Postmodern Dictionary:About

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The Postmodern Dictionary is a conservative's look at postmodern progressive doublespeak.

This politically incorrect postmodern dictionary is a repository of postmodern usage of modern terminology. Its purpose is to explain such usage to modern people who have failed or decided not to cross over into the heady territory of anything-goes postmodernism. It is not to be confused with the postmoderndictionary.com, which is (or, at any rate, was — the most recent visits have yielded only an indication that the site is no longer maintained) a site that documents modern terminology to help postmodern people catch up to what happened prior to their more recent hegemony. (More recently, it has been discontinued in this role, though a stub remains that (in its source) takes you to postmoderntherapies.com.)

For a site that actually attempts to define postmodern terms to educated people, I can suggest a much less ambitious enterprise at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jewestla/websters.htm. In contrast to this site, it focuses almost exclusively on highly technical jargon which has been adopted over the last century or so in such diverse fields as philosophy, psychology and sociology. The purpose of this site, by contrast, is to define the currently popular misuse of ordinary terms. (See, also, http://literature-dictionary.org/Dictionary-of-Postmodern-Terms/, a site which focuses on postmodern terms in literature, as well as a not-so-serious endeavor at http://postmoderncalvinandhobbes.blogspot.com/. One can also find a book with the title, Decline of Common Sense: A Postmodern Dictionary, written by Jurgen Hesse, though it appears to be out of print, and Amazon does not list it.) Curiously, an attempt to find a "postmodern dictionary" via Google can be tricky, especially if your search omits quotes around the term. It's almost as if relatively few people are actually aware of the march of vocabulary over the postmodern semantic cliff, much less aware that vocabulary has altered so significantly in the past fifty years, or so.

It should be explained that even the term postmodernism, itself, has various usages in common practice. The usage adopted here is definition 2 b from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: of relating to or being a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture identity history or language.

For an understanding of the roots of postmodernism one could do worse than to begin with the description of postmodernity in Wikipedia. As used here, however, the focus is on the dominant western culture which largely emerged in the 1960s, and flowered in subsequent decades, and its predilection to continually reconstruct society with ever-increasing ferocity and urgency, labeling all that has gone before with such pejorative terms as neanderthal, paternalistic, and archaic.

Of course the astute web surfer will want to know why this site is dedicated to explaining post-modern meanings to modern people, when in theory the modern era is long past. While it is quite true that the current age is characterized with some justification as post-modern, that characterization is by its very nature a negative one, in the logical sense the term post-modern is an implicit admission that there is as yet no known objective criteria by which to judge or characterize the current age. (Indeed, one could argue that the postmodern instinct is to jettison all such "objective" self-evaluation.)

Although I'm personally inclined to label it "the transitional age of confusion and chaos following the collapse of the modern age," just as there was an age of confusion and chaos known by the rather negative term "the dark ages" following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west, something more can clearly be said. Furthermore it will be admitted that there are still many of us relics of the modern era who have survived (although it may be debated whether we have survived with our sanity intact). Much as the neanderthals continued to walk among the cro-magnon and the latter continued to walk among homo sapiens, Christians like myself continue to walk among the post-modern nihilists.

No doubt a study of the postmodern era in later centuries will reveal that its principal impetus derived from the latent sexual energy that was released when young people of good will realized that the modern industrial era had ended with such debacles as the world wars, the holocaust, and the radical abuses of the Viet Nam war, and since they were not yet able to fully distinguish the good from the bad of what went before, they were motivated to start over.

Starting over led to the wholesale uprooting of age-old taboos, and since the violation of these taboos took a long time in bearing its negative fruit, the characteristically hedonistic addictions of our current culture had time to take root. As a result, the homeostatic tendencies found in all cultures have taken on an hysterical edge in our current sex-charged dysfunctional times. It is this hysterical edge that has led to the radical abuse of semantics to be documented on this site.

William Golding's Lord of the Flies is a parable of the likely impact of this sort of radical reinvention wholly decoupled from religious tradition. George Orwell's 1984 attempts to get at the more organized tyrannies of a technological society that invents new meanings of old terms to justify itself. Both are a warning the radicals tend to ignore. Both are indirect inspirations for this site.

Yet another inspiration for this site is Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, a satirical piece whose target is principally the hypocrisy of politicians, intellectuals and "just plain folks" in large measure connected with our natural tendency as humans to remake reality in our own image. Naturally current abuse of language is no worse than the age-old jingoist liberties taken with otherwise perfectly good terms like patriot and traitor, and other favorite Biercian targets, though some may argue it is harder to comprehend how it could exist in a rational mind. Aye there's the rub.

The real mystery for some is how such definitions come to be so quickly and readily accepted in the popular mind. For me there can be no doubt it's all motivated by the ubiquitous fog of sexual energy. If I agree that x is o k for you then probably y is o k for me and all that's necessary to seal the bargain is a few liberties with the english language.

On a more personal note. if any of the definitions here afford you some amusement then I offer you my thanks for your appreciation. It is likely the humorous content will be quite uneven since it is largely dependent on the mood I'm in when I document them, and the seriousness of the immediate issue that inspires their entry into the dictionary. Although this site is not likely to be a reliable source of amusement, I sincerely hope it will help educate people who have not had the ambition to document these cultural changes.

A culture which freely reinvents itself and freely invents new meanings of old terms to justify itself naturally has unforeseen consequences, consequences the radicals tend to ignore when they are not totally oblivious to them.