August 16, 2022

Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyze a certain section of pop culture.

In order to discover whether the theme of the “death of God” is relevant in a world of postmodernism a few things must be defined. Firstly what postmodernism is, what a world after postmodernism would be like, and what it is meant by God. Only by defining these criteria can a proper answer be reached.

Firstly, an explanation of what postmodernism actually is. Perhaps the easiest example is Rene Magritte’s The Treachery of Images or, as it’s more commonly known as, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. It is merely a pictorial representation of a pipe rather than an actual pipe. It is art that is fully aware of its status as art. Thus postmodernism is essentially this: a representation of the world rather then the world itself. The world may or may not exist, it’s how we interpret it that counts. A more modern example of this can be found in the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic episode “It’s About Time”. Upon having her eye damaged after looking through a telescope at the sun Twilight Sparkle needs an eye-patch. Her friend, Pinkie Pie, reaches into the fireplace of Twilight Sparkle’s home and gives her one, noting that she’s stashed eye-patches all around Ponyville for eye-patch related emergencies. There are three levels to this. The first level is the basic “haha Pinkie Pie is so crazy and kooky because she keeps eye-patches everywhere”. However the second level comes when the viewer goes “Oh I see, this is a commentary on how kids shows normally have silly and nonsensical things within them that make no real sense and only exist to drive the plot forward”. But what puts this into postmodernism territory is the third level: Pinkie Pie knowingly breaks the fourth wall in many episodes. This can be from talking directly to the audience to breaking the rules set in place within this show’s universe (aka popping out of something too small to fit her inside of it). So when Pinkie Pie breaks the rules of the My Little Pony universe and pulls an eye-patch out of nowhere, it becomes clear that the creator is intentionally telling its audience that they know they’re breaking the rules of the world, but can get away with it because it is Pinkie Pie. They are taking the standard nonsensical nature of kids shows and deliberately playing with the trope because it is showing that it is indeed a kids show. It is being self-referential about its own existence. The third and perhaps quintessential example of this is the famous Looney Tunes short Duck Amuck. In it Daffy Duck is tormented by an animator that continually changes the world around him. Daffy knows he’s in a cartoon and speaks to the unseen animator several times throughout it. The short delves into the idea of what makes a cartoon a cartoon and that if you remove everything from Daffy besides his voice whether he’d be the same character. This is art that knows its own existence of art and continually refers to said existence as the animator screws with Daffy. Once again this is postmodernism in a nutshell. Knowing that reality is but an interpretation you put upon it. You are looking at only a representation of a pipe that knows that it’s only a picture, likewise you are watching a cartoon that knows it is a cartoon.

So if that is postmodernism, how does that apply to the everyday world? Well if what we are looking at are things that know they are merely representations of things that don’t exist, we can apply that logic to the real world. Aka we are in a world that is made up of our interpretation of it. It exists a certain way because that’s how we think it exists. So in a world of postmodernism it could be said that the world may or may not exist, but what’s important is that we perceive that it does. So now that we’ve established this world, we need to think of what a world would be like after postmodernism. Surely then a world after postmodernism is a world where we decide what it’d be like? This seems like a step backwards in some regards. What stops us from deciding that our interpretation of the world matches that of the modernist view, or the Romanticist view, or the Enlightenment view? Thus a world after postmodernism is whatever an individual chose it to be. If they chose it to be a world that was created by a superior being, then they would be correct. If they chose it to be a world governed by quantum physics, they will also be right. So while a world during postmodernism would be an introspective look at what does and does not exist, the world after it is the remains of the process of defining what existence is.

The second part of the question deals with the idea of God. For this question to be answered we need to define what God we are talking about. Let us go back to the idea of postmodernism. Pinkie Pie is a character that knows she’s in a cartoon and thus can do what she likes. So it makes sense that God is seen in a creator sort of role. “God” created the representation of the pipe by drawing the picture itself. Likewise “God” created Pinkie Pie and the world she inhabits. But is there more to this then calling Rene Magritte and Lauren Faust gods? Well another thing traditionally associated with God is his ability to have control over things. Not only does God create, he can influence how the world works. Once again this links in with My Little Pony. The writers of the show choose where the story goes. The artist chooses how the character looks. Likewise the same can be said with Duck Amuck, where Daffy is tormented in a way that resembles the trials of Job at the hands of God. At the end it’s revealed that the animator is Bugs Bunny, the “God” in this particular story. But throughout the entire short it is made clear to the audience that while Daffy knows that God exists, he is powerless at God’s hands. God creates anything he so desires to make Daffy’s life difficult, the same way the Gods in the other examples create the world in which the characters (or the pipe) inhabit. So the definition of God in this case is the creator and controller of the world.

So we now have a definition of a world after postmodernism and a definition of God, bringing it back to the original question: Is God dead in this new world? The answer is no. A world after postmodernism is made of whatever we believe it’s made of. Thus if we believe that God exists, then it makes sense that he exists because that is how we interpret the world. But the problem with the question is that God never died in the first place. Postmodernism is all about art commenting on the fact that it is art. When Pinkie Pie pulls an eye-patch out of nowhere she is breaking the fourth wall. When she talks to the audience she must know that there is someone out there for her to talk to. So why would any fictional character that breaks the fourth wall be atheist? They know they were created because they are often interacting with their creator in some way or other. It would be hard to disprove the existence of a creator when you constantly have contact with them. So postmodernism doesn’t result in the “death of God” but is in fact the greatest argument for God’s existence. If God (as defined in the previous paragraph) doesn’t exist, then who created the character that break the fourth wall? They know they are created, thus it is logically to infer that God does exist in the world of postmodernism.

The idea that postmodernism killed God is an absurd one, since the reverse is in fact true. Postmodernism proved the existence of God. As for a world after postmodernism then God is still alive if we chose for God to be alive. Thus in both scenarios the meaning and relevance of the “death of God” is irrelevant and wrong.

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