For longtime readers, you should recall my 2015 project The Endless Flow of Society. This review on The Truth About The Truth and the corresponding definition of postmodernism doesn’t go much farther than the introductory pages penned by Walter Truett Anderson, and it is essentially a recreation of my initial pages of my personal project The Endless Flow of Society. I recommend reading both.
When reading the introduction, my first thought was how Anderson labels the eras of society much similar to how Auguste Compte, the father of ‘modern day sociology’ labels the fundamental flow of any society. In Compte’s work, the earth’s time span is split into three diverse and unique epochs: the Theological, the Metaphysical, and the Positive. In Anderson’s introduction, he makes the case that ‘postmodernism’ is our current interpretation of something incredibly like Compte’s ‘Metaphysical’ – or changing, ‘enlightenment’, or ‘revolutionary’ – stage of society.
To put it in perspective, imagine a river – a river of ‘life’, or a river of ‘sociology’, if you will. Essentially, this river is the perfect and prime representation of any functioning society; it is a swift-moving, roaring current that has been flowing for an extensive amount of time (almost endless to the people who witness it), and it is filled with a seemingly endless – perhaps an incalculable – amount of individual drops of water.
These water droplets work together, usually without realizing, to form the river. When one looks out upon the valley and sees the river, they will not see it for the individual hydrogen and oxygen molecules which make up the river, but instead the river as one flowing unit. Thus, your individualism vs institution argument revolves around this structure.
The analogy presented here is a popular one, and it is oftentimes used by neo-Marxists and postmodernists alike to describe the history of contemporary society and politics. Those individual drops of water represent the people and the ideas of said people, and without those – the flow of society is dammed up and stops running. What these drops of water do – usually unbeknownst to the naked eye – is carve into the banks of the river.
Society has the same problem that the naked eye has: with most people viewing everything as a whole (for example, we see massive casualties in warfare as statistics rather than names and stories), it is rare to get on a ‘one-to-one’ level of idealism that allows us to see how this ‘whole’ came to be. But, the facts remain whether they are paid much attention to. Hour by hour, these tiny and seemingly insignificant drops of water (representing ideas, concepts, revolution, people’s thoughts and actions) literally erode into the banks. Our own society chips away solemnly at itself – not through the ‘whole’, but through the ideas that constantly and continuously work together and split apart.
When the river is ‘born’, that is the first stage of a society – one could label this the ‘Old’. When the river is on the verge of flooding its original banks due to the erosion of constant thought and change – one could label this as the ‘Transitional’. When the river has changed its initial form or shape – one could label this the ‘New’. The Transitional period is usually a strange one! Think back to the Russian and French Revolutions, for example. Anderson touches on how personal perspective and thought can change viewpoints, as he states that King Louis XVI wrote that “nothing happened” (Anderson, 2) during the fall of Bastille. As I have stated in a previous project of mine, “[different perspectives are] the continuation of the ideological war on our psychological sovereignty [and personal philosophy]” (Kaminski, 5).
In Anderson’s thought process, the ‘Postmodern’ is a “makeshift word we use until we have decided exactly what to name the baby” (Anderson, 3). Thus, postmodernism seems to be that awkward, transitional stage between what we all know and love and whatever the thought process is destined to take us to. It is a switch in beliefs based on the consensus or conflict of relevant thought. It is what basically changes an entire society – or the entire world – as we know it. Whatever that era may be will have the wonderful opportunity and privilege to look back at history and sociology to label us as what we truly are. But, as for now, the term “postmodern is a term [that is…] applied to anything the user of the term happens to like.” (Umberto Eco, 31).
So, essentially, postmodernism is the subject of Truth About The Truth. The subject of postmodernism varies from author to author, and it is an enlightening book towards those who might be unsure about their stances on philosophical epochs of time. I recommend the book, and I recommend the concept that it portrays of “de-confusing and re-constructing the Postmodern World”. For those who’d like to read it, you can order it from Amazon here.