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Supermodernity is a term used to describe an accelerated form of modernity that accelerates the transformation of time and space. Modernity is defined as that which integrates the new and the old such that both become familiar in the same space. Supermodernity, in contrast, is characterized by its excesses. There are three such excesses in supermodernity. In contrast to accounts of postmodernity in which there is a general collapse of an idea of progress, in supermodernity there is an acceleration of history that results, not in meaninglessness, but in the excess of meaningful events. This excess of historical significance, rather than leaving us complacent, makes us even more avid for meaning.
Supermodernity is the essence of a totally syncretic universe, where everything blends together. All religions, arts, cultures, scientific techniques, all business commerce and trade. The ultimate metling pot of thought, image, and existence. This is the natural outcome of living in a society that is becoming more commodified, with less friction dividing it. Now all one does is pick up the pieces and put them together in new ways. Everything has new value now. Everything may be used to make something. Evidence of this is the remix culture of YouTube videos, the musician GirlTalk, and the recommodification of history and historical objects by hipster culture.
As the world's population enters into a more highly technically concentrated arena, the cultural constructions of space and communication are changing. Cultural constructions of space are are being influenced by new technologies that facilitate communication. The cell phone is one such device that is making cultural constructions of space different. A new system of manners as well as nonverbal and verbal communication is arising to absorb and normalize the existence of this new device.
My thesis on Cell Phones and Their Technosocial Sites of Engagement examines those changes and the experience of and negotiation of space before and after the cultural implementation and adoption of the mobile phone as an extension of the individual.
The world is becoming smaller and smaller, the space between ideas in fast social network almost minute with words, texts, images and links traveling faster and faster between extremely network types of social players.
These tightly connected social networks are capable at extremely rapid communication interchanges whereas the rest the party has difficulty getting ideas from one place to another. This sort of social exchange will only escalate in the future with more accessible rapid micro blogging technology.
This is the beginning of what we might call the network society the answer to Marc Auge's paper on non species and introduction to super modernity
Rabindranath Tagore, a 19th century Indian citizen and Nobel Laurate once said that "Most inaccessible of all is man, hidden behind his own self, and with no measure in time and space. He has an inner life that is revealed only through a communion of minds."
If the re-approriation of old values, ideologies, and images is what constitutes supermodernism, then to use a poem from another time seems quite appropriate. This poem, originally written in Bengali, seems to transcend the situation of its origin and permeates what concerns us today. It is authentic after all.
It is a society that seeks out of this mess of commodity, constantly seeks authenticity, but can never quite get there. The fact of the matter is that the very search for authenticity, for anti-corporatism, is being commodified as we speak. It is becoming suppressed just like the Seattle punk movement. Independent coffeeshops are sprouting up all over the place. Stores that supply vintage goods are raising their prices. The same laws of style apply, the same rules of interaction. Newness is becoming absorbed, neutralized, romanticized and appropriated.
Those with greater social, political, and economic power can easily integrate their company's objective into any cultural movement and raise it up on a hill for all of the country...all of the world to see. This symbol, subsequently worshiped so far and wide, can be taken down as readily as it was put up, and then entire movement will quickly go down with it.
Chapter 10 from 'Selected Index', Martin John Callanan, November 2004. Also see Marc Auge's Non-Spaces: An Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, which defines a place as one that has relation, identity and history. Under this view, an airport is not a place, but a cell phone conversation is, even if the person is only halfway present in the physical space and halfway present in the liminal in between space of the mobile connection.