From Postmodern to Altermodern

What is the interesting energy within the idea of the Altermodern? Well, first of all, there's a need for a new cultural era now. We're at an early point in a new century. One hundred years ago exactly, the cultural idea that came to be known as Modernism was starting to gel. Now, sure, it's possible that the era we've been in for the last fifty years or so -- which Charles Jencks, from the late 1970s onwards, influenced others to call Postmodernism -- could just hang around forever. From inside its palace of mirrors I've often wondered how on earth we could escape from its mechanisms: irony, quotation, the collapse of high and low, here and there, now and then, art and commerce. Postmodernism was so slippery, so able to glom on new styles from any era or any culture and make them part of itself, so "right" for our age of global consumerism, that it seemed to me that we'd need Islamic revolution, or communist revolution, to break its grip.

What's the problem with Postmodernism? In some ways I love Postmodernism; my Wikipedia entry (and I have no idea who wrote it) squeezes the word "postmodern" into the second sentence: "Most of his songs are self-referential or postmodern." I actually think this was completely unnecessary to say, though, because every pop musician recording in capitalist countries between 1957 and 2007 has been postmodern. The form of pop music we've known has been absolutely central to postmodernism's whole enterprise. Recently, I've had a strong sense that the medium of pop music has died, drowning in the abyss of ubiquity -- exhausted by attempts to match its former glories, yet unable to turn the page and reinvent itself.

One thing that could revitalize pop music and other cultural forms exhausted by their own continuous vampirism of other times, other cultures, and, finally, desperately, their own past, is that act of page-turning. I have decided to take Nicolas Bourriaud's declaration that postmodernism is dead very seriously indeed, precisely because I think it comes at the right time, and there's a need to declare this now.

[Nick Currie (a.k.a. Momus)]

Related posts:-
Living in the Post-modern
Optimism (as cultural rebellion)