Post Postmodernism Is Funny

post postmodernismJeez sorry guys. My mom has been here for the past three weeks, it was my birthday, etc. She gives you all her best though. Except you Dad. And Gramma. She still hates both of you. Alas, it is more difficult to love than to hate.

Tell me about it. No. Not here.

So I read a story by George Saunders this morning at Schiller’s from the latest Harper’s. It was good because he writes in an Olde English style, since the story is about him working at a Medieval Times kinda place. The dichotomy between that style and his 21st century slang is comical. That led me to thinking about Northrup Frye and archetypal literary criticism.

We’ve discussed the irony of postmodernism. In Frye’s theory, satire is aligned with winter, a.k.a. end of the millennium. Well post postmodernism, according to the theory, is aligned with spring. Spring is the season of comedy, romance summer, fall tragedy.  Spring means the birth of the hero; it is about wish-fulfillment and community. Let’s see, a coming of age story about wish fulfillment, check; community, well, that’s the internet, right? Chiggity check check. Frye has five spheres: human, animal, mineral, vegetation, water. In our moment of post postmodernism we need marriage, pastoral animals, gardens, parks, roses, cities, and rivers (about which I dreamed last night). So when you read my book look out for these archetypal symbols.

Now this is plenty reductive. To say that all postmodernism was satirical goes against what postmodernism was about; namely, the incorporation of many different styles and genres. But for the sake of my argument, and for simplicity, we know that Infinite Jest isn’t exactly a panegyric on American culture.

I guess I should get funnier.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

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

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