Historically, as Art and Culture became self-aware, each generation tried to claim its own territory, swinging back and forth from head to heart, from classical to romantic, from objectivity to subjectivity, from modern to post-modern, from idealistic to cynical. And back again; and back again. In shorter and shorter periods.

Eventually it becomes necessary to find something that is not just a reaction to its opposite, but that can embrace polarities by rising above them, or shatter them by diving below them. Something that has some chance in hell of enduring.

The easiest thing is just to lift this from Wikipedia:

Vermeulen and van den Akker

...asserted that “the postmodern culture of relativism, irony, and pastiche" is over, having been replaced by a post-ideological condition that stresses engagement, affect, and storytelling.

The prefix "meta-" here referred not to a reflective stance or repeated rumination, but to Plato's metaxy, which denotes a movement between opposite poles as well as beyond them. Vermeulen and van den Akker described metamodernism as a "structure of feeling" that oscillates between modernism and postmodernism like "a pendulum swinging between…innumerable poles"

"...grand narratives are as necessary as they are problematic, hope is not simply something to distrust, love not necessarily something to be ridiculed."

[That last line starts to sound not unlike Howard Barker!]

The Metamodernist Manifesto

In 2011, Luke Turner published a Metamodernist Manifesto. The manifesto recognised "oscillation to be the natural order of the world" and called for an end to "the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child." Instead, it proposed metamodernism as "the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons." The text cited the work of Vermeulen and van den Akker, and concluded “we must go forth and oscillate!” Turner later credited his manifesto to the actor Shia LaBeouf as part of the pair's wider artistic collaboration.

[Of course this makes and gives sense to the actor, who, as Antonin Artaud would have it, is always a moving point oscillating between heaven and hell.]

As Applied to an Ancient Myth

Phase Modernism: I must push the stone up the hill. I have a task, a purpose, my life has meaning. And freedom, a certain freedom: I can push a little harder, or I can push a little less. I have that choice. And that my goal is a simple given - straight up, straight ahead - well there is safety and comfort in that. In the end, for there is an end, satisfaction. Accomplishment. I have reached the top and the stone is the child I have raised. It sits there on the peak for an instant, teetering, full of potential.

Phase Post-Modernism: A slip. A fall. A roll. A drop. Down the stone goes, dissipating kinetic energy. I can only watch and laugh at the hopelessness, and feel flattered by my own sense of irony. How could I possibly be responsible?

Phase Metamodernism: Now then, consciously, willingly back to work. Embrace the absurdity. Synthesise hope. Start all over again.

In this video, "What is Metamodernism," Philosophers Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen talk about their concept of metamodernism, the waning of irony and the new forms of sincerity emerging in 21st century culture.

And here is a description of Metamodernism in Danish.

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