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Ancient, Modern and Post-Modern

November 22, 2010

“American Gothic Comes to the City” by Steve A. Furman

There is a lot of discussion about identifying our current era of history as being post-modern or postmodernist.  I especially ran into ideas of postmodernism in art skool.  The reality is our current era of history is not readily fit into a single category but can be identified as a combination of three: ancient life, modernism and postmodernism exist concurrently and in tension with each other. There is a lot of debate about the characteristics of postmodernism and what the definition means.  Less frequently, there is debate if postmodernism exists at all or is an accurate description of contemporary life.  I was glad to finally find a declaration in a textbook that asserted that ancient, modern and postmodern are concurrent but it did not detail a great deal of examples.  You have to look around and think about our current times and then it becomes more readily apparent. I have been engaged in an online discussion with friends about accurate scientific data and statistical modeling, and I pointed out that statistical modeling often tries to serve as a predictor or form of seer, which is a hold-over from pre-scientific times.  People believe in the power of prediction.  We want to rationalize fortune telling.  We want omens and predictions, and we want to force science to take over the role previously belonging to magic.  I’m not saying that some statistical extrapolation cannot be used scientifically for accurate projections, I”m pointing to an underlying mentality that desires this knowledge of the unknown.  This mentality is also applied to psychology, the belief that certain things or actions in a persons life could have been predictors of future actions a person makes.

Here are some examples of the three divisions and how they exist today: ANCIENT:  Things that connect us to the earliest ideologies and beliefs of humanity including concepts of religion, magic, miracles, mythologies, and articles of faith. MODERN:  Modernism has its roots in the era of Enlightenment and the philosophical move toward rationalism and reason.  The Scientific Revolution was primary to the modern era.  The idea that things can be qualified, quantified, understood and changed or reformed.  There are dominant beliefs valuing progress, invention and innovation.  The modern period of art is usually traced to 1900 or so. POSTMODERN:  Sometimes considered to both have grown from modernism and sometimes or simultaneously goes against it.  There are characteristics of recycling earlier forms [ideas, methods, expressions] for contemporary use, intentional irony, parody, cynicism towards earlier ideologies, and use of current new media technologies. The Chrisitian Science web page would be an example of all three paradigms rolled together in one thing.  [Christian = ancient, pre-scientific, religious; Science = Modernist, era of Enlightenment and rationalism; Postmodernist = web page, digital, global, reaches back into the past and fuses with elements of the present.]  Look around you, and you can see the separate and varying paradigms overlapping in various ways, maybe you will find a scientific study about the power of prayer benefiting people that are ill that was published on a blog.  All three paradigms may not be found in every example, it is just interesting to me if you hit the jackpot and find all three in the same instance.  Pastafarians, anyone?

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