Postmodernism is the idea is that reality is subjective…that there is no absolute truth, and that reality differs from person to person. The phrase “what’s true for you might not be true for me” typifies a postmodern point of view.
Another way to understand postmodernism (or “Pomo”) is to say that no truth can be extended beyond an individual’s experiences. Postmodernists will necessarily have trouble with my definition, since they like to suggest that words only have the meanings we give them…and, in defining postmodernism, we try to give it a meaning for all to share. That’s the contradictory essence of postmodernism: we can’t even discuss what it is without the conversation devolving into an uncomfortable silence.
Steve Taylor referred to the postmodern dilemma in Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number’s Up:
Sally’s into knowledge
spent her years in college
just to find out nothing is true
She can hardly speak nowListen on YouTube
words are not unique now
’cause they can’t say anything new
Here’s the point: postmodernism essentially says “there are no absolute truths”. It’s a self-defeating statement, to be sure…but that doesn’t stop some people (like my friend Sean) from trying to live by it anyway. Many postmodernists avoid looking for answers because, were they to find real answers, they’d then have to change the way they live.
The NBC show ER (Season 14, Episode 13) aired an episode that exposes the flaw of postmodernism: it’s completely useless for people who want actual answers. We all believe in absolute truth, yet the postmodern person rejects truth anyway. In this clip, the hospital’s postmodern chaplain can provide no answers for a dying man who seeks forgiveness for his sins: