A peculiar characteristic of today’s so-called “Postmodern” era is the absence of global narratives. This is the basic hypothesis of the famous book by Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, published in 1979. Lyotard pointed out that, from a cultural point of view, the so-called “Modern” era, characterized by comprehensive narratives and great utopian projects (the last ones were Rationalism, the Enlightenment, Marxism), capable of providing unity and historical identity to a variety of social groups, has come to an end.
Next came the era of liquidity, well noted by Zygmunt Bauman: “The era inaugurated with the construction of the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall that ended with the Berlin Wall is over forever. In this global planetary space it is no longer possible to draw a border to feel truly and totally safe behind it. This is true forever: for today and for all the future days we can imagine.”
Narratives, however, have not disappeared: they have become desacralized (after all, Marxism was also a form of historical messianism), they have lost the aura of absolute truth, capable of an all-embracing explanation of the course of events valid for all time. In their place are the so-called “low-intensity myths,” to take up the title of a recent book on the subject.