HTML> The Blondes' and Brunettes' Club: Post Modernism
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Sushuri Novaryana

May 19, 05 - 11:44 AM
Post Modernism

Princess Mushroom was telling me about a conversation she had on the "chatteries" with our new friend Miss Amelie. The conversation turned on Post Modernism and she asked me if I could give an Aristasian analysis of the term. She herself wrote:

In a sense, it is just a fancy name for the more deformist strain of thinking that was going on for most of the 20th century; but it is important for bongos to give it a funny name and pretend it is something new.

Take the pretentious Communists who espoused surrealism in the '30s - how was their outlook essentially different from what is called post-modernism? The notion of breaking down perceived reality because our very perceptions are class-based.

For all the bluff and bluster nothing conceived in the last few decades is any more radical than that. All they have done is thrown in "gender" and race to supplement class. But who wants to admit that they are really just pre-second-World-War Commies?

Thank you, dear Princess. I really think you have put the matter in a nutshell. There is no essential difference between "post-modernism" and the deformism that developed in certain intellectual circles in the first half of the 20th century and made a radical (and wholly successful) take-over bid for the whole culture in the 1960s. "Post-modernism" simply gives the thing a name and tries to make it look more recent than it actually is, because being recent is important to bongos.

But for an Aristasian analysis of what "post modernism" actually is, we simply have to turn to our analysis of history in terms of the three gunas. The traditional mode of thought is that which prevailed in the Sattwic era: it is oriented to spiritual reality and sees earthly things in terms of their primordial Archetypes. The modernist mode of thought is that which prevailed in the Rajasic era (and to some extent continues today). It might be called rationalism, materialism or literalism. It sees earthly things as things-in-themselves. It is oriented to the world of matter and history. The post modernist mode of thought is that of the Tamasic era. The "objectivism" of the Rajasic modernism is dissolved into an all-corrosive "subjectivism". A universal relativism undermines the solidity and stability of the Rajasic world. The orientation toward high ideals and nobility is replaced by a love of all that is low and deformed.

One should also realise that each of these eras merges into the following one. So, toward the end of the Sattwic era, a Rajasic or modernist orientation is already making its appearance (the mediaeval philosophy of Nominalism is an example). The early Rajasic era is still permeated with Sattwic assumptions, but by the end it has lost all its metaphyisical basis. It is this lack of foundation which leaves it vulnerable to the dissolving influences of the Tamasic or post-modernist mode of thought. And, as we said earlier, the present period still retains many Rajasic assumptions. We can expect these to dissolve progressively as the Tamasic influence increases, unless there is a degree of Sattwic/Rajasic revival.

May I suggest that Miss Amelie, and others who are interested in this question, re-read the chapter on the three gunas in history with the post-modernist question in mind. I think many things will quickly fall into place.
Lady Aquila

May 23rd, 2005 - 11:01 AM
Re: Post Modernism

Thank you for a fascinating and clear exposition of a subject that has puzzled many of us. I think it is the post-modernist claim to be very recent that is confusing. Once that is exposed, the whole thing falls perfectly into place.

And interestingly, many post-modernist theorists confirm what you are saying. They define "modernism" precisely as the period from roughly the Renaissance onward: the "scientific", objectivist era, and question this objectivity as being class-gender-and-race based and not truly objective.

There is a degree of confusion because of "modernist" movements in art and literature, which are something rather different (existing on the borderlands of the Rajasic and Tamasic mentalities); but the above is the real meaning of the "modernism" against which the "post-modernist" is reacting, as many post-modernist texts will confirm.

So, as you say, "post-modernism" is simply a new name for the mentality of the "Tamasic" era, which begins to dissolve the "horizontal" solidity of the Rajasic era.

Of course, the post-modernist does not understand it in that way. To him the pre-modernist era is still essentially one of "pre-scientific" superstition and ignorance because his underlying philosophy is still fundamentally Rajasic. So rather than oppose modernism with the universal metaphysical mentality that preceded it, he promotes the dissolving relativism and perverse deformism called "post modernism", which is its precise opposite.

As always, Tamas is the inverted parody of Sattwa, while Rajas has a "middle" or "neutral" position. That is to say, outwardly (or "horizontally") very active, but spiritually (or "vertically") relatively neutral.

I wonder if we have mentioned recently that the three gunas are traditionally represented by a cross, with the upper arm representing Sattwa, the upward direction, the lower arm representing Tamas, the downward direction and the horizontal arms representing Rajas, the outward directions. I think this visual representation helps to make the matter much clearer.

If I were a teacher in one of our Aristasian schools, I should tell you all to make a diagram, labelling the parts of the cross and putting in arrows to show the directions. I am not a teacher, but I really think it would be a good idea if you did it. The exercise of drawing it will help the mind to grasp the idea.

May 23rd, 2005 - 5:07 PM
Re: Post Modernism

Well, but it seems to me, that this is a kind of a school, or college. Certainly I am learning many things here, which I never thought to learn and am grateful to Sushuri Novaryana,and the others,for it. The idea of the cross, as a visual symbol is very helpful.

If post-modernism is tamasic, the lowest of the gunas, what will come after that? Will it just continue downwards?

I always thought "modern" meant that which is in vogue at the current time, so I was puzzled then to find that now we are post-modern; it didn't seem possible, unless we had suddenly been hurled into the future.
Sushuri Novaryana

May 23rd, 2005 - 5:59 PM
Re: Post Modernism

These are very good questions. Let us consider them:

If post-modernism is tamasic, the lowest of the gunas, what will come after that? Will it just continue downwards?

At the moment, as we can see in many ways, the modern world - even among its most "advanced" type-3 elements - has not reached a stage of pure tamas. On the contrary, all the thinking of the era, including "post-modernism" is still saturated with rajasic assumptions. What we can expect, if things progress in the direction they have taken for the better part of the last half-century, is the progressive loss of this rajasic underpinning and a steady slide into further chaos and formlessness. On the other hand there may be a rajasic revival.

I always thought "modern" meant that which is in vogue at the current time, so I was puzzled then to find that now we are post-modern; it didn't seem possible, unless we had suddenly been hurled into the future.

What is in question here is not so much what is "modern" as the doctrine or outlook called "modernism". This term has been used with a number of meanings. It was used by the 19th-century Catholic Church of those who wished to indtroduce modern liberalism into doctrine and practice. It was used by certain writers and artists to signify certain very late-rajasic and early-tamasic tendencies. However the most important use of the term in considering the phenomenon of "post-modernism" is its application to broadly what we term the rajasic era, that is the time from around the Renaissance to somewhere toward the end of the 1960s.

The full fruition of the rajasic (or modernist) tendency in Western civilisation took from the 14th century to the middle of the 17th. From then on it was consolidating and intensifying itself. The Tamasic movement proper probably begins around the 1860s, gains much momentum in the early 20th century and becomes the dominant influence on the culture by the 1970s.

At the time of the Renaissance, the tamasic movement had "come out of the shadows", was powerful and predominant, but was still yong and unformed. Most of the underlying assumptions of the Renaissance world were still Sattwic. Our present era is equivalent to that period in relation to tamas, except that we are moving on a much faster time-scale.

Why is the outlook of the rajasic era called "modernist"? Essentially because it is the era in which being "modern or "original" became the highest value. In the sattwic era, virtue was thought to lie in the past. In order to justify an idea one had to show that it could be traced back to ancient authority. More and more, as the rajasic era progressed, it was important to show that an author or an idea was "new" and "original". To say a thing was old-fasioned was sufficient to condemn it. Professor C.S. Lewis has noted the first tentative examples of this attitude in the 16th century*.

This has its roots in the fundamental philosophies of the two eras - one believing in the Golden Age and in the gradual decline of humanity, the other believing in the doctrine of universal progress.

We may note that the very term "post modernism", which is used to pretend that it is something different from, and newer than, say, the intellectual communism of the 1930s is still an example of rajasic "modernism" at work.

What happens after post-modernism? Well, the term itself is unimportant. It was coined essentially to give a veneer of newness to ideas that already (by modernist standards) are becoming a bit dated. The term will pass away in a decade or so, to be replaced by something newer and more "radical". The thing itself, barring a rajasic or sattwic-rajasic restitution, will progress inevitably towards ever-increasing chaos and dissolution, attacking all fixed forms (including its own past ones).

* In his English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama
Umm Jack

May 24th, 2005 - 5:10 AM
Re: Post Modernism

Many semi-educated bongos consider the post-modern era to have begun precisely on March 16, 1972, with the destruction of the Pruitt Igoe housing project in St. Louis. The project was intended as a triumph of modernism, but drove its inhabitants mad, and had to be abandoned. The failure of Pruitt Igoe, and the madness of its inhabitants, and the complete inability of bongos to understand why it all happened, has always stood for me as a fine proof to the inadequacy of modernism. Anyone who has the slightest shred of connection to tradition understands in her soul why tower block turn their residents into subhuman monsters - predators or prey - even if she has been prevented from acquiring the vocabulary to communicate her understanding.

It is the prohibition on real education that allows the whole game to continue. If you never learn history, you never learn that these ideas, or parodies of idea, have been tried over and over again, and failed over and over again.
Umm Jack

May 24th, 2005 - 5:15 AM
Re: Post Modernism

And in answer to the question, where will this all go next? The next manifestation of the tamasic tendency will be an attack on the distinction betweeen adults and children.
Lady Aquila

May 24th, 2005 - 7:39 AM
Re: Post Modernism

Actually, post-modernism in architecture seems to be a somewhat different animal. While the thinking behind it is certainly far from sound, it does at least produce buildings less oppressive to the human spirit than the blockish concrete nightmares of late modernism. Nothing of this positive nature can be said of post-modernism in other spheres, where it is a wholly dissolving and chaotic influence.

I had never heard of the Pruitt Igoe project, but it seems a perfect example of how Rajasic "rational planning" can lead to what appears to be its very opposite - to actual insanity: just as the cold rationalism of the French Encyclopaedists - the very apogee of the Age of Reason - became the basis for the insane bloodbath of the French Revolution, most of whose instigators ended on their own guillotine at the hand of successively more fanatical waves.

May 26th, 2005 - 1:14 PM
Re: Post Modernism

So, "modern", means that which is new and original, presumably coming from one's imagination, whereas the sattvic cultures, looked back to ancient authority for their standards. But, I would like to clarify how the ancients knew what was right - where did their wisdom come from? Otherwise, people might say that they were just human, the same as us, trying to make sense of life and the universe, and why should their attempt be any better than anyone elses.
Isabel Trent

May 26th, 2005 - 1:58 PM
Re: Post Modernism

Frequently modern things are not new and original -- obedient to their Tamasic nature, they are corrupt inversions of the pure, sane ideas and aesthetics that came before. Bongos only call them new and original because they have not the wit to see that they are, at best, cheap copies. Over the centuries our race has diminished in taste as well as in intelligence.

The ancients knew what they knew because living within the Sattwic period was by definition living within the Tao (cf. C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man). The Tao had no beginning and it will have no ending. It just is. Or at least I think that is the case. Perhaps Lady Aquila or Raya Novaryana could treat us to a more thorough explanation, from their lofty towers of wisdom at the base of which we are all camping with notebooks, pencils, and puzzled expressions!

Of course, it remains an option for us to live within the Tao, according to the principles of Thame, or whatever we want to call it. Or we can do the opposite, and abandon ourselves to the Pit's senseless vulgarity and its constant quest for the New New Thing, which isn't new at all. It is really up to us.

May 27th, 2005 - 4:28 PM
Re: Post Modernism

The way things are moving in modetrn culture, it sometimes appears almost inevitable that the world is sliding into the chaos of the Tamasic and nothing can stop it.

But it is worth pausing to remember that by "the world" we actually mean the West. Japan and China entered their Rajasic phase about a century ago and are much younger in it. They retain far more of their Sattwic roots, and the east-Asiatic seems very efficient at building a rajasic economy. If Korea, or Japan were anywhere near as large as the United States, their economies would dwarf that of America. China is much bigger, and her economy is just beginning to awaken after decades of stagnation.

The "prestige" of east-Asian culture is rising. A subtle factor but highly significant. While at one time American culture infiltrated all other cultures, Japanese popular Culture is beginning to have influence in America.

Will this century see the rise to dominance of the East, as the West becomes more degenerate and the Eastern economies continue to grow? As the "prestige" of the West falls, will the East look increasingly to its own roots, rather than Western models (such as liberalism and Communism)?

And then what? Will the West find some "moral" pretext for making war on the East? Will it find that it is already too late and that its technical and military superiority has been surpassed? Will the West realise the need to traditionalise itself and reform its degeneracy in order to compete with the East?

Many interesting thoughts. If Telluria was our concern, one might even write a novel about it!
Umm Jack

May 27th, 2005 - 10:09 PM
Re: Post Modernism

The destruction in much of Asia has been so much more brutal than what has gone on in the West, I don't think one can even compare. I live on the Pacific Rim and my neighbors are primarily Chinese refugees. I often hear this idea in Aristasian fora - that China is somehow closer to Tradition? No, there is a reason it was called the "Cultural" Revolution, you know. I also am puzzled at the idea that pit-Japan is somehow healthier, and closer to a full restoration. But I suppose if one is fully seceded, one would not run into the more degenerate aspects of Japanese culture.

This is not to say that any of the free Asian societies, in which category I very much do not include the People's Republic of China, are *more* degenerate than the societies of the West. Ladies, we simply cannot know without extensive study and humility. These are very different societies from our own. I suspect deracination and racial and cultural self-hatred, however, when I hear general expectations that things are "better" there, and suggestions that the West will "find a pretext" to attack China - this sort of thinking is the residue of the bongo education teaching us to hate the West.
Rosa Renard

May 28th, 2005 - 8:32 PM
Re: Post Modernism

I so agree about bongo education and hatred of the West, past as well as present % you rarely hear a good word about the British Empire these days. But about pretexts: one of the things about democracy is that it can hardly produce a honest ruler, as the deception of the public becomes a necessity of political life.

Romantic notions about the East have been a persistent part of Western tradition, and not an unwholesome one, however unrealistic. It is easier to see corruption and distortion in the things, people, ideas, close at hand and close to the heart; the further away they are, and the stranger, the more they seem like their true selves, their original forms, pristine. I would like to think it is because those true forms do exist, that there is still silver under the tarnish, a true maid s heart under the tattered and gaudy clothing, that the loathable things are just on the surface, but sometimes we only see the surface.

May 31st, 2005 - 3:43 PM
Re: Post Modernism


I have not been to China, although my closest friend spent some nine years in the east. While there is certainly a good deal of superficial cultural corruption - and sometimes, as in the case of Japan, more than merely superficial - I suspect this does not go anywhere near as deep as in the West. Certainly, for example, Orientals normally discuss such things as food in terms of elemental correspondences.

And we must recall recall that both the current corruption of Japan and such things as Communism are not native to the East. They are both the product of the huge prestige of Western materialism in the East over the past century. Miss Candre was speculating on what might happen were this prestige to wane.

The suggestion that her mention of "pretexts for war" comes from the Western anti-Westernism current in type-3 circles is a little presumptuous. On the lips of a bongo such phrases are normally from that stable, but Aristasians, who neither have nor owe loyalty to either Tellurian hemisphere, tend to say such things more impartially. The East became Westernised largely as a result of Western military/commercial incursions in the 19th century. To pretend that the modern West is a model of virtue and could never find pretexts for war is a little naive. Patriarchal states are what they are, Eastern and Western.

From an Aristasian point of view, the British Empire was neither good nor evil, but was a force for rajasic expansion. While there are sattwic arguments against it, the very last people to have any right to a "moral" criticism of it are the rajasic - and tamasic - anti-imperialists. If rajasic Western civilisation is good then the British Empire was eminently good. If Western civilisation is bad, then feminism, individualism, liberalism multiculturalism and anti-imperialism are bad; for they are purely and exclusively by-products of Western civilisation.

Jun 2nd, 2005 - 12:50 AM
Re: Post Modernism

'This has its roots in the fundamental philosophies of the two eras - one believing in the Golden Age and in the gradual decline of humanity, the other believing in the doctrine of universal progress.'

But if one takes the concept of cyclic movement of history, won't both arguments lead to the same place of the Golden Age, even though the former sees this world as currently going downhill and the other as going upward?


Jun 2nd, 2005 - 1:08 AM
Re: Asia

'I also am puzzled at the idea that pit-Japan is somehow healthier, and closer to a full restoration. But I suppose if one is fully seceded, one would not run into the more degenerate aspects of Japanese culture.'

As someone who once lived there during the 1980s, I can attest to the fact that the Japanese culture was already completely deracinated by the time I was there. The economic progress of the 'Asian Tigers' during the post-WWII era do not necessarily signal any advance in culture. From my understanding of Japanese history, the process of turning into a Pit began around 1930 in Japan, around the same time that country began its descent into militarism and disregarding of most traditional elements of the culture. In quest for becoming a world-class imperial power that would dwarf the West, Japan conveniently created a hybrid culture without roots. Following Japan's defeat in WWII (1945), the already rootless people immediately began a major American fad, which continues to this day. Lacking the basic understanding of the traditional Western philosophy, values and civilisation (the roots), the deracinated Japanese simply absorbed the surface (and usually the least favourable) elements of American culture through the GIs, Hollywood films and television. This is why in any major Japanese city everything looks chaotic, banal and gaudy.

Speaking of which, a certain Wikipedia writer seems to have confused Aristasians with the Japanese cultural phenomenon of Gosuloli (i.e., 'Gothic Lolita'), while a typical Gosuloli (along with the other symptomatic expressions of Bongo Japanese mass culture such as 'Kogaru' and 'Gan-guro') is precisely what a completely deracinated person can become. It is very depressing, and I have no idea why anyone would even remotely consider Gosuloli being anything similar to a typical Aristasian.

Miss Drusilla

Jun 2nd, 2005 - 4:12 PM
Re: Post Modernism

I agree with you, Sarah -- I am by no means an Asia Expert, but one need only consider the lamentable decline of the hanamachi to see that the Japanese today have less and less regard for the beautiful traditions of their people.
Lady Aquila

Jun 6th, 2005 - 10:11 AM
Re: Post Modernism

What an interesting discussion.

The Westernisation of the East really begins in 1840 with the first Opium War and the institution of British Gunboat Diplomacy in China.

In 1853 the American and Russian gunboats came to Japan to "negotiate trading arrangements" with an unwilling Government by force. Commericai treaties were signed at gunpoint, grossly disadvantageous to the Japanese, as had happened in China. This humiliation of the Nihonese Empire, which had no defense against advanced Western weaponry, led at first to internal chaos, and finally to the "Restoration" of 1868, which established a strongly unified State under the Mikado.

Capitalism was introduced from above. Capable young men were sent to Europe to study science and technics. The government erected factories, in the first place armament works and shipyards; for military strength against the other powers was most urgent. Then railways and ships were built, coal mines constructed, afterwards the textile industry developed, chiefly silk and cotton, banks were founded.

The "Westernisation" of Japan thus happened very suddenly, as an urgent necessity for self-defence. It did not in any way grow out of Japan's own historical development, but was grafted on as an alien thing from the outside.

Lafcadio Hearn, in the 1920s whote an interesting book called Out of the East in which he argues that Japan's Westernisation could be likened to Jiu Jitsu - using the enemy's own strength against him without in any way compromising one's own inner integrity. Whether or not this was true at that time, events quickly overtook Japan, first with the virtual coup by the militarists and then with defeat at the hands of the West and the terror of atomic bombardment.

The Japanese were then forced to accept Western democracy and liberalism with every pretence of wholeheartedness.

It is little wonder, perhaps, that Japan finds itself disoriented and deracinated. As Miss Sarah Andrea eloquently puts it:

Lacking the basic understanding of the traditional Western philosophy, values and civilisation (the roots), the deracinated Japanese simply absorbed the surface (and usually the least favourable) elements of American culture through the GIs, Hollywood films and television. This is why in any major Japanese city everything looks chaotic, banal and gaudy.

But this is the real question. How deeply has the East absorbed the Western disease? Has it really absorbed it at all, or has it merely taken on some of its outward symptoms in a time of cultural crisis - a crisis which is, desite superficial appearances, entirely different from that of the West, and with very different causes?

The "Westernisation" has taken place firstly because of threats from the West, and then because of the West's "prestige" as the most powerful and successful force in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The question is, if the West's "prestige" - and its underlying threat - begin to wane as a result of increasing Western degeneracy, while the cultural "prestige" of the East advances with its economic power, will the East continue slavishly to follow the West, or will it look increasingly to its own roots?

Remember our starting point. Is Post-Modernism going to be triumphant? Has the Rajasic tendency played itself out, so there is nothing left but the Tamasic? That is one question in the West - and I happen to believe that the Rajasic tendency is not played out but was violently and prematurely swept aside at the time of the Eclipse by powerful forces. It may reassert itself.

In the East, however, it is very different. Far from the Rajasic tendency having played itself out, it has only just started, and in cultural terms it wasn't even ready to start when it did. The adoption of the outer trappings of the Tamasic is an entirely alien phenomenon. Will it survive the waning prestige of its source?

That is one of the questions that may determine the shape of the 21st century.
Sushuri Novaryana

Jun 7th, 2005 - 11:47 PM
Re: Post Modernism

'This has its roots in the fundamental philosophies of the two eras - one believing in the Golden Age and in the gradual decline of humanity, the other believing in the doctrine of universal progress.'

But if one takes the concept of cyclic movement of history, won't both arguments lead to the same place of the Golden Age, even though the former sees this world as currently going downhill and the other as going upward?

That is certainly true; however we need firstly to consider that the traditionalist ethos of respect for the past and the modernist ethos of contempt for the past create entirely different kinds of society.

Secondly we need to consider that the modernist outlook is being replaced by the post-modernist or deformist. This view no longer sees a "golden age" in the future any more than it does in the past, but tends toward cynicism and a lack of ideals.

Just as rajasic art, while no longer attempting to represent Eternal Forms directly, nonetheless represents them indirectly through the pursuit of formal beauty in the material world, whereas tamasic art rejects the very notion of beauty; so the rajasic (or modernist) view of history projects ideality into the future, while the Tamasic (or post-modernist) rejects it altogether.
Umm Jack

Jun 8th, 2005 - 8:45 PM
Re: Post Modernism

We are speaking of the East as a monolith here. I am going to discuss why I think this is inappropriate, and then I am happy to be corrected. However, I am going to discuss things that will give sensitive blondes nightmares, so sensitive blondes may wish to stop reading now.

Mainland China suffered under unimaginable horrors in the twentieth century, and what makes this directly relevant to the discussion at hand is that the displacement, slaughter and deliberate starvation of tens of millions of people was part of a deliberate campaign to destroy traditional culture and Real social order.

I recall that in comments on the essay "The Problem of Proletarianisation," the destruction of the traditional peasantries in England was discussed, so as to point out that the only surviving way of life with a traditional basis in England has been that of the aristocracy, for quite some time. Imagine the result if the gentries had been destroyed along with the peasantries. This is what happened in China. Traditional ways of doing things would not have survived without the Chinese diaspora. Certainly, forms that the regime consider to have prestige value are kept in sorts of culture zoos, but the traditional basis for life has been destroyed.

The other industrialized countries are in a very different position and are also very different from each other. Perhaps as I sit here on the Pacific Rim, I should consider that for many of you, I am in the East.