9/11: the end of Postmodernism and the beginning of … what?

My wife and I had recently moved back to Denver from Boston and September 10 had been my first day at my new job with Gronstedt Group. When I got up that morning I flipped on the computer and when my home page loaded the first confused images were waiting for me. I flipped on the TV and called Angela. I guess I could describe for you what I saw and and felt, but you saw and felt exactly what I did, didn’t you?

I got very little done that day at work. We actually spent a good bit of time trying to figure out what was happening with two of our colleagues, who were inbound on a flight from Stockholm when the towers came down. Eventually they were diverted to Canada, then turned around and sent back.

I do remember thinking, early on, that this moment in our social history that we’d been calling “postmodernism” was now over, a theme I’d elaborate on some months later in an essay for Intelligent Agent. Without boring you too much, PoMo had been all about dynamiting the old institutions and monolithic ideologies that had dominated the 20th Century, resulting in a more diverse world of thought and culture where everything was open to challenge.

No more. Humans are inherently structured, and if you’re tearing one structure down it’s only a matter of time before you build a new one in its place. My fear was that 9/11 was going to empower our most cynical and dangerous elements, who’d misunderstand what had happened and would use it to usher in a new, dysfunctional neo-Modernism.

This is awfully abstract sounding stuff to be thinking about as you’re crying uncontrollably, I know, but the thing is that it’s not abstract at all once you look at what Bush and his cronies have done with the false “mandate” that 9/11 handed them.

The battle for the soul of America – and for the world in general – has been joined. But it isn’t over by a long shot. September 11 is an important reminder that our values and our way of life are under attack.

And not just by al Qaeda.


  • Have you read what Slacktivist has to say on the subject of our ‘new holiday’?


  • Damn – that’s about the size of it. Great link.

  • Thanks for this.

    …you should write more articles like this for the foreign elements who enjoy 90% of what is posted to S & R.

  • Thanks, Elaine. I wish to hell I had the means to make S&R my full-time job. For every thing I write there’s another 10 I don’t have time to get to.

  • Well, I thank you for YOUR sacrifice, Sam;) Also, you never know who you will meet, or where it might lead.

    Maybe my ragtag bunch will grow into that “diverse world of thought and culture where everything was open to challenge.”


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  • I’ve been calling it neo-post-modernism since way before 9/11/01, perhaps much to the dismay of my post-modernist friends. I never hesitate to point out to them that if, as most of them claim, ‘everything else can and is already capable of being fully deconstructed before being reconstructed for post-modernist usage”, then post-modernism itself, by its very nature, comes pre-deconstructed and can easily be superseded by “that which comes after” — naturally then, neo-post-modernism. Not neo-modernism. Post-modernism IS already neo-modernism, sir.

    By way of analogy: Post-modernism is “there are no new musical notes, just new ways of arranging them”. Neo-post-modernism is “there are no new musical notes, nor are there really any new ways to arrange them”. Perhaps more eloquently and succinctly stated by Pete Townshend and The Who, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. 😉

    (remove _burnt_crust_bits from address to email)

  • This is not something to walk into when you’ve only just woken up.

    I still haven’t figured out what to call it, but yeah, whatever comes after pomo was afoot before 9/11. I first started noticing it with William Gibson’s Virtual Light, I think. Deconstruction was giving way to REconstruction, and the principles of the new order were beginning to emerge. The new order is all about the distributed network model, as I note in the essay for IA, and I keep hoping I can come up with the name for it.

  • When you come up with the name Sam, let me know.

  • I suspect “Sam-ism” isn’t going to cut it.

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