So you meet this person, and they’re really good-looking, and they like that book Love is a Mix Tape, and you see them in Starbucks, and you think, “Okay, today is the day I ask this person out.” So you do. And you start to date. And they inform you shortly that they are a Postmodernist. What do you do now? You scratch your head and wonder where to begin a relationship with this person, and just what is Postmodernism? Is it a philosophy? a religion? an ethnicity? What does it mean?!
First, let’s define Postmodernism. According to Dictionary.com, Postmodernism is
Any of a number of trends or movements in the arts and literature developing in the 1970s in reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established modernism, especially a movement in architecture and the decorative arts running counter to the practice and influence of the International Style and encouraging the use of elements from historical vernacular styles and often playful illusion, decoration, and complexity.
So what does that mean for you and your relationship ventures? I’ll give you a few rules (more like guidelines) on your pursuing of a Postmodern person.
Rule # 1: Postmodernism is the academic equivalent of Hipsterism. Many of the same dating tactics will apply. So spruce up your knowledge of that particular music (esp. Wild Nothing and Arcade Fire), crack open some obscurely labeled white wine that is probably just chardonay, and plug in your Wes Anderson collection. And get ready for a fantastically fractured ride.
Rule # 2: Life is like a Fractured Fairy Tale. Do you remember watching Rocky & Bullwinkle as a kid, and occasionally in the episodes, you would get to watch a fairy tale kind of like this:
Well, life is kind of like that. Changing social definitions, the importance of community (flag that), and deviation from traditional structures and definitions of self, all will factor into your dating adventures with the Postmodernist. So be flexible, because a broom might follow you around until you help it settle into a community.
Rule # 3: It’s all about community! In my literature studies, I have had it pounded into my head that the one thing Postmodernism affirms is community. So, to translate this into dating, mix up your time alone with time doing group stuff. And I don’t mean awkward double dates. Instead of going to see another movie, get a group together and go paintballing or rock climbing, or go to an art museum in a group (for those in the NY area, don’t forget that the Met is by donation, so you can get in for whatever you are willing to give). Spend time with their friends and (if you’re serious enough) their family.
Rule # 4: Go on Hipster dates. Again, being a Postmodernist is like being an extra-pretentious hipster with a higher level of education. So take your girlfriend/boyfriend coffee cupping and wine tasting, and do it all in 1950s mod clothing. Go bike riding in the Fingerlakes or the Alleghenies, then talk about Norway while eating brie cheese. Volunteer at an animal shelter and name all of the cats after the Parisian avant guarde.
Rule # 5: Analyze everything. And I mean everything. My ex once gave me a lengthy, detailed analysis of why Venom is the best comic book villain. And I was thoroughly engrossed as we then discussed human nature and the inherent darkness and light within the soul. Because when you’re dating a postmodernist, you analyze everything as if it is the greatest work by JD Salinger (Franny & Zooey?), and discuss it. You’ll talk about problems in the world, in society, in the self, and dive into questions of relative vs absolute truth.
Rule #6: Read things together. First, logically, if you read things together, you’ll have something to analyze together. Start with Tristram Shandy or House of Leaves, blast your way through The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Citrus County. Creep each other out with Child of God. Read Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Race each other to see who can finish it first. Read out loud to each other. Pick characters and read their dialogue like a play (dress up like them if you want?). Go all out. The more genre crossing the better. This is Postmodernism, after all. Even reading should be done in community.
Rule # 7: Watch cinematic television and movies that ought to be called films. So watch Sherlock and anything directed by Wes Anderson. Moonrise Kingdom is currently in theaters; take your Postmodern babe to go see it, then have a lengthy discussion about the use of classical music throughout the film. Talk about the importance of community (***) to Sam and Suzy, and how a rejection from community can cause people to create new communities. Compare that to Toby and Shelby in Citrus County and creepy creep creeper Lester Ballard in Child of God. There, now I’ve given you like eight dates and a good paper topic for your next English lit class. You owe me big time. I hope you get an A.
Rule # 8: Be spontaneous! Spontaneity is a great quality to have in any relationship, especially one with a Postmodernist. Because when you do things with a Postmodernist, they get analyzed and read into, and examined. They get mined for every potential bit of insight and revelation. Be random! Because randomness can create great beauty. And since Postmodernism is a philosophy generally associated with art, anything that creates great beauty will likely enthrall your significant other.