We live in a time that if we didn’t know better, we might think was more like a fantasy novel than real life. Most days, I read the headlines and feel like Alice fumbling about in Wonderland, frightened and swimming through my own sea of (figurative) tears. It feels like we’re on the other side of the proverbial rabbit hole, that we’ve ventured, like the Penvensies, through a wardrobe into another world, a frozen Narnia ruled by the evil White Witch. It feels that way precisely because we have indeed entered a new realm. One might say we’ve been traveling through the clothes of the wardrobe for decades, getting closer and closer to where we find ourselves now, feeling the bristle of tree branches as we’re now stepping into the unreal land of postmodernism.
Now, to be clear, postmodernism isn’t new. It’s typically thought to have begun with the counterculture of the 1960s, though others would perhaps consider it’s birth in association with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 60s and 70s being then a time of pre-natal growth. Whether it started in the 60s or 80s isn’t that important for what I’m saying in this post. I would liken the time between the advent of postmodernism, be it three and half or five and a half decades, to a journey that has moved us closer and closer to our current position. Gene Veith writes in his book, Postmodern Times, how romanticism and existentialism prepared the way for our postmodern world.
“Romanticism cultivated subjectivity, personal experience, irrationalism, and intense emotion. It encouraged introspection and attention to inner life… Existentialism provides the rationale for contemporary relativism. Since everyone creates his or her own meaning, every meaning is equally valid.”
For a better part of fifty years we’ve been falling down a hole, for a better part of fifty years we’ve been walking through a wardrobe that has taken us to the freakish postmodern realm of chaos. And now here we are in a world where, yes, indeed subjectivity, personal experience, irrationalism, and intense emotion rule the day, where following one’s heart is the best advice a person can be given as they’re encouraged to to live a life of introspection and attention to their inner life. Everything is relative, everyone creates his or her own meaning, and each meaning is just as valid as the next one. This is the land we’ve come upon, though many of us don’t understand how we got here, not remembering when we followed after the sophistication of a clothed white rabbit or stumbled through a wardrobe.
Nonetheless here we are. We’re living in this fantasy land of undoing, a land where we disregard nature so mother’s can murder their own unborn children, marriage can be redefined to fit our liking, people can deny their own bodies and remake themselves into the opposite sex, where women are encouraged to support and celebrate their own degradation and men are taught they don’t matter.
Veith goes on to describe the contrast of modernism and postmodernism using what Ihab Hassan presented in his Theory, Culture and Society article, The Culture of Postmodernism. Postmodernism is shown to emphasize play and chance over purpose and design, cultivate anarchy over hierarchy, value the mutant over the type, and embrace silence in a rejection of meaning expressed in language. He continues:
In place of the modernist concern for “creation/totalization/synthesis,” the postmodernists are more interested in “decreation/deconstruction/antithesis.” Modernists value selection and boundaries; postmodernists value combination and interconnections. Modernists cultivate presence; postmodernists cultivate absence. Modernists are interested in depth; postmodernists are interested in surfaces. Modernism emphasizes form; postmodernism is antiform.
This is the world we live in. This is why the politics of our day revolve around where a person can go to the bathroom and the transgender push to see to it that they can tinkle behind the door they self-identify with. This is our world and so this is the world Adam Malloy, one of the main characters in The Gift and the Defender, lives in. He’s a postmodernist because, well, he lives in the postmodern era, and though I save the reader from having to deal with some of the particular ugliness of our world (there is no mention of same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms in TGTD) while enjoying the novel, Adam thinks like a postmodernist. And then the pesky restrictions of reality, the rules of nature, that have worked to keep this dangerous worldview somewhat constrained are removed, allowing the reader to see where we’re headed if we continue to act on postmodern thought. The bolded words above are some of the attributes of our postmodern era that readers can expect to find worked into the first Lumen Legends story.
I referenced Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe above. Alice didn’t stay in Wonderland and the Pevensies didn’t remain in a frozen Narnia. The question for us then to consider is whether or not we have to remain in this fantasy land of postmodernism? That, and of course, does Adam Malloy?
Lumen Legends: The Gift and the Defender will be published late summer, 2016, by Grail Quest Books.
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