As my frequent readers know I am obsessed with the tradition and legacy of postmodernism. After reading about Murakami’s IQ84 on Slate, it occurred to me that much of today’s writing done uses the awareness and self-exploration of postmodernism, but without any of its refractory nature. Post postmodernism is confessional, devoid of irony. It sounds like memoir, and much of it is in fact.
It treats the everyday experiences of first-worlders as new phenomena. It puts entertainment ahead of instruction. And it focuses on moving plot constantly forward, building to an often melodramatic epiphany. None of this is bad. We live in a post-ironic age. Instead of looking at characters from way, way up above, as though we are all-knowing gods, we’re looking slightly down on them, as though we’re sitting in a box and they’re just below, acting for our pleasure, on the stage.
The confessional nature of this art adds to its effect. It exposes our weaknesses, making all the characters more human, and working to relate the reader. Instead of begging the reader to follow meandering plots, or read all the footnotes, this art works to be more approachable.
Ultimately the best of it will work similarly to Shakespeare’s comedies: it will rely on coincidence to tie up plot (despite credibility), it will explore the most basic innate emotions (those involving love and hate), and it will remind us that we’re all related through the universality of common experience.
Post postmodernism is finally free of the fetters of its predecessor. All we need is a new name.