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Seth Abramson
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Seth Abramson is an Assistant Professor of English at University of New Hampshire. He is also a poet, editor, attorney, and journalist. You can find him online here.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Abramson is the author of five collections of poetry, including Metamericana (BlazeVOX, 2015); Thievery (University of Akron Press, 2013), winner of the 2012 Akron Poetry Prize; and Northerners (Western Michigan University Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Green Rose Prize from New Issues Poetry & Prose. His poetry and prose have appeared in The Washington Post, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Philadelphia Review of Books, Fence, Best New Poets (University of Virginia Press), and elsewhere. An essayist and film/TV reviewer for Indiewire, he is also Series Co-Editor for Best American Experimental Writing, whose second edition will be published by Wesleyan University Press in the fall of 2015.

From 2001 to 2007, he was an attorney for the New Hampshire Public Defender.

Entries by Seth Abramson

5 Reasons To Vote For Bernie Sanders You Won't See Elsewhere

(141) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 4:52 PM

1. A vote for Bernie Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire is not a vote for Sanders to win the presidency.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, Republican voters have the opportunity to more or less hand Donald Trump the Republican nomination. Should Trump win both states going away, it's likely...

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40 lagunas imperdonables de 'Star Wars: El despertar de la fuerza'

(41) Comments | Posted January 23, 2016 | 10:03 AM

2015-12-21-1450662393-4622950-11875118_1007880092596925_2204135516599208531_o.jpgDisney/LucasFilms

Advertencia: este artículo contiene spoilers importantes de Star Wars: El despertar de la fuerza.

La película me encantó. De verdad. Aun así, tiene más lagunas que cualquier otra película que haya visto, por eso me molesta la recepción que le ha brindado la...

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'스타워즈 : 깨어난 포스'에서 용서할 수 없는 40개의 플롯 구멍

(3) Comments | Posted January 4, 2016 | 2:52 AM

*‘스타워즈: 깨어난 포스’에 대한 스포일러가 매우 많이 포함되어 있습니다.

star wars the force awakens

난 이번 영화를 정말 재밌게 봤다. 그렇지만 이제까지의 어느 스타워즈 영화보다 플롯 허점이 수두룩했는데, 그래서 그런지 영화에 대한 평판이 마음에 걸린다. BB-8이 너무나 귀엽다고, 핀이 정말 우스꽝스럽다고, 레이가 진짜 멋지다고,...

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10 Reasons 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Is the Best 'Star Wars' Film Ever Made

(202) Comments | Posted December 31, 2015 | 9:42 AM

2015-12-30-1451498189-4165758-TheResistanceStarWars7ForceAwakensXWing.jpgPhoto credit: Disney/ LucasFilm

Warning: major spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead.

Last week, I wrote two pieces panning Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The first one went viral -- around 100,000 "likes" and more than 12,000 shares...

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40 imperdonabili errori nella trama di "Star Wars. Il risveglio della Forza"

(212) Comments | Posted December 30, 2015 | 10:06 AM

2015-12-21-1450662393-4622950-11875118_1007880092596925_2204135516599208531_o.jpgDisney/LucasFilms

Attenzione: l'articolo contiene spoiler del film Star Wars: The Force awakens.

Ho amato il film, sul serio. Eppure ci sono più vuoti nella trama di qualsiasi film io abbia mai visto e questo rende le recensioni che sta ottenendo un...

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20 More Plot Holes in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

(528) Comments | Posted December 22, 2015 | 3:03 PM

2015-12-21-1450735502-4809457-star_wars_the_force_awakens_r2d2_h_2014.jpgDisney/Lucas Films

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

This past Monday, I published an article entitled "40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I wrote that while I loved the film, I'd...

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40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

(2271) Comments | Posted December 21, 2015 | 9:49 AM

2015-12-21-1450662393-4622950-11875118_1007880092596925_2204135516599208531_o.jpgDisney/LucasFilms

Warning: major spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead.

I loved the film. Seriously, I did. And yet it also has more plot holes than any film I've ever seen, which makes the reviews it's getting pretty irksome. Why...

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A Cento From Hillary Clinton's Emails

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2015 | 2:15 PM

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Poet Jillian Weise, an Associate Professor of English at Clemson University, has written an excellent cento using excerpts from Hillary Clinton's emails. 50,000 pages of emails from Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, all of which had previously been kept on...

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We Must Fix This Major Glitch in Constitutional Law Immediately

(5) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 12:54 PM

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Here's a dirty little secret, straight from a former public defender to you: neither prosecutors nor criminal defense attorneys know the definition of an "arrest," and American case law is specifically designed to ensure this ambiguity. So neither a prosecutor nor a defense...

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Is Stephen Colbert Bringing Poetry Back to America?

(4) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 3:10 PM

If you've been watching Late Night with Stephen Colbert recently, you've been inundated by a good deal of experimental poetry. That's because Colbert, long considered a "metamodern" performer by the American literati, reads experimental metamodern poetry to his late-night audience most nights. That he doesn't call it that makes his...

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The New York Times Accidentally Publishes Metamodern Literary Art As a Serious Thinkpiece

(5) Comments | Posted October 3, 2015 | 5:20 PM

On October 2nd, Brian Lombardi--a father of three from DeKalb, Illinois--published an article on page D11 of The New York Times titled "27 Ways to Be a Modern Man."

The title was in keeping with a recent spate of articles intended to scold contemporary males into thinking and...

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An Interview With GOP Presidential Candidate Esteban Oliverez

(4) Comments | Posted August 19, 2015 | 10:24 AM

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On July 9th, Austin businessman Esteban Oliverez filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. At about the same time, the candidate launched a campaign website.

On July 22nd, Mr. Oliverez set up what is believed to...

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Who Is Esteban Oliverez? New 2016 GOP Presidential Candidate Remains an Unsolved Mystery

(5) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 10:50 PM

Exactly one week ago, the GOP field for the 2016 presidential nomination expanded to 18 -- maybe. In fact, we don't know much about this possible 18th GOP contender beyond his name, a few unconfirmed biographical details, and the several policy positions he outlined in a lengthy but surprisingly focused YouTube video.

So who is "Esteban Oliverez," and what do we really know about him?

According to his press release and website, Oliverez is a "centrist entrepreneur" from Austin. His platform calls for taking the best policy ideas from both the Democratic and Republican parties and avoiding any unnecessary partisanship in Washington.

"I'm running because there are more than two viewpoints in this country, but most of them are never heard," says Oliverez in his introductory video.

There are good ideas on the left and good ideas on the right. There are some awful ideas on both sides. You shouldn't have to take the good with the bad just because we're one of the few countries in the world that believes there are only two ways of doing things.

As of this writing, around 620,000 YouTube users have watched Oliverez's campaign kick-off -- a striking figure, given that not a single media outlet, per Google News, has so much as mentioned the businessman's name since he announced his Quixotic candidacy on July 17th.

While Oliverez's YouTube video acknowledges that "many of you don't know me," in fact the far more surprising fact is that even the Internet seems unfamiliar with the Southern Republican. A Google search for "Esteban Oliverez" returns -- besides the aforementioned press release, YouTube video and campaign website -- only one additional result clearly related to an Esteban Oliverez from Austin: a Facebook page for the candidate with just over 200 supporters. The only other hits for the name are discussions on sites such as Reddit, Bungie, and SpaceBattles about whether Oliverez is a serious candidate and the viability of his centrist positions in such a polarized political atmosphere.

According to one SpaceBattles commenter, "As it stands now, I have a favorable first impression [of] him and I'd like to know more. But I have nothing beyond that." Another wrote, "[He's a] nobody. If the fourth Google result on your name is this SpaceBattles thread, your announcement to run for U.S. President is nothing but a joke. And not a particularly good one." Others took the announcement seriously but questioned the viability of Oliverez's tax proposal (a variation of the so-called "flat tax" conservative Republicans have floated for years) and spending priorities (which include a focus on infrastructure similar to that often favored by veteran Democrats).

So is the purported candidacy of this "Esteban Oliverez" merely a hoax, or is Oliverez another well-heeled GOP businessman with a platform commingling Democratic and Republican ideas? The GOP field already has one of those, and he's currently leading the pack nationally. So can Oliverez turn 620,000 YouTube views (and counting) into national media coverage and a viable presidential campaign? The odds are against it, but only time will tell -- and certainly, stranger things have already happened in the Republican race for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Seth Abramson is an Assistant Professor of English at University of New Hampshire and the Series Co-Editor of Best American Experimental Writing, whose next edition will be published by Wesleyan University Press in late 2015. His most recent book of metamodern verse is Metamericana (BlazeVOX,...

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The Month in Metamodernism #3

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2015 | 9:06 AM

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Is this woman actually imprisoned somewhere? Or is this some kind of game?

Metamodernism is the dominant cultural philosophy of the Internet Age. The term was coined in 1975 by American professor Mas'ud Zavarzadeh, and has been in irregular usage since then. In...

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Donald Trump Being Wrong About Everything and Unelectable Doesn't Make His Candidacy Insignificant

(26) Comments | Posted July 14, 2015 | 12:53 PM

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If the last three weeks of presidential politics have proven anything, it's that Donald Trump is one of the nation's first "metamodern" politicians.

What this means is that Trump is neither sincere nor ironic, optimistic nor cynical, authentic nor false. Instead, Trump,...

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A Transcript of the Decent Speech Inside Donald Trump's Disastrous One

(8) Comments | Posted June 18, 2015 | 10:48 AM

There's been a consensus, in the media and among the general public, that Donald Trump's recent announcement of his candidacy for President of the United States was a disaster. It was a disaster for all the reasons we've come to expect from The Donald: its egocentricity; its verbosity;...

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Trump Is Serious: Why the Donald's Presidential Campaign Is More Than Just Entertainment

(64) Comments | Posted June 17, 2015 | 11:45 AM

Postmodern dialectics -- i.e., taking two ideas and putting them on a spectrum to show how they're in opposition to one another -- offers us no useful way of reading Donald Trump's candidacy for the presidency. Because the "poststructuralist" thinking behind postmodernism tends to treat discrete ideas as...

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The Month in Metamodernism #2

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 1:41 PM

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A still from Disney's forthcoming fox-and-rabbit buddy film Zootopia (2016).

This ongoing column series looks at some of the art that generatively confused us in recent months because it was, for a change, metamodern rather than discretely Modern or postmodern. To find...

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The Month in Metamodernism #1

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 7:14 PM

As we eagerly await the beginning of Season 2 of Rick and Morty -- the Holy Grail of metamodernist adventuring (Cameron Carpenter's brilliance notwithstanding) -- we take a look at some of the art that generatively confused us in recent months because it was (for a...

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Five More Basic Principles of Metamodernism (VIDEOS)

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 7:35 PM


Donald Glover's metamodern music video for "Sober."

Recently, I published an article entitled "Ten Basic Principles of Metamodernism" that aimed to summarize the state of metamodern discourse today. Below are five additional principles that are common to nearly every definition of the term "metamodernism" that has emerged since the word was coined in 1975 by university professor Mas'ud Zavarzadeh. (NB: The article that coined the term, "The Apocalyptic Fact and the Eclipse of Fiction in Recent American Prose Narratives," can be accessed here.)

1. Reconstruction instead of deconstruction. If postmodern deconstruction encouraged us to use "dialectics" -- a zero-sum tug-of-war between opposing principles -- as a way of understanding how meaning is constructed differently depending upon where one is standing, metamodern reconstruction attempts to unite opposing principles even if the result is a paradox.

For instance, a "poststructuralist" analysis of homeland security issues might position the notion of "homeland security" as a constant struggle between very different ideologies and mechanisms for making meaning: for instance, an ideology emphasizing freedom and another emphasizing control, or one emphasizing intimacy and another the "public sphere." Metamodernism "reconstructs" the meaning of a term like "homeland security" by uniting its many overlapping dialectics and warring constituencies of meaning and ethics. For instance, metamodernism asks us, "What would the notion of 'public intimacy' look like? Or 'controlled freedom'?" To be clear, metamodernism doesn't prescribe such reconstructions as specific political solutions, but rather thought-experiments that aim to push us away from entrenched ideologies. An example of "public intimacy" might well be the "social discovery application" Tinder; a good example of "controlled freedom" is the 140-character free-for-all that is Twitter.

A proper metamodern "reconstruction" is a unified whole that can't easily be deconstructed into its parts. For instance, if someone asked you whether Twitter is a "free" or "controlled" environment, the honest answer would have to be "both" -- as much as the postmodernist in us wants to give an all-or-nothing answer that aligns with our personal politics. Or, more appropriately, one might say that it is "both and something else entirely, i.e. something the likes of which we haven't encountered before." This is why metamodern reconstructions are often referred to as "both/and" constructions (as opposed to the "either/or" of much postmodernism or even the "both/neither" of early conceptions of metamodernism). The hope is that "both/and" constructions allow us to move "between" the poles postmodernism has erected for us, and eventually "beyond" the very spectra on which those poles reside.

It is in this sense that "metamodernism" uses the prefix "meta-", meaning "between and beyond." (Note that earlier conceptions of metamodernism used "meta-" as a reference to Plato's "metaxis," which signals an oscillatory movement between poles. The problem with "metaxic oscillation" is that it merely re-entrenches postmodern dialectics by convincing us that every problem is fundamentally bipolar.) Moving "between and beyond" currently entrenched positions offers us the hope of novel solutions to longstanding crises like global warming, police brutality, and gender inequality. These solutions will often be imperfect, but they will be a progressive and generative evolution away from the status quo, and therefore preferable in all respects to the current state of these important debates.

In the early 2000s, a scholar from New Zealand, Alexandra Dumitrescu, analogized metamodernism to "a boat being built or repaired as it sails," and it's precisely this sort of reconstruction that metamodernism permits -- a manner of construction in which we simultaneously acknowledge that things are still in pieces, but also that the pieces we have must be treated as useable even if we still have some doubts about that. A metamodern "reconstruction" is not merely a "construction" because it recognizes that we are trying to "repair" something that was previously deconstructed; and it's not a deconstruction because we are, however cautiously and skeptically, setting about trying to build a "whole" object.


Reggie Watts' metamodern comedy special, "Why Sh*t So Crazy?"

2. Engagement instead of exhibitionism. Too often, meaning-making processes in contemporary society revolve around staking out a position and defending it -- and being seen publicly so staking and defending -- rather than engaging an issue collaboratively with an eye toward enacting positive change (however subtle and gradual).

If modernism's promotion of supposedly "universal" principles was unworkable because a moral high-ground fails to engage those who demur from its first assumptions; and if postmodernism's promotion of dialectics honored individual subjectivities but at the expense of effective collaboration and dialogue; metamodernism is less about pleasing one's own vanity -- either through adoption of a supposedly superior personal code or minute tailoring of one's worldview to one's personal perspective and experiences -- and more about engaging others proactively and with an open mind.

In the previous article linked to above, I discussed the notion of operating "as if" massive crises like global warming can be overcome -- even if one secretly fears they can't be -- and an ethos of "engagement" is very much related to this sort of "pragmatic naivete." The metamodern individual is willing to have his or her well-constructed subjectivity pierced by interaction with others, and to seek out hybrid subjectivities that are simultaneously self-expressive of the self and the heterogeneous communities one belongs to. It's not difficult to imagine, for instance, the metamodern politician: a person without party affiliation, whose political views on a range of topics fall at various points on the vast conservative-to-progressive spectrum, whose means of achieving his or her desired ends (or the ends desired by his or her very heterogeneous constituency) avoid exhibitions like the filibuster or the post-vote press conference in favor of coalition-oriented engagements.

The metamodern politician might be a member of very different coalitions on different issues, but what will remain a constant in such an individual's policy practice will be an emphasis on progress over preening. Too often, contemporary politics is defined by a) modernist dogmatists who wish to impose their rigid worldviews on the masses, or b) postmodern cynics whose beliefs run only as deep as the latest polling cycle. The metamodern "politician" is therefore likely not much of a politician at all, whether we speak of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, current Democratic Vermont Senator (but also avowed "independent socialist") Bernie Sanders, or (in those rare instances his policy positions actually are as hybridic as his rhetoric about being an "independent" would suggest), a politicized media figure like Bill O'Reilly. To be clear, the role of the metamodern politician is, in this imagining, as much to create an environment in which ideologues and cynics struggle to practice their politics -- and to cause sufficient disruption to business-as-usual that all stakeholders are forced to innovate new ways of doing business -- as it is to be the flag-bearer for any one discrete political agenda. While the metamodern politician is likely to be such a flag-bearer for particular groups on particular issues, this will be possible without pretending to be "most things to all people" or "everything to some people" -- both totalizing positions the metamodernist is likely to reject.


Bo Burnham's metamodern comedy special "What."

3. Effect as well as affect. In the arts, we often look for evidence of poststructuralist principles in either the absence or dominance of affect. For instance, the "uncreative writing" promoted by late postmodernist poets lacks any affect at all because it merely bulk-appropriates an existing text not written by the uncreative "author"; the detached critique of language and meaning it offers is performed by its very detachment from affect. On the other side of the coin, music informed by postmodernism (think Lady Gaga) often performs its critiques using a highly exaggerated affect or even a series of clearly "put on" (as opposed to "authentic") affects. In each case, the emphasis is on the "exhibition" of affect rather than its production.

Metamodern art is as or more focused on the effect it generates in the reader or observer as it is on the affect(s) its author is able to perform or negate. The theory behind "effect-oriented" art is that if an artist calibrates the effect of a work as or more carefully than its technical composition or "craft," the work is more likely to engage and therefore move to action its audience. We can see in this ethos of "effect" an attempt to tear down the wall between Art and Life and the distance between the two that postmodernism fetishizes.

One classic example of the difference between postmodernism and metamodernism is this one: in postmodernism, Andy Warhol films himself quietly and "normally" eating a fast-food hamburger while sitting at a table in what is obviously an art studio; in metamodernism, the same behavior is filmed while the artist is sitting in a McDonald's. The former is a critique from without -- and the latter a critique from within -- an economic and sociopolitical structure. Whereas the former lacks both affect and effect (because it is so obviously a staged statement), the latter produces such a generative ambiguity about whether what is being observed is art or not, or even what its relationship to its subject is -- e.g., critical or non-critical -- that it necessitates a response from its observer. When an observer is unsettled by an artwork being impossible to readily categorize or "judge," it is more likely to produce an interactive dialogue between observers that reframes the terms of an existing debate.

But metamodern "effect" is much more radical than this tame example. In fact, it is a reorganization of the arts on the basis not of how an artwork performs the affects associated with its "genre" but on how the work is calibrated to provoke an emotional and intellectual response. From this standpoint, we might judge as "poetry" any combination of text, audio, and/or video that produces a reflexive reaction having to do with the purpose and function of our idiosyncratic relationships with language. We might judge as "comedy" any artwork that engages us at the level of wit-with-levity. In short, art becomes what it produces as much as (if not necessarily in replacement of) how it is produced; all art (and even much that does not at first seem to be art) is increasingly treated as performance art, not because it is somehow insincere or artificial but simply because it is mindful that it must at some point engage with a live audience.


Alison Gold's metamodern music video, "Chinese Food."

4. Walllessness and borderlessness. These are unwieldy words that don't really exist in common parlance -- and with good reason -- but the idea that metamodernism eliminates the walls and boundaries between literal and abstract structures is an important one to the paradigm. For instance, the phenomenon of "cross-over" episodes on television is a metamodern one; it pierces the fantasy that a single fictional world (or even a seemingly "realistic" world) is self-contained by permitting what is clearly another discrete world to flood into the first. And once that breaking down of barriers has occurred, such barriers can never be fully reinstated; that is, once characters from your least favorite television program have suddenly appeared in the world of your favorite program, that sort of "cross-over" is now officially a possibility at all future moments in either small-screen world.

This is, again, just a very basic example of the concept. What about "slipstream" fiction, a metamodern subgenre in which a single story moves seamlessly between literary genres -- e.g., between the setpieces of mystery, romance, horror, science-fiction, fantasy, et cetera? What about works of art so multimedia and multi-genre that they are unclassifiable by the usual administrative designations we find in the Academy (e.g., a "fiction" class, a "poetry" class, a "screenwriting" class)? What about a single phone app that can simultaneously be used for very different purposes, by very different users? Or a lengthy academic article that is at once a piece of critical and creative writing, perhaps because it's structured as a Menippean satire?

The qualities of walllessness and borderlessness suggest not that an artifact is ambivalent about its utility or its ethics, but rather that it recognizes how utilities and ethics overlap and intersect in ways that are normally hidden from us. Sometimes this quality isn't even innate to the work; for instance, the increasing utility of National Geographic programs both for amateur zoologists and pot-smokers in Colorado seeking a surreal audiovisual experience is itself a "metamodern" condition -- especially when we consider that the makers of such programs cannot help but be aware of how their films are being (differentially) consumed.


The metamodern animation Rick and Morty.

5. Flexible intertextuality. "Intertextuality" refers to the presence of relationships between individual texts. Traditionally, when we find intertextuality in artwork it's intentional -- a clearly "authored" effect that's achieved through conspicuous devices like allusion and quotation. Moreover, the purpose of intertextuality is usually to establish a substantive and objective rather than idiosyncratic and merely stylistic relationship between texts. The idea behind intertextuality is that employing and acknowledging it gives us a better sense of not just one but two (or more) texts at once.

In modernist literature, allusions were common, and served not only to entrench a universal "canon" of references educated persons would be expected to catch but also the erudition of the author of those references; they also sought to infuse common points of reference with metanarratives about how and why we should consider these references abidingly significant. In postmodern literature, we more commonly saw intertextuality in the form of parody or pastiche -- the referencing of another text in order to, through the distance between the two texts, insert a social critique or ironic commentary. In metamodernism, the uses of intertextuality are much more flexible: often brief; only intermittently substantive; ambivalent about whether they are readily recognized by every member of an audience; sometimes so distorted or jumbled up by the author as to even be unrecognizable as citations; intended as an idiosyncratic expression of the author's network of associations rather than the establishment of a broader canon of associations.

If modernist texts used intertextuality to enshrine universal metanarratives and symbols, and if postmodernist texts more commonly used intertextuality to critique or even significantly degrade those metanarratives and symbols, metamodernism approaches intertextuality as one means of idiosyncratically processing both public and private data. It's for this reason that metamodern artists use re-mixing, mash-ups, obscure citation, and fluid weavings of discrete realities (one thinks, for instance, of the very conventional-seeming opening credits of Alpha House, in which the show's actors are introduced not by their actual names but by the names of the characters they play; or, any plot on NBC's now-cancelled show Community in which a plot device used in another television series is uncomfortably and almost haphazardly crowbarred into a plotline that will fit the characters and setting of Community).


A metamodern video by musician Cameron Carpenter.

Because metamodernism is a cultural paradigm -- both a system of logic and a structure of feeling -- art and cultural artifacts that are produced "under its sign" are often recognizable as metamodern through their philosophy and ethos more so than their technical components.

For instance, Joss Whedon's "normcore" version of the superhero Hawkeye is a metamodern construction within the context of a fairly conventional action-movie franchise (The Avengers), though that franchise is itself part of a branded "cinematic universe" whose numberless cross-overs and instances of intertextuality bespeak a massive metamodern enterprise.

Wes Anderson's brand of otherworldly twee renders banality as mythic and the mythic as shockingly banal, but that doesn't prevent individual characters in Anderson's films from being archly ironic or repetitively sincere -- as it's not that Anderson is oscillating between extremes in such instances, but rather than his films and scripts develop a metamodern atmosphere within which many different types of "players" can roam.

YouTube, Weird Twitter, and Weird Facebook can cause individual metamodern videos, twitter accounts, or Facebook users to go viral, but as the virality of these metamodern curios is based on how we react to them as much or more than how or why they were created, their metamodern quality isn't erased if and when the motivations behind them are revealed to be generally modernist or postmodernist. For instance, Alison Gold's video "Chinese Food," with its ambiguous politics and implicit intertextual ties to Rebecca Black's "Friday," doesn't cease to operate in a metamodern fashion simply because we later discover it was intended as a deliberate parody of Black's abysmal pop "hit." As always, a metamodern effect can be present even in the face of a non-metamodernist mode of authorship.

Understanding how, why, when, and where metamodern structures arise helps us navigate elements of art and culture that might otherwise be unreadable. Why was America so enthralled when Senator Marco Rubio spent portions of his nationally televised response to the President's State of the Union address drinking bottled water? How does an epic novel like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest simultaneously infuriate potential readers with its length and textual difficulty while remaining impervious to any suggestion that it's merely an academic exercise? How do Bo Burnham and Sarah Silverman execute their savage social critiques without ever seeming any less friendly or adorable? Why do Vine users remain in awe of the "magic" of amateur filmmaker Zach King, when they know exactly what sort of computer wizardly produces his remarkable special effects? Why are partially ad-libbed movies and plays now so popular? Why are we seeing, in contemporary architecture, more and more works that are simultaneously absurdly stylized and entirely pragmatic? Why is "trick photography" the persistent subject of Buzzfeed articles and social media feeds? How do "bad" shows like many of those on the Cartoon Network -- shows with low production values, sloppy dialogue, flimsy premises, yet no reflexivity, either, about their badness -- develop such devoted cult followings? Why do some progressive Democrats watch Fox News religiously? How does "reality TV" stay so popular, long after its core fraudulence has been exposed? American culture is increasingly marked by people, events, and trends that are not readily explicable using poststructuralist thinking -- nor by simply reducing them to bite-size, single-entendre adjectives like "sincere," "naive," and "optimistic," however much these might play into the storyline preferred by modernists who wish to believe modernism is making a comeback.

While the fifteen principles discussed in this article and its predecessor comprise a non-exhaustive list of core principles in metamodern thought, disagreements between metamodernists still abound and will continue to be a topic of conversation online and in academic journals. What conditions produced the shift from postmodernism as a dominant cultural paradigm to metamodernism, and when did this shift occur? Does metamodernism manifest differently in different cultures? Does the "meta-" prefix of metamodernism rightly refer to Plato's "metaxis," Mikhail Epstein's "metabole," or simply the generic "between and beyond" translation of the prefix itself? Should we identify as "metamodern" artists who self-identify as postmodern? Does identifying someone or something as a manifestation of metamodernism mean that person or thing is free from all vestiges of modern and postmodern feeling, thought, and affect? Can modernist and postmodernist scholars even acknowledge the validity of the word (and concept) "metamodernism" without bringing into question the importance of their present and continued scholarship? If metamodern work is divisive -- if its crossing of time-honored boundaries infuriates some even as it thrills others -- must we consider it somehow contrary to the collaborative atmosphere or even the specific political advancements metamodernism hopes to provoke? Is metamodernism ethical? Can metamodernism exhibit an "oscillation" between states or affects without (perhaps justly) being termed dialectical and postmodern? Can it bill itself as being singularly involved with acts of sincerity and optimism without (perhaps justly) being termed single-entendre and therefore just a rehashing of modernism?

Future articles in this series will posit "juxtapositive metamodernism" as a way of avoiding these last two critiques of metamodernism and doing more -- it says here -- to both answer the many questions above and spot future metamodern developments we can't at the moment even imagine.

[Scroll down at this link for more essays on metamodernism.]

Seth Abramson is an Assistant Professor of English at University of New Hampshire and the Series Co-Editor of Best American Experimental Writing, whose next edition will be published by Wesleyan University Press in late 2015. His most recent book is Metamericana (BlazeVOX,...

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