>Postmodernism Began in 1968


Today we’re going to talk about what came before post postmodernism: postmodernism. Postmodernism began around 1968, due to shifting values in the United States and in Europe. A generation had settled down to have children since WWII, and the Baby Boomers were coming of age. Vietnam and the ascension of America as the pre-eminent global power brought to the zeitgeist a self-concerned, slightly ironic viewpoint. The power of corporations became recognized and the idea that power corrupts absolutely was reinforced after Watergate, perhaps the height of the historical movement.

In literature, we can examine postmodernism in the works of Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, Samuel Beckett, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace, all of whom experiment with notions of assortment and conglomeration in terms of plot, content, and character. In the visual arts, Warhol’s “Marilyn” is the best known example. Postmodern art works on the premise that it can be reproduced with variation to evoke emotion – even when those emotions are base, as in the case of the pervasive ennui,  shock, and irony  we find in many postmodern works.

I’ve written that we’re emerging from the throes of postmodernism today, and that very soon we can expect to see the beginnings of a new movement. Perhaps it will be in 2011, when the seventh billion person is born. Perhaps it will be in 2012, before the putative end of the world. Or perhaps it could take another ten years or more. Although with all that’s changed recently, I doubt it will take that long.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

1 comment

  1. 1968 I would personally argue is when Postmodernism became a deluge of style and imagery that first became apparent around 1966. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys is a rough marker of when it started. By 1968 though it was far far more widespread and mainstream.

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