Dave Snowden Denounces Metamodernism

metamodern scene

MUGGLES ARE NON-MAGICAL.  Muggle is a term of colloquial disparagement from the Harry Potter franchise that was recently deployed, quasi-playfully, by Dave Snowden.  Metamodernism, he claims, lacks any real magic

Dave is a pragmatic, community-oriented, Weimar-obsessed, Welsh theorist, consultant & activist whose Cynefin Co. develops tools for making deeper, more nuanced and more multidimensional sense of complex realities -- including the much praised Sensemaker approach to gathering and processing human data.  People often associate him with the valuable distinction between complicated and complex

So why has he published a short screed against Metamodernism? 

Good question. 

Dave is not a rabid anti-metamodernist.  He resonates with it as a description of an artistic sensibility and he is sympathetic to Lene Rachel Andersen's (here) attempts to make a valuable distinction between metamodernism & metamodernity.  What concerns him is the potential for a descriptive cultural sensibility to become reified as proscriptive, elitist, initiatory movement.  The historical record shows many such shifts going horribly wrong.

We are all, hopefully, skeptical of the -ism in Metamodernism.  Any system of ideas, any cultural mood, any network of affiliates or approach to action can be held differently by various people and for various motives.  Freedom can be the cry of the oppressor.  Diversity can be imposed as a homogeneous hegemony.  New thinking is often proposed by many ancient drives within us.  So it is always good for idealists to have a note of caution. 

But is Daniel Gortz aligned with genocide because his version of metamodernity includes models of complex developmental unfolding?  Is Brendan Graham Dempsey a cultish appropriationist?  John Vervaeke is a diffuse distraction?

Maybe.  Metamodern ideally names the space where we can have such discussions coherently. 

One of the worst things about Dave's polemic is his superficial misunderstanding of sincere irony as ironic sincerity.  Either phrasing can be used, of course, but it is important to distinguish between an ironic holding of sincerity and a deep sincerity and irony that do not detract from each other.  Perhaps they even converge in the depths...

On the other hand, one of the best things about Dave's polemic is the challenge he puts to the (sometimes excessive) emphasis on internal transformation. 

While we are building allies across the different facets of a new culture, including both pragmatic benevolent action in the world and a deep shift in human sensibilities, we do have to make sure that we don't excessively privilege states of consciousness, internal development, both/and thinking & wisdom practices.  Those are important.  However they should not be allowed to outshine pragmatic efforts to support, heal and empower people's objective lives.

It is also important to avoid dismissing Dave's critique merely because uses populist postmodern phrases like appropriation and problematic and mansplaining -- or because he suggests no one deserves his respect until they have denounced Jordan Peterson.

Whether or not we think developmental stage models are useful, they should have to answer the concerns voiced by people like Dave and Nora Bateson.  It is not foolish or reactionary to observe the historical correlation between developmental hierarchies and social horrors.  It is worth considering whether the trouble it takes to hold such models with the requisite complexity, nuance and maturity is worth the effort.  There are many interesting rebuttals to these kinds of concerns but any metamodernist, integralite, GameB bee or liminal sensemaker should be deeply interested in the critiques.

But back to the muggle metaphor:

The world of Harry Potter concerns special bloodlines that grant extraordinary privileges in associated with the dismissive and derogatory views that all other humans are merely inferior muggles.

THAT might be the kind of thinking that leads to genocide...


Read Brendan Graham Dempsey's rebuttal and his  conversation with Dave Snowden.
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emerge is convening a field of metamodern praxis