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture (2007)

I must admit, his “The Last Lecture” (above) is very inspiring…!

Side Note: Since Metamodernists aim “to honor and enact both Life and Art simultaneously”, Metamodernism has thus a lot in common with Positive Psychology (e.g. Martin Seligman, and Csikszentmihalyi on a life lived in the flow state, etc). And, with Heroism Science

…Is Metamodernism a good thing?
Anything that gets us further past Postmodernist “Theory” and all that nonsense is a good thing.
But so – as well as being a movie screenwriter, and actor, and videogame designer & writer, painter, photographer and novelist and poet, songwriter, musician, and lots of other things –
…I am an Information Scientist; I discovered the structure of the meme, the unit of culture.
And the thing is, as far as information compression goes, stories (narratives) are one of the most efficient information compression algorithms there are. There is a vast amount of information in a story.
By the way, as for the hierarchy of knowledge, it goes like this:
(I didn’t invent it; I just drew this diagram of it.)
(For more, see: DIKUW
So, in some ways, yes – Metamodernism is good; If you want to communicate a lot of information all at once!
But – personally, overall, I still prefer consilience as an academic writing style…
Like say, the style of my PhD.
Mainly: Just gimme the facts!
And – If you really want a story, go read a classic novel, or watch a great movie?
But – I do see the appeal of what Randy Pausch was saying:

`Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.’

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture (2007)

So – sometimes you need to use Metamodernism.
And, let the audience take from it, what they will.
Most audiences tend to miss the subtle & complex nuances in complex stories, which (on the bright side) is also why: Classics get better on re-reading / rewatching them!
Or, even – the Top 20 RoI Movies.
…Food for thought.
Comments, always welcome.
Velikovsky of Newcastle

JT Velikovsky, PhD

Systems & Information Scientist

& Evolutionary Systems Analyst

& High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie & Transmedia Researcher

& Human & Computer Creativity Researcher

& whatnot 

The above is an extension of the research in my 2016 doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is reproduced here for the benefit of fellow bio-cultural scholars, and screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. 

For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

Velikovsky of Newcastle  is a million-selling Transmedia writer-director-producer. He has also been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild.

For more, see the Transmedia weblog: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/


Abramson, S. (2014). Metamodernism: The Basics – from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-abramson/metamodernism-the-basics_b_5973184.html

Pausch, R., & Zaslow, J. (2008). The Last Lecture (1st ed.). New York: Hyperion.

Velikovsky, J. T. (2017). Chapter 405: The Holon/Parton Structure of the Meme, or, The Unit Of Culture. In M. Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition (pp. 4666-4678). New York: IGI Global.

(Okay, my last and final rant about it:

It’s over, people. Postmodernism is dead and gone… and, I much prefer consilience.

In fact, I have always preferred consilience… All my heroes were (and are) consilient. e.g., Stanley Kubrick, Charles Darwin. Richard Dawkins, James Cameron [great screenwriter! well; mostly… I’m not keen on Titanic and Avatar, but love everything else he ever did, pretty much], and Prince, and Dredd Zeppelin, and Feynman, and Arthur Koestler, and Ed Wilson, Brian Boyd, D K Simonton, Mike Csikszentmihalyi, etc, etc.*

(* See for example The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s guide to writing in the 21st Century, Pinker 2015. The first piece of writing he rightly cites and then examines for its writing brilliance is actually by Richard Dawkins! I do love The Selfish Gene. And, almost everything Dawkins wrote, pretty much. Except for the parts I don’t. Still; you can’t have it all, where would you put it, etc.)

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