On Postmodernism 4

Postmodern realization is ascendant following the realization that valuation and meaning are not intrinsic to things. This realization is extremely provocative and interesting, and leads one to extensive consideration of the constructed nature of meaning and its many ramifications. One begins to unpack and examine the various valuations the culture uses to recognize intrinsic meaning in things, and one begins to explore the subjective nature of interpretation. At first, this realization is fresh and interesting, and ironically it is deeply meaningful to explore the realization that nothing has intrinsic meaning. Individuals here become highly sensitive to the ways in which collectively perceived intrinsic valuation around things like identity marginalizes individuals and the way in which language structures and reinforces the perception of things having intrinsic valuation. To deconstruct these valuations as extrinsic is firstly to rescue identity from a kind of cage, but secondly to more carefully consider the experiences others have, since subjective valuation and interpretation imply that one should not carelessly delete or marginalize the interpretations of others.

As previously discussed (On Postmodernism 2), the immature postmodernist does not yet fully appreciate their own developmental sophistication, and therefore sees no reason not to expect the world around them to reciprocate in kind. Postmodern realization becomes descendant as the immature postmodernist slowly and uncomfortably becomes aware of the incompleteness of this mode. Their endeavor to be sensitive to alternative valuation in a world where such sensitivity is not a universal reality inevitably forces them to confront resentment and frustration originating from a lack of universal reciprocity. If one offers the world one’s shirt, the world will simply take it and ask for another. An inner tension arises as the resulting resentment and judgement comes into contact with one’s conviction that no view should assert itself as dominant. As this continues, the inner turmoil becomes such that it can no longer be ignored, and one is forced to make sense of it. An escape remains, though, if the world can somehow be forced to be universally sensitive, and the mental gymnastics to support the imposition of the value that no view should assert itself as dominant may go on for some time.

Self honesty, however, will require us to finally confront this existential tension. Yet having spent years questioning or even denying the imposition of one’s own judgement as inevitably subjective, the metaphysical tools for reorienting oneself have been dulled. It is at this stage where the sting of nihilism is profoundly felt. The idea that nothing has intrinsic meaning no longer feels fresh or interesting, but feels more like a trap one has set for oneself as one struggles to actualize the ranking necessary to dig oneself out of a flatland that is generating existential friction and pain.

Yet one can no longer return to the modern cognition, having awakened the postmodern realization, and so the nihilistic descendant phase becomes a struggle to reconstruct the meaning and clarity necessary to respond to the malfunctioning mode with a muscle that tears down structure as fast as it can be constructed. No sooner does one judge in service of making sense of what has now become an awful existential mess, than the now extremely powerful and adept postmodern muscle tears it back down, returning one to the pit. As there is no return to the modern cognition, this process must go on for as long as it takes for the deconstruction muscle to grow sufficiently strong to recognize and deconstruct itself as a covertly imposed proposition (more specifically, that the mental muscle proposing that no view should be imposing itself has been imposing itself on one’s consciousness all along, even to the exclusion of one’s happiness). One realizes the profound contradiction in refusing to “impose” even that amount of structure necessary to purposefully and functionally reorient oneself while allowing another judgement to covertly impose itself over everything. Ironically, it is the muscle that enslaves us to a kind of existential jail that finally proves the key to the cell, the muscle only needs to become strong enough.

Following this realization, one is free from the pit. One has not returned to the modern mode, one has rather fundamentally advanced. One has realized deep subjectivity but also that it is not possible to avoid privileging one’s own valuation, since the entire previous existence was premised on the covert imposition of valuation. The now matured postmodernist is perfectly at home judging, ranking, and constructing. The mature postmodernist also comes to understand that ranking is actually essential to fully inhabiting another perspective (which after all is a constellation of axioms, judgements, and rankings), and that reconstructing a web of judgements and rankings is precisely what allows one to simulate the substrate of other perspectives, allowing one to become closer to them, rather than more distant. The mature postmodernist will therefore spend years not only exploring the ranking which allows them to inhabit other views, but will spend years ranking and qualifying these systems of rankings as a dynamic reality changes and as new circumstances present themselves. Just as exploring the proposition that valuation and meaning are not intrinsic to objects was meaningful for the immature postmodernist, this ranking becomes deeply meaningful for the mature postmodernist.

Yet another pit awaits the mature postmodernist, who will eventually realize the futility in the continued refinement of mapping perspectives when the world around them proves incapable of making use of or properly understanding these maps. What previously felt deeply meaningful no longer feels such, and serves to become only a source of profound self alienation. It is here that once again one feels the profound sting of nihilism as one realizes that what once felt meaningful is fueling one’s sense of self alienation and that moreover there is no self reality in the systematization one has spent so long constructing and revering.

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