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While navigating our current socio-political turbulence (Japan’s in a shambles, Charlie Sheen’s turning the media machine upside down, Obama continues Middle East skirmishes, ad infinitum), our radio stations and iTunes Top Chart lists are being bombarded by a young talent embodying a revision of sugar-and-spice that makes Madonna look like the sixth member of the Go-Gos.


I want your ugly, I want your disease I want your everything as long as it’s free I want your love...


These first lines of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance Above: A silhouetted entrance, Gaga sings Dance in the Dark, The Monster Ball Tour, San Diego, 2011


are more telling of their modern milieu than the typical listener probably realises. In the undercurrent of such lyrics drifts a multiplicity of meanings, connotations, and sublime paradox. At the forefront of cutting-edge pop idolatry, the artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta has been altering the ebb and flow of popular culture since Just Dance debuted in 2008. In three years, Gaga has been labeled everything from “run-of-the-mill euro pop” (Van Meter, 2011), “the perfect Wiki-Google-YouTube- era pop star” (Van Meter, 2011) and “puppet of the Illuminati” (VC, 2009), to “the most adventurous and talented star of our age.” (Van Meter, 2011)


The Rise of Metamodernism [in the Haus of Gaga]


“I am the jester to the kingdom” - Lady Gaga Words by Brent L. Smith


In the spirit of ritual, the collective sacred, the binding analogue, the spiritual synonym, Lady Gaga offers something that goes beyond catchy pop hits, something that doesn’t emanate from the safe and contract-cluttered confines of a downtown music studio. The notion of studio- made tracks hasn’t applied to Gaga’s work ethic during most of her career. “She’s been on tour for three years without a real break,” Jonathan Van Meter of Vogue tells us. “Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, tells me that she recorded [her new] entire album−−all seventeen songs−−on the road over the last year and a half.” On the topic of writing her newly-released single Born This Way, she tells Vogue, “I wrote it in ten fucking minutes and it’s a completely magical message song. And after I wrote it, the gates just opened, and the songs kept coming. It was like an immaculate conception.” (Van Meter, 2011)


In the whirlwind of our digital age though, how can we frame such an aesthetic movement that postmodern vernacular can no longer describe? Certainly, Gaga could be construed as a mouthpiece for the social subconscious, a


meta-intelligence of which we’re all a part, like something out of a Jungian wet dream. But what is ‘it’ that has grabbed us? What is it that has altered our tides? What is it that acts as lunar goddess that has us magnetised? In 2009, two young cultural theorists by the names of Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker intervened in the “post-postmodern” debate with the term “metamodernism.” Their essay audaciously illustrates accounts of this new paradigm through the present shifts of economic, (geo)political, philosophical, and artistic lenses; citing the architecture of Herzog & de Meuron, the films of Wes Anderson, the collages of David Thorpe, and the paintings of Kaye Donachie (Vermeulen and van den Akker, 2010). This new paradigm is described as a movement that oscillates between modernist and postmodernist sensibilities, as well as offering something beyond. Reflected in our dreary current events of climate change, financial crises, and political instability, metamodernism offers a return to transcendentalism, romanticism, hope, sincerity, and Kant’s aesthetic sublime. Regarding the aesthetic sublime, I’m referring to “Beauty” versus the “Sublime”. As Kant describes, Beauty is “connected with the form of the object,” having “boundaries,” while the Sublime “is to be found in a formless object,” representing boundlessness and, consequently, endless possibility (Kant (1790), 1951). Metamodernism is all of this and much more. “It oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony,” Vermeulen and van den Akker state, “between hope and melancholy, between naiveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality...purity and ambiguity.” (Vermeulen and van den Akker, 2010) To make matters more fun, the paradoxical nature of this new aesthetic isn’t merely oscillating between these two poles in some linear fashion, it does so in a multidimensional dance, lending authenticity to its “meta” quality, and projecting meaning into an exciting and ever-inspiring infinitude. Self-proclaimed as “Mother Monster”, Lady Gaga is an embodiment for this new paradigm, which has found its pulse in the dawn of the 21st Century. When Kant discusses humanity’s social potential, he writes “people, as if following some guiding thread, go toward a natural but to each of them unknown goal.” (Kant (1790), 1951) The relationship that Gaga has with her vast fan base is unique in its symbiosis, as there seems to be no disconnection between her “Little Monsters”,


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