Lene Andersen, "Metamodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World" (Nordic Bildung, 2019)


So what is metamodernity you may ask, and what does it have to do with systems thinking and cybernetics? Well, I recently had a chance to find out for myself during my conversation with Lene Rachel Andersen about her book Metamodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World (Nordic Bildung, 2019). The short answer is metamodernity is a systems perspective; "it is about seeing the world as a process and not as fixed circumstances, a world in which there are not isolated phenomena but where everything is interconnected and interdependent..." (p. 94). The book's premise is that as our old understandings and the answers we get from them are insufficient, the ways we are used to reacting and behaving do not work well anymore either. Our cultural compass cannot contain and judge the world properly because the challenges we are facing were not a part of our world when we came of age and learned what the world was like.

More than a cultural trend (or 'ism'), metamodernity is a meaning-making code—one that encompasses cultural codes from every epoch of the human experience. Andersen argues that "we need metamodern minds that can relate to the intimate indigenous, the existential premodern, the democratic & scientific modern, and the deconstructing postmodern simultaneously" (p. 128). It is only through this synthesis and adoption of the metamodern code, she stresses, that we'll have the capacity to make good decisions to guide the necessary changes to our current systems and institutions. The 'hyper-modern' alternative is not a good one; think: much an exaggerated version of what will turn out to be mere glimpses of what we're seeing right now—such as rise in authoritarianism, surveillance society, extreme inequality, and of course, climate change.

Metamodernity provides us with a framework for understanding ourselves and our societies in a more complex way. Metamodernity is a way of strengthening local, national, continental, and global cultural heritage among all. It thus has the potential to dismantle the fear of losing one's culture as the global economy as well as the internet and exponential technologies are disrupting our current modes of societal organization and governance. Metamodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World is thought-provoking and a wonderful complement to many of the books I've covered in previous episodes. I hope you enjoy listening to my conversation with Lene, and I invite you to check out the rest of her work at https://www.lenerachelandersen.com/.

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Kevin Lindsay

"What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?" - Gregory Bateson
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