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Another way that postmodernism is characterized is by questioning the foundations of truth that deal with our knowledge of society and how we as humans produce knowledge about social relations and culture. Because of this, postmodernism can more simply be described in one way as the questioning of metanarratives. Metanarratives, which also go by master narratives or master theories, are frameworks that set out to explain society, if not the world, in understandable terms. The first image shown is supposed to be a comical photo that is titled “Down with Metanarratives!” It is a crowd of people with one person holding a poster that says this phrase. Underneath the photo it reads “Postmodern; It’s Our Word. Don’t Use It. Don’t Try to Define It. Above All, Don’t Label Us With It. Even If We Apply It to Ourselves.” It is displaying a message towards postmodernism in general basically saying it is hard to define, so do not even try, but it also is saying do not label people with this and metanarratives even if they are blatantly applying it to themselves, such as holding a sign that obviously supports it. Some examples of metanarratives that will be explained are religion, Marxism, and psychoanalysis.
One example of a metanarrative is religion, which can relate to any religion such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many more. An example to focus on is Christianity, and how the Bible is major part of that metanarrative. An online website talks about the metanarratives of the Bible by stating, “On the surface the Bible may appear to be a collection of random stories…However, there is a greater unity that binds these stories into a bigger story. Just as each book of the Bible has themes that weave the ideas of the book together into one story, so does the Bible as a whole.” (The Metanarratives of the Bible). They are saying that the larger themes are storylines that flows throughout all the books of the Bible making a trilogy, which is a metanarrative. These metanarratives of the Bible are based on the concept of creation-fall-redemption, which is simply the basic flow of events of the Bible, starting with the kingdom of Yahweh, then the redemption of humanity and creation, the nation of Israel and the chosen seed, and finally the foreshadowing and arrival of Jesus Christ. The bible in the Christian religion as a metanarrative is shown in the second image provided, showing a basic overview of the flow of events of the Bible that were previously stated.
Marxism is another example of a metanarrative, and an article that explains both postmodernism and Marxism side by side shows that in postmodernism, it is a master theory. The author of this article explains, “In Marxist theory the working class is the historical-social and political subject, the class where objective interest and subjective consciousness come together to move history forward toward emancipation” (Filc and Ram, 296). This is basically saying that these two characteristics of the working class is what moves history forward, and this idea is part of the Marxist theory. Another section of the article is saying that in modernity (about 1950) Marxism was taken out of western academia because conservatives said it was too disruptive, but in the 1980s, right around the time a shift from modernity to postmodernity occurred, it lost popularity again because it was said to be too conservative, this time that being said by radicals. The author goes on to explain how Marxists responds to postmodernism, by putting these reactions into three categories: orthodox Marxists, neo-Marxists, and post-Marxists. According to Flic and Ram:
…orthodox Marxists, who reject postmodernism; neo-Marxists, who maintain their essential identity and primary affiliation with a Hegelian form of Marxism, but look to postmodernism for inspiration to reinvigorate, revive and expand Marxism and are reluctant to abandon class analysis; and post-Marxists, who adjust their Marxist perspective so that it conforms to a post-modern frame of reference while abandoning principles central to Marxism, as class analysis and special role of the working class. (298)
After describing how each of these groups function, he then breaks them into even smaller subcategories with anti-postmodern Marxism and Marxist postmodernism, explaining all of the beliefs and guidelines of each approach. The third image shows a professor named Stephen Hicks who has a talk on the falsification of Marxism and how that lead to postmodernism, who is a Canadian-American philosopher who teaches at Rockford University.
The last metanarrative that will be observed here is psychoanalysis which, according to an article on psychoanalysis in postmodern times, does not have one solid definition, as the author writes about many questions and challenges that have to do with this theory. He speaks about postmodernism and how it has developed into an ideology, and that a postmodern attitude refuses totalitarianism in regard to psychoanalytic theory, but acknowledges different notions of psychoanalysis in theory and in practice (Jimenez, 610). The author also speaks about how the issue of truth in psychoanalysis plays a major role in postmodernism by stating, “To accept that there may be no ultimate or essential truth and that the perception of reality is always meditated by social, cultural, and discursive unconscious forces doesn’t lead necessarily to subjectivism” (Jimenez, 612). To simply state this, just because there may not be one truth in psychoanalysis so not mean it is subjective, or based on opinions. The last image provided shows a couple sitting on a couch in a therapy session. The doctor is saying to them, “I get better results with a live elephant and an invisible fence.” This image is basically making fun of psychoanalysis and random objects will make it work better. Overall, psychoanalysis is a master theory that is mistaken for talking about thoughts on a couch, as there are many aspects of this theory, as well as many differences between the theory and the practice that are overlooked.