‘Postmodernism’ has jumped the shark: We are now post-postmodern

Click on the image for a better view:
Google Books NGram Postmodern Modernism Modernity


5 responses to “‘Postmodernism’ has jumped the shark: We are now post-postmodern

  1. The results are quite different if you factor in the hyphenated form of “Post-Modernism” (which in Ngram Viewer you have to wrap in parentheses and then manually distinguish capitalized variants). Almost certainly your query for “modernity”, for instance, would have matched occurrences of “post-modernity”, making it appear that people are talking more about modernity than postmodernity. 🙂


    • Agreed. I appreciate that. I was thinking I should include British English, too, and show both graphs. Maybe I’ll update later.


      • You know, I misspoke about the parentheses. I’ve gone back and spent some time reading and testing the Ngram Viewer. I’ve tried doing some fancy things with it to get at that data — trying to force it to ignore the “post-modernism” composition using square brackets and then subtracting that from “modernism”, etc. — but none of the results make sense. I don’t think there is any way to tell just how much of the count of “modernism” is from cases of “post-modernism”. Even if you only try to compare “postmodernism” and “modernism”, “modernism” will still be counting “post-modernism”.
        The tool doesn’t handle hyphens in a predictable way, and it is lacking in certain advanced options which would give searches the finesse needed here. We want to tell it, “Go find occurrences of ‘modernism’, but don’t count occurrences which are immediately preceded by ‘post-’.”, but it just won’t do that. As a compromise, we would want to tell it, “Go find occurrences of “modernism” and “postmodernism”, but totally ignore all works which include “post-modernism”, but it won’t do that either. Google will have to change the way the tool works.


      • By the way, thank you thank you thank you, for pointing me toward Lev Shestov! I love the way he thinks, even if I don’t in the end follow him to all of his conclusions. There have been a number of occasions in which he has hit me between the eyes with a new thought, or articulated things I’ve been really itching to hear someone say — and then uses the best imaginable metaphor for it. Bravo.
        On a related note, on a recent trip back to the States, I happened upon what presumably is the remains of someone’s interest in Nicholas Berdyaev. I found three or four of his late works, as well as an introduction. Excited to begin to dig into it!


      • Awesome! Please let me know what you think as you dip into Berdyaev. I might move his book “The Origins of Russian Communism” to the top of my list because I’m curious how he’ll asses all that.

        And wow — I feel like I’ve accomplished something by successfully suggesting Shestov to a fellow reader and searcher. Recently his thought has felt a bit scary to me, yet I know he is an under-appreciated, under-acknowledged philosopher. I mean, hey, Albert Camus included him in “The Myth of Sisyphus” and D.H. Lawrence wrote about him, too. If anyone really wants to understand the most radical interpretation of “Sola Fide,” he would have to read Shestov. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Shestov wrote quite a bit about Luther.

        Liked by 1 person