What is the philosophy behind Hypermodernism as a literary movement and what are its literary features?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hypermodernism is an artistic and literary movement characterized by a pulling away from much of the natural limits of Modernism and Postmodernism in its extremity of form and "rewriting of subjectivity, human consciousness and behavior" because of the convergence of man with technology. Indeed, there is an emphasis placed upon the value of new technology to surpass the limitations of humanity. In some cases there is a repudiation of the past because of the advances of technology which make the knowledge from yesterday "less" than that of the present moment.[This is sometimes referred to as "the disappearance approach."] Because of this new knowledge that emerges so rapidly with technology, history is no longer a viable source upon which to rely. Instead, there is emphasis upon progress and improvement, elements which empower the individual.

One writer considered as a Hypermodernist is William Gibson, who was profoundly influenced by science fiction as a youth and later by the beat writers and controversial Postmodernist William S. Burroughs [Naked Lunch]. It is Gibson who coined the word cyberspace and conceived of the possibility of a virtual reality of images in computer games, etc. His most famous work is Neuromancer, but some of his later works placed him in the genre of steampunk and postcyberpunk ("cybernetics" and "punk," denoting antiestablisment music and behavior as well as "street violence").

In an interview with CNN, Gibson said in 1997,

...science fiction's best use today is the exploration of contemporary reality rather than any attempt to predict where we are going... The best thing you can do with science today is use it to explore the present. Earth is the alien planet now.

Other characteristics of Hypermodernism are the following:

  • flexible self-identities
  • novel social elements
  • science-fiction
  • Modernism filtered through technology
  • a new human consciousness
  • aesthetic postmodernism