Post Modernism – my truth v your truth

‘There is no one reality’ – is the best I can do to reduce postmodernism to a soundbyte. Described as a movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism and a general suspicion of reason as well as a sensitivity to the role of ideology in maintaining political and economic power. Infiltrated into the mainstream, it leads to as much value being put on ‘my truth’ as on ‘your truth’ (or the actual truth) (if I have understood it correctly) which suggests a nihilistic belief about humanity locked in a Tower of Babel with no possibility of genuine communication. Which ideology appears to have taken root in academia and led to polarization in recent cultural arguments and divisions.  

   Jean Francois Lyotard, 10 August 1924 12.15 am Versailles, France, a philosopher and sociologist, who came to prominence in the 1970s, is deemed the founder of Post Modernism. A nebulous Sun, Neptune and North Node in Leo inconjunct Uranus in Pisces – which is similar to Judith Butler’s Uranus inconjunct = erratic, wilful, contrary,  intolerant, a trailblazer, with a tendency to create irrevocable shifts in their environment.

  His college thesis focused on indifference and detachment in Zen Buddhism and Taoism and he had a strong interest in aesthetics (which is one of the more rarified and amorphous ends of philosophy). His mindset will have been affected by the devastating effects of World War One in which the French dead and wounded amounted to a staggeringly high  percentage of the population. He helped out as a medic in the liberation of occupied Paris at the end of World War 11 and then taught in Algeria.  So he grew up with national loss, the damage of fascism and violence and was university educated in the aftermath of WW11, trying to make sense of a world gone mad.

  At the risk of psycho-analysing him what that makes me think of is the shattered self. Trauma leads to a fragmentation of identity/personality which in turn leads to a desperate search for meaning to try to fit the broken pieces together. He then projected that inner brokenness out into society/the world.  

  Some of his philosophical forebears came out of the fantastical, mystical Neptune Pluto in Gemini like Ludwig Wittgenstein (another Uranus inconjunct) and Heidegger, but Soren Kierkegaard, 5 May 1813 Copenhagen, came well before with Pluto in Pisces.  Nietzsche had Pluto in Aries and Husserl had Pluto in Taurus. So I am none the wiser about the astro-development of thought that led to the cul-de-sac of Lyotard.

  Lyotard did/does have a global influencer 22nd harmonic but also a rise and fall 10H. With some help from the fates his ideas will collapse in a heap on the floor as Uranus moves into Gemini.  Life is but a subjective dream – is a lovely theory for a Buddhist sitting up in a mountain cave but is of zero help in the real world.

33 thoughts on “Post Modernism – my truth v your truth

  1. My personal loss of faith started in 2011, but like you, I consider 2012 to be the year when everything started to shift on a collective level. I consider the Venus Passages of 2004 and 2012 as important indicators for this collective shift.

    The Venus Passage happens in pairs every 120 years, and it will shift important beliefs, dogmas and habits in the (two) signs it occurs in. The first transit of this century started on the 8th of June 2004 in the sign of Gemini (3rd house).

    Venus SN took 4 years to reach Venus NN in Sagittarius (9th house) in 2008, and returned back to Venus SN in Gemini on the 6th of June 2012. This was the last Venus transit to cross the Sun in this century.

    The way I see it, Venus returned with an expanded, perhaps even a different collective understanding of beliefs and dogmas pertaining to the Gemini and Sagittarius signs, i.e. the 3rd and 9th house.

    This shift in understanding seems to have taken place soon after the second Venus passage, with hints of what was coming in the 4 years preceding the second transit.

    I see the collective shift of 2012 not only, like you say, in a loss of faith in formerly unimpeachable institutions, but in other areas as well pertaining to the Gemini/ Sagittarius/ 3rd/ 9th house.

  2. You know what else might be interesting in the a bit unnerving world of unknowability – time.

    Just read on Julian Barbour’s theory that time does not exist.

    Carlo Rovelli claims something similar.

    There is a question how fundamental time is if it has been proven you can eliminate it from the fundamental equations of physica, and they still work. Time is not necessary.

    Then there is that research a British physicist got funding for not too long ago and was in The Times about why that same time seems to only be going forward.

    Tangentially, there is also the information paradox. I remember a few years ago a two-part documentary on Hawking and Einstein where a Black physicist or astrophysicist – I can’t remember now who it was – stood by a metal barrel in which a fire was burning. He was holding a piece of newspaper and then lit it. According to the knowledge we now have of physics, he claimed if I remember well, we would be able to retrace what was on that paper before it burnt. But there seems to exist a possibility that when information crosses the even border near the black hole that the information may permanently be lost. That would than mean that our past never happened and that it was all an illusion.

    I later read that someone might have solved that paradox, but it was a bit too conculuted an explanation, and I dropped it.

    I hope I transferred the bit from the documentary right. It is worth a look.

  3. I have to say I’m a little astounded and aghast at all the hate postmodernism is getting and some things Hugh in particular is saying.

    I wonder also how much all these opinions and thoughts is the classic never-ending Anglo–French clash and difference in perspectives.

    • No I don’t think so. I am still trying to get my head wrapped round it – but the notion that my truth is true whether it fits the facts or not, does shoehorn into Trump and I can see the parallels between him/his fanclub and fascism.

  4. I am wondering now, if the explosion of interest and study into astrology is also an example of post-mondernism? Let’s face it, in the eyes of traditional materialistic world view astrology is superstitious nonsense, ditto with the regard of established science and the widely accepted world view of astronomy? I wonder about the same for the explosion of interest in spiritual practices outside of the accepted norm of widely established religions such as shamanistic practices, neo-pagan revivals, new age practices, energy healing and body work practices? Is all of what I mentioned examples of post-modernism? The way it seems to be defined from what I gathered here, it is. If it is, as with any philosophy there is something positive, maybe even evolution to embrace with postmodernism as well as something to reject…all based on what you find meaningful, or in today’s parlance, based on your truth, LOL!

    • Astrologically, those spiritual practices, interest in them, and the enormous amount of fog surrounding it is probably Neptune in Pisces.

      • There was a rise of interest in spiritualism after the first world war because of the number of dead. That was not Neptune in Pisces. There have been spiritual upsurges at all manner of different times.

        • I really don’t like to be reductive, but this particular instance of current spiritual and meditative practices, even astrological, seems very Neptunian to me. And probably specifically Neptune in Pisces.

          I know that I’ve read that there was also a huge uptick in interest in astrology when Pluto was in Scorpio. I think that’s what Hamaker used to say. Digging deep. Both Scorpio and its ruler Pluto mean that. That was apparently the golden age of astrology.

          You could say that today even, with a lot of new apps available for personal astrological profiling and daily living. But somehow I think I’d say it’s Neptune in Pisces.

        • Not spirituality in general, but the movement which became Spiritualism began with the Fox sisters in 1848, the year Neptune entered Pisces.

      • El A – It’s a bit more complicated I think, and so is Neptune! If, for instance, you take 1685 as the generally accepted date for the beginning of the Age of Reason – the “long 18th century” in which religion, spirituality, science and politics were all closely analysed and logic favoured, you’ll see Neptune just into Pisces, Uranus in early Taurus. Look at 1779, when Mesmer was presenting his somewhat mystical theories of “animal magnetism” to a fascinated world, and you find Pluto just into 0 Aquarius, with Neptune beginning its journey through Libra. His ideas did have a big impact over many years, so weren’t simply a brief fad. Perhaps the transitional moments when an outer planet changes signs are particularly meaningful, as Marjorie has written about elsewhere.

  5. It is often the case that events in art predate those in the real world and when one thinks about it the entire art world since the 1960s (possibly earlier) has been subject to the upheaval of postmodernist thinking, which seems at its core to revolve around the idea that theoretically anything can be art since there are no actual rules as to what is and what is not art.

    When one thinks about it a bit more the obvious starting point would be Duchamp’s urinal which he put on display as an artwork in about 1917 or so. I rather think that Duchamp summed up postmodernism right there and then.

    In astrological terms I would postulate that the rise of postmodernism is mainly tied to two things: 1) the Uranus/Pluto cycle (the 1960s were the conjunction and the early 2010s were the square) and 2) the shift from the Piscean to the Aquarian ages which (from the observations of a friend and myself) kicked in circa 2000 and fully took hold in about 2012. This latter shift is an ongoing background to the planetary movements. As with many things, such a shift can bring about quite raw energies and it would seem that some of the more extreme postmodernist thinking (which ultimately comes down to somethng like “there is no meaning to it all so do whatever”) is a reflection of this. This would be compounded by the fact that Aquarius doesn’t often do things subtly so there’s a lot of upheaval going on because things are coming through in a pretty direct way, or in a way that makes people notice. By contrast you could argue that the beginnings of the Piscean age around the time of the rise of Christianity were more subtle and gradual in their introduction to the world and society, which would fit with the Neptunian nature of the sign.

  6. Or ChatGPT on Lyotard’s “death of grand narratives”:

    “Jean-François Lyotard’s theory of the “death of grand narratives” suggests that traditional overarching narratives or “metanarratives” that once provided meaning and coherence to society have lost their credibility and legitimacy in the postmodern era. He argues that in the modern world, diverse and fragmented perspectives have emerged, making it impossible for any single narrative to claim universal validity. This shift undermines the authority of institutions and ideologies that rely on grand narratives for legitimacy, leading to a more skeptical and pluralistic understanding of reality.”

    • In connection with my other post, I would tentatively argue that this is another sign of the Piscean/Aquarian age shift. Since 2000 and particularly since 2012 or so there has been real loss of faith across the board in formerly unimpeachable institutions, or ones that seemed to have an air of sacrosance to them in some way. There also has I think been a general loss of faith in the future from people, and there is definitely a lack of underlying “grand narratives” nowadays which even well into the late 20th century arguably held many societies together. In the UK the post war consensus and the Cold War would be the prime examples of this. Even the Thatcherite consensus would qualify to some extent, though I would strongly argue that this was an example of a misguided vision of what the UK could be. Nevertheless, there was certainly an overall direction and narrative to its agenda.

      The end of the “grand narrative” in UK politics can probably be pinpointed to Tony Blair, who seemed to basically desire power for its own sake, rather than follow any ideology. This was a trend that became very noticeable post 2000 when the Aquarian age began – prior to that Blair had at least seemed to be committed to some sort of ideal, but after this date he seemed to shift to getting elected for the sake of it. British politics (at Westminster at least) notably ossified from this point onwards, leading to increasing cynicism and disillusionment which was arguably seized upon by nationalist and Eurosceptic movements (though at least the SNP did have some sort of a vision for what they wanted the future to be, one could argue).

  7. Another interesting person, in the myriad of them, who influenced theories about reality is Kurt Gödel. Here is ChatGPT’s view:

    “Kurt Gödel’s work in mathematical logic, particularly his incompleteness theorems, had profound implications for theories about reality, especially within the fields of philosophy and mathematics.

    Gödel’s incompleteness theorems showed that within any formal mathematical system that is sufficiently complex to describe basic arithmetic, there will always be true statements that cannot be proven within that system. This challenges the notion of a complete and consistent mathematical foundation and raises questions about the limits of human knowledge and the nature of truth.

    In terms of reality, Gödel’s theorems suggest that there are inherent limitations to what can be known or expressed within formal systems, including those used to describe the physical world. This has led to philosophical discussions about the nature of reality, the relationship between language and reality, and the boundaries of human understanding.

    Gödel himself was interested in these philosophical implications of his work. He believed that mathematical truths reflected objective realities that exist independently of human thought, and he saw his incompleteness theorems as evidence of the limitations of human reason rather than of reality itself. However, interpretations of Gödel’s work vary, and philosophers continue to explore its implications for our understanding of reality and the nature of truth.”

    • Kur Gödel somehow suddenly leads me to Heisenberg’s principle, according to which you cannot at the same time establish the exact position and velocity of a particle. The associations are endless. There is also that cat of Schrödinger, who no one knows whether she is alive or not.

  8. I’m not an expert in post-modernism, so grains of salt here, from what I gleaned, it is a reaction to the assumptions that societies take for granted due to tradition and unchallenged repetition. I recall in the USA, in the 60s the phrase, “Question Authority,” and the budding challenges to the assumptions that American society standardized such as white supremacy, male supremacy, and later heterosexual supremacy were challenged with great disruption to society and with which Americans still grapple with. Strict sex roles for men and women were and continue to be challenged and what seems to be emerging is a regard for gender expression to be more along a spectrum than a binary. I don’t think I am wrong in considering all of these developments as being under the umbrella of post modernism.

    Unfortunately, post-modernism has devolved into people believing their feelings about objective reality is factual and have also ignored objective facts, ie: the causal link between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels, because it conflicts with a deeply held ideology which disputes the science in favor of maintaining the status quo of fossil fuel dominance. In the USA there is also the rejection of facts disproving the former President’s continued assertion that the election he lost was due to corruption and most of the Republican Party believe him over the objective facts. This, I believe is another example of post-modernism run amok.

    • Frank, Thanks. More to put into my pipe to smoke. Can’t quite get my head round why kicking against obsolete outlooks should have ended up in a Trumpian invent-your-own-greatness schtick. But will continue to ponder.

  9. Here is the answer I got when I asked ChatGPT about Baudrillard’s theory about America and simulacrum:

    “Jean Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum, particularly in relation to America, is a complex concept in postmodern philosophy. In simple terms, Baudrillard argues that in contemporary society, reality has been replaced by simulations or copies, and these copies have become more real than the original.

    In the context of America, Baudrillard suggests that the country has become a prime example of this phenomenon. He contends that America has moved beyond representing reality to constructing its own hyperreal version of reality, characterized by mass media, consumer culture, and technological advancements.

    For Baudrillard, America is not just a country but a symbol of hyperreality, where images, symbols, and signs dominate over actual experiences or tangible objects. He sees America as a place where everything is simulated, from the artificial environments of theme parks to the commodification of cultural symbols like Hollywood movies and fast food chains.

    In this hyperreal America, Baudrillard argues that people become detached from reality and lose the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is simulated. He suggests that the proliferation of images and signs in American society creates a sense of disconnection from authentic experiences and promotes a superficial, consumer-driven culture.

    Overall, Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum offers a critical perspective on the modern condition, particularly in relation to America’s role in shaping and perpetuating a simulated version of reality.”

    Don’t dismiss postmodern philosophy. It has interesting ideas.

  10. I rather like this summary from the Narcissism 101 website

    “Post Modernism postulates that all belief systems are equal; science is just another way of explaining reality. For Narcissists, postmodernism is another way of distorting reality to fit their beliefs. Because there are no rules, they make the rules. Out of order they create chaos and obfuscation: “

    Rather chillingly Post Modernists thinking as practised actually has a lot in common with the Nazi belief systems of the 1930s. Hitler was Narcissist in Chief. He simply created his personal world view which he then imposed on his party and then the German people

    To quote John Fowles about the Nazis

    – They tore up the commandments… They said, “You may persecute the minority, you may kill, you may torture, you may couple and breed without love.” They offered humanity all its great temptations. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” –

    Once the agreed rules of reasoned discourse and critical examination of evidence are abolished then Post Modernist thinking as practised essentially devolves into a battle of wills where one person seeks to impose his truth on another’s truth. It is the whole basis of Mein Kampf and it is no accident that Leni Riefenstahl’s film celebrating Hitler and the Nazis was called the “Triumph of the Will”

    • Hugh, Thanks. I must sound a touch dim since this fantasia had completely passed me by and I am now only coming to grapple a) with what it represents and b) the effects it has had. It does explain a great deal about modern jousting tournaments which I had not understood before. Unsettling.

      • Nazi ideology drew a lot of inspiration from Friedrich Nietzsche. He also had a major infuence on post modernists such as Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard etc. The movements are drawing water from the same philosophical well. Not that any post modernist would admit this truth since most have essentially redefined fascism to mean conservative when the truth is a fascist such as Mussolini had actually been a member of the Marxist Third International and Hitler hated the class structure and religious beliefs that had underpinned the Kaiser’s Germany which he wished ultimately to destroy. The reality is totalitarian states of mind can emerge out of what people imagine is progressive thinking.

    • Thanks Hugh, and thanks Marjorie for these charts.
      The connections with Nazi philosophy make sense – other resonances with our own time might include their ability to create a kind of visual ‘brand’ recognition for themselves – from the “Triumph of the Will”, which contains striking visual imagery, through the sharply-tailored uniforms, adoption of the Hindu swastika, and so on. Gangsters have also used this type of visual branding technique – wearing the same haircuts and outfits (Peaky Blinders), and favouring immaculate tailoring – famously the Kray Twins, photographed by David Bailey, and obsessed with their appearance. Currently, we’re in a particularly ‘visual’ era online, influenced by images that are often manipulated. Much of the poorly digested and pervasive postmodernist thinking is also manipulative in countless ways.

      The chart for the Third Reich, 30 January 1933 (Book of World Horoscopes, Placidus house system) has the era’s Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Cancer. There’s a t-square with Venus in Capricorn. The approaching Solar Eclipse this April is conjunct that Uranus in Aries. Tr Uranus in Taurus will cross its ascendant at 25 Taurus soon, one degree away from the Uranus, Mars, Algol lineup of July. There’s also a thought-provoking Jupiter/Mars in Virgo (all the focus on hygiene?) inconjunct the fiery Uranus in Mars’ own sign. Plus a chilly little stellium of Sun, Mercury, and Saturn in Aquarius. The approaching Lunar Eclipse will oppose the Third Reich’s Moon at 5 Aries.

      Shooting off at a tangent, it could also be worth considering Aleister Crowley’s chart, 12 October 1875. Occultist, a kind of cult leader, poet and mountaineer, he had that generation’s Uranus in Leo square Pluto in Taurus, in a t-square with Saturn in Aquarius. Mars in Capricorn is inconjunct Uranus. Tr Uranus is activating this now. His Sun, 19 Libra opposes April’s total Solar Eclipse, his Nodes are 7 Aries/Libra – close to the Lunar Eclipse this month.
      Crowley’s most famous quote is probably “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, he also said:
      “bourgeois values are like a piece of milling meat on soggy toast.”

      Something’s in the air I think!

    • In his ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, the 5th century BC historian Thucydides writes about the breakdown of law and order in Corcyra, a city state torn apart by civil war. He reflects on the relationship between use of language and moral character, how language is clear and meaningful when used by a man of moral integrity and intelligence. How the clarity of language ebbs and flows with the moral character of the populace. A morally upright person speaks with clarity and doesn’t hide his intentions. A morally corrupt person speaks in a way that is vague and unclear, hiding his intentions.

      Speaking on the civil conflict in Corcyra he writes:

      “So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where the revolutions occurred late the knowledge of what had happened in previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration on the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defence. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching.“

      • Thanks very much VF. I can’t help thinking that a certain former UK PM, a classicist, based his own philosophy on some of Thucydides’ writings!

        “When the chance came, the one who first seized it boldly, catching his enemy off his guard, enjoyed a revenge that was all the sweeter from having been taken, not openly, but because of a breach of faith. It was safer that way, it was considered, and at the same time a victory won by treachery gave one a title for superior intelligence. And indeed, most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.”

  11. I find Buddhism is a great help in the modern world. And that world is headed for another round of Pluto in Pisces square Neptune in Gemini in the second half of this century. Rationalism brought us disaster and higher intuitive awareness will be required if humanity is to survive.

    • That square is too far off into the future; I cannot think about it know.

      Can you share with us how to you reconcile Buddhism and daily life in the capitalist Western countries, earning a living, paying the bills, dealing with daily stress at the office and similar things?

  12. And regarding Wittgenstein, some stellar stuff, from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:

    1. Proposition 4.116: “Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.” Could also be a motto for the copy-editors. And it is for some.

    2. Proposition 7. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

  13. One of my favourite theses is Lyotards “death of grand narratives”.

    So many interesting people here (in the French postmodern philosophy world):


    Also Deleuze, whose work I am not familiar with.

    Then there is also the philosopher superstar, the Slovene Žižek, who is also interested in Marxism, psyhoanalysis, and Hegelianism.

        • Certainly, at least I’ll try. Philosophers explore ideas, ideas can stimulate thoughts that may or may not become actions, it is perhaps wise to judge whether these actions have become helpful to the individual in relation to society and equally pertinent whether society progresses whilst respecting individuals, it is the pursuit of Truth, Beauty and the Good.
          It is also about the freedom of the individual to pursue interests whilst respecting other people’s. All a bit idealistic and perhaps not always achievable, the sort of musings enjoyed on a wet Sunday afternoon.

          • Thank you so much for this. That was beautiful. It’s also one of the matters I sometimes grapple with, and that is how to reconcile certain teachings with ordinary daily life, especially in the West.

            Philosophy, and logic as a subject, are fascinating. I believe it is just a matter of finding the right teacher who can tie all those teachings to things around you. And some can do that, e.g. explain Schleiermacher or Dilthey this way. And then you are reborn.

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