Metamodernism Manifesto

Oleh Shynkarenko
7 min readDec 5, 2019

The reality has not become more complicated. We just started to notice more than before. At some point this complexity of impressions increased so much that it exploded even before the Technological Singularity. The modern man reminds a patient of Asperger’s Syndrome, who notices all the smallest details of the environment at once, and this knowledge so distracts him (or her) that he (or she) is no longer able to grasp the whole, he (or she) gathers a large collection of photo cameras without any interest in photography. Such an accumulation of information leads to the emergence of a new hybrid consciousness, which combines inseparable, opposite, antagonistic fenomena and in general everything that the eyes can catch and the ears can hear. Hence a new form of artistic method and a new metaphorical apparatus of understanding reality emerges.

The position of the artist always depends on the degree of trust in reality.

Romantic realists only trust what they can see.

Childe Harold went on his pilgrimage to touch everything with his own hands, and Mr. Pickwick “with a spyglass in his coat pocket, and a notebook ready to take to his pages any discovery worthy of attention” is simply obsessed with observations and fixing an existing one.

Modernists trust only what they cannot see.

Malevich and his many colleagues and followers saw meaning only in the reproduction of a non-existent reality, the symbol of which became his famous the Black Square. Adolf Hitler believed in a non-existent Jewish plot and Joseph Stalin in a mythical class struggle.

Postmodernists trust nothing.

Samuel Beckett, who was hiding from the Gestapo in Natalie Sarrot’s house, wrote his novel “Watt” not about fascism and anti-fascism, but about the reality had finally lost its meaning, and the language had turned into whitening. That is why any words now sound equally unconvincing.

Metamodernists trust everything.

Everything that happens in Wes Anderson’s films is true. The dogs and the foxes really talk, all the events are connected by a complex pattern, and all the objects move in a symmetrical fashion and nested ninety degrees in exquisite nolling.

Metamodernism is always counterintuitive.

If you think you know something exactly, it is not true at all. This is the radical contradiction or metamodernism with romanticism, which used to rely entirely on some intuitive “insights”. Google and the careful documentation of reality by millions of people put an end to all insights. Everything is now verifiable, and the accuracy depends on the number of checks.

Getting stuck in the romantic and modernist traditions raises many problems. Some countries and individuals still exist in the paradigm of romanticism or modernism, while the rest of the world is in the paradigm of metamodernism. The modern metamodernist person will always shock the bearers of the romantic ideal. To exist in a situation of metamodernism is very uncomfortable, because it is counterintuitive, and a person of the era of romanticism is passionate about intuitive knowledge and fully relies on it, even if it contradicts the facts. Therefore, in order to acknowledge modernity and escape from the sweet and comfortable captivity of archaic consciousness, one must constantly make a substantial effort that the Romantics are not capable of, because it looks like an affront to their idealistic model.

The value of authorial purity and the ideal of metamodernism

The phenomenon of the value of the author’s purity is very widespread among literary critics. Purity is a set of specific characteristics of the direction. An author must comply with them in order to be acclaimed by a critic. The impurity of another’s paradigm is felt by the critic literally as dirt. This is the source of mutual contempt. It is similar to the caste system in ancient India.

Each time there are different forms of purity. There are romantic-realistic, modernist, postmodern and metamodern ideals of purity.

The romantic-realistic ideal sees literature as a witty and sharp reflection of life, but it rejects naturalism and play, which are essential elements of life.

The modernist ideal is directly linked to nationalism, and therefore implies the maximum homogenization and unification of the creative method. From the point of view of the modernist critic, the ideal author should be a revolutionary, but he must create a homogeneous reality: it may be, for example, a revolutionary novel about the victory of a national identity in the territory of a country and abroad. The work must necessarily be about the struggle of identities as broad representations of the mass consciousness. Individual characters should only be temporary embodiments of identities that essentially solve nothing, as opposed to a romantic-realistic ideal where individual identities always solve everything.

The post-modernist ideal is based on the skillful application of the various pop-patterns that the author must possess at the highest level and construct the fabric of the work, using the irony to maintain a certain distance, so that the reader does not feel impressed with the self-sufficiency of these patterns, because they are not hands, but only gloves (or glove dolls) that are temporarily worn on the hands.

The metamodern ideal is the constant oscillation of the sample, and it is very similar to post-modernism, but there is one very significant difference: for the metamodernist there is no difference between the hands and gloves (between the puppet’s hand and the puppet). All previous designs — both romantic, realistic, modernist and post-modernist — have the same value for him and can exist both alternately and simultaneously. It should look like nightmarish chaos, but everyone saves snippets (formerly called interludes) into which the author simply channels the specimens to avoid confusion. In general, metamodenism is a very uncomfortable phenomenon, because it is counterintuitive, does not recognize any hierarchy, and its constant oscillation leads to the fact that it is often not clear what is happening: one wants the author to finally dwell on something alone, but in metamodernism this is simply not possible.

Snippets in metamodernism

There are many phenomena in Wes Anderson’s movie “The Full Moon Kingdom”, which are called snippets in Western culture. Snippet is a term in the field of computer programming, which means a snippet of code that is written for reuse. Anderson’s film, like any work of metamodernism, uses snippets differently. It is a snippet of a piece that appears sporadically to characterize one of the characters. Suzy Bishop has the most snippets. She carries them with her in a suitcase. These are the six books she took to read in the library but never returned. Here is their list:

1. Shelly and the Secret Universe.

2. The Francine Odysseys.

3. The Girl from Jupiter.

4. Disappearance of the 6th Grade.

5. The Light of Seven Matchsticks.

6. The Return of Auntie Lorraine.

None of these books actually exist. Anderson came up with all these names and wrote snippets of these books to cite aloud in the movie. The artists commissioned by the director painted the covers. All of these books are fantasy novels for teenage girls. Such novels occupy a significant place in English-speaking culture, so much so that they have already begun to transcend their traditional area of existence. For example, British singer and leader of The Cure band Robert Smith used the figurative system of fantasy novel of Penelope Farmer “Charlotte Sometimes” for one of his songs of the same title.

Of course, snippets have existed in art for a very long time, but only in metamodernism they are always simulated by the author, present in large numbers and characterized by excessive detailization.

Fast notion about Metamodern

In order to quickly get a fairly accurate idea of ​​the metamodern, one has to imagine the inhabitants of a certain house, who threw away all their belongings in the trash, and instructed the artist to create something of value, but necessarily with the use of each thing and so that everything would not look like a collage or an assembly, but would remind of something new and quality that had just been purchased at the store. The artist says to this, “Have you gone mad? Who will believe that this is a new and quality thing?” “Take it easy,” said the owners of the thrown things, “we will believe. You just wash there, wipe it … here, see, the rag lies? Wipe with the rag. To make it shine a little and look like new.” — “But you will recognize your things!” — the artist wonders . — “We won’t recognize,” the owners of the things respond, “because we’ve forgotten how they looked. There’s an old man here. He remembers something. But nobody listens to him.”

Triad of uncertainty

Much of the conflict in the modern world is the result of a misunderstanding of its nature, which changed dramatically about ten years ago. The main features of the nature of the modern world are three, which I would call the “Triad of Uncertainty”. The metamodern program offers three conclusions about reality:

1. There are no longer things that can not be funny.

2. There are no such things as are defined in such a way that they can be said to be certain.

3. There are no things that can be said to be in place.

This manifesto is open to further additions, in full agreement, full detail, or completely denied.



Oleh Shynkarenko

A Ukrainian writer and journalist, the author of a short story collection and novels "Kaharlyk", "First Ukrainian Robots", "Skull", "Bandera Distortion".